Originally published on Guild Wars Vault on 2007-11-09
No man is so foolish but he may sometimes give another good counsel, and no man so wise that he may not easily err if he takes no other counsel than his own. He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.
– Hunter S. Thompson
The two men arrived in the port city of Lion’s Arch within a couple days of leaving Beetletun. Neither man spoke during the trip, each grieving in his own way for the loss of Lavian. She had been the glue that held them together; and without her, they went their separate ways. Kail returned to the Lionguard. Belzan began to make his place among the strangers in the city. He knew it would be important to make friends and contacts if he planned on traveling east to Nolani. The Shiverpeaks were a treacherous place and he dared not traverse them alone.
Kail had quickly swept into and out of Belzan’s life, leaving behind a false sense of importance. Belzan questioned, often at first, what role Kail had played in his life. He wasn’t as much a father as he was a friend of the family. He taught Belzan how to fish and how to wield a sword. He taught him how to craft with simple materials. He was more of a teacher than family, and the most important lesson he taught Belzan was to never let anyone in too close for fear of losing them.
Tearing his mind from such things, Belzan concentrated on his task at hand. He needed money and provisions. The only items he had to offer for trade were the sword and shield Kail had given him. The idea of selling the shield didn’t bother him, as it was more important to Kail than him. He would need to keep the sword, however. Strolling over to Merchant’s Row a man caught his eye. The man was dressed in fine cloth and silk and wore a necklace of jade.
“Thanks. See you again next week.” The man said to a regular customer as she left. He turned and greeted Belzan as he approached.
‘Hello there, what can I do for you today?’
Belzan thought for a moment and he suddenly realized how he would fund his trip east. “Greetings, I have this shield to sell. It belonged to my father and I’ve come upon hard times. I’d like to trade it for tanned hide, but I don’t think the tanner would have a use for the shield. I want someone to use it, not just melt it down.”
“I understand your concern,” the merchant replied, “I will purchase the shield from you and put in a good word for you with the tanner.”
“I’m sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Belzan.” Belzan held out a hand to greet the merchant.
“Bodrus the Outfitter,” the man replied, shaking his hand with a firm grip.
“I wonder if I could ask a favor of you Bodrus. Since you are on good terms with the tanner, would you be willing to purchase the items I need directly from him in exchange for this shield?”
“I assure you Belzan; my word will pique his generosity. You will receive a fair deal from him.”
“I believe that to be true. Still, I’m sure the tanner would give you a better deal than me. I’m looking to acquire as much tanned hide as I can for the worth of my father’s shield. Your generosity will not go unnoticed.”
Bodrus thought for a moment. The shield was excellent quality and showed only minor use. He knew he could sell it for quite a bit of gold and Shad, the material trader, owed him a favor.
“I tell you what Mr. Belzan –
“It’s just Belzan.”
Bodrus continued, “Belzan, I will have a word with Shad to see how much tanned hide he has on hand. I believe I can acquire 100 tanned hides for you, assuming he has that available.”
“That will suffice for now.” Belzan replied. “I’ll return tomorrow to complete the trade. Thank you for your time Bodrus and have a great day.” Belzan gave a bow, which was returned by Bodrus, and then took his leave.
The next day Belzan returned with the shield. “I have managed to acquire 150 tanned hides for you Belzan. Shad owed me a favor and understands how hard times can be.”
“Tell him I appreciate his generosity. I thank you very much for yours as well and look forward to doing business with you in the future.”
Two weeks passed and Belzan returned to Bodrus with a cart of 50 alchemically treated tanned hides.
Bodrus the Outfitter
(picture by Belzan Furu)
“Good afternoon Bodrus. I have a business proposition for you.”
“What kind of a proposition is that?”
“I have 50 tanned hides here that are of higher quality than anything Shad is selling. I would like to sell them to you.”
Bodrus smiled. What kind of trick was this man trying to pull on him? These were the same hides he traded two weeks ago, and now he seeks to sell them back? “These are the same hides I sold you two weeks ago,” Bodrus said finally. “What makes them higher quality now?”
“I’m not one to give away my techniques. Suffice it to say, I’m offering them to you first, as a token of my appreciation for your generosity in my time of need. This is a one-time offer, Bodrus. My next stop is Shad.”
Bodrus thought for a moment. The man was either overly trusting or overly sneaky.
“And how much would you ask for the hides you have there?”
“For you Bodrus, 750 gold for the pile; I would ask half that again anywhere else. If you’re willing, I will sell them directly to you from here on out.”
“What is your game here? What are you trying to do?”
“I’m trying to make a living Bodrus, just like you. I’m making friends and business acquaintances and trying to earn money. You must give trust to earn it. Business is less about the product and more about the people. Your customers and suppliers are more than just vehicles for profit. It is the relationships you form with people, no matter how brief, that make or break your credibility.”
Bodrus considered his words for a moment, and then spoke. “Alright Belzan. I will buy that stack for 750 gold, and the rest of the hides you have at the same price. Once I’ve found a buyer, we will discuss the matter further.”
Less than a week later, Belzan and Bodrus were in business together. Bodrus acquired materials from all around for Belzan to treat alchemically and then turned around and sold them on the market. The treated materials were sturdier and more weather resistant, but the biggest selling factor was that they received enchantments more readily than untreated materials of the same quality. Bodrus was the face and Belzan worked behind the scenes, which seemed perfect. Belzan did what he could to keep his scar hidden. He wasn’t openly ashamed of it, but it did have a habit of drawing attention, and a merchant in a large port city draws a lot of attention.
Belzan had made a friend. The people in Beetletun were more like family, but Bodrus was different. Bodrus took a risk with Belzan that turned out to be profitable, in more ways than one. Belzan wasn’t looking forward to saying goodbye to Bodrus, but he knew the day would come when he would head east to Nolani.
That day came sooner than he thought.