Harry Escapes

By Wolfwalker

Chapter 7

 

"Factoria Stercus," Harry cast the spell Alphonse had taught him and wiped the sweat off his face as he took a deep breath as the weeds in the terraces became mulch.

"This would be so much easier with a couple of House Elves," Alphonse said as he looked at Harry and told him, "let’s take a break. We made quite a bit of progress this morning already. No need to magically exhaust yourself."

Nodding his head as he collapsed to the ground, Harry asked as he looked up into the sky, "What is a House Elf? And how can they help? And where do I get one?"

"Not around here," Alphonse said with sigh as he moved to one of the stone posts to sit down. "House Elves are a strange creature," he mused. "Part Brownie from the old tales and part Imp. They never made it to the Americas before they were captured and spelled to serve instead of create havoc and destruction. I met a couple while apprenticing in St. Mungo's, quite handy little beings."

"Doesn't sound like someone I would want around," Harry shuddered at the thought of a chaos being in the city. Picking his head up off the ground high enough to look at the terraces and how much they still had to do he let his head fall back with a thump. "I've been thinking about several things you brought up over the past two weeks," he said as he rolled over and got into a sitting position so he could look at Alphonse as he talked.

"Which ones?" Alphonse asked, careful not to show too much attention. He had been working hard over the past few weeks to help Harry heal his spirit from the hardships he had gone through where he should have been protected and nurtured.

"The first is the vaults," Harry said as he had made that decision a few hours ago. After all, if he let people back in the city, he did not want any hard feelings because they could not get to their family heirlooms. "If..." looking at Alphonse with a questioning expression as the thought hit him, he asked, "Do the Goblins even have other banks in the Americas?"

"They do," Alphonse smiled as he hid his distaste at how much was hidden from Harry. "One in North America, in what is known as the United States, in New York near Canada. One in Belize, for Central America and lastly, in southern Brazil for South America. Each of the branches are small, the one here in the city was the largest. Those others were branch banks that have expanded to handle more than they were designed for."

"Alright," Harry said, fighting the urge to shrug, but noting the information for later talks with Gravelthorn. "So I was thinking, so there are no hard feelings, that if someone thinks they can trace their family vaults back to this bank, they can go to the Goblins and be tested or something. It's not like I don't have enough of my own gold already." Seeing he had surprised Alphonse he told him, "I have a meeting with Gravelthorn this afternoon. I'll add opening the bank to the list of topics."

"I suppose the real question you want answered," Harry looked at Alphonse slyly, "is, if I am going to open up the city to others?"

"It is," Alphonse said firmly. "I have even been thinking about the objections you have raised. I agree they are good ones and have given some thought to them. So before you give me an answer let us discuss what I have come up with as solutions." Standing up he said, "Let us walk back to your house, some fruit juice and cool water would do wonders. Plus it is nearing the time to eat the mid-day meal. And you have been forced to miss too many growing up as it is." Looking at the tree he said, "You too Flys Brightly, now that Harry is through casting magic, you should return to your perch so you can continue learning our language."

"Yesss, red, hisss, hisss, good," Flys Brightly said in hissing English as he launched out of the tree and glided towards Harry and landed on his shoulders, tail draping down the front of his shirt.

"He's picking up English fast," Alphonse smiled at the beautiful Quetzalcoatl. "Your first objection I believe boiled down to being controlled by the adults that would move here. The answer to that lies in two parts, and one of which shall answer another of the issues you brought up. The first, is that those who wish to move here, give an oath to uphold the Neutrality of Arttia. Light, dark, black, or white, these are words to describe two ends of extremes. The vow will make sure all extremes are left at the ward line. Magic is magic, and intent drives it. Why the Europeans focus on light versus dark confuses the hell out of me. All intent of those who perform magic in the city is to be neutral, that," he said as he followed Harry through the arch to the courtyard in front of Harry's house, "will ensure ninety percent of the squabbles stay out of the city." Moving to the table and bench while Harry started for the house he told him, "I will continue once you bring your food back along with refreshments."

Nodding as he wondered if it was that simple, Harry went inside and pulled his already prepared lunch out of the cool box and poured some juice into a pitcher and some cool water in another. Adding some of the red fruit Flys Brightly loved to the tray, he carried it back out and set it on the table and pulled his lunch over after pouring Alphonse a glass of water, as he had told him did not like juice except in the morning. Seeing Alphonse motion for him to eat he took a bite of his meal.

Taking a sip of water, Alphonse continued from where he left off, "Traditionally, the magical populace that inhabited the city, looked at the Quetzalcoatl as enforcers...no that is the wrong term, peacekeepers is better. Those charged with policing the city to ensure peace was kept. They can do so again. And as they have named you ruler of these lands, none will gainsay you. For those who move here from outside the Americas," he said, "a vow to accept the rulings of the Quetzalcoatl shall ensure they do not dispute your rule. The other factor," he said as he drank deeply from his glass and pulled the pitcher over and refilled his glass, "is by retaining ownership of all buildings and houses, along with land, you in effect become the landlord and it will be folly to try to control you, the other people living in the city will rise up against any that try to do so."

Cutting some of the red fruit and handing it up to Flys brightly, Harry nodded his head as he considered what Alphonse told him, "I'm not sure that will work, but I guess I am willing to try."

"No one will control you Speaker while I'm around," Flys Brightly declared as he reached forward for another slice of red fruit. He would prefer to just gobble the whole thing down, but the speaker refused to let him eat without what he called manners while riding his shoulders.

"Flys Brightly’s answer," Alphonse hid his smirk at the exasperated look Harry was sending his companion.

"He said no one will be able to control me with him around," turning to listen to him after he grabbed another slice of fruit he said, "while any of the Quetzalcoatl are around."

"Problem one solved then," Alphonse kept his face from moving as he quietly chuckled. "Eat, eat, you need to replace the calories the potions demand as they repair your body. As much as you wish Flys Brightly to eat with manners, ask him to slip off your shoulders and eat his meal while you do the same." Once Flys Brightly had slithered to the table he said after snatching one of the fruit from the bowl before it could all be eaten, "By allowing the Goblins to reopen the bank, it answers another of the issues you brought up. The last issue you had that had any level of difficulty was how to allow the people into the city without having to stop everytime someone wants to enter through the wards. After thinking about it for quite sometime, I cursed myself for a few good minutes for forgetting something you mentioned." Leaning forward when Harry tilted his head to look at him he said, "You told me the Goblins travel around the world through their tunnels. To be in Switzerland one minute and by traveling through the tunnels for a few minutes, end up in Japan for instance." Seeing Harry's eyes widen as he drove his point home he nodded, "There is money to be made by allowing the Goblins to create a tunnel to the top of the bank for people to traverse."

Leaning back in his chair as he felt foolish for forgetting the Goblin tunnels, Harry finished his meal and drank the rest of his juice before replying, "That might just work. But," he said as he waved one finger in front of him, "another way to bring people in would need to be thought up if they refuse."

"Why don't we consider that if they refuse," Alphonse said as he spotted movement in the sky. His friend Swift Wings was flying slowly as if hovering above something that was moving this way. Knowing about the meeting to come he said, "Your account manager approaches. But instead of me taking my leave, if possible, I wish to see how to properly interact with one of the Goblin kind. I will leave when your discussion turns towards your finances."

"Alright," Harry said after a few moments consideration. Getting up, he placed the dishes on the tray and returned it to the kitchen. As he was walking out he heard Gravelthorn yell out from the street.

Walking through the arch, Gravelthorn noticed the healer sitting instead of making his apologies and leaving. Ignoring the wizard for now he yelled out, "You miserly excuse for a rich snob, get your penny pinching arse cheeks out here. Time is money and I'm not making any."

Laughing, Harry walked out the side door from the kitchen and grinned evilly as he started to trade barbs, "RICH," he exclaimed with his hands on his hips, "if I have to keep up with your outlandish ideas, I'll be a broke pauper by the time my grandchildren crawl into the grave. Ya sorry excuse for a monetary manager."

Chuckling Gravelthorn said as he sat down, "Good one. Though," he said as he set his folders down and opened his notepad up, "add another great to the grandchildren thing and you might be believable." Watching as Potter moved from the house to the table and sat across from him, he noticed a certain gleam in Potter’s eyes that always appeared before it ended up costing him money from fees. Groaning out loud he said, "Just tell me how much I'm not going to be making this time and put me out of my misery."

"Ten Sickles," Harry said with a grin and waited for the expected blowup.

Jumping up off the bench, Gravelthorn prepared to give the Potter a tongue lashing and froze. Ten Sickles for what? Was his thought. Head dropping to his chest, as he lost this episode of their long running bet he said as he returned to his seat, "One of these days, I'm not going to fall for your tricks and on that day, there will be no haggling. Just enjoyable screams of outrage as I take you for all your worth."

"Yeah, yeah," Harry waved him off. "I've heard that before, that led to our running bet of who could get a rise out of the other, didn't it?"

"Yes, yes it did," Gravelthorn was quick to answer hoping Potter would not bring up the penalty agreed upon.

"Not so fast, my sneaky friend," Harry waved his finger at Gravelthorn, "I believe the penalty for the bet is a decrease of fees by ten percent."

"Yes, yes, the fee will go down by ten percent after haggling, leaving me a pauper from the deal most likely. Good thing I don't plan to propose a deal tod...why are you smiling like that?" Gravelthorn said with as sinking feeling. “Anyone who has talked to you for more than thirty seconds will not be fooled by that angelic expression you can pull off." As he went over the last time the penalty was put into play he groaned out as he held his head, "Frack. This time it is your proposed deal that the penalty is applied to." Looking more than a little annoyed, he asked, "Are you sure you don't have Goblin in you somewhere?"

"Pretty sure," Harry said with a smile before dropping the act and becoming serious, "now, I have two things to discuss and broker deals on." Ignoring the groans from the big baby across from him he started, "The first will actually be brokered last, but I will tell it to you first so you know why the second is on the table. I will be reopening the bank." Seeing Gravelthorn stare at him and blink several times he smiled inside, gotcha he thought.

"So the first deal to be brokered," Harry said with an innocent smile, which caused Gravelthorn to groan, "is the rights to be the only transport of sentient beings into Arttia as you and Alphonse call the city."

Mind racing at the possibilities and problems, Gravelthorn stared at Potter with a frown on his face. On the one hand, this could be a huge money maker, on the other, they would have to admit to the tunnel transport system. Groaning mentally, this is one deal he would not be able to broker in its entirety, he would have to go back to the council. Damn Potter and his headache inducing deals!

"Tentatively, you understand," Gravelthorn finally broke the silence from the spawn of evil across from him, "I do not have the authority to broker the deal completely. We may come to an agreement and it would have to be signed off by the Goblin Council, but let us see how much of an agreement we can come to."

Nodding his head, Harry rubbed his hands together under the table at the thrill of the upcoming negotiations. "Part one," he said as he composed himself. "The Goblin nation will create a new tunnel system that leads to the upper bank lobby for those wishing to come to Arttia. At no time shall those not having a vault here, under the bank, traverse the bank’s tunnels, or have access to the nesting grounds of the Quetzalcoatl. To ensure this, a new tunnel will be created."

"Do you know how costly that is going to be?" Gravelthorn sounded incredulous. "It will take years to recoup the cost of construction, let alone the infrastructure needed to be built."

"Please," Harry scoffed. "So you need to add a few hundred feet new track. And as far as infrastructure, you will be using the same carts you use in your banks anyways. So don't try to inflate costs atmy expense. And as far as costly, I say bullshit. It won't take much for your tunnelers to GROW the tunnel. After all, all it takes is charging several crystals and pointing them in the direction you want them to go. If it costs more than ten Galleons to grow the tunnel, I'll eat my turkey sandwich cold."

Giving Potter the eye, Gravelthorn stated, "You like cold turkey sandwiches, so no bet." Evaluating Potter and how far he was willing to go to see the tunnel done he countered, "The tunnel will cost fifty Galleons to build, so that it connects from the American branch to here, to the lobby of the bank. You can cover the costs easily enough."

"FIFTY?" Harry waved his arms around like he was being asked for his first born. "What do you take me for? Some wet behind the ears infant still teething his mother’s teat?" Narrowing his eyes he countered, "Whether the deal goes through creating the tunnel from one of your banks branches or a location of my choice, I am willing to cover the costs of the tunnels creations for twenty Galleons."

Staring at Potter as if he was insulted, Gravelthorn finally said, "I have no doubt that you suckled nourishment straight from the pits of hell," he drawled. Considering what was on the table so far he agreed to part of it, "I agree with the amendment, of the location of the tunnels origination point. But," he shook his head, "unless you wish to be noted as hiring slaves as labor, we can't even think of considering doing the job for less than forty Galleons."

"Slaves would be cheaper than hiring you pikers to get a job done." Harry grinned evilly as he said, "Maybe I should look into that." Shaking his head he said, "I could feed them gruel for a year for the cost you demand for one of your people to point a crystal at some dirt. Hmmm," he said as he looked up as if he was crunching numbers in his head, "I suppose, since we have a long working relationship, I could see shaking a few extra Galleons out of my vault. Twenty-five and construction starts in a week." Adding the numbers in his head, Gravelthorn did not hide his wince as best as he should, "Thirty and we begin construction the moment the council signs off on the deal."

Sitting back in his chair, Harry crunched up his face as if in pain. Closing his eyes and acting all theater-like he squeezed a few tears out as if he was in pain. Putting his hand over his chest and breathing deeply, he said sadly, as if going to a funeral, "I suppose I can see to it your little ones eat for another, YEAR," he yelled out before grinning, "on my knut." Chuckling, indicating he was through bargaining he nodded, "Put it to paper Gravelthorn."

Smiling, Gravelthorn finished drawing up the agreement and flipping it around so Potter could read through it.

Checking to make sure everything was as they agreed to, Harry pulled the pin out of his collar and pricked the end of his finger and dropped a drop of blood in the circle while saying, "Deal."

Nodding as he turned the contract around, Gravelthorn pricked his own finger and smeared the blood on his circle and said, "As brokered, the deal is complete."

"Now," Harry said as he steepled his fingers and set his chin of them as he leaned forward, "before we get to the main event, general information for your perusal and disbursement." Nodding as Flys Brightly hissed in his ear he stared at Gravelthorn in the eyes, "Arttia was once known as the height of Magic. It was known as being completely neutral and the Quetzalcoatl were known as the enforcers of neutrality. I am re-opening the bank, mainly because I will be letting people move into my lands once more. Those moving here will vow to uphold the laws of the land and neutrality to one of the Quetzalcoatl who is stationed near the lobby. Those who refuse or vow under false pretenses will be handled and or disposed of by the will of the Quetzalcoatl. As ruler of these lands I will not involve myself with their decision on immigration."

"So noted," Gravelthorn said with shock. Access to their old city would guarantee his ascension. Access to the bank itself would ensure he was allowed to join in the breeding times.

"Part two," Harry said as he prepared for the new bargain. Seeing Gravelthorn pull a fresh sheet of parchment over and put quill to parchment he started, "The Goblin nation will run the transport system to and from Arttia for all those who wish to travel here. The fee will be equivalent to one Galleon. From my reading," he said as he mused on the different currencies, "the Americas use the Dragot and the Sprink and I'm sure it is going to cause issues, but you are the bankers so I'll let you handle the conversions." Seeing the nod he continued, "From that one Galleon fee, the percentage of costs and profits will be divided as such."

Gravelthorn listened carefully, this was the part of the deal that would be haggled on.

"Eight Sickles and fifteen Knuts will go into the Arttia vault that will be set up," Harry said. "Two Sickles shall be paid to the Goblin nation for operating the tunnel system, one Sickle shall be paid to you as the broker of the deal and the other five Sickles and fourteen Knuts go to me." Harry finished and sat back with a smile on his face.

"You are truly the spawn of a high evil one," Gravelthorn admitted with pride. Glaring at Potter he spat out, "You realize, there is going to be a heavy time investment of my people to manage the system. A measly two Sickles will get me laughed out of the council chambers.” Sitting back, knowing he was going to have to take a ten percent penalty on his portion of the profits he changed some figures around. "I can see the council agreeing for the following; six, four, two and five."

Shaking his head sadly, Harry countered, "I get the percentage agreed upon on brokering the deal no matter where the Goblin nation implements the system for transporting peoples around the world and I'd be willing to do; eight, two and a half, one and a half and five."

Setting his quill down, Gravelthorn steepled his fingers together and thought about the counter. It did not look like Potter was willing to go below eight as the final percentage the city took in. And he could see how the money would be needed for the city, until a tax base could be built up. And it did not look like he was willing to go much lower than five for himself. So taking into account his ten percent loss due to the bet, or five Knuts on his portions he countered with; "Eight, two Sickles and twenty four Knuts to the Nation, one Sickle and five Knuts to me and five Sickles to you."

Doing some quick math, Harry frowned as Gravelthorn ended up with a full Sickle and one Knut. Trying to haggle Gravelthorn out of a single Knut would be petty he decided in the end, "Pen the deal," he finally said after three minutes to think about it. Once again applying a drop of blood after reading it he surprised Gravelthorn when he stated, "Deal Two."

Setting the deal aside, Gravelthorn almost spilled his ink as Potter announced another deal. "Son of a root hog," he swore as he looked at Potter with an incredulous expression on his face.

"Well, I wasn't going to mention it," Harry said slyly, "but you do have that certain aroma about you."

Goggling, mouth hanging open, Gravelthorn realized he left himself open to that comeback. Pulling another sheet of parchment out he picked up his quill, "Enlighten me oh spawn of the evil one."

"As I am reopening the bank, I will need staff," Harry said with a scowl. "Either that or to farm out the running of the bank to another. As I mentioned before, those that can prove, by blood, they have a tie to one of the old vaults in the bank, will be allowed to once more take control of them."

"We will need to have access to the record room in the bank,” Gravelthorn pointed out.

"Agreed," Harry said quickly as that was not a point worth haggling over. "So I see three options before me, the first, is I hire workers to run the bank for me. The second is your people bid for the right to run the bank for me and third," he grinned in a truly evil smile, "I contact and ask the Dwarves to bid on running the bank."

SNAP!

Gravelthorn looked down at his snapped quill and did not move a muscle. A snapped quill could be blamed on age. Anything else would show he was so bothered his reflexes snapped the quill. "Looks like I should have replaced the quill before our meeting,” he said carefully as he pulled his eyes away from the quill and dug into his satchel for a new one.

"If you say so," Harry said ignoring the fact they both knew what had happened.

"Give me a moment to come up with an offer Potter," Gravelthorn said in distraction. Not realizing he let it out he was very serious about gaining the contract by not playing the game.

Waving him to go for it, Harry sat back and relaxed. That one tell told him, Gravelthorn wanted this deal with every fiber of his being.

Finally, Gravelthorn started slowly by saying, "My people running the bank would be a boon for you in the end. Without council approval, I can offer twenty percent of the profits as we do in other countries we have banks. I suppose the structure and lands below, you will be retaining all rights to?"

"Yes, the Quetzalcoatl, per a previous deal between them and your race," Harry told him, "made it clear that the lands and buildings AND contents of everything within is mine. That is not open to negotiation, unless you wish to broker a deal with the Quetzalcoatl directly?"

Shivering in fright, Gravelthorn was quick to shake his head no. It was a long shot, so he picked up where he left off, "As we will be making the most profit, the only item I can visualize of haggling over is where my people will live while running the bank. I propose," he said hiding his hope, "we will agree to inhabiting the old city we once lived in."

"There are plenty of empty houses above ground they may rent," Harry countered with emphasizing the word rent.

With the way Potter emphasized the word 'rent', Gravelthorn knew his dreams of rent free ownership of the city went up in flames. Pursing his lips, he said as he stalled for time, "Not all my people are comfortable living above ground."

"True," Harry agreed with a nod. Sitting back he pointed out, "The old city is near and your people must travel through the nesting grounds of the Quetzalcoatl. THAT is a recipe for disaster."

Visibly wincing, Gravelthorn could not argue the point, if one of their males went into Jewel Lust it would be a bloodbath, and the victors would not be them. Off the top of his head he said, "We could seal the arch. Separating the two chambers permanently. Creating a new tunnel to the bank. Next to the tunnel entrance we will build further up past the door to our side of the tunnel and your vault."

Entering the conversation for the first time, Flys Brightly lifted his head up off of Harry’s neck and stared at the Goblin for a moment before turning to Harry and saying, "Eldest One will be agreeable as long as we still have access to the tunnels from our nesting grounds, even though we have a flight path in from the surface through the large tunnel at the top of our chamber."

Nodding, Harry looked at Gravelthorn and told him, "Pen this. This deal is broken if the Quetzalcoatl are attacked at any point in the future by your people." Seeing Gravelthorn nod he spelled it out for him, "The Goblin nation will do the following in return for allowing the nation to run my bank. They shall close off and ward the old city underground. They shall ward it and keep the wards between the city chamber and the Quetzalcoatl chamber at their strongest, at all times. The Goblin nation will create a tunnel, at their cost, from the old underground city to the bank’s tunnel system. At no times will any hindrance come between the Quetzalcoatl and my bank’s tunnel system. Twenty percent of all profits generated from fees in my bank, will be deposited in the city of Arttia's account."

Waiting until Gravelthorn finished he motioned for the parchment and read through it, nodding when he finished and it was as dictated, he pricked his finger for the last time today and wiped the blood in the circle. Handing it back, he said, "When the council agrees, this copy is to be returned and placed in the Arttia vault. There is to be no haggling on this deal," he said emphatically.

Nodding his head, Gravelthorn took the contract and placed it on the other two and pulled the ledgers for the Black and Potter investments.

Seeing bank ledgers being pulled out, Alphonse stood up and told Harry, "It is going to be very interesting the next time I talk to my account manager at Gringotts. For now, while you finish your banking, I shall check out the houses near the hospital. I shall return after finding a house with a yard to rent."

#

Pulling his hand off the spike, Gravelthorn stilled in a half rise as he saw the unblinking stares directed at him by the entire council. Glancing from side to side and seeing all the council was staring, unmoving, he continued his rise and waited.

Breaking out of her shock, the oldest of the females looked at her sister Goblins and did not bother to invite discussion, instead she ordered, "The deal is to be signed immediately as penned." Pointing at Gravelthorn she said, "You are ordered to find and train up your replacement, chose well. You have until the next breeding cycle to find one acceptable that can haggle with one so skilled as the Potter. One who will not bargain away all of our profits. Then you will report to the breeding grounds."

"And my chambers," the youngest female said as she fanned herself.

"And once you complete the ascension," the oldest female told him, "you will join your sister Goblins on the council as the elder female of city Arttia."



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