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Off the Books (closed)

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The pitcher of tea had long ceased to sweat by the time Tani had finished dragging the crates upon crates of loose papers, receipts, and other miscellany of arcane origin outside and under the awning of the rather dilapidated office.  Despite the fact that she wore only vest and shorts, sweat had made its mark under her armpits and down her back, courtesy of the high Thanalan sun; despite an early morning start and the best of intentions, they were already running behind.  It wasn't precisely the fault of their employer, despite the fact that his steadily blooming business had long ago outstripped his ability to manage its accounts and paperwork; there was a reason that professionals such as herself and Master Duchamps existed in the first place.  Namely, navigation of said accounts and paperwork could be a royal pain in the ass -- especially once extra things like tariffs, taxes, and forms for import or export came into play.


Nor could Tani precisely blame him for the fact that a number of bugs (and/or rodents) had gotten into his store of paper materials.  She'd been forced to send Master Duchamps to the nearest city to buy more of the specially lined account books that were going to be their constant companions for the next few moons, as well as extra loose paper and a few more journals.  Keeping track of the tangle meant meticulous note-keeping, and Tani would rather keep too much on hand over too little.  Provided it was stored properly this time.


She took out a handkerchief, wiping her brow of sweat as she glowered up at the sun.  She'd already (mostly) organized the contents of the boxes with a system of dated vs undated, receipts vs account books, signed paperwork vs miscellaneous forms.  Now all that remained was matching things together and reconciling them as best as they were able, though from the work they'd already done on the very oldest bits and bobs, Tani knew that the error margins were going to be much higher than was typically accepted.  A cringe-worthy fifteen percent, at least.  They just had to hope that no one would want or need to take a peek at the archives of Master Tsuwamono's books, because chances were high the result would not go in their favor.


Even so, Tani and Master Duchamps had begun to find a disturbing trend that she very much hoped proved not to be a pattern, because if so...


Her thoughts scattered as she drank from the pitcher of tea to find it unpleasantly warm.  Not hot, not cold, but something that faintly reminded her of sweat and humidity.  She made a face, taking the pitcher back into their (admittedly not much cooler) office to poke around in the ice box for what remained of the ice.  While she was at it, she pulled together a platter of snacks, figuring that Master Duchamps would also be ready for a break by the time he returned; she'd have neither of them losing concentration over lack of food or drink, especially in the heat.


She waited for him outside, under the awning and the dubious shade it provided, uncomfortably conscious of the way her thighs stuck to each other and to the rough wooden bench of the table, more or less enjoying a slightly cooler cup of tea.


She was not looking forward to the day ahead.

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[align=left]Clouds of dust swirling behind them despite the stagnant air and unfortunate lack of wind, a man and his once pristinely coloured steed trot, their gait lopsided and irregular, into the bazaar. Wincing apologetically, he gives a weary wave to the few people still outside and milling about – their numbers diminished by the climate, both environmental and political. Dismounting as sprightly as possible, considering the sweltering, oppressive heat that bore down on the open plains of Thanalan, Arthur takes hold of Neige's reins; ushering her hastily under the cover of a cloth canopy.


He pats his bird's beak, grateful as his hands move to ruffle the feathers on the back of her head and neck, in the hopes of cooling her off and freeing her of the pelt of dirt she now wore. Lovingly, he scratches beneath her chin before giving the top of her head a final dismissive pat as he circles around to check the cargo he'd had her lug across the desert. An entire pallet's worth of logbooks and several fulms of blank parchment, all carefully bundled in an assortment of burlap sacks and fastened to Neige's saddle, was there. Thankfully, he notes, inspecting the wear of the fabric beneath his fingertips, nothing had been lost, although the ride had jostled cargo and rider alike.


His tunic's sleeves long since rolled up, Arthur sighs as he wipes the sweat from his brow with his forearm, steeling himself for what would likely be several trips to the makeshift office and back. Before he and Tani had begun the arduous task of managing Tsuwamono's books, he probably would have thought all of the supplies he'd fetched excessive. After all, the Au Ra was an up and coming businessman – he was by no means a household name, as he probably like to remain – how much of a backlog could he have? With a huff, he heaves a sack of journals from his bird's back, laughing derisively at his own thoughts. Quite a backlog, it turned out, though at the very least, it'd be unlikely that he'd want for work to do.


Shuffling as quickly as the weight would allow, he glances up at the sun, silently cursing Azeyma and Her persistence as She blazed overhead, uncaring of the plight of the ants that busily scurried under Her gaze. He fixes his eyes on the horizon as best as he was able, peering around the covered mound of books in his arms. Spotting the Hyur woman at work beneath the awning, Arthur calls out to her, his voice raspy and wavering. “Fancy seeing you here,” he jokes, a halfhearted attempt at levity.


He bends his knees, the leather of his boots creaking in protest as he sets the logbooks down beside Tani, only serving to fortify the wall of paperwork that surrounded her. Combing a hand through his hair, Arthur makes a quiet, disgusted noise in the back of his throat before wiping his hand dry on the front of his skirt. “How does our work fare?” He asks conversationally, tying his hair back again as he sits across from her.[/align]

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