Pavel shook his head, violently crumpled the paper he was working on and tossed the wadded ledger into a pile of similar wadded ledgers in the corner of the room. A collective groan rose from the rest of the room.
“Come, Pavel,” Johannes implored, “take a rest and get some food…”
“No!” the frustrated monk answered without looking up, “I can do this.”
Johannes glanced over at Finn, who shrugged, then at Rallo whose thoughts seemed elsewhere. Pavel continued scribbling fervently and mumbling…
“…twelve, carry the two…”
“Pavel?” Johannes pleaded.
“Almost…there…,” he mumbled, then announced triumphantly “Got it!”
“By my calculations,” he stood, obviously pleased with himself, “Finn gets…”
The young monk stopped in mid-sentence and slumped back into his chair, frowning.
“…three times as much treasure as the rest of us?”
“Well done, lad!” Finn injected quickly, standing, “Looks like we’re done here, eh?”
Pavel continued staring at the ledger, looking for an error. The older elf rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache coming on. He motioned for Finn to sit back down.
Suddenly, Rallo stood up and walked over to the table. He studied the document for a few seconds, then a dagger slid into his hand from his sleeve and stabbed it down into the desk, pinning the ledger to the table. He looked right into Pavel’s eyes-
“Economic profit is the difference between the revenue received from the sale of an output and the opportunity costs of the inputs used, minus expenses that are directly due to the volume of business done,” he stated, matter-of-factly.
Rallo whirled and strode out the door. As he cleared the doorway he yelled back:
“…the dagger marks your mistake. You can keep it.”
Finn got to his feet and followed the halfling out the door.
Pavel let his forehead drop to the desktop with a painful-sounding thump. Johannes moved up behind the youngster and put a hand on his shoulder.
In his most fatherly tone, Johannes asked “Why do we make mistakes, Pavel?”
Without lifting his head, Pavel mumbled under his breath-
“So we can see the wisdom in having servants to do this stuff?”
Johannes smiled at the joke, but gave Pavel no verbal indication that he thought the topic was comical. He answered his own question.
“We make mistakes so that we can learn from them. We need to learn some additional skills or a settlement out here will not survive.”
“I have skills,” Pavel argued, holding up his fists.
Johannes took a deep breath.
“Out here, fending off starvation is every bit as important as fending off bandits,” the elf exhorted, “and poverty is a much bigger enemy than any we have faced.”
He could see the words sinking into the young monk like a summer rain sinks into the dry soil.
“I have much to learn,” Pavel confessed, solemly.
“As do we all.” the elf agreed, and motioned out the door, “and soon, the lives of an entire settlement may depend on how well we learn our lessons.”
Pavel nodded and drew a fresh piece of parchment.
Editor’s note: This obviously will take place after the return to Olegs, but I thought it appropriate to post it now, as my lack of accounting accumen becomes apparent. ;)