Well. There’s one service you’re always ready to offer. It’s a bit personal, perhaps, but you think it might be persuasive here.
“Have you ever found your pillow too lumpy?” you ask nonchalantly, as he’s still considering things.
“What?” he asks, looking puzzled.
“It’s a common complaint. We just get the cheapest pillows we can, and they’re not very good. That is, if you leave ’em the way they come out of the box. But with a little modification, you can have something nice and soft to rest your head on. And I know just how to do that modification. So, you know. I could throw in that little fix for you, no big deal.”
“I think I’m getting used to it,” he mutters. “But… yeah, okay, I’m tired of waking up with a headache. Can you take care of it now?”
Time’s tight, but you think you can spare it.
“Sure. Except I might not have time to sew the pillow back up afterwards.”
“I just make a little hole, rearrange the feathers, and then sew it back up. Don’t worry, the hole’s not noticeable, the sewing’s just to make sure feathers don’t spill out.”
“No, it’s fine, I can handle that, got my own needle and thread. Thanks.”
You nod, and head in. A few minutes of ruffling some feathers later, you present the pillow to Mark, smiling.
“Give it a try.”
Skeptically, he rests his head against it.
“Wow, that really is a lot softer. How did you…”
“I just did what the original stuffers were too lazy to do. Now come on, I don’t want to put Squib in a worse mood by being late.”
“All right, all right. At least once this mess is sorted out I’ll have something to show for it.”
You lead Mark down towards the auditorium. You’re pretty good at dodging the patrols; you’ve done plenty of late-night snooping. Though Mark has a bit of trouble keeping up, it’s not so much that he risks giving you away.
When you’re at the last hall, you leave Mark in an empty room and make your way over to the auditorium alone.
The two knights standing guard give you a glare, but Squib soon comes by and says he’ll take care of it. He whispers something to one of the guards; they nod, and let you both through.
The first thing you notice once inside is the large, gaping hole in the middle of the floor. It occurs to you that this meeting could be even more dangerous than you thought.
“Let’s cut to the chase,” Squib says. “What sort of meat are you looking for? Tell me that and I’ll tell you my price.”
Squib seems in an even worse mood than when you saw him earlier. Maybe he doesn’t trust you, maybe he just wants to get this over with. Either way, it’ll be tough to get real information out of him, especially when there’s a very convenient hole he can make you disappear down if he gets particularly upset with you.
But then again, you never were one to shy away from a challenge.
It’s got to be something fancy, expensive, and probably too hard for them to actually obtain but easy enough for them to fake or substitute so that they don’t reject you outright.
Maybe you want meat from a fancy desert horse, for instance, and it needs to have been humanely treated and raised on a diet of tender grasses. You saw things like that (but not exactly that) advertised in town.