Because he had some familiarity with the House of Jourdain already, Mayro liked the idea of sticking his nose in there, but wasn’t sure whether his approach should be to attack the people who ran the brothel or sneak in and steal things.
So he started with some surveillance, setting up a shelter at the edge of an encampment of nomads that was in the same general vicinity. After a couple days of watching, Mayro learned that customers came in the night and left at morning, and that occasionally merchants made deliveries, but that the gang members didn’t seem to leave except to hang lamps outside as the sun was going down. He tried to gain entrance as a paying customer, but couldn’t even get through the gate due to his lack of funds. So he made the acquaintance of one of the brothel’s suppliers, a dealer in silken garments, and tried to get a job.
And he got a job. Not a permanent one, but a one-day contract that involved him accompanying the merchant (“Xiao”) when he made his monthly delivery to a particular customer that always tried to cheat him, or to offer unseemly and unfavorable barter terms. Day-to-day, Xiao felt secure with a couple men-at-arms, but for dealing with Madam Guto at the House of Jourdain, he would appreciate additional protection. Mayro offered the additional protection of his associates Golfo and Naron, and this was accepted.
When the group arrived at the House of Joudain, they were welcomed inside the music room and told that Madam Guto was running late. Young women brought them tea and made light, flirtatious conversation. When Madam Guto did appear, she told Xiao that she did not have enough money to pay and would we accept a smaller sum. He refused. She said she would look for more money and that while they were waiting Xiao should let one of the girls entertain him in her room. To Mayro’s surprise, Xiao agreed. He even tried to stop him from going, but the merchant shook him off. Not knowing what else to do, Mayro stood outside the room.
After about an hour, Xiao returned and so did Madam Guto. She could pay half, was that enough? Xiao was angry and distraught. He wasn’t going to let her trick him like that and he wasn’t dealing with her again, and he demanded his money. They waited some more. Feeling increasingly compromised, by the surroundings, the old woman’s commanding presence, his own lack of discretion, and the sounds of a group gathering in the courtyard, Xiao at last relented and sold his silks at a steep discount. After being escorted home, Xiao paid Mayro and his friends their promised wages and told them he’d be in touch if he needed their help again.