Familiarity in this case did not breed informality. Cynical as she was, the suspicious woman never truly relaxed her dubious impressions of these Outsiders, even as she called them friends and laughed with them. Legerdemain would not be tolerated from any but herself. She projected herself onto others and knew that should either of these men exhibit anything less than helpful transparency then their lives would immediately, and permanently, forfeited.
They bowed to her, as was expected, as was her due. It had been a tortuously long wait and although the intended partial recipient for this gift was now deceased, Helena would still accept it for the increasingly positive image it would afford her. Keeping bees was a profession she knew nothing in great detail of, all of the knowledge she held was for the products of those busy workers. An individual expertise in the subject was worth its weight in whatever value was traded.
"Ah zhis is no matter. I knew zhis would be difficult to find. Zhis is why I asked you, mon cherie."
Helena moved to inspect the hive, her eyes coming to where she could see an entrance had been covered. This was where the small insects would come and go from. She was smart enough not to try and remove the lid. She smiled at Arrow, nodding her head,
"Zhis we are thankful for, Phobos is strong but... myself not so much." She laughed, an airy sound. Phobos' voice struck out, impossibly deep, "Helena is the brains, I'm just the brawn." The Serf man chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck.
She thoughtfully slipped through the book she'd also requested. It was written in some kind of dark charcoal that had smudged slightly, on pale parchment that crinkled beneath her touch. The man who had written it went into exacting details about his observations over the years of keeping bees. She alternated between idly flipping through the crudely bound pages and Ezra's drawn face as he inspected her own offerings.
This might seem an unevenly skewed trade for the moment. A box of insects and a book for cloth, grain, fibers and the other things she had offered him in exchange for paper and their contract. This was an investment that would return to her the initial cost several-fold. Helena saw it stretch forth into the future when Salsola no longer had to buy in wax and honey, when they would produce enough to sell instead. Behind her eyes, the stars of wealth gleamed.
She stood out of the way as the three men wrestled with the heavy box, transferring it from their cart to her own. The bees made their anger known, to her amusement. She breathed easier once the hive was safely on her cart and Phobos began to lash it down so it wouldn't fall on the bumpy trail.
"And you are begin still willing to carry on zhe contract for paper, Oui? I 'ave not tired you of my presence." She rose an eyebrow, and then from her cloak pulled a small bottle of spirit. She took a quick drink and then offered it to Ezra. It burned her throat, settling her stomach aflame.