“You invented this thing, what’s so hard for you to grasp about our plan?” A heavily tanned brunette youth queried as he stared down one of his partners in crime, exasperation clear in his tone.
“It’s just… do you really think anyone’s stupid enough to buy into it?” The younger boy responded, his grey eyes betraying his skepticism and just the slightest bit of anxiety.
“Heh, are you kidding? With the story we’ve cooked up, as long as you actually put a little effort into being convincing, I have no doubt we’ll have some takers. Have a little faith in your own ‘inventions’, Astore!”
“Ladies, please, we’ve gone over this a hundred times now. Just leave the talking to Ottavio and I and you can just stand there and look pretty, capsici?” the eldest of the bunch, a man with black hair and eyes just as dark insisted, seeming just as confident as Ottavio.
“I… look pretty! Hey, I thought I was actually contributing something to this! If I don’t have to be there-”
Ottavio sighed, resisting the urge to rake a hand down his face in frustration at Astore’s hesitance. “The whole point of having you with us is credibility. You’re the one who came up with the bullshit ‘science’ behind why this works, after all.”
Sabio put a hand on Astore’s shoulder as a comforting gesture, “Listen, just speak when you’re spoken to and don’t act suspicious. It’s a piece of cake.” He turned his head to look down the alleyway at the bustling marketplace beyond, releasing his grip of the young thief as he brought his attention back to his two accomplices.
“Now, are you ready? The merchant is here already,” he said, gesturing over his shoulder toward their target, a middle aged man who seemed slightly out of place behind his stall, which advertised an assortment of curios for various uses. Sabio had scoped out this particular man due to the fact that he wasn’t a native Italian, which would make it much easier for them to convince the Spaniard of the legitimacy of the little invention Astore had cooked up.
“I… I guess. Let’s just get this over with,” Astore said uncomfortably, waiting for one of the other two to make their way over ahead of him.
“Yeah, I’m ready to get this show on the road,” Ottavio added with a slight grin, one that quickly became the unreadable mask of a shrewd salesman as he began to walk over to the merchant, making sure he moved slowly and purposefully enough that Sabio could walk beside him - as well as to not look like he was in any sort of hurry.
Sabio nodded and turned on his heel, falling into step next to his shorter companion with Astore bringing up the rear. The trio had certainly pulled off a number of little scams before, but not like this one. If they managed to sell this, literally, it would mark a new level of deception on their part. Sabio had always liked to think of himself as an aspiring con-artist.
He was the first to speak as they neared the unassuming merchant, “Buongiorno, signore! A fine day, is it not?” he said pleasantly, stopping in front of the stall. The Spaniard, thinking he had a customer, smiled in response and nodded, “Si, it is. What can I help you with today?”
“Actually,” Sabio replied, crossing his arms and leaning one elbow casually against the wooden counter, “I was wondering if we could help you, mio bene signore.”
“In fact, signore, what we have come to discuss with you is an absolutely revolutionary piece of technology that will surely change your way of life - as well as potentially those of future customers, even,” Ottavio chimed in, almost flamboyantly gesturing for Astore to come closer to the merchant’s stall. “Show him your ground-breaking creation, won’t you?”
Only the slightest bit hesitantly, the youngest scam artist complied, presenting a curious-looking oaken ‘chest’ to the merchant. “This is my greatest innovation yet - the Solarius. It is capable of a great many things, as I have discovered a way to capture the rays of the sun itself for future use.”
The spanish gentleman eyed them all uncertainly. “Capture the sun?” he tilted his head, “How does it work?”
“Well,” Sabio said, turned to the little box, “It is quite simple. All you do is open this slide on the top,” he moved aside a little wooden panel to reveal a glass top, “And the sunlight filters in. This is a smaller model, so it only holds so much, but to access the sun you saved…” He opened the lid and a dazzling stream of rainbow lights danced all over the ground and the stall before them. It was bullshit of course, Astore having achieved the effect through prisms, but it made for a great show.
The Spaniard took a step back and lifted a hand to shield his eyes, “Most impressive, but what use does it have?” he pressed further, though he hadn’t sent them packing, so Sabio took that as a sign to continue the little act.
“Observe,” the young Italian held up a scrap of paper and put it close to the box. After a few seconds, the paper started to smoke before bursting into a small flame.
“And if that does not seem impressive in its own right, this is just our prototype. Can you imagine, with the right tools and resources, just what humanity as a whole could have at their fingertips? Signore, we aim to make it so the Solarius can be used to heat the homes of wealthy and destitute alike, and to be widely used in the bleak winter months when farmers are in desperate need of sunlight for their suffering crops. But we cannot do this alone. If you were to sponsor us, giving us a mere two hundred florins, it would help us to perfect my creation - and promote your standing in society by being instrumental in the genesis of an invention that rivals Da Vinci’s.”
The spaniard looked at the three of them hesitantly, clearly impressed, but still unsure. “You seem like a clever businessman, mi amico,” Sabio said, changing his tone to something more friendly, “An invention like this, seems too good to be true, huh? But, two hundred now could turn into thousands later. Plus, invest today, we’ll knock twenty florin off and include this little prototype,” he offered, taking the little box from Astore and placing it in the Spaniard’s hands. It was literally free to make, the young inventor having assembled it with things he had stolen, so reproducing it would be no problem.
“One hundred and eighty florin, eh?” the merchant mused, turning the box over in his hands, “You’ve got yourself a deal,” he said, extending his hand toward Sabio with a grin. He shook the man’s hand, smiling back, “You’ll see, signore, that’ll make your money back and then some,” he assured him as the man retrieved the coin they had asked for.
“Thank you for your patronage, caro signore. Your gift will allow me to continue my work, as well as to improve upon my already functioning design.” Astore added with as much genuine gratitude as he could muster, looking to Sabio and Ottavio with a look that clearly begged, can we get moving?
“Gracias, senor,” he replied, nodding his head at them. “You will be here in one week, si? We shall see you soon, signore, ciao!” Sabio said with a sweeping bow before turning and striding away, a sly grin shot at his companions as he did so.
Ottavio returned Sabio’s grin, although his was slightly less wide, his dark brown eyes shining with pride at a job well done. Astore looked more flustered than happy, however, and once they were considerably far away from their unfortunate target, he asked, “Did we really just get away with that? Just like that?”
“Si,” Ottavio replied offhandedly, as if discussing the weather, “And Sabio, amico mio, you were terrific! In another life, you'd make a fantastic actor.”
Sabio chuckled and threw an arm around Astore’s shoulder, ruffling the kid’s hair with his free hand, “Indeed we did, thanks to your crafty little invention,” he said before releasing the anxious youth and looking over at Ottavio.
“Grazie, signore, you didn’t do too bad yourself. I think we can make this little endeavor very lucrative indeed,” he replied with a sly smirk as he rubbed his hands together, “In honor of our success, I say we celebrate,” he suggested, gesturing to a tavern coming up on their left.
“Shouldn't we be thinking about our next move, or something? Who knows how long it will take him to realize we weren’t legitimate and will have him warning off some of our other potential buyers,” Astore pointed out, raising an eyebrow at Sabio questioningly as he spoke.
“You worry too much, Astore,” Ottavio replied, clearly amused. “I highly doubt that taking one evening to enjoy ourselves will negatively impact our new business ventures. And even if this does end up not working out, there are plenty of other ways to get by in a city like this.”
“Besides,” Sabio reasoned, “The best business ventures are discussed over drinks, are they not?” he elbowed Astore lightly as he tried to persuade the surprisingly level headed young thief. Still, he lead the way into the run down tavern with confident stride. Despite the risks, he had a good feeling about this.