Captain Blackthorn grimaced against the salt air that sandblasted his face. His men were weary, his ship was falling apart and the hold was replete with treasures beyond counting. It was time to head home and enjoy the bounty that years at sea had brought them. As he braced himself against the pressing squall he considered the conundrum of converting said bounty into a transferable asset that could easily be spent without arousing suspicion of the local militia or the jealousy of rival pirates. If only large amounts of wealth could be represented on something as light and unobtrusive as a piece of paper. But then Blackthorn had a idea:
"I know what we'll do! We'll bury it!…"
The accepted mode of getting otherwise unobtainable information is to go visit the cranky old hermit living in the mountains. It's just the sensible thing to do. So, naturally, everyone takes their monthly excursion to the hermit's hovel to consult him on everything, from lock-jaw to lovesickness, necromancers to nasal viruses.
Now, if everyone's always visiting the poor old hermit, there's going to be an enormous queue... "Wellcome to the Hermitt's Hovele, Please Take Ye a Number and Have Ye a Seate" reads the sign outside the packed dwelling.
Imagine the poor hermit, having retreated into the mountains to escape this precise situation...