The Heart and The Obsidian Orb Part Four

Chapter Three: Always on Sale

“Ah, now this is it, the hustle and bustle of people living their lives, hawking their wares, the art of very existence, each life the main character of their play!” Ivak enthused as he strode into the market with Claroosa, catching a number of dirty looks.

The market was indeed teeming with life, as one might say a corpse can teem with maggots. Though while there was one or two races that were a bit like maggots(not yet reached the point in their lives where they change, or not being a being that changes from grublike form), the majority were merfolk, aquatic fishpeoples, Brunach, the so called beast races and the Nighom, the human races of elves, hulves, dwarves and others.

The market was crammed along the tunnelstreet that connected to the sheltered docks beneath the town proper. Stalls and tents littered the length, some of them hanging from the walls, some even from the ceiling. There was everything from fresh produce to obscure bric-a-brac to live produce(even fresher produce) to materials. Basically the market was glut with foreign things, though there was some things more familiar to a native of Nortrieln too. All kinds of goods that can be sold, and even a number that probably couldn’t be sold or shouldn’t be.

Of course not everything brought in was to be sold at the market, irritable porters, cartdrivers and so on drove and pushed their way through the market, and woe betide those that got in their way.

The tunnelstreet was also pocked with the doors and windows of buildings carved into the rock. Every last one of them was a shop, watering hole or foodplace of some description. The market actually had more people who did not live in Welterine in it than those who did. The locals tended to stay away from the docks and the dockmarket unless they had actual business or work there. Though those that basically lived at the docks were a different breed.

There was a more subdued market in the upper town, but that didn’t have nearly the range of goods the other market had.

Ivak had of course gone directly to the dockmarkets, after all, if he was going to find an artefact that hadn’t been snapped up by the House, it would be there. Ivak stepped over a scruffy aehi fishmonger that was wrestling with an overlarge eel that was quite determined to either eat the fishmonger or return to the water. Claroosa for her part deal the eel a blow to the side of the head and apologized to the fishmonger on her master’s behalf.

Ivak’s perceptive eyes darted around in their sockets, quickly taking in all the sights, trying to find a seller of artefacts that was new, or had new goods. He quickly spotted what looked like a newly pitched tent, and the signs hanging on it promised wondrous goods. Nagar’s Emporium of Fine Wares it touted.

“Ahaha!” Ivak laughed, dodging an irate porter. “Look there Claroosa! You see that tent? This may well prove fruitful”

Claroosa was not terribly impressed, the tent was shabby and there was a number of dodgy things about the words on its sign, namely she found the ‘Always on Sale’ bit to be kind of odd. After all if something is always on sale, doesn’t that mean it isn’t actually on sale at all?

“If I may milord” Claroosa shoved a package back into the porter’s bag that was falling out as he passed. “Don’t you think it is a bit against the spirit of the tradition to just walk out and buy an artefact, we could at least journey to Fionnwyr and commission an artefact to be made by one of the alchemists that live upon his back”

Journeying to the self-chained ever-growing great wolf Fionnwyr and getting an alchemist from one of the cities upon his back to make an artefact was actually less of a quest than it sounded. Still, Ivak really just wanted to get back to his idle days of painting.

“Oh it is most likely totally against the spirit of the tradition, but not all of us need go on epic quests like yours anyway. Come to think of it, you never have told me, in all my life, how you got the heart of the Greathlar… or even what the Greathlar is” Ivak deflected.

Claroosa mused for a bit, pulling on a strand of fair brown hair.

“No, I don’t suppose I have” She commented.

Ivak stared at her, She stared back. Ivak was the first to break eye contact and Claroosa spoke again.

“It is a rather long story milord, and I’m not going to tell it in the middle of a busy market.”

“Fine, but one day I shall know, though you always seem to find some way of not telling me…”

“Yes, I do milord”

Ivak clambered over a stray sleeping plated animal that seemed a bit boarlike, but its body was like that of a seal. An Uraz. Welterine was blighted with the beasts. They were notoriously hard to wound or even shift without magic. It wasn’t uncommon that someone would end up trapped outside of their home by an Uraz that had settled down infront of their door. Some believed that the creatures deliberately placed themselves in awkward places. This one was resting at the entrance to the tent, but it was a small matter to climb over it. Claroosa with great effort pushed it over to the side so it’d be bothering less people. The beast grunted in displeasure, but didn’t make a move.

The inside of Nagar’s Emporium was like a microcosm of the market, though without the people. A orange orb in a glass cage lit the insides. Said insides were lined with boxes of this bunch of charms and that lot of reagents. There was a variety of travelling essentials along with the trinkets of dubious virtues. In one corner stood a suit of fairly shiny bronze coloured armour, the squatness and wideness of it marked it as for those humans descended from rock, otherwise known as dwarves. Its helmet was quite frightful, some manner of beast. More frightful was the wooden price tag hanging off it. Underneath its monstrous price was ‘prime condition uncursed armour, buy now!’.

There was a particularly big box of assorted, for want of a better term, things in the centre of the tent. Beyond this there was a counter and beyond that garish purple curtains.

Ivak and Claroosa poked around a bit, as nobody seemed to be around. Every now and then Ivak would excitedly pull something out, only for it to not even blip on the shiny magical pebble Yagmalral had given him, that or there would be an exchange between Ivak and Claroosa.

“Look Claroosa, isn’t this an amazing thing!”

“Totally hollow milord, and magically inert”

“Maybe it is extra inert? Maybe it is special that way!”

“I am afraid not milord, it is just regularly inert”

They were just about to leave when a boggart blocked their path.

A boggart is a being of slime, goo. Supposedly they are actually kind of fungal. Boggarts can take humanoid form, and are of full mind and will, unlike other slimes that slip their way about Kigan. In general the colder it is, the more solid and jelly like a boggart will be, and the less control over its form it will have. The hotter it is, the more a boggart will be slimy and more fluid, and while the boggart will have more control over its form, it will also have a harder time maintaining a form.

This boggart was a red one, wearing an orange turban, a brown jacket and baggy cloth pants. He also wore a heavy coat of some silvery furred beast. He seemed to be trying to evoke the image of some merchant from the hot southern lands of Erimael. Anyone well read however would know that the boggarts of Erimael tended not to wear much more than a robe or a few strips of cloth.

Ivak and Claroosa, being aehi nobles, were quite well read, though Ivak was in spite of being quite a bit younger than Claroosa better read.

“Welcome and good day honoured customer to Nagar’s Emporium, where there is nothing that is not not a bargain.”

“So, you don’t have any bargains then?” Claroosa questioned seeing right through Nagar (though boggarts are by nature often semi-opaque).

Ivak started. “What but he said… ah, yes”

“Ah, how dreadful, slip of the tongue” Nagar said smoothly, while picking up a gnarled staff with a very cracked dead looking crystal jammed in at one end. “Can I interest you in this fine staff my fine sir?”

He offered it to Ivak.

“It calls forth a withering blight upon one’s foes I’ve been told, it was given to me in a trade by disciple of the Lord of Magic himself!”

“Oh” Claroosa remarked “What was this savant’s name”

“He declined to give it” Nagar parried.

“Well, glowing recommendations or not, I’m not looking for a staff, I believe we shall leave now, come Claroosa”

Ivak pushed the staff back into Nagar’s hands, and strode off. He didn’t get far.

“Ah, wait, wait, I recognise the livery and cut of those clothes, I’ve heard talk of House Vulk” Nagar bowed.

“Your House has an interest in spheric artefacts, does it not? Wait a moment if you please my lord, and I will show you something that may draw your interest”

Ivak thought about, he wasn’t liking this slimy(nagar was not at that point in time physically slimy) merchant, but the chance of getting an artefact sooner rather than later was very attractive.

“Very well, show your artefact”

Nagar bowed even lower.

“You shall not be disappointed my lord”

With that he slid off over the counter and behind the curtains, there was a bit of arguing and yelling a bit of crashing and other mysterious sounds, but Nagar returned, Turban a bit off kilter, and bearing an obsidian orb, small enough to almost fit in the palm of one’s hand. The orb was clearly magical, it seemed to greedily suckle at the light, and its surface occasionally melted into obsidian brickwork.

“Behold, The Orb of The Obsidian Castle, one of the early fruits of Sorcerer of Spaces Ceilron Shail!”

“That is quite the claim!” Ivak said.

He had read of Ceilron Shail, who had all but his name and works forgotten. Even then, his works as amazing as they were, were surpassed by the Witch of Dimensions Ira Kiopla. Though while Ira Kiopla was more powerful, and by no means missing and forgotten, she had not left nearly as many artefacts lying around as Ceilron had.

“Well, I shall give the proof of it! I need only hold onto this orb, wish to be in the castle it leads to while gazing into the orb and…”

Abruptly Ivak, Claroosa and Nagar were no longer in a tent, but a great obsidian chamber with black and red tiles, and floating collections of glittering crimson crystals emitting light against the high walls and twisting mass of supports that was the ceiling. In the middle of this chamber was a pedestal of blended symbols that thrummed with power, and connected to this was the simple obsidian orb.

“…I can take myself any anyone nearby that I wish to this castle!”

“The d├ęcor is a bit tacky perhaps” Claroosa quipped.

Nagar ignored this and continued his pitch.

“Now, one can only return to the place that one last touched the orb, and it can only remember the last person to touch it.”

Nagar looked into the orb again.

They were back in the tent.

After a bit of haggling, that Ivak was doing badly at, Claroosa took over, which caused Nagar to agree on a price quite promptly, he was cunning enough to know that trying to haggle with Claroosa would end badly for him.

Nagar still got quite a lot of money for his troubles and Ivak and Claroosa left, now with an artefact.

Ivak was extremely pleased. Soon he would be back to painting without a care in the world.

It was not however to be, they had almost left the dock markets when Ivak felt something amiss. He patted himself down. Then he patted himself down again. He let out a soul rending piteous wail.

“GONE, IT’S GONE!”

He spun around, and his eyes quickly spotted the thief, a small fluttering form having a certain amount of difficulty with carrying the orb, as it wasn’t much smaller than the figure.

“STOP THIEF!” He cried out, and gave chase, though Claroosa soon overtook him.

Then he tripped over an uraz and slammed face first into the cobblestones of the tunnelstreet, and everything went black.

Author: SnowyMystic