Kurt and Elysia walked across one of the few solid rock bridges that connected the Barracks to the Market, and made their way up the gradual spiral of the section. The plan was to use every minute of the two hours that Sovos had given them, visiting every shop they could on the way down to their meeting place.
“I feel I would be smothered if I came with you” Sig said.
“Alright then, you can go off if you want to”
Sig took wing and quickly disappeared.
The top of the section was mainly the blacksmith and goldsmith shops and forges. The smoke floated away in gray and black clouds from the chimneys. The peal of iron striking iron, and the grunting of the smiths as they worked filled the air. The hiss of quenching vats, and the whoosh of bellows added to the cacophony.
Swords, shields, mail, and full suits of armor were on display at almost every forge. Most were perfectly serviceable, unadorned and basic. One shop had an entire suit of gold plate, studded with rubies and diamonds. The matching helm, shield and scabbard were on a nearby table along with a sign that said ‘Price on Request’. As they walked down the slight curve, the noise became too much. They stepped into a goldsmith’s shop to escape from it.
“Wow!” Kurt breathed.
It seemed as though this particular smith had reached into the night sky and pulled down thousands of stars and locked them in golden cages. Nearly everything was made of diamonds and gold. They twinkled and glittered with the light from the large window. The occasional wink of green, red, or blue told of the pairings of the diamonds with other gems.
“Are ye here to buy, or are ye just lookin’?” A female voice with a strange accent said.
They turned to the speaker, for owning such an extravagant shop, she was plainly dressed. A simple green dress and white apron, and shiny black leather shoes with large buckles. Fiery red hair in long curls framed her face. Sparkling green eyes looked up from her slight stature of just over three and a half feet.
“Well,” Kurt managed to say “that depends on what you have.”
“Well, lad. That depends on what ye are lookin’ for.” She said with a grin.
“Alright then, would you have anything for a Biomancer?”
She paused with a thoughtful expression for a moment.
“Aye, I believe I have something of interest. Wait here for a moment.”
She went behind the curtain at the back.
“Kurt!” Elysia whispered urgently “I’m certain that Sovos warned you about telling people that you are a spellcaster so easily. Even one so widely accepted as a Biomancer.”
“He did. But this woman seems harmless.”
“Well, all the same, you can never be too careful.”
The woman returned with two small boxes
“I have two items that would be of interest to a Biomancer.” She said as she set the boxes down. “The first is a silver ring in the shape of a dragon.” She opened the smaller box.
The ring was small and simple. A dragon, frozen in flight, it’s wings on the beginning movement of a down beat, and it’s tail ending in a small curl. Tongue lolling out, and arms and legs held tight to it’s body.
“And the second…..well, just look.”
Kurt gasped audibly. At first, Elysia thought it was a cross-cut of a rather large ruby, attached to a golden chain, but the shape was too rounded, and there were no facets in the structure. Then she realized what it was.
A dragon scale.
“How and where did you get this?” Kurt asked quietly.
“Well, that’s my little secret. I’m only wantin’ to know if you want it or not.”
“How much?” Kurt asked immediately.
“For the ring or the necklace?” She said with a cheeky grin.
“You know very well which.” Kurt said angrily
“The ring is two silver, the necklace is twenty gold, ten silver.”
“That is monstrous!” Kurt shouted. Twenty gold was most people’s yearly wages before taxes.
“Well, monstrous or not, it’s the only way I can make a profit on it. If you don’t like it, you and the lass can leave.”
“Well, I obviously don’t have twenty gold. So, I’ll just take the ring.”
Kurt handed her the silver.
“Anything for the lass?”
Elysia shook her head from within the shadow of her hood.
“Alright then, I’m sure you can see yourselves out.” She disappeared behind the curtain again.
They stepped back into the sun and noise. The next hour and a half was spent walking down the gradual descent of the section. Stopping at whatever shop caught their attention. A few shops had large red symbols painted on their doors. What seemed to be a dark aura emanated from behind them.
‘Those must be the ones Sovos warned us about’ Kurt thought as he passed one with a shudder.
They stopped at a small tavern called ‘The Centaur and the Hawk’ for lunch. Sig had come back, flying under the overhang of the section above, and landing on Kurt’s head. Kurt shared a kabob with him. Luckily for Elysia, there was a small vegetarian menu, so she was able to have a bowl of vegetable soup and a small salad.
Suddenly, something that felt like an earthquake shook the ground, causing their table to crash to the ground. Everyone around them froze in place. Then the screaming started.
The entire section of the city was beginning to sink.
Kurt’s and Sig’s minds melded. Sig’s every instinct was to fly far and fast, Kurt’s logic said to stay and assess. Kurt reached across to Elysia, but he gripped empty air. He looked to find her on her knees. Her hood had fallen back, revealing tear-stained cheeks. Her hands clutched over her heart.
“What’s wrong?” Kurt shouted over the screaming.
“Sovos! Sovos is in terrible danger!”