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As Sovos rounded the curve of the city section, his mind and heart began to pull him in separate directions. His mind demanded that he keep going and get his supplies, his heart demanded that he turn around and return to Elysia and Kurt.
‘I can’t protect her without my scrolls.’ he thought to himself. He followed his mind and continued up the spiral of the Neighborhood to his destination, taking care to be as far away as possible from the edge.
His supplier lived about half way up the section. The houses were carved into the solid stone, making comfortable and homey caves with colored doors, square windows with various flowers and herbs growing in window boxes. Children laughed and played in the road with a few dogs. Mothers circled around their charges, waiting for some inevitable accident to occur. A ways further up, the houses became further and further apart. The doors more opulent. The section quieter.
No children, no sound but the wind. Sovos began running his hand along the wall, searching and probing for something. He suddenly froze, his fingers had found the niche he had been searching for.
It was as deep as the top joint of his index finger was long, the wall was covered with countless thousands of similar ones, but he knew this was the one he was looking for. He pressed down, and the niche widened into a gap as long as one of his scrolls. He dug through his bag and retrieved a stone trap golem scroll. He only ever had two of these types. The first one was used in his ‘expulsion’. The second was for this purpose and this purpose alone. He fit it into the gap. The power of the scroll cracked through the stone like lightning, the scroll then flashed into flame faster than he could blink. He pressed his weight into the affected area and it swung inward like a door on hinges.
“Who goes there!?” A voice that seemed to be made of many thundered out.
“It’s me, Sovos! Permit me entry!”
“Sovos? Why have you come?”
“I am in desperate need of supply.”
“Then enter and be welcome.”
Sovos stepped into the darkness of a tunnel. He walked straight until he suddenly found himself in a well lit shop. All kinds of the rarest forms of Geomancer magic was on display.
Tomes and scrolls with covers and bands of gold and silk lined shelves on both sides, what Geomancers referred to as ‘pocket golems’ were in small crates under the shelves. Quicker, but less powerful than using a scroll. Tiny rock and dirt fists clenched their three fingers as he approached and sand, dirt, rock, mud and gravel soldiers paced around the bottom of their box. Copies of his bag were hanging on hooks on the wall near the counter.
A glint of silver caught his eye, and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. A Soul Lamp. Not a Geomancer artifact, but a Pyromancer weapon. It increased their power by burning their souls at an accelerated rate, but at the cost of their soul being burned faster than naturally possible.
“Where did you get this?” Sovos demanded.
“I found it.” The voice seemed to come from the room itself.
“Why did you keep it? You deal in Geomancer, this is decidedly Pyromancer.”
“I don’t really know, call it a whim.”
“Well, that aside, I didn’t come here to browse. I need one thousand blanks.”
“A thousand?” The voice sounded shocked. “Planning on getting into trouble are we?”
“Of course not, but as you know, trouble usually finds me.”
Sovos collected the blanks that appeared in neat stacks on the counter, sat at a nearby desk, and spent the next hour writing. Using quill and ink and life on each and every one of them. He and the voice chatted about this and that. The voice told him of two mysterious murders in the city. A barkeep at the bottom of the Neighborhood and a beggar over in the Barracks. They seemed unrelated, but there is no such thing as coincidence, the voice had said.
Sovos told about meeting Kurt, Far City and of Elysia and the trouble that followed.
“That is dangerous, taking a Necromancer under your protection.”
“Yes, even she thinks that. But you, better than most, know I can’t do anything else.”
When he had finished, he rubbed the cramp out of his hand and got the blood flow returned to his legs by stretching. He set the ten gold required on the counter.
“Thank you for your business Sovos.” The voice said as he stepped into the tunnel.
“Oh, wait!” The voice stopped him
“What is it?” Sovos asked.
“This nearly got away from me, having a chat generally does that to one. Anyway, I found two of the Lost Runes that your father set me looking for!”
“Impossible!” Sovos said in disbelief. The Lost Runes were just that, runes that had been lost to the ashes and dust of ancient history. Once used by Geomancers, but now forgotten. They once controlled aspects of the earth that were now thought to be beyond the scope of a Geomancer’s power.
“Well, which ones?” Sovos asked excitedly.
“Crystal and Giant.” The voice stated.
Sovos dug into his bag and produced a leather-bound notebook. He grabbed the quill of the desk and opened the book.
“Well, what are they?”
Two runes glowed in fiery orange light above the counter until he had written them down.
“Hmm, no wonder that Crystal was forgotten, who would have thought that it had circles in it?”
“Quite, but beware of Giant, you could die after writing just one.”
“Yes, I know the history of it.”
When the rune was discovered in ancient times, ten Geomancers pooled their life energy and made a giant soldier of stone. It worked, but all ten of them were dead within the year. The rune taxed their life forces so much, they simply withered away.
“But still, give your companions and your father my best, will you?”
“Of course.” Sovos said as he stepped back into the tunnel.
He stepped back into the wind and light and the way he had come from sealed itself, melting back into the rock face. His internal clock told him that he had just enough time to get to the ‘Wrinkled Scroll’ to meet up with Elysia and Kurt.
“So, off I go.” He said aloud
“Oh, I seriously doubt you’ll have time for that.” A familiar dark voice said from behind him. He couldn’t place where he had heard it, but it sent a shiver down his spine. Sovos felt the pressure of cold steel at the base of his neck.
“The Council humbly requests an audience with you, Sovos.”