The hunt should move quickly. A star-shaped gem was unusual enough that its scent would be everywhere. You just had to find the right string. Silverymoon’s marketplace was a tangled web like any other. The bold stood on crates and yelled about their exotic clothes. The not so bold stood in your path, holding shining cups and plates. But it was a quiet one Morning was looking for. Perhaps one that had come into a large sum of money recently. Morning ignores the heat of the noise around her to look.
A horned-boy flashes cards on a table with subtle hands. A half-man lazed while drinking out of the same vials he was selling. A pointed-ear sat on a wagon and was bartering little before buying. In fact, her cart seemed to be full of knick-knacks. Some were quite fine. And the elf showed no sign of packing up yet. Morning nudged her companions and pointed.
“That’s a lot of money she’s using over there,” Zelvia realized. “I wonder where it came from. Selling a gem perhaps?” The angel-child squared her large shoulders and strode forward. “I will lead this inquiry.”
Morning looked at the human of the group. Kaia shrugged and followed after. Morning didn’t relish letting Zelvia talk, but surely nothing could go wrong with a simple question.
As soon as Zelvia sauntered up to the wagon and slapped her hand on the wood, Morning regretted. “Looks like you’re buying a lot of items here,” Zelvia began.
The elf frowned at the group. “Well, yes. I am a merchant. I buy here then sell to others elsewhere. I haggle what I can and make a profit. Have you come to sell?”
“Not today miss…”
“Miss Tvenditor, today we are looking to locate some lost items. Some items which may have been sold recently and made someone very rich.” Zelvia eyed her wagon. “You sure you earned your money through lawful ways?”
Cavea stood up. “What exactly are you implying here?”
“Oh nothing, nothing at all. I am simply wondering out loud. Who do you sell your acquired goods to?”
“Why is that any of your business? I generally sell to other merchants in other cities depending on the prices of things. It is simple work. Now are you here to sell something or just to waste my time with vague accusations?”
“Well perhaps you…”
Kaia steps in, “I’m sorry Cavea. Let me get to the point. Have you come across any star-shaped gems?”
Zelvia tried again, “Well do you know who might be buying and selling such a gem. Do you perchance know if the black market…”
“Okaay,” Kaia interrupts. “It is time for us to go. We’ll just go check a jewelry stall.” She begins to pull Zelvia away who protests.
Thunder is finally able to raise his ears. He had been sure that was going to turn into a fight. He was a little disappointed, but it was good to stay on track. Kaia had finished her short reprimand and Zelvia looked downcast. Like a puppy that had been caught peeing on you. Horrible things those.
Kaia led them to some semi-permanent structures. One held a sign that read ‘The Shinies’ painted in silver. There were indeed shiny baubles lain about. On rings and bracelets and by themselves. They were being watched by a flock of crows. Morning had the sense they would bite a paw if you tried to steal anything. Morning was tempted to do so anyway.
“Aha!” Zelvia exclaimed. He was pointed to some red velvet which contained, of all things, a star-shaped gem. Could it be that easy? “How much for that one?” he asked the seller.
The old woman behind the stall stared at the group then shrieked, “Five thousand!”
“Five thousand copper?” Kaia asked.
The crows started croaking, “Gold! Gold! Gold!” We definitely didn’t have that kind of money, unless one of them held a secret stash. His companions shook their heads at that question.
Zelvia began trying to bargain with the lady, but was interrupted when the woman shrieked her next word of “Thief!” The crows joined in with a chorus, “Thief! Thief! Thief!” Morning looked down to realized the gem was gone. Her companions looked just as dumbfounded. Morning noticed the crowd shifting behind the stall like someone was pushing through it in a rush. Thunder smiled and gave chase.
The thief was fast and knew their way around the city. He dashed from alleyway to rooftop to sliding under carts. But thunder was just as agile. In fact, Thunder almost caught up when the thief turned one last corner. When Thunder got there, his prey was gone. Thunder stopped and sniffed around. There was a large stone building in front of him. It looked to be an abandoned temple, but the boards covering the windows were new. And the thief’s scent clearly led to it. But the only door was locked.
Thunder’s companions made it while he was testing the door. They were panting heavily and had not followed all that well. Thunder was still impressed he didn’t lose them.
“He’s in there,” Thunder pointed to the door, “but it is locked.”
Zelvia leaned forward and charged the door without a word. Thunder had to leap out of the way while Zelvia smashed through the old wood landing in a wide hallway. There were two cloaked men in the room. They stood up quickly and one asked “What’s the password?” The other looked at his companion and muttered some unflattering words and drew a scimitar.
Thunder smiled. It was time to fight. He charged one man and started throwing quick jabs. They danced around each other for a while, neither hitting. Zelvia also barreled into the other one as soon as she shook off the wood. Their swords clashed and Kaia spent a moment trying to cast a spell.
But the city was warded! Thunder remembered the guard telling them, “It should also be noted that the city is protected by a magical ward which protects the city not only from nasty weather but stops unauthorized magic and monsters of evil intent from entering. Mages of any kind cannot cast the simplest of spells once within the city walls without a certified token which are given out by the Spellguard.” And they hadn’t gone looking for any tokens.
Kaia didn’t have much without her magic but was able to distract the two thieves enough for Zelvia and Thunder to bring them down. It had been a short battle, but Thunder had a better idea of his companion’s strengths now. Unfortunately, neither man had the star gem. So the group prepared to delve further into the temple.
Thunder began to slowly open a door so he could peek through it. But his nerves must have been on edge too much because a cough from one of his companions made him jump and tumble through the doorway. He landed hard and the world spun around him. He came back around to find both Zelvia and Kaia fighting more thieves. Zelvia seemed to be taking her hits and returning them twofold. Kaia was quick but was doing little damage. Both companions had sustained heavy damage. Thunder was the tipping point in this fight as he dashed around Kaia to knock one out and then dived over an old alter to flank Zelvia’s enemy them to bully the man down.
After a short breather, the group realized they still did not have the gem. Although Morning did find a baby shoe in one of the thief’s pockets. You never knew when that might be handy. There were two more doors and Zelvia led the way into those. Thunder felt a little sheepish about that, but clearly, he wasn’t at the top of his game today.
The last two doors appeared to be kennels, as they held great big slobbering beasts. Of course, these would be dog people. The mastiffs barked aggressively as soon as they saw who had opened their doors. Thunder didn’t want to even touch the dogs, but they needed to check the rooms. And perhaps it would be considered a mercy to kill the dogs now, rather than let them slowly starve to death. None in the party relished it, but the dogs were put down quickly. Still no star-shaped gem.
They returned to the main room of the temple and searched once more. Finally, Kaia found a stash hidden underneath a tile. There they found a hefty crossbow and the star-shaped gem. They gave a short celebration. One down, two to go. But first…
Morning looked at Kaia. “You would have done better with your magic yes? We should find a spellguard to get a token for you then.”
“For me as well.” Zelvia spoke up. Morning looked at him questioningly. “I am a paladin. I have some healing magic as well, although not as good as a cleric’s.” He nodded to Kaia.
“Two tokens then,” Morning said. And they left the temple with their prize in tow and a plan.
Photo by Photoholgic