Chapter 44Attained

While Deirdre and I walked to the inn, she told me what the stable-boy had told her. How there were brawls between the students of Light and Dark, which is why there were separate inns. Another interesting thing was the tension that had grown around here. The disappearances actually wasn't the first odd thing that had happened, though it was the most extreme. There had been a wave of odd thefts of both items and cattle. Usually there was no trace of any break-in, leaving the victims mystified. People were pretty jumpy towards anything mysterious at the moment.

"Do you think he spoke the truth?"

Deirdre shrugged. "Of course, why wouldn't he. I mean he was trying to impress me." She winked to me.

I didn't know how to feel with that comment, but I thought I could play it off with a compliment. "Well done, at least. Let's get a room at the Inn."

Deirdre looked at me. "Is there a neutral Inn?"

"I don't know."

With a smile and a shrug we walked into the Inn close to the castle and asked for a room with 2 beds. We were sort of lucky, they still had plenty of room available for the next week or so. We thanked the innkeeper and asked for a wake-up call and, if possible, breakfast. I also asked if they started serving dinner, but they ate quite late here. We had some time to explore.

We went up to our rooms and left most the stuff there, locking it behind us. Nothing but some clothes and blankets as we kept most of things of any value with us. The first thing we sought out was a pawnbroker who'd be able to give us good money for the bracelets and necklace. It wasn't hard to find, it was in street behind the metalworkers on the market, which made some sense. A large smith right next to it confirmed it. In a way this city was very convenient, but it felt a bit unnatural as well. Don't cities usually grow and become chaotic because no one plans the growth?

The buildings didn't look very new, so either they had moved some time to get the planning right or they had impressive foresight in their designs.

It was actually rather nice here, in a sort of strange way. There was some smells of the market, but they felt quite muted. Sound was kind of the same, there was some, but not enough to be annoying. And the people, they just politely avoided us and stepped aside almost without glancing. Everything felt much more polite here, we hardly even received any curious glances. In fact, we weren't out of place in our attire, at all. Most people here wore hard-wearing clothing, making me wonder if the climate here was tougher. I hadn't noticed anything like that yet.

We entered the pawnshop and headed for the owner while Deirdre looked around. He was working on some cataloguing or something. Looking carefully at some things on the counter and noting a price down on a scroll in front of him. He looked up as soon as I stood in front of him, gently and without a rush, taking me in with curious eyes.

"How much for these?" I showed him the two bracelets and the necklace.

They were obviously a set and worth quite a bit. The pawnbroker spent quite a long time watching them, studying them through a clear crystal (presumably to magnify it) and moving it in the light. There was some odd depth to the blue crystals in the jewelry, but it wasn't imperfection. In fact they were quite smooth.

"Well, I don't know, I can't give more than ten gold pieces for each."

I smiled and just picked them up. "We can't do business if you're not serious." I turned around with a smile, I knew what would come.

"Fifty gold pieces for the set."

I laughed and turned back. "It's worth more and you know it. Sixty gold pieces is what each of them is easily worth, the set is worth more."

Not that I knew that much of gold, but I knew craft when I saw it, and this was worth much more than the sum of its parts. It was, in two words, exquisite work. And he knew it too. But somehow I wasn't quite sure what to say next.

Deirdre spoke up. "Two fifty."

The man looked genuinely shocked. "Two hundred and fifty gold pieces?!?"

Deirdre giggled. "As a set, certainly. You'd probably sell it for double that if you knew the right people here."

Of course, she was from a rich family. She'd know the real value of things like these. And... if she was from a rich family, there would be more around here. It was certainly a good area for large estates.

The man sighed. "Two hundred."

Deirdre shook her head. "Two fifty, we're not joking."

He nodded and smiled to me. "She's a tough one."

He pulled a box from underneath the counter and started counting gold, he made twenty-five stacks of ten pieces, setting them neatly next to each other making it easy to see they were all proper. He moved slow and deliberate too, we weren't in a hurry and we all preferred this to be handled properly. I suppose our calm and our holding out for the true value made it clear we were not thieves but rather selling something we no longer needed for any reason.

Now that I looked around the store myself, it was clear that the man actually did very good business here. There were quite a few rare...

Deirdre saw it too and picked it up. It was an extremely rare bi-colored crystal. Black fog inside a clear crystal. They were said to have unusual magical properties and with the crystals on our swords already catching our interest, this would do fine.

"Make it two hundred and this." She held it up for him.

He opened his mouth to say something but nodded. "It's worth more, but I can't sell it with all the... trouble of late. And I guess this is a good deal for both of us."

I shoved the five stacks, together with the bracelets and necklace to him and bowed my head politely. He gave me a smile with, to my surprise, a happy twinkle in his eye. He'd actually enjoyed doing business with us, not because we held out for more but because we appreciated the value with honesty. He placed the box with his gold pieces back under the counter, it was definitely not empty but that didn't matter. The man went back to cataloguing the items on the counter, politely allowing us to leave.

All of the coins ended up unceremoniously in the pouch that we got off the woman, it was large enough but only just about. I handed it to Deirdre who took it with a look of surprise. She took it as if she was the servant and hid it on her person and just nodded. She turned around and walked through the door, with me behind her.

Outside she asked. "Why?"

I smiled. "Because you earned it."