Jan 2009

Chapter 86Of Rings and Riddles

The silversmith got up and, probably out of habit, cleaned his hands on his trousers. The woman looked a bit flustered when she stepped off the chair and put her shoes back on. After the initial fright, however, the smith didn't look on us unkindly. He was a little curious to our presence. He waited until the woman left the room through the backdoor before he addressed us.

"What's this about then?"

I handed him the message and smiled. "They never tell the messenger."

He opened the unsealed envelope and pulled the letter out. In a big city like this, most of the craftsmen could read decently. He had to hold the paper to the oil-lamp and took his time reading it, but he nodded a few times. Then he put the letter on a workbench and looked at me, taking me in. For some reason I had the feeling he was looking at my sword.

"He didn't give you any gems, did he?"

I blinked. "Eh, no. Just the letter."

He grunted. "Ah well, just a rush job, but I suppose I've got enough lying around." He looked around for a bit. "I guess it would take an hour. Tell him I'll have it delivered later."

I bowed a little, but it was hard to leave without satisfying my usual curiosity. Now, as this was a silversmith, it would probably be a type of jewelry. And, as the Master wore little jewelry that I could see and didn't look like the type to try and seduce women, it was probably a ring of sorts. But why? And was it important?

I tried to sound casual. "Another ring?"

The man shrugged. "Yeah, though it's not a seal ring so at least it won't take that long."

It would be suspicious to ask more. "I'll relay the message. Good luck."

He nodded once and followed us to let us out and close the door behind us. It wasn't even a click, just a bar slid back in place. Deirdre smiled a little at me when I looked at her. We started heading back to the castle, at a more leisurely pace this time. Of course we didn't dawdle anywhere, as we still had a verbal message for the Master.

She spoke teasingly. "Couldn't contain your curiosity, could you?"

I found an excuse immediately. "No? I just wanted him not to feel guilty about being caught."

Deirdre laughed. "You're getting snappier, nice one."

I smiled. "Yeah, I almost believed it myself. So they're making a ring."

She nodded. "And he was asking for gems. Think they're going to do the same thing as our swords."

I frowned. "Would that work? Wouldn't it mean you could hardly focus on anything in your hands."

She shrugged. "I don't know. The timing is slightly suspect, don't you think?"

I nodded. "I can only hope it has nothing to do with tomorrow morning."

The market we had to cross was quite crowded. There was nothing in particular going on. But the usual attack on all your senses in smell, sight, sound and even taste was still profound. This could be called the evening rush. It was getting darker, but many torches still lit most of the square and stalls.

"It's still so unclear who are all part of this and who know what."

I nodded. "I just hope that tomorrow will solve many things and makes the forest spirits and humans more friendly towards each other."

Deirdre giggled a little. "They'll never stop their pranks though."

I smiled with her. "It's hard to change the nature of the beast."

Deirdre giggled somewhat louder but didn't say anything.

I wondered what was on her mind. "What?"

Deirdre stopped walking and waited for me to stop as well. Then she moved seductively closer with her head and...


Laughter followed her growl. She pushed me teasingly after she saw the surprised smile on my face. I shared her laughter when I saw her shining eyes. Some people looked around in curiousity. But we didn't care, we just moved on.

With our spirits lifted, we arrived back at the castle. It was slightly more alive by now, which made it feel a lot better. It might have been my imagination, but it was lighter as well. Maybe they'd lit more oil-lamps and candles around the castle, but it just felt lighter. We started to relax a little. Finally we ended up at the Master's room.

Whose door was open.