Raven 2

By: Azazel

As I walked back to the contest place, chewing on my apple pie, I thought a little about this mission. The guild was sure to pick someone who was good, but, and this I hated to admit, not the best. So they were unsure if I’d succeed. Well, I’d show them, oh yes. I absentmindedly snatched a purse from a by passer. If I was to suffer, and I would probably be doing that if I failed, someone else should suffer too. I looked into the purse, saw a few silver coins, decided it wasn’t worth it, and tossed it to a beggar sitting on a barrel watching the contest.

- Here, take this. In exchange, I need some information. Can you get it for me? I said.

- Aight, I recognize ye. What d’ye need?

- Information about Thomil, and his new guards. Get it for me. I’ll meet you at the Golden Flea after the first night watch.

- It’s almost done. He said, and limped away.

Up at the scene where the contest was taking place, I saw Jacob. He was fighting a big, brown-haired man that was twice his size. He would win, of course. I scanned the crowd that was watching, and spotted Toad. I made my way to him, and gave him the rest of the silver coins from the purse I took from the merchant.

- No more?

- Ah, yes, actually, it happened to be a small emerald too… I’ll sell it later today, and give you the rest of your money.

- As always. He said, grinning.

- Yes. Have you placed a bet on Jacob yet? I asked, knowing what would come.

- Actually, I have. I placed five coins on him. It was pretty good odds. If he wins, which I have no doubt he will, I’ll get 15 back.

- Pretty good. Look, he won over that big brown-haired guy.

- Well, yeah, but that guy moved almost as fast as Barek. I’d probably win over him with both my hands tied and one foot in the grave.

- Yeah. Then why aren’t you up there fightin’ like Jacob?

- ‘Cause those who bets aren’t allowed to fight. He said, with a smile.

- I see.

I watched for a little time, then got bored, and went to a jeweller that had his shop in the nearby. As I stepped into the shop, I was overcome by a thick smell of perfume. It was almost choking. Together with the dark room, one could think he was dying by lack of air. I looked around, and found the object from which the perfume was oozing. It was a woman, dressed in fancy clothes. She hid her face behind a veil, and moved like a noblewoman. I went outside again, gasping for air. As I stood there, face lifted against the sun, I came to think about the church. Why hadn’t anyone robbed it? There were quite some jewellery there, silver candlesticks, worth quite some money, I expected. It would be something to think about.

- Boy? The jeweller, Drei, said.

As I turned around, I saw that he stood in the doorway, looking out on the street.

- You’re finished with the lady?

He flashed a smile at me, and then went inside again, I followed him.

-Now, what do you have for me, boy? He said, taking forth a looking glass of some sort.

- A small emerald. It might be worth quite some money. It looks real, too.

He shook his head and sighed. Everyone that bargained in jewels and the stuff was tired of these glass-stones. False emeralds, rubies, diamonds.

- ‘Ere boy, lemme see it.

I handed him the stone, and he went to a window, opened it, and held it up against the light. The emerald caught a beam from the sun, and it spread green spots on the walls in the shop.

- Yes, it’s nice enough. Now for the final examination.

I winced a little. Lately I had gotten a streak of bad luck when it came to diamonds and the like. He took up a piece of glass, and tried to make a mark on the emerald. He smiled for an instance, and shook his head.

- Don’t say that… I started, but he silenced me with a wave of his hand.

- I didn’t, did I? It seems like a real one, but I’ll have to test it some more. Care to come with me behind? He said, and went out of the room.

I went into the room too, and looked around. This was quite different than the first room, this had its windows open, and the wind drifted through the room. He took up some things and started to look at the stone. I quit looking, and went to sit at a table that stood at a window. The view wasn’t exactly perfect; the backyard of a smithy, but at least it was quiet right now.

- Help yerself to some o’ the ale in that barrel. Said Drei, and waved to the right of me.

I took one of the mugs that stood on the table, and dipped it in the barrel. I drank deep, and was surprised of the quality of the ale. I sat down on one of the chairs, and waited.

After a while, Drei was finished. He smiled at me, with a hard glint in his eyes. It was time to do business.

- All right, young master. How much do you want for this? He said, knowing the answer.

This was a game that we had played many times.

- Oh, I don’t know. I’m so uncertain when it comes to gemstones so I wouldn’t dare to guess. What would you be willing to pay for it? I said, knowing very well that his offer would be way below what he would be willing to pay for.

- It’s a bit damaged here, he said and pointed at a place on the stone, and it has some air bubbles in it here. And it’s murky. I wouldn’t be able to pay more than … ah… Say 250 silver for it.

- 250! Are you mad, old man! Now, I might be dumb, but I’m not stupid. I want at least one thousand silver coins for it; otherwise I’ll call it off.

- It seems you’re bent on making be go poor, boy. Look, I could give you … Perhaps I could go so far as giving you 300 silvers for it.

I sighed. This was going to be a long night.

- 300? I want at least 850, take it or leave it!

He seemed to be a bit disturbed by me changing the rules. The “take it or leave it” had always come at the end before.

- Okay then. I’m tired, and I have a shop to look after. I’ll give you 560 silvers for it, ok?

- Well. Now we’re talking. I can’t say anything but yes to an offer that good. I’ll take half of it, and Toad will come over and collect his other half later, is that all right with you?

- Toad? It’s him that’s a bit fat, eh?

- No, not much, but yes. He’ll prolly say it’s him, so you’ll recognize him. If you doubt him, send a beggar for me.

- As always. He said, and shook my hand.

As I came to the competition ground, I spotted Toad.

- How’s it going?

- He’s gonna have to beat this guy to get to the last fight. Shush now, the fight has begun!

Jacob was gleaming with sweat, his muscular body almost shining. His hair was dripping, and he looked tired. But so did the other guy. The other guy was a bit shorter than Jacob, and wasn’t as muscular. But he moved quickly, and before I could see anything, Jacob was felled to the ground. He recovered almost instantly, though, and was up again before anything else happened. He moved swiftly up to the side of the guy, and tried to kick him in the side, but in wane. He was felled by a series of kicks and blows so fast that I couldn’t see them. He was out of the competition. As he walked of the stage, he saw Toad and me, and waved. After a minute or so he joined us.

- God! That man was quick! The fastest guy I’ve ever seen. I hope I don’t have to fight him any more.

- We have a mission tonight. I’ll explain the details later. I said, and looked at Toad.

He was crushed. He looked as if he was going to start crying any time soon. He looked at Jacob, and then at me, and then back to Jacob.

- I trusted you! I had faith in you. How could you betray me like this?

Jacob looked confused, so I explained it.

- Toad. Your money’s at Drei. 280 coins.

He looked a bit happier, and left us then.

- Now, what were you saying about a mission? Jacob asked.

As we walked to The Golden Flea I explained the situation to him.

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