in the Shadow of Greatness

 

November 20, 2001

You Lack Coin of the Realm

Timian regarded her at first quizzically and then with dawning comprehension.

"You lack coin of the realm." he said. "The spells you mention are of no use to me, since I doubt that you have documentation that you have official status as a sorceress." He paused a moment.

"And I daresay that such offers given up and down the length of the shops in Amber city might prove difficult to manage. Is there no way for you to obtain coin of the realm? Surely, someone of your talents and skills has a patroness, or a friend with coin? Perhaps even in our own Royal Family?"

Bhangbadea fretted only a moment. "I've not done shopping anywhere but my own small town in so many years. Even at that, I've fallen from the habit." She shook her head. "This was foolish of me. I suppose with so many other things to think about—but really, this was silly."

She smiled at Timian.

"I'm terribly sorry about the time you've spent with me. No, I don't have a patroness. I'll have to miss the events. Thank you for being so understanding."

She helped him put things away, as some recompense for wasting his time.

The redhead waved gently as she left the shop. The day was still a fine one—and she thought a stroll down by the docks might clear the thoughts of fine dresses from her mind.

The sun had a warm pressure on her arms and ankles. The drapery skirt was a bit too heavy for her tastes, but the softness of the fabric was like a feather brush against her legs. She enjoyed a food market, stopped for some citrus fruits that she recognized and bartered a few smaller silver coins by their weight alone.

The ripe fruit tasted as dense and fine as the color of the sky above. That sky was a special blue, something that never would color an ocean, but like no sky she could recall from any land she had visited.

In Amber, sky-blue was a shade unique.

She decided that she could enjoy that, the fruit, and the scents of the ocean all at once without sensory overload.

She also found she was grinning. The day was very fine.

At the docks, she studied the crowds for a time, tucked into the shadows of a boarded-up shop.

A boy sat with his back to a weathered dock piling. He played a reedy mouth organ, and sometimes the cap between his feet was filled with a tossed coin. The witch smiled—remembering long past days of scraping up a living each day. She'd been pretty good at it in her time.

She crossed through the crowd, sat on the cobbles by the boy.

He kept playing, but offered her a hard stare from one eye. He took in her expensive draped dress, her thin blouse and bare feet—and came to the obvious but wrong conclusion. He stopped the harmonica. "Touch my cap, I'll cut your finger off."

She nodded. "Fine. That's a good policy." She tossed a silver coin into the frayed beaten cap. "What are you doing for the festival day?"

His squint and dubious expression were eloquent. "What's it to you? Where did you steal that curtain. Makes a lousy dress, y'know."

She lifted her chin. "Look you—I think it makes a pretty good dress. Interested in a business deal?"

"What sort?"

"You play. I dance. We split 50-50."

He studied her for a moment. His eyes traveled to her calves and ankles. "60-40. I got the music and the location."

"55-45. I've got the legs."

He nodded, spit in his palm and offered it to her. "Deal."

She spit in her hand. Shook his. "Deal."


Filed under : Amber at 20.11.2001