“Actually, I wondered about that, too …”
Lotye was set to finally ask Jeneyeru about what she would have to do for him, but she was too slow and he spoke too fast. Or maybe he didn’t know yet himself. In the light of this realisation, everything else he said suddenly made much more sense. He wanted to let her decide. In a way, that didn’t make it all that much easier. It meant that she would have to know for herself.
She weighed the purse in one hand. It was a strange feeling to have a purse full of coins freely given to her. At least, it had never happened before. In her other hand, she carried her bumbershoot, another gift of another man. Even though it didn’t look quite as new anymore after being used as a blunt weapon, it still worked perfectly well as a rain shelter. Unlike her new employer, she still wore her mask, hoping it would give her a least some degree of anonymity. That way, she hoped, she would be able to mingle with the crowd just like she had done before all of these things had started. And just like then, she preferred to do this mingling on her own.
“The third bell of the quarter. I’ll be back by then.”
Without losing any more words, she turned around and quickly disappeared between all the other people. It wasn’t as easy as she had expected. The floating platforms sometimes only allowed for a narrow path to be taken and more than once she got wet feet when some weighty Sesan walked by and made the ground roll up and down. But despite the water beneath and the water above, the Plaza of Diamonds was full of people. Business continued as usual and the magic market attracted traders, wizards and everyone else. It probably also was a great hunting ground for pickpockets, Lotye realised. For herself she decided to keep her fingers to her own purse, however hard it sometimes was, seeing full wallets openly hang from belts like ripe apples from a tree. But she also decided to be on the look-out for thieves. Don’t want to lose my first earned money to some cut-purse. That would be a little too much irony for my taste.
Her steps led her to the apothecary, Falseroot & Bane, first. Not because she was terribly interested in what it had to offer, but because it was one of the stalls closest to her starting position. Then again, one always needed to be prepared for injuries and illness on travels through Aeldreth and she was sure that this rule held true even more so for an adventurous journey to Mt. Isolla in an airship. Lastly, the apothecary was a good first destination for her because she had some experience with the goods that were sold there. She may never have really liked the work they were used for, but at least she know a little bit about it. When she entered the shop though, she found out how little she actually knew. Lotye was overwhelmed by the amount of different instruments, books, potions, enchantments and herbs Falseroot & Bane had to offer. Most of these things she had never seen before, never even heard of as an apprentice to the wizard Dev Gevyot, who had been known as great healer of the Purifying Lake among her people. It took her some time to find a niche with items she was accustomed to and even here she wasn’t really sure about some of them either. In the end, she managed to buy some things she knew could prove useful and knew how to use. A few pouches of healing herbs, helpful for all kind of injuries one could sustain travelling, a set of simple bandages and a small vial of purifying potion that was said to be useful against more or less any smaller health problem. The old sweater Gevyot would certainly be proud of me. Most of these things she had been able to get somewhat cheap and so she left Falseroot & Bane satisfied with a bag under her arm.
Much more money and even more time she spent at the tailor Jeneyeru had recommended her. Most of the time she was actually just marvelling at the beauty of some of the dresses or the enchanted functionality of others. Shademouse Tailory seemed to know how to combine both quite well, too. But most of these pieces were far outside of the price range of her purse and so she was just able to marvel a bit more. Instead, she spent her money on some enchanted items to ‘hide and disguise’, as Master Nightwise would have put it. The first one was a Bag of Holding. On the outside, the bag just seemed to be made out of simple leather, like the belt it was attached to. But through clever enchantment, there was more space on the inside of it than was visible from just looking at it from the outside. Together with a simple spell that made it light to carry, the bag was useful for everyone who had a lot to fit into one’s pockets, if also quite costly. The second item was a cloth made of spider silk, silvery shimmering under the grey rain clouds in the sky. Folded a few times, Lotye would be able to wear it as a scarf, but in full size it rather was like a cape going down from her shoulder to her lower back. The natural properties of the spider silk were amplified by magic, making the cloth and everything hidden under it somehow blending in with the environment around it and therefore harder to see.
On her way through the market, Lotye also came by the places were weapons were sold. Some of the craftsmen showed quite impressive weapons in their stalls and she was tempted to buy something. Going unarmed on their journey to the north didn’t seem like a very wise idea. But weapons were expensive and her new purse had already lost a lot of weight, so decided against buying something. I don’t need some magic sword, anyway. She was reasonably sure that she would be able to find some useful knife during their time on La Danse Calinda without having to spend any money on it.
Her biggest test, though, cam when she was already on her way back to Jeneyeru. At a small stall for enchanted jewellery she spotted a little golden comb with an inlay of a green stone in the handle. It was beautiful. The seller behind the counter promised everyone walking by that his trinkets brought beauty to all women and Lotye suddenly knew that her hair would be pretty like never before if combed with this comb. But a quick check showed her that it would cost almost all her remaining money. Come on, I’ve got to put it back. Everything else will just make problems. It was pure vanity, against better judgement. The comb was just small enough to fit in her hand unnoticed. Without really deciding to do it, she waited for a moment when the owner of the stall was distracted by another customer. Then, with a quick movement, the comb disappeared in her newly acquired bag of holding. Lotye didn’t wait any longer to see if the seller would notice. She didn’t put the comb back either. With the calmness of an experienced thief, she just walked away from the stall and made her way back to the meeting point.