A clandestine visit to a marketplace magician ends in some unexpected -- but fruitful -- results!
Yule 14, 1019
“Aways! Thief!” Phaust al Kallor grabbed for the shadow boy’s collar, only to be left with empty hands and the little criminal’s backside disappearing amongst the crowd in Market Square. He quickly scanned the baskets outside his stall, but they appeared just as full as always: Kimmian sweets in several, choler spice and other exotic herbs in others. He turned and smacked his apprentice, Ijabun, on the back of the head.
“Keep your eyes open!” He said. Phaust caught the eye of a passing woman and smiled immediately. “Yes, mistress. Fine glasses? Spice froms Kimmeron?” She kept on walking and he lost his mirth. “Whore,” he muttered under his breath. He turned back to his apprentice who was rubbing the spot where Phaust had struck.
“Be vigilant!” He scowled. Ijabun didn’t know the ways of these foreigners, but it wasn’t like Kimmeron, where a thief’s hands would be removed if caught. These Baranurians were soft; it kept their criminals always reaching for more.
“Excuse me? Phaust al Kallor?”
Phaust jumped and found another woman tapping his shoulder. At her side was a large man dressed in a plain traveling cloak, hood pulled low. “Mistress, I’m sorries. No refunds.” He said quickly, reaching behind a basket for his club.
The woman furrowed her brows. “No, no,” she said. “Corambis sent me. He said that you could, perhaps, help me with a -- delicate situation.”
Phaust stopped reaching. “Corambis?” he asked. “Ah, yes. Pleased, come in to my shop.” He stepped aside and motioned to an opening into the back of his stall. The large man stepped in front of the woman and peered inside. He turned back to Phaust. “You had better deal with us fairly,” he warned.
Phaust put on his best, innocent expression. “My sirs, always! You will always get the best service from Phaust!” He looked around and found Ijabun missing. No doubt the coward had run when he heard Phaust mention no refunds. The large man and the woman entered his shop. He followed behind and slid around them in the confined space so that he could sit in one of the silken pillows on the floor. He motioned for the woman to do the same. Her guard continued to stand.
“So my goods friend Corambis sent you!” Phaust started. “He and I--” Phaust crossed his first two fingers. “-- very close. Always glads to do business with friends of Corambis. Tea?” He asked, reaching for a pot that sat atop a small candle.
“Yes, please,” the woman replied.
Phaust took two cups that hung from his walls and set about pouring the warm liquid into them. “What can Phaust help mistress with?”
“I understand that you sell remedies for certain afflictions. Afflictions that are not always, shall we say, physical?”
Phaust shrugged his eyebrows. “Yes? Phaust selled many things to calm nerves, help peoples sleep--”
“I’m looking for something of a more, um, intimate nature,” she said lowly.
“Ahhh,” Phaust said, smiling knowingly. “Your intimates friend, he has perhaps a problem with...” and he whistled and poked his index finger towards the ceiling.
“Why you--” her bodyguard said, reaching over and hoisting Phaust by the collar.
“No, Koren! Stop!” The woman protested. Her bodyguard pushed Faust back down to the pillow.
“What?” Phaust said, genuinely confused.
“A potion, nimwit!” Koren said. “My lady would like a love potion.”
The lady blushed. “Yes,” she said. “My friend is right. All I’m looking for is something to make me more attractive to my husband.”
“Ah, ahh,” Phaust said, and he began digging amongst the bottles and baskets he had clustered around the floor. “What kind of loves is it you want?” he asked, still looking. “The loves of passionate lovers? The loves of long-time companions? First loves--”
“Yes, first love!” The woman said excitedly. “That’s what I would like. We have a very good relationship. A child, even. He’s just been so busy lately...”
“Amordante Prima, yes,” Phaust said. “A very goods choice.” He pulled out a small, brown phial tied at the top with a pink ribbon. “This drink will gets him excited to see you. Love you like he dids when you were young.” He passed it over to her.
Koren intercepted the delivery. “My lady,” he said, a concerned tone in his voice. “Are you sure you want to do this? Can we trust this man with something our lord Clifton will drink?”
“Koren, Corambis vouches for him. I think we can trust him.”
Clifton? Phaust’s heart began to race. “Our lord Clifton?” He said disbelievingly. Koren? He looked at the guard. “Adrunian Korens?”
The guard lowered his hood and Dargon’s captain of the Town Guard stared back at him. “Yes, Phaust, it’s me.”
“Then this must be...” Phaust didn’t let himself finish the sentence. Instead, he stood up and swiped the vial out of Koren’s hand. He leaned down and rummaged through his belongings again, this time pulling out a blue bottle tied with a red ribbon. “This ones,” he said, smiling apologetically. “This ones serves noble blood much more effectively,” he added.
Adrunian Koren gave the man a withering look. He examined the bottle in his hand, sniffed it, and then began untying the ribbon.
“What are you doing?” Phaust asked worriedly.
“Yes, Koren, what are you doing?” the lady Dargon asked.
“I’m making sure he isn’t poisoning our lord,” Koren said. He undid the topper and sniffed the contents.
“No, no, no,” Phaust said quickly. “Do not drink! Do not--” But Koren brought the bottle to his lips and took a small draught. Phaust looked about him in panic.
“My lady, look away! Look away!” Phaust threw himself on the duchess in order to shield her.
“Don’t touch her!” Koren yelled. No sooner had Phaust been hoisted up than he felt bristled, full lips planted on his own.
“Augh!” Phaust yelled, pushing the captain of the guard off him.
“You’re so exotic,” Koren breathed, holding the merchant to him in a vice-like grip.
“Cephas’ Boot!” Lauren Dargon cried. She pulled at Koren’s arms, getting him to let go of Phaust.
“But my lady,” Koren said, his voice dream-like. “Why do you deny me this? I’ve been alone for so long...”
“Come on, Koren.” She took the blue vial from his hands and quickly stopped it. “How long does this last?” she asked.
Phaust wiped at his lips, spitting onto the tent floor. “A few bells,” he said. “Do not gives our lord too much! Or you may never leave your bed for the night!”
She tossed him a Crown and Phaust bowed deeply to the floor. “Thank you, my lady.”
“Come on, Koren,” she pulled at his arm, all the while the captain kept looking at Phaust with unabashed lust.
“But my lady...” he said, letting her pull him out of the stall.
Phaust grabbed Koren quickly and whispered “Come backs at--”, he counted in his head, “fifth bell, through the backs of the shop.”
Koren smiled devilishly as he was pulled into the crowd.
“What did he say?” Lauren was asking him.
Phaust ran his fingers through his hair. He looked down and found Ijabun staring at him judgingly. Phaust smacked him in the head. “Haves you been watching the baskets? Vigilance! Vigilance!”