The scene outside the protective walls of Hope was impressive the closer one drew to the small meadow by the Southern Forest. A tent city a third the size of Hope had sprung up in less than a day’s time. With a majority of the smaller tents only a couple of feet apart, where the various workers and stand holders too poor to afford a wagon slept, plenty of room was left to form a large thoroughfare leading to the large pits that had been dug for the upcoming fights. To either side of the thoroughfare, or Main Street as the travelers called it, pavilions of varying sizes were set up. Items of every description could be found there, the size and diversity of the stalls put the market place in Hope to shame, but wasn’t that always how it worked? Janessa wondered in silence, allowing her eyes to take everything. She paused by one filled with some of the finest rings, goblets and other metal objects whose craftsmanship was unparalleled. It was little surprise to her when a dwarf stepped forward as she drew nearer. Dwarves were renowned for their metallurgy skill across the realm, but it was the first time she’d ever seen one. He was about six inches taller than she was but twice her size in bulk. She found it shocking that he didn’t look fat or clumsy, but solid and sure of himself.
“What can I do for you lass?” The dwarf was just over a hundred years old and had only noticed a minimal amount of gray hairs in his fiery red beard that morning, at seeing the Halfling he was certain he’d find more.
Janessa smiled her warmest smile at the dwarf. “Thank you sir, but I’m just looking.”
Now, in his hundred years on Pyrain he’d seen many things that most took for myths, but one thing he was certain of was he knew a thief when he saw one. So it was then that he decided to watch her at all cost. “As you wish, but I’m afraid I don’t have much of anything that you could use or wear.”
She understood his hidden meaning, “you’re not welcome”. Instead of being insulted by his remarks, in her mind, she was a fellow professional and it was never anything personal to her. Her smile broadened and her voice sounded sincere. “Thank you sir, your help is always appreciated.” She was about to leave when she spotted a small dagger, a perfect compliment to the Halfling sword she had hanging on the wall in the room she shared with Viola. She picked it up by the handle and watched as the sunlight shone off the blade giving it a glowing appearance. “How much is this?”
Damn it she spotted something! No sooner had those words run their path through his mind than his heart leapt into his throat when she picked up the white steel dagger. But at the sound of her inquiry he couldn’t help but allow the bartering side of him to step out. “Ah you have good taste lass. That’s a white steel blade, one of the rarest metals you’ll find. Twenty gold.”
The price was high for a dagger, but Janessa couldn’t get over how beautiful it was when struck by the sun. Mesmerized by its beauty, she swore it was calling to her. Causing her to hesitate a moment before responding. When her gaze turned to the dwarf her cunning instinct was no longer distracted. “Twenty gold? I could buy a sword fresh from the forge for that.” She tried to look indignant, it sometimes worked. “I can’t see it being more than five gold… if that.”
The dwarf smiled, he made the price that high hoping to scare her off but she had some spunk. He loved a challenge. At her offer of five it was his turn to look indignant. “That may be so, but I guarantee you won’t get craftsmanship of this quality.” He reached out and plucked it from her fingers, an act he was surprised had proven so easy. “Humans and Elves can’t come close to this, she’s worth every bit.” He paused as if he was lost in thought.
“Sixteen gold.” Janessa offered, smiling. This was going to be a fun day.