Story for the Day: Adiethian Gold - Part 2

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Danaco held the earring up and followed the bend of the light around its curves. “Both my parents should have raved over such a piece-- my father especially. He was a great admirer of the Empire Era like myself, and I feel it abominable that he should not be here to revel in its beauties. Do you
think it blasphemous to wear her and parade her about? She is an unrivaled dearling, to be sure, but I should feel myself a beast for locking her away in my gallery. I am all envy as a lover, and I should like to have her always under my regard.”
                “By all means, Captain, I think it would only be right that you wear it. That piece has not been worn by someone in nearly two thousand years. I am sure it would like to be worn again. An item as specialized and as lovely as that wants exhibition.”
                “With her master’s blessing, sir,” said Danaco, canting his head and moving his hair to the side, “I cannot do wrong.”
He pulled his lobe and felt for one of the unoccupied holes, and with precision, he slipped the pin of the earring through his ear and fastened the clasp. He turned about in quest of a mirror, but remembering where he was and the unlikliness of anything like a mirror being about, he went to the window and admired his reflection in the glass. He reveled in himself, enjoying how lovely the golden loop looked against his dark mane, and he lavished his new prize with all the commendations that her age and uncommonness earned. “Only look how beautifully she dangles,” he exclaimed, oscillating and watching the earring return the motion. “How she brightens by hair and eyes. Does no she look well, sir? I must thank you for permitting me the charge of her. Her merits are endless, and while I still do feel a sense of grief in coming away with her, my guilt in the rescue is already waning.”
“I am very glad of it, Captain.” said the wizard, smiling.
“But will not your sons grieve over the loss in their inheritance? Will not they notice that she has fled the collection?”
“In truth, Captain,” said the wizard, turning aside, “my sons have not been introduced to every piece in my great number. They each have their favourite items, and those are the ones they shall inherit, but I as a rabid collector, eager to gain ahold of anything that might belong to our once-great empire, I keep many pieces that no one but those who have a real love for the period would appreciate. You will wear that piece and exhibit it as should be done, and the next time I require your services, Captain, I might have another trinket for you by way of payment.”
“My good friend,” said the captain impressively, “I cannot in good conscience take another piece from you, though I may wish to do with all my might. I would give my life to preserve such an incomparable collection, but I am no wizard. Your people know best how to use and care for these exquisite items. An earring from the Empire is a donation, I grant you, and I have enough admiration in my heart for every treasure, but you know the secret to every precious piece, and whilst I might know the history to a great number of them, I have no insight in their magical secrets. Does this earring have any magical properties?”
“None that I can detect, Captain.”
Danaco’s brows arched, and he looked suspicious. “She is not broken, I trust?”
“No, Captain,” the wizard laughed. “As far as I can tell, that earring never had any magical properties from the first. It is as plain as day.”
“Do you hear him, my little moppit?” Danaco whispered to the earring. “Do you hear how he talks of you? Yes, how despicable it is, saying that you are plain. You could never be thought of as plain—a man is a dizzard who could dare think so. What does he deserve, my pet? Tell me, and I shall do it. Should he be hung by his beard, or shall I tie him to the gables by his robes?”
“If you begin to take orders from an earring, Captain, I should begin to wonder.”
“Then perhaps she is magical after all. Did not the Grand Magus in Marridon encapsulate the spirits of wayward students into gems?”
“Oh, that is little more than a story, Captain,” the wizard replied, laughing heartily. “There is no spell or ritual in all the Adiethian volumes that could bind a soul to anything.”
“There is shame,” said Danaco, in a careless tone. “I should have delighted in knowing that any one of your artifacts might house the spirits of my enemies, that I might put them in a dismal prison and take them out and look at them whenever I should like to punish them.”
“If you can discover a method for binding a living thing to an inanimate object, Captain, I charge you with all my soul to return here immediately and show me your findings.”
“That you might use them on me by way of retaliation for turning this demure little trinket,” said Danaco, fondling his earring,“into gazingstock?”
The wizard shrugged. “An ancient earring, like a lady, must be brought forward sometime. It is up to her whether she decides to accept all the attention she receives.” He rubbed his brow and looked pained. “I am so very pleased I never had daughters. My darling wife always wanted a girl to complement our sons, but I could not endure the idea of someone’s being to court her. I am a selfish old man, as you know, Captain, and I should have liked to keep a doting daughter at home, where I could always be assured of her comfort and safety. Boys will do anything once or twice to spite their own intelligence, but girls are sweet and docile creatures. My wife was a gentle woman, and had we a daughter anything like what she was, I should have walked the kingdom over to get her the flower she wanted. Our sons are like how I was when I was young, willful and determined, and it is difficult enough for me to think of them being so far off, but I could not bear to have a sweet and amiable girl be flung into the hardships of life. Do not mistake me, Captain. I do not mean to say that girls cannot take care of themselves, which of course they can. It is simply---“ He stopped and relapsed into reverie, a pining sigh ebbing out of the dry cracks in his lips. “It is only the wish to keep any woman I love from harm that makes me anxious for their wellbeing. My wife was not a well woman after our youngest son was born, and nothing I could do could cure her, a compunction that besieges me even now.”
“I understand you, my friend,” said the captain, in a softened voice. “My mother also had a poor constitution and was called on to quit our family when I was just entering into my prime of life.”
“A cruel trick of life, Captain,” the wizard mused, “to make us love so much.”
“I agree with you there, my friend. By Myrellenos, my mother was a wondrous creature. I shall never forget her—indeed, I cannot when I have so many of her qualities. She taught me how to be a gentleman and gave me a fondness for tea, which is really the same thing. She made me Marridonian, in short, when my father would have had me for his side. I am unforgivably Lucentian in many respects. My admiration for gold and objects of enormous implied value is a fault of heritage I cannot refute.”
“If by heritage, Captain, you mean by our cultural custom of being desciples of Our Great Lady, then I think it is in the providence of any devoted son of Myrellenos to harbour a love for objects that remind us of a time when She walked among us.”
“Quite so, my friend.”
They shared a most amiable smile, and when Danaco had marveled a little more at the trinkets and furnishings of the house, he took his leave, promising to take up no more of the old man’s time, for “I should stay here indefinitely, had I no crew to command. I should gawp at your great managerie until you were tired.”
“I am old, Captain,” said the wizard, in a wearied manner, “ and being old have been perpetually tired since the age of sixty. But if you must leave, do not make yourself a stranger. Come and see my collection whenever you like it.”
“I think you might have more tea in your house, if you mean to have me stay for more than five minutes. It is scandalous for a Marridonian not to have any tea in his house, sir. How comes this about? has someone stolen your tea box from you, or was there an embargo on the leaves from Livanon? Tell me truly.”
“I have no answer for you, Captain, other than I simply cannot be harassed to stock something I do not drink myself. Wizards are sad fellows. We never have company, even among our own set, and, like having tea always at hand, we never do what is good for us.”
“But you are a decent breed, and propriety commands that you keep at least one box of tea for eventualities. Do not your sons have tea when they are to visit you, sir?”
“I am afraid, Captain,” said the wizard, in a mortified voice, “in that respect, they are very much like their father. Tea takes time to make properly, and wizards simply do not have a moment to spare for what is trivial.”
“By Myrellenos—trivial?” Danaco exclaimed, holding his hand to his breast. “You injure me, sir, with such aspersions. All my Marridonian feelings are offended. My Lucentian feelings too, if you mean to include coffee in your ideas on what is trivial.”
“I am sorry, Captain,” the wizard laughed. “I did not mean to disappoint you, but so must every wizard disappoint those who seek his company. We are only good for charms and potions when we grow too old to longer understand the new ways of the world.”
“I believe that is the way of old men in general, my friend. And when I am old and nobody shall want me, I charge you to find me out, that we might deliciate in being horridly fusty and complain of many things in life we no longer have any patience for.”
The wizard declared he should like that of all things, and with a pat on the back and a hardy shake of the hand, they left the house together, the wizard to begin his day of hawking his wares—or sitting behind his stall, unnoticed by the odd comers and goers—and Danaco to visit a local teahouse, to have his Marridonian spirits nourished by their signature service and by the starts and sussurations of curmudgeonly old men, who usually monopolized every traditional teahouse around this time.