he price seems appropriate
considering the promise - but how does it actually work?"
"Oh, it's quite simple," the man in the light blue robe answered. "If you'll
allow me to show you..."
The noblewoman, clad in expensive Caltharian dyed clothes, wearing a pearl
necklace and sparkling eye-catching earrings, stepped aside to let the robed man
open the display cabinet. Compared to her his appearance was rather humble, safe
for the collar covered with water runes that accounted for his affiliation to
the Ciosan guild of magicians. A moment later he produced a small object and
offered it to the lady.
"Here, take it, and feel its energy for a moment."
The noblewoman took the item in her hand and curiously examined it. It was a
delicate golden amulet in the shape of a snowflake, rather tiny as well, as it
fit easily in the palm of her hand.
"Charms like this are paintstakingly imbued with spells allocated to the water
element," the shopkeeper explained. "Thus also the shape of a snowflake, meant
to symbolize its hold over things that flow - one only needs to help it release
its aura onto the person that is supposed to profit from it... Now this
particular one will do two things at the same time: boost your confidence and
luck with whatever decisions you make. Use this object if you're very unsure
about something, and it will help you to achieve the outcome you desire. I take
it however that you don't intend to use it for gambling purposes, mylady, as in
that case I'm not allowed to sell it to you. Code of conduct among the guilders,
The noblewoman nodded. "You can take my word for it."
"In that case, just enjoy: You can already sense the amulet's inherent power
when you move it around a bit, by tilting it for example. Just give it a try.
Concentrate on something that has kept your mind busy and where you have
difficulties finding a resolution."
The woman followed his advice, tilted the amulet and a faint glimmer danced over
its surface, bathing her face for an instance in a warm, bright light.
"See?" A knowing smile flitted across the shopkeeper's face. "Can you feel the
energies? Can you sense your thoughts and emotions moving when you focus on the
The woman kept on starring at the item, tilting it back and forth. After a while
her eyes started beaming. "Yes, I clearly can... It feels - how should I
describe it - harmonizing in a way... or uplifting... almost... liberating..."
Apparently she was genuinely fascinated and continued on to move the amulet
around, so that the warm bright light didn't miss a spot on her graceful
"I'm glad to hear that," the shopkeeper said, but finally interfered by putting
his hand on the snowflake. "However, this has to be enough for now, as the item
isn't sold yet, and I cannot allow it releasing any of its aura before that. But
the taste you got now should suffice to have you convinced."
"How long do you have to be in contact with the amulet so that it takes effect?
And how often could you be... inspired... by it?" the woman wanted to know while
handing the amulet back.
"Ah well, you'll know, you'll know for sure. If you follow the procedure for a
while you'll sense that you're fulfilled with the urge to act and don't need the
amulet anymore. Should you require its services again, just get back to it, and
it will assist you once more in finding your inner peace to make up your mind
and push your luck.
As for how often you can use the amulet until it loses its power: that depends.
Some might need more of it, some less, but you probably can rely on it about,
say, a dozen times. You'll notice yourself when you can still feel the touch of
the light on your face, but don't feel that there's any magic that affects you
The shopkeeper carefully put the amulet in a small pouch, then pulled the
strings attached to it in order to close it. "Do we have a deal, milady?"
"It's the price we've discussed before, isn't it? And you'll return the money
should I remain unconvinced that the amulet didn't work?"
"I give you my word, milady, just as you give me yours that you'll only come
back if the item has actually failed in your eyes. Which I'm sure won't happen."
"Then it's settled," the noblewoman resolutely concluded the business. She took
the pouch and quickly stashed it in her purse. Then, after rummaging through it
for few moments, she noticed: "Seems I don't have the money right here with me -
only the Gods know what I've been thinking when I left! But the name of Jorn
Kjarskamm should vouch for my honesty. Rest assured that I'll send the servant
right away to cover the dues."
"Of course, of course, milady. I'm happy that I could serve your house," the
shopkeeper replied and bowed deeply as the woman left. "The Twelve be with you
on your way!"
Once his customer had left, the shopkeeper returned to the display cabinet. He
opened a compartment next to it and pulled another snowflake-shaped amulet from
it, which he placed neatly at the spot that was left empty after he had made his
"Excuse me..." a voice suddenly addressed him.
The shopkeeper whirled around to find a man standing just next to him as if he
had appeared out of nowhere. Like himself he also wore a robe, though it was
inconspicuously grey in colour. He was perhaps in his sixties, sported an almost
white beard and had gnomish made octagon eye-glasses sitting on the bridge of
his nose. All that made him look like a sage, or a book keeper - that and the
pile of documents he was carrying under his arm.
"Welcome to Crotae's Magical Emporium!" the shopkeeper adroitly greeted the
newcomer. A customer was always a good thing, even if he seemingly crawled out
of the woodworks, quite literally. Time to work his magic, the shopkeeper
thought: "Wands, amulets, charms, reagents, enchantment scrolls, crystal balls -
there's nothing the Emporium doesn't have for anyone even remotely interested in
dabbling in the magical arts. How may I help you in particular?"
"You know, I've been watching you, my dear friend..." the other man countered
"So? May I ask with whom I have the pleasure? I should know my friends,
"If I may introduce myself: Quingoh the Third, Ximaxian water mage of the third
tier and executing controller of all magical wares, spells, items or otherwise
traded throughout the kingdom in authorized Ximaxian affiliates." Quingoh made a
half-bow. "And I gather you're - let me see..." He flipped through some sheets
he pulled from one of his folders. "Ah yes, Ylfmin of Bourshal, once student of
the water element as well in the halls of Ximax. A failed one at that, as I
gather, and now you're half proprietor of this very establishment. Looks like
you had trouble getting your master thesis finished, so you opted for selling
stuff instead of following the way of the mage, right?"
"Ah indeed, looks like you can read me like an open book, my dear Quingoh - or
should I rather say... friend?" the shopkeeper retorted while closing his
cabinet again. " I recognize a similar field of interest but I fail to see a
closer relationship still. Might you perhaps enlighten me about that?"
"Ha! Such boldness was to be expected from the likes of you!" The snotty remark
had escaped the other man instantaneous. Quingoh the Third, Ximaxian water mage
of the third tier and executing controller of magical wares, wrinkled his nose,
pushed his glasses up a notch and looked contemptuously down at his colleague in
the magical arts. "It's a miracle you managed to acquire a license for selling
anything in this shop at all. But well, apparently a mistake was made, and I'm
here to correct it now."
"On what grounds would you want to do that?"
"You know very well what grounds I'm referring to. Your practices that make you
a conniving, deceiving macanti of the worst kind!"
Ylfmin raised an eyebrow. "Is that so? What makes you so sure?"
Quingoh pointed at his folder. "It's all in there. And I've just witnessed it
myself this very moment how you sold a so-called confidence and luck charm to
that poor, poor lady who had no idea what she got herself into. These books tell
me that you've sold no less than twenty-five of these charms last month alone!
Ylfmin looked unimpressed by the reasoning of the controller. "Well, shouldn't
the Academy's vendors guild be proud of me in that case?"
"Ha! Such insolence!" Quingoh exclaimed. "According to this list all your shop
ever received from Xaramon's certified enchanter workshops is three of these
particular and very rare charms, and that was already a couple of months ago.
Oh, and by the way: to my knowledge none of these actually even resemble
"Interesting point you raise there, friend Quingoh," Ylfmin nodded and smirked.
"But you know what? Actually, that's exactly the issue I wanted to talk to you
about anyway. So it's a great pleasure for me to see that you finally showed up.
Somebody had to check these books sooner or later and I'm grateful for that."
"What? How? You? Wanted to talk to me?" the controller looked perplexed
and for a moment didn't know what to say. "I'm here to control you!"
"Exactly," Ylfmin continued. "That's precisely the point. See, there was indeed
this issue of my rejected master thesis that almost discouraged me to become a
mage. Sad thing, that. Do you happen to have the details about it in your papers
"I don't know how that would matter now," Quingoh the controller said.
"If you'd please be so kind to look it up anyway?"
Reluctantly the grey robed man pulled a sheet out of his folder and read: "Says
here: Worked on a thesis entitled 'The Manifestation of Will or The Illusion
of Enchantments', which he eventually abandoned. Of course it was!
Apparently a lot of hokum about, well..." - he turned a page then read on - "...enchantments
where the author paradoxically tries to suggest - quite naturally in vain - that
there's no enchantment needed to make one actually work. Preposterous these
ideas, probably inspired by unhealthy consumption of vaninen! Ha, what kind of
horse dung were you suggesting there anyway? That the Emporiums should get out
of business, because their wares aren't needed after all? What's an enchantment
then after all? And why did you move into that trade then if you have so little
confidence in what you're selling?" The controller shook his head. "I see why
the elders didn't even think it worth discussing such hotchpotch and rejected it
"Well, the elders require some evidence to back things up, don't they?"
"Sure they do! What do you think? What kind of scholarly institution do you
reckon the Grand Ximaxian Academy to be?"
Ylfmin pulled out a sheet himself now from a drawer. "Well, my dear friend
controller - take a look at this: According to this list I've indeed sold
twenty-five of these charms last month."
"We've established that. But you mean illegally acquired ones, probably lousy
copies, imitations, or utter rubbish! These aren't Ximaxian certified amulets!
Just shiny items most likely made out of inexpensive copper and coloured glass."
"Ah yes, you're not that far off with your assessment. None of these are
enchanted, rather they were put together by a dwarven friend with no knowledge
of magic whatsoever."
"Ha, said so! They could never work. And the worst: you even admit it!" The
controller was fuming. "You should be incarcerated for fraud, locked away for
"However, the thing is..." Ylfmin replied and pointed at a column in his list.
"As you say: they could never work: Here you see how many of these amulets have
actually been returned."
Quingoh the Third, Ximaxian water mage of the third tier and executing
controller of all magical wares, spells, items or otherwise traded throughout
the kingdom in authorized Ximaxian affiliates, pushed his glasses up once more
and held the sheet to his face, so that he could see the numbers better.
"But..." he muttered and his look turned puzzled.
A jingling sound from the shop's door interrupted his not quite yet properly
articulated musings, announcing the arrival of yet another customer.
"Excuse me," Ylfmin said and left Quingoh in order to head for the door.
"The Twelve with you," the controller then heard a man's voice a couple of
shelves away. "You know, I've heard so much about your wizardry here that I
finally decided to get a piece for myself."
"Which one will it be?" Ylfmin inquired.
"Do you still have one of those charms? There's a particular one I'm interested
in actually: the one in the shape of a snowflake."