11. The ancient scepter of Krimtheros

The door to the King’s Arms banged open and Donna, startled, dropped the stack of souvenir coasters she was in the process of distributing to all the tables.

The woman who stepped in was tall, easily a head or two taller than Donna. Muscular. Her metal armor was dull and banged up. She was a real warrior, not a noob wannabe. And she looked familiar.

This was Mitchell’s friend. She stopped to give him a ride the day before. Donna squatted down to pick up the coasters. Didn’t the woman say something about crystals? Maybe she was a collector.

The woman kicked the door shut. Her hands were full with a stack of papers.

The bartender stopped fussing around behind the bar and turned towards the entry way. “Hey, Matty. Whatcha got?”

“Some reward posters.” She took the top sheet off the stack and passed it over to him. “Ten thousand golds for the return of the Jewel of Rhotar.”

The bartender took the poster. “The what now?”

“It’s the thing that sits on top of the Rhotarr. That’s the scepter that the god Krimtheros gave to Krimceyar back when Krim was first created. Allegedly.” She rolled her eyes.

The bartender peered at the paper. “It says here that it’s fifteen thousand years old.”

Donna picked up the rest of her coasters and stood up.

“Wow, I didn’t know there was anything that old on Krim,” she said.

“You wouldn’t think so, would you?” said the bartender. “Especially because Krim was founded ten years ago.”

“Maybe it’s one of my crystals! What does it do?”

“Probably nothing,” said the woman. “None of the other artifacts ever had any magical powers. But according to the myth, Krimceyar used the scepter to communicate with their dad. Supposedly, it could also raise mountains. But the two of them had a falling out and Krimceyar got mad and broke the jewel off and threw it away. You can go to the Krim Historical Archive and Museum and they’ll tell you all about it.”

“So I take it someone finally found it?” the bartender asked.

“The Armforge Guild. Or, at least, they bought or took it from someone who did. Then they got ripped off a couple of days ago.”

The bartender winced. “I can’t imagine anyone dumb enough to do that.”

“Yeah, they’re in for a world of pain. We’ve already recovered almost everything else that was stolen, but are still looking for the jewel.” She pulled out a heavy dagger. “Mind if I put some posters up?”

“Sure.” The bartender waved at the wall next to the front door. “Help yourself.”

Mitchell’s warrior woman friend took a nail from one of her pockets and hammered a reward poster to the wall with the hilt of the dagger, right between the day’s menu and the coatrack.

Donna put down the coasters and came closer to look at poster. There was a hand-drawn illustration of the jewel whose shape looked familiar. Donna had seen it somewhere before. She was sure of it.

“I wish I had one of those,” she said. “I’d use the money to open up my crystal shop.”

“You could open up a hundred shops with that money,” said the bartender and looked at Donna. “I just hope nobody accidentally threw it down a trash chute.”

Donna blushed. She’d accidentally thrown out a tray of souvenir shot glasses the day before.

The woman warrior put away her dagger and picked up the posters. Donna held the door open for her. As she was about to step through. the woman paused and looked Donna up and down.

“You’re a waitress right?”

Donna nodded.

“Blonde hair. White dress. You don’t happen to be the one some noob was looking for yesterday? He would have given you a crystal.”

“Yes, that was Mitchell.” Donna stretched out her hand. “I’m Donna. Pleased to meet you.”

“Matilda Scarletscrike.” But the woman didn’t shake Donna’s hand, probably because she was still holding the posters. “Aren’t you supposed to working someplace on Banking Street?”

Donna shook her head. “I’ve never worked on Banking Street, but Mitchell did give me a crystal. It wasn’t like the one on the poster, though.” She dug into her apron pocket and pulled it out. “I carry it with me so its energy will inspire the universe to help me manifest my own shop.”

Matilda freed one hand and took the crystal from Donna. “No, that’s not the one we’re looking for. The Jewel of Rhotarr has the letter ‘K’ inside it and is about twice as big.” She handed Donna’s crystal back. “Do you have any others?”

Donna pulled two others from her pocket and pointed at the yellow one. “This is citrine. It’s for optimism. Because I’m optimistic that the universe will provide. This purple one is amethyst. It’s to show the universe that I’m sincere about my goal.”

“Didn’t you say yesterday that the amethyst was for optimism?” asked the bartender.

“Oh, no,” said Donna. “I never get my crystals wrong. I’m spiritually attuned to them.” She held the amethyst to her forehead. “I can feel the vibrations of its energy.”

Matilda glanced at the bartender. “Is she for real?”

The bartender shrugged.

“I have more at home,” Donna added. “But none that look like that jewel.”

“Are you sure?” asked the bartender.

“I’m sure. And if someone had given one to me they would have told me what it was,” said Donna.

“That’s true,” said the bartender. “If they’re trying to impress you, they’d probably have mentioned that their present was an ancient artifact.”

“Well, if you come across anyone who’s seen it, tell them to take it to the Armforge Guild,” said Matilda and turned to leave.

Donna closed the door behind her. “Wow! I wish I could find that crystal.” She patted her apron pocket. “Maybe my crystals will tell the universe to send it my way.”

If Donna found the Jewel of Rhotarr, she could open her own shop and never have to compromise her artistic integrity again.

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10. The sum of ale fears

The coach rolled down one street, made a turn, and down another. Mitchell peered out…

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12. A meeting at McMeaty’s

It was Wednesday, so Mitchell had the day off. For a while, he puttered around…

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