The Seven Jewels

by Rev. Joe Kelly
read from the beginning

part ten.

He made sure to wait until the afternoon to reenter Amul, three days later, when he knew that friendly guards watched a side entrance. Most of the coin he had stripped from the guards’ horses went to the bribe, but enough remained for a night’s room and board at one of his favorite dives.

He turned plenty of heads as he rode casually through the poor quarter; more than a few waved to him and called, “Welcome back!” “Never thought I’d see you again.” Several of the priciest whores gave one of their favorite customers a welcoming grin and a quick flash as one of them called, “I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to see you again!”

Luo chuckled and called back, “Glad to see me and my purse, eh?”

“Sure, you and your purse–because you being back means that damned Alruf ain’t coming back!”

Luo threw his head back and laughed. They would have sung the same tune had Alruf returned, but they would have been lying. Alruf was not a man who would be much missed in the poor quarter; he had gone swiftly from local hero to hated villain when he had turned from rogue to Shah-ru’s lackey.

Luo decided to spend the night at one of his favorite funduqs, drinking the night away in the tavern, while he considered his options of fences. None of them were especially trustworthy; and besides, they would have to know someone they could sell such gems to…

As he finished off another beer, his thoughts wandered back to those fat gems. He hefted the sack… and frowned. They felt more… rattly than before. Odd. He began to unhook the sack to check it, when a nervous hand touched his shoulder.

A furtive little rat of a man stared at him with protruding eyes. “Kan Luodal?”

Luo eyed the creature suspiciously. “Yeah?”

The little man smiled. “She said I wouldn’t miss you, and she was right.”

“She who?”

“Oh–yes! Delcarta sends word that she had heard of your triumphant return, and she invites you to her bedroom tonight!” The scrawny man leered suggestively.

Luo grunted. “News of my return spreads fast… fine. Tell her I’ll be there shortly.” He tossed the little man a fals, and the creature scampered off eagerly, biting the copper with delight.

The sun had set by the time he reached her apartment; the swift chill and the clear leaden-indigo sky promised a cold night. He looked forward to spending it between her sheets, with her soft body warming his.

Luo chuckled to himself as he stepped lightly up the stairs, surprisingly silent for all his bulk. This, indeed, was the best ending he could think of: to leave Alruf ignobly buried beneath several tons of rock; to ride into town with a fortune worthy of a Turayan Satrap in his hands; and to cap it all off, to bed Alruf’s woman.

Delcarta opened the door at once to his knock, and led him in with a kiss on his lips and an arm about his chest. She cooed, “Oh, Luo! I’m so glad you made it back, and not him!”

Luo chuckled to himself. Same line as the whores, eh? How appropriate that is. Aloud he muttered, his voice heavy with lust, “And I’m so glad to have returned… to you, my darling, my sweet flower of the oasis.”

“Oh, Luo…”

“Yes…” He whispered into her hair, fed her the honeyed bullshit that she ate up. “I dreamed of you every night while I slept alone in the cold desert. I dreamed of the sweet perfume of your hair, of the soft caress of your glance, as soft as your hands…” He grasped her shoulders lightly and held her back. “But wait–I’ve got something to show you!”

He ran to the table and unhooked the pouch. She followed, her eyes lit by avarice. “A present? For me?!”

Luo grinned at her. If Delcarta thought she could steal the gems that night, she probably would. But she knew him too well to risk it, knew that his fury was not to be toyed with. So he didn’t mind showing her his prize; after all, she would be dripping wet at their very sight.

With a flourish, he ran the sack across the table, dumped out the gems–and stared, bemused.

Delcarta looked at him, at what lay on the table, with puzzlement, as he sank slowly into the seat. All that lay on the table were little broken chunks of what looked like cheap, dull colored glass. He poked them about in bafflement. Had someone lifted the gems from him and replaced them with this stuff? No… there, among the shards, was what looked like the remains of the pearl; there, one of the chunks was colored like black precious opal.

Could he have been mistaken? Had the mirror hypnotized him into thinking he held gorgeous jewels, when in reality it had been only the worthless bits of glass?

No, it couldn’t be. No glass would have twinkled like that, even in dim torchlight.

And then Delcarta began to laugh. He looked up at her, scowling with wounded pride. “What the hell’s so funny?” The tip of a sword pressed into the back of his neck. Behind him, he heard Alruf’s nasty, arrogant cackle join Delcarta’s tittering, mocking laugh. “You are, barbarian! You’re what’s so funny.”

on to part eleven

more from
What’s New
home/ Bonafides

Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssby feather
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

One Response to “The Seven Jewels”

  1. The Seven Jewels | Says:

    […] The Seven Jewels The Seven Jewels […]

Leave a Reply

Welcome to
Defenestrationism reality.

Read full projects from our
retro navigation panel, left,
or start with What’s New.