There had been five murders, a handful of stabbings, a dozen concussions, a multitude of bruises, and one case of rabies for some unknown reason.
“What happened to not hurting me?” Cyme asked nursing a broken nose. The warrior had learned the hard way not to break up a fight between a poet and a grocer. Why those two had been in there and had thought they deserved a gem stone drinking glass was beyond.
Frank admired one of his carts of swag, “Fun thing. The contract says that I personally can not hurt you physically. By the way, you so got totally pawned by a guy who rhymes about pretty flowers for a living.”
Cyme did not know what pawned meant but did not enjoy being ridiculed. “Well, I am not the one who traded a goblet made out of red gold and rubies for an assortment of flea infested rugs and filthy rags.” She chided.
Tile picked up one of the togas and made a disgusted face as she smelt it, “Master, I know that very few of those men had enough money to buy your cups, but I don't see how this is better.”
“Ahh,” Frank held up a finger and smiled, “What you don't know Tila is that the Abstract has a clean and mend option. Instead of beating all of this on a rock I can instantly remove every stain and fix every hole, instantly. You both also forget that I can also buy large quantities of cheap items here and instantly travel across the world selling them for ten times the price.”
Tila thought about this and frowned. She viewed the carts that the merchants had left. Half finished statues, rotting vegetables, wooden planks, old tools. Only of the nobles had been able to gather the funds necessary to pay for a single mug, and half of that went to an angry Roumpíni.
The old woman had not been happy that her tavern had been set on fire or that Frank had accepted barter and not hard coin for his little lizard mugs.
Not understanding the fool's strategy or basics of economics, Cyme wanted to point something out, “You said that your real will be unavailable until whatever demon inside gives up. How are we to secure these items from thieves until we can return?”
Frank held up his waxy bag and waggled his eyebrows . “Cyme, didn't you notice that I put a huge marble fountain in a bag, walked around with it, and none of the glasses were broken?”
Both women considered this for a moment. Till was the first one to realise it. “It's a magic bag!” she grinned.
“The technical term is bag of holding.” He held up the bag and pointed to the one on his back. “Each one of these contains a small universe. And when I mean small you can fit a sun inside it. I also bound them to me. Here,” he handed the large bag to Tila, “Now, go to that spot right there.”
Tila obeyed and to the woman's shock the bag that she had been holding like a baby vanished from her arms. She yelped in excitement and spun around to see her master holding the waxy bag over his shoulder. “That's incredible.”
Cyme was speechless until her inner critic pointed out something, “Wait, if those bags can each hold the very sun, why do you have two of them? Would not one be enough?”
“I don’t like clutter.” It may be a portal it a storage reality without a concept of time. But things tend to messy quickly. “Anyway, the backpack is based on a cruder version of one that one of my ancestors used. It has become something of a tradition to wear it. Plus, should I meet a spaceial wizard or a multi-dimension lifeform capable of eating whole realities, I might need a back up.”
Cyme wanted to say how completely stupid that sentence was but managed to stop herself. It was only very recently that she had discovered that magic was indeed real and she was in no position to say what could and could not happen. For all she knew she had passed a wizard or demon in the street and not knew it.
She and Tila watched in awed fascination as Frank picked up the rug and cabbages and started funnelling the goods into his duffel bag which didn't change shape or form. In less than an hour the sorcerer had finished emptying the contents of the carts into his bag which he casually slug over his shoulder.
“We currently have 500 sar left. By my estimates that should give us two to four years in relative comfort.” He did not bother to look at either of his employees, “By now several members of influential groups will be drawn to me. They will want to interrogate all three of us, kill us, or tempt us to their faction. I might not be able to protect either of you.”
The Oria sucked in a breath and exhaled. So the sorcerer had felt their presence. While Tila started to sweat, Cyme's eyes tracked the rooftops and alleyways. She had counted fifteen since the moment that they had left the Triplets, but she assumed that there were more out there. The metallic tang was barely noticeable but it was there among the other stenches of this city.
Out there, was at least one body rotting in some hole.
Her eyes moved to Tila. The Northerner really had no clue what their master had just done. The woman had been dragged into trouble and was ill prepared for the hell that was about to come their way.
With just a bag, Frank had just declared himself as a sorcerer, which was a problem as most civilized communities tended to have kill on sight orders with magic people. When somebody with god-like powers turned up, politicians generally felt their masculinity threatened.
Before what could possibly be the last moment of peace they had today, the Orian man-killer had to ask. “Frank, those glass and gold mugs you sold. Why them? Out of all the treasures that you must own, why those mugs?”
Frank sucked in a breath, “Those cups are part of a unique set, nothing like them exists in this world. It is very possible that in a thousand years they will be considered national treasures. They will be bought and sold a thousand times. People will kill to obtain them, and legends will be passed down about them.” He pointed at himself, “I did that.”
A chill ran down the Orian's spine at hearing that. “Are the items magical in some way?” she asked.
Frank's tone shifted and he grinned, “Nope. Just fancy drinking cups. I was drunk when I bought them.” He shook his head. “So, so tacky.”
Those mugs had been right up there with his chicken grenade launcher and those Rolling Stones decorative memorial plates. He really needed to stop drunk shopping.
Now that he finished harvesting all of his new found junk, the bartender examined the city that he was in. So far from what he had seen, Thebes was the typical 200 BC Greek look. Such places didn't get their charm until after being turned into rubble and people invented the gift card industry.
“Are there any good theme parks or sight seeing areas here? Anything that you want to visit while we are here?” he asked his employees.
Not far away, Cyme could feel the eyes of possibly dozens of spies and watch dogs viewing their group. The shadowy little shits weren't attacking or had opened a dialogue yet but they probably hadn't had time to converse with their diabolical masters. While she could not tell what Frank was thinking, she did recognise a chance to lose some of their shadows.
“The Library of Gejoulska. It is said that they have the largest collection of books and scrolls in world.” Cyme said.
“I heard the same thing about the Library of Alexandria once. Didn't even have a good murder/mystery section. Let's hope this one has a good fire exit.” His dufflebag slung over his shoulder, Frank glanced around. “Which direction?”
The Library of Gejoulska was made of stone, marble, and Cyme considered it as a symbol as to why her culture was superior to this one. Knowledge was dangerous, and while Thebes had made sure that only nobles could enter the establishment, the Thebe government had not gone far enough in her opinion. Knowledge should be kept as a state secret, especially when it includes war and industry.
There should be guards posted everywhere along with trained hunting dogs and a trench.
“There are a lot of people here,” Tila said.
“Scholars,” Cyme snorted. She watched the men, if they could be called that, walk briskly with scrolls and documents under their arms. Either they were old and fat wastes of space or men with such scrawny arms that they could fly away in a light breeze did not fill the Oria's with confidence that this city would not last long when Enseen came knocking.
The learned men gave Frank and Cyme questioning glances as they passed.
Seeing a man who could reach the high shelf and a woman in bronze plate armour was an uncommon sight in the city.
Entering the library Frank was disappoint but not surprised. Instead of book or an computer that not even a third world pygmy in a clay hut would touch, there were just walls and walls of scrolls, and there weren't that many of them.
Tila's eyes went wide as she saw the messy stacks of papyrus that just sat there on shelves, just waiting for a careless person with a lit candle to pass by. “So many.” She gasped, “I didn't know that there were this many scrolls in the world.” She stared at her master, “These people must be nearly as smart as you, master.”
Cyme rolled her eyes at the twit's attempt to flatter their boss.
“Good arse kissing, Tila.” Frank said approvingly. The bartender was about to take a step toward on of the messy shelves when an forty something man with a greying beard intercepted him.
“Hold it, hold it.” The man must have been incredibly braze or suicidal as he stepped in front of the mountain giant. “Who are you?” his head turned to a concerned Tila and a bored Cyme, “No women allowed in the great library. Only the men folk have the superior brain capacity to fully appreciate the centuries of wisdom stored in this building.”
Cyme looked about ready to pillage this boring place and shove the man's precious scrolls up his enlightened arse.
“As much as I would like to see Cyme readjust your spine into an uncomfortable shape, I wish to donate a work to the library.” Frank said and dove his hand into his bag. The sheet that he pulled out was as white as sun bleached bone and was folded.
The man was taken aback by this unusual gift. He gently took the parchment which was made from a material that he had never seen before. “My word. It is so white and smooth.” He opened the parchment, studied it for a moment and then promptly vomited.
“Oh Gods, oh Gods. Whhhhha.” On his knees, his eyes letting out pained tears, the clerk let out another burst of vomit. “That is the foulest thing that I have ever seen.” He pointed at sheet, “Take that filth away from here.”
Not understanding what could make a grown man vomit out side a punch to the stomach, Cyme picked up the sheet and viewed its contents. At first she didn't understand, confusing tentacles and... Then she saw it and knew that she could not unsee it.
Putting her hand over her mouth as to hold back the scream of terror and the sick that was slowly building in her throat, Cyme whispered “Hippolyta.” The worst part had been the eyes. It was as if madman had scooped out the eyes of a giant squid and put them inside a humming bird’s head.
Cyme had thought that battle and war had hardened her will and stomach until nothing phased her. Once again, Frank had tested that theory.
Frank carefully pulled the evil sheet from her fingers and rested it on the desk. “Don't worry, it is going to quickly become a best seller. Come on girls, let's check out the temples.” He lead a traumatised Cyme out the library door. “Can you believe that guy? I thought that portrait was awesome.”
The Great and Prideful Broz'giman might be an evil cosmic horror who ate suffering and desired every world to become a wasteland ruled by easily offended lunatics, but what did people expect from a child actor?
After the group left, Frank's prophecy about Broz'giman's portrait becoming popular quickly became true as the people who had been tracking the bartender and his group viewed the document and promptly violated the library floor. Seeing the grizzly mess that Larry's horrific visage had caused, the librarian put the portrait in a metal box.
Thus was born the infamous forbidden section of the Gejoulska Library.
For there are some things that man was not meant to know, and some carpets stains that cannot be removed.
Born in Australia I am a late bloomer when it came to books. I started writing when my grandfather died and it just sort of turned into a hobby.
I like science fiction, but not space opera. I like fantasy but I am picky when it comes to epic and urban types. I try to stay away from vampires, zombies and romance novels when I can.