“Well,” Essairyn began as she put Akari back on the table, “sounds like fun.” She flashed a toothy smirk. This was now the second time she had been warned, but she honestly wasn’t too worried. Regardless of her inherent powers and the possible danger, she liked the fox’s company and was determined to make her a true friend that she could trust.
The fox turned away to hide her growing grin and glee upon hearing those words. “You sure have a strange taste for traveling partners,” she tried to scoff.
Essairyn grinned at the reluctant fox. “What? I think I have the cutest traveling partner.”
Akari’s eyes widened and she looked away with a bashful seriousness. “Anyway, are you done here or what? Let’s get moving.” Akari really couldn’t fathom what that girl was thinking even after being warned twice. Ugh, this human! Why’re you so—?! Essairyn kept shaking her up despite her efforts to not get attached to anyone else ever again.
The group offered their gratitude, and Essairyn, about to bid farewell, suddenly remembered something. She plunked a hand down to her jean pocket and carefully poked around inside it. Feeling her fingertips come into contact with a smooth surface, she firmly grasped the small jewel that was tucked away in the crevice of the seam and held it in front of the man.
“Do you have any string that I could use for this gem? I recently bought it at the market, and apparently you need to wear it in order to purify it.”
Lachlan’s pupils grew at the sight of the gem called Ayvirdizite and the nearly indiscernible fluctuations that roved about its center. Ayvirdizite was indeed tedious to purify, but it was the absolute best for storing magic. And once purified, not only would it reveal a striking, rich green, it could also change color depending on the direction which light hit it. Thus, it was both a display of prestige and style when wearing this jewel with pleochroic and highly refractive qualities.
Yet even beyond this, the most exceptional, lesser-known feature of Ayvirdizite laid in its ability to augment a user’s absorption of m’u from the magical atmosphere. Although the additional m’u would be directly absorbed by the gem, and the enhancement would be null if the gem wasn’t in direct contact with the mage’s skin, many high level mages still madly sought after fully purified Ayvirdizite. It was the only gem which enhanced magical absorption at a fixed rate rather than a fixed amount. And gems which enhanced in fixed amounts were already rare. Additionally, as a side effect, Ayvirdizite would also reflect the color of the user’s magic. For the exceedingly conceited, this was a superlative way to boast of one’s abilities.
However, this extraordinary phenomenon came with a catch. It could only be activated under one condition: extremely rapid purification. This meant that only C-ranked mages or higher could possibly trigger this hidden potential. And gaining the effect became immeasurably more difficult to achieve in larger pieces of Ayvirdizite.
But it wasn’t the sight of Ayvirdizite which amazed Lachlan; he had already seen plenty of it in his life so far. It was those barely perceptible fluctuations that were the telltale signs of extremely rapid purification. As a recently descended traveller, Essairyn was inherently blessed with potent and superior enough magic to unlock Ayvirdizite’s trump card. And this was only her initial state. She would continue accelerating in power and skill. This was unheard of, and it made her a danger to the balance of Sol’h’meyr’s politics. Anyone power-hungry that knew would either try to exploit or kill her. Lachlan could only sigh inwardly at this discovery. Before, he could tell she was unusually strong, but he would’ve never imagined that her quietly formidable aura was actually repressing deeper strengths.
With slightly furrowed brows, he affirmatively answered her request and fetched a bobbin of thin, white string. While she cut her desired amount of string, he informed Essairyn that the gem was called Ayvirdizite. She thanked him for everything once again, and the trio left the school thereafter.
Several seconds after the door shut, Lachlan addressed the cloaked man now standing next to him.
“What’re your plans for now?”
The man garbed in all black revealed a glimmer of a smile. He hadn’t expected to run into the girl from the market. He had been hiding in the back room during the trio’s visit and joined Lachlan’s side after their departure. “I’m going to scout the area; it hasn’t been long since they’ve entered Reisparte. If I can preemptively find out their plans, I’ll head for Byar’non and secure the city.”
Lachlan faintly dipped his head in agreement. “Another group will set out to help you capture them. We need to make sure that this time it’ll be successful.”
The man nodded under the guise of his hood and soundlessly glided out the indigo school doors. Lachlan watched the man leave with profound eyes as his mind stirred tempestuously.
Unbeknownst of their exchange, Essairyn decided to visit a shop before they departed Reisparte as it was late afternoon. Upon opening the door, Essairyn was struck by the honeyed scents that wafted deliciously inside Leia’s candy shop. It was a cute little store lined with shelves of various candies that were loose in mason jars or packaged in clear-topped, ribboned boxes.
She walked over to the counter where a young girl was standing behind and inquired if she knew a little boy named Jerry Andelrin. The cashier chuckled when she heard Jerry’s name and replied that he visited the shop every time he visited Reisparte. Essairyn asked which candies were his favorites, and the young girl led her to a shelf with colorfully labeled tins. She handed Essairyn a rectangular one labeled, “Jelly Gems: Berry Citrus — strawberry and raspberry hard candies with soft honey and lemon centers.”
“These sound really good,” Essairyn remarked as she flipped the tin over and looked for its price. It cost only a hathe pynce, so she picked up another and then spied a round tin labeled, “Goldmine — chocolates with crunchy honey bits.” She sucked in her breath. These candies sounded better than the ones she knew from Earth. “Ooooh,” she murmured excitedly with a truly girlish giggle as she took it from the shelf, “This one sounds really good too.” It cost a hathe and eythe pynce. She stacked the tins together and looked over Darren and Akari who were browsing. “Do you guys see anything you like?”
Darren shook his head. “I’m fine.” He didn’t want to take advantage of Essairyn’s kindness. It was enough that had followed Essairyn like a lost puppy. Even though he was the one who said he would go to Neu’arth, he didn’t know north from south here. But Essairyn seemed to know what she was doing and where she was going. And since she was strong and a traveler like him, he felt most comfortable with her. On the other hand, this fox smelt like trouble to him…
Currently, Akari was smacking her mouth and staring intensely at a cylindrical container of sour candies. Her tails swished in a slow, fervent manner.
“Umm, do you want that, Akari?” Essairyn proposed.
Akari jerked away. “Huh, what, no.” She jumped off the display table.
Essairyn chuckled. “Well, okay.”
She paid for the three tins at the counter and asked the shop girl if she could pass a note to Jerry when he visited Leia’s. The girl nodded and gave her a scrap of paper on which Essairyn wrote, “Hi Jerry. I’m sorry I can’t stay and join you tomorrow. I’m leaving Reisparte early, so I bought your favorite candies for you. Please enjoy, and my best to your parents. Essairyn.” She taped the message on the tin of candies and handed it the girl.
It was true that Essairyn was apologetic to Jerry, but she was too restless and eager to set out for Byar’non. Despite her kindly and empathetic disposition, her selfishness and impatience prevailed even in the simplest of situations. It was this kind of ambivalence in her personality which hindered her efforts to build deep, lasting relationships with others; even though, she was easily able to form them, and her connections sought to become closer. Thus, no matter her outward selflessness, her acquaintances were many, and the unseen, layered wall surrounding her heart remained.
“By the way, do you know any good places that sell fruit?”
The shop girl was briefly taken aback by Essairyn’s question but professionally answered, “Yes, in the northeast section of the marketplace.”
Essairyn smiled. “Thanks again, bye.”
Darren gave her a curious sidelong glance as they exited. “Fruit?”