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Chapter 15

The stuffy shop was filled with the familiar odors of mystics' wares. Eric Corbin, the former hunter of bounties, was careful not to store anything the church would consider true wizardry, but he had many of the tools and instruments common to the culture. Snake blood, while sought for its ability to bring virility back to older men, was also a strong component for rituals and curses. So too was the sulfur fused chalk used in the alchemists' and brewers' formulas. But how could such a mundane device be evil?

Eric had been accused of many things over the years and he was able to argue his innocence each time. The church was persistent and never failed to try and link Eric to dark sorcery. They even drafted their own laws and tried to have them adopted by the magistrates. But Eric had many friends. After all, he had made his fortune early in life with the help of many of the now elderly judges. They knew the lengths the temples would go through to persecute those who thought differently.

"Sergie," Eric called to his assistant. The towering Kanis was very gifted though lacked many talents outside his studies. "I am leaving to check the shipments. Our curriers seem to be skimming some of our products so I will probably be gone all afternoon. Make sure Dolfus and Brim organize the powder flasks and keep the place tidy. And if you see anyone lurking, make note. I don't need another Inquisitor dragging me off in my sleep." Sergie nodded and returned to his book. He truly was a book worm, thought Eric as the door slammed shut and he greeted the afternoon sun.

Sergie scratched some marks onto the parchment, not satisfied with his calculations. The ink dried fast, but still bled a bit. On the one side was the inventory list; 14 bottles of powdered bone, one crate of furs, though none were sorted yet, pouches, trinkets, chance cubes, and on and on. But the next page held what Sergie was truly interested in. The pattern was haunting him. No matter how much he tried he could not find where his next mark should fall. The circle was perfect and the three lines that cut the blank page in even parts were also perfect, but the spell was not complete. Having written the diagram thus far, Sergie was hesitant to put an inaccurate mark on the page lest he must begin again.

Pen in hand, he crept closer to the parchment ready to make his mark when the door swung open and slammed against the wall. In strode the two dysfunctional brothers Brim and Dolfus. Of course Dolfus hated his name and demanded to be called Hierkem, the goblin word for "king reborn", but no one really paid much attention to his whims.

"Late again?" Sergie growled barely moving from his crouched position.

"It was Brim's fault," said Dolfus, "He just HAD to talk to his lady friend along the way."

"Aye, and you had to keep your mug full."

Had it not been for the brothers' history with Master Corbin, they would not have lasted a day under anyone else's employment. "It doesn't matter. Eric wanted you to organize some things." The Kanis relayed the orders given him and the two brothers went to business all the while arguing about one thing or the next.

Just as Sergie settled down and had the pen in position to place his mark, the shop door creaked open again. This time it was a young lad in well made clothes. He stared about the room at all the strange items and did not notice the Kanis stooped over the counter.

"Can I help you?" Said Sergie as he stood. The youth paled as his gaze covered the length of the man-beast.

"Y-yes sir. I have a message for," he paused looking for the name on the parchment, "for Eric Corbin. Is this where I might find him?"

"Yes, but he has gone off with other matters, but I can take his message." The young lad handed the parchment over and quickly bowed and nearly ran out of the shop.

The note was from Cydric the Blackblade. What Eric saw in the young man Sergie could not fathom, but Eric seemed to take some of the strangest people into his home, not withstanding Sergie himself.

Cydric's request to identify a poison was particularly intriguing. Poisons were a matter that Eric knew most, but Sergie had read many of the notes Eric had made over the years. Sergie called back to the brothers in the back, "I will be leaving to tend to some business. You two keep an eye on the shop and keep an eye out for Inquisitor snoops. I will be back as soon as I can."

Chapter 16


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