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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: December 4, 2019      Views: 80
Chapters:
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Chapter 23 of the book Quest for the Neckulet
Quest speaks to owner of store that was robbed.
"The Jewelry Store" by krprice
Background
Still behind the neckulet thieves, the quest head into a nasty swamp.


Jewelletta raised her and chanted. The man’s dagger bounced off something. The sorceress had put a shield around the quest. The two men gasped at the others.
 
The sorceress stood. “I am Jewelletta of the Majutsu tribe. I vouch for Vidad.”
 
Then Jahm rose. “And I am Jahm of the Militio tribe. He’s been with us for several days.”
 
“And I’m to take the word of a witch and a coward who’s dead?” the older man growled.
 
Mahanna stepped in. “Klep, my husband, and Edvar my son.” Then she introduced the quest. “Kadin swore for Jahm and the others. Are you angry because you didn’t catch the thieves?”
 
“They vanished before our eyes as if by magic.” Klep glowered at Jewelletta whose eyes turned from their usual bright emerald to a darker green edged in ebony.
 
Radolf had never seen them turn that color in all the time they had been traveling together. Her nostrils flared, and Radolf wondered if flames would pour from them, as if she smoldered inside.
 
Jewelletta took six deep breaths before her eyes returned to their normal color. “I have my suspicions as to who did it, However, I’d rather not say at this time.”
 
She paused, but before she got to say anything more, Klep walked over and picked up his dagger.
 
“When Mahanna invited you into our home, she automatically gave you guest protection,” Klep said. “I apologize for violating that promise.” He hung his head and walked toward Vidad.
 
Jewelletta immediately withdrew the shield.
 
The duo shook hands, and Klep did the same with Jahm and Radolf while Edvar rose went into the kitchen and returned with two glasses of fingleberry tea, handing one to his father before he sat.
 
“So what is going on and why are members of the five tribes and a dailam traveling together?” Klep returned to his seat.
“Radolf was starting to tell why he began his quest when you two came in,” Mahanna said.
 
Taking several deep breaths to calm himself, Radolf began his tale again until he met up with Jewelletta. She took over then, stopping when they reached Mahanna’s house. Jahm spoke of what had happened to him, and then the princess and Vidad recounted their side of the story and how Jewelletta had saved them.
 
“I’ve heard of the Legend of the Starcastle,” Klep said. “Vidad, would you be willing to sing it again for us?”
 
“Yes,” he agreed and began the song.
 
Radolf followed Anarra’s advice and paid attention to the lyrics this time.
 
I think Jewelletta suspects its time to build the Starcastle. All the signs seem to be appearing.
 
Except for a couple, but they might still come to pass.
 
The entire group remained silent for several minutes.
 
“Something strange is going on,” Klep admitted.
 
“Kadin mentioned something happened at a jewelry store,” Jewelletta said. “Do you think we could go there, see it, and talk to those still alive? I am an expert on jewels which is how I got my name.”

“Then let me escort all of you there.” Klep rose. “Maybe you can spot something our security people didn’t see.”
 
“Edvar and I will stay here,” Mahanna said, staring at her son who nodded.
 
With Klep in the lead, they left them house and walked through town. Everyone stopped to stare at the little group who trailed after the chief councilor like ducklings after their mother.
 
The briny breeze whipped through Radolf’s hair as the aroma of sweet ginger and cinnamon custard like his grandmother used to make drifted from The Grumpy Talkor.
 
Light brown wooden boards had been placed across the windows of the jewelry shop. Klep tried to open the dark, brown door, but when it didn’t open, he rattled it before pounding on it.
 
“We’re not open,” a deep male voice said.
 
“I know,” Klep said. “But I have some people who want to talk to you and might have an idea who the thieves were.”
The entrance opened, and a short, balding man stood on the other side.
 
“Oh, Klep, it’s you,” he invited. “Be wary where you step. I haven’t gotten all the glass cleaned up.”
 
Klep stepped inside with Jewelletta second. She swept her hand around, spoke a few words, and all the glass ended up in a pile in the corner.
 
The man’s blue eyes widened. “Thank you,” he stammered as the others walked in. However, his face turned ashen as he spotted Vidad. “So you caught one of the thieves. But why bring him here?”
 
“While he is a Savaecus, he’s not one who stole from you,” Klep said. “And I didn’t catch them, Ortis.”
 
“Oh.” Ortis gulped.
 
Klep introduced the quest. “Now take a good look at Vidad. Does he look anything like any of the renegades, because that’s who they were.”
 
Ortis inched his way closer to the bodyguard, trembling. He started at top of the man’s head and paused at his face, and then continued examining him like the bodyguard was a side of meat he wanted to buy.
 
He glanced back at Vidad’s face and stared. “Though he resembles one of the crooks, he isn’t the same one. The robber had a dark, brown mole under his left eye.”
 
Vidad parted his lips, touching them with his fingers. “Oh, no,” he exclaimed. He shook his head. “I think I know who you’re talking about. Oh, Khlorae, what has he gotten himself into!”
 
“Who is it, dear?” Chrystella grabbed his arm.
 
“My brother, Valtora,” Vidad said. “He’s in his late twenties and has always had a tendency to get into trouble.” He turned to Radolf. “Where you able to get a good look or any kind of look at whoever stole the neckulet?”
 
Radolf fidgeted. “No, I’m sorry. The two men wore hoods which covered their heads and faces, not to mention it was rather dark in the hut. Moonlight was the only light.”

“Well,” Jewelletta said. “It seems we now know who one of the outlaws was. But who was the other?”
 
“And who is behind it all?” Klep said.
 
They all gazed around at each other as if they would find the answer there.
 
I believe Jewelletta knows who’s behind all of this, but for some reason, won’t tell us.
 
Maybe by divulging it, she will have to acknowledge something she doesn’t want to admit.
 
Could it be that evil sorcerer, Jamari, Quin mentioned?
 
Quite possibly, and she’s hiding something about him she doesn’t want us to know.
 
What makes you say that?
 
Call it intuition.
 
“I think it’s time we left Ortis to his job,” Klep finally said.
 
Ortis turned to Jewelletta. “Thank you again. You made my work easier.”
 
They turned, followed Kelp out, and returned to his house. An aroma of fish stew filled the house.
 
****
Once everyone was seated with more tea, Klep asked, “Where are you headed now?”
 
“Eventually, our destination is the Veda Community,” Jewelletta said. “We must cross the plains, go through a part of the Ventrifico Forest. I’m not sure what else is between there and the Kanballi Jungle.”
 
Klep rose and left the living room, coming back with a large piece of paper.
 
“The Ventrof Swamp,” Edvar said.
 
“Hmm,” Jahm said. “It was only a marshland, but that was over a decade ago.”
 
Klep spread it out on the coffee table. “This is a map with the latest information I have.”
 
Jewelletta and Jahm moved the table closer as Radolf sat on the floor to the right side and Vidad squatted on the left.
 
“There are many dangers in the swamp,” Edvar warned. “The plants are not mindless, but seem to think.”
 
Radolf and Chrystella shuddered.
 
Edvar continued. “Vines have been known to grab people and swing them around, sometimes dropping them in water for the reptiles to eat, or on a hillock, or maybe in a tree. There’s quicksand too, not to mention huge birds, mosquitoes, bushes with thorns, and a plant that spits. It’s not venomous, but it causes a nasty rash.”
 
Chrys shivered. “I don’t think I want to go through there.”
 
“It’s either that or go back the way we came,” Jewelletta said. “And we would have completely lost their trail, not to mention the time it’ll take “She shook her head.
 
“Then there are the ghostly lights and sounds that try to lure you away as if they can read minds,” Edvar added.
“You’re just full of good news,” Jahm grumbled.
 
“Just giving you fair warning as to what to expect,” the man said.
 
“And we appreciate it.” Jewelletta glared and Jahm and scowled. “Is there a safe path, a main trail, we can take that’ll keep us away from most of those nasty things? Who made this map?”
 
“Kadin’s brother did,” Klep said. “Jontwill. He should be able to give you more information.”

A knock sounded on the door, and Mahanna rose to answer it. She returned with Kadin and a man who had Kadin’s light brown eyes and long brown hair.
“I came to see how you were getting along,” Kadin said. “This is my brother, Jontwill, but call him Jon.”
 
“Nice timing,” Jewelletta said. “We were just discussing the swamp and its hazards.”
 
“Find a place to sit,” Mahanna said. “I’ll bring a pitcher of tea, glasses for your two, and refill everyone’s glass.” She left.
 
Kadin introduced everyone.
 
“Why don’t we adjourn to the big table where we can spread the map out, and everyone can sit comfortably?” He sipped his tea.
 
Everyone nodded, stood, picked up their glasses, walked to the table, and sat, though Kadin picked up the map and spread it out on the table. Mahanna returned with a pitcher of tea and glasses. She filled ones for Kadin and Jon, refilled the others, and found a seat.
 
Jewelletta asked Jon the same question she had Edvar.
 
“Yes,” He said then drank some fingleberry tea. “You’ll need to gather supplies to get you through the swamp. From here, you’ll cross the plains.” His right index finger moved across the map as he spoke. “There are small animals you can catch to eat but little water. Again, in the forest, you’ll find food. Gather as many pieces of wood for fires in the swamp. Right before you come to the marsh, fill your waterskins with fresh water, and wash. It stinks enough in there. You don’t need to add to it.”
 
They all laughed and drank their fill before Jon continued.
 
Pointing again to the map, the young man traced his finger across the paper. “This is the main trail. As long as you stay on it, you’ll be all right. There are other paths, but I suggest not exploring them unless you happen to need to rescue someone.” He withdrew a quill and inkpot from his pocket and filled in other tracks, dangers, and waterways. “There is a bit of marshland before you get to the swamp. At the edge of the prairie, you’ll find a safe lake to catch fish, bathe in, fill waterskins, and camp beside.”
 
Jewelletta fished out a piece of parchment. “Please make us a list of what we will need.” As she handed it to him, she asked those from Militar, “Do any places in town accept barter?”
 
Mahanna grinned. “Everybody does.
 
“Good,” Radolf said, opening his pack and pulling out the special bag. From that, he extracted a pink shawl, two yellow wool scarves, and three pink scarves. “That’s the last of the things my grandmother made I can contribute to our supplies.”

Mouths dropped opened, and eyes widened to the size of platters.
 
“I thought you gave us everything in Sildar,” Jewelletta said.
 
“Figured I’d better hold some things back,” he explained and smiled.
 
“That shawl will probably get you everything you need at Frojo’s warehouse,” Mahanna said, regaining her shock.
 
After Jon had finished his list, he gave it to the sorceress.
 
The brothers finished their drinks, bid farewell, and left.
 
About that time, everyone’s stomachs growled as if they planned it that way.
 
“Let’s clean off the table, set it, and eat,” Mahanna said as Jewelletta picked up the map.
 
“We have room for everyone to sleep.”
The next morning Jahm and Jewelletta set off with the list and Radolf’s contributions to gather what they would need for the next leg of their journey.
 
Overloaded, they returned sans the shawl, but with enough to fill everyone’s pack several times over.
 
While Jewelletta refused to give up her robes for the trip, she did agree to wearing socks and boots. The others added both those and green and brown tunics and pants to their wardrobes.
 
They spent the rest of the day stuffing everything into backpacks, spent another night in Militar, and left the next morning.
 
They walked long days, stopping only when there was only enough light to see to set up camp. Taking Jon’s advice about getting clean and refilling their waterskins, they stayed just outside the marsh,
 
Radolf wrinkled his noise at the stench of decaying plants and animals that wafted on the breeze. Chrystella sneezed.
 
“Hope you’re not catching something,” Jewelletta said.
 
“Me either.”
 
Jahm led them into Ventrof Swamp, followed by Jewelletta, Radolf, Anarra, Chrystella, and lastly, Vidad. Mud squished under their boots. Vines slithered around them like snakes on the black trail. They had barely gone five miles in when a green plant spit something purple at Radolf’s left arm. He screamed.
 
Everyone stopped. Jewelletta turned and examined it.
 
“It burns,” the young man said as a red rash emerged.
 
Jewelletta unfastened a bag hanging from her right, brought out a jar, opened it, and dipped two fingers in it. She covered the rash with salve. Radolf cringed at her touch.
 
Something large blotted out the sun. They glanced up to see a black bird screech, grab the princess in its talons, and fly off toward the left.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The book continues with The Ventrof Swamp. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.
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