Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
I was relaxing at my table in the Grinning Cat as Dragon stretched out with a full belly. Griffin and the drakes were stuffed and laying on top of each other. I was watching Teresa with several young street children. Her miniatures had the group mesmerized as she told the proud owners of several new miniatures how to handle them.
I sighed and glanced at the door as Jasmine walked in with Silver. The other patrons in the room continued to talk or watch the tiny magical creatures as they crossed to my table. I took Jasmine’s hand as she sat beside me and Silver chuckled, “that is the tenth set you bought and just gave away.”
I looked at the children, “It was worth it.”
I turned at the soft song that started above the fireplace and smiled at the pair of phoenixes. I looked at Silver, “I thought you were working on some fancy spell?”
He frowned, “It didn’t work.”
I waited and he shrugged, “I need a few more things.”
I smiled and glanced at the children. Jasmine put her head on my shoulder, “wishful thinking?”
I smiled and turned my head to look at her, “yes.”
She grinned, “I can help with that.”
Silver cleared his throat and I looked at him, “don’t tell me you want me to find your spell ingredients.”
He smiled, “No. I do need you to ste... acquire something though.”
I grinned as Jasmine snorted, “what?”
Silver glanced around and leaned towards me, “do you know merchant Cartier?”
I looked at him and frowned, “everyone in the city knows merchant Cartier.”
He nodded and glanced around, “he recently brought back several artifacts from the east. One is a large carved box about six feet long and four feet wide.”
I shook my head, “I don’t steal bodies.”
He smiled as Jasmine snorted, “it isn’t a body. He hasn’t found a way to open the chest which is a good thing for him. Inside the box is another box roughly two feet by two feet.”
I shook my head, “six by four by two and it only has a box two by two in it? That doesn’t sound right.”
Jasmine grinned, “Because it isn’t. The rest of the box is filled with spirit gems.”
I grinned, “that sounds promising.”
Silver waved his hand, “the gems aren’t important, the other box is.”
He looked around and leaned forward, “It has two real griffin eggs in it.”
I looked at him, “dead?”
He shook his head and I sighed, “what are you going to do with them?”
Jasmine sighed, “Griffins were hunted until they were all killed.”
Silver nodded and smiled, “I’m going to make them smaller so they won’t be a threat.”
I sat back, “how much smaller?”
He looked under the table at the two cats sleeping there, “as small as your cats.”
I glanced down at Sapphire and Emerald and smiled, “and what are you going to pay me?”
Silver frowned and sat back, “what do you want?”
I shrugged and then grinned, “a bag that is bigger inside than outside.”
Jasmine laughed and bumped me, “let me guess, before you do the job.”
Silver looked at her and she grinned, “the gems?”
He blinked and then grinned, “I do have an old case you could use.”
I thought about it and finally nodded, “I’ll need the case before it gets dark.”
I looked at Jasmine, “Now about helping me...”
I shifted the large pack with mostly just the case before nodding to Dragon. She, Griffin and the drakes flew into the darkness as I carefully walked across the narrow plank. I had started on a new warehouse and moved to an old abandoned one and now I was crossing to merchant Cartier’s.
He had men walking around the warehouse constantly so I was using the rooftops. I silently moved towards the back, ignoring the many clear skylights. I knew a canny man like Cartier wouldn’t leave a tempting artifact out in the warehouse. I stopped and knelt beside the only vent house and began working.
Several minutes later I was setting the vent screen on the roof. I pulled the pack off before pulling the light rope ladder out. I unrolled it down the shaft and secured the two clawed hooks to each side of the vent house. I pulled out the short rope that was fastened to the pack and lowered the pack after hooking it to my belt.
I slipped into the narrow vent and silently climbed down into darkness. It was a long way down before I stepped off the ladder at the bottom of the vent. There was a slight glow from the inner vent slats. I knelt and looked through each before pulling a small tool out. It took a little longer but I finally pushed the vent screen out and quietly laid it on the floor.
There was a iron money chest to one side and the large carved chest in the middle of the room. I opened my pack and pulled out the case. I picked the lock on the money chest and opened it. I sorted through the stacks of coins and took all the gold. I finally turned to the long chest like box. Silver had explained how to safely open it.
The feeling I got when I slipped the lid to the side and carefully set it down was eerie. It was like there was someone there watching me. I looked at the thousands of spirit gems to see ghostly images of griffins looking back at me. I hesitated before starting to remove the spirit gems and set them in the case. I was almost surprised when all they all fit. I pulled the large silk bag I was carrying out and lifted the smaller box.
I slipped it into the bag and tied the top before putting the case back in my pack. I put my pack back in the vent shaft and then the silk bag. I replaced the lid on the chest before moving into the vent. I pulled the screen closed and began the task of replacing the bolts that held it. Next I tied the short rope to my belt and secured the bag and pack.
The climb up was slower because I had to make sure the pack and bag didn’t bang around. On the roof I closed and secured the vent screen before silently making my way towards the board I had left. I set the box down and pushed the board across before picking up the box and crossing.
I pulled the board back and picked up the box again. I slowly made my way to the new warehouse that was empty. It was easy to lower the box down into the dark warehouse and follow it. I slipped out a side door and moved through the shadows as I made my way home. Dragon dropped onto my shoulder before I had gone a block.
The others swirled around me before flying ahead. I came in my back door and set the small box on the kitchen table before removing the pack. I woke to Jasmine shaking me and opened my eyes. She smiled and pulled on me and I moved Dragon and Griffin off my chest before climbing out of bed, “you’re up early.”
She grinned and led me into the kitchen, “did you know the spirit gems hold the spirits of griffins?”
I nodded as I crossed to the stove and hopefully hot water, “yes.”
I made tea and went to sit at the table, “I saw them last night.”
She kept looking into the bag before looking at me and I finally sighed, “What?”
She nodded to the box for her father, “now that I have felt real griffins I could used the spirit gems to... create real griffins like the ones my father wants.”
I smiled, “you want the gems.”
She nodded and I sipped my hot tea. She slipped into my lap, “Please? It would make bringing the griffins back easier.”
I held her on my lap, “and what are you going to give me?”
Jasmine wiggled and kissed me and I sighed, “okay but make sure they hatch out of the city.”
She slipped off my lap and grinned as she grabbed the bag and headed towards her workroom. I watched her and then called after her, “I want the bag back!”
I finished my tea and took the box before heading for Silver’s shop. I went in through the kitchen and glanced towards the hall before setting the box on the table. I glanced at Dragon, Griffin and the drakes as they swooped in from the open window. Dragon scolded me as she landed on my shoulder and folded her wings.
I grinned and scratched under her chin before going to start water for tea. I was sitting in the study reading with Dragon, Griffin and the drakes draped over me when Silver walked in. The merchant Cartier was with him and snorted, “how can he read with them all over him?”
I looked up and smiled as I caressed the drake draped on my left forearm and wrist. Silver crossed to sit in the other chair, “I told you your storeroom was not safe.”
I looked at him as Cartier sighed, “fine but did he have to take all the gems?”
I closed the book I had been reading and looked at Silver, “It better be good.”
He nodded, “Cartier came to me as soon as he came back. He told me what he had found and I knew what was inside.”
Silver looked at Cartier, “the gems were worthless.”
Cartier snorted, “I could have sold them.”
I smiled, “I had to surrender them to a higher power.”
They looked at me and then Silver grinned, “my daughter.”
I nodded and sighed and he laughed. I shrugged, “the spirits inside the gems were griffin. She is going to make bodies and return the spirits.”
Silver sat up as Cartier looked at him, “what is she going to use to...”
I raised an eyebrow and he waved, “never mind.”
He looked at Cartier, “ask him.”
I looked at Cartier and he shrugged, “there was a map that came with the boxes. The legend says there is a vault here in the city below the broken mage tower.”
I held out my hand, “the map?”
He pulled it out of his shirt and handed it to me. I unrolled it and Dragon moved to leaned against my head as she looked with me. I traced the hallway in the tower, “these ways are collapsed with a lot of rubble.”
Dragon made a purring chirp and the drake on my arm lifted its head to look before moving onto my hand and reaching a paw out to touch a spot on the map. I looked at what they were showing me to see a air shaft for the lower floors, “maybe.”
I looked at Silver, “I take it you want me to retrieve whatever is in the vault?”
He nodded and I looked at Cartier, “I know Silver but not you. If I do this I get half and my choice of any treasure.”
He looked at Silver before nodding. I stood and the drakes and Griffin took wing, “meet me at the tower.”
I returned the book to the shelf before heading towards the door. I glanced at my shoulder, “go to Jasmine. If she isn’t working on spells tell her I need her.”
Dragon waited for me to open the kitchen door before leaping into the air. I was thinking about what I would need as I walked and almost everything was in my pack except the pry bar. I glanced at Griffin and the drakes as I got home, “go to the broken mage tower and wait for me.”
They cried out as they spiraled up and flew towards the Wizard’s Walk. I walked in and Jasmine turned from the stove with Dragon on her arm, “she wants me to do something?”
I smiled and headed towards the stairs into the basement, “I wanted you to go treasure hunting with me.”
When I returned with the pack I had to wait. Jasmine came down from our room dressed in comfortable pants and shirt and her jeweled hawk in her hair. I smiled before turning, “We need to make one stop.”
Dragon rode her shoulder as we walked. I stopped at a stone cutters lot and bargained with the mason for a pry bar. We walked through the Wizard’s Walk holding hands. When we reached the broken tower Silver and the merchant Cartier were waiting. I glanced at Dragon as she hopped to my shoulder and pointed.
I looked and shook my head, “where have you two been?”
The two cats sat together with their tails around the front of their feet. I looked at Jasmine as she giggled and grinned. I smiled and looked at Silver, “ready?”
He nodded and I headed into the tower ruins, “I’ll send a message if I get through.”
I stopped by Griffin and looked at the large blocks of stone before setting the pry bar aside and removed the pack. Jasmine sat to one side and the cats went to lean against her feet as I began to move the stone blocks. When I finally had the way cleared I pulled the rope from my pack and tied it off.
I moved to the old splintered vent that covered the air shaft and carefully worked it out. I looked in and down before tossing the other end of the rope. I went to my pack and then to Jasmine to put the rope seat on her. I gave her a kiss, “remember how to hook onto the rope?”
She grinned and nodded and I bent to grab the two cats. I stuffed them into the pack as they grumbled and put the pack on. I turned to drop the pry bar and knelt beside the shaft, “Okay Dragon, time to explore.”
She was waiting and chirped. Griffin and the drakes swirled around and dove down through the hole as she leaped and dropped down. I moved to the hole and turned to climb down using the rope. I only had to go about forty feet before I reached the bottom. I pulled the tiny mage lantern from the pack as the cats wiggled out.
The room I was in was dusty with chunks of stone and rubble across the floor. Dragon chirped from a doorway and I smiled before turning to look up the shaft, “you can come down.”
It was several minutes before Jasmine slowly dropped out of the air shaft in the ceiling and landed beside me. I knew she had used magic and shook my head, “cheater.”
She grinned and stuck her tongue out. I thought of the map as she unhooked herself and picked up the pack. I fastened the pry bar to the outside of the pack and moved to the doorway and absently scooped up Dragon as I stopped and lifted the lantern. I frowned as I looked down the hall to see broken signs of magic.
Jasmine started around me and I caught her, “not yet.”
I knelt and reached out to put a finger beside a strand of magic. I started following it and she gasped, “that’s a forbidden spell!”
I smiled but didn’t stop what I was doing, “you can report the mage later.”
She giggled and squatted, “what are you doing?”
I had moved to the side a little and followed the spell strand up the wall to a hole, “looking for the trigger.”
I grinned and turned to my pack and pulled out a small pouch. Inside was dozens of wooden needles that had been boiled in brine until they were saturated. I pulled one out and carefully worked it into the spell strand knot by the hole before twisting a strand around it. I pushed the needle into the hole and sighed, “one down.”
Jasmine laughed, “and a hundred to go.”
I glared at her before moving down the hall a few feet. There weren’t a hundred, only ten. After I finished the last one I stood and moved to the door at the end of the hall. Griffin spread her wings on the stone banister of the stairs and I nodded, “thanks.”
I looked back at Jasmine following me carefully, “the stairs down are trapped. We will need to use the banister.”
She grinned, “I always wanted to do that.”
I smiled and moved to the stairs and looked over into darkness, “the drakes okay?”
Dragon chirped and patted my face so I nodded and started to move onto the banister. Griffin turned and opened his wings as he jumped. He glided down as I carefully began sliding down. At the bottom a drake was waiting and flapped its wings so I would see it. I looked around the floor before looking up, “slide down but don’t move off the banister.”
I turned and frowned at the two cats sitting across the room by a broken stone door, “how did you get down here?”
The Emerald cat turned and I followed its look to see another air shaft. I grumbled as Jasmine stopped behind me. I helped her down before walking across to the door. I looked through the door to see sparkling gems and gold in the faint light from somewhere.
I looked at the thick door again before sighing, “send one of the drakes back up to let Silver know we reached the vault.”
I slipped the pack off and untied the pry bar. I looked at the thick door before striking it. I worked steadily and broke chunks and pieces off until the door finally broke completely and collapsed. I knew better than to go through and caught Jasmine, “not yet.”
She looked at me and I sighed and knelt, “look at the floor.”
She knelt beside me and shook her head, “whoever he was, he was very paranoid.”
I smiled sweetly, “didn’t you know? Mages are all paranoid.”
She laughed and bumped my shoulder and I sighed. I looked around at what I could see. The drakes were in the central pile of gold coins squirming around with nothing happening. I started to pull chunks of the door out into the other room to clear the doorway. Jasmine hissed and I looked at her before looking into the room.
On shelves around the edge sparkling eyes looked back. They weren’t doing anything but watching so I went back to work. When I finally had the way clear I moved into the doorway and knelt to trace the first spell strand. Jasmine touched me and I followed her look to see the eyes on the shelves belonged to a dozen drakes that had moved to the edge.
I hesitated before standing, “come here.”
They lifted their wings and shifted as they looked from my drakes to me. I sighed, “I can’t take you out if you don’t come.”
One leaped and flew towards me and a moment later the air was full of drakes. I caught the first and rubbed its chin, “have you been locked up here?”
It pressed against my hand as all the drakes clung to me and pressed tight. I sighed as I looked at Jasmine and she smiled, “softy.”
I carefully opened my shirt and began stuffing drakes in until I had them all and my shirt was bulging. I knelt again as I fastened my shirt and Jasmine shifted before gesturing and murmured a spell. There was a bloom and the room was as bright as day. She sighed, “better.”
She bent and whispered and the spell strand began to glow. She finally gestured, “its degraded and almost dead.”
I looked at her and shook my head, “I just don’t want to be dead so please wait.”
I used another salt needle and worked the triggered strand loose. I was surprised when it seemed to collapse and all the magic strands in the room vanished. I stood and moved in slowly, looking at the books around the room on stone shelves, “look at all the books.”
Jasmine snorted as she followed, “you and books.”
I grinned, “whoever the mage was he did to because they are in his vault.”
I pulled Dragon down to hold her as I moved around the room. She pushed on my hand and I followed her look to see the two cats by a section of wall that didn’t have shelves, “now that is strange.”
Jasmine was examining a small jeweled statue, “what is?”
I moved to the cats, “all the walls have shelves except here.”
She stood and moved to follow and I started to carefully check the wall. I pointed to old scraps in the stone floor, “from the angle I would say it opens.”
I turned to my drakes wallowing in the gold, “alright you, enough playing, we have work to do.”
They shifted and moved around before leaping into the air and flying closer. One landed on a low shelf to one side and reached down to pat the support. I looked at it before reaching out to turn the support, “thank you.”
The wall clicked and I moved to the other side to push and it turned on its center. Jasmine made another light spell and sent it in. There was magic in the room, lots of magic. I held her shoulder before stepping in front of her. I looked at racks and shelves that seemed to go back into darkness. Wrapped in cocoons of magic were eggs.
I looked at Jasmine and she whispered, “griffin eggs.”
I sighed and then smiled, “could the spirit gems hold the spirits of these griffins?”
She started and then grinned as she moved to a rack. She did something before grinning at me, “yes.”
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