In which the party explores the city’s grand market…
Upon landing at the docks, we headed toward the marketplace the gondoliers told us about. It was indeed very grand. I’ve been to many cities, across much of the known world. The marketplace in Hammerfast impressed me much as a youngster, but then I realized it was just a hovel compared to the bustling port city of Waterdeep. That City of Splendors is very influential and has the very well-developed roads leading to it. But even Waterdeep didn’t compare to Wakeen’s Promenade in Athkatla. The Athkatlans are famous for their ostentatious display of wealth, competing with each other for each others’ jealous looks.
But all of that looked like cheap tindul compared to this.
This marketplace had everything imaginable. Preserved pieces of beasts to hang as trophies. Elaborate bracelets covered in jewels. Glittering magical trinkets. Exquisitely made garments. Fruits of every size and color. Tankards of everflowing ale. Animals of every species in cages large and small. Magic items. Traveling items. Armor. Weapons. Through it all, people milled around, with their cloth wrappings all around them. Many carried large baskets to carry their purchases. The chatter of merchants and shoppers merged together to a loud cacophony.
I started to look through the stalls. One had large scrolls rolled and stacked on a table so high I could barely see the horns of the cloth-wrapped merchant. Behind him, a large parchment was spread on the wall showing a street map. I peered at it. “Yes,” the merchant said, “you like my map of Glimmer? This particlular one was drawn by Layneng himself. I especially enjoy the detail he’s included on the Great Library.” I nodded and smiled. We were traveling along the planes. Most of the places we were going we could probably use a map. But which maps? I couldn’t possibly anticipate what we’d need. I smiled and waved at the merchant and left.
From there, I wandered through the other stalls. Merchants called to me “Feel this! The most comfortable bedroll you’ve every seen!” “Behold! a word from you, and this canvas unrolls to become a campsite complete with tents and fire!” “Heft these bracers, feel their strength against all foes!” “Tokens! Find a token of your guardian animal!” I smiled to myself. I once had an instant campsite. And my bedroll has been feeling a liitle rougher than I remembered. Some bracers would be good. But animal companions. They were such the begehrt in my traveling days. I rolled the onyx figure of a dog under my fingers. But they were often more trouble than they were worth.
Wait. In my traveling days? What have I been doing for the last few weeks? I’m a traveling adventurer again. It may have been intended as a brief search for Halaur, but now it had become a much grander trip. And there are things an adventurer needs.
Not little dogs though. I turned away and went back to the weaponsmith. There was a nice battleaxe I’d had my eye on.
“Watch carefully.” The weaponsmith held the gleaming battleaxe in front of him again. This was the third time he’d shown me, but I needed to see it again. “Shkindia,” he whispered. The battleaxe was suddenly duplicated into each hand. “Se Adunia,” and the battleaxe was rejoined again. He handed it to me. The balance was perfect and the weaponsmith continued to talk to me as I made some practice swings. “You sense the balance, the way it cuts through the air, how it seeks a target. Alone, it is a grozav, terrible, strong weapon. But with one in each hand, you can be a true apărător.”
”Ssst!” I took a quick breath and looked at the growing bead of blood on my thumb.
The weaponsmith chuckled. ”Yes, and it’s sharp.”
I looked carefully at the weaponsmith. There was no way to negotiate here. He knew I wanted it. We had discussed price before and what kind of xoth I might be willing to share. He was interested in what an old dwarf might have experienced in life. He thought my knowledge could be especially valuable in Glimmer, the City of Secrets.
Secrets. I thought of all the places I’d been, all the people I’ve met, the adventures, the stories, the accumulation of incredibly minute trivial facts. What kind of xunder tales could I share? 200 years of accumulated experience. What would I trade for something I see of value? The information I know is so mundane to me – how could I ever start to predict what these merchants would find valuable?
Then I remembered. In our first plane jump, after battling the Beholders, Estoth offered us payment in Akashic crystals. Though I have little knowledge in the ways of magic, I do know a bit about stones and the myths of olara. These are rare crystals, used in many rituals, and they are usually summoned as a component for these rituals. Estoth brought us to a waterfall and explained the Circle of Magic. “When people die, their magic essence is transferred to the surface. Water travels across, through and under the surface bringing this magic essence to concentrate in pools. In some places, the magic essence is crystalized into these crystals. When people drink the water filled with magic essence, the cycle starts again.”
We had each taken some of these crystals as payment. But we had never been anywhere that we could trade them. We haven’t been to any cities at all. I reached deep in my bag to the hidden pouch and brought forth the Akashic crystals. “Is this worth something to you?”
The weaponsmith took a deep breath. “The Moon Crystals themselves are worth even more than the knowledge of where to find them. Yes, I would give you 10 platinum pieces for each crystal.” I nodded and the merchant gestured to his wares.
I lifted the battleaxe and took a deep breath. Some practice was in order, but yes, this would be a good weapon. I also collected a longbow and arrows, reasoning it would be useful to have a ranged weapon I didn’t need to collect afterwards. Also some bracers. Then a return trip for some of the other items I’d seen. The sleeping roll, a new Bag of Holding, that instant campsite, and the alchemist…