Lanis, 'Lenden's Dilemma'

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Lenden has a dilemma he needs spell components and has to send his new assistant. The components are rare and expensive. Does he trust Lanis?


Lanis
Episode Two
By Rusty Knight

Previously in episode one, ‘Home? Really!’:

Lanis encountered Lenden and her new home. Lanis is now out in the world on her one-year journeyman test as an artificer mage. She has to survive out in the real world, away from the Mage University, then at the end of the year she can return for her final test for journeyman certification as a mage. She is specializing as an artificer class mage.

Now in episode two, ‘Lenden’s Dilemma’:

Spring 2 Bear

Lanis stretches in her new bed. It is the first morning in this new house and it’s about two hours to gods-rise. The two day-gods rise about eight minutes apart. First to rise is the yellow god, Stonewire, who breaks the eastern horizon, then is followed about eight minutes later by the red-orange god, Imvor, cresting the eastern horizon. This is how Quantos citizens start marking the beginning of each day. Some days the sphere is covered over, or partially covered over, and the visibility of seeing the gods is restricted. But it is known the two break the eastern horizon on their trek across the sphere to the western horizon every day.
Most days the gods blow their breath eastward, but some days they decide to breathe other directions, causing some havoc. And some days they breathe gently, some days stronger, and some days so hard they damage the structures of Quantos, thus many barge Captains won’t risk sailing on those days. It sometimes rains, occasionally it ice sleets. Because of the latitude of Mount Oryn, it rarely snows in autumn or winter; once in a while there is a spring with the odd snow fall. But rarely does it get cold enough to freeze over open-water solidly.

Lanis looks at her belongings as she dresses for the day. She has to start the stove to cook morning meal for Lenden every day now, for the next year, to keep her job secure. This is a safe place for her one-year journeyman walk-about test. There are numerous stories of so many apprentices dying on their walk-about, because they went to superstitious villages and made mistakes casting magic, thus were killed for witch-craft. Or there are others who simply starved to death because they couldn’t make an income. No, Lanis thought this out, getting hired on with a master mage as an assistant for the year and stay smart. Stay in his good books and survive the year, then go back to the University and take the journeyman test, hopefully pass and become a certified Journeyman Mage. The trick is to survive this year.

The statistics say only twenty-three percent of apprentices who go out on their journeyman walk-about, make it back to the University for testing to certify.

Lanis plans on being one of the twenty-three percent. Not only that, but she has specialized, which less than ten percent of mages do, and she’s even making the odds tougher. Not only is she specializing by being one of ten percent of mages; she’s also being one percent of specialists. She’s going to be an artificer.

Yes, Lanis chose a tough road, but she chose her road to go on and build. She has the plan already. Her class-one skill knowledge is complete already. When she goes to test for certification, she wants to have a complete class-two as well. That should make the testing easier. Maybe some class-three skills to help out, if old Lenden will teach her. As he is, after all, class-seven, and she plans on staying with him for the full year. That is part of her plan.

In the kitchen, using her cantrip ‘firefinger’, Lanis ignites the fuel in the stove and then she fills the water-boiler. She lights the oil-lantern with a second ‘firefinger’, and she looks around the kitchen, gathering the food to prepare for morning meal.

Later at the dining table, Lenden says, “Lanis, this is actually good. You seem to know how to cook. What do you know about spell components?” asks Lenden, as they sit eating the morning meal Lanis has prepared.

Lanis ponders Lenden’s question. The question is so broad and has so many answers, so she simply chooses one. “Basically, spells are made of three components, verbal, somantic and material. The verbal is the sound component we make, the somantic are the physical motions we make and the material is the substances that fuel the spell.” ‘There, the basic university answer for class-one apprentices.’ She thinks haughtily.

Lenden frowns and he says, “Okay, you told me what any student can tell me. Tell me what YOU know about material components, assistant. I don’t want student answers. I want to know if my assistant is worth her salt.”

Now Lanis smiles. This was her strong suit in university, and one of the reasons she chose artification.

“Master Lenden. Not all spells use material components as fuel. Not all materials can be used as fuel. For example, the jump spell uses live spiders swallowed by the caster. But the caster can not use just any spider. For the average caster, one in twenty spiders he examines will be suitable for his use in casting his jump spell. You also need to know that the spider which one caster can use for the jump spell, may not be suitable for another caster to cast the jump spell. Each caster has to select his material components based on criteria individual to himself as a caster. Even though two casters are casting the same spell, they may not be able to use the same materials.”

Lenden leans forward, grinning. He reaches out and pats Lanis’ arm. Speaking slowly, Lenden says, “Then you understand my dilemma. I need some very expensive material components for a class-three spell. The value of the components for each casting are at least one-hundred flairs. But to purchase the components, I must send you out with four-thousand Flairs, and an understanding that you know what to look for.”

Lanis stares at Lenden without blinking, drool starting to collect at the corners of her mouth. ‘Did he just say he’s sending me out to collect components with FOUR THOUSAND Flairs?’

Lenden taps Lanis’ forehead, “Quantos to Lanis, you there?”

Lanis jerks. She blinks several times as she coughs. “Sorry, yes. Yes, I’m here. Did you say four thousand Flairs?”

Laughing, Lenden sits back, watching Lanis. After a bit he settles down, and says, “Yes, I did. Get used to it, as a mage you will be dealing in thousands a lot.”

Lanis sits forward and enquires, “What are we looking for?”

“Good girl. I want some diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls or sapphires for my spell, Lesser sign of sealing.” Lenden goes on to explain the specific properties of each gem that he requires. He gives Lanis eight usury notes, valued at five-hundred Flairs each, made by a local Master Usury.

Lanis takes a moment to simply stare at the notes in wonder, pondering the incomprehensible value in her hands.

About an hour after the two day-gods rise, Lanis sets out, under the directions of Lenden, to Morgus Gems at stall 12 of Berry Market. It takes Lanis half-an-hour to negotiate a price on two pearls, for a total of nine-hundred Flairs.

Giving Morgus two notes, he burdens her with ten pounds of gold Flairs and two pearls worth about five-hundred Flairs each. But, Morgus refuses to give referrals to any lapidary or merchants selling gems.

Lanis leaves the shop and wanders around Berry Market in search of gems, or someone who knows someone.

A little over half-an-hour later, at nearly evening meal time, a merchant refers Lanis to Trendonal, at Happenstance Jewelry over at 4369 Wenton Road.

Walking to Happenstance, Lanis finds a less than co-operative young elfmal who has one ruby that suits Lenden’s needs. But an hour later they are still at four-thousand Flairs for it, so Lanis begs off, asking instead for a referral to someone with possibly less expensive gems.

Trendonal is more than happy to give Lanis the address of Jessen’s Gems on Beddington Avenue.

Lanis walks home, arriving mid-morning on Spring 3, exhausted. Going right to sleep after settling in.

Spring 3 Bear

Waking early and after cooking morning meal, Lanis is quick to excuse herself and set out for Jessen’s Gems.

Arriving, she finds several gems available, an emerald and two sapphires. Negotiating prices with Jessen, Lanis ends with purchasing the sapphires, one for nine hundred Flairs and one for 1,180 of the gold value. She pays Jessen with four notes and eighty of her one-hundred Flairs

Asking for referrals, Jessen supplies her with Hangela’s Mercantile on Tickton Street.

After getting directions and considering the time of day, Lanis decides it is best to go home, then to Hangela’s tomorrow.

Arriving home, long after gods-set, Lanis gives Lenden the four gems she has purchased so far. He sets them aside and informs her that he will assess them all once she completes her purchases.

Spring 4 Bear

Entering Hangela’s, Lanis’ breathing and heart stop. ‘It’s her, that woman from the first day at Lenden’s’

She starts breathing again as her heart pounds in near panic, thumping hard in her chest so loud she is sure the woman, twenty-feet from her, can hear her heart beating, and hear her breathing.

The woman looks up into Lanis’ eyes. Lanis shivers, goose bumps spread over her arms and back. ‘Is this fear, or panic? What is this? Why? I don’t know her.’

The woman approaches aggressively, stomping up to Lanis. Stretching out her arm, the woman says easily in trade jalnoric. “Good day Master. I’m Trader Hangela. Welcome to my mercantile. What are you looking for? If I don’t have it in stock, I may be able to get it for you.”

Lanis swallows and blinks, feebly clasping arms with the offensive woman. ‘Why don’t I trust or like her? She hasn’t done anything.’

“Trader Hangela, I’m looking for gems.” says Lanis, quickly removing her arm from the clasp, and she continues. “In particular: diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies or pearls.”

Hangela smiles. “Indeed, follow me.”

Hangela leads Lanis to a small back room, where a table and two chairs occupy the space along with a locked chest. Hangela unlocks the chest with a key from a heavy neck chain around her neck.

Opening the chest, it is filled with sacks. She pulls out a smaller sack and closes the chest lid.

Untying the sack, she dumps about forty gems on the table. She sorts out five gems for Lanis. Lanis picks three: two emeralds and a sapphire. Hangela places all the others back in her sack.

They negotiate the price of the three gems, but in the end all Lanis can afford is the uncut emerald for five-hundred Flairs, paying with one of the remaining notes.

“Do you know any other merchants or lapidaries that I can go to?” asks Lanis boldly.

Hangela snarls, “What, do I look like a dragoman? No, go find them yourself.” She places the remaining gems in the sack and places the sack back into the chest, locking it again. “Are we done? If so, let’s go back out front.”

Lanis leaves Hangela’s, feeling unwashed and violated, still not sure why.

Walking home with one note and twenty Flairs left, Lanis addresses Lenden. “Next time I’ll pay a dragoman to guide me around. But this is the last of it. Here’s an uncut emerald, a note and twenty Flairs to add to the others.”

“Lets go to my lab then, assistant.” Says Lenden.

Together the two go to Lenden’s lab, and under his focused continual-light, Lenden examines each gem, humming and hawing, but generally looking frustrated, muttering, “This won’t do.” a lot.

“Okay, so here we have five gems chosen for qualities to be components for my spell. Most assistants would get one out of twenty right. So I could expect you to get zero out of this lot of five. But you, my dear, did outstanding. This sapphire and this uncut emerald are perfect for my Lesser sign of sealing. Congratulations, you succeeded beyond the average. So in my eyes, you are more than average. I hope you can keep that up, assistant. Tomorrow, the lab and library are yours to use. But you still have to cook both meals. You owe me three evening meals for the last three you missed.”

To be continued …

In episode three, ‘Hangela’s Duck’:

After Lanis has her day off, Lenden sends Lanis to Hangela’s to make purchases. Lanis discovers a reason to dislike and distrust Hangela, and uncovers her reason for panic.

© 2016 by Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press
www.inupress.ca rusty@inupress.ca

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