Unsurprisingly, the afternoon was lazy and hot. Batting away an idle fly, Elmeriie stood in a doorway of the suburban canopy to watch a wagon approach, black against the setting sun. It was piled high with ornaments and gizmos, and sheets of fur were strapped across the top of it. As the wagon came nearer she heard singing, the voice of which was loud and unrestrained, and perhaps the charming ballad was learned in an ale place elsewhere.
♪♫ “… Arabian nights,
'Neath Arabian moons.
A fool off his guard,
Could fall and fall hard,
Out there on the dunes.” ♫ ♪
The wagon passed through the markets onwards to the city and satisfied that she wasn’t being followed; Elmeriie seated herself to a table just outside, swigging from a skin of lukewarm water. Her head ached intolerably from the night before and she couldn’t bring herself to swallow anything stronger, especially in the intense heat.
Flashbacks of the Baron she had drank with, bedded and left tied to the bedposts coloured her face with conceit and amusement. And pulling out the pendant from her chest, Elmeriie inspected the unlikely token she had taken for her efforts. Out of the evening's antics Elmeriie had hoped to steal away whatever she saw of high value, but along with the alcohol that generously flowed so did the costly secrets that uncovered more than she'd originally sought-after.
Besides the meaningless jewelled heirloom that hung about her neck, strung onto its chain was also her fortune. Or half a fortune as the Baron had foolishly told: The half of a golden scarab beetle amulet that, with its former part joined as one, would reveal a Cave of Wonders believed to be situated somewhere in these White Deserts. Filled with treasures beyond any man’s wildest dreams, the cave also held something of untold worth. A lamp that would grant its possessor three wishes.
For a while Elmeriie sat hunched looking at the amber sky; the sun, an orange molten orb cloaked in ribbons of red and pink cloud, was burning deep into the brink of the pale shimmering sands. These rich lands stretched for miles over unforgiving hills, then beyond to the Black Erised Seas. Blood hungry birds continued to wheel overhead in the stale air and light was slowly melting into darkness. Yet these colours were dull to her, the sights wasted and things that actually mattered, did not.
The only question now was: Where could she find the missing piece to this jigsaw?
Ooc: Sorry for the delay. xP Let me know if you need more to work off of.
Her fingers played with the small scarab, examining its every design. This was quite the valuable trinket indeed. While maybe not the most beautiful piece of jewelry she'd ever seen, mostly because it appeared to have been broken down the middle, it was still quite detailed. She'd have to get it appraised to be sure, but she was certain it at least was made mostly from gold, with some silver details, and some type of gemstone she didn't recognize made up the scarab's eye. She could only assume the other half looked about the same, if there even was another half. She wore it as a necklace for now, though. She wasn't afraid to boast her most recent prizes.
Fable had robbed a rather wealthy looking woman the night before. She infiltrated her quarters at one of the local taverns, having seen her book a room during the day. Her wealth was obvious by her apparel so the dark elf was bound to steal something of value. If this little beetle was worth as much as it looked, she could safely say her job was a success.
She strode down the street toward the marketplace. She definitely wouldn't pawn this thing off there, but she was getting hungry and it was getting late. Surely there'd be something to eat there.
“That seat’s taken.” Said Elmeriie, still staring at the horizon and seeing nothing.
Bewildered, the waiter looked up from his tidying. “P-pardon ma’am?” He asked, slowly removing his hands about the chair at her table.
“My mother is ma’am,” replied Elmeriie sharply, “and I say to you again that that seat is taken.”
The man’s cheeks went scarlet, but his voice was cool as he spoke, “We’ve been quiet all day and we’re closing early now there are no customers. If you’re not buying, I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
Standing up straight, but leaning her fists on the table, Elmeriie glared into the waiter’s face. “I am a customer. I’ll thank you to leave that seat and hurry along with my order, I haven’t got all evening. Shanili fulr when you’re ready.”
Defeated and a little scared, the waiter nodded obediently and escaped to the kitchens.
Quietly chuckling to herself, Elmeriie sat down and kicked back her feet onto the chair opposite.
She noticed that other waiters who were packing away had been watching the disagreement, some talking and pointing, their faces shocked and disapproving. Behind them was a figure skulking near the canopy situ.
Slouching further into her seat, Elmeriie met the stares with defiance, her teeth glimmering in the dimness. “Don’t you all have work to do? You have customers now.”
Fable's eyes scanned the thinning market streets. It seemed like most had either begun to head home or were hitting the taverns at this hour. She was hungry, though, and she didn't feel like buying from one of the smaller fruit stands. She wanted to sit down and enjoy something more filling. Unfortunately, the only restaurant that looked appealing to her seemed to be vacant. She stepped inside anyway. Sure enough, it seemed like they were packing up for the day. Surely they would make an exception.
She looked around at the waiters and waitresses who all took a moment to study her. They stopped their cleaning and waited for their new customer to seat herself.
Seeing another patron was present, Fable sat a few tables over from her. She casually picked up the large menu on the table, examining each choice carefully. She had no intention of hurrying, despite the storekeepers' urge to shut down for the day. Their food seemed rather unimpressive, despite the illusion of quality the establishment seemed to portray.
Grinning madly, Elmeriie’s attention then wandered to the punter who had made herself comfortable at one of the remaining tables. It was not difficult to miss her – pointed ears underneath bright turquoise hair with much grey-like skin on show - she certainly looked foreign against the finery in the place.
With great interest, Elmeriie's eyes flicked over the girl whilst she read from behind a menu, searching for tell-tale signs of purpose for her being here. Though, disappointed, Elmeriie decided to exercise a more direct approach.
“What brings you to the White Deserts?” Elmeriie asked, sitting upright and turning to face the girl as a steaming hot bowl of Shanili fulr was silently placed beside her. “I trust it isn’t for the food... Or the service.” She remarked, eyeing her order sceptically and shooing away the waiter along with his hope of an expected tip.
Fable looked up from her menu, over at the girl who had addressed her. She smiled in response to her sarcastic comment on the food. She was an elf, which was refreshing. She'd been tired of the abundance of humans in this city. “Actually, I'm a traveling connoisseur of desert delicacies." Her tone was clearly sarcastic, matching the tone of the stranger's. "From the looks of this place, however, I won't be finding such a meal.” Though her tone was a friendly one, her words were mainly meant to mask her true occupation.
The waiter came to her table, trying to hide his frustration at their comments. Fable pointed at something mildly appetizing in the soup section and sent him away without his tip. “So what is your story, then? Elves don't seem to be very common in this city.”
Sticking a fork into the bowl, Elmeriie twisted the food around it and began to shovel load after load into her mouth, smacking her lips noisily as she ate. At the dark Elf’s mocking response she scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Aye, what an unfortunate waste of your talent.” She said, in-between mouthfuls.
In turn, the dark Elf questioned her purpose. Elmeriie stopped eating and shrugged at the girl. “You are the first Elf being I’m come across in weeks here in these desert parts. And my story? Well, the past I’ll not talk of, and the present is obvious…” She didn’t care to continue this small talk – there was no weight to it, and, quite full, Elmeriie pushed the bowl forwards and leaned back, satisfied.
It was completely dark now. Lanterns along the empty market streets spat and sparked into life, and to the occupied tables afore the canopy, candles were lit.
Fishing deep for a few coppers inside her short pocket, Elmeriie stood up, readying herself to leave as more food was brought out. She glanced over to the stranger’s table, about to speak farewell and to wish good luck for any such culinary discovery when, like a magpie, she was drawn to the dull glimmer of gold hanging around the girl’s neck. Her eyes followed the chain down then grew wide in disbelief, and she almost choked on her words, “Wh-where… [Elmeriie coughs to clear her throat] Where did you find that?”
Elmeriie pushed past the waiter. “I don’t believe it!” She exclaimed. “That, that is the missing piece!”
Clutching her own pendant, she yanked hard on the chain, snapping the join, and held it against the girl’s for measure, uncaring of the inappropriate closeness between them. The two amulet halves were near identical apart from the years of neglect endured to her own.
“… I suppose, from now, our stories will be intertwined…” Elmeriie said quietly, gazing away. Her face went somewhat dark and troubled, but, after a while, she added with forced brightness and a roguish smile, “I’m Elmeriie. So tell me, young one, how did you get this and what exactly do you know of it?”
Okay, so the woman wasn't in the mood to talk about herself. A little disappointing. She was hoping for at least something to talk about. The abundance of humans in the city were starting to get a little boring. Alas, she would continue to eat her meal alone. At least... until the other elf spoke up again. “Wh-Where... where did you find that?”
Fable looked up from her food, following her line of sight to her newly acquired necklace. She smiled proudly. She opened her mouth to rehearse a lie she'd already created, but the woman cut her off before she could. “I don't believe it! That, that is the missing piece!”
The stranger ripped her necklace off and abruptly closed the distance between them, holding the trinket up against her chest. After taking a moment to process their proximity, she looked down at the twin scarab beetles. It was almost unbelievable. They... were perfectly identical!
“… I suppose, from now, our stories will be intertwined…”
Still closely studying the two pieces of jewelry, Fable chuckled slightly to herself. “Not sure I'd go that far,” She whispered, “but this is certainly something.”
“I’m Elmeriie. So tell me, young one, how did you get this and what exactly do you know of it?”
Pulling her attention from the amulets, she suddenly realized what this could mean for her. This woman might be friends with the owner of the half that she'd stolen... or worse, she could have been with law enforcement! Though... no, that didn't sound right, her reaction wasn't that of someone discovering a thief. She just seemed extremely surprised as if she'd just won a fortune. She would be honest in this case. Maybe there was more to this treasure than she realized. “Stole it.” There was no guilt in her voice. “Is it particularly valuable as a set? We could make quite a bit of coin off of it, if so. I know a good fence nearby. We could split the profits say... 60/40?”
It wasn't a surprise to hear how the girl came about the jewellery.
Shaking her head, Elmeriie scoffed at her insolence. “60/40?? … Absolutely not!” She cried, standing back, appalled. “And there will be no bartering of this beauty! … Do you really not know how much it worth?”
And that was exactly it. The girl did not know how much her half was worth, let alone the actual value of the amulet as a whole. A sardonic smile played across Elmeriie’s lips, and she spoke softly to the girl with all the sweetness of honey, “Aye, it is a valuable set. Come by my lovely, humour me for a while.”
Pulling out a seat, Elmeriie straddled it and made herself comfortable. “See there, that canvas of sand dunes?” She asked, pointing through the mesh of tents and closely knit buildings then beyond to the rolling deserts. “Out there is a cave. But not just any cave... A Cave of Wonders, spilling with more treasure and gold than a Sultan has seen in a lifetime.”
Elmeriie held up her scarab piece and shook it. “Now, this set, these two sparklers we have ourselves here... Well, they’re going to lead us to it.”