It was difficult to tell whether Gilliam’s or the dark-bearded dwarven merchant’s eyes went wider as Silva began producing platinum coins, one after the other, from the pouch at her waist. They were thicker than those minted by the Empire, and at first drew a skeptical glance and a snarl.
Silva said something, with an almost dismissive gesture at the growing stack of thick, dragon-stamped coins.
“Go on,” Aurora translated, “weigh them, and perform any test you would like. You will find them to be of a a purer content than any you have seen or will likely see again.”
The merchant’s grumbling lessened with each test he had one of his attendants perform. They weighed substantially heavier against like coins from around the Known World, sank faster and deeper when dropped into a tall flask filled with a purplish bubbling concoction.
We left with the entire contents of the display case, plus half again as many that were kept in the back. When I say “we” I mean, of course, that Aurora kept possession of the stones, secured in a pouch very much like that of her sister, that seemed to neither bulge nor hang any heavier against her hip no matter how full it seemed to get.
“I don’t mean to alarm anybody,” Gilliam said, after we’d put several turns, avenues, and stalls between us and the dragonstone merchant, “but it would appear we’re being followed.”
“Those dark-cloaks have tailed us for the past fifteen stalls,” Demarra said.
“Dark-cloaks?” Gilliam asked, turning to glance over his shoulder. “I hadn’t noticed them behind the ones in gray.”
The darra made a most unladylike snort.
Silva gave a sigh. “They number?”
“At least seven,” Gilliam said.
“Eleven, by my count,” Demarra said, sticking her tongue out at the warrior.
“A dozen,” Aurora said, “Half again as many closing on each side. Three more if we take this next turn.”
Gilliam and Demarra darted looks past each others’ shoulders.
“Accursed mists,” Aurora grumbled.
“This next right,” Silva said, indicating the last aisle of stalls down the winding way we followed.