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A Furtive Trade (How to catch a thief 1/3)

Writers: Eimi, Estelle
Date Posted: 23rd August 2018

Characters: Tedek, Raviol
Description: A holdless man approaches a smith with some goods to sell.
Location: Emerald Falls Hold
Date: month 6, day 11 of Turn 9
Notes: Part 1


Noon had just passed, and the small hold was sleepy in the afternoon
heat when a traveller approached, wearing the worn and dusty clothing of
a farmer. A drudge was listlessly sweeping the courtyard, and the soft
notes of a gitar drifted across from where a young journeyman harper sat
in the shade of a tree, surrounded by a group of children who were
listening intently to his story. A bored-looking young man wearing a
guard's leather vest had edged closer from his position outside the main
door so that he, too, could hear the tale.

Tedek steered well clear of the harper and the guard and made his way
around the side of the hold, following the clinking sound of tools on
metal which indicated a smithy. Wrapped in a rag in the pocket of his
tunic, the silver necklace felt heavy despite its delicate style. He
wasn't comfortable being so close to Emerald Falls, with its company of
guards. Many Turns ago, he'd been taken there to be tried for stealing
runnerbeasts, the offence for which he'd been made holdless. It wasn't
an experience he cared to repeat.

To his relief, the smithy was empty except for a journeyman, who looked
up when Tedek tapped on the door.

"Good afternoon." He smiled, trying to look and sound as ordinary as
possible. "I've come from Deep Woods cothold, with an item to sell."

"Ah," Journeyman Raviol said, standing up to his full height and mopping
the sweat from his brow after throwing the piece of metal he had been
hammering on into a cold bath of water. "My uncle is from Deep Woods.
Maybe you know him. He lives in the little cot with a green door by the
creek."

"I do. He's the one with the red beard, who plays cards with my father
on a restday evening." So far, so good; he'd found the right man. Tedek
closed the door behind him so they wouldn't be overheard. Although the
heat of the smithy was oppressive, he felt relieved to be out of sight.
"It's a piece of jewellery. Fine quality. It ought to be worth a good deal."

"Makes me curious why you are so anxious to part with it if it's worth
so much," the smith said, pointing to a work bench against the far wall
with a couple stools along it.

The holdless man shrugged, feigning disinterest. "The usual reasons.
Times are hard, and we need the marks more than we need shiny trinkets."
He took the necklace from his pocket and laid it on the bench, unfolding
the cloth from around it. The light from the forge reflected sparks from
the precious stones, mounted in an intricate framework of silver links
designed to resemble leaves and twining branches. "Take a look. It's
well made."

"Well, let's take a look," Raviol said as he pulled open a drawer and
pulled out a box. From it he pulled a monocular magnifying glass and
fitted it to his eye so he could use both hands in inspecting the piece.
This was going to take a bit of time as he had to check each piece of
the chain, but it did indeed seem to be excellent craftsmanship. "Where
did you acquire the piece? Or should I not ask?"

"From a trader." Tedek couldn't see that there was any harm in saying
that. "He was...in difficulties, and a friend of mine persuaded him to
give it up."

"Was the trader in the area?" the smith asked as he continued moved on
from inspecting the chain to the stones themselves.

"We met with him further out, in a remote part of the Hold. You won't
have to worry about him walking in here and recognising the necklace."
He glanced around nervously, wishing the crafter would hurry with his
examination of the jewels. The smithy was not large, and there was only
one door. If anyone did come in - that guard, perhaps - he'd have
nowhere to hide.

The jeweler sniffed as he removed the monocular and put it back where he
had found it. "Why's that? He's not dead is he?"

"No!" Tedek said hastily. If the smith thought the jewels came from a
dead man, he'd surely lower his price on account of the risk. "I just
meant that he's long gone. Probably left Emerald Falls altogether by
now. So," he continued, changing the subject hastily, "what do you
think? Good quality, isn't it?"

The smith held the necklace out for the man to take. "It is. But I
don't have enough marks on me today to pay for it. I can get them, but
you'll have to come back in a day or two. Can you wait?"

Tedek hesitated. All of his instincts told him that coming back here
again would be a mistake. For a man like him, it was never safe to be
where you were expected. And yet - what other choice did he have? The
other members of his band were expecting him to return with a small
fortune in marks. If he didn't...that might be equally dangerous.

"I can do that." He didn't have to decide now. If anything seemed
suspicious about the hold when he returned, he could just walk away.
"But I won't wait long. There are others who'd be interested in buying
this item."

Raviol gave him a curt nod. "Day after tomorrow. I will have
everything ready by then."

"All right." The holdless man slipped the necklace back into his pocket,
out of sight. "I'll be back then." With great relief, he left the smithy
and headed for the road, eager to leave the hold behind him.

Last updated on the October 11th 2018


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All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are © Anne McCaffrey 1967, 2013, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author. The Dragonriders of Pern© is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.