Makana’s fingers searched through the assorted trinkets, hoping to find something unique. The trip he took to the trade expo in Coracre city was held every other year, but he was not finding anything worthwhile this time.
Makana Alaric, a human man with tan skin, dark brown hair, and full well trimmed beard. Standing straight at just under two meters tall, his frame was rather lean. Still fit for a man of twenty-two years, he had no problem walking around all day with a considerable load in his bags.
“Have you got anything else ma’am?” Makana asked to the booth vendor after sifting through hundreds of small trinkets.
“What you see, is what you get,” the rather short, and elderly human woman said. She put her hands on her hips, and looked rather annoyed, ”If you can’t find what you need from what’s in front of you, then please make room for people who can.”
Makana politely thanked the vendor and moved on. Every couple of years, he visited this expo hoping to find useful magical items to help his shop back home. His hometown of Barrowpond lay some distance away as it took about a month by land and sea to get back. The town was small with just under a thousand people of mostly farmers and his wife. There he used his talent as a Spark or better known as a failed wizard. Not having enough magical talent to be considered worth training by the academy, he opened a small shop to improve the daily lives of the common folk.
As for being a Spark, it was a term used for the lowest of magic users. Somebody that had just enough talent to use magic on a basic level. Like somebody knowing what a paintbrush is, but had no fingers to use it properly. The most common of magic users, they had to specialize in a particular field just to be mediocre at it. At least Sparks could recharge most magic items created by others. This at the very least made them useful when magical items needed refreshing. Makana’s niche was enchantments. More precisely, enchantment transferring or copying.
Approaching another booth, Makana looked around in his search for items again. He saw nobody running the booth or other people around it. Within a few seconds of inspecting the items hanging from various display stands, a scratchy high-pitched voice asked from behind the counter.
“You want items from Kubgug?”
Makana looked down to see a red-scaled Kobold staring at him from behind the display stand. Clearing his throat, he asked, “Can you explain what you have for sale?” He looked over the meter tall, bipedal reptilian humanoid. This one looked average at around fifteen kilograms. From what he read about them for their size, they have powerful jaws, and noticeable claws on hands and feet. The thick scaly hides came in a variety of colors, with red being the most common. Due to this hide, it makes their faces look devoid of expression, so they defaulted to using body language. Looking similar to wingless humanoid dragons, they were not actually related to them. Most Kobolds did have weird belief that the blood of the extinct dragon race ran through their veins.
With excitement Kubgug answered, “Yes yes. Many items Kubgug have.” Pointing at a necklace, “Protect from evil this can.” He pointed to a cloak, “Protect from cold this will.” He went on for about a minute giving brief descriptions of most things on display in his booth. “You want items that have great power?” he asked, reaching for something under the counter out of sight.
“Please slow down,” Makana held up his hands, palms out. “I would like to ask about a few items first.” He asked about the cloak and other items that ordinary people could afford for daily living once he found a way to make it so. “What would you offer for those particular items?” he asked while removing a money pouch from his belt.
“Yes yes,” Kubgug replied excitedly. Taking the cloak from its hook, he laid it on the counter. “Thirty coin, this will be,” he smoothed out the fabric. Grabbing a pair of gloves, he set them on top of the cloak, “Fifty coin, these are.”
“That seems expensive, my little friend. How about a discount if I tell people about your fine wares on my way home?” Makana was looking over the items thinking it could be worth the cost if the properties could be duplicated later. More often than not, the original magic would be damaged while trying to analyze it, and that didn’t guarantee learning how it was made.
“You travel far? Tell lots of people?” Kubgug inquired.
Makana knew not to give too many details about his journey home. Last thing he needed was for Kubgug to set a trap to get his items back. It was well known the Kobolds loved traps, and used them often for protection of family, self, and treasures. Also it was known Kobolds would use them on people they wanted stuff from. If one ever got in a trap, and Kobolds came by to offer help for a price, it was likely a trap set by them.
“It’s a month long journey by land and sea.” This was all the information Makana was willing to give, and gave Kubgug a flat look to enforce the fact.
Kubgug looked a bit nervous and tapped his fingertips together. “Price it not right. Kubgug give item to seal bargain.” He sniffed the air before reaching under his cloak to retrieve something. His hand emerged holding a small egg no bigger than a chicken’s and held it up between his thumb and index finger. “Egg has magic, not known but very powerful. You take, tell Kubgug what is found next time in Coracre.” He placed it on the counter.
The egg presented a midnight black at the base and gradually faded to a mild gray at the top. Shadowy yellow stripes could be seen around the shell as if something was swirling within.
“Do you know what this egg came from?” Makana asked.
“Kubgug do not know,” his tail twitched, “Traveler sold to Kubgug while on way to Coracre.”
Knowing the signs that a Kobold was nervous, Makana studied Kubgug for a moment. He wanted the items and needed to visit the other vendors before he had to leave. Seeing as he detected magic at the most basic level, he knew Kubgug wasn’t lying about the egg being magical. “Throw in a travel bag, and I will take your offer.”
Kubgug looked excited for a split second, then smiled. “Yes yes. You tell Kubgug what is in egg,” he said while putting the items in a small bag. “Had egg for some time. Not know what it come from. Come back and tell so Kubgug can know.” Packing the cloak and gloves in the bag, he left out the egg. “Egg strong, ” he dropped it hard on the counter and it didn’t crack. “Protected by powerful magic, but you find out for Kubgug,” he said before throwing it in the bag.
Paying for the items, he wondered if the egg was just an enchanted rock. The items would be worth it even if he paid the full price for everything, and a strange egg-shaped trinket. Thanking Kubgug, he continued his shopping among the vendors. Items stood out, but the cost and size kept him from buying most. Gathering a few more trinkets, he headed toward the inn to rest for the night before his long trip back home.
In the morning, Makana laid out all the items he had purchased over the last week on his bed. There were two books, a cloak, leather gloves, palm sized stone cube with runes on each side, silk handkerchief, pouch of stone marbles, a rusted steel spike, and the egg. He loaded the items into his backpack, but left the egg out to study it.
Holding the egg, it never got warm and was always rather cool to his touch. “I hate to say it, but you are the most interesting thing I have,” he said to the egg while sitting on the bed. The third and latest visit to the expo produced the least. Yet the egg contained a magic that was unknown to him. That fact concerned and excited him the most. “We have a month together to know each other.” With a sigh, he left the room to start his journey home.
Ding! A bell rang as Makana stepped into the station to buy a ticket. Lucky for him the city had daily transport to most major places. He paid for a passage to the port city of Westerbeach, and boarded the stagecoach with three others for the week long trip. During the trip he inquired anybody that would listen about the strange egg. Among the frequent rest stops and change of passengers along the route, a good fifty people got a look at the egg. Most gave a guess it was just a worthless trinket. That wasn’t helpful, but he couldn’t fault them because none of them were magically inclined.
The trip to Westerbeach was uneventful, and Makana purchased passage on a sailing ship to Mallow. Waiting for the ship to leave port, the egg had changed slightly as the black part was receding. He started to make drawings of the egg in his journal to document the changes for future study. Thinking it would have been a good idea to put the pencil marks on the egg to give reference points for any changes, he found the marks would vanish in minutes. Now that he was studying the strange object constantly, the faint yellow stripes actually moved around the shell. He didn’t know if the warmth of his hands had caused the changes, but it was something to test out.
By the time the ship made it to Mallow, his journal had copious sketches and notes about the egg. The trip was becoming the shortest remembered as the egg took up most of his time. Buying a horse for the last leg of his return trip, he set out across the vast open plains toward home. During his first night, he sat by the campfire with the egg in hand. Not a large camp fire as the area offered very little to burn. There was so little wood in this area, he had to bring alchemically treated wood to cook his meals. His shoulders slumped at being reminded of his shortcomings of not being able to do basic spells like fire.
“No self pity,” he told himself while holding the egg between him and the fire. “Show me your secrets,” he whispered to the egg. No light penetrated the shell to give a glimpse of what was inside as before. All the current evidence pointed that this egg was just a decorative stone with some magic enchantments. If it was just an egg-shaped stone, then what he wanted to do next wouldn’t hurt it. Placing the egg on a large rock next to a campfire, he observed to see if more heat would do anything.
The hours passed while he keep an eye on the egg and continued writing in his journal. The most noticeable effect was the black on the egg was fading out even faster. Picking up the egg, it felt like it had not been next to a crackling fire for hours. Whatever it was, it seemed immune to heat. He put a rock in the center of the fire and rested the egg on it so it would stay in the flames.
This time he waited only a few minutes before removing the egg from the flames. Again the egg was cool to the touch, and the black coloring was almost gone. Being an amateur wizard that tried to take apart magic items to understand how they worked, this little egg-shaped stone was a challenge. Seeing as how it reacted to fire, but didn’t suffer from it, he placed it back into the flames. Less than an hour later the black colors had vanished and only the yellow stripes on the mild gray shell remained. Makana fell asleep shortly after writing about the last changes in his journal leaving the egg in the flames.
In the morning, Makana could see the fire was out. The egg looking like what he remembered before going to sleep. Picking up the egg, it seemed even cooler than before. As the object sat in his open palm, the yellow stripes got thinner to a point they vanished. He flipped the egg over. Where it was touching his skin the yellow stripes got darker, thicker, and denser. He held it between his thumb and forefinger, and the stripes returned to normal except the areas around his fingers where they got slightly darker. While riding his horse he clutched the egg in his hand and the longer he held it the cooler it felt. Whatever this object was, it seemed to absorb heat and the more it got the more it wanted.
The next night, Makana made a fire that had a place for the egg in the center as before. When the flames got going, he placed the egg in the center and sat down to write notes in his journal. Nothing happened for hours, but he imagined the flames looked to be leaning toward the egg.
After a time, the horse was getting unnerved about something He went to see what was spooking his ride. The horse dug at the ground with its hooves and was tugging on the rope while snorting. As he approached the horse, he noticed the mare trying to back away from the fire.
While trying to calm down the horse, Makana looked over at the campfire. He could see something that was not normal. The flames he imagined leaning slightly toward the center a few minutes ago, now they had formed a vortex around the egg. It was a ring of fire that spun with such force that dirt moved around the base of the fire. Watching for a few seconds, he noticed the airflow going straight into the flames and not around it. That made hairs stand up on his neck as nothing made sense from what he observed. He released the horse and ran to grab his bag still sitting a few meters from the fire. As he snatched the bag, he noticed the heat from the fire wasn’t as intense as it should have given the ferocity of the flames. An attempt to flee resulted in no more than two bounding steps from the blaze when a concussive force blew him off his feet and into darkness.