Like Diamond Tears From Emerald Eyes
by Eric James Stone
Larindo and I were standing guard at the entrance to Krankel's Fine Jewelry and
Loan Emporium when the bride arrived in town. She stepped down from her
horseless carriage and into the volcanic ash that covered the road. Her dress must
have been enchanted somehow -- it managed to stay spotless white as she swept
across the street and into Blat's Tavern next door.
"Pretty lady," said Larindo.
I wrinkled my nose. "Couldn't tell, what with the veil." But I knew what he
meant. Larindo wasn't overly smart, but he knew pretty things when he saw them.
As long as he didn't try to touch them, I could usually keep him out of trouble.
Krankel must have been watching through the window, because he poked his head
out of his shop. "Who's getting married? Nobody's bought a ring!"
"I have no idea," I said. "One of the adventurers at the tavern -- or more likely,
one of them left her at the altar, and she's finally tracked him down."
"Humph. Fancy carriage like that, she's gotta be rich." Krankel stepped back into
his shop, then re-emerged with a small black case. "I'll see if she's in the market
for any wedding jewels. You guys hold the fort."
"Got it, boss." I patted the hilt of my sword as he headed toward the tavern.
A few minutes later, the bride came out of the tavern, with Krankel trailing behind
her. Her veiled head turned toward us, stopped, and then she strode in our
I assumed she was coming to the shop to see more jewels, until I heard Krankel's
voice. Rather than his usual sycophantic manner toward the wealthy, he was
arguing with her. ". . . cannot be left defenseless. You must see that."
"There are plenty of men in that bar. Hire them." The bride's voice sounded clear
as glass bells from behind her veil, which obscured her face so that I only caught a
glimpse of its outline.
"If I wanted to hire them, I already would have," said Krankel.
The bride swept to a stop in front of Larindo and me. Her veiled face tilted as if
she were looking me up and down, then did the same to Larindo. She took longer
on him, since I'm only five foot two, and he'd stand a hair over eight feet tall if he
weren't completely bald.
"I need a wizard and a warrior for a little job," she said. "I'll pay your year's
salary for only a few hours' work." She opened a small velvet pouch and poured a
half-dozen diamonds into her palm.