TITLE: A Chalcedony Trap
GENRE: MG Fantasy
You cannot kill magic, but if you capture it, you can use it as you please
— Old proverb
The dumpling-shaped man gripped the pages lightly in one fat, bejeweled hand and frowned. Despite its foxed edges, the paper’s thickness signaled its age, promising a good profit. Yet he wavered.
Across from him, perched on a high and narrow fencepost, the tall girl blinked, pretending that she hadn’t caught a whiff of his misgiving. “Take a good, long look. I brought them to you as I know you love a first-rate history,” she said.
As she spoke, the hot scent of frying lamb rinds cut through the chill in the air, and for a moment they both paused. “Snap ’em up! Frrreeesssh rinds!” hollered the high voice of a young boy from the marketplace below.
The man moved a hand involuntarily toward his belly, while the girl puckered her nose and drew in a hungry breath. But then she flashed an easy smile and swung her thin, stocking-clad legs back and forth like nothing else in the world mattered to her but the pages. She motioned with a wink. “I’m betting that little bundle’s worth at least a half dozen staters.” Her alert gaze fixed on him.
He narrowed his green eyes and scratched a thumb against his bald and shiny head. She was a starer, this one. And a liar, that much he was sure of. The pages were likely stolen from one of the hawkers in the Emporion, and easy to trace. He glanced at the sheaf of paper, moistening his lips as he anticipated how best to turn it into coin. Make a show of having it, and he’d have the weight of every market inspector in the city on him. But if he could offload the pages quickly… "Perhaps a groat, girl."