TITLE: THE CHALCEDONY TRAP
GENRE: MG Fantasy
Two hundred years after the drought began, on the bone-dry steppes just east of the Idylls, a tiny blue bottle lay in a patch of brown grass. Its surface sparkled in the morning light until the movement caught a young shepherd’s eye.
She was out scouring the ground below the Mountain Road for lily roots to boil for breakfast. She scooped up the little vessel. She fiddled with the opening. But the bottle’s red stopper was stubborn. When the shepherd ran her knife around it, the blade could get no purchase.
The girl rolled the bottle across her palm and smiled as the summer sun played magiclike with the facets cuts into it. How fine it would be to keep it! Yet the truth of the steppes, where second chances were few and far between, was different. Fine objects like this were meant to get sold.
So, that she did, and for a great sum, too. A passing tin trader laid out four whole copper florins for it, and in this way the bottle began its journey across the empire, bringing each new seller more money than the last. First, a water merchant bought it for thirty copper florins, and then a linen trader for a few coins more, until far from the steppes, in a bustling market city, a glazier by the name of Serra Bernar Tomas exchanged the bottle for a mere thirty silver florins.