"And so it goes." She said softly as she turned to go back in the Livery. What a long day. Alora stifled a yawn and climbed back up the steps, reluctant to leave the cool air that was blowing in off the grasslands. And she was hungry. She'd forgotten about re-stocking her supplies a midst all the excitement of providing free entertainment for the town. Her stomach lurched at the thought of the dried fish in her saddlebags.
"Brede zealots don't fast nearly as much as I do." She thought morosely as she cut through the squalid little room. She started down the steps to the Livery and noticed it was ominously silent behind the bottom door. Alora didn't take much comfort in the thought that Duran and Islinn were probably both down on their knees imploring Brede to strike her dead before she could return.
Duran whirled about, his face ashen, as the door at the top of the stairs slammed shut.
"Boo." Alora smirked as she descended the steps. Duran gave her a scorching look.
"So…are you going to do anything?"
Duran put an emphasis on the word "anything." He couldn't figure out if she just didn't want to help or…couldn't. The latter left his stomach feeling hot and loose. Had he ever really seen her conjure, cast, or call down…anything? He'd heard stories like everyone else but what if those people had heard stories from people who had heard stories from people who…there was a dry click in the back of his throat as he tried to swallow.
"Remember Ogden the Unreal?" His mind's voice piped up, a voice that always sounded suspiciously like his brother Havnor.
Ogden had limped into town in a rotted wagon pulled by a parasitic horse. He'd waved his bony hands about in the air, resembling a leafless tree caught in a high wind, as he performed a few feats of magic. No one was very impressed. Not until he'd whipped out "The AMAZING Coin Doubler." The reverent hush to old Ogden's voice told Duran that's how he thought of it too: not the Coin Doubler, or the Doubler, but the AMAZING Coin Doubler. All it had been was a small wooden saucer Ogden held in his gnarled hand.
"Step up here and witness the greatest prestidigitation since time began." The words had flowed from Ogden's quivering lips like silk. Brows rose.
"Prest…Present…what the fuck are you runnin' your mouth about?"
At this point, Duran had settled in to watch the show because he knew it would be good. Agel never spoke much because his mouth and tongue were for more serious matters like drinking. But when something caught his attention and he opened his big mush to speak, everybody listened. Because when Agel finally did speak, it was because something had irritated him enough to interrupt his drinking.
If Agel spoke AND released the death grip on his tankard, trouble was well on its way. Duran had seen him at Fetch's one night lock a meaty paw on a man's neck and bounce his head up and down on the table until the man went limp. And still maintain his hold on his tankard. And now it looked like it would be Ogden's turn in the barrel. Agel would snap him like kindling.
"I'm talking about the greatest wonder you've ever seen." Ogden had bugled and stood his ground. "Step on up here."
Agel had stepped up there all right, grumbling and sweating in the heat. He'd looked at the wooden saucer with his eyes narrowed.
"What the fuck is that?" He had never been one to mince words.
"Over time, young man, this could make all of you rich." Ogden had dared to clap a hand on Agel's back, who wordlessly grunted in response. Ogden took that for interest and pulled some coins out of his pocket and dropped them into the saucer he was holding.
"Now, count those out and tell the crowd how much it is." Ogden put a lot of confidence in Agel's counting skills. Everyone had started to laugh.
"Shut the fuck up." Agel had growled as he squinted his eyes at the coins. After some thought, he mumbled that there were five coins, all brown. Ogden had raised one bushy eyebrow but hadn't uttered a word. He dumped the coins out onto the ground and asked Agel to count them again. Agel had counted the original five brown plus three silver. And Ogden became a great magician with his AMAZING Coin Doubler.
It was something everyone could do. For one gold piece. No one stopped to wonder why Ogden's ramshackle wagon was being pulled by a ramshackle horse if he had one dirt-encrusted thumb on countless gold pieces. Nobody asked. And everyone paid. Then they had listened raptly to Ogden's advice to leave the saucer out in the next full moon to "charge" its powers(and give him enough time to get out of town).
It hadn't been until later, after all the grumbling about that "shit-heeled son of a bitch" had died down, that Duran had figured out the AMAZING Coin Doubler. A wooden saucer with a slit cut in the side and covered with Ogden's old but deft finger. Coins were put in the slot and all he had to do was move his finger for the hidden coins to fall out. He'd gone from a Master of Alchemy to animal excrement in a few days' time. But what Ogden had been in between was…flawless. Much in the same way The Twiceborn appeared to be to the masses.