You cast your gaze over the Trader’s wares until a small bottle of blue crystals catches your eye. “What’s that?” You ask. “The bottle?”   “Ah, that, my friend has been responsible for feuds and murders! It makes some men crazy, other men powerful, and is my most asked-for item!” He leans over and plucks the bottle from the crate it’s nestled in.   Your eyebrows go up in question.    “You’ve never heard of Ampia crystals before?” He is incredulous. “Have you been living under a log your whole life?” As a raven flies overhead, he removes his floppy black hat and scratches at his head. His straw-colored hair goes everywhere, but he replaces his hat. “Ampia starts out as a kind of honey made by the Ampian Fly.”   “Never heard of it either,” you mumble, a little embarrassed by what you don’t know. You shift your stance, finally getting the pebble out from under your foot. The trader had pulled his caravan up beside you on the road, and you’d come to an uncomfortable halt on that pebble.   “Fascinating insect. Tubular and about that long,” He jabs his thumb into the space between you. “Got translucent blue wings and a multi-colored body. They collect nectar only from Aurora flowers, though no one knows why. They store the nectar in their abdomens until they’re nearly too heavy to fly. The Aurora flowers bloom in a dazzling spectacular array of colors! It’s quite the sight! Ever seen them?”   You nod, relieved that you don’t look like a completely uneducated lump.   “Ampian flies are drawn to the flowers, and the nectar extracted from the blossoms contributes to the honey's unique flavor!” The trader’s blue eyes dance as he talks, and you peer carefully at the bottle in his hand.   “So how does it get from them to that?” You point at the bottle.   “Ampian fly honey is collected by the Wolar…” his eyes narrow as he peers at you. “You do know what they are, right?”   You nod again, remembering your Grandsire’s stories about how the human-wolf hybrid race came to be.   “When the honey is heated, it crystalizes and becomes Ampia. The crystallization process turns it from an amber color to a translucent blue. When the crystals are consumed, or so I’m told, they produce an otherworldly experience, making it highly sought after. Like I said, it’s my most asked-for product. I’m told it’s quite sweet on the tongue. You interested in trying some? Mages tell me it heightens their abilities, but I’ve also heard it weakens them afterward, just so you know.”   You hesitate for a couple of heartbeats, then ask, “How much?”   “Well…” he rubs his chin and peers off across the field of grain you stand beside. “Usually I ask for fifteen silvers, but because it’s such a nice day, and I’m feeling generous…I’ll take ten silvers for the whole bottle.”   You consider his price for a moment and finally agree. You pull his fee from the pouch hanging at your belt, and he hands the little bottle over.   “Oh, and listen,” he says as he closes up his caravan. “Don’t be flashing it around in town. The Guards catch wind that you have that and you’ll find yourself their guest in the dungeon, you hear me?”   Wide-eyed, you nod, wondering what he didn’t tell you, and regretting your purchase.   “And if they do catch you with it,” he retakes his seat and picks up the reins. “You never got it from me, and we never met.” He gives the reins a shake and his oxen throw their shoulders into their task. As the caravan pulls away from you, the trader lifts his hand in farewell.   You peer down at the bottle in your hand and sigh.   “Well, maybe I can sell it to someone who won’t ask questions,” you mutter to yourself. You check that the stopper is tight, and place the bottle deep in your pack before continuing on your way.    

Cover image: by Johannes Plenio


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Feb 4, 2024 21:10 by jyliet of the house

I love introducing this item through prose. I hope the trader was telling the truth about everything!