C4 Chapter 4
Without saying anything, she dug into her pocket and took the tiny leather purse he had given her. She placed it in his outstretched hand, hoping to hear or see what he would say or do next. But all he did was unzip the bag and take something out of it. When she saw what he was holding between his two fingers, Xyra's eyes widened.
Magnus' money sack didn't have normal, typical money. What he had pulled was a little ruby. It was only the size of a pebble, yet it was worth more than a hundred gold pieces. If she recalls correctly, the conversion rate was 400. If that's the type of money he was carrying, he must be carrying a lot of money. He could easily purchase the entire town with just that small sack.
Nowadays, there were relatively few genuinely rich visitors. Most people merely carried what they needed to travel from one place to another. More people would undoubtedly choose to carry rubies instead of gold and silver pieces because they took up much less space and were lighter, but carrying solely rubies was futile. Most useful items didn't even cost the price of one of the red stones. Many types of food were purchased in silver and gold coin currencies. Five silver coins were for one gold coin. That meant that a single ruby was worth 2,000 silver pieces! It was the most valuable type of currency in terms of value. There was once an idea to build a diamond that would rule even higher than a ruby, but the plan was cancelled. It simply wasn't practical enough.
"Let's see..." he murmured aloud as he grabbed a few more coins, followed by several gold pieces. "This should be more than enough. Here," he said as he tossed the bag back to Xyra, who responded just in time to grab it.
"W-what?" she questioned, clearly perplexed. Was he just going to hand over all of that money to her? Was this man compassionate or just plain stupid? He had to be mad to give out money like that!
"This is all I require; the rest is yours."
"But..." She didn't know what more to do or say. Was it really okay to accept this after what had just occurred? Part of her wanted to grab the money and run, but she had a conscience. This was hardly fair compensation for what he had done for her. Despite her desire for money and her urgent need for it, this man had saved her life. He deserved more than some of his own money as a reward.
Magnus started walking away, so Xyra swiftly decided to follow him, retrieving her dropped cloak in the process. She slowed down to his speed, and he either didn't notice or didn't care. He was doing his own business, utterly ignoring her.
"Hey!" she exclaimed. "Are you certain you don't require any more?"
"At the very least, allow me to buy you a beer or anything."
She noticed a sneer cross his face.
"That sounds nice; there's only one thing I need to finish first."
It wasn't long until he came to a halt in front of a little street stand. Inside was a lone lady working there, rearranging and cleaning some of her items. Magnus smiled at her when she finally looked up.
"I'm back," he said as he placed his money on the table. "Do you think this is enough?"
Her eyes widened as she bent down to get a better look at what he was giving over to her. He was paying her with rubies and gold coins! Not many people have that kind of wealth. It wasn't strictly unusual, but it wasn't usual either. A person would have to collect up gold coins for a long time in order to swap them for a ruby. One of the vibrant red stones would be enough to pay for what he needed, so she couldn't understand why he had put down three plus some gold coins.
"Sir, one ruby is more than enough," she said, but he didn't take the rest of the money.
"I believe you deserve everything I set out," he remarked quietly. "After all, you've been so patient with me, and I have more than enough, and I know not many of my kind have gone through here today."
The lady received what he had given her, her hands quivering in surprise and sheer happiness, and returned it with a bright smile, muttering "thank you" before picking up the talisman from the shelf behind her and giving it to him. He only grinned, awestruck at the thing. It was stunning and the exact form of a cross. The whole body was constructed of a rare stone that was white in hue and gleamed with a moon-like light. It had a few blue and white stones embedded in it, all centered around a magnificent transparent crystal. The talisman was beautifully made and had an ethereal look. Something so wraithlike was unquestionably more valuable than a single ruby.
"Thank you," Magnus replied, bowing slightly. "If I'm ever in the area again, I'll make a point of stopping by."
"Please do," she said gratefully, sighing contently as she gripped the money in her palms. "You take care of yourself now."
Magnus nodded, turned, and resumed his walk down the street with Xyra in in tow. She was taken aback, to say the least. It was obvious that he was a wonderful person, yet what he had just done was unusual to most people. Not many individuals give money out like that. He was either extremely rich or a total moron...or both. There had to be a reason for his attitude, and she found herself curious as to why he acted the way he did. Why was he so careless with his money?
Xyra couldn't help but look at Magnus inquiringly as they went down the street in silence. He was precisely such an oddity, and his actions had piqued her curiosity. Just by looking at someone, you may learn a lot about them. His manner suggested that he was self-assured, if not proud. Is it probable that he was born into an upper-class family? The characteristics are unquestionably suitable. Nobles were also wealthy, and this man was certainly wealthy. That was something she couldn't deny. Maybe if she could "befriend" him, she'd be able to acquire even more money. Even though she had previously obtained a great deal from him, it wasn't enough. It would most likely last her a year, but it wouldn't get her where she wanted to go, both physically and financially. She needed more, and this man may be her ticket to it. As a plan began to form in her mind, the wheels in her head began to whirl.
"...Is this it?" Magnus questioned as he came to a halt, interrupting her thoughts. They had come to a halt in front of a structure with a bar sign on it.
"Yeah," she replied as she opened the door, slightly shivering when the bell rung. She felt a strong desire to reach up and take it off the door, but she managed to resist the temptation and went on her way. "Come on, come on."
When the two of them stepped inside the dark and dismal club, they were met with a slew of weird looks from the customers. It came as no surprise. Magnus wasn't dressed like a citizen or a bounty hunter, and with all the stories about Albus, it was risky to be in this town with someone who looked even somewhat like a sorcerer. The place was packed with bounty hunters.
"Over here," Xyra murmured, taking a seat at her regular table. She was relieved to discover that no one had taken it during her absence. She liked being alone at the far end of the bar. It was considerably quieter than sitting in the thick of the craziness that had gathered in the center.
Magnus took his seat across from her reluctantly, feeling just a tinge of discomfort as he observed the looks that followed his every move. He shuffled uneasily in his chair, slouching forward as if the attention on him weighed him down. Anyone would be on edge if over fifty individuals were peering at them suspiciously. As far as he was concerned, there was no reason for their concern. He wasn't exactly a threat...at least not just now.
He said, attempting to lighten his own mood by laughing inwardly at the bounty hunters, that they looked like vultures. To some extent, it worked. They were behaving in an animalistic, even ravenous manner, as if he were nothing more than prey.
"Ignore them," Xyra muttered. "They're all a bit tense right now."
"Why?" Magnus questioned.
"It's been reported that Albus has been sighted in town."
For a little period, he appeared contemplative, but in the end, he simply grinned, resting in his chair. All of the previous tension simply oozed out. Everything was explained by that one name. Like moths to a flame, bounty hunters gathered to Albus. It was regrettable that both of them were burnt. This explains the unusually high number of bounty hunters I've observed today.
Magnus made a brief assessment of the room, noting how many individuals were there. Bounty hunters come in a variety of forms and sizes. Some plainly depended on physical power, whilst others highlighted quickness. But they all had one thing in common. Every single one of them lacked magic. There wasn't a single sorcerer among them. That would undoubtedly be their death if they ever met Albus. Magic was the greatest way to deal with a powerful sorcerer like him. What a sad group they are. They all appear to be second-rate. I'm sure none of them has ever battled a true sorcerer.
He switched his attention to Xyra just as she completed conversing with a waitress after a few more minutes of observing. She had already placed an order for both of their beverages. That made him a little anxious. He could only hope she hadn't chosen something too potent. He wasn't a big fan of booze, but certain beverages had a really nice underlying flavor to them.
"So," Xyra started, her arms propped up on the table, "what's your story?"
"What do you mean?" he inquired, a smile on his face, even though he was quite sure he understood what she was asking.
"I'm curious as to why you're here; as you can see, most sorcerers have avoided this town since Albus arrived, and the only people here are citizens and bounty hunters."
"I'm only traveling by on my way to Dagen, nothing more, nothing less."
Xyra gave him a knowing look, and his smile twisted into a worried grin. He wasn't sure how he felt about the way she was gazing at him. She didn't seem to appreciate being lied to. It was as if she was attempting to dissect him with just her head, and if he was reading her correctly, she had no trouble figuring him out.
"You're no traveler," she finally said, grinning slightly. "Most talismans function as magic amplifiers and are deployed primarily by sorcerers who go demon hunting; everyone who understands anything about magic, which happens to be nearly the whole population, knows that, so who are you...really?"