With this piece we come to the final moments of the first section of The Black Medallion. After this it may actually get stranger. Or not…
The links provided are in story order. If you are new or want a refresher take a few minutes and catch up to where we are now.
“This is an area outside of my study.” With a sheet of paper and charcoal, the shaper traced the glyphs embedded in Tisdan’s fingertips. He raised an eyebrow and made a tsk noise. Using the tongs to grasp the amulet he examined the markings on its surface and compared them to the charcoal outlines. “The markings are similar to ones I have seen, but the variations are troubling. The order these appear in seems of importance as well. You must tell me how you came about this, where is the source.”
“There was a man in the market this morning.” Tisdan slipped the amulet back into his sash. “It was only by happenstance. I needed the coins.”
“Surely not a beggar. No this would not be something given to a beggar.”
“It was in his purse, along with some silver.” Sweat began to bead at his brow. “I only wanted the coins.”
The shaper stood up and went to the wash basin near the lab equipment. He filled a couple glasses with water. When he came back to the work bench he offered one to Tisdan.
“This isn’t shaper magic. I am not sure what this is really,” he caught Tisdan’s eye. “But it interests me.”
Tisdan looked intently at his fingertips. They had taken on the glow of the amulet. He had felt no pain but the scaring was unmistakable. “How can we find out what this is?”
“I have a couple tests we can run. The real challenge and help would be to find who this came from. If we knew that we might have a bit more to work with.”
“It happened so fast. The only thing I really remember was he was large.” He looked at the automotan body lying on the slab. “He was in a hurry, but it was morning. Many people rushing around, especially on market day.”
The shaper stood up then rummaged around in the storage space behind the work bench. Rooting with a purpose, he left no tool unturned. “A ha!” He pulled out an odd looking helmet. At the front was a lens and the sides had ear coverings. The majority of the system was brass plates connected by what appeared to be glass tubes. He looked at Tisdan’s head and then made some quick adjustments to the contraption. “This should help.”
Raised eyebrows as Tisdan looked at the contraption, “What, is that?”
“A memory transducer,” He looked at Tisdan with a full smile. “I have been working on it for some time now. It should work perfectly for our purposes here.”
“What do you propose?”
He moved closer to Tisdan. “The way it works is, you wear it like this,” He mimed putting it over his head with the lens at his forehead. “As I ask you questions about the incident, this lens will project your memories onto the wall, here.”
“And this works?” Tisdan shifted slightly in his seat. Clearing his throat, “What will happen to me?”
“Theoretically nothing.” He adjusted another knob on the apparatus. “I have not noticed any ill effects on my test subjects anyway.”
“What test subjects?”
“I have been working at the sanitarium trying to understand some of the inmates that have not been influenced into complete madness.”
“I don’t find this very reassuring.”
“Don’t be a baby.” He quickly removed Tisdan’s bowler hat and placed the contraption in its place. Another adjustment shocked Tisdan into a rigid sitting position. “That should do it.”
The amulet was in Tisdan’s hand again as the shaper turned away to connect wiring to a control panel beside the work bench. A light pressure began to build in his hand. A gentle pulse that he knew came from the amulet. Closing his eyes he focused on the pulse.
Images flitted through his mind. He saw the morning again; like he was still there. The fat man pushed through the crowd, paying little attention to those around him. Spying the weight of the coin purse, Tisdan saw an easy mark, distracted and harried. It had been nothing to do a quick bump and grab, but he did not expect the reaction from the mark.
He felt neither the pouch in his hand nor the dagger that came from the belt he had bumped into. He saw it all as a spectator. Though it meant little to him still. The kill had been easy and it shocked him at how little he felt from it.
A sharp jolt Brought him back to the present. The shaper grumbled under his breath as he fussed over the crystals on the panel. He picked up a wrench and smacked it down on a plunger attached to one of the wires coming from Tisdan’s new headdress.
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Tisdan poked at him with a yard stick he found on the workbench.
The shaper turned from the panel to look at Tisdan, his brow creased in concentration. His eyes grew wide and he turned toward the wall. An eerie glow emanated from the head gear and projected to the wall. The face of the fat man grew in clarity as it focused within the glow. “It appears that something is working…”
He turned back to Tisdan. “I have seen him before, a scribe within the magistrates office. At least he was.” Realization hit him hard. “This is bad, really bad.”
“What do you mean?”
He pulled the device from Tisdan’s head unceremoniously, then attempted to help him from his stool. “”It was you wasn’t it? You need to get out of here. I can’t be found with you.”
Tisdan pushed him into the control panel “This isn’t the first time today I’ve been pushed around because of this amulet. But it’s going to be the last. What’s going on?”
The shaper stomped hard on Tisdan’s foot, then pushed away. Small and quick worked to his advantage in most circumstances. But Tisdan had training and was determined to keep the upper hand. Tisdan grabbed the shaper by his collar as he tried to squeeze by him.
Their struggle knocked a set of shelves down on top of Tisdan and the shaper. A couple of vials burst as they hit the ground sending putrid gases into the air. Both gagged and retched with tear filled eyes as they pushed the shelves away and as one, rushed to the door.
The beginnings of fire had made its way up the side of the work bench and lab table. At the door the shaper slipped on a coat as he passed through. Tisdan caught a feint outline as the coat engulfed him and he disappeared from sight.
He stepped onto the street as a minor explosion rocked the building. Across the street, Tisdan turned back to see smoke billow out the second story windows. The shaper was no where to be seen.
Something about the amulet had caused a stir but he was no closer to figuring it out. He walked in the general direction of the train station and then back to Jak’s. At least there he could catch some sleep and figure out his options in the morning.
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