The Wrong Wizards Chapter 4
(Sorry there's no new art this time. I started making some today but didn't manage to finish it. This has been a very stressful week where I got very little accomplished due to anxiety. At least I was able to write again today! Maybe I'll be able to update more often next week? Please enjoy Chapter 4 of The Wrong Wizards!)
The Wrong Wizards
(A NaNoWriMo Novel)
by: Sarah "Neila" Elkins
Chapter 4: The Coins of Regno
I stay awake all night, fearful Dresden might try to steal something. The only time they move in the night is to roll over. Merlin manages to sleep on the floor next to where I sit. When dawn breaks she wakes up and starts her morning routine. I get up and stretch. Dresden rolls over in the bed once more and groans something about sleeping late after a concert. I gather my belongings and try one more time to wake Dresden. It doesn't work so I write a note:
Went to the market to help bread seller.
Meet us before noon for free bread.
I pin it to the door with a thumbtack I find in my bag then we leave. Hopefully Dresden will read the note and not be angry. I'm still mad at them for stealing Merlin's money. We don't have any idea how much it was worth, but still, it wasn't Dresden's to take. Merlin's only seventeen or so. She's just a kid. Even if this Dresden Mitchel isn't the one from my own world they should be the same age, twenty six. Stealing alone is a major red flag but doing it from a kid is what gave me the sleepless night. It's such a low act.
"You okay, Rhys?" Merlin asks me as we head toward Ultra's bread stall. "You look absolutely pissed."
"I am," I say. "I'm okay and I'm pissed. I'm going to give you whatever money I make today, don't tell Dresden."
She nods silently.
"This Dresden isn't the one from my world. This one's an asshole."
Merlin nods again. "No argument from me."
"They've really got under my skin," I say. "I'm gonna sing so many of the other Dresden's songs today."
"You keep saying 'they,'" Merlin begins. "What?"
"Dresden's non-binary," I say. "Use's they and them pronouns. I guess it wasn't quite as well known a thing in 2015."
"I think I've heard about it now that you mention it," Merlin admits. "Just wasn't sure."
"Merlin! My beautiful strong friend," Ultra beams as we approach her booth. She's a middle aged woman in a plain dark turquoise dress with maroon trim. "You've come to help again! I've got lots of bread boxes to move about, fresh from the bakery."
"Going to work," Merlin says.
"Same," I reply. "Meet up at noon."
"We'll meet up at noon."
I head around the market and look at the different booths. Much of the wares seem to be the same as before, however today there's a man with the back of a wagon opened as his booth. Inside the wagon are several wooden racks displaying various sizes of eggs in a variety of colors and textures. A soft red glow radiates from crystals placed around the wagon. I approach the wagon and feel a decided increase in temperature. A sandwich board style sign set up in front of the wagon reads, 'Dragon Eggs!' in runes.
A short and cheerful man with a monocle and gray mustache rounds the wagon and greets me saying, "Ah, hullo! Greetings! Might I interest you in one or more fine quality dragon eggs from the city's foremost hatchery?"
"Dragon eggs?" I ask.
"Yes! The finest eggs in the kingdom at that! We have everything from the delectable southern ignis, to the most resplendent emerald corsair, and the hearty vermilion petram, which I might add are excellent for use on farms or hauling heavy wagons!"
My face must convey how confused I am because the man squints at me for a long while before raising a bushy eyebrow.
"You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?" He asks.
I grin awkwardly. "Nope. Sorry. I'm from...way way way, out of town. I didn't even know dragons could exist until this week."
He makes a tsking sound before nodding. "It's been a long while since I have heard tell of a traveler from another world being summoned but...I take it that is the case with you. Is it not?"
"Yes," I reply with a heavy sigh. "A couple days ago. I...uh, have some coins now but I doubt I have enough to buy an egg. I don't even know what each is worth, to be honest."
The man nods. "Very well, then. Come here to the table. I will explain the currency of the kingdom of Regno to you in the hopes that one day you may earn enough coin to do business."
"Really? Thank you so much."
I follow him to a small folding table he has next to the side of the wagon and to my surprise he's the one to pull out a bag of money placing numerous coins on the table. He quickly sorts them into like types and small bunches with enough space between them for me to tell them apart from one another.
"Here we have the smallest coins worth the least," he points to the small grouping of coins. "Coppers will buy you a few items here in the market but not much. It takes ten coppers to equal the next denomination, irons. One iron is worth ten coppers, understand?"
"One iron is worth ten coppers," I repeat. "I think I have a few of each so far."
"That's good," the dragon egg merchant assures me. "Next we have a silvers. It takes one hundred iron to equal one silver."
"Really?" I ask. "One hundred iron?"
"Indeed. Many things for everyday use can be purchased around this market with copper and iron alone."
"That means it takes one thousand coppers to equal one silver," I say.
He nudges my shoulder. "Good to see you have maths in your world."
"Thanks. What's the next one?"
"Gold. One hundred silver equals one gold. It is not the most precious coin in Regno but is the most valuable one I have on my person today," he explains.
"One hundred silver equals one gold, one hundred iron equals one silver, and ten copper equals one iron. You said there's another coin higher than gold?" I ask.
"Yes," the merchant says with a nod as he puts his coins back in a bag. "The most valuable coin in all of Regno is worth one hundred gold. Aluminum coins are the most prized. They are delicate and incredibly rare."
"Aluminum?" I repeat in shock. "One hundred gold coins are worth one aluminum?"
"Indeed," the merchant says.
I try not to lose my breath. I have a wad of aluminum foil in my lunch box tied to my backpack from some of the food I made before I was summoned. I wonder if I could trade that for something sometime? As a metal it's difficult to work and I vaguely remember it being expensive back during the Roman Empire.
"Thank you so much," I tell him and dig around for the coins I got from singing the day before. "I can pay you for this information."
He holds up a hand and shakes his head. "No. I couldn't ask for payment. Just remember it was Image Notfound who helped you. Perhaps when you are able you can purchase a dragon egg from me, no?"
I try not to show my confusion regarding Image's name and instead ask about the eggs as we walk back to the open end of his wagon. "How much are they, anyway? I need to know how much to save up."
"Ah yes, the small ones here are southern ignis and southern fulurs as well as a few other similar varieties. They are commonly kept as egg layers as well as for their meat. The fulgurs can be a bit troublesome to keep they have the most remarkable taste. Even the eggs themselves are savory and rich. The eggs range in value from twelve iron for one and a special rate of 120 iron, or one silver ten iron, for a dozen. They are the least expensive eggs I have today."
I know I don't have enough money for them.
"I can't afford even one egg right now," I admit. "I'm a bit scared to know how much the bigger ones are."
"That's quite alright," Image tells me. "I don't expect to sell anything but a few fulgur and ignus eggs in this market. In a few days I will be heading to the larger city of Maior to sell the rest."
"Will any of these hatch?" I ask.
"If properly cared for," Image begins but quickly frowns. "Sadly I must advise you that fulgurs and ignis eggs are difficult to hatch without a living dragon to care for them. The larger eggs will most certainly hatch, but smaller ones are much more suited for omelets."
"Good to know," I say. "Thank you again, Image. Uh, my name is Rhys by the way and you have helped a lot."
The shot man grins. "It is no trouble, Rhys. I am glad I have met you. Remember me when you're in the market for dragon eggs!"
"Will do!" I say before parting and heading for the spot I sang in the previous day. My head swims with the knowledge that my trash from lunch the other day may be worth a small fortune if I find the correct person to talk to.
"Eigh! Bard's back!" The hype man from yesterday crows as I reach the fountain. "Yer gonna sing again, ain't cha?"
I set my bag down, unzip it and pull out my hat before shutting the bag again, mindful that my lunch bag is still tied to it securely and nothing seems out of place. I then point the head of my cane toward the man and say, "Sure are!"
A few people walking by stop as I sing for the next hour or so. I vary the songs this time, a mix of the Lizard Wizard songs from my world and a few other top pop hits from the radio. The crowd grows and more people toss coins into my hat. I do a little dance with my cane as well which gets some cheers. I finish the show with 'Till Sunrise' again which gets a few shouts of "I love this one!" from people I suppose came by yesterday. When I'm done I bow, accept some more coins and the crowd begins to disperse.
"Great show!" The market hype-man shouts. "About time we had a decent bard roll through Centrum!"
"Thank you! Thank you all!"
I bow again and pick up my hat, briefly glance at the coins before pouring them into the zipper sandwich bag I've got the previous day's earnings in. I then put my hat on and seal the bag and secure the coinage deep within my backpack. I hoist my belongings back onto my back and clip the front chest clips tight so I'm certain the bag can't be pulled off my shoulders by any passers by. I freeze when I start to walk away cane in hand. Dresden Mitchel stands, arms crossed, staring at me from ahead in the market.
"What the fuck was that?" They ask as they approach me. "You were busking? For money?"
"They all thought I was a bard anyway," I say while rolling my eyes and pushing my way around them. "What do you care?"
Dresden grabs my shoulder. "That song, that last one. What was it? I've never heard it before."
I push Dresden's hand off my shoulder using my cane. "It's 'Till Sunrise,' your platinum hit in my world during the quarantine."
Shock paints their face. "I wrote that?"
I roll my eyes again. "Again, what do you care? You're all about being an asshole and stealing lunch money from a high schooler."
"I what?" Dresden is genuinely surprised.
"Merlin," I say. "You stole her money yesterday. She's, like, sixteen or seventeen. You're nothing like the Dresden Mitchel in my world and the fact that you're from a different timeline is the only reason I can still sing their songs."
"What? That she's just a kid? Does stealing from an adult make it any less shitty?" I snap back. "I'm going to meet up with her, get some bread, and go wait for the next person to show up. I hope they're a lot nicer than you."
Dresden doesn't say anything as I walk away toward Ultra's bread stall. There's nothing they can say to justify stealing.