Wolves at the Door (part 99)

Gil stared at the crystal in his hands.

“What is it?”

“Have a look through it”

Whatever it was, apparently you used it like a sunstone. Gil held it up to one eye.  He could still see the stall, the vendor, and the bowl of  “magic junk”.

“I don’t get it. Everything looks the same.”

“Oh yeah? Look up.”

Pointing the crystal at where, in his own world. the sky would have been, Gil gasped.  The omnipresent white clouds were replaced by inky blackness.

“What’s it doing?”

“It’s a magic detector.  Sort of.”

“That sounds pretty useful to me.”

“You’d think so, but no.  At least, not this one.  It only detects atmospheric magic.”

Gil pointed it at the magical items on display.  The bowlful of depleted charms looked exactly as it had without the crystal.  So did the fully-charged items on display.  Even the translation pendant around the merchant’s neck, which Gil knew was working.  In fact, the only thing that looked different were the glowing white clouds in the background, which were now black.

“That’s useless?”

“When you’re surrounded by magic? You bet.  If it could detect magic sealed in a stone, that would be useful.  But no. Strictly atmospheric magic.  And who needs a crystal to detect that?  It glows, for crying out loud.”

Gil had to admit, he was having trouble thinking of a practical use for it.

“If it’s useless, why would anyone bother making such a thing?”

“Oh, apprentice enchanters make all sorts of useless stuff.  Sometimes to demonstrate their ability to their masters.  Sometimes as a daft kind of practical joke. Sometimes just to see if they can.”

Gil handed the crystal back, but the merchant waved him off.

“Keep it, new boy.  I’ve got plenty of others.  This sort of junk is easy to come by if you have the connections.  Just remember who looked after you, when you’ve got some real money to spend.”


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