Bartering in the Bazaar

I awoke to peace and quiet, save for Garrus and his muffled music. This was a welcome change, I'd say. It looked like I would have a little bit of peace and quiet before the day truly started. I headed to the roof when I'd finished dressing to practice violin, and on the way there I bumped into a guard. I questioned him as to how Lynn, Todd, and my uncle were holding up, and he informed me that Lynn was sleeping soundly, Todd was meditating quietly, and Iroh had never come back to the temple. Violin practice would have to wait.

I headed down into the mess hall of what was once my place of schooling. The cafeteria served me a meal fit for a wizard, and I found seating in one of the corner tables with a peppy girl named Shirley and a sulky man named Loomis. Both were undergraduate students at this arcane university.

We talked a bit while I scarfed my breakfast, and I managed to learn a couple things. First off, Shirley and Loomis didn't have many friends. Secondly, my sister had squashed free speech here. People were afraid to criticize or even speak about her as empress. What few opinions they did voice, they did so in hushed whispers. The guard had said that the city watch was looking for my uncle, so I figured I would talk to Armstrong before I did some poking around of my own.

Strangely enough, he was absent. Shirley said that Armstrong always ate in the great hall of the university, and it was highly unusual for him to leave his spot. I walked up and asked a professor, who confirmed his absence. Then I excused myself to the men's bathroom (How I missed the comforts of Arcane University bathrooms) and used the Diviner's crystal ball to scry on him. He was in his house, trembling as he read an obscured note on his kitchen table.

I made haste, and met him as he was leaving his house, obviously trying to dress incognito. He took me back in and explained that the house had excellent security, but someone had still somehow managed to break in. He showed me the letter that they had left.

It was the Jester's handiwork, there was no doubt about it. He had kidnapped Armstrong's wife, and was now demanding that we meet him in the next twenty four hours and exchange the key to Nirvana for her life. Armstrong's stance was grave. I told him we would have to ask Lynn, as she was the keeper of the key.

I ran back to the University, and barged into Lynn's room. She was asleep, and no amount of shouting, shaking, and/or fox scratching seemed to be able to wake her up. In desperation, I tried to locate The Key to Nirvana, and found that it was no longer there. Again, I tried to wake Lynn up, and when I mentioned the key, her eyes shot open, glowing white. She looked panicked a second, and then her eyes flashed red, and she bolted like something had scared her.

I followed, but couldn't catch up. She lost me in the Bazaar. I returned to Armstrong with the bad news. So the Jester didn't have the key, and neither did we. Worse still, Lynn was missing. The dots were connected; Lynn had fled to Armstrong when she had ran from me, and he sent her to his home. It must have been his wife that let my name slip to her. We retraced her steps, searching all the while, until one of us had the idea that it was likely stolen by a member of the thieves guild. If that were the case, they would find a fence to quickly pawn it off. All we would need to do in order to get it back would be to pose as a buyer.

The Watch had moles within the Thieves Guild, and Armstrong handed me a letter with a cipher written in a steady hand. Naturally, I decoded it, and found it to be full of stoner lingo. This in mind, I fashioned a disguise as an unassuming wizarding burnout. I met the fence that Armstrong mentioned, a man named Barkley, and showed him the note. He took me aside, and I asked him about the key. The topic quickly turned to coercion, and he told me that he would track down the man who was selling me the Key. I was to meet him in a few hours.

With time to kill, I headed back to the University to grab a bite to eat. Shirley and Loomis were there, and I was quickly flagged down and smothered by a flurry of questions. I was informed that today was the day that most travelling merchants made it back to Abados, and there was something of a fair in the Bazaar. The three of us went, and I think it made Shirley happy beyond belief. Scratch that, I know it did. She wouldn't keep her mouth shut about it. Loomis was a little harder to read, but I think he enjoyed it as well.

We parted ways, and they headed back to the safety of their classes. I donned my disguise once more, and met the fence, a man by the name of Benny. We had a bit of a chat, he showed me the fingers that he lost when Armstrong's wife defended herself. He said he barely made it out of the house with his life.

He also said that I wasn't the only buyer interested in the key. A woman named Imoen had demonstrated substantial buying power, and I would need to outbid her in order to claim it for myself. I told Benny to arrange a meeting after dark so that I could meet my competitor. I told him to show up fashionably late.

I didn't care whether Imoen was innocent. We needed that key, and she wouldn't stand in our way. I would do what I needed to do in order to secure it.

—Matau Ing'um

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