NB: I don't own the lil' things, I just manipulate their lives

NB: I don't own the lil' things, I just manipulate their lives…

Mood Stone

Exigo loved Market Day in Til Amon – for one thing, it provided him with a lot of money, for another it meant a lot of new faces, a lot of interesting people. And Exigo liked nothing more than to people-watch. He spent his life people-watching – he stood at his stall in the middle of the busiest market street in Til Amon, selling all the trinkets and knick-knacks he had bought from merchants, and happily watching his customers mumble over them. Most of the merchandise was black-market, missing spare parts here and there, liable to break or stop or explode (in some extreme cases) the moment they arrived home, but that didn't stop foolish, blind travellers having a sticky-beak anyway. And it allowed Exigo to sit amongst all the excitement and smoke his long pipe and stroke his beard all day long, so he was happy with it.

It was when he was try to flog some cheap jewellery to a rather fashion conscious man, (who, in Exigo's opinion, didn't have enough brains to fill an eggcup if he couldn't see that most of the gold rings were fake – especially since the gold plating was flaking off onto his fingers) that he overheard the conversation nearby.

"…something interesting – ah, here we are!"

A clink of displaced ornaments and a movement in the corner of Exigo's eye. He glanced over to where the voice had come from, and saw two people, a man and a woman, poring over his trinkets. The man was tall and had slightly long hair, a firm look in his eyes and a scar curling under his left eye, the woman was young and pretty, with a sweep of black hair and a grave if strangely sad air about her. She had a mauled left hand, Exigo noticed. He was instantly taken in by them – they seemed to both project a steady quietness, mixed with confidence, and a knowledge that went beyond the usual shallow natterings of the people around them, as if they understood or saw more than others did, as if they had more important things on their minds even as they stood chatting as normally as any other couple would.

The man was holding up a grey stone in the air, which Exigo recognised as a classic, locally mad, three for two, only two gold coins each, bargain at twice the price, sir, your relatives back home will love this as a gift, Mood Stone.

"This is a Mood Stone," the man said to the woman, holding it out in the palm of his hand for her to look at (oh, so we have an expert here, do we, Exigo thought grumpily). "Very popular in Til Amon, a Bard here invented it, I believe."

The young woman stared at the stone.

"What does it do?"

He winked.

"Observe."

He made sure it was steady in his palm, then leaned forward and breathed over it gently. The Mood Stone reacted almost instantly, the grey surface flickering through the whole spectrum of colours before blushing a deep, ruddy red.

"Red," the man said. "It means the holder is strong, loyal and trustworthy – and, of course, a very great Bard."

The woman gave him a lightly sarcastic look.

"So it can sense the personality of the holder?"

"Exactly."

"Only the good points?"

She had that man down pat, Exigo thought, with a barely concealed grin. The man sniffed.

"Also a bit of a quick temper…"

"Mmm?"

"Especially in politics…"

"Ah, yes…"

"The tendency to…um…keep things hidden…"

"Secrets, you mean?"

"Perhaps…Well." He put down the stone on the table again with more force than was necessary. "It's not entirely accurate."

The young woman had managed to keep a straight face up until this point, but now broke into a smile that lit up the whole of her. She grasped the man's arm before he could escape and took the stone in her own hand, which was now a tranquil grey again.

"So I just breathe on it?"

"Yes."

She leaned forward, and, as the man had, breathed lightly over it. The stone flushed with different colours again, then turned a deep, dark indigo.

"Ah," the man said, leaning forward and studying it intently. "Indigo. I thought so."

"What does it mean?"

"Let's see – intellect…"

"Mm – hmm."

"Intense, powerful, complex…"

"Yes…"

"And just a little wild."

He grinned at her, causing her to be the one to scowl this time. She put the stone back on the table as forcefully as he had.

"Stupid thing."

"And, of course, it also means beauty."

She glanced up at him, surprised, but, Exigo could tell, just a little pleased.

"Really? Beauty?"

"Oh, yes. Lots and lots of beauty."

She looked back down at the grey stone again.

"Not entirely accurate, you said."

"I lied."

The scowl vanished, replaced by a new, gentle smile. The man mirrored her smile with his own, then took her hand – an almost unconscious action, Exigo noticed – and led her from the table whilst saying,

"It's almost midday, let's find a tavern for lunch – I fancy fried mushrooms, how about you - ?"

The couple vanished into the milling crowd, leaving Exigo to deal with his foolish customer again and muse.

Funny, he thought, he couldn't recall indigo meaning beauty…

Hee hee! Did you like? Did you Exigo? He was kinda sweet I thought…anyway! Review! Tell me what you thought!