Blondel 10

“They say it is magical,” Sylvia added.

“They lie.”

Blondel handed the piece to Grat, who turned it in his big hands, not really knowing what to make of it. “The centerpiece is sapphire,” Blondel said, “but of very inferior quality. The surrounding gems are emeralds of some value, though small. It would bring perhaps a hundred crowns on the black market; maybe thrice that if one could establish unencumbered ownership.”

Grat weighed the piece in his hand. “A hundred crowns? I doubt if I’ve made that in the last ten years. “

Blondel reached out for the brooch and Grat hesitated before returning it. Sylvia was beginning to look worried. “Aye,” Blondel said, “those outlaws would chase us to Hell for it.”

He continued to stare at the brooch, and Sylvia reached out saying, “Give it back.”

He shook his head and said, “Bide a moment. I have an idea. If this were left on the trail for the outlaws to find, all pursuit would cease.”

“Now just a minute!” Sylvia said, reaching for the brooch again. Blondel drew it back and Grat moved menacingly toward him.

Stop!

Sylvia froze, looking foolish, and Grat eased back on his haunches again. When Blondel chose to stop playing and project his will, his voice became a weapon of no small value. Even the crickets in the grass beyond the fire had fallen silent.

“It would not be necessary to leave the brooch, of course,” Blondel continued. “Only to make them think that we had.”

“How?“

“By creating a doppelganger of it.”

“You can‘t do that,” Sylvia snapped.

“No? I can‘t talk to foxes either, can I?”

She subsided. Blondel closed his hands about the brooch, bent forward and began to croon in a language strange to his companions. Grat felt the hairs on his neck begin to rise and reached for Sylvia‘s hand. She let him take it.

Ten minutes later, Blondel’s voice died away and he raised his head, stretched the muscles of his neck and opened his hands. Two identical brooches lay there. He handed one back to Sylvia and placed the other prominently near the fire. She turned the brooch in her fingers, examining it minutely. Blondel only smiled and said, “Let‘s go.” more tomorrow

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