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 Chapter Two - I Can Move Mountains

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Paloma

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PostSubject: Chapter Two - I Can Move Mountains   Sun Feb 28, 2016 3:54 pm



Chapter Two
I Can Move Mountains


“I'd rather not have to work hard for anything, but sometimes I guess it's unavoidable...”

Job Info:
 

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The Salty Jackal
Magnolia Town

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The Salty Jackal, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Paloma couldn't have been more out of place here even if she tried. Already, she could feel the gazes of several... unsavoury individuals fixated on her. She tried to ignore them, but was finding it increasingly difficult to keep her temper under control. “I'll pluck those orbs out and feed them to the pigeons,” she thought, grinding her teeth viciously.

Her purpose for coming here was simple. She needed to earn some jewels, and unfortunately her options were extremely limited. A day had passed since her arrival in Magnolia. The Rune Knights who helped her against the bird monster had gotten her a free bed for the night at one of the inns, but if she wanted long-term accommodation, she would have to pay her own way. It wasn't a prospect she was happy with, and had she been back in her home land, she would undoubtedly have started flipping tables. But she took heed of what the Rune Knight's leader had told her. “So long as you stay out of trouble, you'll be fine.”

She didn't relish the idea of spending her time here locked in a cell.

She propped herself up on the bar with her hands beneath her chin, idly puffing away at her kiseru. One of the Rune Knights was kind enough to supply her with a little extra tobacco. She ignored the bartender's offer to take her order. Even if she wanted to, she couldn't afford even a single drink. With a tired sigh, she began drumming her fingers on the counter impatiently. Dante was supposed to be here by now.

After what felt like an age, the door burst open and in stepped the man she was waiting for. A shock of black hair framed his blocky features. Paloma looked him up and down, taking in his measure. “He's a weakling,” she thought right off the bat.

As if to demonstrate this conclusion, Dante very nearly toppled over after merely brushing shoulders with one of the other patrons. “Watch it!” the stockier man growled, raising his hand in a threatening back-handed gesture that caused Dante to flinch.

Paloma rolled her eyes and stepped over to him. She stood over him, arms folded across her chest and a sceptical expression over her face. He smiled up at her nervously. “Miss Wren?” he asked.

Paloma nodded. “That would be me,” she said, billowing a cloud of tobacco smoke through her nostrils.

Dante got to his feet and dusted off the jacket he was wearing before extending his hand for Paloma to shake. “It's a pleasure to meet you,” he said.

Paloma ignored the proffered hand. “I was told you were looking for some hired help,” she said.

Dante clapped his hands awkwardly. “Yes,” he said. “I'm after a figurine...”

“A figurine?”

“Yes, a figurine. I'm a collector,” Dante explained, a little too proudly. “Famous People and Places! And I need you to find the rare Mount Hakobe figurine for me. I am certain one of the merchants here has it, but they, er... have it in for me.”

“Okay,” Paloma said. “So how much will I be getting for this?”

“Three thousand,” Dante replied. “I'll give you an extra four hundred for the transaction, and if you get it for less, you can keep the change!”

Paloma was already thinking about how she could obtain this toy for free. “Alright, I'll do it,” she said.

With that, she set off, grateful to escape the dingy pub. The streets were still busy. The sun had passed its apex, and was now slowly sinking towards the west, but it was still lovely and warm out. A gentle breeze teased at the loose fronds of her hair and she took a moment to breathe in the smell wafting from the food stalls. Her stomach growled loudly, causing a couple of people passing by to look at her in alarm. She grinned awkwardly at them and continued on her way, deciding to first check the local thrift shops. An item such as what Dante wants would not be found in a general goods store; it would be somewhere that caters to a far more niche market. Paloma was already hating this job.

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Magnolia Town
Business District

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Her first port of call was Hawkin's Bazaar. It was hard to miss, thanks to the rainbow-coloured sign that stuck out like a sore thumb, not to mention the heaps of junk piled outside. Clockwork soldiers, old books... Paloma wrinkled her nose in disgust as she took a closer of the dust-covered items.

“Hey! Don't touch any of that unless you plan on buying it!” came a gruff voice from the window, startling Paloma.

She turned to look at the monocled man who had his head poking out of the window. “Excuse me?” she asked, blinking in mild surprise.

“Those are valuable antiques! If you damage any of it, you're paying for it!” the man replied.

“Huh... okay,” Paloma shrugged.

She stepped inside, only to be greeted by chaos. If the shop looked messy from the outside, then inside looked like an explosive had been set off. How anyone could find anything in this catastrophe was beyond her. “Well?” the man asked, squinting at her through his monocle. “Can I help you?”

“I am looking for a certain item...” Paloma said. “A collectible, from the... Famous People and Places figurine collection?”

The shopkeeper grinned, revealing several missing teeth. “I once had that whole series in my store,” he said proudly as he rummaged under the counter and produced a series of sculptures. “Now, however... all I've got is Fiore Magic Council HQ, our very own Kardia Cathedral, annnnd... our oh so wonderful Royal Family.”

Paloma shook her head. “Do you know where I can find the Mount Hakobe figurine?” she asked.

“Afraid not, missy,” the shopkeeper said. “Might want to go check in the other stores though. Emily's Treasures or Funky Munky are both competitors of mine... friendly, of course. If anyone has it, it'll be them.”

“Thanks,” Paloma said. “Where can I find those shops?”

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An hour and a half later, Paloma once more stepped out onto the streets of Magnolia Town, still not any closer to finding this figurine. Neither Emily's Treasures, nor Funky Munky were of any help, and she was beginning to think that this job was nothing more than a wild goose chase. She was just about to call it quits and look for another job, when her attention was drawn to a wrapped bundle that an old lady was carrying. It was hard to mistake the sculpture that was poking out from beneath the cloth wrap. Paloma felt like christmas had come early. “Excuse me,” she said, approaching the lady.

“Oh, hello dear,” the old lady replied kindly. “Wonderful afternoon, isn't it?”

“Yes it is, ma'am,” Paloma said, bowing respectfully. “I couldn't help but notice that ornament you were carrying...”

“Oh this?” the lady asked, unwrapping the bundle and showing the Mount Hakobe figurine to Paloma. “I was about to go and give this to Emily. That strange woman is always on the lookout for things like this, but for the life of me I can't understand why.”
“My mother owned one just like it,” Paloma lied, putting on a saddened expression. “Just looking at it brings back a lot of memories.”

“Oh, I'm sorry dear,” the old lady said, looking equally distraught. “Do you live with other family?”

Paloma shook her head. “I stay at the cathedral when they can put me up,” she said. “Other than that, I'm left to fend for myself.”

“You poor thing!”

“I'm sorry to put a dampener on your mood,” Paloma said, turning away in a sheepish manner. “Good day, ma'am.”

She made as if to take her leave, but she knew that she had caught the old lady in her web of deceit. “Wait,” the old lady said.

Paloma turned around, putting on an expression that suggested she was feeling very sorry for herself.

“I know it's not much,” the old lady continued. “But I have no use for this ornament. If it reminds you of your mother, I think I would prefer that you have it, rather than some antique dealer try to make a profit from it.”

“No really, you don't have to,” Paloma said in mock sincerity. =

“Don't be silly now, you can have it.”

Paloma accepted the figurine and made a pretence of crying. “Thank you so much,” she said, bowing repeatedly.

“Think nothing of it,” the old lady said, waving her hand dismissively. “I'm just glad to have done something to make life a little better for someone. You look after yourself now.”

The old lady turned and took her leave. Paloma grinned slyly. “You certainly did make life a little better for me, old lady,” she murmured. “But not in the way you think!”

She tossed the mountain figurine lightly in the palm of her hand and chuckled to herself. “Mission accomplished,” she said, feeling more than a little smug about her achievement.

She made her way back to the Salty Jackal to find Dante and get her payment.

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Job Completed!
Word Count: 1547
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