116. NaNoWriMo Day 21

15

The box laid open before them, its contents visible for the first time in a thousand years.

Rayna let out a long, sharp whistle at the sight of the emerald-green slabs of discs that were stacked on top of each other within the box. Some of them had visible cracks, and some of them were downright broken into pieces, but there was no doubt about the price that they would fetch in the marketplace.

‘Look at this beauty,’ she said with amazement, lifting one jade disc the size of her palm out of the box. ‘The lost treasure – the one that never made it back to the Emperor Xuande. I mean, I can’t read these inscriptions, but I’m damn sure that it’s well-wishes of some sort to the emperor himself, kinda like a greeting card, y’know what I mean?’

He honestly didn’t.

She flipped the jade disc around, examining it from every angle. Her fingers lightly traced the edges, a look of breathtaken awe upon her face. It was hard to tell in the harsh sunlight, but there were chinese characters embossed from the smooth green surface, surrounding a square hole in the center of the disc.

‘This,’ she held the disc up for the Swordsman to see. ‘This, if you sell it right, will feed you for the rest of your life. Consider it my gift to you, y’know, for what you did on the airship and all. Ah hell, take another one – there’s plenty to go around!’

With that, she brought out another jade disc from the box and tossed them both over, and he caught them. ‘What am I to do with these things?’ he asked.

‘Sell them,’ she said, ‘Decorate your wall at home with them, feed them to a crocodile. They’re yours now; do whatever the hell you want to do with them.’

‘I have no use for them,’ the Swordsman said. ‘They are nothing more than stones to me. Dead weight.’

Rayna, who had been busy choosing unbroken discs from the box, looked up at him. ‘Take my advice, Stubs,’ she said, ‘And keep them dead weight. You’ll thank me later on.’

He did in fact thank her later on for insisting that he kept the jade discs, though not for the reasons either one of them had imagined at that time.

16

‘Hurry up man, what’s taking so long?’

Damien glared daggers at Sonny, and this seemed to shut him up for now. Just to hammer the point in, Damien hissed through gritted teeth: ‘Shut. Up.’

His concentration was intense as he worked at the lock with the lockpick that he had torn out of the bottom of his jacket. He knew that he would need it one day, despite everyone else’s opinion that he was too paranoid for his own good. That day has finally come, and they can all swallow their words.

Better to have and don’t need than to need and don’t have.

CLICK!

He didn’t break the lock, but he had managed to unlatch it, which was kind of the same thing in the way that it suited his purpose. Damien carefully pushed against the gate, and it swung open with a creak.

‘Yeah!’ Sonny cheered from the cage opposite him. ‘Yeah, Damien! Come on, get me out of this thing and we can go and get them good!’

Damien briefly considered just leaving Sonny where he was. Sonny was, after all, less annoying when one couldn’t hear him speak. Ultimately deciding, however, that Sonny was more useful than annoying in light of the hijacking, Damien freed his lockpick from the keyhole and tossed them into Sonny’s cage.

‘Wha-? Hey – hey! Damien! Where you going? I don’t know how to do this thing?’

‘Figure it out,’ was all Damien said as he left the cargo hold.

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