The pedlar picked up the shell, and returned it to its place in his pack.

Then—swiftly—he searched the elf’s body, removing his elegant white knives, taking the pouch from his waist, tipping its contents into his palm, and pocketing the coins, cutting the fastenings from his silken tunic and stowing them, finding a silver chain about his neck and ripping it free.

The pedlar paused and, frowning, held the chain up to the light. A fancy elven locket, shaped like a crystal shard, dangled at its end, and it seemed to him that the thing was speaking to him, daring him to open it.

He considered this for a moment, watching the afternoon sunlight glance off its polished facets.

Then he shoved it in his pocket.

A second search told him that the body was clean.

Reasonably satisfied with his haul, the pedlar took up one of his flasks, uncorked it, raised it to his lips and, throwing back his head, swallowed its contents.

Then he closed up his pack, tied it securely, heaved it onto his shoulders, and set off.




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