If you are wondering, which I bet you aren’t, I cut off at 15 minutes because I have to go to work. Except on days when I don’t have to go to work.
The box fit into the palm of his hand. The carving on the lid didn’t mean anything to him, it looked decorative and geometric. He slid his thumb across the face of the box, looking for a way to open it without prying. His thumb tingled and the lid opened smoothly.
Inside, on a bed of dark velvet, lay a shiny ring. It had a filigree top holding a good sized diamond, or at least, a shiny bit of rock. He picked it up to show it to the light, which took that moment to flicker. The rock flashed. The ring was heavier than he expected. A woman’s ring, it was made out of silver, or platinum, maybe white gold. He turned it in his fingers, and watched the cut of the gem catch the light. He considered the color – no hint, clarity – which he couldn’t really examine in these conditions, but it didn’t seem to be cloudy, and cut – multifaceted with many edges; a fancy cut like the ones that were coming out of the south these days.
The torch sputtered, putting off a greasy smoke and the smell of creosote. He decided to he’d take this piece too.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” a raspy voice said from behind him.
His whole body jerked, and his heart went from a sedate walk to a full gallop. He took a deliberate breath and turned his head.
At the entrance stood a man with a crossbow in his hand. He was dressed in a black coat with tails, and had a white cravat secured with a gold brooch that had a dark stone set into it. He had very pale skin and strange eyes that seemed to flash in the torch’s weak light.
“Yes, it is. Silver?”
“Platinum and diamond. I call it a soulweb. You can keep it if you want. I have several more. In fact, each chest has one.”
“Thank you, that’s very kind.”
“But it’s not what you’re here for, is it?”
“No. Actually, I’m looking for a book.”
“In a vault? I’d think you’d have better luck in the library.”
“My source said it was in here. But I suppose you would know.”
As the man was speaking, he tried to turn more fully to face him. He couldn’t. His feet and legs were stuck. The ring seemed to grow heavier.
“A soulweb? What does it do?”
The man lay the loaded crossbow down, still pointing in his direction and glided forward. His sudden smile showed yellowed teeth and two snakelike fangs.
The torch died.