126 An Unusual Gemstone*
Griffith Token was Jeremiah's Uncle. To put it simply, they had an understanding. Griffith wouldn't bother Jeremiah unless necessary, and Jeremiah would continue to work as a Merchant Captain was Token Trading. It was a win-win. Still, Griffith was a bit more for familial bonds than Jeremiah's free spirit. As such, despite Jeremiah's repeated attempts to escape his responsibilities beyond the Miranda, Jeremiah usually ended up playing right into Griffith's palm.
"Really, Jeremiah?" asked Griffith as he cut into the steak placed before him, "The least you could do is attempt small talk. We haven't seen each other in years".
Jeremiah sighed as he half-heartedly cut into his own meal, "Perhaps those years apart should have been an indication of how much I detest small talk. I know you brought me here for a reason, Uncle, out with it".
"Uncle?" asked Griffith with a small smile, "Attempting to butter me up so I'll let you off easier? You haven't called me Uncle since you were a child".
Jeremiah rolled his eyes, "Fine, President".
Griffith frowned, "Now that's too formal for our connections".
Jeremiah dropped his cutlery and leaned back, "Why don't you quit avoiding the subject you actually called me to discuss and get to it".
The corner of Griffith's mouth twitched teasingly, "Straight to the point as always, you're no fun Little Jerry".
Jeremiah's eyes narrowed at the detestable nickname. He'd been determined to be rid of it when he was five. He was nearly fifty now, and the only one that held onto it was this Uncle. It was no wonder Jeremiah barely saw him.
Placing his own cutlery down and wiping his mouth, Griffith sat back and raised a hand at the servant nearby.
"Very well, down to business it is," Griffith said, "In your travels, Jeremiah, have you heard of the Vanguard?"
Jeremiah's brow furrowed, and he shook his head, "What of them?"
"They are relatively new, so it's not surprise you haven't heard of them," Griffith replied, "In addition, they were established amongst the Dwarven People. Quite frankly that alone would be enough to keep their name in whispers alone considering how recluse Dwarves tend to be, but I doubt that will be the case much longer considering what they deal in".
The Servant returned with a wooden chest about a half metre in length and width. He placed it on the table before Griffith who opened the chest without ceremony and turned it to face Jeremiah.
On the inside was a pair of large daggers, simply made apart from one major difference, at the end of each of their hilts was a clear gemstone about the size of a grape. At first, Jeremiah thought it was a Diamond, but Diamonds reflected light. These stones seemed to be catching and trapping the light. If that was even possible.
Griffith indicated for Jeremiah to pick one up.
"Both handmade, the only ones the entire Token Trading Company was able to get their hands on. In short, they're weapons, but with a catch," Griffith said, he picked the remaining dagger up, and then seemed to flick a small latch of some sort on the handle. The clear gem turned a milky white, then a light grey before Griffith turned to the wall behind him and cut the air before him with the dagger. An arch of lightning spread from the dagger, stricking the wall in an almighty crack that echoed in the large dining hall. When the lightning faded, burn marks from the lightning stricks appeared scattered across the wall, a couple of which had started fires which the servants quickly put out.
Griffith slowly turned back to Jeremiah who stood in shock. If one dagger could do that much damage...
"We bought them to dicover the method, but from what we've been able to ascertain so far. We know only that the gem stones are a unqiue type of crystal that is often mistaken for diamond. There are quite a few companies that have made profits from it in the past by selling it as cheaper versions of high priced jewellery," Griffith admitted, "Though the Dwarves seemed to have discovered this lightning essence within it, and have weaponised it. No doubt that within a decade, these Vanguard as they are called, will become a primary type of weapon".
Jeremiah's eyes hadn't left the burned and scorched wall behind Griffith.
"Is there any way to defend against it?" asked Jeremiah.
"Not that we've discovered beyond the obvious," Griffith replied, "But even a stone wall would only be able to stand so many strikes, and if the stones are applied to something as devestating as a cannon?"
Griffith shook his head as if to indicate how useless it would be to stand against such a weapon.
"So what will our stance be?" asked Jeremiah.
Griffith sighed, "Unless we can figure out a way to replicate and produce these Vanguard ourselves...we can only purchase as many as we can to prepare for anyone choosing to challenge our position".
Griffith certainly looked like he was out of his depth. Like for the first time in his long life he hadn't a clue how to handle this new type of weapon. This new threat to what his family had built.
"What of the Trade Association?" asked Jeremiah, "Surely the council won't remain quiet on this".
Griffith sighed, "It's likely most if not all of them already know of these weapons, but whether or not they themselves are trading in them, or they need a way to defend against them is still an unknown. By announcing their fear of this new weapon, they show vulnerablity. In short, I doubt any of them will bring it up unless it is for profits".
Jeremiah sighed, placing the dagger back down again.
"So you want me to purchase and look for information regarding their workmanship?" asked Jeremiah, "If they are Dwarven made there'll be a pretty tight lid on that information. My contact in Lovolon new only that a new weapon had been developed. Even then I think we're missing the main point here. This is a power that those without lifelines can weild. Isn't it right to question how that is even possible?"
"Indeed," Griffith sighed, "It is quite unsettling. If there are other gemstones that produce other elements aside from lightning, it's likely that battle-type Magicians will become less and less needed in the future".
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"Will they though?" asked Jeremiah, "I mean, as powerful as these weapons are, the weilder appears to have no control of the exact target or the level of force used. Or was that your old bones at work?"
Griffith sighed, "No, you're right, the same force is applied each time, and you can only give a general direction. These weapons are not without faults, but that does not at all diminish their worth".
Jeremiah sighed, taking a seat once more. He needed a plan. Even with the Traders festival arriving wtihin the next couple of weeks, there was no guarantee that these weapons would be available for sale. In fact, the only place they could turn up was at the Auction, and that was for everyone to see, not something that Token could monopolise even with their position.
"I can see those cogs turning, Little Jerry," Griffith said, "If you have a plan I'd be more than willing to here it".
"The completed Vanguard are indeed difficult to procure," Jeremiah said, "Not to mention that with their rarity they'll be expensive. But what of the stones?"
"Are you suggesting that we purchase the stones?" asked Griffith, "Even if we buy them all we still won't know the method for turning them into Vanguard".
"But to make Vanguard you need to stones. Clearly," Jeremiah replied, "If we monoplise the trade on the stones, we could effectively control the production of Vanguard".
"We can't monopolise something like that," Griffith sighed, "The crystal veins are more common than you'd think, and Token doesn't control mines, it only trades in finished products".
"You don't need to control the mines. You just need to control what the mines are producing," Jeremiah replied.
"Most of those traders are from the West, you aren't usually the type to stay there long for a reason," Griffith's eyes narrowed.
"I don't have to deal with them, I've got people for that," Jeremiah replied.
"Midas doesn't tolerate their guady arrogance either," Griffith replied.
Jeremiah smirked as he stood, "Other people".