Cero was a beautiful city, the only one of the subjugated lands to really stand up to the grandeur of Varya. Usually Stina would be straight to the Karamzina, and ready and rearing to go, but for once.... he wasn't quite feeling the need to be as rigid and on time. There was a pang in his heart, a sadness about leaving behind the glories of the homeland. The fearless beauty of civilization in the heart of this world of dead ice.
A memento, he decided. He needed to find something to remember this place by. Shopping for himself was not something Stina had ever done. On his few trips home, his mother or father inevitably found some sort of reason to drag him to some high-class tailor or cobbler or something, even if he insisted that the activity wasn't necessary. It was always an uncomfortable adventure, not in the least due to the long, awkward pauses, whichever parent brought him along simultaneously expecting him to lead the conversation, and getting frustrated at him every time he stuttered. For all their talking up of his inquisitorial school, they sure weren't very quick to accept the damage he had to take to be ready to protect Varya's great mission.
He shook his head. Too much of a focus on the past. He didn't have to get clothing anyway, he thought, as he unbuttoned his coat. heir official garb was good anyway. He wandered his way into a market square, perusing the area, looking for anything of particular interest. Stall after stall, most of them selling basic provisions. He picked up a small block of cheese along the way. The woman selling it seemed nice.
He came to the center of the square, passing by a small shop, the entrance to it squeezed between two market stalls. out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse, the first something to drive his interest. he turned to look more closely. In the window of the little shop, a bunch of rings, assumingly a jeweler's store. the one that had caught his eye was a small wooden band, the wood only covering the top and bottom forth of the ring. connecting the two wooden half-circles was a strange substance - colored resin, something with which he was not familiar - white and blue, capturing perfectly the look of ice. He walked inside, stooping to make it through the doorframe, to take a closer look.
"an aether ring. That's what that is." a man, wrinkled, hunched, and at least two feet shorter than Stina came up beside him. "Or at least that's what I was told when I bought it meself. Woman came through, seemed a bit out of sorts. Said her husband had died, was looking for ways to keep the kids fed, was selling off some of his old stuff. She said he wore it in his years in the army, was supposed to enhance his inner aether. 'Course, he wasn't an inquisitor or anything like you are, sir, so I personally doubt he would have noticed the difference if it did help." Stina smiled at the respect the old man gave him. The shop owner reached out to Stina's hand, and he obliged, giving over the ring. "It is quite beautiful, is it not?" he said, and both silently contemplated the object for a few seconds.
"'Course now I work in metals, got plenty of rings in here where I can tell you just how I put 'em together. That's a good thing, ya know, since I gotta teach my grandson how to do this before I go on to whatever's next. His pa ain't no good, but he's a good kid, respects his elders, and his betters." He pauses for a moment, regathering his train of thought. "oh yes. I can tell you all the ways someone can put together a ring outta metal, but wood? first ya gotta find that stuff, and then he's added in this blue stuff in between. Iffn I wasn't a ringmaker meself I could see how someone would think it magic. At any rate, that's why it's more expensive than the others. Kinda partial to it meself, too," he said, handing the ring back.
Stina smiled. "I leave soon, a-a-a-and it may be a long time before I return. I.....I will remember you, and I wiiiiiiill remember the glory of Varya's cities, and the strange beauties you can find even in-in their smallest corners." He pulled out his coin purse, payed, and took the ring for himself. "May......y-... you bask in Varya's hunger" he said as he left. Surprisingly, it managed to fit his pinky perfectly - he realized after the fact that he hadn't even bothered to try it on, something he really should have done considering how much larger his hands were than the average individual. He smiled. He didn't feel any changes to his aether, but he did feel his purpose returning, and he strode confidently to The Forge.