Victoria and Abigail weaved their way through the crowds milling about until they found a cluster of three shops that sold weapons, armor, and magical supplies like alchemy ingredients a short distance behind the statue of the jar-holding woman they had spotted earlier. The weapons shop was named The Cutting Edge and had as its emblem a fist clutching a gleaming longsword. The magical supply shop was named Alchemist's Abode and had as its emblem a glass beaker nestled safely under a wooden roof. The armor shop was named Protective Gear and had the logo of a silver shield embossed with the cuirass of a suit of steel armor.
"Well, we found it." Abigail said to her partner with relief, pointing out the shop they needed to visit. Victoria too had despaired of finding it in any appreciable length of time before nightfall and shared Abigail's relief. Now all they had to do was walk up to the shop, go in and browse its wares, and make a purchase.
The two mages worked their way through crowds holding shopping bags and talking on iLacs until they reached Protective Gear, which was nestled in the middle of the three-shop cluster. Abigail's hand reached for the brass door handle to the wooden door of the shop and gripped it.
"Well Vic, let's hope that we can find some decent armor here. Maybe they'll have something that fits me." Abigail expressed hope before pulling the door handle. The door did not move. Abigail tried again and the door refused to open for her.
"What's this? Why won't it open?" Abigail asked Victoria, who was every bit as puzzled as the blonde. The door was locked, but they did not know why. The door to The Cutting Edge opened and a thin, wiry man with blond hair in a buzzcut stepped out. He was wearing a green tank top with olive green cargo pants and black boots; over the tank top was a black apron with The Cutting Edge name and logo.
"Hey, you guys looking for Liz?" The man asked.
"Yeah. We'd like to buy some armor from the owner of Protective Gear." Abigail answered. The man smiled and walked over to introduce himself.
"I'm Jack, the owner of The Cutting Edge. Liz is my sister. She's also the owner of Protective Gear." The man claimed. Victoria looked at him closely and observed his body language to check for signs of lying. He was being truthful to them, so the brunette relaxed.
"Do you know where your sister is?" Abigail asked Jack. Jack's face flashed a sign of worry.
"Yeah. She went to the Tri-Council City in Desierto to get supplies, but I haven't heard from her in a week. I wonder if something happened to her, something bad. Maybe Liz or her friend got mixed up with the wrong crowd." Jack answered. Again Victoria could not detect any lies coming from the man, so she kept quiet and let him talk.
"Desierto?" Abigail asked.
"Yeah. She knows a lady there named Joanna. Joanna's a transplant from here who's been a friend of ours ever since grade school. She runs an armor shop there named The Desert Defender. I'd go check with her, but my shop's so busy that I can't leave here." Jack told them. Victoria and Abigail looked at each other. They did not have much time to get ready for the mission to Sin, but they could not afford to leave Liz in the lurch if she was in trouble. They nodded... they would go to Desierto and check around for the missing armor vendor.
"We'll go look for her if you want." Abigail offered. Victoria looked at him in solidarity with Abigail.
"You'll go all the way out there for me and try to find my sister? Thanks!" Jack eagerly accepted the offer of assistance. Victoria and Abigail were embraced by the man and let it happen. He realized what he was doing and quickly let them go, then spoke to them again.
"I'd start my search in the Tri-Council City at The Desert Defender. Maybe Joanna spotted Liz. Maybe not. I wish I had more to tell you, but I don't." Jack said while he swelled with emotion that he could barely contain.
"We'll go and find her." Abigail assured him. The man was overcome with emotion and rushed back into his shop to avoid a public breakdown. The pair decided against following him and opted to leave Hargeon Town to get ready for a detour to Desierto. This detour would take valuable time that they needed to get ready to go into Sin for the final confrontation with Alexander Kerwes, but they could not leave Liz in the desert and at the mercy of Desierto's countless outlaws. They would either rescue her or bring her body back for burial.
[Word Count: 838]
[Total Word Count: 2,046/1,500]