Coins

By Ryan St and Charles Ferguson.

Said by one with two lazy eyes:

Coins. So much trouble for coins.

In ancient times, did you know that coins were made entirely from metals like gold and silver? Yes. It's true.

Clay coins - proper coins - were first invented by Cheneth. Makes sense, god of trade and all. Handy things, coins. You can carry them, you can string them from your belt on a leather thong, you can even wear them like jewellery, like the Elect do. They say that when a new batch of 120 coins comes out of the kiln, glazed and painted and hard, after it cools they take a hammer to one. If it breaks, the batch before and the batch after are all ruined. The Coin-Master marks them with the Omphagos, and they're taken gods-know where.

The coins that we use, everywhere in this city and the cities beyond - those coins all mean something. They mean "we agree" and "I'm telling the truth." That's why so much effort is put into making them, and why they're indestructible. Coins are like the water that we drink - they bind us together, like honor.

So when the coins you gave us started to crumbling when we were transacting with our business partners, naturally we were concerned. They do that, see, if they're not right - if they're not true coins. Then they're something else.

Or to be accurate, they hatch into something else. Something that comes from Cheneth. You could think of it as the God-King's gift.

And us? Well, we think the best person to receive Cheneth's gift is the person who made the coins-but-not-coins. Or if we can't find them, then the person who passed them on to us.

So we feed them back to them. Like this.

Oh-ho, careful now! You could've bitten off my thumb, gnashing your teeth like that. No I know they don't go down too well, but you'll get used to them. Plenty more where that one came from, isn't there?

Ousanko Lhal! Now that was a nasty vomit! You won't get rid of it like that though. Something about being inside a living body speeds up the hatching. By now, it's already starting moving around - although I don't have to tell you that, do I? Soon it'll begin to feed. Still, can't have it getting lonely. Here's another one to keep it company.

What's that? You're sorry? Yes, I'm sorry for you too. Just like I'm sorry for your mother, having such a fool for a son. Oh-ho! Look at all that blood! Quite a river you've thrown up! And is that its head I see behind your teeth? They're like that. Sometimes they'll come out one end, sometimes the other.

Now. I know it hurts, but try to think. Try to remember where the real coins are. If I believe you, I'll get Jhori there to use his hammer on you. One hit, and it'll all be over.

So where are the real coins?