Author: Patricia Miller

It was an odd commission, but no one but Grimbello Brothers had the wherewithal to pull it off. The client was quite specific as to the size and shape of a cask to hold the finest jewel in the kingdom. It had to be a masterpiece, she insisted, but more than that, it had to appeal to a particular collector of unusual taste. He wasn’t someone prone to public, ostentatious displays, but rather was a discreet connoisseur, someone whose recollection was hazy when it came to provenance, and had the means and connections to escape repercussions for the occasional questionable acquisition. Possibly she didn’t have the rights to sell this jewel to the collector, but then again, he lived far enough away that it didn’t matter.

In the generations our firm had been tapping the horde, we’d pulled out numerous stones and baubles too large, and possibly too identifiable, to sell through our usual channels. This commission would be a suitable opportunity to put them to use.

We couldn’t afford a hint of gossip, so we worked in small groups, first fabricating the cask out of imported cedar and plates of lead crystal, lined with burgundy silk velvet.

A sapphire tiara was converted into ornate hinges. Ruby bracelets became roses in the centerpiece, accented with emerald leaves recovered from a truly hideous brooch. We twisted, annealed, braided, and wound gold, silver and platinum wire into gossamer filigree webs across the top.

The last task was fabricating a cart fitted with a suspension system. After all, it wouldn’t do to have it damaged in transit, not after we’d invested more than a year to create something we hoped would last for eternity.
Then it was done. And it was stunning, exuberant, extravagant, and every other adjective which could be used to describe something so audacious in form and function. The client was thrilled, the future owner on his way. All it needed was one final component to elevate it to perfection.

She stumbled into our clearing three days later. Of course we knew who she was. We worked in a cave. We didn’t live in one. Eyes as blue as the most brilliant sapphire, lips as vivid and red as rubies, hair the color of obsidian, skin as white and luminous as the pearls which graced the handles. The tale she spun about her poor dead mother, missing father, evil stepmother and some huntsman should have softened any man’s heart.

But business was business.

We don’t know what was in the apple, but for a small percentage, Grimbello Brothers has been promised another one for our next commission. Seems the collector has his eyes on a blonde…