When Miss Rushlight's box had mostly burned away I reached into the fireplace with a pair of tongs and pulled out the small metallic object shining in the fire. I set it down on the flagstone in front of the fireplace and knelt down to have a good look.
It was a gold ring.
I picked away the smouldering, blackened bits of the box and threw them back into the fire. When I noticed some glowing red lines etched into the ring I leaned close to get a good look and got my first surprise. I expected the ring to radiate heat after being in the fireplace for an hour, but it didn't. I gingerly reached out to touch it and found it as cold as ice. I picked it up and studied the glowing lines.
Someone who had studied calligraphy under a master had etched words into the inner and outer surfaces of the ring in gorgeous, flowing Fëanorian script. The language was unfamiliar, but it was an ugly one. Trying to speak it would be like trying to gargle brier thorns.
Surprise number two came quickly. While I was staring at it, the glowing red words faded away, and I was left with what looked like a plain gold ring. I proceeded to utter the most vile curse word in my formidable arsenal of profanity:
Varda's crown, but I hated magic. It was guaranteed to make a simple case complicated and a complicated case impossible. If' I'd known what Miss Rushlight was getting me mixed up in, I would have told her what she could do with her "parcel".
And the worst thing about magic is that it's sticky. Now that I had accepted Miss Rushlight's money and taken possession of her "parcel", I was bound to it. I could leave it here on the floor in this room in the Green Dragon and walk away, and as sure as Yavanna made little green apples, within a week it would find its way back into my life, bringing ten times as much trouble as before.
I was trapped, but good. The only thing to do was to deal with the mess I had been handed the best way I could. With a sigh, I picked up the ring and slipped it into the pocket of my vest. The damned thing already seemed as heavy as a horseshoe; I could feel it weighing me down as I stood up.
I grabbed my trenchcoat where it had been drying by the fire and put it on. It was time to go see Bywater's resident expert on magic.
It was time to see Doc Gandalf.