Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sandra Costello and the Spirit King, Part Three

Sandra was still blushing as she stood behind the counter, watching the man look over her various odds and ends as he hummed quietly to himself. The fact that she’d been caught at such an emotional time, and by a customer!

Stupid Cloud… stupid Marissa… stupid day! She growled mentally at herself, her hands folded down over her dress, the ring given to her by Cloud now firmly resting in her apron’s pocket, where it would sit until she had time to stew over the situation with her possible ex-boyfriend. She was pulled from her thoughts when the man approached her, his shadow blocking her sight of the door.
“Yes?” She said, as if in greeting. “Have you found a selection that you would like?”
“I think so… tell me, what is the enchantment you have on the battle-axe hanging over there, next to the rack of claymores?”
Sandra’s eyebrows rose at that. To even notice an enchantment upon a blade took some level of familiarity with magical items. She hadn’t known her Master’s tea set magically kept fluids warm until she was fifteen!
He had just mocked her upon realizing her ignorance, before sending her to clean.
“Familiar with enchantments are you? Well, that tool has a layering of extra-sharpness and increased durability. It also comes with a curse that makes wounds it deals difficult to heal, even magically.”
“And you have the skill to replicate these effects?” He asked, sounding impressed.
Sandra stood straight, her chest out with a grin on her face. “I enchanted that axe myself after studying one in my Master’s home, so I’m certain I could do it again.”
“How much?” The man asked, unsheathing his broadsword, laying it slowly down on the countertop.
Sandra waved her hands over the blade, pulling on it’s magic to see what it had woven into it. The magic was course, the enchanting weak… someone unskilled had made this weapon, that or they did it in a hurry. The blade was already enchanted to be self-cleaning and sharpening, with an added bonus of conjuring a trio of arrows in a ranged barrage from the tip of the blade. The arrows were crudely made, and probably didn’t get much distance, but the style in which that enchantment was inlaid upon the blade was intriguing.
She looked up at the man, who was merely watching her with interest. “While the sword is finely crafted, the enchantments on it are weak and poorly stitched together. I would say if they aren’t tended to they’ll break down within the next year.”
“Oh, I had no idea. I found this sword in the crypt of an old crusader while my groups resident wizard was looking for a staff he believed to be buried there.” The man explained, rubbing the back of his head. “There were a fair number of Orcs there, and one of them was using this. When Gregory, our wizard, told me it was magical I just assumed it would be a fine weapon.”
“And it is, especially if an Orc had it,” Sandra said, trying to sound knowledgeable. “But the fact remains the enchantments are weak. Anything I lay onto this blade will ruin what you already have unless I repair the enchantments first.”
“How much would that cost?” He asked, sounding a little suspicious.
“If you let me keep the blade overnight to copy the arrow-launching enchantment, then I’ll do the repair work for fifteen crowns.” She offered firmly, knowing it to be a fairly steep price. One thing she’d learned, and even been complimented by her Master on, was her ability to haggle and sell, buy and trade.
It was what she’d done for the shop, and for the manor, since she was twelve. She’d been forced to learn fast.
“Fifteen… that sounds fair. How much for the actual enchantments I want?” He said without missing a beat, causing Sandra’s jaw to drop slightly. Paying fifteen crowns without an attempt to haggle! Oh, this man was going to be a gold mine if Sandra had the right feeling about him.
“I can offer you an unbreakable enchantment that I can bind all the others together with once I’m done, and make it to where you’ll never need to worry about the magical upkeep of this sword again, if you’d like?”
The man smiled and shook his head slightly. “And why would I want that when I have a wizard at my beck and call that can maintain my weapons?”
Sandra decided to do a hard sell on this guy. “I suppose you don’t need it… I was just offering, seeing as your wizard didn’t see the damage done to the spellwork on this blade when he examined it for you. Any apprentice should be able to spot these kinds of things. I should know… I’m an apprentice.”
“You’re an apprentice?” He said, sounding surprised. “What’s your name girl?”
“Sandra, Sandra Costello.” She replied, holding out a hand to him. He took it and shook it firmly in his own massive hands.
“Ignatius Silvervein,” he introduced himself, patting his breastplate firmly, showing off a symbol embossed onto the metal that must have been his family insignia. “Most people just call me Silver though.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Silver,” Sandra said, bowing low at the waist.
He looked at her for a moment, causing her to blush when she realized she hadn’t curtseyed like young ladies of the world would normally do. He nodded slowly, before surprising her and bowing back.
“You are a unique girl Sandra,” he said, brushing back his tangle of hair, scratching for a moment. “So tell me, how much am I going to lose to you in total today for what I want?”
Sandra schooled her features and smiled, reaching out to lift the heavy blade. “For what you want, along with the extra features I’m offering and the repairs I’m doing… sixty-five crowns in total.”
Silver just stared at her after her announcement, causing her to sweat a little, before going for his coin pouch. He untied it from his belt and held it in one hand, tossing it up and down a few times.
“And how much would it be to hire you out as a personal wizard?” He asked, shocking her into silence.
Stammering out a reply, Sandra told him that she was an apprentice, and wasn’t allowed to practice magic outside of the bonds of her agreement with her Master. This didn’t seem to phase him.
“I have a wizard already on the payroll, a man who claims to tug on the strings of magic to rain down fire on enemies from above. Already you have proven that you know more academically than he does. What if I were to get you to train under him, to learn more than just the art of enchanting, and have you come with us to ply your trade wherever we went within the empire?”
“I-I don’t know… my Master is old and needs my care, I don’t think he would just give me up quite like that…” Sandra stuttered, one of her hands coming up to her face, holding her flushing cheek in her palm. “He would most definitely have words with me if I even brought the subject up.”
“That’s a shame… let me pay for this and leave you where I’m staying, just in case you change your mind.” He laid down the bag of crowns and reached for a scrap of parchment. He asked if he could borrow a quill and ink, to which Sandra hurried to get. He scribbled down the information before setting the quill down.
“Thank you Silver, it is a most intriguing offer… but I just don’t know…” She said, taking the bag and pulling it towards her.
“Well, you have a whole week to think on it; Gregory needs some time to scribe himself a few scrolls, and to piece together a ruined staff we found that he swears belonged to St. Dupont.” Silver smiled. “That pouch has ninety crowns in it. Just think of the extra as a bonus for impressing an old knight, or as an advance on your pay for working for me.”
“Thank you, I really don’t know what to say…” Sandra said, looking down at the bag in wonder. An extra twenty-five crowns! She could cover the cost to maintain the manor for a half a year with that kind of money.
“Just tell me you’ll do a good job on my sword, and I’ll be happy.” Silver replied.
“I’ll do a great job on your sword!” She gushed, looking over the old blade carefully. “Could you leave the sheathe for it?”
“Sure,” he replied, unbuckling the sheath from around his waist, laying it on the tabletop in a heap. “Easier to carry a sheathed sword around town, I can understand that.”
“Good. Just come back here tomorrow around the same time and your sword will be in tip-top shape!” Sandra enthused, clapping her hands.
Silver laughed. “Well, the Knights of the Blue Cross thank you, as that blade is meant to replace my old Journeyman blade.”
“You used a Journeyman blade for so long?” Sandra asked, slightly surprised.
Silver shrugged. “It worked for me, and I kept it clean and sharp.”
“I imagine!” Sandra exclaimed, thinking of how old Silver must be, and to back when he was an apprentice-becoming-a-Journeyman. “If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you acted as a Journeyman?”
“I earned my Journeyman’s papers back during Lion’s War, so going on seventeen years or so.” Silver laughed.
“Wow, you actually fought in Lion’s War?” Sandra said, enthralled at the idea.
“Yup, I helped Albuan maintain its freedom in the face of Prince Mathias Lionel’s armies. Was even there in the battle where he suffered the fatal lance wound that led to his death.” Silver bragged, smiling at Sandra’s starry-eyed look of wonder. Laughing, he pushed the scrap of paper across the countertop. “If you ever want to hear war stories, I tell them all the time when my crew and I are hunting down artifacts from bygone eras.”
“Maybe I’ll stop by the inn you’re staying at and join you for a drink or a meal,” Sandra offered, a smile playing at the edge of her lips.
“Trying to make the young soldier in your life a little jealous?” Silver asked, smiling as Sandra blushed. “Relax, I can understand the desire to make him squirm a little bit, but should you come to my inn I want it to be to join my war party. I’ll entertain you with tales of the wide, wide world while we’re exploring it.”
“I… I’ll have to consider your offer,” Sandra finally said after moments of amiable silence. The old soldier left her shop leaving her in a far better mood than when the young soldier had left. Sandra took Cloud’s abandoned sword and shield, tucking them behind the counter to be handled whenever she felt she could face the young squire. Right now she was a mixture of emotions, none of which she was ready to deal with as she would have to deal with her Master when she got home.
After all, she’d made ninety crowns today; he was bound to be pleased with her performance, but more than unruly about her plan to ask for her Journeyman papers to be signed early.
After all, maybe she could leave this city once and for all if she only had the bravery to ask.  

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