Thursday, 5 September 2013

Slashing Prices

  “Lukki!” Called the blacksmith. She was a wizened, short, twisted character, her gnarled, wrinkled and tanned skin made her look more like a tree than any recognisable race. “Lukki, you lazy oath, fetch the duke his new sword.”

  A creature nearly as deformed as his mistress darted out of the back room and passed a long, cloth-wrapped package to the waiting nobleman, then quickly scurried to where he had come from, narrowly dodging a blow the blacksmith had aimed for his head. Duke Talic carefully undid a leather tie and unfolded the cloth, inside was a weapon the like of which he had never seen.

  Set in the centre of the weapon was a long shard of crystal, two thirds of its length, it ran through the hand guard, the grip and into the pommel. The metal itself gleamed like polished silver, it felt cold to the touch. The duke noticed his emblem of a leaping wolf had been incorporated into the design of the cross guard.

  Duke Talic hefted the sword experimentally, it was lighter than it looked. He took a few practice swings, the balance was such that the four foot blade was usable in one hand if required, in two hands it felt supremely powerful. He let his accustomed scowl break into a grin.

  “Truly this is a weapon that will help me fulfil my dream of uniting the provinces and forging an empire to stand the test of time.” The duke intoned in awe.

  “Its composed mainly of meteoric iron, alloyed with moonsteel for lightness. The crystal is a shard from the diamond stalactites of the Cave of the Eternals, it absorbs the souls of your foes and adds them to your strength. The grip is hippogryph leather tanned by the elves, which is kind to your skin.” The blacksmith explained. “There is no other sword like it.”

  “Unfortunately, I must make sure it stays that way.” The duke raised the sword. “I cannot allow the possibility that you forge another blade of this power for fear that it falls into the hands of one of my enemies. Its first victim must be its maker.”

  The duke leaped forwards, but was met by a sudden and deadly flow of liquid metal from a vat in the ceiling of the smithy. He screamed as the glowing alloy burned into and through his skin, collapsing into a heap of pungent barbecue and cooling, hissing metal.

  “Not another one.” Moaned the blacksmith. “Who do they think I am? I'm the worlds greatest blacksmith, not the worlds most gullible fool. Lukki, get back in here! What is it about some people that they can't just pay up and get on with slaughtering their foe of choice and fucking off to fulfil their sodding destinies? What a bloody mess. I blame the economy, the sooner the gods remove the tithe on holy blessings and divine interventions the sooner people will start investing their money in crusades and quests.”

  She retrieved the sword from the dead duke and passed it to her cowering apprentice.

  “Now, my boy, you take that thing and throw it in a volcano. And no shirking this time, I don't want to find out you've just left it stuck in a rock somewhere, hidden it at the bottom of a dungeon or traded it with some bint in a pond for a kiss again, alright? Now, go!”

  Lukki made it out the door, sidestepping the sorry pile on the floor and avoiding a badly-aimed kick up the arse.

  “Okay, I'll clean that up when it cools down. What's next on the orders list?” She unfurled a parchment. “Aha! Tall, bearded Scandinavian, loves goats, oak trees, and lightning, dislikes serpents, looking for hammer to level mountains and generally have a smashing time. Well, at least hammer wielders pay their bills.”

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