Gonna work to get Part 2 out before this weekend. Enjoy this chapter. Writing category looking pretty dry right now. BNT literally carrying.
In the midst of the frenzy of the moving crowd, the wizards were split up into their own respective groups. It was never unusual for them to stick to their crowds. But in this moment, a sense of loneliness befell upon Kaleigh. He found himself staring into space, his eyes slowly blurring, as if his face had been plastered with his own mud.
“Like what’cha see?” A low voice called out. Kaleigh snapped back to reality and jerked his view to the man behind him.
“I’ll let you try a few out, kid. Just be careful to stay clear of the path. Don’t want another incident around here. Can’t have myself being kicked out right?” Sounds of clanging metal drowned out portions of his sentence as he spoke. Even while speaking, his attention was never diverted from his craft. He continued to hammer away at the molten metal. Unbothered by the amount of sweat that drenched his apron and gloves.
“You’re…a blacksmith?” asked Kaleigh. It then hit him that he’d asked an obvious question.
“What do I look like to you, some fishmonger? Where’s my hook and line kid? My bucket of worms? Only got metal and fire here. Now, are ya gonna pick a weapon?”
“No, sorry sir! I was just looking around!” Kaleigh fiddled with his thumbs and shifted in place. He felt isolated, as he literally was. People swarmed around the open area, shaded by a large tarp held up by thin poles.
“Have ya even wielded a blade before son?” asked the blacksmith. He finally looked up from the anvil. Kaleigh noticed his large beer gut, and a dirty beard. Uneven, and covered in ash.
“No, I haven’t. In fact, I’ve never even touched a blade.” Kaleigh said quietly, yet smoothly. Serenity flowed through him. Someone had managed to enter into his isolated world. Now, it was just him and the blacksmith, and the blades around them. He smiled.
“Never touched a blade you say? How ‘bout we change that?” The blacksmith held his hand out for Kaleigh to shake. “Name’s Veibar.” Kaleigh shook the soot-covered glove. Veibar held a tight grip, and shook rigorously, causing Kaleigh to wince at the pain.
“Well, putting my latest project aside, I’ll give ya my most recent craft.” Veibar walked over to the weapon stand, taking a steel short sword out of its place. “Ya see, this one’s quite special. Forged it from arcanium.”
“Arcanium?” Sorry old guy, I come from an isolated island.
“Ya really don’t know much huh?” Veibar sighed, yet looked pleased. He faced Kaleigh with a heated grin. “Sit down on my stool boy!” Kaleigh did as he was told, as uncomfortable as it was. The moisture on the stool leaked through his ruined garments. Left behind from Veibar’s sweat. Kaleigh hoped to think no further of it, and focus on the smith’s next words.
“Arcanium is a special metal, that allows conductivity of magic energy. Meaning, ya can cast some spells with these weapons here! Popular with wizards, but not so easy to come across.” Veibar presented the blade to Kaleigh. He reached out to grab it–but Veibar pulled it back.
“Tsk. Not so fast, kid. I don’t sell these for cheap, and I never, give out for free! If ya want this, come back to me with some galleons eh!”
“Then,” Kaleigh reached into the torn pocket of his pants. Amazingly, the leather pouch filled with galleons hadn’t fallen out. Kaleigh presented the pouch to Veibar. The smith rummaged through the coins, shingling with beauty and richness.
“Ehhh, wow. This is a lot, but nowhere near enough for this weapon I’m afraid. But, I know something that this price can fetch ya.” Veibar walked off into the storage hut attached to the tarp. A minute later, he emerged with a glistening weapon. One of similar length to the short sword. But with a curved blade, and a converging tip.
“That right there, is a custom made falchion. Most are rather large and heavy. A boy your size wouldn’t be able to hold one steady with two hands. But this, it’s no arcanium weapon, but still a weapon that can cut.” Veibar went back into the shack, and emerged with the weapon’s matching scabbard. Veibar sheathed the falchion in its scabbard, and placed the weapon into Kaleigh’s arms. His arms dipped from the weight, but he mustered the strength to carry it with a single hand.
“You’re an interesting fella, and I’m quite glad you wound up here for this little chat. Take the blade as a gift. Now scram ya idiot!” Veibar flicked his wrist out, commanding Kaleigh to leave. He promptly returned back to the anvil, as if the conversation had never happened.
A long piece of fabric had been tied to the scabbard, with just enough length to wrap the scabbard around his waist. It held firm, and tight. Fitting perfectly, and comfortably, on his hip. Kaleigh walked into the light, into the crowd. Still feeling ambivalent, his strides were cautious and careful. But feeling more comfortable with each step, he carried himself with confidence, and went off to explore what more Palo Town had to offer.
Scarlett walked alone on the sand of the town. She held her leather soles in her hand, while keeping her hair out of her face with the other. The ocean breeze blew hard against her face. It reminded her of the talks she’d spent with Joyce along the coast of their island.
While the two would pick up shells, or bury each other with sand, they’d exchange anecdotes of their day as the sun set. Discuss mundane topics, or the meaning of life itself. Anything to sate their boredom. Realizing it now, the two had never thought much of the world around them. Their duties as women to the island had their full attention for the day, and left them exhausted for the night.
Now in foreign lands, Scarlett had noticed that the people saw them no different to locals. They had been treated around the same. Not out of hospitality or acceptance, but for the purpose of business. The people here were here to live and trade. Petty arguments or discrimination would prevent the flow of trade. The flow of galleons.
Joyce had left with Julius, leaving Scarlett alone, burning underneath the scorching sun. In recent times, she seemed to be less clingy towards her. Leaving Scarlett alone with her thoughts.
With the sun eating away at her back, Scarlett moved towards some shade. She rushed towards the nearest palm tree. She didn’t mind the singing of the sand. Carrying her momentum, Scarlett dropped down and slid on the sand, straight into the shade.
“Oh my!” a woman shouted. She was close by. After brushing her hair aside, Scarlett had been oblivious to another who sought refuge from the sun. Her beige dress was covered in sand.
“I’m so sorry madam! Let me help you clean up.” Scarlett immediately rushed towards her, helping her up and brushing the sand off her dress.
“Thank you so much. What’s your name, young lady?” the woman asked.
“Scarlett, madam.” Red hair blew across her face again. The woman walked up to her and gently held her by the cheek, and brushed her hair aside.
Her breath was soft and gentle like the receding waves. “Enough with the madam. Call me Mavis.” she spoke just as soft and gentle as her breathing.
“Ah. Alright then.”
“Have a seat. You were trying to escape from the heat right?”
Scarlett nodded in affirmation.
“You see, I was just about to go fishing. With the merchant boats finally settled down, the fish are now starting to arrive.” She picked up a long, golden rod that leaned against the palm tree. Then attached a small grub to the hook, before casting the line far into the water.
Scarlett giggled at the distance where the hook landed. She knew that she could do better. Fishing was common back on the island, where competition against the fishing boats acted as some sort of game. As well as one of the only means of entertainment.
But soon those days would be over, as pirate ships and large vessels began making their way into the Bronze Sea. The once plentiful hordes of fish vanished, and a greater emphasis on farming and breeding livestock became the new norm.
“You don’t seem surprised now, do you?” said Mavis.
“Well…” Scarlett looked away to hide her blush.
Mavis burst into light laughter. “Well of course! To anyone who’s fished before, I must seem like an embarrassment don’t I?”
“Oh not at all, it’s just-”
“Don’t hesitate.” Mavis placed her hand on Scarlett’s shoulder. Her anxiety rushed away, as if she’d been hit face first with a water spell, cleansing the dirt within her body.
“I would…like to try…”
Mavis burst into delight, and immediately reeled the line back to shore, and handed Scarlett her rod. “Why didn’t you say so! I’m sure you’re quite better than I am!”
Scarlett thrust her right arm back, using her left as balance. She took the stance as if she were wielding a spear, prepared to toss a killing blow. Then, she whipped her arm forward, whipping the fishing line through the air. The bait soared through the sky, before landing in the water.
Scarlett was thrilled. Adrenaline pumped through her veins as she relived the feeling of old times and traditions. She’d used the full length of the fishing line. Forcing her to touch the edge of the tide. The bobber was hardly visible from where she stood. Scarlett drawed her focus to the bobber, waiting for it to drop under.
Moments of silence passed, before the bobber fell underneath with immense force. Scarlett was brought to the water, as her face planted into the moisty sand. Mavis hustled over to her, quickly helping her up. But another tug on the hook caused Mavis to fall to her knees. Scarlett lost her support, and her torso was now submerged in the ocean.
“Ah! Help!” the two yelped. Scarlett looked behind her. No signs of help were coming to assist them. The townsfolk were far too busy with their own ordeals.
Come on Scarlett! Pull harder! She told herself. Whatever had caught on the line was heavy, and pulled on them hard. Mavis’s hands were on the brink of slipping from the rod, while Scarlett held on tightly. Mavis was planted on her back, dragged into her. It only added to the extra weight Scarlett had to overcome. She had to let go.
“Mavis! You need to let go! I’ll be able to pull it.” Scarlett shouted.
“What? I won’t! Both of us should let go Scarlett! Whatever this is, isn’t worth it!” Mavis argued.
Scarlett hadn’t thought about letting go herself. It would save both of them, and they would be freed of the struggle. But Scarlett had held on anyway. A gut feeling drove her to hold on tighter. Her conscience whispered for her to keep on struggling.
“Alright! We both let go on the count of three. Ready?”
“One, two, three!”
Mavis’s hands flew free from the rod and she stumbled to the ground. After wiping the small tears and sweat off her face, she was suddenly filled with shock. “Scarlett!”
Scarlett had held on. Her intuition was right. It was easier to struggle, and pull back without Mavis pushing her down. “Come on!” Scarlett shouted. With Joyce not around, she had to motivate herself. She pictured the reward at the end. A large fish. Enough to give them a meal for a week, or coins to buy artifacts and gemstones, or useful supplies for the journeys to come.
With a final tug, a medium-sized glimmering object shone and beamed in the air. The object was hidden behind the rays of light. What is that? A pearl? An artifact?
“Scarlett move out of the way!” shouted Mavis. She ran across the sand and pushed Scarlett aside. A solid slam followed, like a cannonball slipping from a sailor’s hand. Pierced into the sand, was a dark aquamarine blade, still clean and reflecting sunlight. It had a starfish-shaped pommel, and barnacles along the flat side of the blade.
Scarlett walked over to the sword, and pulled it out of the sand. The handle had a smooth feeling, as if Scarlett had touched wet glass. Although the hilt was short, it still proved to be a reasonable guard for the uniqueness of the blade. The sword was one-sided, but had a unique shape that resembled that of a claw. Its top was curved, while the middle was straight. It seemed exotic in the face of the longswords that the raiding knights possessed.
Their screaming and commotion had gathered a large crowd. People surrounded them, and ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ over the blade. It was beautiful indeed. Blue like the ocean, and gorgeous like a lively coral reef.
“So this is the thing that made us struggle so hard? How in the world did the hook manage to catch it?” Mavis asked. She stayed hidden behind Scarlett, examining the blade over her shoulder.
“I’m surprised too. It’s pretty heavy. I can barely hold it with two hands. But this…it’s better than any fish.” said Scarlett.
“I agree as well,” said an unknown man. Mavis and Scarlett turned towards the voice. A man dressed in clothes fit for a noble approached them. He wore a black cloak and pants, a handkerchief dipped out of his collar. A golden chain tied his cloak and undershirt together. His outfit screamed ‘merchant’.
“I take great interest in that sword of yours young lady. It possesses great strength. One that controls the tides, and commands the ocean. I humbly ask, is the blade for sale?”
Mavis stepped between the merchant and Scarlett, forcing the two to step away. “The blade belongs to the girl! She caught it with her own effort, risking her life to pull that out. Your puny arms could never pull this treasure out of the water!”
“I don’t tolerate commoners.” the merchant exclaimed with disgust. “In fact, you may be even lower. You reek of mud and dirt like a slave. Wearing that elegant dress as a disguise. My, I might as well buy that off you as well! By the gods, I should buy you!”
Without hesitation, Scarlett shoved Mavis aside and pressed the tip of the blade towards the merchant’s neck. A drop of blood was drawn. The crowd gasped and yelled. Pure anger flowed through Scarlett’s veins. Driving her only by impulse and emotion. For once, she felt her decisions to be natural, and not influenced by others around her.
“Don’t. Don’t disrespect her like that. You scum.” growled Scarlett. A dark shade formed at the merchant’s crotch. Scarlett drew the blade away, and lifted it up, in preparation to strike. The crowd screamed as the merchant drew back. Yellow drops trickled from his waist.
The merchant opened his eyes. The sword hung high in the air, towering over him. He whimpered, before fleeing the scene. Scarlett sighed, and lowered her sword. She turned to Mavis. Tears flowed from her face. Scarlett smiled weakly at her, holding back her own tears.
“I’m sorry for causing so much trouble,” said Scarlett. Mavis caressed her cheek and smiled proudly at her.
“Don’t you worry, Scarlett. I have to thank you. This experience you gave me, although it was short, it surely spiced up my life.” said Mavis. “You be on your way now.” Mavis pushed the blade close to Scarlett’s chest.
“You keep this sunken sword beside you. Use it to defend yourself, and as a memory of me, and this moment. You deserve it. This blade is yours.”
“I can’t thank you enough.” said Scarlett. With the solemn moment shared, the crowd began to disperse, returning back to their ordeals. Scarlett departed with Mavis, carrying the sword on her back to support its weight.
The young woman stared at Scarlett as she walked off. Her red hair highlighted against the sandy beach, and the beige buildings. One day, if you grow as strong as I sensed you to me, we shall meet again.
Scarlett looked back towards the shore, now on the mainland, bordering the streets. Only a green hue remained where Mavis watched her depart.
With a strong gust of wind, the remnants of the aura vanished into the air. Mavis was gone.