Written and Illustrated by Jesaya Tunggal
“For the last damn time, there ain’t nothing here for ya!”
Old man Sirius’ voice rang out throughout the little shop, rattling rickety furniture and sending mice scuttling away.
“I use my talents ta’ heal; ain’t in’erested in making no weapons, least of all for the likes of you, Kench” spat the magesmith, drawing up his muscular, if aged, body and banging a calloused fist on the counter. His customer-turned-interlocuter, a young and devilishly handsome Mr.Kench, allowed a devious smile to crawl across his lips.
“Let’s not play games please, Mr.Sirius,” he cooed.
The young man’s accent seemed polished and urban. He wore a spiffy suit with a colonial bow tie and dapper top hat. His clothes spoke money, but a loose posture and odd nose-ring betrayed his origins as a gutter rat.
“It’s no secret around this derelict shanty town that you were a magesmith for the rebels during the great upheaval. I dare say, the awe inspired by your skill may be the only reason you’re still alive….”
Sirius’ face contorted with anger at the reference to his marred past. It was true. Magesmiths, a special type of blacksmith which imbued their weapons with powerful magics, were a rare but essential breed of craftsmen. This was especially true in the military, Sirius’ previous calling. A good weapon in the right soldier’s hands could change the course of wars. The old man had tried for years to escape his own work. But, it seemed that his prowess had finally caught up to him. And, judging by the sudden appearance of Kench, the slave gangs of the capital wanted in.
Sirius’ posture became less aggressive and he leaned forward on his arms, pulling out a long brass pipe and taking a long drag. Sirius’ smile widened slightly, as it became clear that he’d gotten his point across. He put a gloved hand to his chest, indicating himself.
“Now, now Mr.Sirius… no harsh feelings. Let me make clear: I, Rupert Wendell Kench, am a man of business, and a good one at that. For a weapon of your crafting, I will cut any deal!”
Sirius continued to puff away, staring at Kench vacantly, as if looking through him and off into the distance. Kench meandered around the parlour, examining the various bobs and bits on sale. He picked up a particularly well polished gear, examining it carefully before turning.
“Name your price! A slave perhaps? The value of a well-groomed servant has absolutely boomed since the end of the war!”
This charade between the smith and alleged nobleman had gone on for about an hour now, and Sirius had grown tired of the game. He drew himself up again and prepared to once and for all forcefully eject his visitor, but Kench again interjected. He approached the counter in a vaguely threatening way. With a single fluid motion, almost like a slither, he came face to face with Sirius.
“I have come much too far to be turned back, Mr. Sirius. I’ve scoured the Capital looking for your hole-in-the-wall shop, and I’ll not be disappointed now!” He hissed.
Sirius took a step back from Kench with a distasteful frown on his face.
“Enough! I don’t need no slave. Now-”
The pipe dropped from the old man’s hand, spilling ash out onto the counter. His eyes widened. A young girl stood half concealed by the entrance to the backroom, solid door slightly ajar behind her. Her straight, reddish-brown hair fell at an odd angle to her face as her head peeked around the corner.
“I was wondering where I could find a…”
The girl trailed off as she became abstractly aware that she had done something wrong, but was unsure of what that was. The atmosphere was thick with tension.
Kench wore a grin of twisted delight, as his eyes shifted towards the intruder. Sirius looked at the girl and then back at the man intruding in his shop, eyebrows furrowing in concern.
This transaction had suddenly become much more complicated.