Mace Black, Page 336-339 by Wolfenshire ()
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Mace Black, Page 336-339
Something about the sounds of the wagon changed slightly and woke Sern. He crawled up to the front of the wagon and looked out. The road seemed smaller, not that it had been very wide to begin with, but where two wagons could have passed each other easily before, this road would have required one wagon to pull off to the side.
“Did we leave the main road?” asked Sern.
“Yes, yes, young Master, we are going to pick up your purchases, they are ready now,” the Trader informed Sern.
“What exactly are the purchases?” asked Sern.
“Your Emissary instructed me it must remain secret until delivery.” The Trader’s head bobbed up and down. “Very exciting, young Master, very exciting. I’ve never sold an item so expensive before. Oh, I do hope there’s enough room in my wagon to carry all the gold you’re paying me for this purchase.”
Sern’s eyes widened. He turned around and tried to imagine how much gold it would take to fill the entire wagon. What had Kabath purchased that could be that expensive? Sern’s brows furrowed into an expression of worry. Roael was going to explode when he found out how much gold Sern owed, and for something he didn’t even know what it was.
“There it is,” the Trader called out.
Sern turned back around. The wagon had just turned through a curve in the road and a farm came into view beyond the rocks that had been blocking the view. He could see the farm consisted of a main house, a large barn, a windmill, and a stone building set against a cliff face. He couldn’t see any livestock, or crops, though there were fences for them.
The wagon bounced to a stop in front of the stone building, waking Saeber. She sat up and looked around for Sern, then came to sit next to him at the front of the wagon. The Trader climbed down from the wagon and came around to the back of the wagon.
“Come on, very exciting,” said the Trader.
Saeber turned her head to Sern and whispered. “Where we are?”
“I don’t know, but somethings not right,” whispered Sern. “When we get off the wagon I’m going to get on your back, okay?”
“Saeber ready run, yes,” she whispered back.
The Trader had already started walking towards the stone building as Saeber and Sern crawled down from the wagon. Sern made sure the two water flasks were slung over his shoulder and he had his crutches in his hand. If they needed to run, he didn’t want to leave anything behind.
He crawled up on Saeber’s back and she followed after the Trader. Sern could feel her muscles tensing beneath him, she was ready to bolt at the first sign of danger. Saeber approached the door cautiously and peered inside. Sern leaned forward and gave her the signal to enter the building. Saeber walked inside and scanned the room for danger. He didn’t see anything that indicated they were about to be attacked, but what he did see was not what he expected.
The inside of the building was hot, and Sern could see why. The building was a blacksmith shop, or something like it. There was a forge against the far wall, a pot of molten metal near it, a worktable, a trough for the molten metal to flow down to whatever mold was attached at the time. And the thing he hadn’t expected was the largest Darai he had ever seen swinging a massive hammer against an anvil.
The Trader was standing next to the Darai, and Sern noticed he was now wearing a sword. The Darai set the hammer down and looked up. Sern climbed down from Saeber and stroked her head reassuringly before grabbing his crutches and limping over to the big worktable.
“Why didn’t you just say this is what you were bringing me here for,” said Sern angrily. “I thought we were being kidnapped and I was walking into a den of thieves. You’re a Darai, you’re going to make me a prosthetic leg, but I’m not a chump, no prosthetic leg costs a wagon full of gold.”
“I am not a Darai, though they are my descendants of a sort.”
Sern tipped his head to the side in the Darai fashion. “Then what are you?” asked Sern.
“You are not paying me to answer questions.” The large man came around the table and looked down at Sern. “You may call me, Master Aestar. I am going to give you back your leg, and though I cannot give you flesh and blood, I can give you something of equal value. How much is your leg worth to you.”
“Okay, I get it, a prosthetic leg, but it’s still not worth that much gold,” argued Sern.
“I did not ask you how much a prosthetic leg was worth, I asked you how much your leg is worth to you.”
Sern’s lips curled into a tight frown. “My leg is worth ten wagons of gold, a hundred, a thousand, okay?”
“I only ask for one wagon of gold,” said Master Aestar.
“If you gave me back my leg, yes, I’d give you a wagon of gold,” said Sern.
“You are a Temple Raven,” said Master Aestar. “It is said a Temple Raven never breaks a deal.”
“That’s true,” agreed Sern.
“Then we have a deal?” asked Master Aestar.
“Yes, deal,” said Sern.
Sern followed to a table at the end of the trough that molten metal flowed through. Master Aestar motioned for Sern to get on the table. Sern hopped up on the table. “What are you going to do?”
Master Aestar picked up a mold from next to the table and set it down next to Sern. “Lie back on the table.”
Sern wiggled around and lay back. “Umm…what’s that for?”
“This will form your new leg,” said Master Aestar.
“What? You’re going to pour molten metal on me?” Sern tried to get up, but Master Aestar gently pushed him back down.
“No, I am going to pour living metal on you,” Master Aestar replied as if it were an everyday occurrence.
Saeber growled. Master Aestar turned to her and raised a hand. “Sleep,” he said. Saeber lay down and putting her head between her paws, closed her eyes.
“If you hurt her I’ll kill you,” shouted Sern.
Master Aestar waved a hand at Sern. “Shh…”
Sern’s eyes grew heavy and his muscles went limp. He couldn’t move. “Please…I’ll give you anything…don’t hurt her.”
Master Aestar arranged the mold around Sern’s leg, then bent over to look into Sern’s eyes. “You love her?”
Sern was having a hard time staying awake. “Yes…I’ll give you the whole gold mine…leave her alone.”
“She is a Lesser Sherata, a nameless one, considered worthless by her own people,” said Master Aestar.
Sern shook his head, trying to shake the sleepy away. “She’s the whole universe to me.”
Master Aestar smiled. “Finally, someone strong enough to repair the injustice done to my children.”
Master Aestar lifted Sern’s left arm so that Sern could see as he ran his finger across the night markings given by the Night Goddess. Master Aestar settled on one marking just above Sern’s wrist on the outside of his arm. The tattoo shifted, moved, and changed to the shape of a Lesser Sherata.
Sern watched the tattoo changing, but how? How could this man change a Night Elemental’s marking?
“My gift to you, Shadow Tiger,” said Master Aestar.
Master Aestar pulled a lever and Sern could see the molten metal pouring into the trough, flowing towards him. Sern’s eyes flicked back to his arm. The tiger tattoo was glowing with a dark flame now. Sern’s eyes went back to the molten metal…the living metal? But such technology didn’t exist. He looked at the face of Master Aestar and realization hit him. The Traders worked for Master Aestar, and they were everywhere, watching everything, knew everything. Moeth had been looking in the wrong places.
“You’re a Creator…a real Creator,” whispered Sern.
“Yes,” said Master Aestar. “Do I need to take this memory from you?”
“No, please, I swear as a Temple Raven I’ll never tell anyone,” said Sern.
Sern’s eyes flicked to the living metal flowing towards him. “Will it hurt?”
Master Aestar waved a hand over Sern’s eyes and said, “Sleep.”