The Merchant grinned with obvious delight. "My thanks Friend. Alas not all people can see the obvious uses of them. The obnoxious woman who just left being one of them," he told the man in the black robe, "People don't seem to see that not all men can afford petty luxuries. Some of us believe that, regardless of this, all women deserve them."
He looked down at the finery upon his table and smiled, his eyes taking on a more dreamy expression.
"To think that all this began out of love for my daughter," he mused out loud, "A whole profession born of a father's belief that his child deserved the very best, regardless of whether he could afford it or not."
It was then that he noticed the Elf standing close by. The merchant was unsure whether he himself held the attention of the stranger, or his items. To satisfy his curiosity he called out to him.
"Hail stranger. Might i interest you in my wares?" he asked the Elf with a smile upon his face.
Before the Elf had time to reply, Engelbert stepped in. "No Friend, the Elf is with me, we merely have a couple of questions," Engelbert informed the merchant. "Once you're done here of course," he added, motioning with a nod of his head toward the man dressed in black.
Zachariah listened intently to the merchant's story, fairly interested. He did not, nor had he ever, considered returning these false valuables. After all, he looked to Zachariah to have plenty more. He was even more interested at the storyteller's mention of questions, and stepped a foot away from the stall. "Do not mind me, good sirs, do not let me obstruct you from your questioning. I was simply browsing." He gave a friendly nod in their direction and looked off in a different direction, pretending to have his attention elsewhere as he waited to hear their questions, if indeed they were spoken aloud. It always seemed to be, however, they would whisper their inquiries, as if life conspired to ruin his fun when he attempted to listen in. Only time would tell, however.
Phy'cuenye raised his open right palm toward the merchant and then placed it over his own heart. A elven greeting. The man probably did not know this, but that was not a reason to be impolite.
I seek the blacksmith known as Fiodrek Smith, son of John. I was told he had a reputation for not employing any pyromancers to his forge. Do you know which paths to follow to reach him?
The elf peered at the human, hopefully that would be sufficient. He did not know much more. Not the humans house, unless it was Smith but that would be a odd name for a house, nor the father or mother. He could not help but to wonder how the humans managed to separate the names of others from their own, especially considered how many they were.
"Well my good Fellow, you're in luck," Marleck the willowy merchant replied with a beaming smile upon his face. "Fiodrek is most certainly renouned in this here place. Heck, i usually go to him for my tin. Always has damned good tin. Those pyromancers have no talent when it comes to keeping the metal it's copper colour," he stopped for a moment and looked to Engelbert, anxiety playing across his face. "No offense meant Old Boy..." he apologised to Engelbert.
Engelbert chuckled heartily. "You know as well as i do that i'm no longer what i was," he replied with a small wave of his hand.
Marleck grinned, quite clearly relieved to hear it.
"Well fellows, i'd direct you but Deity's Grip is like a rabbit warren and Engelbert's sense of direction hasn't improved much with age. If it pleases you, i can pack up and show you the way," Marleck continued.
"You sure Friend?" Engelbert countered with a concerned frown playing across his brow. He certainly didn't want to put his friend out of pocket for the sake of a stranger's need to speak to someone.
Marleck simply waved off Engelbert's question with a wave as his hands, almost as if it were a bothersome fly.
"The market's dying down. The higher folk have been and gone. I'd rather not stay here and be picked apart by rogues and scavengers anyway," Marleck assured them, "so what say you Friend?"
A rabbit warren, that was a interesting but accurate analogy. At least to the eyes of a elf. Just as narrow and limiting and just as crowded. The sparring of words between the elder and the salesman of deceptive items was not something he had expected. He was not sure if they were insulting one another or merely joking. He might understand what they say... but understanding how they think was still far off. He probably never would.
I accept your offer with gratitude... Marleck? It will spare me many hours of searching.
Marleck clapped his hands once together with glee while a broad grin fixed itself firmly upon his face.
"Excellent to hear Friend," he replied to the Elf.
He then suddenly disappeared down and behind the table that held the beautiful, if not fraudulent, jewelery pieces. When he reappeared, he was holding a large woven basket of dried reeds. When he placed it between the small trinkets and brooches, it could be seen that the bottom was both reinforced with wooden slats and had also been split into open compartments.
It was into this basket that he placed his trinkets with great care. Each type of jewelery was gently lain into its own specific compartment. No doubt this was an efficient method of storing the pieces, but it spoke of an overly orderly mindset.
Engelbert did not seem to notice his friend's meticulous storage system though, or if he had, he did not show it. He remained smiling serenely as he waited for Marleck to complete the laborious task. It did not take long though and Marleck was done within a few minutes.
Marleck finished by sweeping the cloth from the table and folding it carefully, corner to corner.
"There we are my friends," Marleck announced to the waiting pair as he laid the cloth over his laden basket. The cloth served well enough to obscure the glittering contents.
"Now then," he continued, "The blacksmith is just over yonder." The statement was followed by a rough point at a crest of houses by Marleck's index finger. He then set off at quite a speedy pace that could seem odd for a man of his stature. He moved with a weasel-like fluidity.
It did not take long to reach the Blacksmith's forge. The clattering of steel and coal was artfully contained by high stone walls and steep bankings. This work did nothing to stifle the heat though. the open sided buildings showed heated forges bubbling away and pyromancers deep in concentration. More than a few of them beared scars that gave evidense of why they needed to pay such strict attention to their work.
Marleck's direction did not waver and he seemed to be walking directly towards a slightly smaller building directly in front of them. Two portly gentlemen were stood outside, soot and dirt lining the creases upon their faces. Both wore heavily oiled leather aprons to protect them from their work. The fellow on the left look younger than his companion, though both seemed to be in their thirties with dirty brown hair. They seemed to be taking part in an interesting conversation and their raucious laughter could be heard quite clearly.
The elder of the two noticed their approach and called out to Marleck.
"Ho Marleck, late out aren't you friend. The best of the stocks have already been picked clean."
Marleck cleared his voice and shouted out back, "I'm not here to buy, my companion here wants to speak to Fiodrek." He gave a rough nod back towards the Elf.
The elder of the forge workers shrugged and returned his attention to his partner, whispering once again. The younger cracked out again with laughter at the unheard joke.
Marleck ignored the two and walked on past them. Engelbert followed his friend's lead and did the same.
Inside the building, the air seemed to clog with the heat. Huge barrels were strewn about with bits of scrap metal in them. There were also two very large anvils in the centre of the room with troughs of deep water beside them. Not only this, but an assortment of various heavy and delicate tools lay about the floor and on racks.
By one of these racks stood a tall, burly fellow. His back was towards Marleck, Engelbert and the Elf and so his facial features could not be seen. What could be seen about the fellow was that his large size was definately made up of muscle rather than fat. He also had dark brown hair that was cropped quite short. He also seemed to be wearing a dark leather smock similar to that of the porty fellows outside.
Marleck turned to the Elf and smiled, "That's the fellow you were asking of Friend."
Phy'cuenye nodded and took a decisive step forward. He pulled back his hood, revealing the horrible dis-figuration he had worn for years, ever since that horrible battle he had been marked by it. Back home it made him a grotesque, despite that he had fought and sacrificed so much for his peoples safety.
Voll'umerë Fiodrek'a yshanï gûnn Thynnë'gav
When the elf spoke the huge blacksmith turned around and faced the three. With his small eyes next to his huge nose and his short rough grayish beard he looked like a rather dangerous man. But once Phy'cuenye had finished he lifted his right hand into he air, held it in height with his face with the palm in the direction of the elf. Then he placed the palm over his heart. He then spoke with his dark voice:
Herenn yshanï, alba a'an Thynnë'gav
Phy'cuenye repeated the motion of the hand toward the blacksmith.
Human cities were so different from Tylaran, Larian mused as she quietly maneuvered her way around puddles, attempting to keep her silk shoes from becoming soiled. The architecture was crude and standoffish. Dead wood and dreary stone did not make for a welcoming structure. The sun barely peaked above the horizon, throwing reds, oranges and purples into the cloud-filled sky. The colors cast eerie shadows in the emptying streets. One slender hand clutched the bottom of her dress, holding it out of the reach of the dirty, wet streets; her other hand loosely grasped the reigns of her mount, though she needn’t really hold it at all. The Palomino mare never left Larian’s side. Along side the mount padded Tooter, clearly disgusted. He was always scowling; it was the way his face was pushed in.
The mane of pale curls that sprung from her head was disheveled. The delicate jewels that adorned that tousled mane however held tight to the Elf’s scalp creating little indents in the mass of hair. Larian's cream skin seemed translucent against the deep blue of her dress. The floral pattern that weaved its way across her boyish chest and down her abdomen in gold seemed to rend her in two diagonally, from shoulder to waist, though it was nothing short of elegant.
The plunking of water droplets mixed with occasional bursts of laughter created a rhythm over the constant dull roar of the ocean. Larian found herself dreaming as she aimlessly moved forward, unaware of her surroundings. Her mind wandered from the delight in the dusk sky to the dreary cobblestone street, to her quest for magical knowledge.
That was why she had traveled Deity’s Grip. She had missed the hustle and bustle of the market square however… Which is where she was when she was drug from her thoughts back into reality. The large, open space was littered with trash and was abandoned but for a group of children chasing a dog about with sticks.
Larian watched them for a moment, her body slack. Her heart went out to the scrawny mutt. She chewed upon her lower lip, lost in thought for another moment. A sharp bark shook her. The dog had lunged at one of the children, missing him barely as he fell backwards onto his rear end. It dashed down the street as fast as its stubby legs would take it and the children didn’t follow, having lost their interest in the cruel game.
“Excuse me,” she called, stepping toward the group. They had not known she was there before, and her voice caused them to jump. They turned to view her with open jaws and wide eyes. Their heads came together and whispers drifted on the breeze. Every few moments one would lift their head to gaze at her and then hurriedly returned it to the huddle.
“…It must be her.” “…Her ears, look at them! She is an elf!” A giggle erupted from the group as their bodies swayed before they broke from their conversation. They beamed at her, their faces full of excitement. “We heard a story about you today, Princess Elf,” a young girl informed Larian. This came as a surprise to her. She was no princess, and there were certainly no stories going around about her.
“Oh, you have?” She asked hesitantly. “What was this story about?”
“You were carried away by a griffin!” A grimy little boy cried, throwing his hands upward in an exaggerated motion. “But your prince saved you! You fell in love!” A porcelain faced girl added, moving closer to Larian. She squinted to see better in the fading light.
“I think you have mistaken me for another elf princess,” Larian apologized.
“No, she was you!” The doll-child exclaimed shaking her head. “We can show you the man who told us this story,” suggested another little girl. "He was taking another elf to the blacksmith." "Maybe that was the prince!" A voice piped in, causing a roar of conversation amidst the children.
A torrent of little hands pushed her into motion. Larian’s mare hesitated before following the wave of children that surrounded her mistress, ferrying her down the street toward a horrible clanging sound. It took a bit before Larian realized that it was probably a Smith.
Why in Eshent'ur would a story teller be in need of metal weapons or armor?
As the mysterious male Elf lowered his hood, it became greatly apparent as to why he chose to hide his features. Such scars were considered horrific among the humans, never mind his own fickle race. Engelbert's interest and profound respect for the Elf seemed to be growing by the minute.
The revelation caused a somewhat different reaction in the timid Marleck though. A low gasp began in the back of his throat which was quickly stifled into a sharp squeak when Engelbert's elbow connected sharply with his ribs.
Marleck's apprehension did not ease as the Elf and Blacksmith talked. He grew visibly anxious and began fidgeting nervously. In particular he was rubbing his hands together unconciously, tracing his thumb around the base and joints of the fingers on his other hand. Once the Blacksmith had left them alone, he spoke his worries aloud.
"I hope this isn't one of those illegal activities that are supposed to be done at the dockside. I'm not being witness to any smuggling. I'm toe-ing the laws as it is. I'm certainly not being dragged into this," he rambled on, eyes darting from Engelbert to the Elf.
Engelbert said nothing to comfort the poor fellow. He merely turned his attention to the Elf. Afterall, this strange business had nothing to do with himself either so how could he possibly put Marleck's fears at peace. His eyes were expectant as he gazed upon the Elf, whilst an eyebrow rose slightly, as though to emphasize the unspoken question.
Phy'cuenye turned around and peered at the two humans. Being accused of smuggling was not a trivial matter, normally he would be rather insulted. But the situation was perhaps a curious one to the uninformed.
Do not worry, to the extent of my knowledge no criminal act is commited. I was sent here by a close friend of both me and the blacksmith. They share a common passion for metals and especially to create them without magic. Every now and then they meet with each others and share their experiences. This time he sent me because his age is starting to catch up with him and that I have some experience in dealing with your peoples as you clearly can hear
The elf peered into the backroom then returned his focus to the pair.
In front of the smith Larian stood, the children clustered about her waist. They had fallen quiet waiting for her to step over the threshold and into the shop. She turned her head slightly to the voices that drifted through the door; they were muffled and seemed calm enough. Behind her, her mare fidgeted disliking the silence.
The walk had been relatively short and extremely rushed. Her breath still came in short gasps, her throat burning as her chest heaved. Larian ran her hand through her tangled hair, grimacing as her slender fingers caught in a knot. She pulled them free, not bothering to comb loose the snarl. After she had let her hand drop to her side the porcelain girl reached up to brush the backside of it, reminding her that they all waited. Larian grasped the iron handle and pulled open the door, holding it for the flood of children as they streamed from either side of her hips.
Larian wasn’t sure the person who ran this Blacksmith was going to be fond of children romping around his establishment, but she wasn’t about to leave them in the empty streets. She prayed that they wouldn’t break anything; she didn’t have the money to pay for such expensive items. “Stay close to me children, and try not to touch anything,” she pleaded and then hastily added a please. The smell of sweat and metal nearly suffocated her, as she peered around.
She was shocked to see that there were patrons in the shop this late and a feeling of guild washed over her, she feared that she was interrupting an important conversation. No one seemed to be speaking at the moment however.
She openly examined the two in front of her. Although she could not make out their facial features she saw that the pair consisted of an elder human man and a male elf. They made an odd couple, and Larian made a face as she considered what business they had in each others’ company. She scolded herself; their business was none of hers.
“There, that man!” The porcelain child said pointing toward the human. “He told us about you, Princess!” Larian hushed the child to no avail. She repeated the story to Larian replacing every “Princess” with “You”. This had been the third time she had heard what she expected to be the extremely condensed version. Larian’s face grew flush. She pushed her way gently through the children, moving toward the two men.
She stopped a few feet from the two, clearing her throat before speaking to their backs, “I apologize greatly but these children have mistaken your tale for true and have named me the damsel.” She hesitated as to how to greet the elder man, and then settled for a very awkward curtsy.
Marleck was very visibly relieved and a cheery grin once more became affixed to his face.
"You've no idea just how much you've settled my heart there Friend," Marleck told the Elf and then, with a wry chuckle," To think i had all those doubts when t'was only something as innocent as that."
Engelbert was chuckling softly too. He laid a hand upon the shoulder of his companion and patted him softly.
"You worry too much old Friend," Engelbert warned. Marleck's grin broadened a little wider.
"I'm not the old friend Engelbert," Marleck cracked. The joke caused Engelbert to chuckle heartily and he began to reply himself when a fair Elven woman entered the Smiths with a group of rowdy arguing children. He stopped after the words, "Well Marleck..." and regarded the group with curiosity. Marleck, his back towards them, appeared not to have noticed their arrival.
Small pudgy fingers were pointing at him and the woman approached. She appeared to be a little embarrassed and when she spoke it was clear to why. Once more he chuckled heartily before inclining his head and shoulders in a weak bow.
"It is clear to all present how. Your beauty transcends that of a mere maid," Engelbert replied politely. His hands had disappeared momentarily within his thin cloak as he spoke.
He turned his attention to the crowd of children gathered about her and kneeled before a young girl. Shyly she stepped forward and curtsied awkwardly, copying how the Elven woman had done so. He reached behind the young girls ear and 'magically' produced a silver coin. Gasps erupted from the crowds as they saw the impossible feat. The young girls own eyes had widened with awe. Her eyes widened further still when Engelbert placed the coin in her own palm. The groups gathered more closely around her, trying to determine whether the coin was real or not. All their eyes were on him now and he gave them a conspirational wink.
"This Elven woman can't possibly be the Princess," he explained to them. Then, after a sly look in the Elven woman's direction, "She isn't wearing a crown."
A few of the children looked to check but most eyes remained on him.
"Now go and spread that between you. There's a stall in the marketplace that does wonderful honeyed bread," He told them.
The group began to disperse with thoughts of sweetmeats on their minds though some children lingered a while longer. Engelbert, his piece done, straightened with a content smile on his face.
When the elven woman had entered the smithy Phy'cuenye had peered in her direction, once he realised she was a elf he swiftly turned away and pulled up his hood. He had no intention of experiencing his kinds distaste for how he looked here as well.
After making sure his face could not be seen he turned back to the group. While the claims of the small children first confused him he soon felt amused and smiled. A smile which did not wane once the storyteller produced the coin and sent the children along their way.
A moment later Fioerek came out carrying a set of scrolls and a small leather bag. Phy'cuenye turned towards him and took the scrolls and the bag once the large man handed them to him, expressing his gratitude in elven.
He then carefully put the small bag and the scrolls in the pack he was carrying in his belt, making sure it was properly closed he lifted his gaze to the group.
My business here is done, might I suggest we step outside so that we do not disturb the craftsmen in their line of work?
He bowed his head towards Fiorek and once again held his hand high and then placed it over his hand.
Yn'a a'góg vallë fuun
Fiorek bowed his head and repeated the elven gesture.