Reads: 139

My next delivery was a set of spell components for Killias and Sons, one of the magic shops that was too expensive for my old man customer. They were down on Fixer Street, so I headed in that direction.

I had been pushing the cart through the city for about five minutes when I became aware that somebody was walking beside me. I glanced to my side and saw that my sudden companion was a woman with crimson hair cut short behind her ears and wearing a black leather apron and a simple dress that showed off the toned musculature of her arms.

“Hello, Nel,” I said.

“Hey there Corvus,” Nel said with a smile. “Taking your cart around for deliveries?”

“No, I’m doing this for the exercise,” I said. Nel smirked. “Old Garrin let you off early?”

Nel shrugged. “I finished the battleaxe for that adventurer guy,” she said. “There aren’t any more orders left I can do.”

“He doesn’t want you helping him with his work?”

“Not when he’s doing swords,” Nel said. “You know how Garrin is with swords.”

Nel was apprentice to Old Garrin, a man who insisted that he was the finest blacksmith in all of Istalfax. He was known primarily for his sword-smithing skills. And from what Nel told me, his perfectionism when it came to forging swords was something to behold, and woe betide anyone who dared to bother him while he worked his bellows.

“So you’re free the rest of the afternoon, then?”

“Free as a bird. Who are you delivering to?”

“All that’s left is Killias and Sons.”

Nel nodded. “When are they going to add Fiora’s name to that shop?”

“She’s just an apprentice.”

“So?”

“And Killias has been dead for five years.”

“Exactly,” Nel said. “It’s overdue for a change.”

“I guess,” I said.

And that’s when the wheel of the cart struck some rock or something and it started careening off the side of the street.

“Oh, shitsickles!” I shouted as I tried to keep the cart steady. It very nearly fell over, but I just barely managed to regain control of it and steady it back flat on the street.

I met Nel’s eyes, and she looked back at me with the expression of a woman trying very hold to hold back laughter. I stared back at her with a hot face and for a moment the only sound was the nearby town crier shouting about the latest militaristic agressions of the Serpent Empire (newspapers were on the rise, but if you tried to sell any in crier territory, you’d find yourself face down in the gutter surrounded by shredded papers).

But then I heard another sound, soft and barely audible. I frowned and glanced down at where a stray brick had fallen onto the street, pinning a rat down by its tail. It was trying desperately to pull itself out and squeaking in terror and distress.

Sighing, I stepped over, bent down, and lifted the brick. The rat scampered off down a nearby alley. I turned back to Nel.

“That didn’t happen and you didn’t see anything,” I said.

“What, I didn’t see you help out an animal? Yeah, because that’s really out of character for you, Corvus.”

“No, the cart.”

“What about the cart?”

“I…” I stopped myself. “Well played.”

“Thank you.”

Realigning the cart, I continued my journey to Killias and Sons. Nel followed after me. “You got any exciting plans for once you finish your delivery run?”

“Yeah, going home.”

“That’s not fun.”

“My bed’s there,” I pointed out, realizing as soon as the words left my mouth how Nel would interpret that.

Her eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a grin. “Oooh, exciting. Who’s the lucky girl?”

I sighed. “I meant… because I was going to go to sleep.” I really did. I swear.

“Suuuuure you did.”

“Yeah, I’m lying on account of how incredibly irresistible I am to women everywhere.”

“It’s good to hear you admit that,” Nel said sagely. “False modesty just does not become you.”

I didn’t actually have a good retort for that, so I contented myself with glaring at her. This did not seem to perturb her in the slightest.


Submitted: November 15, 2018

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