Gladius

in #fiction10 months ago

Capital De Seraphim, Pryldahn, 1439 ATC

Venser Karkaldwin stood before a fairly sizable building, made of a combination of brick and stone with a tastefully tiled roof. Glancing up, he saw the shop’s sign read: Thoarin’s Forge. This was the one Y'vonne had recommended. Walking up to the door, Venser peaked inside the shop. A cursory glance revealed no sign of anyone. Judging by the size of the shop, he concluded it was most likely a home as well as a place of business, as was common for most Pryldahnian businesses.

He turned his head response to more metallic clanging.

"Not in my head this time..."

Backing away from the front door, Venser decided to walk around to the back towards the source of the sound.

Behind the shop, he discovered the forge, along with a series of awnings, workbenches and tables, a shed, and all manners of tools. There was a strong scent of burning coals and hot metal drifting through the air. While he continued scoping out the back part of the shop, the handsome bearded man noticed an older red skinned draconian man walking his way. He still appeared to be in good shape, despite his age and the short gray beard and mustache clinging to his face. Uncommon for many of the Pryldahnian dragon folk. He briefly stared at Venser with his slitted lavender eyes.

"Hello there." His voice had an aged but profound quality to it. Giving him a polite smile, Venser knew he was a blacksmith to be respected. The Pryldahnian gave him another good look, inspecting the bard tunic Ven wore. "Its not often a mercenary bard walks into my shop."

"So, Y'vonne told you I was coming then? Ahem, yes. I was wondering if you might be able to help me?"

"Yes, she did. And I am surprised a man like yourself with the backing of the God Queen doesn't have better equipment. So tell me, what are you looking for exactly?" Thoarin gave Ven his full attention and offered a kind smile.

The handsome bearded man returned his smile and gave him a slight nod. “I’ve heard that you’re known for making some of the best equipment in the country. I’m hoping to find some decent armor and a good sword that will let me so my job as an agent for our God Queen of Pryldahn and the King of Vorland."

The Pryldahniam gave a nod. “Well you heard right, and you’ve certainly come to the right place. By the way, I’ve been rude. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Thoar'in Drusis at your service. But my friends simply call me Thoar.” He offered a strong, scaled hand to him.

The handsome bearded man smiled again in response to his polite gesture, reaching out with his gloved hand to shake Thoar's.“A pleasure. Venser Karkaldwin of many titles, but most usually call me Ven or Venny."

The sounds of the clanging hammer rung out once more. Thoarin glanced over his shoulder and then back to his customer. “Now, if you’re looking for a good sword, I think I should introduce you to my apprentice. He’s quite skilled at crafting them.”

“Every master has to have an apprentice, of course. To pass on the skill, otherwise how else are people going to learn? Classes of course but yes, I would like to meet him and get this going." Venser said.

Thoarin looked over his shoulder and called out, “Markus, would you please come here?

There were a few more bangs of the hammer, followed by a clear response. “Be there in a second, sir!”

The two men stood there, and after a few more clangs of the hammer, they heard the heavy sound of it flopping onto its side, making a low metallic thud. Ven looked up in response to the sound of Markus’s boots brushing along the mixture of grass and dirt on the ground. Markus was dressed in a pair of heavy blue denim pants, a tan short sleeved shirt and was covered by a thick and heavy navy blue apron, which was accompanied with a pair of heat thick gloves. Sweat clung to his forehead as he proceeded to wipe some of it away with his forearm. Just above his face, he noticed his head was covered with short brown hair.

The assistant only looked to his mentor and friend as he removed his gloves and patted Thoarin's scaled back. “What did you need sir?"

Patting a hand on Markus’s shoulder, he turned to him. “This man is a friend of the God Queen, has come looking to buy a sword. I told him you could help her with that, my boy.”

"Yes, sir.”

He patted his apprentice’s back again, harder this time. “How many times must I tell you, not sir, Thoar? Don’t make me feel older than I already am.” The old Draconian snickered.

The human gave his mentor a sheepish look and chuckled nervously.

“Of course, Thoar. My apologies.” Markus turned his focus back to Venser and smiled, offering him a look of confidence. “I’d be happy to help you. By the way, I’m Markus. Pleased to meet you.” Following his words, he offered a handshake.

“Pleased to meet you. I’m Venser, Ven, Venny. Whatever you like."

“Okay, Venser. If you’d follow me, I have plenty of swords you can choose from. In fact, I just finished work crafting a few the other day. I’m sure we can find something you’ll like.”

"We will see. I'm kind of picky when it comes to weapons, as I prefer my armor to be lightweight. Normally armor slows me down and eh, weapons? As long as its sharp and reliable." Venser said as they walked, noticing the glowing embers and coals that were smoldering in the hearth. Accompanying him the rest of the way, Markus led Venser to a stone wall, covered by one of the several awnings. There along the wall were shelves and racks holding easily more than a dozen different swords.

"Hm." Venser said, his gloved hand ok hisbcuin as he looked them over. While these were elegant and nicely crafted weapons, he valued performance over how they actually looked. Mainly due to the cost and possibility of such an expensive weapon being lost or stolen, if only she could find the right sword among these works of art.

Pondering.

Markus walked over to the wall and picked up one of the sheathed blades. “Here, see what you think of this one.” The human had taken a sword resting in a scabbard coated in black leather. The hilt was also silver and both the pommel and ends of the cross-guard were decorated with sapphires.

“A sword for a noble. With the finest edge."

Venser reached out with his porcelain prosthetic, taking the sword from him. He studied it carefully, bringing it close to her nose, allowing the scent of the leather to enter her nostrils. He sighed, following a short breath and slowly withdrew the weapon from its holder. The blade was equally beautiful. It had a length of about three and a half feet and felt properly balanced. Twirling it, he held it firmly and stepped out into the open grass adjacent to the partially enclosed structure. Venser swung the blade around, getting a feel for it.

“That was a sword I made…” Markus placed a hand to his shaved chin. “About a month ago. It took me ages and hasn't sold yet."

He placed it back into its scabbard, and offered it to him. The human took the weapon, gently, making sure to maintain a kind demeanor to his customer. Venser looked at him and then over at the rack.

“That’s a fine weapon, but I don’t think it’s the one for me. Too long and too fancy."

Markus set it back on the shelf with the others. “No problem, I have plenty more for you to choose from. Besides, if none of these swords are to your liking, I could always forge one special for you.”

His proposal met his ears with much delight, giving a nod. “Okay, but let’s see these other swords first.”

“Of course.” He reached up and selected another he hoped the man might like.

A good fifteen to twenty minutes went by and before long, they had exhausted his assortment of swords. Markus placed the final sword back onto the rack. “Well, that’s the last of them. So, none of those seem right for you?” He glanced back at him and saw Venser shake his head in negation.

“No, I’m sorry. Those are all lovely blades, but I don’t know, the look and their feel just doesn’t quite seem to match me.”

Venser continued looking at the swords resting on the shelves and racking along the wall. He then spied the forge and turned back to him. “There’s no need to apologize. If there isn’t a sword here that you like, I’d be more than happy to make one for you. It’ll take some time of course, but it’s certainly no problem.”

"Now, if you don’t mind, there is a little strength test I like to do, before I start working on a custom order.”

Venser blinked his eyes at him, feeling a tad perplexed. “What do you mean, little test?”

"Don’t worry. I just found that most people have different arm strengths. I’ve done this for several times and it helps me to properly craft a weapon for them. So, if you don’t mind?”

Venser stood firm, tall and felt a little on the spot, but giving it some thought, but of course nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was all about the experience.

''I guess not. Sure then, go ahead.”

Again, he held her his up, and Markus gently clutched it in his hands.

Clearing his throat, he gave her a more focused look adjusting his hands along the base of her hoof. The blacksmith dropped to one knee and remained at the ready. “Okay, then. Go ahead and push your hand toward me, as hard as you can. I’ll push back, and you try to keep me from overpowering you.”

Ven did as he said, understanding how this test could help gauge his strength. He pushed his right hand against him as hard as he could, adding whatever power she had. Markus didn’t make it easy for him, thrusting his hands toward him with impressive strength of his own, gradually driving his limb back towards her. Venser keep resisting, causing his hands to inch back his way.

A few seconds passed, and Galen finally spoke. “Okay, you can stop now. I have a very good idea about your strength, now. Um, do you use your left at all? If so, I could test that one as well. That is, providing I haven’t made you uncomfortable.”

“No, it’s quite all right. So, go ahead.”

“Ready?”

Ven nodded. And Markus began testing his left hand applying a similar force. The man resisted, trying to work his hands back. Markus felt a similar strength in his left, but unlike his right, it was certainly a bit weaker, clear Venser's dominant hand was the right one. He also noticed a strange geometrical mark that had to be some magical symbol.

“Okay, that should do it for your left. Your fighting style... Do you use magic with one hand and then do a lot of punching and slashing with the other?"

"That's exactly right. Yeah. So, what kind of sword do you think is perfect for me then?" Venser asked.

“It did indeed. I should be able to craft you a fine sword, thanks to these results. A simple gladius. Military grade.” Gesturing to a rack of orders for the military on the Eastern Frontier. All of them were the same. Two feet in length. Two-edged for cutting and had a tapered, triangular point for stabbing. A solid grip was provided by a knobbed hilt added on, with ridges for the fingers for the soldier to grasp the sword more easily and have it neatly secured in the hand. The ouroboros of The Dragon Trinity with two spread wings carved into the guard and the pummels ball shaped with a small spike on the bottom. Nothing too complex.

"Gladius. The sword that nearly conquered the world..." Venser commented.

Markus walked over to his workbench and grabbed a loose sheet of parchment. Taking a nearby ink pen, he scratched down a few notes, his name and the data of his hand tests, but no one other than Thoarin or perhaps his family would understand what they meant. Turning to Venser, The Apprentice gave him an inquisitive look. “Do you have any idea what style or appearance you’d like this to have?”

Venser rubbed his beard. "I'm not too sure, and normally I scoff at custom swords. As having a particularity fancy one pretty much says hey rob me and worse if you lose it in a cave somewhere..." He walked around and picked up the staple Pryldahnian helmet, the galea. A face plate would help. And of course a green crest on top.

He chuckled softly. “I understand completely. Do you want the blade to look a certain way, any specific decorations, a color? Nothing too fancy that says steal me, of course. And how about the armor?"

"The armor let's just go with some lorica segmenta... Lightest you can make it. And some bracers that can smack swords away." The hand returned to Venser's bearded chin as he tried to think it over, and then looked at the sketch, suddenly getting an idea.

"Actually...." Venser grabbed a long piece of charcoal and made a sketch similar to Markus's. Albeit with a few changes. The blade was still double edged which still made it fine for fighting in confined spaces, and it was serrated at the bottom on both sides, and the guard was a bit longer.

"A more practical, utility gladius then, it seems?" Markus asked blinking a few times. "Similar in style to a legionare but more... More for a skirmisher."

"Yes. It all has to be as lightweight and as practical as you can make it. Lightweight still with an edge. Balanced. How long will it take?"

Markus shrugged and clasped his hands together. "A few days if I forge it nice and fresh."

"Well if you do that, there's something I want you to add to the metal... Something that will make it more... Magical."

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