Chapter 14Mature

Simon hurt. 

Through the adrenaline rush that had overtaken him during his escape of the Primus the day before, he had forgotten about many of the things that ailed him. Like the fact that he was half starved - the men on the Primus hadn't been generous with his meals - or the bruises and cuts covering his filthy body. His arm was even worse, having a makeshift bandage that sealed a deep gash from that bullet. 

Well, Simon always believed in balance of luck. These pains that were the physical embodiment of his bad luck, made good luck rise. That was in the form of the investigators from the Valhalla Policing Force thinking BOTH of the guards on the beach had been killed with a small blade. Simon really did owe that masked man. 

So, when Simon wandered into town after a night of sleeping under a rock - quite literally a large rock on the shore - the guards thought he was a survivor of the crash and led him to a medic. 

And here Simon waited. The man in charge of the medic house, which was called Kellman's Clinic, was being retrieved. It wasn't long before Simon was having his arm stitched up, his cuts covered with cream of some sort, and his belly filled with some dull tasting herbal soup. The bruises would have to heal naturally, as the man - who was named Jonas Kellman - said he didn't want to bother with them. 

Simon got an earful about how tattoos weren't good for his skin before being released into the custody of the Valhalla Policing Force. The VPF weren't too suspicious of him since the ocean water had all but cleaned his Highbane of blood and they were greatswords instead of short ones, like the man in the iron mask had used. And Simon was able to pass the crash off as a fight starting on deck between crewmates and he recieved a wound from a stray bullet before falling off the ship. 

"You're lucky to be alive," the VPF officer in charge of the investigation said. "Are all Glenman this lucky?"

Simon smiled politely. "I suppose it is fitting, since we have experienced such bad luck in the past."

The officer just nodded, obviously at a loss for words, and left. Simon was freed to do anything he wanted and even given a button up shirt, which he wore to hide his tattoos. It wasn't that he was ashamed of his sins - he deemed them justified, even while being a sin - but that he didn't want anyone thinking him to be a regular street rough. 

So, with a stomach full of... well, something that held him over, and his two sword strapped to his back, Simon headed off to find a tailor. 

Valhalla was an immense place, full of many types of people. It was a port town that was famous world-wide, so this wasn't that surprising. Apparently Odin - the God they worshiped around here - had made this his seat of power when he was on the earth or something. It was all folklore, so Simon didn't know too much.

It didn't take long to find a tailor in Valhalla. The one he found was on a busy street and it had been suggested by the last few people Simon had asked. Seeing the large sign with a queen on it and the large letters spelling out 'Frigg's Glory Wear' made a smile creep across Simon's face. Only an esteemed man of high talent would claim to be able to make the fabled queen of Valhalla's clothing. 

The man in charge was nice enough. He was an elderly one, but not weak or gentle. No, this man was stable and looked like he had known a rough life. It was the kind of man that seemed larger than everyone around him, despite being shorter than Simon by a head and a half. 

"You look like you want a suit and gloves," the old man said before Simon could even say a word. 

Simon couldn't help but look at the man oddly and then examine himself. He wore ragged trousers with not just one hole in them, a cloak in worse condition, a plain and rather dull buttoned shirt, and boots that looked like they would fall apart any minute. And, to top it off, Simon had messy red hair, a beard that was in worse condition, and tattoos peeking around his neck and on his hands. 

"Sorry, good sir," Simon said politely, "But how can you tell that?"

The man grunted and began to pull out his measuring tape. "It's in how you walk and how you cover those inkings of yours. I've been doing this longer than you've been alive, I'd wager."

"I'm three tens and seven more years, good sir," Simon said, "Though I do not doubt you."

"Well," the man replied as he measured Simon's torso and waist, "Age has been a far kinder lady to you than to me." He looked to Simon's head. "There's a good barber two shops down who can deal with that mess. I'll be done before you get back. I have a suit I need to adjust and it's yours."

Simon nodded his thanks and paid for half up front. He took Kellman's words and went to see the barber he had mentioned. Sure enough, there was a little lady with a sweet smile waiting for him. It wasn't long before his messy mop of red hair was washed and cut into a shorter style that sleeked back and his beard was shaved off with the exception of a little patch he asked to keep. It was a style of the lost Everglen that he had been fond of.

"It's been almost two years since I had the pleasure of cutting Everglen hair," the sweet woman, who turned out to be Kellman's wife, said. "Come back anytime."

Simon dropped the money he owed her in the bowl she had provided and bowed. "I would be glad to, good mistress." She chuckled and remarked on how he was such a good gentleman. It was always good to meet such kind people in these busy cities. Why, just walking back to the tailors had earned Simon three bumps of the shoulder and more than one thrown curse. 

And, to balance out his bit of bad luck, Simon found the old tailor already done with a very nice black and white suit. He even had some black leather gloves laid out! Such talent! Simon paid the man generously and immediately changed into the suit. He was pleased to find out it fit perfectly and even had slits in the back for his swords! Perfection!

Simon walked out of the tailors looking how he wanted. Nice suit, gloves, and a high collar to make him look good and hide his tattoos, and his hair now neat and clean. Now all that was left to do was repair Kingslayer and Highbane and he would be good. 

In the port town of Valhalla, Simon found several forges. He stopped at a place called Leon's Metalworks, which he was allowed to use the forge himself. He didn't dare let anyone touch Kingslayer and Highbane required a special technique to repair, lest the internal components be damaged. Of course, they might already be damaged from the seawater, but it would be wise not to damage them further. 

After nearly three hours of hard work, Simon had his swords repaired and put his suits top back on. He had to remove it while working, lest it get damaged. Highbane looked brand new with all the dents in the blade removed and Kingslayer looked as regal as ever. 

Now all that remained was the tattoo. It only took another hour to traverse the crowded streets of Valhalla - which was made easier with Simon's huge body - and into a tattoo place. It was crowded with roughs who made light of Simon with his suit. They had remarks like 'don't cry when the needle touches, my lord' and the like, but shut up once Simon removed his top. Covering him were tattoos of all shapes and sizes. There was barely any of the rough skin left that had it's original color. 

This had shut up the entire tattoo place and made Simon quite content as he received a tattoo in memory of the Primus and it's crew. It was placed on his hip due to a lack of room anywhere else. Pity, really. Simon was a tough man - as the constant pain of his body and mainly his arm not stopping him from moving showed - but tattoos near the bones still stung. 

Soon enough, it was done and Simon was on his way. He really only had one goal left. Find the man with the iron mask. One would think that would be easy to find, but it turned out to be a harder search than any Simon could remember. 

It was only when he walked into a certain bar that he hit his stroke of luck. 

"Excuse me, good sir," Simon asked the barkeep - a young woman with a perky smile, "Have you seen any men wearing an iron mask?"

The barkeep looked to be in thought for a moment. Was that something one had to think on? "I can't say I have, though I am sure I would remember that, handsome."

Simon nodded his thanks and prepared to leave. Only, he was stopped by a scrawny man sitting at the bar. 

"A've seen yer iron mask, lord," he said in a drunken slur. Simon had the urge to pull away, but was curious. 

"Go on?"

"Thers a l'ttle place.... down south o' her' that is ferest'd," he laughed a little, as if some great joke had just been told. "Iron mark has been se'n ther."

Simon nodded to the man and tossed him a coin. It wasn't much, but it would help pay for another drink and keep his mind off Simon enough to leave.


It only took half an hour to find the forested area. It was up against the massive cliff that shadowed a bit of Valhalla at the current time. How late had it become? Midday? Simon was never good at telling the time, though he seemed to have a knack for working past his assigned schedule. His employers in the past had gotten mad at him for it.

Simon focused on the trees and the places the iron masked man could be hiding. Simon guessed he might be a homeless man trying to have a nice nap or something. 

Luck, it seemed, really did love him this day. 

It was only a few minutes of searching that Simon came upon a man in a hood wearing an iron mask. From the way he moved to the slender body, Simon knew this to be his savior. Finally! He could repay his debt! 

Simon walked forward, trying not to alarm the man by moving too quickly, and bowed. Then, he began to speak recited words. "I am in your debt for your help on the shores." He had decided to keep it simple at first. 

The man jerked around, his cloak swaying with the motion, and revealed himself to be wearing a shirt with large sleeves and gloves that looked... well, odd. He also carried a javelin made for throwing. Simon had made enough of them while being apprenticed to Old Man Thoms years ago. 

"I suppose you're a foreigner," a whisper said, no doubt from the man who was now creeping closer. Alarm rang in Simon's head, but he ignored it. His honor demanded it. "Here, we do not sneak up on vigilantes unless we have a death wish." So, he was a vigilante, not a homeless one. 

Simon smiled politely. Johan's Glory, he wanted to draw a blade! "My apologies. I am not here to fight, though. I am here to offer my services until the day I may repay my debt."

The man pulled his cloak around him and seemed to be examining Simon through the little eyeholes that were present. "And how do I know you'll be of assistance to me," she asked, "Rather than another mouth to feed?" He nodded toward Simon's arm, which was clearly bulging with a hidden bandage. That medic... "You're recovering as it is, I have no doctor. You're eagerness is also a great concern." The javelin pointed toward Simon. He had to bite his cheek to keep from pulling Highbane. "Did somebody send you?"

There was no other way when repaying a debt. Simon would have to tell this man the truth. Hopefully he wouldn't spread around Simon's real name. "My name is Simon Labrov.  I have been a swordmaster of the Lost Kingdom of Everglen for nineteen years. I have perfected the arts of blacksmithing, engineering, and airship repair in the last ten years." Simon placed his hand over his heart. "In the name of Everglen, I swear I bear you no harm until my debt is repaid." 

Anyone with that information could track down Simon's origin. His long forgotten bounty. And maybe even the small population of Everglen remnants that would still pay for his head. It was a risk for Simon, at the least. 

The man in the iron mask seemed thoughtful for a few minutes. Harmen's Flame, what was he thinking? "I need something other than your word," he whispered finally, "Tell me, Mr. Labrov, is there something you love, you cherish, perhaps as much as I cherish my airship?"

Simon pulled Kingslayer in an instant, causing the man to tense visibly. "This sword means more to me than my life," he told the man. He had an airship? 

The man nodded eagerly and held out a hand. "May I see it?"

Simon knew where this was going and he hesitated before handing over the long blade. The man took it and seemed to be able to hold it with relative ease, though wielding it would take two hands for him. 

 "Thank you mister Labrov," he said in a voice that was louder and... more feminine. "I shall regard this sword as security, until you have earned my trust in full. Your will to repay your debt has landed you a spot aboard my airship. Welcome to the crew, Simon." The man took off his mask, revealing the smooth face of a woman and pulled the hood covering pale blonde locks of hair. A woman! "This way to your accommodations," she said in a very neutral voice. 

Simon had a hard time keeping his surprise hidden, but he managed to keep it from coming to his words. "In my old country," Simon said simply, "You would have been well sought after for marriage with skills like yesterday." He bowed. "Lead on."

The woman stiffened visibly before moving. "The only thing I'm seeking is a divorce. Come now."

"Yes, my lady," Simon said before following the increasingly curious woman. 

Whatever could have happened in her past?

The End

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