Chapter 38Mature

Simon smiled widely as he pulled the finished blade from sharpening stone. The Balance truly was with him this day! He had spent all his free time in the makeshift forge fixing up the dingy place and creating this new blade. It was not like Freed, a sword made for convenience sake, nor was it like Highbane, large and imposing. No, this sword was blessed by Harmon's Flame itself!

The blade was long, yet not too wide. It had the look of a traditional claymore. It had a lighter weight to it, as well. The cross guard had an emblem of a stag on a grassy meadow; the very symbol of Everglen. Of course, the blade had another function. With Highbane repaired, he could face off against ranged enemies, but he had little defense against beasts. This blade had been made out of Gyrium metal, something Simon had doubted still existed sometimes. He had found a bunch of the stuff on board the Asterius, as luck would have it. The Balance was at work.

The blade would take any heat into itself and not become malleable in the least. Instead, heat made it stronger. The only way to work the metal was to let it sit in the flames for hours upon hours until it finally gave. It had taken long enough, but Simon had managed to work a friction device into the metal. Now, how to test it...

A knock came from the door.

"Yes?" Simon asked politely, quickly pulling on his gloves and changing his worker's apron for his dress jacket. It wasn't the high-quality one he had initially gotten in Valhalla, but it would do for rough work.

"We've landed. Captain wants people to check the area." That voice... Was that the newest member? That sharpshooter? "What are you even doing in there?"

Simon opened the door, shivering as a cold blast of air followed. The burly sharpshooter stood there looking at Simon with an odd look. He was about an inch or so taller than Simon, yet not as large around the arms and shoulders. Probably from a lack of actually swinging a good blade. Guns were useful, Simon would admit, but they were for untrained men or cowards.

"Forging," Simon told the man, "Also, I needed to test this forge so that I may begin to fix this vessel."

The sharpshooter gave him another odd look. "You're very formal, huh? Well, have fun with your swords and stuff. I'm off to do yet another task I don't like. Gotta get paid, though."

Simon nodded, not letting the man - Lee was his name - see him grit his teeth.

The whole of the Asterius' deck was covered in white powder Simon recognized as snow. It had been nearly ten years since he had seen the stuff, so he was somewhat taken by surprise. Blue Tiger was here? Well, his newest blade was made just in time. Simon carried the warm blade with him as he waded through the snow toward the Captain.

She looked startled slightly when he approached, as if in deep thought. "Captain, is it alright if I take someone and start scouting around the ship?"

"Didn't I send Lee to ask you that already?" she snapped. Something had the girl on edge.

"Of course," Simon said, bowing. He took his leave before she could say more. He needed to save her life, of course, but first he needed to earn her trust to get Kingslayer back. With Highbane, Freed, Kingslayer, and his newest sword in possession, Simon could once again have a semblance of his old collection. At least, until he made it back to Jonstar.

Crunching footsteps chased Simon down before he could exit the Asterius. He saw that it was the captain. He continuously forgot how short she was, somehow. Even with the shapeless clothing she wore and the mask she liked to wear that made her seem larger, she was still small. But, Simon knew not to underestimate anyone. His first loss after becoming a swordmaster was to a woman named Lidia. She had been a head shorter and five years younger. It had been a good match and taught Simon a valuable lesson.

"Simon, you're coming with me."

Simon nodded. "Yes, Captain."

Rayna turned. "Arcebus! You're in charge until I return!"

In the distance, through the downpour of snow, Simon saw the other man nod and move away. He hadn't even noticed the man was there. This snow was not good for the senses.

"You trust him with the ship?" Simon asked Rayna.

She shrugged. "Not sure, but he already had an opportunity to steal it from me. I don't think he will."

"He might be waiting until you are gone."

Rayna shook her head. "I'm taking you for a reason. Without a good shipwright, the Asterius won't last. He knows that." The way she said that showed she hated it. "It needs a good port to repair at, but it won't get there without you."

Simon nodded.

And then they headed off into the snow. Or, at least, they started to. A screeching sound stopped both of them in their tracks. Simon wasn't sure what it was that made that sound, but he felt fear bubbling in the dark recesses of his soul. The Balance was at work here. He was sure of it.

 

The End

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