A Familiar Aquaintance

Melothil spent his days with Darinal, working with him at his blacksmith's shop.

Darinal was surprised to see that Melothil was able to pick up the craft fairly quickly, and with minimal teaching on his part.

Melothil kept it to himself that he actually had quite a lot of experience in the field.

But his single arm slowed him down. He knew how to do everything, but sometimes it appeared as though he was slightly incompetant. However, Melothil was thankful for this disguise; it would make him fit in more without arousing suspicion.

The nights at the local inn were lively - always a new face to talk and drink with, and Melothil quickly adjusted to the possibility of a social life. Despite his missing arm people were very friendly. Buying him drinks which he had never tasted - the Guild banned the use of intoxicating substances to avoid hindering one's judgement - and approaching him to trade stories. Few questioned his missing arm, for there were far more tragedies that had befallen residents of Haven.

Darinal trusted Melothil with the shop, and although Darinal worked through the day, he allowed Melothil to get on with his own work so as to increase profits.

Melothil was payed a handsome salary, and he hoped that he would not have to remain living with Darinal's family for much longer, for he sensed that he was an inconvenience.

Numerous times he had suggested that he rent out a room in the inn and keep working at the blacksmith's to earn enough to purchase a small home of his own, but Darinal insisted that he was no trouble. Unfortunately, it seemed that Floral disagreed.

Melothil worked his hardest to take his mind off his past, to try to convince himself that this was all he'd ever done. But it was too hard to block out the memories of Freth, heading towards the location of Zephiel and Rickard. Claron, the city which the map marked as the location of the driver, was only a five-day trek away from Hated. It had been three days since losing his arm, but already it felt like forever ago.

Darinal talked often about how he wanted Darna to follow in his footsteps, and Melothil wished that he could have a son to love like Darinal loved Darna. Melothil wished he could find somebody to share the truth with, that wouldn't judge him, that would just comfort him and dedicate themself to him.

To take his mind off his loneliness, Melothil offered to teach Darna a thing or two about smithing. Although at first Darinal was reluctant, due to his 'inexperience', he was persuaded to give Melothil a try run, with increased pay.

Melothil began working with Darna the next day, teaching him the basics, and letting him hammer out the blades that were on order from visitors to Haven.

It was during one of Darna's lessons that Melothil heard a quiet but seemingly familiar voice.

'The finest weapons outside Hated.'

He looked up to see whom the voice was coming from, but saw nobody he recognised. Only men and women going about their business, and one man, dressed in normal peasant clothing, holding a long claymore. Even the sword looked familiar, but the man wielding it did not.

Darinal interrupted Melothil's train of thought by crying happily out to the stranger. 'Hail! What brings you to my humble blacksmith?'

The conversation went on after the two embraced, obviously close friends being reunited.

The stranger mentioned that he needed some repairs on his weapon, and Darinal obliged. He assured him that it would be kept quiet - the man's presence here.

Melothil didn't know quite why he should wish for such secrecy, and as if reading his mind, Darinal asked the same question.

The stranger was about to answer, when he looked directly into the eyes of Melothil, and then down to Darna, who was standing with him.

Darinal caught sight of his gaze and turned to the two of them.

'Why don't you two take a break? The two of us mean to be a while.'

Obliging, Melothil and Darna walked round the corner to the back of the shop. Darna, ignoring Melothil, ran away, no doubt to go home for some lunch. But Melothil stayed put, intent on hearing the conversation of secrets.

Listening intently, Melothil was able to make out very little.


And then, from Darinal, a little too loudly: 'He's here?!'

Melothil heard nothing after that, but was able to piece together what was being discussed.

Zephiel had fled the city after Melothil's assassination attempt failed, and after the attack that had befallen them, which Melothil had observed from a tree, Zephiel and his guard had fled here.

Freth had been wrong.

Melothil had been right.

Zephiel was here, in the city, right within arm's reach.

And this man, this mysterious stranger... It could only be his loyal and faithful guard.


The End

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