Master of his Craft

-Three Days Prior-

The guards saw Gularzob and Perun coming and immediately opened the gates for them. There was a faint breeze, which bore the sweet fragrance of the blooming flowers growing in the palace courtyard, the heady scent masking the odours from the nearby stables. The majordomo escorted the towering green Orc through the long entryway, glancing up at the other guards positioned above on the walls to the right and left that were armed with crossbows. Various staff—household servants, groundskeepers, stablehands and such—moved efficiently about the yard, many of them slaves with iron collars fastened about their necks; an all-too-common sight in Dalen. Soon Kalena Valade appeared languidly from an arched doorway, a goblet of wine held in one manicured hand. She was clad in a simple linen gown, looking casually elegant with her long curly tresses loose about her shoulders.

"Gularzob," she said, smiling and greeting him. "So good of you to come, and on such short notice. I hope the day has been treating you well. Would you care for some refreshments?"

She gracefully turned and led the blacksmith inside to a burnished wood table in a high-ceilinged sitting room on the first floor. Laid out across the table was a set of black-painted chainmail shoulder-guards, a black steel corset perfectly crafted to fit a woman's torso, a matching set of bracers and greaves, and a single metal gauntlet, also in black. The pieces of light armour were all of very fine quality and workmanship but had a battered look, like they'd been through a lot. Setting her drink down, Kalena slid the gauntlet over her left hand and demonstrated its innovative retractable blade, and the poisoned needle hidden within the index finger.

"A gift from an old mentor," she remarked nostalgically, pulling the glove off. "I can't tell you how many people I killed with that. All of this served me spectacularly well, at any rate, but I was wondering if you might be able to refurbish them, make the metal lighter and harder, and enchant it with certain spells. Or, alternatively, forge a duplicate set for me, with as many useful improvements as you're capable of devising."

Gularzob, she had discovered upon first arriving in Dalen, was one of the best horse-shoers in the Two kingdoms, and for that express reason she had wanted him to shoe all her horses, but Kalena had also heard of his reputed armour-smithing skills. If war broke out between Dalen and Verden, she wanted to be ready to either stand at Queen Thalia's side, or fight her way clear of the two armies and simply scarper. Whichever option she chose would largely depend on the circumstances at the time. At the moment, she was sitting pretty here, and would be loathe to abandon her property and other investments in Dalen, but she was more than wealthy enough to pick up and settle somewhere else if she had to; however to do that, she and Enyo would need to get away first. The powerful mare had armour too, but could probably do with a new set made as well, especially of the sort that Gularzob could forge.

A serving slave quietly, and rather timidly, approached the immense Orc with a tray bearing a huge tankard of ale, a goblet of wine, another containing cool water, and a big mug of refreshing hot tea, whatever might suit his taste.

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