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When Dreams Become Reality Part 4
Ashan kept an eye out behind him trying to catch a glimpse of the person that he was sure was following them. When Arkesh stopped to ask him what had him on edge a man wearing torn rags leaped from the low roof of a nearby house, his dagger glinting in the moonlight. The metallic clang of the dagger rebounding off Arkesh’s armoured fist right in front of his face snapped Ashan into action. Adrenaline filled him as he swung his sword at the man in an attempt to maim him. The thug ducked under his blow and collided with Arkesh’s fist in his gut. Several more blows made contact with the thug with sickening thuds. Ashan sheathed his blade at Arkesh’s command and they left the man groaning on the side of the shadowy road. No doubt the man would fall prey to another thief who saw him in his weakened state.
Arkesh lead him into an Inn called The Singing Fox and he was engulfed by cheerful talk from every direction. Most of the men’s eyes were drawn to the young blonde woman who was singing a vulgar tune and her short skirt showed more leg than was appropriate. Her skirt didn’t even cover her knees! The few serving women did their best to avoid being pinched by the men as they manoeuvred through the tables. Arkesh gave the innkeeper some coins and she nodded and gave him directions to one of the rooms upstairs. What caught Ashan’s eyes was the men playing dice on the opposite side of the room to the singer.
Ashan had always had impossibly good luck with dice when he played the men in small games in the common room of the Hunter’s House Of Ale back home. He brought his mind back to the present to keep himself from coming to tears right then. The minimum buy-in was fifteen gold piece and he only had twenty gold pieces as in a small village like his that was a substantial amount but in big cities like this it was a decent amount but nothing out of the ordinary.
With a sigh he sat at the table and placed down his fifteen gold pieces. In about a half hour his coin purse began to bulge with silver and gold and he thought he had better leave the game before the scowls he was getting became more than simple scowls. Though it was probably his imagination he thought he could feel their burning gazes staring at his back as they wondered how they were going to tell their wives they had lost their coin gambling.
When he found their room he chucked the bulging purse onto one of the beds with a clink that made Arkesh raise an inquisitive eyebrow towards him.
“Dice,” Ashan said simply.
“Ah, I remember the days when I tried my luck at dice but it didn’t go so well,” Arkesh said with a chuckle, “Tomorrow you should take that money down to a blacksmith and ask him to craft a sword to suit you and if he tells you it will take days then you need only show him that purse and his greed will get you the quickest service he has to offer, don’t you worry about that.
On that note they both laid down, ready to sleep and soon the sounds of laughter from the common room became distant and they drifted to sleep. Arkesh and Ashan woke at he sound of knocking at the door, sunlight had begun to filter through the dusty glass window.
“Come in,” Arkesh said, putting his hand on the hilt of the sword beside his bed. His grip left the sword as the door swung open to reveal a maid carrying fresh bundles of sheets and another maid stood behind her waiting with a broom. Judging by the thick layer of dust on the wooden floor, it had been sometime since the room had been used. The inn must have seen some business last night.
Within the hour Arkesh had packed up his bags and they left the room to the maids.
“I must go back to the horses and ride to the keep,” Arkesh said, pointing to the huge building in the middle of the city, “ I will fetch you shortly, go see the blacksmith, and make sure you remain in the Trade District.” Arkesh walked off and through those huge gates into the Citizen’s District and along that straight stone road towards the southern stables.
Ashan turned away and examined the street. This street was fairly plain, people going about their life. One thing that stood out was a finely made fountain. It was made of a statue of a man hugging a woman but that was not so intriguing as their garments. Both the man and woman had leaves and vines carved into them to form their clothing. He realised the reason it had caught his eye was because the leaves had been carved with such a skill they seemed to growing around the man and woman.
After asking a few directions he found himself outside a square building with dust covered windows and a rickety wooden sign that hung over the doorway and blew in the breeze. Black paint on the sign was peeling nut he could tell from what was left that it was a picture of a blacksmith’s hammer and anvil. Patting the purse he had concealed under his shirt he stepped into a small room where a muscled man with a long wiry beard and wild hair leant over an anvil with hammer in hand. The man looked up from the half finished candle bracket on his anvil, beads of sweat racing each other down his face.
The man’s voice was gruff, “What do you need boy, I’m busy here,”
“I need a custom made sword,” Ashan said, “today.”
The man laughed, “You must be joking.”
Ashan rattled the purse in front of the man and repeated, “Today.”
“Of course,” the man said, greed shining in his eyes.
Ashan left the store with his new sword and the sun was beginning its descent. The man hadn’t stopped working at all, so greedy to finish the job as fast as possible for that coin. He nearly tripped when Arkesh rushed around the corner.
“The king has sent his forces to defend, I will give you lessons to prepare you for the coming battle,” Arkesh said.
“Very well,” Ashan replied. The man always expected to be obeyed and that was probably because he usually was. Hurriedly they continued down the path on their way to the training grounds in the Royal district which off duty guards often used to hone their abilities. ‘This was going to be a very long afternoon’ Ashan thought to himself, now eyeing the sun’s progress through the sky and hoping their wouldn’t be too much daylight left.
Cave Creek, Arizona
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