∴ An Unusual Customer∴
You turn the rapier over in your hand, marvelling at how the light plays off the serpentine blade like a cold steel flame. Steadying it on one white-gloved finger, you check its balance, sucking breath through your teeth in surprised admiration. It is a beautiful piece: the gem-like pommel and quillons, the almost aggressive elegance of its curves, the glimmering facets of its onyx-black guard. And a dagger to match!
As you go to pick up the main gauche, you are interrupted by a gentle cough. You turn to find the smith’s apprentice hovering behind you, a look of consternation lingering behind his polite facade.
“I am afraid that this set was made on special commission, your Honour. Made for a rather… particular client.”
“Come now,” you smile, turning the rapier in your hand. “How many years have I been your master’s patron now? He knows I take a special interest in his more unusual pieces. Surely we can work out an arrangement. Go on – name a price.”
“I can assure you it’s more than my master’s job is worth to cross this customer,” the apprentice responds.
“Alright then,” you laugh, “who do I have to fight for them?
You are surprised to see something like fear flashing behind the young man’s eyes. Annoyance you might expect. Temptation, certainly, or at least a battle between conscience and commerce. But this is something else – as if his own blood were on the line.
You are about to speak again when the door behind the apprentice opens with a jarring jingle of bells. You fight to retain composure as you take in the figure who enters – and yet your face must betray some of your shock. Fine of figure and dusky-grey of complexion, the newcomer moves toward you with discomforting grace. Her coat and breeches are unadorned, yet perfectly fitted, as fine as any courtly garb.
She eyes the extravagant rapier in your hand, the decadent dagger on the counter beside you. A dangerous smile spreads from her wine-red lips up the length of her knife-edge cheekbones, to the tips of her pointed ears.
“Good,” the elf murmurs, “good. You know I hate to be kept waiting.”