“I’ll know if you don’t leave. I have your scent.” Impulsively, he took a step toward her. “What is your name?”
“So you can report me?”
“So I can savor it in my dreams.”
And like the shadow she resembled, she was gone. Left with her taste and scent, Raven gathered his scattered belongings, inventorying them. She had taken a single gold piece. Chuckling, he tossed the full bag in his hand and went back to bed, the bag under his pillow.
“Zulimara….. Fair name for a fair lady.”
Unable to go back to sleep, he lay in bed, mulling over the strange event. He wondered if Sam knew a skilled thief frequented his establishment. If not, he would likely be appalled. However, if Zulimara left as he’d told her, it was of no consequence. But would she? Remembering her attitude, he rather thought not.
“All the better,” he murmured. “For it makes the hunt exciting, when the prey is wily.”
He rose and dressed at dawn, visited the necessary, and entered the taproom looking for breakfast. Thick slabs of bacon sizzled over the fire, a steaming, aromatic pot bubbled next to it. Fresh bread cooled on the bar. His mouth watered in anticipation, as he ordered his meal.
After eating, Raven walked down the street to the silver smith’s shop. The display in the window blazed brilliantly in the morning light. The sunny reflections teased and taunted him with their beauty. A strand of silver bells tinkled over the door, as he entered.
A sturdy, red face man, with thinning ginger locks, smiled warmly. “Good day, milord. Sam said to expect you, Mr. Willoughby.” He held out a thick, freckled hand. “Welcome. I’m Vaughan Silver.”
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Silver.”
“And you, sir. What can I do for you today?”
Raven took out an oilskin bundle from his bag, unrolling it on the counter. Inside were a brace of wicked looking daggers.
“Handsome weapons, sir. But hardly my bailiwick. These are finest steel. May I?”
“Crafted in the Orient,” Silver breathed reverently as he picked up a blade. “Magnificent. You could shave with this. How can I possibly improve upon perfection?”
“I need the blades dipped in purest silver.”
“Immediately. I’ll wait.”
“This could compromise the blades. The heat—”
“These blades are heat tempered. I very much doubt I need to worry. I’m most interested in the tip being serviceable.”
“May one inquire?” he left the question hanging.
“I hear the dead walk the docks at night. As I have business interests there, some of which may take place after dark, I wish to be armed.”
“I see. What manner of business….” He snapped his lips shut. “Not my affair.”
“Hunting,” Raven growled, chuckling. It was a very disturbing sound, even to his ears.
“The dead?” Silver squeaked.
“Aye. If dead they be. Nothing takes down evil, like silver.”
“I can get on this immediately. The forge is just heating up.”
“It must be pure,” Raven emphasized. “Add this.” He handed over the locket Zulimara had tried to steal.
“But this is gold.”
“Yes. It’s the only impurity allowed. If the silver is not pure, or the locket doesn’t make it into the blend, I’ll know.”
Silver smiled. “I’ve no doubt. To that end, would you like to watch?”
“I would be pleased to see the master at work.”
Silver led Raven behind the storefront, into the workroom. It was hotter than hot, with the coal forge lit. Taking a crucible from the shelf, he showed Raven it was clean.
“Brand new, never used. We add a bit of nickle to our usual blend, to give it strength. Pure silver is too soft for most uses. For your purposes….” He lifted a heavy bar from a cupboard. It bore a maker’s mark, labeling it as pure. “Will this do?”
Raven took the bar, scratching it with his thumb nail. First, he sniffed it, then tasted it. “This will do nicely.”
“Excellent.” Mr. Silver led Raven to the forge. “Jimmy, my lad. Take the pots out and stand the bellows!”
“Yes, sir.” The boy worked swiftly and deftly, removing the other crucibles from the coals. Following his master’s orders, he moved quickly, without error.
It was a bit of a wait, but finally the melted metal was ready. Raven unwrapped the daggers once more and the boy brought heavy gloves, tongs and a cooling rack.
©2021 Dellani Oakes