The Alarian Job

Jaron the blacksmith wished he had been born in a reality where life insurance would be a thing. When Dominus Ashlar, the Overseer of your land, had asked him to procure 10,000 blades of Shirvek Steel, Jaron was smart enough to ask “what colour the hilt?” Ashlar also needed 13 Æbe’trax blades – a metal deemed to be unforgeable – but it seemed to Jaron more of a joke than a real task. But the 10,000 blades were surely a must! Sure, the procurement of arms in times of peace was strictly against the law, but then again, so was disobeying a Dominus.

Everyone knew the Dominus reputation preceded him. In fact, his reputation had the tendency to arrive five minutes before Ashlar did. It would arrive on carpets of skulls and rivers of blood and say cool things like “listen up” and “heads will roll”.

But to find 10,000 blades in times of peace and stability was like herding cats on a rainy day: unmanageable. And yet, Jaron valued the integrity of his head a tad too much to throw his hands up in surrender. His approach to fulfilling Ashlar’s orders was like swallowing a 3 ft. longsword: he wasn’t going to take it lying down. After due consideration, Jaron visited the only place where illegal affairs were the norm: the harbour.

‘Greetings to you, good sir; madam—’ blurted Jaron to any unsuspecting passers-by who happened to be within reach. ‘You ladyships and gents wouldn’t happen to know where one might procure a shipment of 10,000 Shirvek swor—’

At this point in the conversation, the crowds would scutter away in fright, their gloved hands making efforts at pulling their shirts over their faces.

‘I only wanted to talk, is all. How rude!’ complained Jaron, in blatantly visible goodwill. A hooded figure bumped hard into him. A few heartbeats later, he realized his coin pouch was missing. ‘And my chewable leaves are missing too!’

A shifty-looking individual with a weasel face and large front teeth approached him. ‘Missshter, missshter—‘

‘—honestly now, that was my finest batch of— Umm, can I help you?’

From under a weathered cloak arose a lispy, business smile. ‘Dish you ssshay 10,000 Ssshrivek Ssshwords? I can ssshget them for yousssh.’

‘Y-you can? Bless you, good sir! Bless you!’ said Jaron with the innocence of the tourist about to be given the “long scenic route” by the Pelsinn-cart driver.

18 waitings later, Jaron the Blacksmith had mortgaged his smithy, pawned his wife and gave his donkey up for adoption to the loving caring Salami Syndicate of Tapacco Urb. It hadn’t been easy, no, but at least he had 10,000 swords from of Hoarfrosta’s finest steel. Alright, so he hadn’t been able to find a smelting method for “Ashlar’s 13 Æbe’trax blades”, but he wasn’t worried. Dominus Ashlar would surely reward him for completing the first task.

Jaron lounged on his straw mattress (the bed under it had already been sold) and contemplated the dark and infinite open skies (he sold the roof too) stretching above him like a velvety mantle of indigo. Things were starting to look up, he felt sure.

‘Ashlar will reward me,’ he reassured himself. ‘He’ll cover me in unseen riches!’

Yes, yes, yes… soon enough, he would be blessed to see his coin pouch recuperated, his smithy refurbished, his wife reinstated and his donkey recovered.

‘I will see it true,’ he repeated.

Yes, yes, he was on a path – that much he knew – and with that final thought, Jaron shut his eyes to a world of dream and of darkness.

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2017