Blacksmith of the Apocalypse

Chapter 127: Surprising Encounter

There were Fin, Mina, and the rest of ”Yulecat´s Fur ”. It looked like they had just returned from a quest as they still wore their dirty and slightly damaged armors and travel cloaks. It was Fin and Mina that had called out to him, the rest all looked skeptical at him as if doubting his identity.

That was when he gave himself a once-over and did a little self-introspection. They had not met for over a month, which he spent alone with a dwarf in his workshop. His attire looked no better than the party ’s battle-worn items. His face was covered in an unkempt beard and he still wore the sweaty clothes and leather apron he wore during work. His whole person was dirty, covered in a mix of metal shaving, sweat, and soot from the forge.

He had not even the chance to wash up before fleeing from the workshop. No wonder they had a hard time believing it was really him. Obviously, Puffles also had changed a lot. He looked more dangerous and a lot less cute.

”What happened to you two? ” Mike finally asked.

”Well, Tored didn ’t let me leave the shop for the last few weeks. I really had to beg him for this little break. Oh yeah, I wanted to visit my shop. Do you guys want to join us? ”

Seth had already forgotten his appearance when remembered one of his break ’s objectives. He had 4 boxes full of uncommon accessories and jewelry he wanted to display at his shop.

”How about you come with us to the inn first? We can all wash up and make ourselves presentable before visiting your shop. How does that sound? ” this time it was Mina that persuaded him to follow them.

Seth only realized how much he had really needed that bath when he submerged into the warm bath water and a dark cloud was released from his skin, blackening the water in the wooden tub. He realized again that learning some household- and life-magic before returning home was no bad idea. They were minor spells that could clean clothes or purify water.

After shaving, wearing a fresh set of clothes, and becoming somewhat presentable he was intercepted by Mina before he could join the others making a second bath necessary. After a second bath, they shared, they finally joined the rest of the party. Everyone in the party knew why they had taken so long, but didn´t mention it. Except for Fin, who gave Mina a big thumbs-up causing the two to slightly blush.

It didn´t end there. As the group left with the shop as their destination, the fairy sat down on his shoulder and started whispering in his ear.

”You know~ You should take better care of your affairs. Do you know how hard it was for Mina in the last few weeks without meeting you? ”

Despite blushing herself, she kept talking

”You know, Mina told Fin about your ”activities ” and you should take some responsibility for what you did to her. She said it became really hard to find someone who could satisfy her. You should have really taken some more time for the two of you. ”

”Dafuq? ” Seth was shocked. What happened to the innocent Fin? The fairy that kept acting cute and brightly flew around him? Instead of happily coming with him, she told him to take more time for another girl? Their relationship must have really greatly improved if she was acting like Mina ’s pimp…

”I mean, you are doing her, right? You should [omitted] ”

Even Mina who was listening from the side started blushing.

”Stop it! Drop it! Bad Fin! Bad Fairy! No more of this. Naughty girl. Go wash your mouth with soap. ” he started scolding her. Instead of feeling bad or berated, Fin only smiled smugly. The dark seed had been planted; her job was done.

Their bickering stopped when they came before Seth´s shop. It was closed. At once all kinds of scenarios came to Seth´s mind. Did something happen to Marn or the shop? Had the elven blacksmith returned and finally done something to Marn?

Just at this moment, the door with the closed-sign hung on it opened and a dwarf stepped out of the shop. He was of a slightly smaller and delicate stature compared to the kind of warrior dwarfs Seth had met until now, like Yudrid, or Vathon. His bushy beard was cut short and looked very soft. It fit his overall elegant style and the expensive suit he wore.

”Seth? Mina? ”, a half-elf asked confused as he followed the dwarf. It was Marn, healthy and in a good mood even.

”Marn, are you ok? Why is my shop closed? ”

”Your shop? ” the dwarf interrupted before Marn was able to answer.

”Yes. This is my shop, and Marn is my employee. Do you have a problem with him? ”

The dwarf seemed amused when he saw Seth immediately side with the half-elf and laughed a little.

”Then you must be Seth Smith. Quite the contrary. I am happy to tell you, that you will have to find a new employee as the Merchant Association has decided to give this young man a recommendation to enter the Halls of Stone. ” he said with a bright smile that made Marn blush.

”My name is Bertram. I am a representative from the Merchant Association, ” he said and shook the baffled Seth´s hand. The Merchant Association was part of the governmental body of Ora. As the name said, they were originally a group made up of the wealthiest merchants of Ora and they took on the task of managing the city ’s business and finances.

”I-I wanted to tell you about it, but you didn ’t return lately and- ”

”I just handed over the recommendation letter, for Marn to enter the Halls of Stone. ”

It was great news, that Marn finally achieved his dream. The only thing holding him back now was Seth´s shop. Seth knew this and it would have been a lie, if he said that he did not feel regret, letting such a handsome clerk and blacksmith just go.

On the other hand, this was not only a chance for Marn. The shop was in a bad location to begin with. Taking Seth´s skills and his recent growth into account, this was simply not fit as a place to sell his products anymore. He would start producing rare items from now on. He could sell those in the ghetto.

And as chance had it, there was a representative of the administration right in front of him. He ignored the stuttering Marn who still tried to explain and spoke to Bertram.

”That ’s great. I was already thinking of moving shop anyways and this might be the chance. ”

This was, of course, a bald-faced lie. He had not given the shop any more thought after starting his training. Except for dumping his items here, and raking the money after Marn sold them off he had shown no more interest in the shop.

”Since you are taking such a precious employee away from me, don´t you think you owe me something. How about a little help finding a new location on the surface of the commercial district? ”

Some might think of Seth´s approach as presumptuous. The party members behind him were definitely shocked. But Seth knew, although he had not cared much about the shop, he had a good reputation in Ora. There was a boatload of B-Rank adventurers that not only remembered him but had kept advertising his shop.

Even so it became a bit quieter around the shop after Seth had left, the fact that it had kept running smoothly until now and even helped Marn get his recommendation, showed that he was not forgotten.

Bertram had fallen silent for a moment when he heard Seth´s assertion that the dwarf owed him something for fulfilling Marn ’s wish. The representative looked at the flustered elf. Marn was handsome, more than handsome. Customers of both genders were touched by his looks and gentle nature. Bertram was a merchant true. Saying that causing such an asset to leave the business accrued debt, seemed reasonable.

”Alright, I will help you find a place on the surface. Of course, for a small fee. ”

”I only pay a fee, if you take care of the paperwork, too. ”

”Deal. ”

And like this, before any of the other really understood, what was happening, Seth had already abandoned the shop location and made a deal for a new one.

”So…it´s okay that I leave? ” Marn asked carefully.

”No. No, it isn´t. You will have to help me find a replacement for you. That´s the least you should do. ”

It sounded mean, but Marn was relieved, that Seth didn ’t hold a serious grudge.

Bertram promised to search for possible locations and left. Seth went ahead and invited Marn and the party for an eating conte- lunch. It was his break and he wanted to enjoy it. Over dinner, they talked about their experiences of the last weeks. Everyone listened attentively to Marn´s soft voice as he talked about stories from his work.

Lixiss blushed wildly every time she looked at Marn ever since the first time they met at the shop. She had never met Marn before, as she did not usually need items from a blacksmith ’s shop. Even Fin was spellbound by the narrating elf. Only Mina was weirdly immune to his elven charm.

She was sitting beside him and concentrated on decimating the food while everyone else wasn ’t looking. She had a hard time competing with Puffles and Seth. The first didn´t understand humanoid beauty standards and the second had long gotten used to Marn. When Seth asked why Mina didn ’t care, he got a shocking answer.

”Elves have no stamina. They are total blanks in bed. Why do you think they have so little offspring? Don´t believe their ”long-lived races are less potent ”. Look at all the mixed-bloods, guess which parent is the elf. 90% of the time it´s not their father. ” she gave him a dirty grin as Seth looked at her stupefied.

She used this moment of carelessness and stole a piece of steak from his plate.

”YoU! ” it was the start of a merciless battle one of the two had to win, regardless of the consequences. By the time the other escaped the spell of Marn ’s voice, the table was wiped clean. The food was gone before they even got the chance to touch it.

The most heartrending outcome of the battle, was Fin´s sorrowful expression as she looked at the three greedy pigs. Their betrayal broke her tiny, tiny heart. Were they not companions? Friends? Were they not brethren on this battlefield of food? She could have understood to eat without the others… but to eat without her?! The cruelty of her friends hit the small fairy hard and she broke down in tears.

The three culprits only watched her with stone faces. Others might fall for her acts, but not them. Their brethren on this battlefield knew exactly, that she was the first to lift her fork if it came down to hogging food to herself.

”Tch. ” Fin clicked her tongue and stopped acting when she saw, that Seth was not going to order another round of food.

All this was of course in sense of good friendship. They ordered another round of food and everyone had a good time until they separated later that day.

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