After the cat problem was resolved, life settled down to what Fiddler's Vale considered to be normal. For Jarg, that meant he either worked on the forges with Vansel supervising him, on the big saws with Vansel's brother Argen watching as he cut trees into logs and then split the logs into usable pieces with a large axe, or hauling food or other items to folks that lived in the area around the town for various reasons.
The days passed by with slow and steady regularity, then like an ill wind blasting through, everything changed in a few brief moments.
Three folks came riding and driving hard toward the town gates in the early morning hours not long after the gates had opened wide. All three were human sized or close to it, the one on the cart slowly resolved into the form of a white haired slightly shorter woman with a strange symbol blazing in the center of her forehead. Then a guard noticed that the one who was hooded had claws instead of hands.
Weapons were drawn and the three were stopped for a short while as explanations were given, then a seal was passed to a guard. This startled the guard, who identified it as a seal stamped by the hand of the town's mayor, and the three were allowed to enter the town.
They made their way to the city hall, eventually met the mayor and passed on their news. That news brought swift response from the mayor, he called for messengers and had them running to find representatives of the temples, the mages' guild, the town guard and several others.
The three ended up waiting outside the city hall while the representatives were summoned and met with the mayor.
While they were waiting, someone near them yelled, "Loitering again, I see!"
That was when the tall one noticed the speaker in the street before her, a tiny woman astride a fair sized dog, wearing a big grin.
That turned into a reunion of sorts as the two spent a short time talking. It turned out the tiny woman, whose name was Duskade, had been accepted as a member of the town's guard troop, and had proved herself in several small skirmishes since that time.
The tall one, Acera, sighed and shook her head as she told Duskade that major trouble was coming their way, "Things are going to get seriously bad, Duskade. The undead and the shadow people are rising and will be gathering to make an assault on the town some time soon."
Duskade just shrugged it off and waited with them while the three sat there in front of city hall for the next hour.
Seeing that they wouldn't be called back inside any time soon, Duskade eventually suggested that she show the three around the town. Acera replied, saying that made sense, and added that they had been told to go to the training grounds to meet the town's defenders.
The small group wandered off, an odd one for sure, especially with tiny Duskade leading the way.
Jarg was in the smithy, working at one of the forges, partway through making a plowshare for a farmer when the news reached him.
"Huh," he grunted as he swung the hammer at the implement again, "that doesn't sound good? The news is sure?"
The bringer of the news, a town messenger named Sharm, shrugged and nodded as he replied, "We're to set up a defensive force."
It was Jarg's turn to shake his head, he could hear Vansel muttering, "Another bloody invasion,dammit," as he worked at a forge nearby.
Jarg chuckled, he'd heard a few stories from Vansel, Vargas and others about events that happened before he wandered into town to stay. "Thanks for bringing us the news. Vansel, I guess you'll be meeting with the mayor about all of this?"
Vansel nodded, shrugged his shoulders and sighed as he laid the horseshoe he had just finished making aside. "I'm on my way now."
Jarg stood there watching for a moment as Vansel removed the big apron, hung his hammer on a pair of heavy nails on the wall and left the smithy. Once the smith was gone, Jarg released his own sigh and returned to focusing on the work of shaping the new ploughshare.
Vansel was a big man, somewhere around six and a half feet tall, broad shouldered and strong from all the years of working a forge. That wasn't changed at all by his steel blue eyes which looked everywhere as he walked to the city hall, or his very short salt and pepper hairstyle.
He'd strapped a different hammer onto his belt before he left the smithy, a hammer with a large point on one side of it.
He walked into the town hall, spoke to an older woman at the counter and waited for a few minutes before the mayor led him into his office.
The mayor wasn't much younger than Vansel, perhaps forty years or so to Vansel's nearly fifty, but he was quite a different person. Theodor Rumbelfeld was easily a foot shorter, and quite stout rather than muscular, as he rarely walked anywhere since he had held office here.
Vansel looked down at the red-faced mayor, who apparently was angry at the fact that his town was being invaded again. The emphasis the mayor put on calling it his town was all too obvious, the silly man acted as if the town wouldn't exist at all if he wasn't there to run it.
"I'm here, Theo. What do you need me to do?" Vansel was blunt to the point of rudeness, there was way too much work to be done if there actually was an invasion on the way. Add in that someone had said the invasion would be by the undead and the shadow people and that meant that, once whatever weapons were made by him, Jarg and others, they would need to be blessed by one of the priests from the temples.
"Well, hello to you, too, Vansel. Damn inconsiderate bastards to want to invade my town. We need lots of weapons, Vansel, especially stuff that can be used by just about anyone. Daggers, scythes, hammers, anything that can be made in large amounts and as soon as possible."
"That's going to take a lot of time, Theo. Have you talked to the other smith, Gregg? He does most of the farm tools for the area," Vansel asked.
A knock at the door of the office interrupted them. The mayor waved to Vansel, motioning to open the door, and he did. Standing just out of the door's path as it opened stood the other smith himself, Gregg Boulter, carrying his work hammer in his large left hand.
"'Twas a messenger at me shop, telling me to get me arse here in double time, so here I be! What be happening with us?" he enquired.
Vansel waved him in, then turned to face the mayor again as he stated, "We're to make simple weapons for any folk to use, Gregg."
Theodor nodded, grumbling as he sagged into the only chair in the office behind a simple yet large wooden desk. "Anything that a townsperson or a farmer could wield fairly easily without a lot of training, daggers, scythes, hammers, stuff like that, and we need it all right now!"
Gregg laughed at the mayor's grouchy attitude, shrugging it off as he looked over toward Vansel. "I should be able to do a fair amount of each of those items as long as I don't get interrupted constantly. I assume you'll be working on making these items as well, Vansel?" he asked.
Vansel nodded, and after several minutes of further discussion to clarify things, he and Gregg walked out of the city hall together.
Once outside, Gregg turned and started walking toward the northern end of town, where his shop was located, as Vansel went the other way.
Vansel returned to his smithy a short while later, informed Jarg about what they would be doing and the two got down to business. Several townsfolk were startled by the repeated concussive slams of two heavy hammers as the two men worked late into the night.
On the day after the town was warned of the invasion to come, the two were busy working when the outer door of the smithy suddenly opened. A small shape strode into the smithy, peering around until they noticed the two men at their separate forges, now staring at her.
Yes, her, the new person was a dwarven female who appeared to be a fairly recent arrival, her simple clothes were dusty but serviceable.
She stepped closer to the two full sized forges, moving slowly and carefully. It was only when she was fully within the light of Jarg's forge that they could see that she was carrying her own portable forge and had a large belt with a variety of items in pouches or strapped to it.
"I bid ye a good day, masters. I be here to ask if I might set up me small forge here and work with ye on making weapons?"
The soft lilting voice was a surprise to the two men, even more so with the slight accent and speech pattern that spoke of distant places.
Vansel stepped around his forge, still holding his hammer, chuckling softly as he approached the small woman.
"Good day to you as well. Ahhh, nice little portable forge there, that's useful. That holy symbol is an odd one, I don't know it," Vansel stated.
"That be no surprise, good sir. Austri has called me to serve by protecting others and by working at a forge when I can spare the time." That simple statement, along with the symbol of the hammer and anvil shining on her brow, made her intent to help the town in any way quite clear.
Vansel nodded and helped the woman, who told the two men that her name was Kotori, to set up her forge in an open space.
The first thing that Kotori did after her forge had been set up was to bless each and every weapon Vansel and Jarg had already made. Only after she had done that to every single piece there did she begin the process of lighting her forge so she could add her own efforts to theirs.
It didn't take long for Kortori's smaller hammer to make its counterpoint against the sound of the larger hammers the two men were wielding.
The steady beat of the hammers could be heard each day as they created various pieces. Vansel was making warhammers while Jarg was creating a steady supply of daggers and the occasional short sword. Kotori made slightly smaller hammers similar to Vansel's warhammer.
The only interruptions were from Vansel's brother Argen, Vansel's wife Twist or Madame Benrime, telling them they needed to eat something. Each time they finished eating, they returned to the work. There was so much to be done and no telling how much time they had to do it.
As each piece, dagger, short sword, scythe or hammer was finished, Kotori would bless it and add a spell of protection against undead to it.
War was coming, every blessing would be needed to help keep the townsfolk safe in the battles ahead of them.
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