New character, new party member? You decide. This one I introduce the smith at the Happy Happy Blacksmith.
Rage of the Cursed, Part 6 — The Smith
The city of Terragrecio thrived like a living being. Merchants called to passerbys, touting the quality of their wares. Tieshaie stopped to marvel at several stands, many of them didn’t sell cloth. He had no idea there were so many boutiques in the city.
“Stop wasting time,” Xallion said through clenched teeth. “We’re not here to shop.”
Tieshaie held a dress against her body and rolled her eyes. “It’s not wasting time at all. I’m investigating. You would be surprised how much you can learn by just keeping your ears and eyes open.”
Xallion knew all about that. However, his sensitive senses always stayed on edge in cities, not mention the constant threat of losing control of his curse. “If you want to investigate, do it alone. I am going to the smithy, with or without you.”
“Fine, Fine,” Tieshaie said, putting the dress back on the rack. “We can get my cloth on the way out. I don’t see how this guy would be stupid enough to show up. He has to know you’d find the blood.”
“Regardless. I need to make sure Icraye is alright.”
Tieshaie donned a catty smile. “Eek-Ray? Is that your girlfriend? She’s forest folk?”
“Yes she’s like you, but she’s just a friend.”
“Suuuure.” Tieshaie jabbed him in the stomach. It carried a surprising amount of power.
The two of them walked to the city center. Tieshaie spent the entire walk casing the passing people. Xallion kept a wary eye on her, hoping to discourage her from ‘borrowing’ anything. A part of him wanted her to do so; part of his annoyance with her came from his inability to pin crimes on her. The bag of spices had been fairly conclusive, but he couldn’t deny stealing the bag of spices gave him a chance to catch a much bigger fish.
Tieshaie disrupted his thoughts by slipping her arm around his. She leaned against him and pointed to a distant building. “So, that’s the smithy?”
He frowned over at her, and gently removed his arm. The brightly colored building couldn’t be mistaken. Bright pinks, greens and blues covered the front of the building. A painted design of a sword featured a heart-shaped hilt.
“I always thought it was a brothel,” Tieshaie smirked. “Let’s go meet your girlfriend.”
Before he could protest she hurried ahead, across the plaza and into the sea of people. Xallion struggled to keep close and stepped into the shop only a step behind her.
“Welcome!” Icraye said, looking up from her work. Her voice was sickly sweet and carried a bubbly sing-song. “Oh, Hi Xallion, who’s your friend?”
Tieshaie gaped at the brightly colored interior. Icraye stood from her crouch, standing to her full height of close to six and a half feet. Her thick arms bulged out of her sleeveless rose colored shirt strained by a casual tap of her black smith hammer on her broad shoulder.
Despite being burly and tall, Icraye maintained an irrefutable femininity. Her long legs and wide hips strained her dark red overalls in contrast to her flat stomach. A full bosom made calling her mannish an unforgivable crime. Icraye wore a perpetual smiling squint, and bobbed her head to one side, tossing her shoulder length red hair.
The centerpiece of her shop, a pink steel anvil, sat amongst a lively painted cooling bucket and tool rack. The smith was clean, the floors and walls were free of flecks of coal and dirt. Xallion knew she poured her heart into it.
“This place is amazing,” Tieshaie said, twirling. “Did you design it yourself?”
“I did,” Icraye said. “I just love weapons and armor. They’re the closest and best friends a man can have. Are you here to shop for some? You don’t look very protected.”
Icraye’s smile softened and she lowered her hammer. “Ok. Well if you change your mind you can come back, later.”
Xallion swallowed hard. “She’s not here to buy anything Icraye. We need to know if a strange guy came here asking for me.”
“So, she’s not a customer?”
“Not a customer.”
The fake smile melted into a scowl and Icraye opened her red colored eyes. “This better be important Xal. I have an order to fill. Who’s the floozy?”
Tieshaie perked at the transformation. “Oh ho, this is new.”
Xallion pulled out the pouch. “Tieshaie helped me uncover a potential threat. A merchant came through the forest with forest kin blood.”
“Not my problem,” Icraye said, turning back to her work.
“Sorry we took so long getting here,” Tieshaie said, mimicking the sweet tone Icraye used. “Xallion was busy helping me try on new outfits.”
“What? No I wasn’t.”
“That’s nice.” Icraye said without looking up. “I bet her company cost you a pretty bit of coin, Xal.”
Tieshaie frowned. Apparently not getting the reaction she wanted. “So you aren’t his girlfriend?”
“Me? Ha.” Icraye spat. “I wanted to be when I was younger and stupider, but I know he’s a lost cause. Xallion helped me get this smithy two years ago. He uh… helped me part ways with my family.”
Xallion cleared his throat. “Perhaps a proper introduction would clear things up. This is Icraye Uolonia.”
Tieshaie let out a low whistle. “No way.”
“Way.” Icraye smirked setting aside her hammer and planted a fist at her hip. “Thing is I just want to be a businesswoman, a legitimate business anyway. Xallion saved me from something nasty and convinced the city to give me a chance.”
“Aww he’s a nice guy.” Tieshaie said in a cutesy voice. “I guess he has a soft spot for good hearted criminals.”
Icraye raised a brow at Xallion. “So, who is this really?”
“Tieshaie Areinare,” Xallion said. “She’s a two bit thief.”
“Excuuuse me?” Tieshaie said, annoyed. “I am no such thing. I prefer the term extravagant wealth distribution expert.”
“That’s adorable,” Icraye said. “A thief if a thief, you try and snake any of my weapons I’ll break your arms.”
“I wouldn’t touch your stupid weapons. I don’t need em.”
Icraye snapped her blacksmith hammer’s handle. “What?”
“I can fight fine without a weapon. Swords and armor are for the weak and slow.”
Xallion winced. “Tieshaie. I think you should—”
“Stay out of this, Barky.” Icraye pulled a great hammer off the wall, and pointed it at Tieshaie. The name ‘Aimee’ adorned the side of the hammerhead, the ‘I’ dotted with a gem. “I dare you. Say that shit again.”
Tieshaie leaned forward, grinning. “Swords and armor are for the weak—”
Icraye swung Aimee is a sweeping smash, but Tieshaie dodged and landed atop the hammer head.
“You prissy little bitch. You won’t be smiling when I— ”
The bell over the door chimed. Icraye regained her stellar smile as the guard poked his head into the shop.
“Miss Icraye? Is my order ready?”
“Oh, sure, Mr. Pabel” Icraye said, turning her gaze to Tieshaie. “Could you please get off Aimee?”
Tieshaie maintained her grin, but complied. “Sure Ikky, anything for a pal.”
Icraye plucked her hammer from the floor and shouldered it, heading to the back room.
“What happened to the floor?” The guard said.
Xallion struggled for an explanation, but Tieshaie stepped between him. “Icraye just slipped. She was just introducing me to Aimee.”
“Oh, alright.” The guard tilted his head and looked her over. “Say, don’t I know you?”
“Maybe. We’re you dreaming about me?” Tieshaie said.
“Uh. No, I’m pretty sure I know you from this.” He held up a poster, depicting a simple rendition of her. Underneath it said ‘Cat burglar, Wanted.’
Xallion raised a brow. “When was this made?”
“Today. We got the report and the description. Hey I know you, you’re the ranger right? Used to work with Miss Garu? You can keep this one.”
Xallion nodded and took the wanted poster. “I can see the resemblance, but there’s no life eye.”
Tieshaie butted in. “You’re not seriously trying to arrest me are you?”
“I don’t know, Should I?” Pabel said. “The perp is a human so you’re off the hook, but you don’t really look smart enough to be a cat burglar.”
“Look here, if I was a cat burglar I’d be the smartest, most glamorous one you’ve ever seen. In a completely hypothetical light.”
Icraye came back carrying a helmet. “Try to be more careful with it this time, alright?”
The guard nodded and replaced his helmet. “You’re a life saver. I’ll tell my buddy to go easy on the overhead swings.” He paid her, saluted and left the smith.”
The moment Pabel stepped out, Icraye lost her smile. “Lying bastard. That dent came from dropping it down stairs.” She glared at Tieshaie. “A cat burglar, huh? Wonder what the bounty is. I could use a new forge. Wonder why Pabel didn’t drag your ass in?”
“No proof,” Tieshaie said. “Besides this can’t be me. I don’t make habit of coming into the city. It’s been weeks since I’ve been in Terra. A gorgeous girl like me? I stand out. It’d be stupid to try something here.”
“Then what’s with the poster?” Xallion frowned down at it. “You’d think they wouldn’t get that part wrong.”
“Well I do have an issue with guys and eye contact,” Tieshaie said.
“Yeah,” Icraye said, scowling. “Not like there’s anything important up there anyway. Look if you two are done wasting my time. I’d like to get back to work and now I have to fix the damn floor.”
“Of course,” Xallion said. “Let me know if any suspicious merchants come through.”
“Bye Ikky,” Tieshaie said.
“Call me that again and I’ll feed you to my forge.”
“Whyyy? We’re buddies aren’t we? You obviously have a keen sense of style, we’re kindred spirits.”
“I’d rather you be a literal spirit. Get out of my shop.”
Tieshaie pouted. “You’re just jealous I’m helping your boyfriend.
“We’re not dating.” Xallion and Icraye said in unison.
Icraye clenched her jaw. “If anything he’s an obnoxious older brother. Like I said. That ship has sailed. In fact I’m done with guys in general.”
“So, what does that leave, girls?” Tieshaie glanced to Aimee. “Hammers?”
“Out,” Icraye snarled.
“Ok, Ok.” Tieshae hustled out of the smithy, followed close by Xallion. She stretched smiling up at him. “I think she likes me.”
Xallion rolled his eyes.