Apollos, Tara, and Lucas made their way through the crowded market place filled with cries of goods offered by the various merchants. Apollos stopped in front of a market stall and exchanged two silver coins for three loaves of a flat crusty looking bread. Tara examined hooded cloaks from a different vendor, and Lucas made his way over to a building where the sounds of a hammer banging on metal sounded out. He looked in at a large, well muscled man covered in sweat. The man swung a large hammer down onto a glowing piece of metal resting on an anvil, sparks flying out every time the hammer crashed down.
Lucas stood and watched the blacksmith work, and after a short time Apollos joined him. “Lucas, what are you doing?”
Lucas looked up at Apollos. “Since I have Ferrumlupus now, I thought it would make sense to have some pieces of metal with me that I could use to summon him. I could think of no place better to get cheap pieces of scrap metal to use.”
Apollos smiled at Lucas. “Good thinking, but you had better leave this to me. I have a little more experience with bartering than you do.” Apollos winked at Lucas before approaching the blacksmith. “Excuse me, sir, but I was hoping that you would have a moment for me to discuss a proposition with you.”
The blacksmith never looked up from the piece of metal he was working on. “I have enough orders to keep me busy for months. I’m afraid I have no time to take on any others.”
Apollos frowned. “You misunderstand, friend. I am here to relieve you of your unwanted scrap metal.” Apollos pointed at a bin with twisted and bent pieces of metal. “I would be happy to take some of that off of your hands, say five pieces of scrap iron for two silver coins.”
The blacksmith thrust the bar of metal he had been pounding on back into his forge, and held up two fingers. “Two gold pieces.”
Apollos sputtered angrily. “Two gold pieces? For metal you have tossed aside? It is unheard of, sir.”
The blacksmith grabbed a different piece of metal resting in the forge with his tongs. “You must not know much about blacksmithing. I can melt those scraps down and make them into something new, so they still have value to me. I’ll sell you the scrap metal, but at the value that they have.”
“I’ll pay you a gold piece, but no more.”
The blacksmith set his hammer aside and crossed his arms. “Two gold coins, or you can get out of my shop now before I call for the city guard and report your more than suspicious activity.”
Apollos grumbled under his breath, reached into his purse and pulled out two gold coins. Lucas heard him say something about this was why he avoided civilization as much as he could. He handed the gold coins over to the blacksmith. The blacksmith nodded in appreciation. “Thank you for your patronage, but I must return to my work. Please take your scrap metal and leave.” He picked up his hammer and went back to work on the piece of metal resting on his anvil.
Apollos turned and began walking out of the blacksmith’s shop. He stopped at the door. “Pick up your metal and let’s go, Lucas.”
Lucas hurried over to the scrap bin and picked out five pieces of iron. “Wait, Apollos, don’t you have a sack I could put these in or something?” Lucas struggled under his awkward load.
Apollos grunted. “After what that cost me, you can buy your own sack to haul them in. Now, let’s head back to the inn. I want to get some sleep before we head out in the morning.”
Lucas juggled his burden as he chased after Apollos, and before too long Tara appeared at Lucas’ side carrying a full supply sack. She looked disappointedly at Lucas. “I was hoping that you would still have your arms empty and be able to carry my supplies for me. What are you doing with all of that metal anyway?”
Lucas opened his mouth to respond, and ran into Apollos’ back. Lucas fell to the ground and looked up at Apollos. “What’s going on, Apollos? Why did you stop like that?”
Apollos frowned at two shadows retreating into the crowd. “Acerbi were watching us. Two of them. Now that I noticed them they’re going to report what they’ve seen and heard to their master. We need to get out of this city, tonight.” Apollos started to hurry forward again, but stopped after a few steps. “Oh, no. Malcolm!” Apollos turned to regard Tara and Lucas. “You two, get back to the inn as fast as you can! Gather up our things and get out of the city as soon as possible! Go out the east gate and wait for me where the eastern road forks.”
Tara looked confusedly at Apollos. “Wait for you? Where are you going?”
“I have to warn Malcolm of what has happened. I fear he is no longer safe in this city, depending on how long those Acerbi were following us.” Apollos took off running into the crowd, and Lucas watched after him.
Tara pulled Lucas up to his feet. “Come on, Lucas!” Tara started running in the opposite direction of what Apollos had gone. Lucas took one look after Apollos before turning and running after Tara.
They ran all the way back to the inn, jostling people in the crowd as they went, curses pursuing them. Derek gave them a big smile once they reached the inn, and his smile quickly turned to shock when Tara ordered their wagon and horses prepared.
Derek wiped his hands on his apron and looked at Tara with concern. “You wish to leave? At this time of day? But it is almost nightfall! Surely whatever business you must take care of can wait until after one nights sleep? Please reconsider, mistress, and I’ll have one of the girls draw you up a bath.
Tara fixed Derek with a scowl. “Our business cannot wait, nor can we afford any delay in arguing with you. Now, please have your stable boys prepare our wagon and we will be on our way.”
Derek shook his head. “As you wish, mistress. I certainly wish you safe travels.” He turned and disappeared into the kitchen, and Lucas and Tara hurried up the stairs to their rooms.
Apollos took swords from their resting places on the wall and laid them onto a blanket. Once he had all of the swords off of the wall he rolled the blanket up and tied it so that none of the swords would fall out, and then placed the bundle into a wooden cart. Apollos turned and looked at Malcolm, who was doing the same with the swords hung along another wall. “Can’t you pack any faster? I thought black market merchants like you had to be able to run at a moment’s notice!”
“Anywhere but here I would be ready to leave in seconds, but I always felt safe here, until you brought Geraldo’s attention down onto me that is. I always figured I could abandon my stock if I had to and just go and replenish it elsewhere again, but I can no longer bear the thought of Geraldo using my beast blades to conquer our people.”
“I’m afraid that you won’t be able to risk selling in Sharen City until Geraldo has been overthrown, my friend, but at least you will escape this city with your life.”
Malcolm shook his head. “This is a much bigger blow to the rebellion than it is to me. I am losing a place to do business, they will be losing a place of safety, and we are giving Geraldo a way to trap the members who come here looking for me. What you have done is completely given this city over to Geraldo.”
Apollos sighed. “You always did know how to rub it in, Malcolm. Now can you pack any faster? I wish to get out of this city before the trap is slammed shut on me.”
Malcolm placed a bundle into the cart. “I cannot pack any faster, I am done packing!” Malcolm drew a sword from a sheath resting at this side. He touched the point to the ground, “Awaken, Petrequine!” The earth under the sword point mounded up and formed into a horse. Malcolm hooked Petrequine up to the cart.
Apollos shook his head. “I never thought I’d see the day when beast blades were used in such a mundane way.”
Malcolm laughed. “Did you want to pull the cart? I believe I exposed my lack of muscle earlier. If it was me instead of the horse, we might not make it out of here this week!”
“Let’s just get out of here. When Geraldo’s forces get here I want them to find nothing but our dust.” Apollos walked out of the chamber, and Malcom and Petrequine followed him out.
“Shouldn’t we warn the other merchants, Apollos? It’s not fair for us to escape and leave them to suffer our consequences.”
Apollos turned and regarded Malcolm. “Since when have you become so noble? In the past you would have said to just leave them, that it would be less competition for you.”
Malcolm sighed. “Once I thought that way, before Geraldo took power. I wouldn’t abandon anyone to the fate that he would have planned for them.”
“Not to worry, Malcolm. I shouted a warning to each of them on my way here. If they chose to heed it or not, that decision is on them.” Apollos held up his hand, and Malcolm slowed. “Find me a blade, Malcolm.”
Malcolm started to untie one of the cloth wrapped bundles. “I thought you had no use for any other beast blades.”
“I don’t, but I didn’t bring any of mine with me, and I believe that I just saw that shadow move.”
Malcolm quickly pulled a blade out of its sheath and handed it to Apollos. Apollos accepted it and started walking down the tunnel again. “Let’s keep moving. You are sure that this tunnel surfaces outside of the city?”
Malcolm warily watched the shadows. “Yes, I’ve been using it for years. How else do you think I get my cart in and out of the catacombs? I certainly can’t fit the cart through opening in the church!”
Apollos darted forward and swung his sword at a shadow, and a black smokey substance began to billow up into the air. “They’re here! Get your cart moving!” Black shapes rose up all around him.
Malcolm stared at Apollos. “I’m not leaving you here!”
Apollos swung his sword through the neck of one of the rising shadows, and quickly spun to parry an attack coming from an Acerbi behind him. “Fine, but at least summon some beast blades to help me! And give me another sword to fight with!”
Malcolm started pulling beast blades out and examining their hilt. “Here’s a water deer, I doubt we’ll get an opportunity to summon that down here.” He tossed a blade to Apollos. Apollos grabbed the blade and used it to block another attack. Malcolm pulled out another blade and looked at its hilt. “Not enough room for this one.” He tossed the blade aside and picked up another. “This one should be a help right now!”
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Friday when I will publish part Three, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page for updates on the stories here: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read.