Chester and Jonathan met up with the rest of the mercenaries in the city.
The bard immediately greeted the band with a short yet eloquent summary, “You know that guy outside, under that tree? He’s insane and says he’s a prophet.”
“We’ve been hearing about him too,” Buffo replied. He made no attempt to hide his weapons like the others in his band did, but it would be rather hard with such a large weapon.
“Apparently things changed when he showed up and started teaching in the city a few months ago,” Rando elaborated. “The gambling dens are gone, places of worship are under construction, and the laws are actually being carried out. It’s no longer a lawless den for criminals.”
“That’s great, but I don’t believe in this,” Chester stated. “That guy was claiming to be a prophet of The One Who Walks Alone.”
“Interesting,” Hans muttered. He glanced back towards the outskirts of the city.
“Jonathan!” Someone called. The voice was familiar.
Jonathan turned his head.
Peter crossed the street after checking for horses and carriages. “It’s been a while. How have you two been? Mind introducing me to all the new faces here?”
A smile held together steadily on Chester’s face. “We’re travelling West with them.”
“We’re a band of Malamut mercenaries,” Rando bluntly stated.
Buffo rested an elbow on his right hand’s shoulder. “You don’t have to worry about them. We’re honorable to our clients.” He gave a big toothy grin, which was rather intimidating unless one knew him.
The merchant didn’t appear ruffled by the mercenaries at all. “Travelling West you say, son?” Peter rubbed his chin. “I might be interested in joining you for a bit. How much?”
Rando cast a glance at Jonathan and Chester as they were their current clients and apparently knew this older man. When there were no objections, he turned back to Peter. “Depends, where are you going?”
Chester elbowed Jonathan. “Are you sure you’re okay with this?” He whispered, to double check.
Jonathan nodded. He still hated transmigrators—those who replaced someone and deceived other people into thinking they were the original—but Peter had never acted to harm him. It was also likely Peter would just follow after them if this was because of another mission.
Peter and Rando negotiated until they agreed on a price.
“Then four gold coins,” Rando proposed. “Two now, two before we part ways.”
“That’s a deal.”
Buffo watched from behind Rando. After his initial words, he hadn’t contributed anything more.
Jonathan scoffed. To him, Rando was the leader and Buffo his right hand and ace. Everyone else saw it the other way around, but with how much work and authority Rando had, the wiry mercenary was just the unofficial true leader.
“As previously mentioned, we’re going to meet up at the North-West outskirts of the city for dinner. If you’re late, I’m giving you nothing,” Hans said. He smiled in a manner that showed far too many of his teeth and received quiet agreement from the mercenaries.
Jonathan and Chester started off down the street.
Peter caught up with them quickly. “Where are you two going in such a hurry? The master swordsmith?”
“Master swordsmith?” Jonathan tiredly questioned. He had a feeling this was a purposeful hint and judging by the widening smile he received, his intuition was right.
“Norel Strong, the owner and master of the smithy that produces the finest anti-magic swords in this world.”
Jonathan glanced around the trashed streets that were slowly been cleared and rebuilt with new brick. The city had a new lease on life, but it wasn’t particularly impressive. “And he lives here?”
“He grew up here. Sir Norel left, and returned,” Peter explained. “If you’re looking for an anti-magic sword, he’s the person you should talk to. Fortunately, he’s down the next street, just take a right.”
“Perfect.” Jonathan’s lips twitched upward. “Thank you for the advice.” He started down the road, and took a right as suggested.
The smithy was easy to spot. A large steel sign hung over the building; the sign was coated in some sort of wax to prevent rust. The building itself was large, three stories tall and taking up a large portion of the street. Smoke billowed from several chimneys and water filtered into a large trough next to the two large double doors. The windows on the second and third floor were open.
Jonathan knocked. He couldn’t hear a response over the cacophony of noise and simply entered the building.
Chester looked around the outside of the smithy and then followed. He coughed at the thick, hot air in the place.
Workers hurried between the various forges heating ingots, the anvils to hammer the metal, and the troughs to cool the shaped pieces.
Chester filled his lungs and yelled into the chaos. “We’re looking for Norel Strong! Could someone help us?”
A man—with kind eyes and deep frown lines—easily squeezed his way through the crowd. He was burly, as one would expect out of any type of smith. His skin was as black as the metal of the hammer in his hand. “My apologies for the chaos. We’re a bit short handed, and we’ve received an order from Queen Deimena of Alita on top of it. Any orders you have would take at least two weeks.”
Jonathan glanced around the room. “Why are you short handed?”
Norel hesitated. “Two children went missing. One of them is my youngest apprentice, the other is her best friend. I’ve sent some of my men to look for them.”
“How about I make a deal with you,” Jonathan proposed. “I need an anti-magic sword by tomorrow morning. I’m not picky about the specifications. If it works, and if it’s laying around unused, I’ll take it. I can adjust. I can also pay some. In return, my friend and I will find the children that went missing as quickly as possible.”
Norel thought it over for a few moments. He held out his hand, thumb straight out. “I can give you the place where they went missing. There should be a few swords in storage you can pick from. I guarantee they will serve you well.”
Jonathan pressed his thumb against the other in return. “I guarantee I will try my best to find the two children.” With his agreement set, the transmigrator left the smithy, bard in tow.
“Where are we going?” Chester questioned.
“You’re coming with me?”
“I’m not leaving you to explore the city by yourself.” Chester waved his hand dismissively. He was disappointed by his friend’s lack of faith in him. “Now, where are we going?”
“We’re going to find Peter.”
Norel is good father figure. He’s nice.