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Hammer Time {quest | Sinaloa}

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on Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:58 pm


Job number three.

Helping the blacksmith. He wasn’t a metal mage but the poster did say anyone was fine. Sinaloa watched as the man worked, too focused to notice his presence. The tiny mage hovered in a corner, out of sight from the street and out of the way of the blacksmith, a wrinkled piece of paper with the details of the job outlined. When the blacksmith finished his current piece of work and paused for water Sina froze, knowing he would see the tiny mage hidden. Sinaloa couldn’t tell what the smith was making, but it looked difficult. He held out the paper to the smith, watching without a word.

“You don’t look like a mage to me. No muscle on you either. You sure you’re up for the job, pipsqueak?”

The smith gave a questioning look when Sina gave him a vigorous nod, but didn’t question any further. He directed him to an anvil near the forge, where the assistant with the injury was caring for the fires.

“My assistant will take the metal out of the forge and place it on the anvil. Your job is to hammer it out flat. If it gets too cool, it’ll go back in the forge to heat up and you’ll go at it again.”

Sina nodded, grabbing the proffered hammer and stepping up to the anvil. It was hot, here. And would probably get hotter. At least they were out of the sun. A hot piece of metal was placed before him and Sinaloa swung the hammer hard. Too hard, and the assistant cringed, stopping him before he could swing again.

“Listen, kid. You need more control in your swing. It’s not a pick axe, it’s a hammer. You’ll damage the metal going at it like that”

The assistant shifted Sina’s arms and the grip on the hammer, giving a vague demonstration of what was meant to happen before stepping back and exchanging the cooling metal with a heated one. Keeping note of the assistant’s instructions, he resumed hammering with loud, echoing clanks. It was simple work: hammer, flatten, repeat. It didn’t take long to grow accustomed to the work, needing little guidance from the assistant after a few hours. As the day wore on, Sinaloa started to work up a sweat. Barras and the assistant seemed no better off, although they were in lighter clothing. When the three of them paused for a break, Sina stripped off his sweater, neatly folding it and hiding it somewhere it wouldn’t be in the way or get dirty. After drinking water and wiping away some of the sweat, the work resumed, hammering out more and more metal to be used in armour and weapons.

Long hours toiled on, interspersed with water breaks. Keeping hydrated was important in this heat, they explained. By noon, Sina stripped off his undershirt too, making the assistant choke on his water while the smith simply raised an eyebrow. The assistant, now a pinkish colour, made him concerned. Was he sick? Sinaloa turned to the smith with a worried look, a half started word on his lips, but the smith just shook his head.

“Don’t gawk. If she wants to go without a shirt, she can go without a shirt.”

The assistant clammed up quickly, going from red to pale as Sinaloa looked back and forth between them. Was that what this was about? It wasn't like Magnolia was nude-free. Men walked around without shirts at the beach. All the girls wore skimpy things everywhere in town. Sina didn’t understand why the assistant was turning red. He ducked as the smith reached over to get his attention.
“You’ll need to wear an apron if you plan on going like that. Don’t want you getting burnt by the metal.”

Sinaloa blinked - safety hadn’t even occurred to him. Barras was right. He took the spare leather apron thing and put it on as the others also returned to work. It was oddly heavy, compared to other aprons she'd worn or seen. It was thicker too, to stop… what? It felt like armour but Sina couldn't figure out what they used it for. Shrugging to himself, he stepped back up to the anvil with the hammer. Setting into another rhythm of hammering out metal until the assistant took it away, rinse and repeat. He never noticed the occasional awkward staring in between having the pieces of metal changed out. Sina never understood why people were uncomfortable with her not wearing clothes. He’d learned, before the doctors let him free, that he had to wear clothes in public. But this was hardly public and he was finding that not everyone completely followed that rule either. With thoughts tumbling through her head, the next few hours passed quickly. The smith finished another grand piece of armour, Sinaloa hammered out more metal, and the assistant managed the fires. The smith’s voice was barely audible over the hammer as Sina finished the last bar of metal.

“You can stop there. You did good work today. ”

Sinaloa stepped away from the anvil, gently setting down the hammer. Reaching a safe distance from the forge, Sinaloa curled up under a table, all muscles sore and aching. Barras let him sleep until he closed up shop, the mage he’d hired looking more like a small child in need of safety than someone capable of fending for themselves. Barras stepped around Sina until everything had been closed up for the day, before gently rousing her. Sinaloa wriggled and stretched out before sitting up, rubbing her eyes.

“Sleep well kid? I left your payment with your sweater. Take a cold bath when you get home, it’ll help with those sore muscles.”

Sina nodded, climbing to her feet. As the smith had said, the jewels were slipped in the pocket of her hoodie. She mumbled a quiet ‘thank you’, giving the man a bow. Barras rested a hand on her shoulder, patting it.

“Don’t let the awkward kids make you feel ashamed. It takes pride to be able to show your scars, not just your skin.”

Sinaloa squeaked, brain stumbling as it tried to comprehend, instead coming up with a single solution: not good, not great, but feasible. Run. So she ran.

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