In door 13 we gave you a first insight into Geldern’s guild workshop. In this year’s short story by Jünger des Xardas you learn more about the city’s guild.
„Thanks dear child“, Samuel said, as Diana served his dinner. Geldern’s ham a la maison. The meat was scalloped with bread and stewed with wine. Also Warren had added some pieces of carrots and other vegetables. The sight of the meal made Samuel’s mouth water. As he took the first bite he looked around. It was a quiet evening in the “Strong arm”. In one corner he saw the Northman Ragnar sitting and drinking the booze from Flamel’s lab. At a different table he spotted Xavier in his dark robe immersed in some old book, sipping now and then on his wine moonily. As always there was no company at his table, but at least the other people had become used to him, so they ignored him. The two townsman at the adjacent table were all up in their chat spooning their stew. His three men playing dice at the other side of the room also had no eye for the black mage, but they did take a look at Diana’s brought hips every now and then.
Samuel liked evenings like this. The days were hard enough. He looked after his men, was shooed around by Nemrok, had to keep the overview over the mines and the workers, looked after the slaves and their provisions, listened to Dawson’s concerns and did everything else that came to the mercenaries’ captain of Geldern mind. So he was very happy when he could forget all about the Orcs, the men, the slaves and the whole city for a short time and enjoy the end of the day in quiet and with a tasty meal at the Strong Arm.
„Captain Samuel.“ He turned his head and saw master Friedbert sitting down in the chair across from the table. „Good evening.“ The plump wood turner tipped his head. „ I hope I’m not disturbing you.” Samuel growled. He didn’t reject company by default, but he assumed that Friedbert would soon start to tell the same old story. And he was right. As soon as Diana had brought the master craftsman his wine and took his order he started: “It’s a fine thing, calling it a day after a hard day’s work. Too bad that not everybody in this city is doing such an honest job.” Samuel asked himself how long the wood turner had worked on this entrance. Without a doubt he thought it was very subtle. “Isabella gets more and more shameless, you know.”
„She forges good weapons and makes good prices.” Samuel took the word. “If that isn’t doing an honest job, than what is?”
“Pha!” Friedbert took a deep sip of wine. „As honest as all of the artefact’s fences!”
“In contrast to them she is paying her taxes. And she sells her own goods and not stolen ones.”
“But she’s no guild member!” Friedbert protested. There! Why bothering with beating around the bush. That’s what it’s all about. All the other reasons were just a decoy. Samuel shrugged. „You’ll have to deal with it.“
„But the laws are distinct. Those who are no member of the guild shall not be allowed to practice any craft in the boundaries of the city of Geldern.”
“The laws of the king.” Samuel reminded his counterpart with rising impatience. “The same laws that would bring this black mage there” – he pointed at the Beliar supporter – “on a stake. The same laws that would have brought Dimitar for that stem there inside the barrier.” – He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder at the bar where the arena warrior just lit a Black Rhobar.
“The guild has a tradition that has lasted for centuries!”
“So has the burning of black mages.”
Friedbert, whose face was reddened by wine or anger, took a deep sip. „More and more shameless, I tell you.“ he repeated his earlier words, without paying attention to Samuel’s arguments and waving his hand back and forth. “On the last Innos’ day she worked. I’ve seen the smoke rising from her forge with my own eyes. Also I’ve heard the hammer rise and fall all day.”
Samuel shrugged again. “But this way she finished the repairs on my men’s armours in time.”
“The Innos’ day is sacred! Everyone should rest his work, that’s the word of the church.”
A wicked smile appeared on the captain’s face. “Have you been to the temple lately, master? The church is no more.”
Friedbert preferred to do what all people without arguments do, who try to stand their ground: He ignored Samuel’s words und changed to a completely different topic: “I’ll tell you what the girl needs.” And again he waved his hand through the air. Samuel got a notion that the drinking wood turner was losing his control over it. “A man, that’s what she needs. It’s no good if a woman has no man, that’s basic knowledge.” His eyes rested on Diana, who was passing by, carrying multiple beakers on a tray. “There are far too many virgins in Geldern. They should all be married and awaiting their first child by this age. At least Diana still has a father that makes sure she remembers not to do any nonsense. I tell you, the old Harwin, Innos bless him, wouldn’t have put up with it. She would be engaged by now, how it’s supposed to be. She wouldn’t have dared to act like that if he’d still be alive. He’s certainly turning over in his grave right now. As soon as the old man was dead she booted her fiancé out and started forging herself. Is that ever heard of? How long are you planning to watch this, Samuel?”
“As long as she makes good weapons.”
“She’s a hussy, what business does she have with weapons?”
“Man, woman, human, orc, if it’s up to me there could be a goblin in this forge, as long as he is making good blades.”
“Someone like her belongs at a stove and not behind an anvil.” The wood turner master craftsman began to babble. „Where is this leading? Remember my words, this will end badly! If you let this pass, tomorrow the women will be on your doorstep demanding to be mercenaries. MERCENARIES! And in a few years the women will do all the men’s work. Who will do the cooking then?“ This was a question of high importance to a man of Friedbert’s extent. At the same time Samuel had lost his appetite. He rose, excused himself and gave the gold to Warren before leaving for his home.
„… One of the beams needs to be replaced. And I would add a new one in the rear leg. I don’t like how the few beams have to carry all that weight. Here I noted everything.”
Samuel took the note from Dawson and scanned it quickly. “What are your other thoughts about the gold mine? Will we scrape enough to please Nemrok?”
“With his demands?” Dawson laughed.
„We need the gold. I’ve been hearing that the Assassins demand a lot of gold for letting the orcs in their land.”
Dawson spit out. “I don’t understand what they want there anyway. There are enough artefacts to find here in Geldern. What could possibly be found in Varant, that couldn’t be found here?”
“That’s none of our business. What now? Will we be able to gather enough gold?”
“Not with the mine here in the city alone. But together with the gold we gather in the north… It’ll be tight but it will enough. We could get more if we drove new legs in the rock. I already have something in mind. One of the mine’s walls is very thin. Maybe a single slave would suffice to tear down the wall very quickly. With a little bit of luck there are more lodes there.
“I’ll talk to Nemrok about it. Maybe he can give us some more slaves for the gold mine.”
“He can take them from the Sulphur mine. There are too many slaves there anyway.”
“He can’t. The shamans, you know…” Samuel broke off, as he saw a young man flouncing towards him. He sighed inwardly and clenched his teeth. “What do you want here?” he asked maybe a little less polite than intended.
The young Talor smirked. He hooked his thumbs in his girdle. “Master Lukas sends me.”
“What does he want?” Samuel asked, even if he was pretty sure he knew why the carpenter master sent his assistant.
“He wishes to complain. Isabella is hammering too loudly.” By the look on his face you could tell, that he knew very well how bold his appearance was.
“I’ve been told that hammering is an essential part of forging.”
“Then the hussy should hammer more quietly.”
“Don’t call her that” Samuel for sure was no brilliant paladin on the quest of saving the honour of innocent virgins, but he didn’t like Talor’s egomania.
“Why not?” Talor seemed quite unaffected and shrugged. “It’s all equal to me. I’ve been on her many times and I think some of your men were too.”
Samuel didn’t believe a word of the little show-off. “Watch your tongue in my presence you snotty-nosed brat. And now bunk off. I really have more important problems than a loud hammer.”
Talor pranced furiously. “You can’t talk to me like that. In contrast to Isabella I’m a member of the guild! Don’t forget that we craftsmen are the most prestigious citizens in Geldern!”
Talor wasn’t wrong. Even now that the guild wasn’t protected by the temple and the arch mage anymore, the guild masters were very well thought of. But Talor wasn’t one of them. He seemed to forget that sometimes. If Samuel were his master he would’ve laid him over his knee and drum the knowledge into him that he shouldn’t act like he was one of them long ago. But now he only scared him with a few angry words and shooed him away. Like always there wasn’t much behind the big words. In the end he always did what the orcs and the mercenaries told him to do.
“Those are the new pickaxes?” Ivan took one of the tools from the cart and took a critical look at it.
„Three pieces, as noted by Dawson, and in addition to that, two fresh slaves.” – Ivan pointed at the ragged figures who would shortly pull the cart to the gold mine – “here are the provisions…” – he lifted the blanket on the cart slightly so the two baskets with bread, a box of beer and some apples were visible – “everything is here, how it’s supposed to be.”
“It will break on the first beat against the rock”, Ivan said disdainfully and threw the pickaxe back on the cart. He took another one, “This one isn’t any better. Those wear out far too quickly. Who’s forging this junk?“
Did Ivan really try to act like he didn’t know? “Isabella”
“Maybe you should try a real blacksmith for a change. One that isn’t a woman and is able to lift a hammer, you now.”
Samuel knitted his brows. “Or one who’s a member of the guild?” he asked.
Ivan seemed not to notice the lurking distrust in his voice. Or maybe the chief of the northern mine just didn’t care.
“Not a bad idea. So you could be sure that he had a proper training and took an examination for the master craftsman’s certificate.”
Angrily Samuel stumped to Ivan, bumped him aside and took one of the pickaxes. “It looks good to me.” he announced his judgement after a short inspection.
“Pha, what do you know about pickaxes?”
“I understand enough of metal. The guild claims that Isabella sells inferior weapons. That’s nonsense. Our weapons are without fault. Why should the pickaxes be any different?“
„Because I say so.“
„And who told you?“
„What do you mean by that?“
Samuel let the pickaxe fall back to the cart and turned around so that he could look Ivan right into the face. “Silly Question, you’re right.” Quickly, so that Ivan couldn’t react, he grabbed the hand of his subordinate and raised it.
“The next time you get paid off don’t wear your price in my presence.” he snarled and looked at the golden ring with the ruby that sparkled on Ivan’s finger.
The other mercenary didn’t blink. He just shrugged and said: “So Vikko made me a ring, so what?”
“I will speak with that sleazy gold smith. He won’t try to pay off one of my men again. And now to you…” he let go of Ivan’s hand and pointed at his chest “you’re standing on thin ice. If you think the salary is too low you can look for a different type of work. But I don’t like it, when one of my man tries to fool me. So you know what will happen to you, if you ever work for that man again.”
Ivan gave him no answer, but turned around without a word and gave the slaves the command to move along. It wasn’t for nothing that Samuel had placed him here in the mine in the far north. He didn’t trust him, something told him that Ivan would cause more trouble. But at the moment the guild was more of his concern. Not a day passed by without him being confronted with the private vendetta between them and Isabella. He was in the mood for hanging all of the guild’s master craftsmen to the rebels they’ve caught a short time ago. He sighed. If only someone would come along and end all of this conflict in the guild. But it seemed like he had to wait for a long time…