A note from kosnik4

Thought I had it scheduled for 12 pm. Turns out I had it set for midnight. At least this time it didn't take a full day to realize my mistake.

"Don't you think some flowers would go perfect right here?" Mom and I watch smiling from Richard's kitchen table as Sandra directs Brother on how he should rearrange his house now that he has all this extra furniture. "If you open the window behind them, it would brighten up the room."


“I can see that,” Brother nods along with Sandra’s idea but mother and I can see he’s just resigned himself to do whatever Sandra suggests.


Mom and I came over this morning to see how Richard was settling in after yesterday's family reunion, only to find the two love birds already hard at work organizing their love nest. That was four hours ago.


It was hilarious watching Sandra take control over everything just like Mom would, but I'm starting to think Richard is into that kind of thing. That or Richard has the patience of a saint.


We tried to offer our services to help speed things along, but Richard and Sandra both agreed they wanted to handle everything themselves.


“So, I take it you’re moving in with Brother?” I ask Sandra as she starts placing small knickknacks around the room.


Sandra smiles awkwardly at my question. “That was the plan, but Father wants me to stay in my old room until we’re married.”


Ouch, that has to suck for both of them.


“The thing is, my old room doesn’t have the space to hold everything we brought back with us, so it’s only natural I have to store my things here and set up a space to practice in.” Sandra winks at Mom and me. Sorry Camden, but I don’t think you’ll be able to keep them apart no matter hard you try.


"Whatever works best for the two of you," mother smiles at her future daughter-in-law.


“You’re going to turn one of the rooms into a study, like magic tomes and stuff?” I latch on to the part of the conversation regarding magic.


“Yes, and you can’t go in there,” Sandra tells me, looking apologetic.


“Your contract?” It’s not hard to guess why she won’t let me see her magic stuff.


“Exactly,” Sandra confirms my guess. “I can’t knowingly let others look at my reference materials, not even Richard.


"It's true; she kept everything in a locked trunk while we were living in Drey."


“My contract with my master stipulates I need to do everything I can to keep others from stealing my spells. Even against family,” Sandra tells me with a frown.


You have to love the secrecy and paranoia of this world.


“I get it,” I let out a sigh. I then remember what I wanted to ask Sandra now that we have some free time without everyone yelling at me for keeping her pregnancy a secret. "But just to make sure, we can still discuss magic, right? I mean, we can still bounce ideas off of each other, or is that against the rules?"


“That’s a little complicated,” she informs me. “I’m allowed to discuss basic mana sensing and manipulation techniques but none of my Master’s personal methods.”


“Then we can talk about subjects he never taught you, like enchanting,” I confirm.


“Sure, we can talk about that. Other than teaching us what enchanting is, my master knew nothing about runic magic.”


Now I let out a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness; I could really use someone to help me bounce ideas around."


Sandra looks at me, eyes wide. “You’re studying runic magic!”


I give her a cocky grin. “Well, when you don’t have access to a bunch of spells, you get creative. I bought some magic items from Silver Herd and started deciphering their runes.”


“That’s amazing,” Sandra exclaims. “But what do you need me for? I don’t know anything about enchanting.”


"I don't need help with the runes," I tell her. "It's the damn engraving ink that's holding me up. I already have a collection of runes I can draw, and an engraving pen Master made for me, but neither of those matters if I can't figure out how to make engraving ink. I’ve only managed to figure out the first step,” I air my problems to my best friend.


“And how do you know how to make engraving ink in the first place?” Sandra narrows her eyes, knowing engraving ink recipes are just like a mage's spell repertoire and are highly secretive.


“A friend gave it to me,” I say mysteriously.


"A friend?" Sandra repeats, not convinced.


“Someone who wants me to succeed gave me a general outline on how to craft engraving ink.”


"It sounds like you have everything you need then; what's the problem?" Sandra walks over to the table and takes a seat. Mother listens in on our conversation, fascinated on the subject, while Brother moves some furniture around, careful not to make too much noise.


"The problem is when I said, general outline, I meant it's vague as shit!" I complain.


"Language," Mother scolds me.


“That’s the only way I can put it,” I grumble. “So, the first part of the instructions was to mix devil’s poke and eathrosse with some water.”


“Ok?” Sandra and Mom don’t see the problem, neither know chemistry instructions that vague are basically pointless.


I let out a self-deprecating laugh. "After spending days testing, the first step should have gone like this: First, mash the eathrosse into a paste. Then mix 2 ounces of eathrosse paste with 16 ounces of purified water. Dice 5 ounces of devil's poke and add it to the mixture. Lastly, stir the entire mixture until it becomes a purplish-black color."


After I finish explaining the first step, the room has gone silent. Sandra, Mother, and Richard are all giving me sympathetic looks. "I wasted nearly eight gold coins in materials just figuring out the first step." The three of them hiss, understanding the pain of losing that much money and having so little to show for it.


“What’s the next step?” Sandra hesitantly asks.


“Heat mixture,” I tell her.


Sandra waits for me to add more, but she soon realizes that's all the instruction I have. "That can't be all!?" She asks in disbelief.


“That’s all it said for step 2. I’ve started heating the mixture with gradually increasing temperatures, but after being exposed to the improper temperature for twenty minutes, the mixture becomes unstable and dissolves itself." Words can't describe how I feel. All I know is, I have a deep respect for the people who pioneered the study of chemistry.


I know everything could be considered a part of chemistry, but the people who try to create something new from nothing or only using small bits of information are real geniuses. Discovering new elements, concocting cures for illness; makes me wish I paid a bit more attention in science class.


“You can see my problem,” I say with a sour expression.


“Gods, Aaliyah, I don’t know how you think I can help?” Sandra looks at me like I’m asking her to help me slay a dragon.


"Just having an extra set of eyes will help the most," I tell her.


Mother frowns, “why didn’t you ask me for help, then?”


"I would've if you had the right eyes," I inform Mom. "I need someone who can perceive mana. The materials I use have a high magic concentration, and judging how the mana reacts is the best indicator when something is going wrong." Thankfully Mom doesn't look offended and nods in understanding.


I turn to Sandra, “that’s why I could use your help.”


She thinks over my offer for a second before agreeing. “Sure, but don’t blame me for burning away your materials.”


“That’s ok,” I tell Sandra. “I don’t expect results right away. In fact, I space out the days I experiment so I don’t get caught up in the failures and make more mistakes. We can decide on a time to work together after you settle back in."


“That sounds like a plan,” Sandra smiles.


"Speaking of which, how is that going for you?" Mom questions Sandra. "I can say we were all quite happy to have Richard back home with us again."


"It's been nice." Sandra has a smile on her face, but you can tell her heart was exactly in her answer.


Never to let something slip past her, Mom pries into Sandra’s business. “Oh, is something the matter?”


Sandra has a complicated look. “It’s nice being back home, but my parents are already smothering me. My Mom wants to talk about nothing but my pregnancy while my dad is making it difficult to spend time with Richard and won't stop asking to see the spells I've learned. I know part of the reason I was able to study in Drey was to bring magic to our village, but they're just so…"


"Annoying," I say aloud the word Sandra was searching for.


"I was trying to think of a nicer way to say it," she smirks at me. "Then, after I shook off my parents this morning and came to help Richard, I find out he had a nice dinner with his family and came back to his house like he never left the village.”


“A nice dinner,” I laugh. “We spent the whole time making jokes about how your dad is going to kill him when no one is looking.”


“What!” Sandra whirls around on Richard. “I thought you said you had a normal dinner with your family?”


"I did; it was pretty normal for our family," Richard says in a matter-of-fact tone. The three of us start laughing while Sandra sits there uncomprehending. "I tried to throw Aaliyah under the cart by reminding my parents how she kept our secret, but they didn't take the bait."


I glance at Mom and then smile at Richard. “You really are ungrateful; you know that? Who do you think cleaned your house for you before you got back? And besides, Mom already yelled at me with Sarette, and we’re past that now, get over it.”


Richard looks surprised at Mother, "already?"


Mom sagely nods her head. “I already told Aaliyah how I felt about her decision to keep me out of the loop. What’s done is done.”


"Who are you, and what have you done with my mother?" Richard takes a step back from Mom, feigning shock.


“Mom and I have an understanding between us," I boast of our new relationship.


"That doesn't mean I'm not mad about you keeping Sandra a secret from me." Mom quickly pulls the wind out of my sails.


I want to complain and point out I did it for my brother, but I don't think Mom would buy that.


But all is not lost! Like an angel, Sandra swops in to protect me from the demon. "Please don't be mad at Aaliyah; she only kept quiet because I asked her to. Richard and I hadn't finished discussing what we should do when Aaliyah found us in the woods, and we couldn't have her telling everyone before we were back in the village. I'm sure you understand."


And like that, the demon was critically injured and had to retreat. “I completely understand why she did it," Mom smiles and reassures Sandra that she's not mad anymore. But when Sandra looks away for a brief moment, Mom casts a sidelong glance at me, and I see an evil twinkle in her eye. The demon will not forget this loss.


I'll have to look forward to helping more with Richard's marriage twine, or she'll probably wake me up early on the days I try to sleep in. The demon always comes back with a vengeance.


At least it’s never boring in our house.


“Let’s talk about something more fun,” Mom suggests.


“Like what?” I ask.


Mom claps her hands together. "Oh, I know! I saw Richard moving your clothes trunk around. Did you bring back any new styles from Drey?"


"I sure did. Would you like to see them?" Sandra stands up and heads for the trunk Richard set off to the side nearby. Richard has to take the trunk to Camden’s house later after he finishes everything else.


Sandra opens the trunk and pulls out a blue dress, and holds it up for us to see. "Richard got me this for my last birthday."


“It looks great on you,” Mother compliments Sandra. “I didn’t know my boy would have an eye for women’s clothes. What else do you have?”


And like that, we start a fashion montage.


Time slowly slips by as Richard gets close to finishing unpacking everything, while Sandra shows us the final clothes she bought back from Drey.


I thought it would become dull just looking at clothes for so long, but after a whole life of being surrounded by plain garments, it was actually interesting to see what nice fabric looked and felt like. At one point, Sandra tried to get me to try on one of her dresses, but I got out of it by mentioning how much of a size difference there was between us. I'm a lot taller than Sandra, and I'd ruin anything she tried to have me squeeze into. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.


Our good times are put on hold when someone knocks on Brother's door. Richard answers to find Nicolas standing on his doorstep. "Hi, is Aaliyah here with you?" He asks, not noticing me yet.


“Nicolas,” I call out.


“So, you are here,” Nicolas squeezes past Richard without being invited in.


“What can I help you with?”


"Kervin is at the front of the village, and he asked me where you were. I checked Master Del's, but he said you weren't here today. I figured you’d be with my sister.”


"Kervin is here already?" I can't say I'm not surprised. I figured he was at least another couple of days out. He must have left Drey not long after he returned if he's here already.


"Yes, we already unloaded the few crates of food he brought, but his cart is filled with rocks."


"Ore," I correct Nicolas. "This is some unexpected good news," I get up from the table. "I need to meet with Kervin, but I'll be back when I'm done," I tell Mother and Sandra.


“We’ll be waiting for you,” Sandra tells me.


“Make sure you talk to Kervin about your contract,” Mother reminds me.


"Of course," I respond as I walk out of my brother's house, followed by Nicolas.


We quickly walk through the village, finding a small crowd of people around Kervin. "I'm sorry, but I can't take any more orders. Silver Herd is restricting its routes until Scholl is dealt with; this is my last delivery for now."


“Then what’s with all the stones then!?” A villager shouts.


“That is a delivery for miss Aaliyah, who placed the order in advance,” Kervin calmly explains.


"But we need you to deliver us meat," A woman pleads. Kervin's business smile cracks a bit, and you can see that he's not fond of what's happening either.


“Now, now,” Camden’s strong voice silences everyone. Nicolas moves next to his father as he walks over. “Do you expect him to sneak past Scholl just to deliver us some biscuits and jerky? We can’t blame him or Silver Herd for stopping their deliveries. We should be happy he took the time to make one last run to our village despite the circumstances. Give the man some room, so he can finish his business and get back to Drey before Scholl arrives.”


Camden's argument was well thought out and certainly planed. I wondered why he didn't bring this issue up when we had the village meeting, but I can see how spreading out the bad news and having time to prepare an argument paid off in the end.


“Thank you, Headman Downs,” Kervin offers a polite bow. “But let me assure everyone that we are not terminating this route. As soon as the roads are safe again, I’ll return.”


The people reluctantly agree and start heading back into the village.


When everyone except Camden, Nicolas, and myself are gone, Kervin lets out an enormous sigh of relief. "Thanks again; I was worried about how I was going to convince them to leave."


"It's hard times, lately." Camden also visibly relaxes now that the merchant problem is solved. "I'm very grateful that you brought some more dried meats with you. Aaliyah told me this would be your last delivery for a while, but she never said you'd be bringing more food with you."


"That's because I didn't know," I admit to Camden. "I only negotiated for my materials, not more food; it never crossed my mind."


"That was my idea. I figured your village might have a hard time without regular supplies, so I brought some extra crates I could cram on top of everything."


Kervin isn't joking about cramming everything. The cart he brought this time is larger than his usual one, and it's driven by four silver bivols, all bigger than the pair he usually uses. And this larger cart is piled high with kaglese ore, with crates strapped to the side, which I believe are holding my mithril.


“I’ll go get what I owe you,” Camden leaves to get the money from his house.


“Meet us at Master’s place when you get back,” I tell him as he’s walking away.


“Sure,” Camden shouts back.


"We're going to your master's house!?" Kervin asks, surprised; he knows that my master doesn't like dealing with people.


“That’s right, unless you want to move all this ore back and forth for me?” I give Kervin a sly grin.


“I’m good; lead the way.” Kervin hops back on his cart and has his bivol follow me.


Lurte and Ryiba flank each side of the cart while Reel comes up next to me. “How are you doing? I heard you ran to Drey all by yourself.”


“Someone has a big mouth; was it that receptionist lady?”


Reel chuckles, “maybe?”


“Well, after hearing about Scholl, I needed to place a large order before they take over the area.”


“You know about that, huh?”


“Not hard to see the obvious,” I dryly respond.


“You’d be surprised how few have noticed what’s happening. Well, not everyone can be a genius monster like you, I guess,” Reel laughs at his own joke.


“Or a spy-assassin, like you,” I counter, causing Reel to laugh harder.


"I am quite good at my job. Speaking of which, how did you get Mr. Grey to front you all this?" The mirth in Reel's voice disappears, and he gives me a serious look.


"I'll tell you and Kervin about it after we unload everything," I brush him off for now. I still need to confirm with Kervin whose side he's on.


“Alright,” Reel agrees to wait.


A silence falls between Reel and me until Kervin calls out from his seat up on the wagon. “This trail looks freshly made.”


I talk over my shoulder. "We just finished it a few days ago. We widened it and filled in all the divots so your cart can get through."


“Not that I’m not happy to finally see where you work, but what changed? I thought you said your master doesn’t want to deal with me,” Kervin asks me, probably wanting to make sure nothing is wrong.


"Who said my master would be dealing with anyone? Even if he decides to sit nearby and watch us, I'm the one you have to worry about." I make sure to stress the fact that they’re not to bother Master.


“I understand,” Kervin bows his head.


“And you,” I turn to Reel.


“What?” Reel responds in a sassy tone like he doesn’t care about anything I say.


“If you bug Master in any way, whatsoever, I’ll hold you down while he uses your face for an anvil,” I threaten the annoying rogue.


Reel chuckles, thinking I'm joking, but he stops when he sees how serious I am. I see Kervin as a friend and business partner, while Reel is an ok guy that's saved me in the past, but neither of them is as important to me as Master Del. If they screw this up, I'll find someone else to work with, even if I have to turn to Scholl.


“Ok, be on your best behavior," I remind everyone as we enter Master's clearing.


Master's clearing is quiet. I wasn't expected to show up today, so the forge is cold, and Master is resting on his bench. Kervin looks around the clearing before noticing Master while Reel zeros in on the sleeping stone kin immediately.


Of course, I act like Master resting out in the open is no big deal, guiding the cart over to the spot Master and I agreed we should put the ore. "Right here is good."


Kervin pulls back on the bivols reigns, and the expertly trained animals stop without moving forward an inch.


Kervin hops off his cart. “How do you want to do this?”


"I'll take the crates of mithril and put them in the shed. You guys can start offloading the ore; just put it in a pile next to the cart," I direct Kervin.


"Sounds good, let's get going," Kervin proceeds to pull up his sleeves.


“You’re helping us, boss?” Ryiba asks, surprised.


"Don't get used to it; we need to offload everything as quick as possible and get back to Drey, preferably before the siege spells start flying." Kervin picks up one of the shovels they brought with them and starts shoveling ore over the side of the cart.


I untie the six crates strapped to the cart and check to make sure everything's here. Each crate I open makes my heart beat faster when I see every box is packed with mithril ingots; enough I need to take a second to catch my breath before I have a heart attack. 150 gold coins worth of mithril, that's enough money for a family to live off of for the rest of their lives.


Gingerly, I move each crate into our materials shed and move to help the boys shovel the kaglese. It’s nice to see even Reel is helping, but Kervin…


…Kervin is struggling to keep up with everyone else. He must not have invested that much in his Strength stat. He isn't slow, per-say. It's more that everyone is moving around him, slowing things down.


“Switch with me, Kervin.” I motion for the merchant to hop out of the cart.


"I can help," Kervin whines like a boy being told to stand off to the side while his dad works on the car.


“I’m sure they appreciate your help, but you’re slowing everyone down,” I tell him how it is.


Kervin turns to look at his bodyguards for help, but they refuse to meet his gaze. With a look of embarrassment, Kervin gets down from the cart and hands me his shovel.


I take Kervin's place. "Alright, ladies, let's speed it up." The roles are soon reversed; instead of moving around Kervin, the three bodyguards are forced to match my pace.


Thanks to my pushing, it only takes us an hour to unload the contents of the cart. I hop down with only a little sweat to show for my work while Reel, Lurte, and Ryiba hang onto the side of the cart, wheezing harder than a chain-smoker.


Lurte and Ryiba seemed to have decent Strength stats, but neither had much Dexterity, making the shoveling harder than it needed to be. Reel was the most helpful, but even he got tired after moving that much ore.


I’m probably just used to mining with Master.


Now that the easy part is done, I need to talk to Kervin.


As I walk over to him, Kervin calls out to me. "You were right to kick me out; if I tried to help any longer, the sun would have gone down before we finished."


I smile at his self-deprecating joke, but I need to move before Reel recovers enough to join us. I walk us farther away from the cart and lean in close to Kervin, whispering in his ear. “Who does Reel work for, Mr. Grey or your boss Giovanni?”


Kervin looks at me, confused for a second, but answers my question all the same. "He definitely works for Giovanni; why?"


“Are you sure? It’s really important.”


“I’m sure,” Kervin replies with certainty. “You’re starting to worry me.”


I take a step back from Kervin now that I know Reel isn't spying for Mr. Grey; you can never be too sure.


"Why is my allegiance being questioned?" Reel walks over to us, eyes narrowed. So, he could hear us even at this distance.


“Just confirming who you’re spying for,” I honestly tell him.




"I needed to make sure you weren't on Mr. Grey's payroll." Kervin and Reel are surprised by my answer.


“Why would that matter?” Kervin asks me.


I rub the back of my neck. It always sucks telling people how you screwed up.


“Does it have anything to do with how you got all these materials?” Reel is quick to guess the reason for my problem. He frowns when he sees my reaction. “Did he do something?”


"I signed a shitty contract with him for the materials, and I got screwed over because I didn't know what to look for."


"You what!?" Reel reacts just like Mom did. Kervin is surprised for a moment, but he has a look of realization before relaxing again.


“No need to yell,” I complain.


“There is a reason to yell! Tell me exactly what you signed, word for word!” Reel pressures me.


“Fine,” I agree before he disturbs Master.


I tell Reel and Kervin the details of the contract I signed. I've read my copy enough I can recall it word for word like Reel wanted me to. By the time I finish telling them the details Reel looks like he's ready to explode with anger.


"That slimy bastard! Has he forgotten how much he owes to the Turrini family? And those terms, he expected he would be found out eventually!" Reel starts pacing back and forth. "How am I going to tell Giovanni he outmaneuvered us?!"


Kervin and I are surprised to see this new side to Reel. Reel has always seemed calm and composed no matter the situation; to see him freak out like this is reassuring in its own way, even he can’t hide his emotions all the time.


“Why are the two of you so calm?! Do you not realize the severity of what you did!?” Reel advances on me with the rage of a thousand suns.


I know it's horrible of me, but I can't help but mess with him. Ignoring the steaming assassin, I turn to Kervin. "You didn't tell your boss about my skill?"


Kervin realizes what I'm going for and plays along, happy to get back at the man who always gives him trouble. "Of course not; it isn't my job to give away all your secrets; it's his." Kervin points a finger at Reel. "You should know I always have your best interests at heart."


"I wouldn't go that far," I roll my eyes at Kervin's over-exaggeration.


Reel finally catches on that there’s a reason we’re both so calm. “What are you two talking about?”


Now Kervin ignores Reel and keeps talking to me. “Are you going to tell him?”


“I don’t have much of a choice, plus I don’t want to deal with Mr. Grey all by myself.” I glance to see if Reel is still worked up, only to see he’s taken a step back and collected himself. Damn, there went my fun.


“Are the two of you finished now?” Reel folds his arms like a disapproving parent.


“You’re the one who freaked out without asking for my opinion,” I point out.


"Fine, that was unprofessional of me," Reel admits without looking like he cares about the apology. "Now, would you please tell me what skill you're referring to?"


"Nothing much," I hold out my hand and look at my fingertips as if I just got a manicure. "I just have a skill that lets me destroy contracts I've made with people," I casually tell Reel.


Reels expression slackens into one of shock. “You can do that, even though it was magically signed and everything?”


“Yep,” I grin.


Reel straightens himself out and starts walking towards the forest. “I’m going to take a leak.”


“Tell Giovanni I said hi,” I call out before he enters the trees.


Reel stops and looks back at me, “I will.”


Kervin and I are grinning ear to ear.


"I don't know what you're smiling about," Reel says to Kervin with a straight face. "According to the contract she signed, you're no longer needed after this delivery. It will be a miracle if we aren't ambushed before we reach Drey."


Kervin’s smile quickly fades away and is replaced with a look of horror. That was a good comeback.


I turn and ask Kervin, “what were your plans after this?”


“We were supposed to head straight back to Drey and report to Mr. Grey about the delivery. I was one of the people chosen to stay behind and work under Grey when Drey falls to Scholl.”


That's not good. Not wanting to rub salt in Kervin's wounds and say the wrong thing, I turn away, only to see Lurte and Ryiba standing nearby. They've gone pale, meaning they've caught enough of the conversation to know what's going on.


I should do something to break the tension. “You have any tea?” I ask Kervin.


“What?” Kervin is surprised by my question.


“Tea, you have any?”




"Good, you grab the tea, and I'll start a fire and grab a pot out of Master's house. I don't know how long Reel is going to take, but I doubt you guys are leaving as soon as you thought you were. Might as well have some tea while we're waiting," I give Kervin a reassuring smile.


I move to get everything ready before Kervin can disagree with me. He needs something to get his mind off what Reel said.


“You want some tea?” I call over to Master as I stack a few logs in the forge.


"No," Master shouts back without shifting from his laying position. It's a good thing Master said no; I don't think he has many cups in his house.


I look up at the sky to see where the sun is; we still have a while before it starts to get dark.


I hope Reel doesn't take too long to return. I promised Mom and Sandra that I would be later, but none of us can leave until we hear what Giovanni has to say. We can't have our plans messing with each other.


Gods, I hope the tea helps with what happens next.


A note from kosnik4

5,150 words.


Not sure what to say at the end this time?


Oh, yeah! Crafting starts again next chapter! Who doesn’t love new gear!


I hope you enjoyed the chapter, and as always, stay safe.

Support "Magic-Smithing "

About the author


Bio: Just love a good story.

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