Kervin’s Point of View:


Sitting in the seat of my cart, I gazed up at the wall in front of me. Of course, it wasn’t the same scale as the walls surrounding Drey and the other cities, but that didn't take away from its splendor.


The wall in front of me was still being constructed, but it had something more than those other walls did…. it was new.


I know, shocker! A new wall looked new? But that was the thing; I'd never seen one before. Sure, I’d seen new buildings made with stone, but I’ve never seen a newly erected wall like this. The most recent wall in this corner of the world was Drey’s, and it was built over a hundred years ago before my parents were even born.


A wall was a sign that a city was safe and thriving. Any merchant worth their salt could tell a lot about a city by its defenses. Teeburn had decrepit walls due to their financial problems. Drey made regular patches but never fixed their wall's underline problems, telling how the previous lord once ran things. Yleles renovated its western entrance regularly because it mainly catered to merchants and the wealthy but neglected its other entrances. I could go on and on, but one thing they all had in common was that all of them were one step away from crumbling. The war made that abundantly clear, even to the average person.


Scholl has been trying to fix what they could while the war was stalled, but you could only do so much with what you have. But, they were more interested in agriculture and didn’t have many hands to spare on architecture.


The wall in front of me might not stretch up into the sky, but it looked sturdier than the ones I was used to passing through. The last time we were here, there wasn't much to look at, but they had already built maybe a hundred feet of wall in only a month. They still had a long way to go before it looped around the entire village, yet not one of the workers looked put off by that idea. I couldn’t spot a single person with a frown on their face.


The people constructing the wall were putting their all into the project, and it showed in their work. While last time the village’s entrance looked like a chaotic mess, this time, everything looked streamlined. The workers looked more confident in what they were doing and radiated pride, while the foreman was able to stand back and watch his people do their jobs without constantly having to bark orders at them.


Looking up at the growing wall, I realize this village will never be the same. Even after Aaliyah leaves, it won’t stop growing. It was past that point, and once word gets out, they're able to spare the resources to construct such a thing and do it….


I shake my head; I wouldn’t be surprised if people from the surrounding villages flocked her by the droves. It was only a matter of time.


"Are we going in, or will you have us stand here all day?" Reel complains, bringing me out of my thoughts.


“Quit your complaining,” I snap back. “You can’t tell me you aren’t impressed by this even a little.”


Reel rolls his eyes and scans the village’s progress with a judgmental look. “It looks like they’re only going ten feet high; I could scale that in two seconds.”


“Yes, because they’re building it to stop you,” I respond sarcastically. Cracking my reigns, I usher my cart forward towards the gap in the wall where the front gate had yet to be built.


“Just saying,” Reel grumbles, walking alongside the cart. “I just figured with Aaliyah involved; it would be something crazy like a hundred feet tall or something.”


Lurte and Ryiba chuckle at Reel's joke, and I find myself smiling along with them. I know Reel was exaggerating, but I have to admit, he had a point. That girl goes above and beyond with everything she does, to the point that I wouldn't question it if I were told the wall would eventually be that high. Though a hundred-foot wall would be impressive, it would be overkill for such a small village. Gods, the current wall was overkill for a village this size.


But then again, it wasn't like she was the one building the thing by herself. There were dozens of villagers helping out, not just Aaliyah. She was the most talented person in the village, but she was far from the only one. Spotted Creek Village indeed was an outlier in that regard.


At the moment, other villages, the same size as this one, were struggling. Scholl offering tax benefits for food helped things, but inflation took its toll on people. Before we left Drey, I had a chat with my fellow Silver Herd traders, and they went on and on about how they were having trouble getting everything people asked for. And when they did get what they needed, they had to charge five times what it was worth. Most considered themselves lucky if they made a 5% return on their trips. To a merchant, that was a horrible return!


But while most villages were struggling, Spotted Creek was thriving, expanding even.


And I think I knew their secret; it was their younger generation pushing this growth, and the fact that they could source most of what they needed nearby was just the icing on the proverbial cake.


While farming villages were struggling to get replacement tools, Spotted Creek had a nearby mine with two talented smiths that could make anything the village could need. The headman’s daughter learned magic in Drey, and I heard her fiancé was the one to propose the wall in the first place.


Oh yeah, I suppose they’re married now. Damn, I forgot to bring them a congratulatory gift.


I need to maintain good relations with them, not only because they are Aaliyah’s family, but because the headman’s daughter was learning enchanting. An unaffiliated enchanter, that was a gold mine if I'd ever heard of one.


Between Drey, Teeburn, Blaiton, and Yleles, there were maybe ten enchanters total, and they all kept in contact with each other. They regulated the prices between them and could demand whatever they wanted for their services. I’ve been supplying Aaliyah with the materials she needs, so I know better than most that they're overcharging for what Aaliyah called ‘simple’ enchanted items.


Then there was the headman's son, Nicolas; it seemed his old man was considering stepping down soon if I’ve been reading the situation correctly.


Speaking of which, "Greetings, young master," I call out to him as we pull up next to the headman’s house.


“Hello, Kervin,” he returns my greeting with a smile and a polite nod. “It’s nice to be getting regular deliveries again. Do you have a manifest for me?”


“I do,” I reach to my side and hand him the piece of parchment I had tucked there. “I got you everything we discussed last month.”


Nicolas scans the list of goods I brought with me, and I notice a slight slip in his smile when he gets to the total for everything. “It’s quite a bit more than last month," he gives me a wary look, probably thinking I'm trying to take advantage of him.


“I assure you, that's the best I can do; salt prices are going up by the day.”


The future headman sighs while I keep my face neutral. He doesn't know that I'm selling him everything at a slight loss. And the only way I’m able to do that is because my business with Aaliyah more than covers what I lose helping out the village. So while I might be able to make a few silver off the various odds and ends I sell each month if I charged higher prices, it was more worth it to keep in good standing with the village. Nicolas doesn’t know it yet, but he owes me one.


“You must be loving this,” Nicolas notes cynically.


“Hardly,” I scoff. “You think Silver Herd is making piles of gold with goods at what they are?” Well, it sort of is, but not like what it was doing before the war broke out. I don't mention that, though.


Nicolas is surprised, "Are things that horrible in the city?" It doesn't look like he can imagine what life outside his village is like.


"Well, it's certainly not like here," I gesture to the village as a whole. “This place is practically a paradise compared to what’s going on outside.”


“I had no idea!” Nicolas exclaims.


I nod my head. “Your village is doing exceedingly well; you must be doing a great job,” I throw a few compliments his way, making him feel better about spending more money than he was expecting. A simple but effective merchant tactic. “I’ll have my men offload everything so that you can inspect it." And collect my money later, but that was implied.


“Going to see Aaliyah then?” Nicolas correctly guesses my plans.


“Got to see what the golden roc is up to,” I joke.


Surprisingly, Nicolas doesn't laugh and instead gives me a concerned look. “What; has something happened to Aaliyah? She isn't hurt, is she!?" I exclaim, sweat forming down my back.


“Nothing like that,” Nicolas reassures me before I start having a panic attack. “It’s just,” he hesitates to finish his sentence.


"Spit it out already," Reel growls behind me, making me cringe. I didn't hear him approach, and apparently, neither did Nicolas seeing how he was caught off guard too.


Nicolas flinches under Reel’s powerful gaze, and I’m about to intervene before he ruins our relationship with the future headman when Nicolas finally finds his voice again. "She's been overworking herself," he spits out in a rapid mess.


Reel and I raise an eyebrow, not understanding what Nicolas was getting at.


“The people hauling stone from the quarry have been talking. Some people think she's preparing for war."


“A war; what do you mean?” I press him for further details.


Nicolas leans in, "You didn't hear it from me, but apparently, she's been crafting weapons or sparring with Lady Tabitha almost every day for over a week now."


“What about the stone for the wall?” Reel asks, fully invested in anything regarding Aaliyah.


Nicolas shakes his head, "Apparently, it's all Master Del's doing. He's been working just as hard as she has, which is out of character for him. Of course, it all started after Lady Tabitha got a letter a few weeks ago; has anything happened between Scholl and Olebert? Is that why prices are so high?”


Nicolas continued to bombard me with questions I had no answer to, raising many red flags. What does Aaliyah know that I don’t? And worst of all, judging by Reel’s expression, he has no clue either.


"I'm sorry," I cut Nicolas off. "But I don’t know anything. If you’ll excuse me,” I wave for Lurte and Ryiba to hurry up and finish unloading the goods. They rush to follow my orders, and soon we're heading towards Del-Razen's clearing at a much quicker pace than usual.


When we do make it to the clearing, I let out a sigh of relief seeing Aaliyah standing next to Camden’s daughter, looking over something on their workbench. Lady Tabitha is the first to notice our approach, but Aaliyah is a quick second.


“Kervin, you’re back,” Aaliyah cheerfully shouts, and for a second, I think my worries were baseless. That is until she walks over to us, and I get a better look at her.


“What’s that look for?” She frowns at me, but I think her friend says everything I need to.


“He probably thinks you look terrible,” Headman Down’s daughter Sandra says with an I told you so look directed at her friend.


I have to agree with her; Aaliyah looked positively worn out. She had a smile on her face, but it had to be fake because I didn't know anyone who could smile while looking like they were about to pass out on their feet. Aaliyah had bags underneath her eyes, and her tan skin looked paler than it should.


“I don’t look that bad, do I?” Aaliyah looks around, hoping someone would agree with her, but no one says a word.


No one but Reel, that is.


"You look like shit,” he bluntly tells her.


Aaliyah’s mouth drops open, and I have to suppress the urge to punch Reel in the face. If he said that to anyone else, they’d probably vow to never do business with us again!


“I look that bad, huh?” Aaliyah surprisingly doesn’t get angry at Reel’s blunt words and rubs underneath her eyes.


“That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you!” Sandra throws her arms up in exasperation. "You've been working non-stop for the last week; you need to take some time off."


“Maybe you’re right,” Aaliyah sighs. “I’ll take two days off…. starting tomorrow.”


Sandra shakes her head like she was disappointed in her friend’s decision but didn't say anything else.


“Is there some reason you’re working so hard?” I ask.


“What, you haven’t heard?” Aaliyah gives me a look that says she would think I should already know.


“No, could you enlighten me?”


"Peace talks have begun between Olebert and Scholl; I don't know how much longer I have in the village."


Of all the things she could have told me, that was not something I was considering. "Are you sure?" I ask, “There hasn’t been any news of such a thing.”


"Really? I wonder why? I thought it would be big news."


“It is likely Lord Bullock’s doing,” Lady Tabitha steps forward and gives us her insight into the situation. “He probably wants to keep things quiet until the talks are over.”


“Why would he want to do that?” Aaliyah asks the armor-clad woman.


“To combat uncertainty,” she answers matter-of-factly, drawing blank looks from all of us. Luckily, Lady Tabitha sees we don’t understand her and thankfully clarifies for us. “If the merchant hasn’t heard anything after so long, the negotiations will likely be drawn out.”


"But wouldn't people benefit from knowing there will be peace?” Aaliyah asks the same question I had but seeing Tabitha's blank reaction; I realize I'm being short-sighted.


“And what if there isn’t peace; what if the war is forced to continue?” Tabitha reminds us of the very dark possibility that Olebert and Scholl might not come to terms with each other’s demands. “What would happen if Lord Bullok guaranteed people peace, only to have to tell the people the war had to continue? How do you think people would react? It is better to keep people in the dark until things are resolved.”


I see; if a treaty is signed, Bullok can proudly claim the war is over. If it isn't, the war continues, and people wouldn't have had their hopes up in the first place.


“Sound’s smart to me,” Reel gives his two coppers on the situation.


“I guess,” Aaliyah yawns. “But you see my problem; I only have so long to take care of the things I need to do before then. So you should be happy; I got a lot of stuff for you," she tiredly grins at me and motions for us to follow her.


Aaliyah leads us over to the shed we emptied last time we were here and flings the door open. My jaw threatens to hit the clearing's floor when I see the numerous kaglese weapons inside.


“They aren’t as pure as the last ones. I needed to stretch my supply of kaglese. I don’t suppose you were able to bring me anymore?”


“What? No!” I glare at the girl dumbfoundedly. “You used all of it in a month?!” Sure, the last batch was smaller than the first one, but I expected it to last her months, not A month! “How many weapons are here?”


Aaliyah brings her hand up to her chin and hums. “Honestly, I’m not sure. I lost track a while ago.”


This child. I want to sigh, but I keep up my professional demeanor.


“Does this mean you already finished my dagger?” Reel asks, grinning ear to ear.


“Dagger? What dagger?” Aaliyah looks confused, and I watch as all the joy washes from Reel's face.


"Ha! Now, who looks like shit!” Aaliyah playfully punches Reel in the arm, surprisingly catching him off guard, and sends him stumbling back.


“So, you didn’t forget?” Reel anxiously asks, catching himself before toppling over and rubbing his shoulder where she hit him.


"Of course, I didn't forget. Who do you take me for? Wait here, and let me grab it.”


I don’t know where Aaliyah was summoning all this energy from, but she scurried into the shed faster than any of us expected.


“Now, I didn’t have time to have mom make a sheath for it, so you’ll have to get one made on your own, but I don’t think you’ll mind when you see this baby!” I watch as Aaliyah walks out of the shed holding a dagger-shaped object wrapped in a piece of leather.


"Tada!" She shouts, removing the covering, reviling an oddly-shaped dagger underneath. The blade looked more prominent than it needed to be compared to its handle.


“This is the dagger you made me?” Reel asks with a complicated expression. “It doesn’t look like what we discussed.” Translation: why are you giving me this.


Aaliyah doesn’t look surprised by Reel’s reaction and instead grins like a street-side vendor trying to hock a potion of immortality. “What, you said you wanted a dagger to poison people?"


“I never said, people,” Reel points out.


“We both knew what you meant,” Aaliyah giggles in a way a girl her age shouldn’t. “But I suppose if you don’t want a MAGIC POISONING DAGER,” Aaliyah stresses each word. “Then you don’t have to take it.”


She moved to wrap it back up, but Reel was already rushing to her side. “Wait. Wait. Wait! You said it’s a magic dagger!?” Reel’s attitude does a 180.


“I did,” Aaliyah cockily grins, knowing she had him where she wanted. “Observe.”


Aaliyah shows us the daggers pummel, where a fancy-looking 4 was inscribed. She grabs it with her hand and twists it, and to all our amazement, it unscrews to reveal a compartment inside the handle of the weapon.


"Now, does anyone have some water?" She asks.


I reach to my side and hand her my waterskin. “Thank you." She takes it and pours it into the dagger's handle, careful not to spill a single drop.


She then screws the pommel back on and holds the dagger out for Reel to take. He gently takes the offered weapon and inspects it closely. "What do I do now?"


“Rub your finger against the blade.”


He does and frowns. “I don’t feel anything?”


“Exactly!”Aaliyah shouts.


I'm about to recommend she take a nap and collect herself, but she cuts me off before I can say anything. “Now pour a bit of mana into it,” she instructs and stresses, "just a bit!"


Reel does as he's told, and we all see blue lines erupt from underneath the binding, acting as the grip. The lines snake towards the area where the pommel screws onto the handle, and twelve small blue dots appear on the dagger's blade.


“That’s enough,” Aaliyah instructs, and Reel stops channeling his mana, and the blade goes dark again. “Now, touch the blade again.”


Reel gently rubs his fingers across the shiny metal, and his eyes immediately widen with surprise. "It's wet now! How?” He looks to Aaliyah for answers, and she's standing there smiling with a huge shit-eating grin on her face.


She holds out her hand, and Reel reluctantly hands the dagger back to her.


"You have no idea how much trouble making this was," she stresses, holding the dagger up for us to see. “There is a small compartment running down the blade's spine; it connects to the handle where you can store any liquid you want.”


I glance at Reel and see the wheels turning in his head.


“There’s a mana absorbing rune underneath the grip,” Aaliyah continues to explain, pointing as she goes. “I engraved a single line between the handle and down into the blade. Then, with my engraving skills, I poked twelve small holes into the blade's surface and connected them to the internal reservoir. When you pour your mana into the dagger, it escapes those holes and drags out a bit of the liquid."


Aaliyah rubs the back of her head, “Sandra and I needed to come up with a whole new way to engrave stuff to pull it off; what do you think?”


"I think it's amazing," Reel holds out his hands in a pleading motion to have the dagger back.


Aaliyah hands it to him with a satisfied smile on her face and gives him a bit of warning. "Remember, it's made out of kaglese, so it's sturdy enough, but its spine is still hollow. So be careful how you use it in battle. Also, you can sharpen it like any other dagger without fear of damaging the enchantment, but make sure you channel some mana through it afterward, so you don't accidentally clog the openings. Understand?”


Reel absently nods his head while staring at his new toy.


“I didn’t know you could make your own unique enchantments already, congratulations.” Aaliyah blushes at my compliment but shakes her head.


“It’s actually not an enchantment,” she tells me. “I just used the same principles engraving pens work off of. There’s only one rune, so you can’t exactly call it an enchantment.”


“I see…. Will you make another one?”


Aaliyah snorts mirthlessly. “Not unless someone orders one. I meant it when I said it was difficult to make. In the same time it took me to make that dagger, I could’ve made ten other weapons. I did this for a friend, that’s all.”


I watched Aaliyah as she turned her attention to a happy-looking Reel. Again she went overboard.


I know I thought the village would continue to grow after she left, but I can’t imagine this place without her here. And if she’s right, she will be leaving soon. What happens then?


Will I be reassigned, or will I go back to my old route?


What about Reel? If Aaliyah leaves, would he still be assigned to me? She wasn't in danger anymore, and I’m sure he’s only still with me because Giovanni wanted someone close to him to keep an eye on her.


I've been putting off thinking about it, but what happens to me after Aaliyah is gone?


It was scary to admit, but I had no idea.


Where do I go from here? The thought frightened me.


A note from kosnik4

3,900 words.


I'm done with the crafting parts for now, so the next chapter starts Aaliyah’s journey into the forest. I hope you're excited about it.


Thanks for reading, and as always, stay safe.

Support "Magic-Smithing "

About the author


Bio: Just love a good story.

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