Author’s Note:

I found that my writing speed has increased dramatically. When I first started writing this, it took me the whole night just to crank out one chapter. Now it takes maybe 3 hours or so to finish one.

Chapter 39- Afternoon Tea

***June 6th, 965 A.F.***
***Ajax McGuire***

         Leaving for the commercial district, I headed towards the only blacksmith shop in town. Even though dwarves are known for the having lots of blacksmiths, this town was small enough to be served by a single store. When I reached there, I saw a team of dwarves, covered in black soot and sweat. All of them were busy doing something near the burning forge in the centre of the open store.

“Hey there! I need something.”

“You are Duncan’s kid, right? Is your name Ajax? What can I getcha, boy?”

         An old dwarf with greyish hair and beard dropped a piece of red-hot iron into the quenching water and greeted me. Being a small town, nearly everyone knows everyone by name. However, this was the first time I have met with him. He must have heard of me from everyone else.

“Hi, uncle. I need to buy a large pot, a long piece of tube, a large funnel, and a large canister.”

“We have had some of those in stock in the back. You want to take a look?”

        I was lead to the back of the shop to take a look at the wares. I picked out a bronze pot and canister with the size that I like. I chose bronze because it only tarnishes, but not rust. It could be cleaned easily. However, no funnels and tube were large enough.

“Do you have larger bronze funnels and longer tubes?”

“What in tarnation you need something like that?”

“I want to make a water dispenser for the animals.”

         I used my finger and drew the concept of an automatic water dispenser on the ground in the dust. It was the best excuse I can imagine covering up the truth about the distillery. After he scratches his face a bit in thought, he gave me an offer.

“Well, that’s an interesting idea. Tell you what, kid. Since you brought an idea for a new product for me, I will give you a discount on it. I will only charge you for the material at cost for this water dispenser for you. How does that sound?”

        It was a bit of oversight that he took advantage of me bringing him a new invention. Still, it is better for him not to know about how it can be turned into a distillery. Superior alcohol is my primary objective. I tried to push my luck and bargain with him to get a better deal.

“Only if you throw in free delivery to Belhern Village.”

“You drive a hard bargain, kid. We have a deal. That will be three pieces silver coins. It will take about a week for the order to be completed.”

        I handed him the coins and left the store. Seeing that there were a bit of time before school ends, I walked around the commercial area. Being a smaller town, it was pretty safe for everyone to walk around without a care. Crime is nearly non-existent. I stopped at a bakery and picked up a few pieces of bread for afternoon tea before I head back to school to meet up with Cecilia. After that, we headed back home together. I gave a piece of bread in return for the sandwich she gave me this morning. Munching on the food while on the road, I decided to tell Cecilia everything that is going to happen.

“Cecilia, I just talked with Mr. Ferguson today. I might stop going to school from now on. It’s not confirmed yet, but I asked him to let me graduate early.”

       She stopped walking all of a sudden. Her eyes started to fill with tears.

“But..but…why? Does.. does that mean I won’t see you again?”

“I am aiming to attend to the Royal Academy. For me to do that, I will need a lot of money. I am trying to graduate from school early so that I have time to earn money instead of going to school. We probably won’t be able to see each other until after I graduate from the Royal Academy.”

“Hic...hic… I don’t want you to... hic.. go..Hic”

       She began to bawl her eyes out. She grabbed onto me like a koala bear. Feeling a bit embarrassed, I patted on her head trying to calm her down.

“I know you don’t want me to go, but my father wants me to go. I love him too much to disappoint him.”

“But… I also…lov-...”

        She stopped speaking before completing her sentence, but I knew exactly what she wanted to say. She covered her completely red face in embarrassment with her hands and muttered some incoherent words. I decided to tell her exactly how I think.

“Cici, in your opinion, what do you think love is?”

        She peeked out from between her fingers. Finally, she wiped her face with her sleeves, sniffled a bit and answered me.

“Well, it is when you are with someone and your heartbeat goes fast, and your stomach feels bubbly.”

“It might be a bit unorthodox, but I don’t think that’s what love is.”

        She tilted her head, not quite understand what I just said.

“To me, love is not a feeling. If you stop feeling your heartbeat going fast when you are with them, does that mean you don’t love them anymore? I have never felt my stomach bubble when I am with my parents, does that mean I don’t love them?”

“Of course not.”

“Exactly. Love is too fleeting if it is a feeling. No, love is not a feeling, but a decision, a commitment and a promise. When you love someone, you have decided that everything you do, you will have that person’s best interest in mind, regardless of your desire. You make a promise to yourself that every action you take is for that person's happiness, and hopefully, they do the same for you. If you stop loving someone, it is a failure, not only on that person’s part. You have also failed because you have broken a promise to yourself.”

        A gentle wind blew as the sun began to fall in the west. The orange sunlight casts everything in a dramatic lighting. I waited in silence a bit for Cecilia to digest what I have said before continuing.

“To be honest, I don’t want to go to the Royal Academy. But since I love my father, I have decided that I will earn the money and go because it will make him happy. I like you, Cecilia. I really do. However, I love my parents. Knowing what I think what love is, are you willing to finish what you said before?”

       She stood in a daze, not knowing what to do. Seeing that she was not going to answer, I turned around nonchalantly and started walking again.

“It’s getting late. We should head back home. I will wait for you to answer next time.”

“Wait, Ajax.”

       I turned back around to face her. She wiped her tears and showed a face full of determination.

“Ajax, I love you. And because I love you, I promise that I will wait for you to come back from the Royal Academy.”

       I walked towards her and embraced her. I closed my eyes as I spoke to her.

“And I will answer your love in kind. Because I love you, I promise that I will earn enough gold for both of us to go to the Royal Academy so we will not be apart.”

About the author


  • Slayer of Soles


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