Yolric rested his chin on his hand and heaved a bored sigh. The elf’s shop had been empty all morning save for his dwarven assistant, Patsy, who was painstakingly cleaning the floors. On one side of the shop were shelves lined with spellbooks, on the other an assortment of jars which glowed various colors. The middle of the shop contained tables filled with vials of multiple shapes and sizes. Many had signs in front of them that read things like “Powerful Love Potion, Use Sparingly” and “Very Deadly! Ask for Assistance.” Under the counter on which Yolric was restlessly drumming his fingers was a glass case displaying an array of swords, axes, and longbows. The elf was suddenly wrenched from his daydreaming by a loud banging sound as Patsy rapped his head against the underside of a shelf, causing jars to shift and nearly sending one tumbling to the floor.
“Oy! Mind the fairies!” Yolric yelled at his assistant.
Patsy grumbled and rubbed the lump on his head as he slid the jar back to safety. Inside was a glowing red fairy, which had taken to making rude faces at the dwarf. As he went back to cleaning, the door opened, and a heavyset human wearing chainmail and a flowing red cape entered the shop. He was carrying a parcel under one arm. Yolric perked up at the site of a customer and adopted a cordial tone.
“Welcome to Yolric’s Magical Arms and Aromatics. What manner of mystical material may I interest you in this morning?” The human appeared not to acknowledge Yolric’s greeting at all. He glanced around the shop for a few moments, and then approached the counter. When he spoke, his voice was loud and gruff.
“Well met good sir! I am Sir Redderick of the Crimson Knights. I suspect my reputation has preceded me?” The knight puffed out his chest as he waited for awe to wash over the elf’s face.
Yolric merely blinked. His expression betrayed no knowledge of Sir Redderick’s existence.
“Ah. Yes, well, uhm...” Sir Redderick cleared his throat awkwardly. He seemed to deflate for a moment, then quickly regained his pompous demeanor. “You see, twelve moons ago my company and I did set out on a journey of great import! We road north to lay siege to the mountain lair of the Great Dragon Roknahr! The battle lasted seven days and six nights. On the seventh morning I lured the foul lizard to the ground where I did cut his throat. With the dragon’s woeful existence thus ended, we stormed his den and liberated, among other treasures, The fabled Sword of Mord Thal! Surely you’re familiar with the Sword of Mord Thal?”
“I’m afraid not.” Yolric replied.
“Ah.” Yet more air seemed to escaped Redderick’s muscles. He stumbled a bit over his next few words. “Well, It has been foretold that the Sword of Mord Thal is destined to deliver the... ah... killing stroke to the Necromancer King Thildred, Terror of the South you know, and as such my… erm... my company and I, having sufficiently rested and feasted in celebration of our victory, are setting out to confront the villain. However we’ve encountered a bit of an... obstacle.”
“What sort of obstacle?” Yolric asked. He noticed that the parcel Redderick was carrying looked about half as long and twice as thick as a typical sword.
“Well the sword, you see… erm…” Redderick uncomfortably scratched the back of his head with his free hand. A bead of sweat dripped off of his brow. He could not have been more reluctant to continue. Finally he managed: “Well the bloody thing is broken.”
Patsy was sweeping the same spot over and over again and struggling the contain laughter. The fairies in the jars had begun giggling uncontrollably. Luckily, their voices were too small for Redderick to detect, but Yolric’s elvish ears could hear them perfectly. He shot them a stern look, and then asked: “How did it break?”
Redderick forced an uncomfortable chuckle, desperate to hide his embarrassment. “Yes, haha, rousing tale, that one! After slaying the great lizard, my men and I did retire to the local tavern for mead and merriment. After consuming many flagons, we partook in a contest of sorts. You see among the treasures in the wyrm’s lair, we also found a rather large hammer, which my brethren and I did in turn use to... dismantle formidable objects. T’was only after I raised the hammer that my comrade did, unbeknownst to me, place the Sword of Mord Thal on the striking platform, whenceforth I brought the full might of the hammer down upon the blade and, by my immeasurable strength, rended it in twain.”
Yolric blinked once again. “You smashed the Sword of Mord Thal with a hammer?”
“Yes.” Redderick admitted pitifully.
“Well let’s ‘ave a look then.” Redderick placed the parcel on the counter and unwrapped it, revealing a bejeweled hilt with a small, jagged piece of steel protruding from it. The remainder of the blade laid beside it. Yolric picked up both pieces and examined them closely. He noticed a regal lion carved into the handle, presumably the sigil of Mord Thal.
“I can reforge the blade today, but I’ll need to send it off to Irwin be re-enchanted.” Yolric said.
“You can’t enchant it here?” Redderick asked obstinately.
“Do I look like an enchanter? Had a good shave this morning, did I? I get my magical goods delivered from Irwin. I’ve a courier that makes the journey every few days, I imagine I’ll have it back in a week.”
The knight scoffed. “A week? No, no, no that’s unacceptable, I need it done today. We set out to confront the necromancer on the morrow! This is an errand of utmost importance.”
“Well if you leave now you could get there yehself by sundown. I reckon the old wizard would be happy for a bit of company.”
“That is quite simply out of the question. I’ve no time for gallivanting about the country and hobnobbing with wizards. I’m afraid we must find another solution”
“How about a trade?”
Redderick was flabbergasted at the proposal. His mouth hung agape for several seconds before he was able to reply. “A trade?! Are you demented?”
“I’ve got loads of enchanted swords.” Yolric continued without any regard for the knight’s exasperation. He opened the sliding door at his feet and pulled a sword out of the display case. “This one ought to do the trick. Forged from Kimarian Steel. Balanced weight with a no-slip handle. Comes pre-enchanted with a Charm of Virtue. Guaranteed to stop evil in its tracks.”
Redderick regarded the elf with utter contempt and disbelief. “One cannot simply trade the Sword of Mord Thal!” He jammed his finger authoritatively into the counter near the broken sword. “This is the fabled blade that the Oracle of Numani didst prophesy would pierce the heart of the Necromancer King, by the hand of a benevolent knight of royal descent!” Bits of saliva flung from his mouth as he gave extra emphasis to his next statement. “It is the only blade in all of existence that can rend the life from the evil wretch and end his reign of terror FOR ALL ETERNITY!”
“That’s just prophet propaganda, that is.” Yolric replied dismissively. “Them oracles are always goin’ on about ‘chosen one’ this and ‘fabled relic’ that. I’d wager any heart that broken stick can penetrate, this one can pierce just as well.”
Redderick’s face had turned a deep red, giving new meaning to the term “Crimson Knight.” He was all but shouting at the cheeky shop owner, and his voice cracked as it increased in pitch. “Twenty good men hath surrendered their VERY LIVES to the Great Wyrm in acquisition of THIS SWORD!”
“Ah, well, not a great decision in hindsight was it?”
The knight suddenly reached across the counter with both hands and grabbed Yolric by the collar, bringing them face to face. “You vile cockroach! I should have your head for that!”
“I meant no disrespect!” Yolric pleaded in a sudden panic. “Bloody good job they did, knockin off that old dragon. Rotten pest he was, always incineratin’ my couriers!” The elf scrambled to come up with a new proposal. “I’ll tell you what! Come back in the morning and I’ll have the sword done up to look just like the old one. I'll paint the hilt, pop the jewels over, I can even replicate the sigil, easy peasy! None of your comrades will ever have to know. What d’yeh say?” He smiled weakly at Sir Redderick. The knight’s breath was hot in his face.
Redderick suddenly remembered they weren’t alone, and peered behind him. Patsy looked as if he might faint in fear. The fairies had taken to covering their mouths and eyes. Some were hiding in the corners of their jars, trying not to watch what was happening. Redderick released the elf, adjusted his chainmail, and resumed his prideful disposition. “Yes, well, if that is indeed our only course of action, then so be it.”
Yolric was relieved. “Right then! So for the broken blade and fifty gold pieces…”
“Fifty gold pieces?!” Redderick interrupted, nearly losing his temper again. Instead he took a deep breath, and conceded: “Very Well.”
“Fifty-five after tax actually.” Yolric continued cautiously.
The knight stared daggers at the shop owner, then reached into his coin purse, gathered the fifty-five pieces and slammed them onto the counter.
“Thank’ya kindly!” Yolric tore off a piece of parchment and quickly scribbled onto it. “Here’s your receipt and claim check. Bring that back in the morning and you’ll be all set!” He handed the parchment to Redderick with a patronizing smile.
Sir Redderick took the claim check, folded it disdainfully, and put it in his pocket. He said insincerely: “Well sir, If that concludes our business for today, I bid you a fine day and a good morrow.” With that, he turned around and exited the shop, slamming the door behind him.
After a moment, Patsy approached the counter and asked: “Do you really think that old prophecy is rubbish?”
Yolric shrugged. “If it ain't, I don't reckon he'll be back to complain about it will he?”