The Westmark Commission - Part 4

The Westmark Commission - Part 4
Summary: Countess-Palatine Katarina comes to Grimson Arms to pick up her commission from Master Johan.
Date: August 7, 2013
Related: The Westmark Commission - Part 1
The Westmark Commission - Part 2
The Westmark Commission - Part 3
Johan Katarina 

Laketown - Grimson Arms
The heated air in this room smells of fire and iron. A forge dominates the rear of the room, coupled by large bellows and flanked by a sturdy anvil. Barrels filled with water stand by the anvil, and others stand along the walls filled with the materials of the craft. Counters and benches are home to well-kept and cared for tools. Examples of the wares, weapons ready to be taken away on the spot, hang along the walls and from the rafters of the building. Despite every available space being put to work, it doesn't feel cluttered in the forge. The floors are well swept, everything is organized, and everything has its place. Two wide doors, wide enough to pass a cart through, open under a swinging sign reading Grimson Arms, with a hammer crossing the G, back out to the street.
Wed Aug 07, 1329

Johan hasn't been working the forge. It's on the cool side, the coals long since died out from their orange glow to a dull soot black. He is moving about the forge as a whole though, pacing between a barrel of coal, another of iron rods, then returning to check over inventory lists. Preparations. The grand opening was all too soon. The man is dressed in his non-formal usual; a loose tanned hide affair over equally loose laced linen. His boots are scuffed and his hands are more noticably rough with dirt beneath his nails. A coal pencil is tucked behind his ear at the ready. Also at ready, for the Countess, is a rolled log of leather wrapped up in bindings. An apprentice had been sent to the inn earlier in the evening to call on her, and let her know her commission was ready for pick-up, at her earliest convenience. The forge doors still stood wide open, so any on the street to look in and see the happenings, dispensing with any sense of inpropriety if she needed to come on her own.

With the evening breeze bringing with it the usual descent of biting insects and, thankfully, cooler air, Katarina joins those who are already out and about taking the evening air. Her pace is one that speaks more of leisure than a hurried rush from point A to point B. Dressed as she is, she blends as easily with the crowd as not, and even though being on THIS side of the bridge is not exactly the 'thing' to do, she does it precisely for that reason. It isn't advisable. Plus, she's never been one to take 'no for answer. And has, indeed, ever been one to do what ever is necessary. The arrival of the apprentice, and aren't they cute at that age? to the Inn was met with a cordial nod, a few words of inquiry before she'd made sure to press some food toward the apprentice; young people are always hungry, and as a mother of three, Kat knows this more than any other thing, the rule for handling youths: feed them. Frequently.

It isn't that Johan doesn't feed the apprentices - they are well cared for. It is that the work is hard and laboring, a smithy's work. The boys were bottomless black holes for the consumption of food. It would have been taken with all gratuity before the boy shuffled away. Polite. When Katarina does arrive, or rather, when the guildsman notices, he starts up from his work. He passes a hand over his head, which knocks the pencil loose and prompts a scramble to catch it. (He does.) Clearing his throat, the quiet rumble sounds out with a half bow from waist. "Countess-Palatine. The boy did not say when you would be in, but it is good to see you again." He gestures, to the rolled leather, and starts to walk that way himself. "Your swords are ready - " He doesn't look nervous, per say, but anxious might be the word. It was, after all, a large and important commission.

"I must confess, I enjoy the evening air a great deal, Master Grimson," Kat replies as she tucks her hands into her hip pockets. "The Inn, no matter how well appointed it is, is crowded even on the best of days. And, often, quite noisy all the same. There ar etimes when I miss my home a great deal. More so now than ever, I must admit. Now that we are, at last, at a measure of peace and stability within our own lands it is a rare moment when my family is all together under one roof. Without anyone being ill or in the throes of some calamity or catastrophe," she explains. "So, your apprentice is a nice boy. I remember when my son was his age," she admits with a touch of a smile. "All hollow legs, aren't they?" she adds before glancing toward the leather wrapped bundle, curiosity on her face.

"They are," he agrees. "I am not sure when I grew out of it. It does not seem so long ago, and at the same time, an eternity ago." When he reaches the bundle, he unknots the leather, and unrolls it along the counter. There is a soft clunk with each layer, leaving another scabbard-housed blade displayed. Once every scabbard is visible, Johan takes a moment to draw each blade, and lays them beside their scabbards. Each one gleams, well sharpened to expertly honed edges, and polished to a perfect gleam without so much as a fingerprint anywhere to be found. Only then, does he step back and gesture a hand to the weapons for her to inspect them. "I hope that I have interpreted what you wished the blades to say - "

Katarina draws a slow breath, not just surprise but stunned pleasure forms on her face as she moves forward to inspect each weapon. "Master Johan," she says quietly, her voice having dropped to that so quiet voice one uses when utterly surprised. She inspects each blade slowly, lifting one at a time, testing the weight of each, angling the blades slowly to see the play of light sliding along the surface, one after another. She holds Paule's last, a slow smile having formed on her face before she looks up to Johan at last. "These are beautiful. These are artistry. They are exquisite. These are not tools, they are.. heirlooms. Thank you," she says quietly. "I can't wait to share these. I can't wait for .. well, I can't wait."

Johan stands aside, patiently waiting and watching while Katarina moves blade to blade, while she tests the weight. He knows the weighting is spot on. He'd even recruited a small built woman to test the smaller blades just to be sure. When Katarina turns to him he dips his head, trying to stiffle pride and be humbe- but he is admittedly proud of the blades. "It is my hope that they will endure, Countess, and speak of your family for generations to come. I am very happy that you are pleased." He cracks a small grin then and holds up a hand. "But I do have one more thing for you… A gift." He steps away for a moment, to retrieve a small pouch from a shelf and carry it back, holding it out to her in the palm of his hand.

With obvious reluctance Katarina sets down the blade that Johan has fashioned for Paule, caressing one hand along the hilt before she turns to the small pouch that he holds out to her, accepting the pouch and opens it, curiosity again evident in her eyes. "I know that they will endure. Blades like this do not break, they do not bend by accident or pure chance, these are not bartered or given away. They are beautiful," she says before lowering her eyes to the contents of the pouch.

The pouch, or rather, the contents, do rattle a little and have a gentle weight to it when she takes it, while Johan explains, "I know you said that you didn't wish to pick a weapon for your youngest yet, but it did seem a shame that it should miss out for being a few months late for the affair."

Baby Westmark Rattle
This tiny flanged mace is the fraction of the size of a real one. It is made of a highly polished steel, but the hollow head and narrow haft leave it quite light. All of the edges have been rounded down to a baby-safe toy for gumming and bapping. Tiny bells jingle inside and rattle around when the toy is shaken. A small loop at the end allows for the ribbon in Westmark yellow to be threaded through and secured to baby's wrist.

Katarina's smile turns to one that is surprised before she, rather spontaneously, starts crying. "This is.. oh how…" is as far as she gets before she wipes the back of one hand against her eyes and gives the rattle a small shake to hear them jingle around inside, laughing. "it's beautiful. It's adorable. Thank you," and because she is so moved she offer Johan a rather spontaneous hug.

The tears might have shaken a man with fewer sisters more. Johan merely clears his throat and glances down to his hands, then to the counters. No cloth clean enough to offer a noble to be seen. But she's wiped her eyes with her own hands and before he really knows it, he's caught in that hug. He hesitates for a moment before curling just one arm to touch a brief hand high on her back. Ever careful of propriety. "You are very welcome, milady," is rumbled quietly, so close. "If it is not too much to ask, I would bid that you return, or write, and tell me how your family, to the last tiny one of them in time, takes to the swords. And if they need any care, a new edge or a new wrap on the scabbards, please do bring them back."

Katarina laughs as she steps back, dashing tears away from her face again as she nods, "I promise," she vows with a firm nod. "I'll write to you once I have chance to see each sword properly set and when our newest arrives," that same hand now rests on the still lean curve of her abdomen, "I'm sure that he or she will be delighted. And will likely bash one of his or her siblings upside the head with it at some point," another somewhat watery laugh. "But everything is most beautiful. Thank you."

Johan relaxes a little more when the hug releases, though there's an unshakable smile that softens his hard northern face and melts the ice about his eyes some. "You are most welcome," he says again, while moving to carefully sheathe each sword and lay them again in the leather, to roll them into a neat bundle and bind them securely together. "These are a little heavy all together. Would you like me send one of the boys with you to carry them back to the inn for you?"

"That would be lovely, thank you," she says as she tucks the rattle back into the pouch and curls the pouch against her side for safe keeping. "You do realize I fully intend to send all of my colleagues and comrades in your direction from now on?" she wonders with a touch of a grin. "If you get swamped, I will apologize - profusely - at some point."

Johan steps aside, to open a door to the back and rouse one of the two apprentices in his charge. He has sense enough to make it the one who didn't call on Katarina - in case there was more food involved. Distributing the wealth, as it were. The boy would be a bit longer, dressing and coming out, half asleep and righting his cap. Such was the life of apprentices. Johan returns to the counter, chuckling quietly, and asking, "Just wait until after Saturday. I am offering a discount to any who commission that day as part of my grand opening of this unexpected shop - I would not want to have every commission made that day."

Katarina gives another of those amused laughs as she nods, "I'll wait until then. It'd be nice if your Queen wasn't determined to see that no business crosses that bridge. But," and she gives a rather gallic shrug, "it certainly didn't stop me. I'm glad you've opened your shop, by the by," and sweeps a long look around the large room. "It must be awful warm here during the summer months, but quite nice during the coldest days," and she sets eyes - still amused - upon the apprentice, sleepy, who emerges. "I hope you don't mind me throwing some more food into the pit. I can't help it, it's the mother in me, the urge to feed and then make sure their hair is combed. It's usually the former that allows the latter."

There is a flinch in the man's face and for a moment, a glimpse of, not quite fury, but a moment of indignance. "She is not my Queen," the man asserts, once the quick flare was soothed down in his belly to a low smolder. "I hail from Rhaedan, in the far north. But the Guild calls me here. So I am here." He dips his head and glances to the apprentice, perking up at th eprospect of better food. "I am sure it will make the chore worth it for the boy," he chuckles quietly. "Do be well, milady, and go safely."

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