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    submitted 12 June 2013 @ 12:24
    edited 13 June 2013 @ 00:35

A Deal Is A Deal

Written by Shurlea
Rating: Superb! (5) (5 rating, 1 ratings)

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Peeking around the edge of the doorway Brianna spied just the person she was looking for, and stepped in. “Aunt Shurlea?”

At the call of her name Shurlea looked up, keeping the tension on the new leather strip she was winding around a sword hilt she had just repaired. “Hi, Bri.” Noting that the young girl carried one of the practice swords her daughter had made some time back.

“Aunt Shurlea.” Inching in Brianna came to stand close by, watching as Shurlea finished her task. “Would you make me my own sword?”

Plunging the hilt into the cooling vat to let the leather soak a few minutes. Shurlea gave Brianna her full attention. It was too easy to fall into mother mode, but she fought it. “What's wrong with the one you've got?”

Brianna held the practice sword up to show her, “It's wore out.”

At first she would have seriously debated that, but when her gaze lited on the blade in front of her and traveled down its length she'd have to agree. Nicks and gouges ran up the length on both edges. A memory from another time and place brought a secret smile, and she chuckled. “What have you been doing, pounding nails with it?”

“Oh no! Daddy would never let me do something like that, I'd have to use a hammer.” Brianna's head dropped as Shurlea took the sword from her hand. “I've been practicin'”

Holding the sword straight out Shurlea looked down the blade and saw that it was also slightly twisted. “Bri, when you've worn the Pell down to the bolts, it's time to change the beams. Ask one of the boys to help you if your father doesn't have the time.”

“But I'm not using a Pell anymore.” Her head came up and shook, “I'm practicin' with R'kih and K'ran now.”

That was surprising news, and Shurlea's brow rose. “So you're sparring now?”

“Uh huh. So will you make me my own sword?”

I might.” Shurlea folded her arms and pursed her lips, it was time to go into that mother mode. “Does your father know about this?”

“Uh huh, and Spike told me to ask you and not Tee.”

Examining the battered practice sword again Shurlea had to wonder why. The workmanship was good although she had used mundane steel. Maybe because her daughter was too busy, or maybe it had something to do with Lurdach. “OK, Bri, I'll make you a sword of your own, but I have to ask you this. Are you willing to pay my price?”

Brianna's hopeful face brightened, “I've got three dollars and thirty-seven cents, is that enough?” Other than her Happy Meal collection she didn't have anything else of value to barter with.

Shurlea slowly shook her head, “I don't want your money, Bri.”

And just as fast Brianna's hopes dashed. “If you don't want money, what do you want?” She struggled with the offer of her collection.

“Your time and commitment.” Shurlea replied, reaching over to pull out the inverted sword from the vat and laying it on the anvil to drip dry. “Just like I'm going to give you.”

Giving it some thought it seemed fair and Brianna asked, “What do you want?”

Smart kid, Shurlea smiled. At least in this Brianna wasn't so easily taken. “One day a week, for three weeks in a row you come in here and sweep the shop floor from front to back. That includes all the nooks and crannies you can reach. Do we have a deal?”

Brianna looked around from where she stood, there was a lot of open space. It seemed easy enough, and she nodded. “OK.”

“OK.” Shurlea nodded along, “So tell me about this sword you want.”

Uh oh, Brianna forgot something. “Wait here, I'll be right back,” and took off running.

Shurlea humphed, she had no intentions of going anywhere. Pulling out her phone she hit sped dial, and at the answering drawl she asked, “Rob, did you really give Bri permission to ask me to make her a sword?”

“S'hore did.” Rob's easy going chuckle carried through the phone. “She's near beat that practice sword of hers into scrap.”

There was no disputing that, and Shurlea laughed. “So who's she sparring with?”

“Your mushroom farmers.” Rob chuckled again.

A Deal Is A Deal / pt 2

In stunned amazement and on auto pilot Shurlea closed the call and stuffed her phone into her pocket. Absentmindedly she reached for her cigarettes and lit one up. Brianna was sparring with the Dhaeraow? No one ever expected her interest to last for more than a few weeks, much less graduate past hacking at the Pells. Now she was sparring, and with Dhaeraow no less.

Once a gamer always a gamer, even if you didn't play anymore. The gamer in her came to life and she grinned. “Whoa, this is so freakin' awesome.”

Pushing off from her anvil Shurlea was about to head across the alley when she heard Brianna's voice. “C'mon, hurry up.” Hastily she crushed out her cigarette and returned to her point as the girl stepped into the open door-way. “I brought 'em to show you aunt Shurlea.”

She was about to ask who it was she brought when the answer became apparent. Two Dhaeraow stepped into view and took their places, one on either side of Brianna. As Shurlea gave each a nod of acknowledgment, she was wondering if she could get enough rooms booked on the same floor at this year's Dragon Con. “Who are your friends, Bri?”

With each introduction Shurlea tried to find something to distinguish each of the men standing before her, other than their clothes. They looked so much alike. Both were nearly the same height, around six-three she judged. There was the ubiquitous ice white hair, and the obsidian black skin, but with further study she noticed that R'kih's jaw was more square and K'ran's chin slightly more pointed. She groaned inwardly realizing she was staring. “Pleased to meet you,” she smiled sheepishly.

Pulling them in with her Brianna shook R'kih's arm, “Show her your sword.” R'kih slowly brought it around from where he was hiding it behind him, trepidation written all over his face.

Shurlea understood that look, mentally thumbing through her Compendium Of The Drow book. As a rule the Drow weren't supposed to be armed when in the presence of a Mother of the house. With justified cause too, the bitches had reasons for their paranoia. Shaking that train of thought off she accepted the blade R'kih presented to her.

Reverently holding the sword between both hands Shurlea stared and blinked, it was as if she held the Holy Grail of gamers. Well almost. The Drow were pretty much the most vilified race. If a gamer didn't play a Drow they armed themselves with spells and magical items and game play to defeat them. Many died trying. And here she stood in real life holding a Drow, or was it Dhaeraow sword. “Oh wow,” she breathed. Looking up she met R'kih's pale gold eyes, “This is so awesome.”

R'kih thought so too, returning her smile with a nod. The Mother of their house had presented it to him, just like his cousins when they became soldiers of of their house. He watched as she expertly handled it then carried his blade over to a large table to lay it down.

Propped up by gripping the welding table's edges Shurlea leaned in, and studied the real McCoy. While obvious defense was built in, the long narrow blade was equally offensive. Apparently too, a lot of artistic license went into the gaming artwork she had seen. This Killian wasn't elegantly etched with scroll work or carried embedded gems. Or maybe this one was simply done because it was carried by a lesser male.

Turning back to her visitors Shurlea looked to R'kih and then K'ran. “Don't Dhaeraow fight with two swords?”

When neither replied she sighed in exasperation. “Look guys, I'm trying to understand here. Bri obviously wants a blade like yours, but if you fight with two, I'll have to make a second, also.

K'ran manned up and shook his head. “Br'anna will use her ust Killian as her Drada. When she has advanced, she will return.” He answered succinctly, never meeting her eyes but rather focusing on a point somewhere between the brows and hairline.

Shurlea understood his reasoning, and nodded with approval. Nothing wrong with a little incentive. “OK.”

Myriad details flashed through her thoughts as Shurlea handed R'kih back his sword, and she looked to Brianna. “You start next week.”

Having watched the departure of her newest client and the instructors Shurlea made her way over to her workbench and pulled her sketch pad out from where she stored it on top of the mini-fridge. Getting comfortable with another cigarette she reached for a pencil from the catch-all mug. Starting with a detailed sketch of the real thing her ideas drifted to the whimsical, and with glee she chuckled to herself. “This is so freakin' awesome.”

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