Welcome to Hafan
The vastness of people in such a setting was overwhelming for an unsuspecting warrior. True such numbers paled in comparison to some of the battles she partook in, however to be in a place of such numerous and for it to be a ‘market’ was far beyond expectations. Hafan was overwhelming, enough so that Avalon stumbled back in awe and had to be steadied by Elene, who was understanding. They left their wagon in an area designated for such storage.
“Fenrir, stay with the cart.” Avalon instructed as the wolf obediently, though disappointed, sat to guard their belongings.
Elene took lead, Avalon tailing close behind, her hood hanging over her head and covering her upper face from most angles. The witch took from her pouch of seemingly infinite storage a parchment with written words--a list detailing the necessary items of her requirement. Avalon peered over her shoulder, Elene notice this and angled the parchment for the alchemist’s better view. The witch saw the squinting of the alchemist’s eyes and asked the nudging question:
“Can you read?” She asked, unmeaning to be rude.
Avalon, slightly ashamed, explained, “We are taught books have no place on the battlefield.” She smiled a little, “Still...Volva taught us some basics, but Falcon and Sid took it more seriously than I...”
Elene squeezed Avalon’s hand gently, “I will be glad to teach you.”
The witch points to the first word:
"Matricaria chamomilla. Chamomile, its a type of herb that help calm and nourish and alleviate stress.”
Glancing around she read the signs that pointed in the direction of an herb shop. Avalon held the parchment between her hands, working to sound out the letters she recognized as she kept behind Elene. After bumping into a few people, the young alchemist returned the parchment to Elene to keep from temptations of attempting to read and walk. As they entered the herb shop Elene would ask for the herb then turn to Avalon; pronounce the name and effect of the herb then show the word for her pronounce.
Noticing this moment of teaching, the shopkeeper joined in. Pointing to each letter of a word on the list, he pronounced them and waited for Avalon to do the same until she made it to the end and sounded the entire word out. What would have taken a short time extended the remainder of the day and though this proved no trouble, Fenrir was likely impatient in his solitude. Elene had no care about their extended time, seeing as such a well-populated area of witches and wizards was most likely to be where information on Berserker could be found and it was safest both for her and Avalon.
Surrounding the entrance of the cavern was a decent sized village, large enough to have a few shops, barns, inns and taverns, yet small enough to avoid disturbing the forest that housed it. The law of the land told that the forest was its own master and was the home of those long before the arrival of humans and was thus to be left untouched. While this did limit the growth of the village within the valley broad, none cared. Though the ending of the day called for the closure of trade and barter, business did not end; the taverns and inns had the day’s liveliness transfer over to their care whether from tired workers, traders, or travelers there was a place for all of good intention.
The wagon was safely stored in the barn, protected by charms to ward off the greedy intruder, though that was very rare around here. The three entered the tavern:
“Hey! All mag’ beasts are to be tied up or in’a cage!” Shouted the barman.
Avalon turned to the man, but Elene interjected before she could respond, “He’s a wolf and companion of my friend. I assure you he is well-trained.”
The barman gave a hefty sigh, “Sorry, not m’rules miss. Owner doesn’t want’em hurt by people actin’ a fool and tearin’ down the place.”
Elene looked to Avalon who was less than happy, but still understanding of the reason. As the barman held no ill-will nor disrespect she knelt down and rubbed Fenrir’s head:
“Sorry boy, back to the wagon you go.”
Annoyed, Fenrir turned around, flicking his tail in Avalon’s face before walking out of the tavern.
Elene laughed as Avalon rose, “Once I bring him a meated-leg he will forgive me.”
Finding an empty table in the far corner by the fireplace, Avalon and Elene ordered hot meals and drinks, waiting till later to get a raw and fresh mutton for the wolf. It had been nice to have a hot meal, something other than salted fish, flat bread and cheese three times a day. Though the occasional wondering goat or deer did break that cycle on their travel. As they ate Avalon looked to those around and felt uncomfortable being in such a place of overwhelming odds. She put herself in this situation and knew there was no chance of victory should a fight break out and yet the alchemist found herself adjusting fairly well, on a first day nonetheless.
“We hardly went far into the cavern, there are many more shops deeper inside.” Elene began, “We now have all the herbs I need, but there are other things I require and something that maybe of benefit to you perhaps.”
Avalon, worn from the day’s work mentality and physically, paid for their room and the treat of forgiveness for her companion. Once Elene was seen to their room, Avalon left for the barn, a short walk from the tavern, with her barter in hand.
“Do you forgive me now?” She asked with the temptation held for Fenrir to see.
The wolf wagged his tail, licking his chops he shot up and jumped, catching the released bone and keeping it in his mouth as he pranced around the barn, finally settling next to the haystack Avalon sat in. As he nawed on the meal his head was rubbed, this relaxed the both of them as they took in the comfort and safety of each other. After Fenrir was satisfied of stripping the bone of all meat he hid the remainder in the hay before moving and curling against Avalon allowing her to wrap her hands around him like a children’s stuffed animal.
The following day began early, Elene woke the two up before the sun with breakfast and as they ate began what would certainly be a long day of learning. Finishing their meals without tasting, the two true-blood of the Anexus brushed themselves off, stretching and loosening their limbs from the stiffness of sleep. Making their way back into the cavern they found the market was awake, but the customers had yet to arrive. Elene said that those who are early to rise get the worm. She unfolded the parchment, the list had the obtained items crossed off, however there was still much to be gathered. Avalon was shown the paper and asked to pronounce one of the smaller words:
“Eeeee....eeennn....Ket...” She tried.
Elene ran her finger along the three-lettered word, “Close, try to pronounce each letter first. After we will put them together.”
Avalon held the parchment and sounded the word with Elene’s aid.
“I...n...k...” Avalon spelled nervously.
“Ink?” Avalon connected the word to the familiar object, “Ink!”
Elene smiled widely, patting the excited alchemist’s head. No matter the age or experience, anyone could learn to read, all that was needed was the will to learn. Though ‘ink’ was something Avalon could probably transmute on her own, the type Elene needed was one infused with magic, used to write a grimoire; it helps to ensure only the writer and their kin could see the contents. Almost all witches and wizards did this, ensuring family secrets were kept just that.
After twenty minutes, Avalon learned to recognize and pronounce five words and it was thanks to her Volva’s teaching of the alphabet that allowed this quick progress. Satisfied, Elene guided them to where the items on the list could be found and purchased the identified words. The shop keepers were patient with Avalon’s questions, helping her to correctly pronounce words and count out the appropriate amount of knuts.
The market’s business grew as the sun rose, prompting Avalon to keep closer. Deep within the cavern Avalon stopped, having been caught by the large large marks that engraved the wall--it truly had been the den of a dragon. Distracted, the alchemist turned around and found that Elene nor Fenrir were anywhere to be seen. She did not worry much, the wolf was instructed to remain with Elene if they did separate. However, as for Avalon, she had no idea where she was. Drawn by the heartbeat of a hammer to metal she left the main street and went down a small ally, only big enough for one human to go a single way, however for creatures such as a house elf or a goblin, that was a different matter. Following the sound she came to an ally filled with works of metal and stone, all craftsman were goblins, bidding by their trade and ignoring the lost human.
She looked among the wares, seeing beautiful works of art ranging from goblets, dishes, statues, weapons and armor. Avalon had never seen such craft, items surely to be possessed only by the most wealthy and powerful of people. Nobles, by muggle rank, would be those who possessed these beauties, but only the commanders and kings of the same world would have interest in the weaponry and yet...none would be worthy of goblin craftsmanship. Even the Anexus knew of their legendary work, only goblins had the skill and possessed the secret art of magic smiting.
While witches and wizards could enchant items already forged or made by their own hands, only goblins crafted their own items with and embedded magic in the material itself. The skill and control required of this was only capable of those who truly understood magic in its essence and could bent it to their will without corrupting its purity. They were creatures as closely inhabiting with natural magic as the Anexus and were people truly worthy of Anexus respect. As honored as a Volva, goblin craft was highly sought after and in honoring goblin tradition, once an alchemist, who used a goblin craft met their end, the item was returned to the creator. This honor and respect made Anexus and goblin relations very good and their...disdain...for sorcerers a common ground.
Avalon’s presence was noticed by the craftsmen, the heartbeat of their hammers progressively lessened until all were without sound and only the treading of the human’s footsteps were heard. Those steps ceased the second the alchemist took notice of the beatless-ness.
“To what do we owe the pleasure of having an Anexus among our forges?” One asked in Gobbledegook, their black beady eyes all locked on the surprised.
“Worry not.” Said the goblin, dressed in a leather apron and goggles resting on his head; smoke and ash blanketing his body, “There are few who dare enter this part of the cavern and even less who know of how to get here.”
The goblin nodded to the others who resumed their work, recognizing the name and respecting the senior’s conversation to be towards one of decent company. The name of the Anexus was known by the goblins, a history of mutual gain and affairs seeing as the goblins choose to be neutral in the wars of alchemist and sorcerer.
“It is expected, however, of one such as yourself to find your way here. Long ago, another bearing your name came here in search of a weapon of great power.” The goblin motioned for the young alchemist to follow displaying luxurious crafts of shiny appearance, “We have many wonderful items, great weapons; swords and spears--”
“Have you finished Igmeark? The sound of your voice grows tiresome." Growled a goblin sitting in the shadow of a cold forge.
Igmeark hesitated, "Do not mind him! He is, but a tired, old drunk who does little, but mint coins for the sorcerers now! Come! I will show you grand weapons able to find victory in battle without effort."
"Victory? What victory is there if it comes from the death of others?" The goblin huffed, taking a swig of his mead.
Avalon ignored the words of Igmeark, casting all attention to the goblin in the cold shadow. For someone to say such words of their own craft, of the magnificent weapons they are able to create and the devastation that can come about from them. Many do not care of what these crafts do, only that they do it well and do it the best. Someone who could recognize that, is someone she desires to learn from.
"Have it your way, but my shops always open." Igmeark shrugged, returning to his own shop.
"I am Avalon Anexus--"
"I know who you are, daughter of Tali Anexus." The goblin huffed, setting his cup on the forge's edge, "Your father came here long ago, with those same eyes."
"The same hunger for power." The goblin, pointed to Avalon's chest, "The same darkness in his heart--I may have been too late to notice, back then, but I will not make the same mistake twice."
Confused Avalon questioned his statement, "I do not hunger for power! I must have it to protect my clan!"
"HA!" The goblin laughed crackly, "You two even use the same excuse!"
He hopped from his chair, taking his cup and pouring himself another glass of mead, slipping and being caught by Avalon's quick arm. She set him down softly.
"You can forget it." The goblin said on the ground, looking at the cast across from him, "A weapon of death, I will never again forge."
Avalon looked to his point of conversation, to the two halves of a single casting that sat erect against the wall of shop. She recognized the shape, recognized the stamp on its handle. It was the cast of Berserker.