Jack's Rise to Glory

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Chapter 2

After rising early in the morning, Jack heated the lorica strap and in the meantime, scolded himself for getting carried away like that on the previous evening. This time, the hissing emerging from the oil barrel was accompanied by the four loud chimes that called all believers of the Church of the Four to halt all activities, come forth of their homes and make their way to the sacred ground. Now Jack has never been very religious, but if he learned one thing from his fathers acts of worshipping, it was that the Followers of the Four saw the number four and all of its multiples as a godly symbol that should be used and practised as often as possible. And so it occured that his father demanded to sit on a square table with four chairs and four small flowerpots placed on top to have his evening meal, always consisting of four slices of bread topped with whatever was availible. Jack deemed this behavior to be pointless, but something must have seeped through to him since he liked to forge metal with four strikes in quick succession instead of a consistent series of hammer blows.

Then he raised the strap out of the steaming oil and checked its stiffness by bending it with the aid of a second pair of pliers. Judging the temperation to be perfect, he let the steel cool at the fresh air by laying it on the rock-hewn window seat and meanwhile ate his breakfast, consisting of four small slices of bread, topped with butter. He liked to consume a light breakfast when he forged early in the morning.

The next task was to fasten the freshly tempered steel strap to the rest of the lorica, which already laid in an almost-finished state on his workbench, only missing one part of armor at the lower back end.

After finishing the sweat-inducing labor of drilling six holes in the warm steel with a muscle-driven drill, he pulled the loose leather strips of the nearly-completed piece of armor through the holes and knotted the ends together with a knot his father had shown him. It may be a fishing knot, but it did the job just fine.

Now the finishing touch. Just some connected lines, produced by delicate chisel strikes. If his customers wanted something fancy, they had to contact the local goldsmith to ornate their armor. Jack prefered simple patterns. Sir Wobblington hardly cared about the looks since he intended to wear a light coat above it for the sake of disguising his level of protection.

There it laid finished on his table, a battle-ready piece of chest armor. Fully functional, but not yet tested.

And so he grabbed a large wooden hammer that hung from a hook below the workbench and dealt a savage blow with it, right on the middle of the chest piece. The loud clattering made a cat that had peeked in through the window flee in terror.

Jack picked the lorica up and took a closer look at the point where he hit it.

There were some residues of wood which he scraped away with his fingernail. Underneath, there was no dent, not even a single scratch, the metal was still in perfect shape.

The same could not be said about the wooden hammer since there was a small, but visible crack running through the entire hammerhead. Jack let out a low sigh and threw the entire hammer into the forge. It´s a good thing those basically grow on trees, he though.

Satisfied with the results of the simple test, he took the armor and put it on himself. There were still some rough edges that made wearing the armor slightly uncomfortable. He quickyl ground those down with a handy, small whetstone. After smoothening the edges, he put it back on again and tested the overall flexibility and form-fitting by bowing down and touching his toes, swinging around a heavy iron hammer, throwing some punches at an invisible foe and jogging around a bit in his workshop. He had to compensate the difference in girth between himself and the supposed owner with a pillow, but aside from that, the comfort of the armor was astonishing; it did not even make much of a sound since he had made knots between the steel layers which served as spacers. Just as he did sit-ups, Sir Wobblington appeared in the doorframe, clad in a finepurple coat with golden ornates, a hat with a large eagle feather attached to his triangular hat. Jack hurriedly jumped up, and tried to dust off the back of the armor.

“Pardon me, Sir Wobblington, I did not expect you this early. As you can see, I have just finished the last check of quality on your requested armor.”

Sir Wobblington patted Jacks shoulder and responded in a calming voice: “Do not worry, good friend. I would have sent a messenger to ask wether this fine piece of craftsmanship was finished, but my own exitement overtook me. Tell me, is it ready to be picked up?”

-”Of course, good sir. Just let me dust it off.”

Jack quickly moved to the right end of his workbench and removed the grime. As Sir Wobblington interestingly gazed at the burning wooden hammer in the forge, Jack took the chance and tossed the pillow he had stuffed underneath the armor into an empty barrel that stood close. Thereafter he carefully arranged the armor on the wooden doll next to the door and beckoned Sir Wobblingon. Said noble strode across the workshop and took his time admiring the construct of steel and leather.

“You are indeed a master of your craft! This is a work of art. Here´s your payment, I am sure this armor is well worth the price.”

And thus he handed Jack a rattling and heavy, albeit small purse. Then he waved at someone standing outside, and quickly a servant in simple linen garments came in and carried the lorica to a carriage Jack had just noticed.

Jack then slightly bowed and responded: “It was an honour, your grace. Feel free to request my service again whenever you desire.”

-”It is a pleasure for me to support such a humble and skilled craftsman. Farewell!”

With these words, he turned around, but then he seemed to remember something, came close to jack and whispered:

“I almost forgot. It is a secret, but I know that you are trusty and as silent as a grave. The council will call out a public gathering tomorrow. I do not now the exact subject myself, but I´m told it concerns Bernard, that lunatic old fella. Be sure to arrive, it seems to be very important.”

Sir Wobblington then left the workshop. Jack heard another, last shout from the outside:

“And be sure to close those windows of yours at night, the god-forsaken Shrazière are everywhere!”


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