Jack's Rise to Glory

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Chapter 4

When the first rays of sunlight peeked through the roof window, Jack decided to halt the rather fruitless process of resting and made a quick breakfast from the last piece of walnut-and-parsley bread, combined with some sour cream, savouring the tasty combination of soft bread, bitter walnuts and sour dairy product.

After a brief meal, Jack commenced with the next request right away, a unique arbalest with two metal bows combined, shaping an X.

One steel bow alone was enough to propell a bolt right through a full-grown boar, but the hunter requesting the custom-build model decided to celebrate his thirtieth year in this beautiful world with a weapon that was suitable for killing a whole deer family at once. Not that it would have any use in his metier, but some men just had the desire to show off.

Thankfully, a crossbow is a rather simple weapon, and thus the major part of the work was done within two hours after heating up the forge. The two steel bows were attached to a strip of metal bend to a square shape which was to be screwed onto the wooden stock. A metal hook, fastened to the far end of the wood, would allow the windlass needed to pull the tendon to apply the force. Most crossbows could be loaded by hand, but the monsterous draw weight of this one made it impossible to do so.

Now all that was missing to assemble the crossbow was the wooden stock. The problem was that Adam Kylogue, the woodworker who lived at the far end of the Road of Craft, about twenty housefronts away, did not open his workshop´s gates until noon.

There were currently no other requests from the townsfolk. Usually Jack bypassed situations like this by carving small outlines of weapons into the wooden bars of the workshop, inspecting the tools dangling from the wall behind the workbench or improving his masterpiece, his personal set of armor. Not that there was much to improve, it was already as good a protection as anyone could hope for, but there was just something missing, Jack thought. Maybe some sort of exotic pauldron shape, or an even entirely new piece of armor, there just ought to be a way to make his panoply superior.

However, his thoughts drifted back to the nightmare. Why had he experienced this terrifying, perfectly vivid dream, why had the year-old chain of vapid nights been broken? Was there a connection between this dream, Sir Wobblingtons announcement of the public gathering and the strange cracks that appeared around Bernard a few days ago.

What was due to happen? Did he experience some sort of terrible, prophetic dream?

After letting those thought rumble through his mind, Jack giggled.

Sure, he, a blacksmith, having visions of the end of the worlds in his dreams. Now if that wasn´t a silly thought.

Even then, Jack could not shake of a small, but noticable feel of dread. Even if nothing would happen, it surely was not a bad idea to carry a small weapon. And thus, Jack yanked a simple dagger out of the wooden plank that leaned against the workbench. He had practiced the art of knife throwing, albeit it had not been very fruitful, though he had managed to create a few new holes in the floor.

Jack threw the dagger, just for the sake of passing the time. The crooked throw made it bounce off the plank, after which the blade buried itself neatly into the wooden floor and kept the dagger standing there, perfectly vertical. Just as he picked it up, eight bell strikes started to bellow through the window. This meant that there would be a public gathering within a few minutes. Jack considered putting the knife into a leather sheath and carrying it with him, but then abandoned the idea. If something catastrophic would happen, this puny weapon would hardly be able to provide any help.

He quickly diminished the forging oven´s fire and thought about having a last throw at the plank. Instead he stepped through the doorframe and threw the dagger over his shoulder, there was no time to be wasted if you wanted a good spot at the gathering.

Pock.

Jack sighed and turned around. The dagger stuck in the wood, just at the perfect angle, still shivering from the impact. Of course.

After cursing The Four and every other god Jack knew, he slammed the door shut and hurried past other inhabitants, towards the growing crowd on the town square.


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