Winds of Change

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He breathed in the strong, nearly overpowering scent of leather and decided he liked this shop much better than he did the clothier’s shop. He didn’t like having a bunch of spinster females twittering all around him, measuring this and measuring that, patting him down, telling him to stand still. This shop, this was a man’s shop. Different knives and tools hung from the walls, while boots and purses and swordbelts and other leather wares were on display. Gabriella walked up to a small counter and rang a bell. Rick pulled him over to investigate more carefully a beautifully engraved scabbard.

“Somethin’ you need, tevnera, or are you here to look and not buy?” asked a gruff voice. Dar looked up to see a robust man with a sweaty face appear behind the counter. Beneath a large, round nose was a wide, salt-and-pepper mustache that hid his entire upper lip, and above his nose, bushy eyebrows met, forming a bristly line across his face that looked like a caterpillar. Dar looked at Rick, in time to see Rick’s eyes grow wide. Rick’s lips twitched as he struggled to contain a grin and he quickly turned around to avoid giving himself away. He nudged Dar, but Dar moved away quickly before he gave into the laughter that he felt bubbling up inside at the man’s appearance.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have money,” replied Gabriella coolly. Dar moved to her side and tried to assume his sternest and most imposing air.

Not seeming impressed by Dar’s glare, the tanner took in the crowd of people in his shop, showing impatience and only a fleeting flicker of interest when he saw Emanuella emerge from the shadows.

“Boots and swordbelts, I’d say,” he said.

“Yes. Light armor as well, and regular shoes. We need them by tomorrow evening,” said Gabriella.

“Armor, huh?” The tanner studied Dar, Rick, and Ander. He looked disdainfully down at the tattered shoes they wore. “Very well, who’s first?”

After the tanner had measured each of them for shoes (growling with disgust at the condition of the shoes they currently wore) and the boys for light armor, he scribbled on some parchment and finally announced, “Tevnera, I don’t need to tell you this will be expensive.” He looked down his large nose at Gabriella, his caterpillar eyebrow dipping down in a frown.

“That was expected. We will pick everything up tomorrow evening,” Gabriella replied, opening her purse strings.

“You’ll pick them up morning after tomorrow morning,” the tanner said.

Gabriella raised an eyebrow, a steely look coming over her face.

“You can glare at me as much as you like, but I’ll not have a woman, nor any other body for that matter, telling me when I’ll have something done. I work at night and I say you’ll have your wares early two mornings from now.”

Gabriella was silent for a few moments before she finally nodded tersely and put two nobles on the counter for a deposit.

In his old world, a woman being treated in so condescending a manner would anger Dar, and he was fairly outraged now, yet he knew that in this world, women took the best they could get. He was also quite sure that the tanner was not pleasurable company in the best of times.

They were quiet as they left the tanner’s shop, until they were well into the main street. Finally Rick said, “Did you guys get a look at those eyebrows?” Dar couldn’t help but laugh, having been so stern and solemn all day, on his best behavior. The group’s tension came out in giggles and guffaws all the way back to the inn.

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