I knew what I was getting into when I took the job. I always knew what I was getting into when I took a job. It was the same shit it always was. 'Pretend to be this. Get the deader to feel that. Trick them to make… something. Finally, do it.' And there was the catch. The "it". "It" never changed. There was a reason we call them deaders. Not just that they were targets, but because the rest of their life was as good as scripted. What would happen, who they would deal with, and how they would die. Like I said, I knew what I was getting into, the same as before, but I knew something else the moment I accepted. I knew what I was getting into, but I also knew, no matter what I did in the next weeks or months, I would never be able to get out.
I have the Talent. Not just any talent, but the Talent. My father, a Vürdmeister of incredible power and Talent wanted to groom me to be just like him. Well… not exactly like him. He knew I was more Talented than he was, but I didn't want that life. The vir, the black marks under his skin that seemed to move on their own and let him use the Talent, scared me. I didn't want to be reduced to that shell. I wanted to live. I wanted to have my own power. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be a Blacksmith.
From the time I was young, my father whispering in my ear the power that I could hold, the respect I could garner, and the fear I would inspire, I would dream of the day I could leave my home and train with the Talent blessed Grand Masters. That day finally came and I ran, telling no one where I was going or even that I was leaving. Now I am considered one of the best. The amount of Talent I have jettisoned me to the top of the class and earned me private lessons from the best Grand Masters. I was granted Grand Master status just two years after I began my apprenticeship.
I might as well tell you what, if not who I am. I am Serianna, I don't give my last name, not to deaders. I am a wetboy, or more accurately a wetgirl, but I don't like that connotation. As for what I'm getting into. What else do you think it could be? It's a job. A new face, a new plan, a new act, and a new deader. The job: Find this Blacksmith, Dorian D'Amor, choose a persona that can get him to love me, trick him into making his Masterpiece, and then kill him with it. The payment for this mission: whatever his masterpiece is, and fifty thousand queens. I couldn't turn it down, even if I hadn't been seduced by the payment, and getting a free D'Amor weapon was a wetboys wet dream, because I was the only one capable of completing it.
I packed what I would need, no weapons, none of my greys, and only a few herbs, perfect for seduction and persuasion. I travelled light and fast, having to cross all of Midcryu before Dorian D'Amor mistakenly forged his Masterpiece for some unworthy sap. If that happened, I would not only fail a mission, but I would never be able to show my face in Cenaria again. The Sa'Kage would make it where I couldn't get another contract and my life would be in ruins. Once I reached Caernavon I found the cities Sa'kage, lacking in the organization of Cenaria, but still a decent force. After that, I bought a house, luckily not more than two blocks away from the smithy that D'Amor owned. My second day I made my way through the streets, having used my Talent to change my appearance so I had a smattering a freckles, for some effect of beauty, a smaller nose than my own, and changing the color of my lips from a pale pink to a rosy red. Once I reached the smithy, a simply inauspicious building nestled between an apothecary and a barn, I steeled myself and walked inside.
I had been spending the morning working on a rather large order for the army. I was one of the few Grand Masters that didn't have apprentices in shop, I rarely took an apprentice. It was during one of the few breaks I allowed myself that I stepped into the shop just a few moments, getting out of the heat and smoke of the forge and getting a breath of the freshest air I could get, when she walked in. I'm not a poet in the least, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Hair the color of a wheat field during harvest season, and eyes of the most intoxicating blue I had ever seen. Her face was that of an angel, I would have thought her one, but there was something about her, the way she walked, the way she held herself, the measured way she stood for just a few moments. She then began to walk around the shop, browsing. Few things in the world I hate, but one of them is browsing. With Browsers, you can't tell if they wanted to buy something, or just admire the work difference from Grand Master to apprentice. All the work displayed was my own, but no one could tell, I didn't have my own Mark. Everything was made with care and imbued with Talent, from the most basic lock pick sets, to the weapon as close to a Masterpiece I had come. It was my pride and undoubtedly the most expensive item in store. That was where she stopped and stared, as close to an open-mouth gape as I believe she was capable. It seemed to me that her heart sank and something in her changed. It was a spear, a weapon rarely used in war, except as defense against cavalry, but it was special to me. It was made to look like a creature of legend, a Leviathan. The haft was made to appear like scales and spines with four possible handholds, spaced so anyone could wield it. Those handholds were covered by the haft itself, looped and bladed to give the wielder close combat comfort, if not great reliability. The blade was a diamond shaped blade, but with a gap with a jagged interior to represent the mouth of the monster. "Is… Is this your Masterpiece?" The angel turned to me, her voice curious, but somewhat hard.
As I examined the goods of the man's shop I couldn't help but notice that he looked handsome, if you considered men over six foot tall, muscular as a giant, with hair as black as the night sky between the stars, and eyes as grey as the steel his weapons were made from handsome. I did, and it didn't bother me. It makes my job easier since he isn't ugly or old. How is he a Grand Master? He can't be more than twenty-five. All of the weapons were beautiful, even the most basic of them. There were also items I wouldn't expect, lock pick sets, needles, punch daggers, nails, horse shoes, and even a few gauntlets with daggers hidden inside, released as the wearers fist stopped on flesh or another yielding surface. As I walked I kept glimpsing at the man behind the counter, soot blackened face, hands scared from years of flame, metal fragments, and missed hammer blows, and those steel colored eyes staring at me like I was the God himself, one of the gods, or the Godking. I ignored the looks, I was used to lechers staring at me, but the looks from this man were disconcerting and like nothing I had ever encountered. That's when I saw it. The most beautiful spear I could ever imagine. Not one in a hundred poets could describe the detail, the beauty, and the fear the spear inspired. It was perfect, no flaws, no detail missed. I could see the shimmer as if it were passing through water as I inspected it. On the battlefield, the wielder would become a legend and a symbol, but here, in this moment, in this shop, it was my worst nightmare. It could only be one thing. Although I lost composure for a few seconds as I was staring at the spear, I remembered the mission and I was back into my mask. "Is… Is this your Masterpiece?" I turned to him, my voice as curious as I could make it, but still with an edge. Damn! Unless he is a complete idiot then he'll know that I know more than I should. I may as well give up the mission right now.
"No. I haven't had the inspiration to make it yet. But don't tell anyone. Not that it would lower the price of the Leviathan, but if people believe I've made it, then they'll stop trying to make me." Ok. So he was an idiot. He just admitted to me, a stranger in his shop, that he let people believe he had made his Masterpiece so he wouldn't be pressured to do it. He walked around the counter and made his way stand next to me, not close like most mean, but two paces away. He used his apron to wipe the soot off his face, which only served to smear it a little. "You see. Most people don't understand the concept of the Blacksmith's Masterpiece. Those that do, don't ask. They look at what there is and find the best out of that, and then assume. But the few who understand and want the Masterpiece, ask. It makes it harder on me. I can't lie to people, I just can't. If they ask, I tell them. If they ask me to make one, I send them out the door. If they nod and leave, then I respect them without knowing their name. You didn't move after I said it wasn't, so I assume you have something for me to do."
Oh God, her scent. Even two paces away I could smell it. It was sweet, with the slightest hint of sweat, or was that just me? She seemed to know what she was asking about, and I had to tell her the truth. Rarely did a woman as beautiful as this walk into my shop, and then only with their military husband, or their noble something or other. Never did they walk into the shop on their own, look at my weapons and know what they were asking about. "You didn't move after I said it wasn't, so I assume you have something for me to do." I turned my back on her, my eyes thirsting for the beauty of her flesh as soon as I turned away. "I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm in the middle of a large order and I have a few after that. If you leave your name, an address, type of item, materials to be used, and a time limit, I'll tell you price, if it can be done. If you have to have something, then the price goes up for it to be pushed to the front of the line." Once I got behind the counter I pulled out my ledger and laid it open on the counter. It was nearly full, only half of the orders filled. Those had been crossed out and folded in half so I would know the order was filled and delivered or had been picked up.
She walked over to me and wrote her name, her handwriting tight, neat, and fluid. Serianna Willow. Her name fit her, beautiful and mysterious. I didn't know if the last name was a fake, or if she was under some kind of protection so she had to assume a new surname. "I need a weapon, any kind. I would like it to be small, preferably, but able to kill easily. I don't care what kind of material, I can pay any price. I need the weapon to be easily concealable. If possible, it may need to be poisoned, so thread holes would be a nice addition. Time isn't a factor." In those few details, I knew what she was, if not the extent. I knew why she carried herself so well, and how she was so easily balanced.
She was a killer, an assassin. I didn't mind. I did work for all kinds, leaving the items out for all to see. That was why I had no mark. People knew I sold weapons and gear to assassins and thugs, but I didn't like the fact and I didn't want it to come out that my artwork was the choice of the killers. So every piece I made for them lacked the more advanced spells that I placed on my other blades. But for Serianna, it would be different I would use all the spells at my disposal, some I hadn't even used on Leviathan. "Are you a married man Dorian?" The question caught me so off guard, I nearly dropped the ledger as I was placing it back under the desk. The voice that asked it was so different from the one that asked me about Leviathan, that I wasn't sure it was her. Sure enough, the voice was hers, but it was innocent, almost childish, like a young girl confronting her first crush.
I was going to hate myself after this mission, but it had to be done. I knew the answer before I asked the question. "Are you a married man Dorian?" I forced myself from using a seductive tone and instead, used a bashful one. Yes, it caught him off guard, he almost dropped that cursed book. That book made my mission all the harder. I hated this city, I hated the way everyone looked at me, I hated myself for wanting to go against the contract.
"N… No. I've always been too busy here. I'm out of bed before the sun is up, and not done until it has set. I live above my shop, so I have little reason to leave. If I do leave, it's to deliver a finished product or to pick up food for cooking, or new clothes. I've never seen a free woman interested in me." He was so innocent, so truthful. For some reason, my heart skipped a beat when I learned what I already knew. What is wrong with me? I can't be falling in love. This man, Dorian, is a deader. Why did I just think his name, he shouldn't have one? What's going on? "I have to get back to work. It was a pleasure to meet you Seri. Give me two months, and I'll have what you requested." Seri… It was sweet, casual even. But the tone of his voice caused something long dead in me to stir.