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2-6 Trust and Promise

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

Though Aedan was indifferent to many matters and affairs, the ones he truly deemed family or friends were the only factors in the world that could move his insouciance.

Aedan had work in the morning but his tryst with Iris set him back for more than an hour. He could have arrived sooner to help but there was the luncheon with his father and Erin, further postponing his arrival. When he did arrive, a fuming Sven was waiting for him. He received an earful from his brother for skipping out on his morning work. A list of witty retorts lined themselves up in his mind but against Sven, he could never bear to utter those words at him, not when his brother was truly furious for all the right reasons.

As an atonement, Aedan was to work half a day on his coming rest day, which was tomorrow. But for now, he was to man the counter as per usual. The task was as mundane as it could be but prosaic was what he desired. His whole life, including the ones in his numerous pasts, they had been nothing but one excitement and delirium after another, never a dull day. In this current life of his, it was the first peaceful life he had led in a long while and he intended to savor every second of it while it lasted.

Such a life wasn’t meant to last for the likes of him. Each of his incarnations held a purpose and these purposes all had one thing in common, they were the advent of a huge change to the world. At some point, he believed a divine power was responsible for his incarnations instead of his racial trait. However, till this day, he never did find any proof for that notion. As time went on, he gave up looking for answers and decided to just focus on the present.

Aedan was doing just that, focusing on the present, when a man of status came through the door of the shop. The man’s status was shown through the quality of his apparels and the preferences of his grooming. Most of all, the monocle he had on was the most significant evidence of his grand status.

Aedan closed the book he was reading before giving the man his attention. He was obligated to greet customers but for this man, he glared.

“Joshua,” Aedan said. “You are the last person I expected to see coming through that door. Didn’t you say it would be bad if we were seen together.”

The man named Joshua ambled his way to the counter but his steps said otherwise of his emotions. “I did say that but considering that I’m here now, you know it to be something urgent,” he said as he took off his monocle and pocketed it.

“Hmm,” Aedan murmured as he flicked his hand, shrouding the shop with Domain. “Sven’s working the forge right now. I would have to dispel Domain when he comes back. You have minutes at best. Now speak.”

Joshua slammed his hand on the counter but not enough to tremble it. “Did you force yourself on a Fae?”

Aedan flinched at that accusation with a deep frown. “Had this been centuries ago, I am liable to say yes but— ah, I see. You’re here about Erin, aren’t you? You met her and… appraised her without her consent, didn’t you? Hmm, I didn’t know you have Appraisal.”

“It’s not Appraisal.” Josh tapped at his pocket where he pocketed his monocle. “You gave me this monocle, remember?”

Aedan raised an eyebrow. “I did?”

“The monocle that you created out of boredom to inspect and study the Mana flow and soul of a person.”

“That was a long time ago. I believe I made it when we first got acquainted. They still work?”

“Yes, they do. It’s your craft, Aedan. It won’t break or expire that easily.”

“And use it in such a despicable manner. What a thing to do for a respectable merchant.”

“Stop prancing around and answer the question, Aedan.”

“No, I did not.”

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Joshua narrowed his eyes. “But you imprinted her, didn’t you? You marked a Fox-kin, a Fae, a Fae for crying out loud.”

“That I did.”

“May I ask why?”

There was a brief hesitation on Aedan’s part. Canting his head, he mumbled his musings.

“You know I can keep a secret, Aedan. I kept yours.”

“It’s not about whether you can keep it a secret Josh. It’s about whose attention you’ll attract if you know.”

“I have Silva, remember? I’ll be fine. So just tell me, why did you imprint on her?”

“So Silva is also still functioning… Impressive,” Aedan mused, followed by a sigh. “The Fae’s an Outworlder.”

Joshua stood with his eyes agape, his jaws hanging opened. “You’re not joking,” he gauged.

Aedan shook his head. “Sadly, no. I am not joking.”

“But how is that related to you imprinting her?”

“I saw her gift, Josh. I saw what it can do to others and to herself. I saw its potential.”

“Gift? You don’t mean—”

“The gift from whichever divine f̲u̲c̲k̲ that put her into this world. Going by the nature of this gift, her patron god seems to be one of mischievous nature. That doesn’t bode well for Erin or anyone around her.”

With the misunderstanding cleared, Joshua sighed out all his suspicions. He leaned in and rested his arms on the counter. “And your blood can help?”

“It should stop the gift from blooming, in theory,” Aedan said with a shrug. “And if the so-called gift tries to encroach her without any probable cause, my blood should be able stop it. Or at the very least impede it.”

“Should be?” Josh questioned. “It’s not like you to be unsure about such matters.”

“Everyone’s about their first time.”

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“You mean you have never done this before?”

“Never had the chance to. I’m not even sure if it would work at all or it would work as I intended.”

“And you think this is safe?”

Aedan donned a bitter expression. “I do not have a better idea but it’s better than nothing. I can’t exactly be by her side all the time should anything happen.”

“You didn’t tell her about any of this, did you?”

“There’s a good chance her patron god would know what she knows.”

“And what makes you think the Patron God wouldn’t know about this scheme of yours regardless if the Fae knew of it herself?” Josh asked. “You’re tampering with the God’s own gift. How do you know it won’t see through this trick of yours?”

“I don’t,” Aedan answered. “I have layered this… scheme with as much concealment spell as I can afford. Whether it works, only time can tell.”

“So now you’re stalking her?”

Aedan narrowed his eyes in indignance. “My blood doesn’t allow me to stalk her. It’s there as a means to curb any plight that her cross-c̲u̲m̲-gift would cause.”

“How long will it last? And how strong can it last?”

Aedan shrugged. “As long as it can. As for its integrity, it should hold unless she received some attack that that interacts directly with the soul.” Saying so, Aedan took out a bottle of mead and two glasses from under the counter. He cracked open the bottle and poured its content into the two glasses. He pushed one to Joshua.

The merchant took the glass into his hand. He gave it a whiff before downing the content. “Ugh… Damn. This is strong. How old is this?”

Aedan canted his head as he ransacked his memories. “Older than this current incarnation of mine,” he answered and drank it all up in one gulp. “Christ… argh… This might be even older than that.”

“Christ?” Joshua’s eyes flickered. “Never heard that one before.”

“You wouldn’t. I can barely remember it myself. It’s a word from a time long forgotten, well, except for me.”

“This is good mead, but I don’t think this occasion calls for it.”

A small grin appeared on Aedan’s lips. “We’re in a Domain, my Domain. This stuff isn’t real. You can taste it but it’s only a trick of your mind. So drink away.” Aedan poured Josh another glass.

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Josh downed it in one gulp. “So, what’s your next step? Just sit back and let your blood do its job?”

“That’s the only thing I can do, without drawing the unwanted attention to myself.” Aedan pourted another round for Joshua and himself. This time, they made a toast before downing the liquor.

”Urgh… You know, Erinthea is leaving town in two days as a guard for the caravan, or so I have heard. Do you intend to follow her?”

Aedan chuckled dryly. “You know I can’t do that.”

“You’re that afraid of them?” Joshua asked, his gaze eyeing for Aedan’s reaction. “They’re still dormant last I checked and I’m sure you’ll reign victorious over them if the stories you told about yourself are true.”

“If winning is all that it matters, war and battles would be so much easier. Do you have any idea the amount of collateral would incur if they resumed their hunt?”

“I haven’t even met them myself. So no, I do not know.”

“Well, now you do. They will unleash havoc upon many nations, before I’m able to crush them for good, should they rise from their slumber. I have enough thrills and losses to last many lifetimes. I just want to savor some peace and quiet for now.”

Joshua poured himself another round. “Speaking of peace and quiet, my men and I are not making any progress with our search for the blade.”

Aedan skipped the glass and poured the mead into his mouth straight from the bottle. “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon and the longer it takes for you to find it, the more you earn. It’s a win for you either way, so no worries there.”

“Couldn’t Iris help?”

Aedan burst out with a meek laugh. “Considering it’s a request from me, she would definitely want to know what I want the blade for. She wouldn’t accept the request unless I told her. Do you think she would still help me if she knew what the blade is for?”

“Point taken,” Joshua said and downed his glass.

“In fact, I think she will do everything in her power to try to stop me if she knew.”

“Can’t argue with that.” Joshua poured the remaining mead into his glass. “Iris told me you have changed and now I can see how true that is.”

“Of course I have changed. Change is nature.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Josh said with a knowing smile. “The Fox-kin, she arrived in this town around a week ago. In that short span of time, are you telling me you have already formed a bond with her that’s strong enough to warrant this much of your worries for her? The Aedan I know was never this affable or charitable.”

“Well… if you put it this way, it does seem like I have changed a great deal,” Aedan mused. “Maybe my age has finally caught up to me. I’m losing my touch.”

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“You don’t think maybe you’re just infatuated with her? From what I have heard around town, she’s more beautiful than any maiden scions. She’s strong, humble, steadfast, and the town’s adoration. Sounds like she’s right up your alley. Actually, I’m quite surprised you have yet to bed her.”

“She likes women.”

“So what if she’s a lily? That has never stopped you before.”

“Like you and Iris have been saying, I have changed. And that matter was decades ago and it wasn’t my fault. She was curious and I offer her knowledge. Our relationship ended there after that.” Aedan sighed. “Now, would that be all of your inquiries?”

“There is… one more, actually.”

“Will this take long? Sven’s about to finish with the forge any time now.”

“It’s about Erinthea. I have heard she only had a single tail when she arrived in this town. Now she has three. Is that true?”

Aedan raised an eyebrow. “Point being?”

“The Fox-kin lost their evolution ability when they became part of the Faerie-kin. They’re stuck with the number of tails they are born with. I’m surprised how this town is still so… quiet about her growing numbers of tails.”

“You’ll have to be well-read with books to know this. This town’s people ain’t that bright or they simply don’t care. Also, she’s an Outworlder. Her peculiarity isn’t all that surprising. Town’s not talking about it or worrying about it, and neither should you. Now, would that be all, Josh?” Aedan asked as he flicked his hand, dispelling Domain.

Sven entered into the shop right then, wearing an apron over his bare chiseled torso. His brows raised when he saw Joshua.

“Oh, a customer?” His eyes spanned wider when he noticed the quality of the customer’s apparels. “And a filled one at that. What can I do for ya?”

Since Domain was dispelled, the mead and glasses were no longer on the counter. So Aedan didn’t need to hide the evidence that would reveal their relationship.

“Good afternoon, Master Sven. Your brother here told me you’re quite versed with Fae’s craft?”

“Aye, that I am.” Sven nodded. “Learned it from my father, the Guild Master. I’m sure you know him.”

“I do. I have the pleasure and honor of dining with him.” From his chest pocket, Joshua took out a piece of folded paper and handed it to Sven. “I would like to request a commission.”

Sven unfolded the paper, revealing a design for a peculiar-looking weapon that could easily be attributed to the Faerie-kin for its design. “This is complicated but… it’s nothing for me. As for the metal?”

“Just the best steel you have got will do. I’ll need six of this. Can you make it a rush order?”

“Aye, for sure but it’ll cost extra and the best I can do is dusk of the morrow. Good for ya?”

“Of course, Master Sven.”

“Alrighty then. Aedan!” Sven clapped his hands together as he shouted. “Prepare the tools and materials. You are going to help me with the forge.”

Aedan frowned. “What about the shop?”

“We’re closing for the day. It’s not like we’ll be getting any customers with the festival out there. Besides, we got ourselves a fancy customer to please. So get to it already, you lazy bum.”

“I have prior engagement at night, Sven.”

“Speak common would ya? You read a lot, I don’t.”

“I have plans for tonight.”

“Well, not anymore.”

Aedan gave a look of indignance, bouncing his glance between Joshua and Sven.

“Well then, I’ll be taking my leave,” Joshua greeted with a bow and promptly left the smithy.

“This order ain’t easy, Aedan. No way I can finish it by dusk tomorrow without ya help.”

“But I have already promised someone.”

“Tell you what, help me tonight and for the whole day tomorrow, you’ll be off the hook for this morning. Sounds good?”

Aedan groaned. He weighed out the benefits and loss in his mind. Had this been someone else other than Sven or Geron, his reply would be instant and it would be a solid refusal. In the end, he just couldn’t go against Sven.

“Fine, I’ll help.”

Sven nodded and trotted out of the shop. The sound of the forge fuming to live could be heard clearly from where Aedan stood.

He sighed. “Guess she’ll be lonely tonight.”

While Iris wasn’t a petty person, she could be very terrifying when someone broke her trust or a promise. Despite knowing that, Aedan still chose to help Sven, the one he called his brother.

“But I’m sure she could find someone else to replace me,” was what Aedan thought and he knew just the one person Iris would seek out as his replacement.

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