IVOR & THE CHILDREN OF THE COUNTESS

I suspect Countess Manfrah will sleep well this evening, having been reunited with her stolen creations, if only in part. Though a site untoward usual woman of her posting, she looked colourful and out of place among the grim tapestry of weathered storehouses. As payment for our services we received the gold as promised, which I will see none of, of course. She has wealth, that much is certain for any who know of her family’s lofty stature. I should feel grateful for receiving anything at all being an apprentice, a mere neophyte at best, but her generosity stretches only as far as her embrace and the lady has but only one arm. A small price for ingenuity.

Praeceptor Arttura, my mentor and provider, reminds me often of my place beneath his wing and that any form of praise or dues will come from him and him alone should he see fit. I can still see the steadfast gaze on his face when coin crossed his palm. It is the same as always. I know my place and I am grateful for it, if a half full belly and a choppy education has anything to say. But I did not expect a gift, least of all from the one-armed countess.

Arttura would never allow it under normal circumstances but this affair was far from normal and he would not dare argue with a member of the Makers Guild. They are an unpredictable bunch with little patience, all of them. I am told this contrivance is the future of warfare, a combination of exotic materials and an over productive mind. Weaponry with a purpose, to distance oneself from the enemy, to put restraint on the intimacy of killing. A pitfall in dwarvish tinkering, if my word is worth a damn. Or perhaps an ideal harmony between unstable people. The appellation ‘firearm’ was used in abundance during our discourse. It is aptly named. 

I am far from a marksman and I have never hunted for a meal, that I will sadly admit but it appears to be a cumbersome substitute to the simplicity of bow and arrow. At present I see it as nothing more than an ornate arbalest and just as troublesome to operate but it is quite pleasing to the eye. The woman said it was a precursor to something far greater. Something tells me she wanted rid of it, or at least it no longer served her a lucrative purpose other than to curry favour with me. A fitting gift for a young man supposedly destined for better things and the first gift I have ever received. I relinquished the rest to her attendants of which there were plenty and in much finer condition by a glance. She declared that I should call it Cardinal. Swords and metal alike are given names all the time and considering there are none in my holding this seems appropriate I gather.

A brief schooling of the mechanism was given over the bustle of men at work but I retained the instructions as best I could. The process is akin to lighting a fire with flint however black powder is used in place of bone-dry roughage. I have heard very little about this pepper like substance used overseas in far-reaching conflicts and likewise in the advancement of mining. Though I cannot say I would ever sprinkle it on Marcellas humble turnip stew. Once ignited, it creates a fiery force strong enough to send a lead ball down its bored-out metal neck and if one is skilled enough, it will land true. Will it stop a man dead in his tracks? The thought of being on the receiving end transfigures the imagination. I will need to take considerable care of it I fear but not before learning how to use the bloody thing.  

Damned now are the men who stole these contraptions, though I doubt they had much notion of what they pinched. Guild sigils adorning locked crates attract thieves like a moth to the flame but this one burnt them and burnt them proper. They will be less careless in their coming days, should they escape the rope and public scorn. But only a twit would think that.

She is a curious being, the countess. Forthright, dangerous. I believe she may require more of us hereafter.

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