Check out the start of the series.
“Owin, it’s been a while.” Randal’s big arms stretched the fabric of his sweat-soaked shirt. Behind him a pair of thick apprentices worked like a machine, pounding their hammers against a piece of steel.
Owin nodded his head. “It has.”
“I’ve got someone offering a good deal on that stuff I used to get for you. Real reasonable.”
Owin shook his head. “I don’t work for the Duke anymore.”
“Won’t stop me from selling to a good customer.”
Owin stepped under the room of the smithy and into the shade, though the heat coming from the forge exceeded that of the noon sun. “I’ve got a bit of metal I’d like to melt down and cut up.”
Randal nodded his bearded head and led Owin toward the back of the shop and the second fire that had been allowed to die back. The others, who were watching and helping the apprentices, avoided looking in their direction. “Anything large?”
Owin shook his head. “Just a silver spoon.”
Randal chuckled. “I remember the days you and Gavin would come back with handfuls of rings and chains. All things I suspect you were supposed to turn over to the Duke.”
Owin really did not want to discuss his past. He trusted Randal, but only so far. The smith liked to talk a bit too much, though Owin had never seen the man betray a true confidence.
Randal continued, “All things from people locked securely in their homes or castle. Enemies of the state that never saw the light of the next morning.” Randal pulled on the bellows to stoke the fire. “You sure you don’t want some of those powders you and Gavin always found so useful?”
“Positive,” Owin responded after pushing aside memories of his past. I hardly had a choice in what I did, he reminded himself. No one tells the Duke no without consequences. “Just need to convert a bit of silver.”
Randal nodded his head as he tossed a handful of coal into the fire pit. “I’m sorry that things fell apart for you. I felt safer knowing you were protecting us.” Randal held out his hand and Owin handed over the spoon. Bending it in half, the smith put the spoon into a small crucible, which he shifted into the fire with a pair of tongs. “If you’re intending to stay out, I feel I should warn you, there are rumblings of a conflict building.”
Owin looked up at the big man. “Really? What have you heard?”
“Just that the ruling prince of Erhin has ordered ten thousand mercs. Mostly foot soldiers, but at least eight hundred archers. With our king dead and the council of Dukes fighting each other, Prince Gephard wants to expand his sliver of land a bit westward.”
Owin groaned internally. Duke Ravigar continued to work hard to keep the council from working together. It did not surprise Owin that a neighbor now felt they could take advantage of Andra’s weakened position. “I’ll have to make sure to keep out of sight. I don’t need to be drafted back into service.”
Randal chuckled. “You managed to get out of the Duke’s service once. That in itself was a feat.”
“I ran low on people I cared about that could be used against me. Then with Gavin dead, the Duke lost faith in my ability.” Owin closed his mouth. He did not like talking about it and was not sure why he had spoken.
Randal nodded his head and then turned back to the crucible. Using the tongs, he pulled it from the fire and poured the liquid silver into a form that would make a small ingot. After he let the silver solidify, he used the tongs to put the form into a bucket of dirty water. Once the hissing stopped, he fetched the form and ingot from the water with the tongs.
“There’s not a lot here,” Randal said as he knocked the silver free. The resulting bar was only a partial ingot. “But, I suspect you’ll be able to trade it from some coin.”
Owin nodded his head, he knew the amount of silver from the spoon would be minimal, the important thing was no one would know it had been a spoon. Or whose spoon it had been.
Randal took the bar, which still held a fair amount of heat, and using a chisel and hammer, cut the bar into four pieces. “I won’t charge you. For old times’ sake.”
“Thanks, Randal. I’ll owe you one.”