Crystal Down

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Tales of Maple Wine

published on 2020-02-24, last updated on 2020-10-22 written by Thai “0xReki” Chung, checked with ProWritingAid

The next day, Matt and I go to Glorindamli’s amour shop in town.

“Good morning!”

“Good morning, Glorindamli!”

“Good morning, Matt, Swift! You’re here for your Prime Subjugation Charm. Let me get that for you!”

Glorindamli walks to the back of the store.

“What did you do? He usually is quite reserved towards new people!” Matt asks.

“Nothing much, I just sold him some stuff.” I answer.

Glorindamli comes back. There’s another dwarf with him. Glorindamli hands Matt and me a dagger. Mine is tinted dark green, while Matt’s one is tinted dark red.

“It’s a multi-purpose dagger made from the claw of that Giant Rabbit. If you maintain it well, it’ll last you a lifetime. And this…” he hands me a bundle, “This is a sleeping bag made from the fur.”

“Just for me?” I ask.

“Well, as an Ailuranthrope Neotes you won’t be growing much anymore so we can just give you high-quality stuff without worrying about you growing out of it,” Matt explains.

“Thanks,” I answer. I can feel my face turning red. I didn’t expect this! Sure, I knew he was up to something, but I didn’t expect to yield all the fur for a sleeping bag for me.

I inspect the sleeping bag. The inside is made of the fur; the outside is a fabric. It feels water-repelling, like it’s made of synthetic fibre.

“This fabric…”

“It’s interesting, isn’t it? It used to be a tent that has been imported from abroad. Someone accidentally cut the fabric so reused the fabric in this sleeping bag,” Glorindamli explains, “it was a good idea to bring that fabric here, Snakkonlir.”

“So that’s what you used it for!” the other dwarf answers, “didn’t I sell you that ages ago?”

“This fellow is Snakkonlir, he’s a travelling merchant. That Ailuranthrope lad is Swift, the one we talked about,” Glorindamli introduces us.

“Pleased to meet you,” I answer.

“So you’re the one who made that Maple Wine!” Snakkonlir exclaims.

“Oh, you tried it? How was it?”

“It was great, especially for your first batch! It’s not as strong as it could be, but it was still good! When are you going to make the next batch? I’d like to buy more!”

“Soon, I guess, but the fermentation takes a while. When are you here in town next time? I can keep some in my Infinite Storage for you until you can get it.”

“That’d be great! Please don’t forget it.”

“I won’t, don’t worry.” I make a note: ‘Save Maple Wine for Snakkonlir’.

“Thanks a lot. I need to leave soon. Thanks for introducing us! Bye!” Snakkonlir leaves the store.

“That went better than expected!” Glorindamli says, “I just gave him a bottle to taste before you guys came in. Now I want to taste is myself. I guess I’ll do that after today’s work. Can you sign here please, Matt? I’ll send the bill to the palace later.”

Matt signs the bill while I put my stuff into my Infinite Storage. Glorindamli sees us off, and we return to the castle. In the office, only Patrick is waiting along with a middle-aged man. He looks just an older version of Matt.

“You must be Swift Mittens, the Keeper of the Crystal Down I heard so much about,” he greets me, “as you can guess, I’m Matt’s father, Timon Sitnalta. There’s no need for big formalities here. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, your Majesty.” I answer.

“What brings you here, father?” Matt asks.

“I heard you’d be receiving your Prime Subjugation Charm today. And since it’s my day off, I wanted to see what you got,” his father answers.

“We both got an all-purpose knife,” Matt answers and shows him his knife.

“It sure is a good knife.”

Matt turns to me and whispers: “Do you still have some of that Maple Wine?”

“I still have some bottles left. You want a taste?” I answer.

“Yes, I think father would enjoy it as well. It’s your first meeting, after all. Patrick, can you get us some cups for the four of us?”

“Sure,” Patrick leaves and returns a minute later with four cups, “what do you need them for?”

I take out some bottles of Maple Wine.

“This is some Maple Wine I made in the forest. I hope it’s to your taste,” I pour some wine into the cups.

Flynn appears out of thin air.

«Former Master has brought tasty water!»

Faryl and Felix appear as well.

«Tasty Water! Tasty Water!»

“Get a bowl as well, the Bunnyflies like alcohol.”

“As you know, Matt’s Bunnyfly is called Flynn. These two here are Faryl and Felix.”

Patrick gets a bowl and I pour some Maple Wine for the Bunnyflies as well. They enjoy the wine. Matt’s father says: “There’s no need to test it for poison.”

He takes his cup. So do we.

“Cheers!”

We clink glasses and drink.

“It’s good!” Matt exclaims, “No wonder the dwarfs are so keen on getting more of it.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I protest.

“No, I agree with Matt, it’s fantastic,” Patrick says.

We look at Matt’s father. He looks as if he’s thinking of something.

“Is something amiss, father?” Matt asks.

“No, everything is alright. This wine is excellent. That I can say, but yet it somehow feels incomplete,” he says.

“The dwarf did say it could be stronger. Maybe I can let it ferment a little longer,” I answer, “other than that, I don’t know if there’s something else I can do to improve it. I was just experimenting with making wine, anyway. I did not expect it to such a hit. I’ll keep on experimenting.”

“I see… Maybe one day you’ll find what’s missing.”

I hear knocking on the door.

“It’s me, Katherine.” I hear her say.

Matt nods. Patrick opens the door for her.

“Oh, your majesty, you’re here!” she says upon entering. Luna is with her.

“Yes, I wanted to see Matt’s Prime Subjugation Charm.” he answers.

“Oh, I want to see as well. Can I?”

“Of course,” Matt answers, “it’s this all-purpose knife! Swift got a similar one.”

“I see. Maybe when we start adventuring, I should get one too.”

“Why not now?” I ask.

“High society can be exhausting at times. As a noblewoman, I’m not supposed to buy all-purpose knives. I only get to buy an ornate dagger to defend my ‘honour’, if I’m to even buy one myself at all… Or I’m supposed to just take up the sword…” she sighs, “I’m looking forward to going adventuring with you. It means I can be free of this nonsense for a while.”

Matt’s father starts laughing.

“You’re right. As an adventurer, you don’t have the luxury of thinking of what high society might say. You need to able to contribute to the party and be able to defend yourself at all times. Overly ornate daggers aren’t helpful in that regard.

I think I’ve been intruding here for too much. I hope to meet you again, Swift.”

“I do hope the opportunity arises,” I answer. Since when did I have that phrase in my language repertoire? I guess I’m just letting myself go with the flow too much again.

“Till next time, goodbye!”

“Till next time, goodbye!”

Matt’s father leaves the room. Matt turns to me and grins.

“So, how was it like meeting my father?”

“He’s very lax,” I answer, “I think I should be leaving as well. I’ve been away from the forest for too long. Will you be coming next week?”

“Yes, that time I’ll take my future party with me. Plus one member of the guard, for formality’s sake.”

“I see.”

Matt and his company escort me to the city gate and see me off.

“Till next week. Bye!”

“Bye!”

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