This is pre-story. A glimpse of Arianna’s life in Stuttlout.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
part of the Slayer of the Last Dragon
The mule treks another pathetic circle; she places the burning blade in the bath. She has a knack for making weapons, but a better one for using them. Of course, she shouldn’t use them because that’s not female behavior, but who heard of a female blacksmith? Come on, she is already breaking some cultural barriers, why not one more?
No times a billion and ten.
She brings the blade up to fit it into the hilt when a giant guffaw makes her skin crawl. Creton is the most obnoxious man there can be and she hates him. He is always causing trouble with all the women, never understanding the concept of ‘No’, which Arianna admits is actually a little difficult (given that she only can hear ‘yes’, it’s selective hearing or something) but Creton’s a ‘man’ and, by his chauvinistic beliefs, he should obviously understand the concept better than her. Arianna begins to take up her work again when she hears a few other obnoxious noises that mean it’s Creton’s gang and some poor girl. Arianna knows what that means and says a quick farewell to her guardian, the master blacksmith, before leaving the shop.
Alright, so she has fought before in this town. In the beginning, when she first got here, she tried not to- honest. Then, when Creton finally snapped that last fiber of her control, she pummeled him. Like the Southern brat he is, he could barely take one hit and passed out on the second. From that day on she had what her guardian called a ‘reputation’ and if it weren’t for her prospects of being a damned-good blacksmith, she’d be destitute for life. Or, less nicely, Arianna can probably never marry because she scares off all her prospects. For awhile it bugged her, but in moments like these, when she can help other people, she doesn’t really give much of a damn.
“Having fun boys?” She asks from behind the crowd. All of them look like Neanderthals, half bent and dirty. In the center of the semi-circle she can see a slight cloaked figure moving nervously. Her dark, long hair peaks out from the fine material of her cloak and she catches one, shining amethyst eye.
“Still dressing like a boy, Arianna?” Creton mocks from his position closest to the girl. He has a missing front tooth and his hair is ill cut. He needs to shave since his beard can never properly come in. On his face is that dumb smile that she hates and has to restrain herself from knocking it clean off. And what was that insult? She’s dressed like a boy? All the better to beat you up in, she plagiarizes mentally, but stands placidly at ease. She dresses this way because a skirt would get caught in the coals and a flaming blacksmith is pretty useless.
“I’m going to give you until ten to leave,” Arianna warns. Her voice is firm and a familiar itch is burning between her shoulder blades. The foreign girl’s eyes widen and she looks mildly horrified. Yes, yes—gape all you want, but no way is Arianna letting some poor girl be harassed by Creton. The blacksmith in training smirks. “And since I doubt you can count that high, I’ll count for you. One.”
Creton snarls and shoves her. Arianna stumbles back a step. Unfazed. “Two”
The other boys close some distance. Their semi-circle becomes a circle around her and their breath pollutes the small air space between them. “Three.”
One boy shoves her from behind and into Creton. Arianna’s hands find the idiot’s chest for support. Creton makes a lewd comment, something about her liking what she feels. “Four.”
The foreign girl has left by now. “Five.”
“You can stop counting,” Creton whispers dirtily in her ear (probably literally leaving dirt on the shell of it) “I ain’t moving.”
Arianna’s eyes meet his.
The next day, Arianna has a shiner. She also has a rib that doesn’t feel quite right, but some tight bandages fix that up. Her guardian chews her out for a solid hour. Then her guardian’s wife rips her a new one, but it’s half-hearted. “We want you safe,” Lillian complains. “But I see your mother in you and your dad and I wouldn’t expect you to have acted any other way.”
Arianna smiles; her lip starts bleeding again.