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Before they headed into potential enemy territory, Ailbhe decided she needed to make an attempt to look more like a paladin. The chainmail and fancy talking wasn’t cutting it in terms of identification. Iain was against the idea; he thought if they were going to rescue Seamus, they should go ahead and do it.
“There are a couple reasons why we shouldn’t just go barging in,” she said as they walked through the ruined market place. “First, if Seamus has somehow fooled them, we don’t want to give him away.”
“You said they’d know,” Iain said, frowning.
She shook her head. “I said they could tell a lie. If he hasn’t lied, there’s still a chance he might be fooling them.”
“Anyway,” Ailbhe stopped to inspect the front of a ruined shop. “If he has been discovered, we don’t want to rush in too soon and arouse suspicion.”
Iain grunted. “Anything else?”
“Yeah, I need armor and you need a little more recovery time,” she said.
The paladin stopped in front of a stall that had once belonged to a leather worker. The sign above the ruined armor read ‘Voted Best Armor in the Tri-Village Area’. The pieces visible weren’t so much on display as they were heaped together in one place. As they stood there, a man came out of the back.
“Go away, I ain’t got nothing left to sell. Was all ruined in the flood.”
“Good sir, I am distressed to hear of your sad misfortune. Might I offer my assistance in expediting your economic recovery?” Ailbhe said.
The leather worker glanced at Iain. “The hell she say?”
Unfortunately, the ‘serk still wasn’t up for translating. He grunted and shrugged.
“Look,” she said, dropping the act. “Your stuff is ruined. I need new armor. If I fix, would you give me a set?”
The man made a face and shook his head. “The armor’s ruined, lady. You can’t fix ruined leather.”
“And if I can?” she asked.
“Then you can have whatever the hell you want,” he said.
Ailbhe grinned. “Great.”
With the leather watching, she laid out the armor.
“What’re you doing?” the ‘serk mumbled next to her.
“Picking what set I want,” she replied. “And laying these out so I can fix them.”
“How are you going too do it?” he asked.
“Magic,” she said.
She took a deep breath and let it out again before holding her hands over the spread of leather. Golden light flowed from her fingertips and over the shrunken hide, filling in the crevices and expanding it. Several pieces oozed dark water as they reshaped themselves back into armor. After several minutes the light faded, leaving behind several well-made sets of armor. Ailbhe sat down with a thud and Iain moved to help her. She waved him off.
“You will have to re-stain the leather,” she said. “But I believe I have saved your armor.”
“Damn, I didn’t think it was possible,” the leather worker said. “Go ahead and pick you out a set.”
The exhausted paladin nodded but made no move to stand. Recognizing her inability to rise under her own power as well as her wish to appear in control, Iain did the only thing he could. He grabbed the closest piece of armor and held it up. Before he could ask her if that was the one she wanted, a woman came out of the back of the stall and shrieked. Iain dropped the armor he was holding and dove for Ailbhe, pulling her to her feet. She stopped him before he could pick her up and run, though.
“Stop, its okay,” she murmured. “Listen to what she’s saying.”
Indeed, though she sounded upset, she was actually yelling that someone had performed impossible magic. Several of the neighboring merchants were watching her carry on with mild curiosity.
“Wife, will you calm yourself?” the leather worker asked. “This paladin restored the armor-”
“Paladin! Then it is a miracle!” The woman launched herself at Ailbhe and would have bowled her over if not for Iain putting out a hand to steady her.
“Listen, lady,” the paladin said, “All I did was cast a healing spell-”
The woman clasped Ailbhe’s hands in her own. “You are too modest, my lady saint. With your intervention, my husband and I will be provided for; you have delivered us from our direst hour of need!”
Ailbhe looked at her, no emotion showing on her face. “I’m a paladin, not a saint.”
“You are still too modest. I must go and tell my friends what you have done!” She chirped before flitting off.
“Wait! I’m not a saint!” Ailbhe called after her, but it was too late. The woman was gone.
“Hey look, don’t worry about it,” the leather worker said. “My wife’s not all there sometimes. I have to say, though, that was a pretty neat trick. How did you know a healing spell would work on leather?”
“Leather’s just another form of skin,” she said. “I just assumed it would work the same.”
The leather worker frowned and said. “That’s not – you know what, never mind. It worked so I’m not going to complain.”
“You really should know better,” Ailbhe said. “Anyway, I’d like this set of armor,” she said, motioning to a set that vaguely resembled her old metal armor.
“Of course,” the leather worker said. “Do you want me to package it up for you?”
Ailbhe shook her head. “I’d rather wear it out of here. I feel naked without my armor.”
A few minutes later she was ready to go. It was also more apparent she was a paladin in her gold edged leather armor. Her ‘serky friend offered her an arm to lean on as they headed back to Ethel’s place to regroup.
“How come the gold and dye stayed on this one?” Iain asked. “Didn’t on others.”
“Because this is the set I wanted,” Ailbhe said. “Took a lot more energy to keep it on than it did to let it melt away like it did on the rest of them.”
“Gods, how you still paladin?”