Well, time for another story. I'm going to do the same thing as last time, writing it out across a few posts, editing and revising as I go. I don't think this one will take quite as long as the last, but we shall see.
It was always the movement of the hands. Even when he was very young Kee would watch the armourer’s hands. They would glide in long graceful arcs barely skimming the surface, touching off the armour gently once or twice, before darting in with the elegant violence of a striking fish. The percussive clunk the armourer delivered would ripple through the armour sometimes so powerfully that her workbench would shake. At other times, her knuckles would bend at precise angles, each finger taking up a slightly different shape, holding it briefly with invisible tension, before crisply shifting to a new position. The damaged surface of the armour would reply to these gestures and strikes by knitting back together in ways that defied simple explanation. To young eyes, skill and careful practice was the same as magic.
Carts would drift into town a few times per year and set up a slapdash market. Most were loaded down with fresh fruits and exotic vegetables packed tightly into chilled stabilizer cabinets. Some sold woven textiles or even hand sewn clothing with dynamic, ever changing patterns bred into the fibers. Expensive, sure, but up to date fashion always is. There were carts that specialized in toys, games, and treats from beyond the front. Anything from outside the borders of Uniune was exciting so all of the town kids would flock around those carts in particular. Kee would stop by the treat carts too of course, but as the afternoon wore on he tended to linger in front of the armourer. Even when no one else did.
Of course, the armourer’s didn’t really fit in with loose semicircle of merchant carts. Both in design and purpose it was just a different animal entirely. Fittingly the armourer’s sat apart from the other carts. Off to the side and behind like it didn’t really want to participate in this group photo.
The merchant carts were uniformly sized and shaped; long rectangular boxes riding on lift skids or wheels mostly hidden beneath long plastic skirts. They all had the same collapsible ramp and roll out awning extended to invite customers, welcoming them to have a look around. Much of a carts presentation was focussed on letting everyone know how profitable and popular that particular business was. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to shop at the popular carts with their bright lights and colorful signs and soft, pleasant music. Add to that, everything they contained was something difficult or impossible to fabricate locally.
Compared to the other carts the armourer’s looked like it had accumulated and solidified by rolling over a junk heap. Panels of different colors were patched together in awkward patterns. Cube like bulges broke up the typical cart shape at irregular intervals along the surface. Several portable engines crowned the roof of this rolling calamity. Still, the armourer’s was the only cart with the official Uniune emblem applied to it in several places, so a certain amount of respect was owed it no matter how it looked.