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So much more, Melfina thinks as her gaze lingers on her reagent storage chests which aren't even close to full. Maybe Cadence was right. It would be nice to have some help.
It feels as if she's made a hundred trips already. Recalling out to all the major magic shops. These shops had work forces to gather and harvest reagents, something no small business could afford. So for everyone else, buying bulk reagents from these suppliers was the way to go.
The problem is that all the suppliers seem to work off the same schedule and are only open one weekend a month. Everyone who wants to buy in bulk, does it at the same time as everyone else. And each store has limited shelf space. Once the last reagent is purchased, they close up for the hour to restock the shelves and keep track of inventory. Once they open up again, the buying spree is fast and merciless.
Of course Melfina didn't have to restock every single month. She didn't get the same traffic as when she was in Luna. But she was fotunate enough to still be remembered from that time. When she did get low, restocking was a day long event. The limiting factor was how much she could carry each trip.
It's not as if I'd even have to train someone. As long as they have two arms, they can do the job as long as I take them there. And if they know how to recall, I wouldn't even have to go at all. But how much would they want to get paid? It can't be worth it.
With no resolution to her problem, Melfina brushes the dirt off her dress, ready to continue, after a quick drink. She flips through the book of necromancy while sipping from her glass. Then something catches her eye.
Horde Minion. They carry stuff right? It's what they do? That's what this says. It's what I saw. She pauses, trying to pretend that she's considering the pros and cons, knowing she's already made up her mind.
She looks over her shoulder, suddenly afraid to find Stark somehow appear. She wasn't sure if she was more afraid of his anger or disappointment. He was just so stubborn about some things. A quick look out her windows shows neither Stark nor his guards, yet she makes her way to her bedroom, where she knows the guard captain wouldn't walk in without knocking first.
She opens the book and studies the spell for a moment. A mental picture of her pouch shows the proper necro reagents within. She closes her eyes and takes a few breaths, and soaks in the weight of the book in her hands.
"Kal xen bal" escapes from her lips, as her hand moves in the harsh lines of the spell.
She jumps as a small cloud of smoke appears accompanied by a quick reverberating pop and the smell of sulfur. The sound echoes through her eardrums as she wildly checks to see that both the door to her room and all the windows are closed.
How did I not hear that the last time? she thinks while her heart races.
A look down at the horde minion reveals it standing there looking back up at her with a silly grin on its face. With its wide-eyed gaze, it no longer looked menacing.
"Ok, I have a job for you," Melfina tries to say, but the horde minion quickly runs past her. Melfina turns to see it swallowing the hair brush on her night stand.
"Hey! Stop that!"
"Give that back!"
It spits it out and happily offers her the brush.
Melfina takes it, inspects it, and puts it back onto her nightstand.
"Don't do-" she begins, but before she can finish, the brush is down its throat once again.
"Hey! Give it back!"
And it does.
"Don't take this. Ok? No." She repeats the command as she lets go, watching the horde minion for any indication that its stubby little arms are about to pilfer her brush a third time. Its gaze focuses back on her after she snaps her fingers a few times.
Melfina takes a quick look downstairs in the library to make sure Stark hasn't made an unexpected visit, then commands the horde minion to follow her downstairs. She leads the creature to her chest of reagents, and picks up a few.
"Here. This is what I want you to store. This and only this. These are called reagents."
As she takes the reagents closer to the horde minion, its grin widens, and it extends its arms, cupping its hands together.
She drops them into its hands, and it pops them into its mouth.
"Good boy. Now give them back."
Melfina repeats the process twice more, and makes sure the reagents really are still usable, before she decides she's ready to try taking him out into the real world.
"Remember. Reagents only. And please, please, please Do. Not. Attack. I won't be in danger today. If you attack anyone. I won't take you with me anymore."
Its eyes are locked on her own, but she's not sure if it understood. There's only one way to find out.
"Kal ort por," Melfina casts, and instantly realizes her mistake.
She recalls back to the front of her shop. She makes her way to the second floor and finds Reagent waiting by the teleport tile. This time she creates a moongate instead of recalling so the horde minion can follow.
"I'm so sorry about that," she says as she rubs its blue head. "Follow me."
As she makes her way into the shop, the horde minion rushes forward and starts stuffing itself with reagents. Some of the customers are startled, and plenty of them are annoyed at how fast it can gobble them up, but no one's in a panic ready to call the guards or attack it themselves.
Melfina begins gathering up all she can carry herself and makes her way to the line once her own arms are full. When she she's finally first in line, she dumps the contents onto the counter.
"And your horde minion?"
"Oh. Of course." She gives the command and it empties out a pile that's easily twice as big as her own.
"Do you see horde minions often?"
"Every now and then."
"Oh good. I was afraid people would be freaked out by him."
"This isn't Luna. Necromancers have never been banned our city."
"But they can't open up a school here either."
The vendor shrugs.
She pays for the goods and makes a gateway for home.
As she steps through, she remembers the gateway can't open inside her house. Homes would be too easy to rob if they didn't come with that safety precaution. And so she rushes in with her horde minion right behind. Only after the two are safely out of sight does she look back outside for anyone who may have seen.
A wave of relief washes over her when she's sure she's in the clear.
"Reagents," she commands once they make their way back to her storage chests. A giant pile emerges before her. "Good boy," she says, and sees that it's all a jumbled mess. "Can you sort these out?"
The horde minion looks back with a tilt to its head and a blank look on its face.
"Okay. Let's see," she says as she thinks. "Pick those up. And only give me the black pearl."
A neat pile of black pearl comes out of its mouth. Melfina puts it away and then does the same with the rest of the reagents. When she's finished, she takes a step back and gives a satisfied look at the storage chests. There was a lot more to do, but it would be finished in a fraction of the time.
The only problem, keeping hidden from Stark and his guards.
With the time I'll save, I don't have to leave right away. So Melfina waits. As soon as West Luna's guards pass by, she makes a gate and takes another trip with her familiar.
Reagent receives a few nervous looks, but he gets more looks of annoyance as he gobbles up reagents faster than the other customers can pick up.
The scribe's notebook warms her lap as she sits by the window during the lulls between each trip. With one eye on the window, she can't fully concentrate on what she's doing, but she's still able to get a lot more done than she could have otherwise.
Trip after trip, Melfina makes her way with familiar, filling up her chests with little effort.
And I'm done! thinks the scribe as she arrives from her final trip. A quick look up at the setting sun tells her she hadn't saved any time at all. If only those two stupid guards hadn't decided to station themselves right out front for so long.
Inside, she opens up the black pearl chest and finds a bag of harpy feathers, and a note.
He can't even stay and say hi!
She crumples up the note and puts away the last of the reagents.
"You did good today, and you'll always wait for me won't you," she says as she pats it on the head.
"But it's time to put you away as well." Nothing happens as she completes the unsummoning ritual. I didn't do it wrong. It's so simple. She tries again, and it still stands there grinning at her.
"Why are you so happy?"
It just grins.
She gives it a suspicious look. "Purge contents!"
Out spills some gold, bottles, a mortar and pestle, and her hairbrush.
"Bad horde minion! Bad!"
It looks at her in hurt confusion.
It's going to need some more training she thinks as she able to successfully banish this time.
She picks up her hairbrush and shakes her head with a smile on her face as she looks at her chests full of reagents.
Maybe that's what I'll call you. Reagent.
* * *
Here's the stuff you wanted. Can't stay. You owe me. Bye!
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