As they approached the tables where the dragon and girl were waiting after finishing their breakfast, Orlauf and Nettleby greeted Natalie and Blaadfork. “I am sorry to have delayed your leaving,” Orlauf began, “but I have important news that you will want to hear. I have already informed the King, and I asked Roland to meet me here. While we are waiting, I can begin by telling you that Nettleby and I have been able to reestablish contact with the Graylings. We have created a new portal. In addition, with Argantha dead, the enchantment upon them seems to be reversing. While they wish to continue living in their new world, they soon should be able to come and go in this one.”
“That is good news. Blaadfork looked somber.”I only wish we had not been obliged to kill the rest of the citizens of that village.”
“You had little choice in that matter, nor could you have known the enchantment would reverse, if indeed it would have. Remember, these people were incomplete conversions, and that may have made the difference. They sent a message that they bear no ill will.”
“Tell them that means much to me, and I thank them.”
Orlauf nodded, then looked around as Blade looked past him. “Ah, Roland is arrived.”
“What did you wish of me, Seer Orlauf?” Roland nodded to Nettleby.
“As I was just informing Blaadfork and Natalie, I have important news. Now that you are here, I can proceed. Sit down, Roland; you too, Nettleby.” Both did as they were bidden.
“It appears that both Argantha and I were victims of incomplete knowledge, but in different ways.” Orlauf smiled. “I have been reading her notes. She was able to sufficiently separate the crystal and the metal as to be able to determine the composition of each and the quantities used. I found these measurements recorded in her notes over a span of years. This is something I never possessed the knowledge to be able to accomplish.”
“Then why was she never able to create more armor?” Roland asked. “We searched that cave and found no sign of new alloy even in rough form. Nettleby can tell you the same.”
“I can give you that answer from Argantha’s own notes.” Orlauf pulled a sheet of parchment from a pouch. “This notation is dated just a few days ago. Listen.”
“After all these years, I am yet unable to fathom the bonding agent for these two materials. I would believe it to be magic, but there is no trace of enchantment about it. I am at a loss to explain this mystery and it keeps me from my goal.”
“Other notes indicated that she had resolved the shortcoming of the enchantment she had used on that village. If she could have also solved the problem of bonding the armor, Argantha stood on the brink of being able to enchant other villages, thus creating a horde of Grimlings which she would have equipped with crystal armor and weaponry.” Orlauf paused to let that be absorbed.
“That is quite a long time to be pursuing such a plan with so little to show for it.” Roland was puzzled.
“Either the creature was very long-lived or had prolonged its days with magic. Nettleby and I found nothing in her notes to indicate that Argantha was overly concerned with the time this was taking, other than being frustrated at her lack of ability to find the solution at all.”
Blaadfork nodded without commenting. He understood better than anyone else here how more than a score of years might have been of little consequence.
“The thing Argantha did not know was a bonding spell, a very special one.” Orlauf looked around the table, from Nettleby around to Natalie, meeting each one’s eyes in turn. “I know that spell.”
“What?” the exclamation was simultaneous and unanimous. Roland, Natalie and even Nettleby sprang to their feet as one. Natalie realized that the Seer had not yet shared this news with the Magician.
Orlauf motioned everyone back into their seats. “I know that spell. It is a very special bonding spell which cancels itself out completely after the bond is achieved. This is so no magic can undo the bond simply by countering the spell.” Orlauf smiled. I have long suspected that spell was important to the crystal armor, but I had no knowledge of what materials to use, in what form, or in what proportions.”
Orlauf was forced to hold up his hand to restore silence. “There is one other thing. In a very old scroll, but recently rediscovered, I found images recorded of first two breastplates then one. My understanding from this is that a crystal breastplate and a metal breastplate must be created. The bonding spell is what completes the process. This must be done for each piece of armor and each weapon.”
Orlauf produced from his sleeve a small crystal-silver cup and placed it on the table before him, where it sparkled and shone in the sunlight. “With the help of the glassmakers and metalsmiths of Castle Tonnalt, and the aid of Magician Nettleby, it appears there will be new armor, new weapons, and even other items of crystal metal created.” He smiled again. “In short, my friends, you not only solved the mystery which brought Blade and Natalie here, but the older mystery as well. It is quite impossible to overstate the importance and the value of what you have returned to this kingdom.”
Orlauf sat down, smiling and chuckling with pleasure as the small meeting turned into celebration.