Sazandara approached the room’s apparent attendant, a youthful man at a desk full of notebooks and binders. The reaper said something to him in Valgan.
Nodding, the attendant pulled on a pair of gloves and fished a key out of a drawer. He moved to the rear wall, opened one of the larger boxes, and with visible effort, pulled out an impressive slab of metal with a gentle curve to it. Sazandara said something else to him, but this time, the attendant hesitated, looking from her to Hector and back again.
Before Hector even thought to ask, Garovel began translating for him.
‘She’s telling him to give it to you. He’s asking if she’s sure. Says Haqq will be upset.’ Garovel broke for a chuckle. ‘“That’s the point,” she says.’
The attendant soon conceded and moved to hand the object over.
‘Careful not to let it touch your skin just yet,’ said Sazandara.
Hector did as she instructed, abruptly glad that he hadn’t taken his own gloves off.
At first, even while holding it, he still wasn’t sure what the thing was, but as soon as he turned it up vertically in his hands, he realized.
It was a shield. A heater shield, to be precise--a flat top with a rounded, pointed bottom. Smaller than a kite shield but larger than a buckler. Hector recognized it from his research into old world armor.
He was suddenly reminded of his afterschool armor-building project with Lance Alexander. It was only a few months ago, but it seemed like a different life. What was Lance doing now, he wondered? He recalled finding a small measure of relief when he saw the list of victims of the Calman High Massacre and realized that Lance’s name was not on it.
Blinking, Hector pulled himself back to the present as Sazandara started talking again.
‘This is a self-repairing shield,’ she explained. ‘It is extremely durable for a number of different reasons. These four vertical lines you see here--these are bars of tungsten carbide. Haqq synthesized them personally. The rest of the metal is a mixture of steel and titanium alloys. Also, the metal has been permanently soul-strengthened by Abbas Saqqaf, so I think you’ll find that it can take quite a bit of punishment before ever needing to repair itself.’
‘Permanently soul-strengthened?’ said Garovel. ‘Lord Abbas can do that?’
‘Of course. But never mind that. I still haven’t told you the best part.’