Hector turned the shield over in his hands again, wanting a good look at the front. It was lustrously gray, apart from the four bars of tungsten carbide that Sazandara mentioned before. Those were a bit darker, but Hector wouldn’t have been able to tell that they weren’t simply paint if the reaper hadn’t told him. They fit so seamlessly into the shield that he couldn’t see even the slightest physical crease between them and the rest of the lighter-colored metal.
‘Before you use it, a couple of warnings,’ said Sazandara. ‘As soon as your skin touches it, the enhanced soul defenses will take effect. When you’re wearing gloves like you are now, no enhancements are granted to your body.’
‘Additionally, you will notice that touching the shield directly causes immense physical pain. That is a side effect of your body being made stronger than it is prepared to be. Garovel will therefore need to numb the pain for you whenever you intend to wield it barehanded.’
“Ah... and then I’ll feel the pain later.”
Hector nodded. ‘Figures,’ he remarked to Garovel.
‘The shield will also take a toll on you, Garovel.’
‘The defensive increases are made possible by interfering with the soul-synchronization between the two of you. The shield functions as a catalyst, and through it, your souls are stretched beyond their limits in an effort to equalize themselves with the shield. And because the reaper is very much the “battery” of the relationship, this experience will gradually drain you.’
‘How long has Hector been your servant?’
‘About three years.’
Hector’s expression flickered. He had to consciously keep himself from staring at Garovel. It hadn’t even been eight months.
‘Quite young,’ said Sazandara. ‘In that case, I would advise Hector not to wield it barehanded for more than thirty minutes per day.’
‘Understood,’ said Garovel. And then privately, he amended her number to, ‘Six minutes per day. Remember that, if you can.’
Hector wasn’t sure he understood the point of lying to their allies like this. Even if Sazandara somehow ended up betraying them, wouldn’t it be better if she thought they were weaker? Something to ask Garovel about later, he decided.
‘Is there anything else we should know?’ Garovel asked.
‘No, that is everything.’
‘Alright. Thank you for explaining. We appreciate your hospitality. Once things settle down, I’d like to invite you back to Warrenhold with us. I’m sure even Haqq would be able to enjoy himself there.’
‘Ah. I will keep that in mind.’