The sun had just passed its midday peak when the skins across the doorway opened, jingling the tiny bells sewed into the bottom and alerting the leatherworkers in the shop to a customer. Akabeko blinked in the sudden shadow, a bundled set of armor tucked under one arm. An orc seated near the doorway set down her tools and approached the druid. The only other leatherworker in the front room, a wide-set tauren, briefly glanced up from his work.
"What can I help you with?" the orc asked, reaching out for the bundle and taking it to a clear work table.
Akabeko followed her. "Just general upkeep," she explained. "I've been waxing and polishing it myself, but the shoulders especially are starting to show their age."
The orc turned one pauldron over in her hands. The enchantment that made the skull's empty eyesockets glow blue was starting to fade, and the feathers were beginning to look dry and wilted. The orc ran calloused fingers across the dome of the skull, stopping when they met and uncharacteristic notch in the bone just above the left eye. She peered at the dent curiously.
Akabeko noticed her scrutiny. "That's been there since I bought the piece. The armorer told me there's no easy way to mend it, and I've come to like it anyway. It gives it character," she finished with a grin.
The orc grinned back. Her fingers continued to gently worry the mark. "There is no good way to mend it, not without interfering with the unique enchantment on the pauldron. It just surprised me to see it, because I'm the one that put it there."
This caused the so-far silent tauren to look up. "Is it one of ours?" he asked his partner.
The orc held up the piece in question to point out the nick. "Do you remember the first time we hunted kaliri?"
"Ahh, yes," the tauren interrupted. "Our plan was to bait one and lasso it." He laughed. "That was such a terrible idea!"
"Come on, it wasn't that bad. How could you have known it would call so many others to help?"
Akabeko looked back and forth between the pair, listening with interest.
The tauren set down his tools. "I didn't know, but my job is to take the hits while you do the hard work, so I should have done my research to be as safe as possible!"
"I have to admit, when the kaliri screeched and those three others burst out of the trees, I went a little berserk. They all went straight for you, with your hands full of feathers and nothing but a shield!"
"Believe it or not, I was still trying to keep the bodies intact. I stunned the one we caught with my shield before I went after the others."
The orc shook her head. "I wasn't being careful. It's only luck that I took the first pair's heads off instead of anything else. That last one..."
The tauren laughed. "When you jumped over me I thought you might sprout wings and fly away yourself!"
"Yes, well," the orc shrugged sheepishly. "It was in your blind spot. So I smashed it in the face."
Akabeko blinked at her armor with newfound appreciation.
"As you can see," the orc continued conversationally, "we're in an off season and having a slow day. I can have this ready for you by sunset tomorrow."
"Thank you, I appreciate it," Akabeko replied, heading to the door. She nodded at the tauren, who waved a pair of scissors at her, already back at work. "Afternoon!"