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From the upcoming novel, "Hannibal's Elephant Girl, Book Three"


Chapter Six

“You want to see your helmet?” Tapaz asked.

Rocrainum grinned and nodded.

She fetched the headpiece, brought it forward, and handed it to him.

His lips parted, but no sound came from his mouth.

Turning the heavy metal, he examined every feature with his fingertips.

Running across the top from the forehead to the back of the neck was a plume of boar’s hair, dyed red and standing up by the length of his hand.

Below the front of the boar’s hair was a visor with a latch in the shape of an eagle’s head and beak, allowing the warrior to lower the curved metal to cover his eyes in close-order combat. Narrow slits allowed a limited field of view but protected the eyes from sword impact.

Flexible silver cheek plates protected the soldier’s face.

“Is that gold?” Rocrainum touched the inlayed outlines.

Tapaz nodded.

“Where did you get so much of it?” All the various components of the helmet had the gold inlay running along the edges. Filigrees of the precious metal curled around the eagles on the visor.

“I used the six coins you gave me.”

He stared at her.

“Try it on. It seems your head has swelled since I first began working on it.”

He laughed and slipped it over his head. After fastening the leather chinstrap, he struck a pose. “How does it look?”

She tapped the cheek plates with her knuckles, then flipped the visor down. “Can you see anything?”

Rocrainum lowered his head, scanning her from sparkling brown eyes to bare feet, then back up to her dark, flowing curls. “Only your smiling lips.”

She pushed the visor up, snapping it in place, then, grabbing the sides, shook the helmet back and forth. “How does it feel?”

“A little tight over the ears, but good.”

“I lined it with lamb’s wool. I’ll remove some.” She grinned. “Or we could trim those donkey ears down a bit.”

“Then I wouldn’t be able to hear your whiney voice.” He untied a leather purse from his hip and handed the heavy pouch to her. “Take what I owe you.”

She opened the purse and glanced inside. Taking out one gold coin, she handed it to him, then tied the purse to her belt. “Thank you. Do you want to see your wrist and shin guards? The sword and daggers aren’t finished.”

He stared at his purse for a moment, then at the single coin in his hand. “Y-yes, of course.”

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