The clang of steel against steel rang out in the smithy. A hammer dully rang as it shaped the red hot metal in the master smith's hands. His visage carried the hearty weight of a beard which extended to his chest, the hair singed in some places from the forge. He worked diligently, occasionally draining a nearby waterskin. The strength of his blows were only matched by his furrowed brow, caked with soot and sweat.
He took a pair of tongs and lifted the steel for inspection.
“Ana, you are needed.” The smith called over the raging forge. A girl appeared, no older than ten, holding a toolbox and another waterskin. “We have work to do.”
“I want to play with the other kids outside, papa.” She protested and placed the toolbox near him.
“Another time, we must hurry. The customer will be here soon to pick up their request.” The smith laughed heartily. “Perhaps I will treat you to something nice after!”
“You said that last time...” The little girl frowned. She replaced the empty waterskin and turned away. In a few moments she returned with her own hammer—much smaller than her master's—to assist. He nodded to her and placed the glowing steel on the anvil. A massive hand held the steel in place, intense eyes focusing onto her.
“Ready, Ana. Give your swing oomph!” He gave the order and she obeyed. The clanging resumed as she attempted to shape the steel. However, in a few short bursts, she growled and took a few steps back.
“Papa, this is hard!”
“No, no...one more time. This is your work, Ana! We are almost finished.” The man smiled toothily. He couldn't guise his happiness any longer, his eyes now shone brilliantly like the ocean.
Ana inhaled and lifted the hammer. She struck now harder than she had before, the ringing of the steel resonating with her spirit. A rush of strength burst from within and the steel agreed with her. In a few short moments, the smith raised his paw. She halted and blinked in surprise.
“Good, good! Do not let the steel take you from here.” He quenched the length of metal and reached for a thick leather glove. “I will show you one of the most important pieces, young one. Pay attention!”
The smith growled as he took the length of steel and drew out the tang deftly with his hammer. “You—must—be—careful—or—the--blade--will--not--let--you--do--what--you--must!” With each word, he struck the red hot metal. “Blades do not talk, but they do!
“Papa, I don't get it.” She pouted.
“Ah—but you will!” He laughed and quenched the piece quickly. “You will hear the steel speak and you must learn the language.”
Ana frowned heavily.
A bell chimed loudly as a man and a small boy entered. The man approached the smith with a hearty grin, his hand extended—the boy cautiously hid behind his companion's leg as they neared the pair covered in soot.
“Ah! My old friend Eisener!” The men shook hands, taking each other's presence in.
“Stolzer, it is good to see you not dead.” They laughed bitterly. “And who is this?”
The master smith turned to the younger boy and beckoned to him. He remained frozen in place at the sight of the bulk of the man's paw, his eyes drinking the intensity of Eisener. Stolzer gently pushed him forward and the master smith took the boy's hands in his. An immense pain took the boy as he prodded and gazed him over.
“He is a strong one—too weak for smith's work.”
“Aye, but he is my own page. I am a Justicar of the Sanctuarian Templar.” Eisener's eyebrows raised in response.
“Does this mime have a name?” He addressed the pair.
“Gelehrter, sir.” The boy squeaked and attempted to break the gaze of the man.
“You certainly have a way with children. Who is this one here?” Stolzer turned his attention to Ana. She had busied herself during the commotion by filling the waterskins, stowing tools and moved about with the toolbox in tow.
“Ana Edith. Not mine own, but she is strong enough for smith's work.” He beamed with delight. “You have not come all this way to speak at length about iron, what is it?”
Stolzer now faced his page. “Ensure my horse is stabled and secure us some food.”
He handed him a small pouch and he scampered away. The two men were now in the forge together, Eisener already resuming his work.
“I've come to ask for a favor, my friend.”
“Eh? What for?” Eisener frowned and stroked his beard. He then reached for his unfinished steel, setting aside the shorter of the two lengths.
“You do know of the war, do you not? War keeps you very busy.”
“Business is business.”
“I would like something for my young one there.”
“A page owning a sword is poppycock.” Stolzer was cut off by the ringing of the smith's hammer.
“It would be my weapon, but it would be something you could part easily with!” He addressed the smith and pointed to the other length of steel. “What about that one?”
“Ana's work?” His hammer rang through the forge and Stolzer gritted his teeth in frustration.
“Aye, Ana's. Her work is not up to parley with, but he is a good lad.” The master smith frowned and the knight beamed. “I aim to have him take my place.”
“You teach him more than you should, I understand. 'owever, I do not--” Ana had approached the master smith with confidence with her tiny hammer in hand. “You finish already?”
“Let me work, papa.” Her wide eyed sapphire stare shone with a new sense of determination. “I want to work.”
“Ah—but this is real work. What we did before was play!” Eisener shook his head. “No more for you today, young one. Your arms will collapse.”
“No more!” Eisener boomed and she growled in protest. She spun on her heels to the other room.
Stolzer remained unconvinced. “I came to ask for the weapon. Your apprentice shows promise, let her shine!”
“For now she must be humbled, you mean. You will be teaching your page tomorrow here!” Eisener set his hammer near the forge. A massive paw gripped a pile of stray cloth which stank heavily of sweat. “If you want to stay, help us tidy up. Retrieve your boy after you douse the forge.”
Stolzer frowned. The knight took a moment to glance to the shut door and the forge.
He raised his hand, muttering some arcane words. A small barrier erupted into life, trapping the heat and allowed the smoke to escape all the same. The knight shook his head again before leaving.
Comments (0)See all