Alden's Smithy

There it sat in the corner, calm for the moment, silent but for an occasional hiss. Glowering in the gloom of the Smithy it made its presence felt, contained yet menacing.  Alden had spent the first season of his apprenticeship learning to tame it, feed it, manage it, and harness it’s incredible power.  Now he was trained all he had to do was glance at it to know what was needed and how to provide it, but for the moment it was content to sit, gathering its strength, huffing and spitting quietly.

Alden gathered his tools for today’s work, clutching them precariously against his chest, seeing how many he could transport in one trip.  His mentor, the old Smith, had taught him to be much more careful and deliberate than this.  Tools cost money. Time spent making tools was time away from orders and stock making.  Do it once, do it right.  The litany of injunctions Alden had heard over and over for the last year echoed off the walls of the Smithy: ghostly fragments of the previous occupants.  Well now the Smithy was Alden’s and he would work however he liked.  Things were changing and he couldn’t afford to be stuck in the past.  Depositing the jumbled pile of wooden frames and metal tools on his bench, Alden turned his attention to the most powerful tool of all.  He scooped up a pile of charcoal with a loosely woven basket and shook it over the sack hooked on a frame nearby.  The fine black soot collected there would be used for decorations and disguises later in the week, left on the charcoal it would spark and spit creating impurities in molten metals and scars on Alden’s exposed arms.  Taking a rod from the rail by the forge, Alden woke the beast in the corner with a few sharp pokes.  As the sparks flew up and the fire changed from a glow to a blaze, Alden added the charcoal, tipping it from the basket onto the side of the fire.  Quickly he scooped the charred blocks up and over the hottest part of the fire, building a low mound about two handspans wide, that could be moulded and managed to provide a range of temperatures.  His mentor had drilled into him the importance of managing the fire: roughly made objects could be improved, broken objects could be fixed, but without the fire nothing was possible.

Leaving the forge for a moment, Alden returned to his tools.  Carefully he placed the wooden frames side by side in pairs, positioning a ...

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Katherine Horejsi
Jul 22 2021

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