Friday, August 21, 2009

"Sword Gods," A Test, pt. 1, 384 words

The smith pulled the blade from the blazing heat of the forge. Sweat ran down his face in sheets, and he awkwardly wiped it away on his arm to little effect before setting the hot blade down to cool. He set the heavy iron tongs aside as well and began to slowly clean and sort his tools. He sighed quietly as he fumbled with the unfamiliar set-up, and wished once more for his own smithy.

“Is it completed?” the knight – his ever-present guardian and captor – asked. The smith refrained from flinching or glancing over his shoulder at the black-armored figure, instead focusing upon the tools.

“It's tempering,” the smith said. “It needs time to cool, and then I can grind an edge on and affix a proper guard and hilt.” He glanced out the high window, considering the dimming daylight that came through the panes. “And considering you haven't answered any of my requests for proper materials to temper it in, it might be ready sometime late tomorrow. The day after is a bit more likely. Air tempering is always a bit loose, especially if I leave it racked here in a warm forge.”

The smith could almost hear the disapproving frown in his voice as the knight said, “Finish it now.”

“While it's still hot?” The smith turned in place, wondering whether the knight was an idiot or intentionally pushing him. “Do you really understand what you're demanding? It needs to cool on its own to prevent irregularities and weaknesses, and it's not like I can hold it very safely for the grinding while it's this hot!”

The knight crossed his arms with a muffled clanking and scrape of armor plates. “That's not my problem,” he said. “This is your test, and if you fail...” He looked meaningfully at the cooling blade.

Hesitant, considering, the smith said, “Maybe if you brought me an extra pair or two of leather gloves, big ones, I could be able to hold it well enough for grinding. And another apron. But are you trying to sabotage the blade? What would your god think of that?”

“What my god thinks isn't for you to worry about, peasant,” the knight said, disdain dripping from his voice.

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