Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Sword Gods," A Test, pt. 3, 362 words

The hilt had to be finished next. It was a cast iron grip and cross guard with a hole down the length, so he could slide it up the tang to the base of the blade and hold it in place. The end of the hilt was circular and the tang stuck out almost an inch, and after casting he had spent hours cutting suitable threads into it. Its mate sat nearby, a heavy blunted spheroid that would serve as the pommel. It fit comfortably into the smith's palm, and had been threaded on the inside as well for mounting on the hilt. More importantly, the bottom half of the sphere was nearly hollow, as if it had been cast around a mushroom. After heating the protruding end of the tang and screwing the pommel on to the hilt, he hammered it down to secure the pommel and hilt, and to allow the soft, hot end of the tang to mushroom inside the pommel, so the end would be too large to withdraw from the opening.

He spent more than an hour after that on the grindstone, giving it a dull but serviceable edge, feeling ill-inclined to put so much care into the work as he normally would have, yet balking at leaving it too unfinished. He salved his wounded pride by pretending the blade was to be only a ceremonial tool.

By the time all this was completed, the blade's temperature had cooled from searingly hot to merely scorching. The hot air of the forge did little to encourage its cooling, and he found himself guzzling any provided clean water and pouring it over his head to keep from passing out. The smith was shortly soaked to the skin in sweat and water, and spattered droplets about with every motion. Twilight had set firmly in, if he could guess at all from the light through the window.

The smith took a deep breath and said, “It's as done as it's going to get.” Which wasn't to say that the sword was finished, not nearly to his satisfaction, but it was as finished as the knight's impatience was likely to allow.

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