The Blacksmith

 

 

 

The Blacksmith

 

 

The fire was burning brightly in the cave, and shadows were dancing wildly along the walls. The Blacksmith looked upon his forge and bound his shock of steel-grey hair with a battered strip of leather. It was time to work once again – perhaps for the final time. His muscles ached and his bones groaned in protest every time he moved, and his breaths were laboured. Yet as a Man of Silver it was his duty to continue, to serve, and to persevere. His arms, lacerated with age-old scars and etched with thick cords of muscle reached out to take hold of a huge silver-black bar, which glittered in  the firelight and to him was as both familiar and as foreign as the moon.

How his mother had told him stories when he was a child, of strange metals that would fall from the heavens into the hands of men. How they could be crafted; used to either better mankind or to hinder. It was time for him to do the same as his ancestors and use what the heavens had provided. Picking up his hammer, the Blacksmith took the bar to the fire, and began to hammer the bar into shape. The sharp tang of heated metal reached his nostrils, and the angelic ring of the hammer striking metal echoing deep within the contours of the cave and the Blacksmith’s heart. The aches of his body faded away, the burden of his heart lifted. ‘Fire and Steel,’ The Blacksmith said, repeating his family’s words. He had been born with the fire in his blood, the natural urge to shape and create burning fiercely in his veins.

And create he did.

For seven weeks and seven hours The Blacksmith worked, neither eating nor resting. But always keeping the fire burning. And as the days went past what was once a simple metal bar became a beautiful sword, one as silver as The Blacksmith’s hair, sharper than any other sword before it, and more beautiful to behold than any woman. He marvelled at what the bar had become. A simple metal derived from the stars, now a weapon fit for a king. Alas, it is not yet time, The Blacksmith mused. The eager glee of crafting had filled him, and like a wildfire the joy had spread through his body until he could do no more but create.

He shivered. The Final Cold was fast approaching, chilling his bones and dampening his spirit. Yet he still smiled. Although his work was almost complete there was one more blessing he could depart on the sword. The Blacksmith took it upon his lap, cradling it like a new-born child and began to whisper old tales. Stories of how dragons once ruled the heavens, flying high above the heads of men. Of how the forests teemed with both faeries and elves, the woodland echoing their song during the summer solstice. And of the North itself! He whispered of the souls of the dead travelling to the North, looking for their loved ones and leaving ghostly green trails upon the night sky.

Upon finishing these tales The Blacksmith shuddered and coughed. His time was up, his fire was spent, his soul weary. He took the blade in his hand, and plunged it deep into the stone. ‘This will be your burying place, as well mine. Until one is worthy to retrieve you, remain in this stone you shall. I name thee Holy sword Caledfwlch, and you shall burn bright. But for now, sleep.’

 

 

Time passed. The fire that once burnt brightly within the cave flickered and died, and a harrowing chill descended. Caledfwlch still stood proudly, pulsing with a soft light that fought away the ice and darkness surrounding the sword. Outside the cave, voices could be heard, faint whispers that became louder and louder with every second. A boy and a girl both appeared at the mouth of the cave. The boy with dark brown hair and blue eyes, the girl with fiery red hair and dark green eyes, both clothed in lavish garments squinted into the darkness.

‘I wonder what’s in here,’ the girl said, peering into the dark expanse of the cave from the mouth. She thought that there was a faint glimmer of something at the back of the cave, yet she could not be sure.

‘It’s just another stupid cave just like any other. This isn’t as fun as you said, Lady.’ The boy sulked. He had hoped to explore the forest, not to freeze in some ridiculous cave.

‘Come on Arthur, it will be exciting,’ Lady said. And with a grin, she descended down the rocky expanse, and deeper into the stomach of the cave.

Arthur sighed, and followed close behind. ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’ He said. ‘This cave seems endless.’ His breathing quickened and his heart pounded as the darkness of the cave seemed to squeeze the very air from his lungs.

‘I thought I saw something, I think we’re almost there,’ Lady said, as the strange glow ahead seemed to pulse with a more urgent light.

‘Wait, is that a-’

‘Quiet.’

‘But-’

‘I said quiet,’ Lady snapped as they stopped at a standstill. The sword glowed and faded with a panic, matching the heartbeat of both Lady and Arthur. Lady’s breath caught in her throat and she stood transfixed by its beauty. If only she could-

‘No don’t touch it!’ Arthur exclaimed. His heart raced. This strange sword in stone was not something to be toyed with. Somehow, a certain wrongness emanated with glow, almost as if the sword was warning him from coming any closer.

Lady jerked her hand back, astonished. ‘I didn’t mean… I thought… I didn’t want to…’ Lady’s bewildered face was pale in the glow of the sword.

‘We should go,’ Arthur said, grabbing Lady’s arm before she could protest. ‘We should have just explored the forest. Let’s leave this place.’

Lady nodded. ‘Let’s go.’ Yet she still felt the call of the sword, the sad pulsing of light still reaching out to the inner parts of her soul. With Arthur’s iron grip upon her arm, Lady decided that somehow, someday that she would return. And upon her return, she will find the rightful owner to wield that sword.

 

 

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