These are a series of novel chapter drafts. They are a work in progress and the primary goal of the current work is to get the ideas on paper - not nessicarily for them to be well written
Ferrin, Kvatt Town Arena - 4th Age Anno 311
Pera wasn’t happy when we arrived. She was the kind of woman who would instill a deep fear into the core of your being without as much as lifting a finger. My father always described her as an iron hand in a velvet glove. I had unfortunately not inherited his ability to talk his way out of these types of situations. Pera threw a pair of brooms at us harshly. “Just get in there and start working! You’re not ready for anything if you’re not ready to show up on time.” We both nodded shyly and skulked into the back of the forge.
The work wasn’t so bad. We knew Pera didn’t expect perfection as the forge dropped ash and soot around us almost as fast as we could sweep it. Mara was eventually called off to help with the orders, leaving me to the endless task without any idle chit-chat to break the boredom. Lunchtime wasn’t long, but it was delicious - Mara had bought sweetcakes from the market that morning and they still tasted just as soft and fresh. However, we were constantly reminded between bites that we were only getting them as they would go to waste anyway. Pera, like her daughter, was not ill-meaning but held a grudge.
The second half of the day was filled with yet more sweeping, but I got to see all parts of the process. The intense heat to melt the iron, the clanging of metal on metal and the order and delivery front-of-shop.
I made a point of being early the next day. Not just for fear of Pera, but because I genuinely wanted to learn. All sins were forgiven that morning as the forge doors opened and Pera was in high-spirits.
A large order of horseshoes had come in with a messenger from the Riddean army. Their route was to pass through here and the harsh mountain roads would surely wear out the already long overdue feet of the horses. It wasn’t an easy start, but I was put to work with easier tasks, beginning with puncturing the metal so that each shoe had eight nail holes, precisely located around its circumference. Pera showed me how to do it once and left me to it. About five in, Mara came over and corrected me in my methods - having had to trash my previous work to be re-cast. Soon enough I had the knack of it, though every so often Mara would come over and throw the last few shoes into a bin. Pera seemed happy with the work though, and over the rest of the week I was trusted with more and more of the process, until I could forge my own shoes - though my output was not half the pace of the other two.
Over the course of the next few weeks I learned a lot about blacksmithing. Where best to hit and heat the metal, knowing the perfect time to stoke the fire and most significantly, that almost all the work was houseware and farmware.
While working on some of the final barrel hoops for The Fallen Knife, a tavern one town over, Pera put down her hammer and walked over to my anvil, wiping her brow with a towel from an ice bucket. “You’ve got what, two weeks until you go to Jer and the butchery? I’ll be honest, with your and Mara’s antics, I didn’t expect much aside from repaying you father a favour. But you’ve actually been a good help. Here.” She tossed something metal at me, which I awkwardly caught with my own towel.
I opened my towel and saw a strange metal square attached to a metal sphere which had an opalescent stone set into it. It looked like the top of a bedpost. I rolled it in my hand. It was well made that was for sure.
“Mara made it for you” Pera explained, and sensing my confusion elaborated further. “It’s a pommel, for a sword”. The look on my face didn’t change much, so she had to spell it out for me. “You’re going to make yourself a sword Ferrin”. I gasped. Mara had told me several tales of how her mother crafted epic swords for passerby knights or deadly assassin daggers for figures refusing to give names, but after weeks of relatively uninspiring product I had come to understand that the only crafting here was of stories in Mara’s mind. But my own sword! And with such a gorgeous end.
“It’s only glass” Pera interrupted my silent marvelling. “It’s quite a good technique isn’t it?” I nodded quietly and continued to roll it satisfyingly in my hands. “Thank you” I managed. “Where is she?” It was strange she wouldn’t give such a gift to me herself.
“Said not to tell you, but she’ll be back in a few weeks. The soldiers will be here by then. You should come by to see that work to an end and I’m sure Mara will be delighted time to apply the finishing touches to that new series of yours then too”
And so it was, that the next two weeks were filled with both heartache and joy as the sword was cast and recast. The blade was always too heavy, or too fine, bent or curving. Mistakes made at the beginning of the process were only discovered at the end when Pera had time to review it. But, after all that hard work, I finally had something to call my own. It was surely the work of an amateur still, but each of those beaten dents were my own. The weight felt good in my hand. I had worried, like her daughter, Pera was built for forging and other heavy labor, and I feared I would emerge from those two weeks with a veritable claymore I could barely wield. But of course, they were both professionals and the blade was perfectly suited to me and my own stature.
Moving to the butchery was difficult. Not least because of the task, but because I missed Pera and my friends. Pak had his own business to run and Mara was mysteriously absent. Even my stubborn refusal to admit to myself that I missed my father was beginning to wane.