Opening the right door Kellum enjoyed the wave of fresh air that he had somewhat lost familiarity with. The sooty dust and metal tang of the smithy was more distinct in contrast, he had to regularly snort just to clear his nostrils. He wasn’t previously warned of the hazards of smithing before he was taken to live with his uncle but it was an adjustment he had made early in the years living with his uncle.
After his parents died, Kellum was taken miles away in the forest village of Silvand. The alternative was the orphanage of his hometown – which was not known for it’s high standards or safety record when it came to those left in their care.
Even with the death of his parents he didn’t allow himself to feel too sad about their passing, focusing all his energy to living his life with purpose. A value his uncle instilled in him while he was young and adjusting to the major change he was forced into.
He was rather cocky and at times required a minor cuff from his uncle to rein in his behaviour. Taking up his uncle’s profession was to earn his keep but even with the enthusiasm towards the trade, he was currently consigned with more menial tasks.
“I hope that cart arrives soon, it was meant to be here by now.” expressed in frustration, the blacksmith’s apprentice was like most younger men a sufferer from a lack of patience.
“Uhh…Oh calm it, it’s due soon. Clear a space for the new sacks.” replied his uncle Trint – the Master Blacksmith, in an almost grunting fashion through his large bristly grey beard.
He coughed for a few seconds bringing up a chunk of metallic red phlegm, spitting it into the furnace. Still monitoring intently the slowly whitening sword blank resting in the roaring furnace. Periodically turning it over to balance the heat evenly, all while pumping fresh air into the furnace with the foot bellows.
While not over-weight person, his sturdy frame made easy work for the hammer and bellows. Despite his age he was one of the strongest and hardest working in the village, after decades of forging the towns weapons and tools. The heat dried skin on his hands coursed with minor cut and blister scars, all reflecting his near life long experience.
His skill was renown and much prized, so much that he was once commissioned to forge the armours of the royal family in Khrusos – the city of gold. The city resided in the large underground cavern in the mountain, beyond the forest’s eastern edge.
“There it is now…afterwards mind if I go get something to drink?” Kellum asked as he noticed the faintly audible sound of the traders cart’s arrival.
Kellum proceeded to open the second of the double doored entrance into the smithy. Spotting in the distance the two Octeqous, pulling the large trader’s cart through the entrance. Their hooves rapid klopping along the cobbled street was a clear indication for everyone in village to know that it had arrived, their sound was unmistakable. The large eight legged mares made easy work of the even larger cart, as it took up most of the street width and much of the village was previously designed to facilitate this. The shear weight required metal reinforcements on every load bearing part, especially on each of the six metal wheels – half of which squeaked with their unoiled axles.
“That’s fine, but don’t get drunk…I will finish this sword soon and it needs honing.” Trint said in an almost demanding way.
“Ugh…I’m always honing or polishing, when can I actually start trying to forge them?” Kellum impatiently asked.
“Hmm…when I’m convinced you won’t hit your thumb or burn the smith down.” Rebuked Trint. “Hand me the straight peen.”
Kellum picked up the hammer from the side shelve and chucks it under arm towards his uncle. Trint sighed as he catches it firmly by the handle.
“And that right there is why you are not yet ready.” retorted Trint.
Kellum looks away realizing the evidence of his inexperience from the wisdom his uncle just imparted.
Staring out from across the street, Kellum spots another of the townsfolk Eldrik – a much credited rival because of their similar age. Walking out of the house of a young woman Graecy, Eldrik caressed her hands as he whispered into her ear causing her to giggle uncontrollably. Kellum saw them both part ways, screwing his face up with frustration. He walked back into the smithy to continue his work.
“Can you believe that?” asked Kellum, venting his frustration towards his rival, hoping for some sympathy from his uncle. His uncle looks up to spot the vacating Eldrik from the porch of Graecy’s home.
“Egh…what would you expect…from the mayors son no less. Doesn’t know the meaning of hard work that lad…and thick between the ears too if you ask me. Don’t let me catch you acting like that. Or you’ll be out on your ass faster that a Velox on heat!” Trint was all too aware of the promiscuousness of the mayors son, who had at one point been found by Trint, in the company of own daughter Elize.
“He is such a Monghound…he is never satisfied with just one girl.” Kellum continued as he turned towards the trader who had now pulled up and stepped off his cart.
“He has never thought with his head that one…and if he goes near Elize again, I’ll finish forging this sword and cut him in two with it!” Trint gritted his teeth together and grasps the blank harder as he imaged using it on Eldrik, the towns more sexually active individual. He coughed several times as his deep breaths caught some extra ash from his heavier breathing.
“Hello sir, your order: twelve bags of mobius. That’s three hundred and twenty Aurens.” the trader initiated the pre-ordered sale. Opening the side of the cart where the bags were located.
“ Here ya’ go, same again next month?” said Kellum as he unhitched the bulging pouch on his hip.
“Certainly Sir, but it will be more per bag next time.” replied the trader.
“Again? That’s practically every month!” Kellum responded somewhat alarmed.
“I’m sorry but apparently the alchemists are disappearing, which lowering the amount the rest can make. Hence the price rise.” explained the trader, annoyed that it wasn’t the first time he was asked the same question.
Kellum counted out the required amount out of the pouch attached to his belt – he took pride in knowing he was at least trusted with such a large amount.
“Thank you sir.” The trader eyed up the money ensuring the complete amount and stored it in his lockable wooden casket.
“Til next month.” replied Kellum reluctantly.
He finished the sale and started to lift lifted sacks of Mobius coal off of the cart, stacking them one top of another just inside the smithy, after the last bag the trader moved his cart off to further down the street. Kellum’s clothes were covered with the bright red alchemist dust, some of which had clearly leaked from a bag with a minor split.
“Aaand done…” Kellum let out a sigh as he slumped down the last of the bags – attempting to brush off some of the dust that had built up on his arms and legs.
“I’m gonna go head out for lunch if thats ok?” Kellum looked at Trint expecting an answer, yet his uncle was fast away with his thoughts.
“Uncle?” Kellum asked trying to get his masters attention with no effect. “UNCLE?”
Trint finally looked up as he finally took notice.
“Huh? Oh yes…sorry, yes you can go…but don’t get too Drond-assed.” Trint looked back down, taking the blank out of the furnace which was glowing pure white. He walked over to the anvil beside the furnace, taking hold of his smith hammer and laid the sword down on the anvil.
“I want this blade finished by the end of the afternoon.” continued Trint without even looking at his nephew.
“Of course uncle.” replied Kellum as he walked out of the smithy.
The ringing clang of struck metal started as Trint repeatedly struck the red hot blank, the rhythm of the metallic pings echoed out and into the street. Glowing white sparks of metal specks shot out from the impact, bouncing off every surface only to vanish from sight.
Kellum continued to walk down the cobbled street towards Clara’s, past the various occupied stalls and through the crowd. It was his favourite place to eat or drink, partially because it was the only public house for miles around and largely because his Uncle lacked the culinary skills to provide edible food for either of them.
The town of Silvand itself was in a glade, cut into the centre of a forest – one that had a large river snaking through, cutting the forest in two halves. The town sat solely on one side of the river and acted as the only port in the forest. It became a resting stop for travellers, traders and the towns fishing fleet used the river to supply much of the food. The buildings of the village were all made from it’s timber. The surrounding palisade barred any of the wild animals from overrunning the town and blended it almost seemingly into the still living counterparts.
Walking past the towns lumber mill which had been incorporated into the dock, running from the large retractable water wheel. Kellum looked out onto the fishing wharf which normally had his best friend Nieko reeling in the day’s catch from one of the fishing fleet. The two would often catch sight of each other and rudely gestured to each other, in a way only really good friends accepted, before continuing on. Today however Nieko wasn’t present. Slightly puzzled Kellum accepted his friends absence and continued onwards towards Clara’s.
“Hello Kellum deary” Abruptly spoken by one of the villages elder residents.
“Oh Hello Mrs. Casta” Kellum responded reluctantly wishing he had been able to elude the old women.
“My, my aren’t you getting big…you should meet my granddaughter…you two would make the perfect couple.” Mrs. Casta explained with much enthusiasm in her croaky broken voice.
“Uhh that’s ok Mrs. Casta…I uh have to go…Uncle needs something…and I uh…need to get it for him.” Kellum barely finished his sentence before running off towards his intended destination, forgoing the pleasantries normally exchanged when parting with a known face.
“…ugh why must she always pester me, I don’t even like her granddaughter.” he spoke to himself knowing he was out of ear shot. He sighed, feeling a pang of guilt over his action as if he was trying to reassure why he abruptly left.
The octogenarian wouldn’t have fully understood even if he hadn’t left it too late to tell her the truth. He was all too aware that her granddaughter already had a girlfriend to which she was betrothed too. It was clear to everyone that shed suffered from the illness Mindrot – but little could be done so she was taken care of by everyone. Bound by her illness to repeat the same thing over and over, every time they met she would ask the same thing, except the rare occasions where the symptoms subsided briefly to allow for new memories. Kellum continued on towards he intended destination and entered the tavern called The Twisted Viperene when it was first built, it was now called “Clara’s” informally – of whom is the current proprietor.
Greeted by other patrons who were already enjoying their afternoon lunch he found his favourite table, who was to his surprise already occupied by his friend Nieko. Kellum sat down opposite his best friend while Nieko signalled for two drinks to the hostess who brought both over – smiling at Kellum as she placed them down. He responded with an awkward slightly embarrassed smirk. He turned his attention back to Nieko. The waitress walked off feeling slightly disappointed by the encounter as she had done so previously.
“Your here early. What happened…got tired of flinging fish already?” He jokingly ask due to Nieko’s abnormal presence.
“Pfft, what fish there was…it’s like they all pissed off. It’s been happening for days.” Nieko explained.
“The fish have been getting less…and no we haven’t fished ‘em all. ” He continued frustratingly, the fish from the river was an important source of food and income for the village.
“What they’ve finally been scared off looking at your mug.” snipped Kellum jokingly.
“Hah, from yours more like…you know I can just ask them to hop into the boat with my good looks.” Nieko remarked almost as if it was a genuine fact. They both shared a chuckle before Nieko interrupted.
“…but seriously they are getting spooked and it’s not normal. Something is scaring them off good.” He adding worryingly.
They both continued to enjoy each others company for an hour before they merriment was interrupted. Crashing through the door bringing in with him the rain and wind which had picked up through out the hour. A clearly exhausted man completely drenched from both the rain and his own sweat. His interruption caused everyone inside to turn to look towards, looking upon him with a jumpy anxiety and suspicion. The stranger walked up to the bar panting clutching his left arm. The cloth was cut through which had an open sore caused by a sharp tree branch, watered down blood had stained the tear around it’s edge and surrounding area.
“…water…p…please.” The man was clearly dehydrated and was covered heavily in dirt, including his hair and short beard.
Clara who was bar tending at the time poured a mug of water from the only barrel that contained the pre-heat treated liquid, hesitantly giving it over.
“He..here you go.” Clara placed the full mug down on the top of the bar taking a step back, looking over to one of her more trusted patrons, her eyes almost asked him to make sure he would protect her should things get more violent.
“…thank you!” replied the extremely grateful stranger. Downing the mug as quickly as possible, overflown water from his mouth leaked and trickled down his neck. The droplet collected the dirt in it’s path. Caught by his collar staining what little cleanliness was left.
“Where’d you think he’s from?” ask Nieko in a whispering volume. Nieko and Kellum turned to look at each other, trying to keep one spare eye on the newcomer.
“I don’t know, can’t imagine it’s far.” Replied Kellum equally as loud. “Can’t have come far, must be from Khrusos…come to think of it he looks familiar.” Kellum knew he saw this man somewhere before but his recollection wasn’t perfect.
“Really? Your probably out of it…and only on the one tank.” Nieko’s snide remark was lost on Kellum who was preoccupied trying to remember where he last saw the outsider.
“Yeh…I know I’ve seen him somewhere.” Un-able to recall frustrated Kellum greatly.
They both drank from their tankards to appear less inconspicuous hoping it wouldn’t draw his attention towards them. The other patrons weren’t as worried.
“Is there a room I could rent?” asked the now un-parched newcomer.
“Umm…yes we have one available…mind if I ask your name?” Clara asked hoping it would help ease the tension.
“My name is…Jaeson.” Hesitating for a second to think of a new name.
“Ok..Jaeson. The rooms are 10 Aurens per night.” Clara informed him, remaining slightly suspicious.
Jaeson retrieved the required amount from the over burdened purse in his pocket, almost spilling coins on the floor handing them over. Clara accepted the transaction still on the side of caution.
“I’ll have someone show you the room.” Clara replied, signalling one of her hostesses who took Jaeson to the first floor.
“Hmm, now I definitely know that’s not his real name.” Said Kellum quietly. Watching the hostess and Jaeson disappearing out of sight to the where both guest rooms were located.
“It doesn’t matter…we should go or we’ll be in the shit.” voiced Nieko downed his remaining mouthful.
“Yeh, try and catch something this time. Ever tried using bait?” Kellum joked, after finishing his own drink.
“I will when you inevitably cut one of your fingers off.” Nieko scoffed as they both stood up and walked out of the tavern.
After leaving the building and walking down the street, both patted each others shoulder and parted ways back to their work. Kellum looked back onto the tavern knowing all too well that he had seen Jaeson years before but the specifics still eluded him. Trickling memories came to mind of a person who looked like Jaeson. Of someone who had come to the smithy to order something special. At the time Kellum was much younger and still feeling the loss of his parents.
Kellum walked back into the smithy were he saw the blade he needed to work on, placed on the stool in front of the grinding wheel. He picked it up and sat on the stool, starting to spin the large six foot radius stone with the foot peddle, stopping briefly as he finally remembered…
Laura Steel ©2014