Steel always tells

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Steel always tells

Postby Stam » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:02 am

Katla hadn't told anyone at the forge. Not even her Forgemaster, a dwarf she respected more than anyone else in Silverymoon.

(Altair didn't count. True enough, she respected the Steelmage highly for his potent abilities, but that was at least half out of wariness. He had a...let's say dubious reputation for instability.)

But he knew something was the matter. She even knew he knew. "Steel always tells," had been the words he'd said when she'd come in, after her...change. And, damn the metal, it was true. Her work this week hadn't been up to her usual exacting standards...or even her usual quality.

Worse...when he had come in to collect his half-finished gauntlet, there had been looks exchanged, behind her back. She had never - never in the history of her apprenticeship! - left a project unfinished, least of all with something as rare and valuable as darksteel.

If there was one thing the half-elf was proud of, it was her reliability and skill at the forge. Those had always been entirely her skill, her choice in life. And now those were both...not as they should be. That burned, badly.
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Postby Stam » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:29 am

Not more than an hour after she'd left for the day, Katla returned to the smithy. Nearly blind with tears, she made her way between the anvils by memory and instinct alone. There weren't that many of the smiths still at work, but there were still more than enough of them finishing up items for the racket to be quite loud.

One voice, though, didn't need to shout to make itself heard.

"Katla!"

The noise level dropped significantly as the half-elf turned immediately in the mastersmith's direction. Forges still sang their steely song, but everyone still there was paying attention...it wasn't often Forgemaster Stonehand dealt out correction directly, but most of them had seen this coming for a while. Katla's work as of lately had not had the heart in it that it should have had.

(Some few of them were silently rejoicing - although the half-elf was acknowledged as a very good metalsmith, she was not a dwarf and, by their reckoning, did not belong here. These few had not, of course, shared their opinion with the mastersmith.)

"Come here, girl." It wasn't a request and she didn't treat it like one; scrubbing one hand over her eyes in an attempt to clear them, she moved to comply without hesitation even though she was quivering inside.

"Yes, master?"

Wordlessly, the grizzled dwarf used his tongs to move the axeblade he was working on off his anvil, laying it down as lightly as a feather on his worktable next to its haft. Then he turned and held out his tools to Katla. "Take steel, girl."

As her jaw dropped open, a total hush fell over the smithy. Hammers ceased their pounding and conversations ended abruptly as every dwarf there turned, with equal amazement, to stare in their direction. (The silence was broken, briefly, by the sound of a hammer falling to the floor and a hastily-muffled curse from the one whose foot it had encountered.)

"M-master?" she stuttered, looking at the offered hammer and tongs as if he was holding out a pair of live snakes.

"Take steel, girl," he repeated, thrusting the tools into her hands. "Take steel. Think. Then strike."

Instinctively, she took the tools but immediately shook her head. Hands shaking, she tried to give them back to the grizzled smith. The dwarf just folded his massive arms and gave her an authoritative look.

With great trepidation, she reluctantly turned to the blazing firebox next to the forge. As every dwarf there watched, she gingerly extracted a bar of red-hot steel and laid it on the anvil. Then...she lifted the hammer slightly, but hesitated.

Everyone but the mastersmith held their breath. No one, but no one, had ever been offered the Forgemaster's tools before! And this half-elf had merited it not just once - when she had changed - but twice! What does he see in her? was the common thought running through the mind of every dwarf there. (Some added, -in a half-elf? to that thought.)

Katla's jaw set as the steel's red shade began to dim. Lifting the tongs with purpose behind them now, she took that bar and returned it to the forge, extracting a second instead. Laying it on the anvil, she lifted the hammer and dealt the metal a blow, sending the perfect sound of well-struck steel through the smithy.

Katla let the sound die and then, very respectfully, offered the tools back to her Forgemaster. "Thank you, master," she whispered, looking much more composed than she had when she walked in.

Accepting the hammer and tongs, the dwarf flicked a finger in the direction of the door. "I'll see you tomorrow."

It wasn't a pleasantry (or a question) and she didn't take it as one. Giving him a bow of respect, the half-elf moved for the exit with purpose, the sound of the forge beginning again only after she'd left.
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