The Callindra Chronicles, Book 2: The Rise of Evil – Prologue

The winds danced over hill and field.  They swirled around a city under siege, only holding on by the sheer force of will of thousands of Weavers of Magic.  They tickled the tree tops of the High Forest, twirling leaves into whirling patterns.  The raced over mountain peaks and were drawn to heat and smoke, an oddity in the cold, barren landscape.  Following them back to their source, they traveled down a long chimney.

A Dwarf with arms the size of tree trunks was standing at a small forge in front of a classroom of students.  Although young, they all showed the beards of adulthood, or very close at any rate.  They were old enough to be trusted with the heat of the fire and the soul of the forge.

“You must listen the metal, for it will tell you what it needs.  You must smell the metal, for it will warn you when it is close to damage.  You must watch the metal, for its light speaks of its willingness to change and bond.”  The master smith turned to his apprentice with a twinkle in his eye, “I would recommend waiting to taste the metal until it has cooled.”

One of the Dwarves in the front row of desks was scribbling furiously in a notebook.  When the master stopped by his desk he looked up with a serious expression on his face, obviously waiting for the lecture to continue.

“You can become skilled at metallurgy by research and practice, but one who would be truly gifted must learn to feel her work.  What I attempt to communicate with all my talk of using your senses to interact with the metal is that you need to put aside what you think you know and allow the passion of creation to guide your hands.

“It was this passion of Creation that caused Thraingaar to forge the first of our race.  We were tempered out of the bones of the earth on his Soulforge, and his love is what drives each of our creative impulses.  This is what sets us apart from the other races when it comes to bending what flows through the veins of the earth to our will.”

The youngster had stopped writing and was looking at him with awe on his face.  Ah yes, his name was Durrak.  His father and mother were renowned warriors, but he had shown an interest in learning to use a forge hammer instead of a war hammer and it had been encouraged.  In Dwarven society, being able to make things was always valued over destroying things.  Well no matter who his family was, he wasn’t going to get any preferential treatment.

Durrak wiped the sweat from his brow.  The forge was hot and the steel glowed on the anvil but he was distracted.  He was making a weapon for the first time and for some reason he couldn’t focus.  Every stroke of the hammer seemed to bend things the wrong way, the metal was either too hot or too cold.  It would either spark or crack, and eventually he threw the hammer down in exasperation.

“What is it Apprentice?”  Dethen asked, leaning down to inspect the ruins of what had been intended to be a dagger with a mild frown on his face.

“I can’t get it to… it just won’t work Master!”

Dethen looked at his Apprentice’s bench where the variety of small tools, kitchen implements, barrel staves, and other assorted items he had made were neatly arrayed and organized.  If his apprentice was having difficulty with the knife, it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of skill.

“Why don’t we stop for lunch, take some time to clear your head and we’ll look at it after.” Dethen said.  Once Durrak was out of the room he picked up the knife and turned it over in his hands.  To his surprise it appeared the alloys had begun to separate.  He’d never seen anything like it before; it was almost as though the metal was resisting being made into a weapon… or as though the smith who was working the forge somehow didn’t want to make one.

Not that someone could do something like that on purpose; alloys didn’t just break apart in random lines in a piece of hammered metal.  No matter, weapons weren’t for everyone.  Perhaps it would be better to try something more delicate.

“You wanted to see us Master Smith?”  The low rumble of Storgar’s voice would have been intimidating even had he not been an important member of the Shieldwall Warriors.  His wife Brenlena cut an equally imposing figure in the dress tabard of the King’s Own.

“Yes, thank you for meeting with me.” He said, organizing the papers on his desk before looking them squarely in the eyes. “Your son Durrak has incredible talent.”

“Wonderful, here I was afraid-”

“But it is a very focused and specific talent.” Dethen said, interrupting Storgar.  “I am convinced that with the proper training he could be the most influential jeweler Farenholm has seen in a thousand years.”

“Jewelry?” Brenlena said incredulously, “My son making Jewelry?”

“Impossible, he has military lineage!” Storgar said, stroking his beard. “There must be some mistake…”

He trailed off as Dethen removed the muslin cover from one of the wooden trays on his desk.  An array of bent and distorted weaponry sat on it like hideous gargoyles.  “Here are his attempts at anything with an edge.”

The silence of Durrak’s parents spoke volumes.  The master smith quickly uncovered the other wooden tray, “But here are his jewelry pieces.  Look at the intricacies of this scrollwork.  His intuition is better than many who have been working with precious metals for years!  I haven’t ever taught an apprentice who has learned to blend multiple metals in less than a moon-”

“Ridiculous!” Brenlena interrupted, “My son will make a Fullblade for me as his Master’s Piece or he shall be removed from your care.”  Dethen opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off, “DO I make myself clear?”

“Of course Exalted.” He said, giving her the military title in the hopes that it would diffuse the situation.  “I will make sure his instruction continues as per your initial request.”

The two stood stiffly and stalked out, anger clear on their faces and the set of their shoulders.

“I told you.” Durrak said, “I knew they wouldn’t be interested in any of this.”  He said bitterly as he gestured toward the tray of intricate necklaces and bracelets.  “All they care about is military rank and fighting prowess.”

“Well Apprentice, then I guess we’ll have to work harder on your weapon smithing until you can create something that will pass for a blade.” He said with a wry grin, “And you can make beautiful things when you have the time.”

“Yes sir.  As you say Master.”  There was relief and sadness in Durrak’s voice.  He had so badly wanted his mother and father to understand.  He could never fill their shoes, and even if he could, in five hundred years nobody would remember the name of the warrior who had served so valiantly in combat.  He wanted to leave a legacy behind that would last forever; not just the corpses of a few thousand goblins.

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