This post is coming out late today. For some reason it didn’t hit as scheduled. So, I had to manually publish.
My friend Mike was inspired by the Armour Breaks! and Shields Shall Be Splintered! posts to write this story and left it as a comment. It was so good, I couldn’t bring myself to leave it there. It deserved its own post and he has, graciously, allowed me to do just that.
Thanks, Mike! This is pretty awesome.
What happens when you meet a Dwarven Forge Master?
“Aye, lad, I can fix it. It may look like naught but crumpled steel and splintered wood, but what ever spell weaver ensorcled this knew his shit. The enchantment holds.” The dwarf was all business as he continued…
“I will need raw iron. Enough to make 3 ingots like those by the anvil. And none of the local smelted shite either. It must be sky iron. The burning tears of a crying god if you believe such things…
Also 3 planks of wood. About as twice as thick as your wrist, as long as you can stretch your arms and as wide as your spread hands. And not just any wood mind you… Living wood cut from a 1000 year old tree. A single branch, not the trunk.
My old master, may his ass burn in an eternal forge, would have insisted it be cut by a virgin elf, or even better one of the woods folk like a sylph or dryad. I understand they will accommodate you in exchange for a years service. Often thought of testing that theory.” The dwarf’s laugh seemed good natured but trailed off in a creepy way that led me to believe any sylph that made such a deal would regret it.
“Honestly, an elf wouldn’t hurt, but more important is you not anger the old gods. Place on the cut tree a piece of your own flesh, fresh cut. Bah! you look like a scared twat… It doesn’t need to be much, the size of a small coin will work. Place it on the center of the cut, over the heartwood, then cover it and the tree’s wound with a poultice of hanging moss, mud from a clear spring, and a fair amount of your own blood. Bind it in place with clean white cloth. Then you’ll need about a flagon of your blood. Before you leave drink one swallow and then slowly pour it out as you walk around the tree. Once there’s an unbroken circle of blood, say the following: Lords of the wood. I thank you for your service. I return to you my flesh for your flesh, my blood for your blood, my life for your life. I depart in peace.”
“WHY! WHY! Because I said so you gormless dint! Because that’s the way it’s been done since dwarves first found the sky. Because if ya don’t then you can take that splintered mess elsewhere. Because there’s not another smith a months ride from here that will do this work for ya. And mostly, because if you do otherwise, things might go awry.”
The look of concern on the dwarf’s face as he said a-w-r-y sent a shiver through my spine.
“Also I’m going to need a wizard or three… Not masters mind you but they need to know their business. The charm that binds this thing is wizards work and needs to be held in check while I take it apart and make it whole. Plus a charm on the fire and the bellows make this whole thing go faster. Anyway here’s the list of incantations they need to know. Some of them are rare but I have a spell book they can reference for the right fee.
Yes! Fee! I don’t have a handful of wizards hiding in the middens and I don’t make a habit of giving things of value away for nothing. Most wizards I’ve met would sell their own kin to a brothel for access to a single spell. For doing this one little favor for you they get access to a handful of spells dating back to when dwarves taught men the secrets of stone and fire. IF you’re smart they will pay you enough for the privilege to pay my fee and then some. Anyway if they ever studied anything other than tossing around flaming balls of death like juggling fools then they should be able to inscribe and learn the spells they need in no more than a month. Yes a month. Plus another to do the actual work. New Moon to New Moon.
During that time you are here, in service to me until the work is done. Like an apprentice? No you daft fool. I have 3 apprentices and a journeyman and he has an apprentice. That apprentice is in charge of the girl who cooks and cleans and tends the oxen that drive the bellows and hammer and the dog that keeps them moving. You will report to the girl and do what needs to be done.
If hard work is beneath you then you must be right important. Beg pardon my lord, must be his majesty’s personal smith you be needing. Let me show you out and point you in the direction of the castle.
OK then. As I said, you do as the girl commands. Hell if one of those wizards can get the dog to talk I may put him in charge of you. But understand this you will keep the wizards out of my beard except when they are in the forge casting under my direction. Those bastards tend to be a spoiled lot and while my house may hold a dozen men we can’t offer much more than food and shelter while they are here.
“I almost forgot. I will need a pile of diamonds the size of my fist.” With that a clenched fist entirely too large for so short a body landed on the table with a resounding thud.
I protested there was no way I could afford such a fee. The dwarf’s laugh was even more out of proportion to his body than his fist was. Finally he started to force words out between bellows of laughter.
FEE? (more laughter) You’re no older than a newborn dwarf still wet out of his mum and not much brighter. I don’t need jewels.Raw stones, fresh out of the earth, Big, little, clear, cloudy… I really don’t care… We’re still talking materials here. We haven’t even begun to talk about my fee.
I noticed he wasn’t laughing anymore.