Strike While the Iron is Hot

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by grapedrank, Jan 1, 2014.

  1. Oriana was currently standing over the anvil with the hammer in her left hand as she formed the her current project. The forge was lit behind her, giving the room the stifling heat that had long since become familiar to her by now. With her gloved, right hand she wiped at her brow where the front ends of her hair were sticking to her forehead from sweat.

    It was a quiet day, no one had come in, but Oriana had accidentally fallen asleep down in the shop working on some weapons and armor that would be brought into the market by the weekend to be sold. Her room was just on the floor above her little shop, it was just one room with a woodstove - simple but sufficient, although she was just as likely to sleep in her own bed as she was to fall asleep at the workbench here in the shop.

    Oriana lifted the blade to examine it as the iron cooled. The sides were coming to their edges slowly but surely and she set it down to fan at the flames of the forge once more before holding the blade over the fire until the iron turned red. Once she deemed it ready, she pulled the blade out and set it back on the anvil to hammer and shape at the edges again, only to repeat the process once the blade had cooled. It was mundane work and the heat was making her sweat, but she wouldn't have it any other way.
  2. The cheers started when he was about fifteen feet away from the Hold's gate and took off in a crescendo of sounds and vital energy as he passed the heavy gates leading upon his grandfather's domain. The Capital, called Belvath, was in effervescence long before he reached the main square, his fair steed, a great black stallion with much more the build of a beast of burden than a mere purebred Nightmare that he in fact was, trotting proudly on the cobbled streets, the carcass of the great dragon Luzermid tirelessly dragged behind the great beast and its owner. That, and the fact of who he was to those people was enough to warrant cheers wherever he did go, from the humblest of freemen to the haughtiest of nobles of the still new Feradyne Kingdom.

    He was the Crown Prince, and the foremost warrior of the kingdom, having killed countless game and prevented dozens of threats both mundane and magical from destroying what his grandfather the King had built over the decade since he came of age. He was the proud scion of his forefather, and today he planned to honor them once more by making a trophy out of the slain dragon's head and provide his men with formidable arms and armors out of its carcass, making the ragtag group under his command into true knights.

    For his intent to become reality, however, he had to find a proper blacksmith, and for that he would use his growing wealth and reputation as a mean to an end, starting with an audience with his venerable grandeur. Gesturing for the gaping cityguards to help his steed with its task, the solid man of twenty six Reddenings swiftly dismounted the Nightmare and led it by the bridle as he made his way to the castle, the silver fastenings on his leather armor glinting in the sunlight. His handsome visage as stern as was customary for one such as him, the prince, named Kalemir after his late father's best friend, regally marched all the way up the stone steps leading to the imposing heart of the Hold, the journey taking nearly ten minutes despite the small gathering's swift pace.

    As the guards looked in awe and opened the heavy wooden doors leading to the Throneroom, Kalem thought about what he would say to his King, a pensive frown on his lightly tanned face and a slightly clouded look upon his usually piercing steel-blue eyes. As he finally reached the great antechamber where lounged his fearsome leader and ancestor, the prince kneeled elegantly on the stone floor, not heeding any mind at the gasp the presence of both his steed and his prey earned from the gathered court.

    « I have come with an offering, my King... and a plan for us to gain much from the bones and hide of the creature. Will you hear me out? » His voice was low and controlled, as always, with an underlying devotion to his lifelong idol.

    « Well done, Prince Kalemir. What is that plan, and how may it better our hold on this land? » That voice was both deeper and sterner than the young prince would ever hope to be, and instilled both fear and awe in any who heard the Warlord-King.

    Closing his eyes to hide his nervousness for a moment, Kalem took a moment to gather his thought before uttering his plan for all of his grandfather's most trusted to hear. Before long, the old monarch's delighted laughter filled the cathedral-like room, rumbling like stones and transient like snow.

    Kalem was successful, and the next day a contest was announced; the blacksmith who would offer the best and most original weapon to the Prince would become Kalem's newly appointed personal blacksmith... only a month was issued for such a feat, and thus the artisan of steel would have to be both swift and talented.
    #2 Reveuse, Jan 1, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2014
  3. The weekend came quickly and Oriana hitched a ride with her wares in a farmer's cart on the way to the market. The distance wasn't far, since Oriana's Smithy was right in town, but it still quite a bit of distance for someone who didn't have a cart or cattle with which to transport her wares. Mr. Doir didn't mind in the least though since he was very familiar with the Farrah's for as long as Oriana could remember. Her father would always fix or replace the man's tools for as long as she could remember and when the Smithy became hers, she also did the same. Oriana never spoke much, which worked fine since Mr. Doir could speak a mile a minute about the most mundane things, however as they neared the market, Mr. Doir began to speak about more than his usual idle chatter, but Oriana went along with it anyways since the man wasn't terrible company.

    "When was the last time you wandered around town, Ana?" he said, using one of the few nicknames that had unfortunately stuck around since Oriana was a child. Everyone knew better than to call her Ori, though.

    Oriana hummed. "Since the last time your cart carried me there, it would seem," she replied simply causing Mr. Doir to chuckle.

    "I shoulda known," he chuckled, "but word around town is that their majesties themselves are holding quite the contest for blacksmiths."

    That got Oriana's attention. "You don't say?"

    "Aye, I do," he hummed, his throat rasping as he did so and beard quivering. "Sounds like the Prince is looking for a blacksmith with which to arm the royal army." Oriana said nothing, and Mr. Doir took it as a sign to continue. "Everyone around here thinks that you should enter the contest."

    She looked at the man, squinting her eyes. "Surely you can't be --"

    "Ana, I'm completely serious," the man said, giving her a stern look that was uncharacteristic of the light-hearted, companionable man. Oriana was stunned to say the least. "You're the finest blacksmith I know. Better than your own pop was and still so young as well. Ya got a mighty reputation around here and even merchants in the capital have begun to take notice."

    "I couldn't," Ana responded.

    "Ana, you're the bes-"

    "Not that," she cut him off, for Oriana had always taken pride in her trade. She knew she was skilled, confident in her abilities. "But I have a business Doir," she explained leaning back against the cart she currently rode on and sending the man a look. "They want me to present weapons to the royals at the Capital, and that's too much of a hassle. I have to make weapons that others can buy at the market. That's how I eat, Doir," she went on. Mr. Doir looked as if he was about to object but Oriana continued. "I'da spend all my time and money tryna craft the finest blade I can and for what, Doir?" Mr. Doir was silent, seeing the reason behind Oriana's words and knowing it was futile to try to convince her otherwise after having known her for so many years. "If I didn't win, what would I do then?" she reasoned.

    Mr. Doir nodded as they were arriving to the center of the marketplace. "Jus' think about it, Ana? Ye can do much better for yerself than ya can hear," he said, setting his hand on the woman's shoulder. Oriana's lips quirked up in the corners slightly and she patted him on his back with one calloused hand. She hopped off the cart and gathered her wares, set up her stand and really did think about it.

    Which was why, when she returned to the Smithy, she had all of the materials she needed to make the finest sword she ever would forge.


    It was the day of the contest, one month later, and Mr. Doir stepped into the Smithy to find a 22-year old Oriana passed out at her workbench. The man smiled and scratched his beard as he made his way over and shook the woman's shoulders. Oriana startled awake and looked around dazedly for a moment before realizing where she was. "Mr. Doir!" she exclaimed with wide eyes. She was caked in dirt and dust from grinding and polishing the blade and scabbard and essentially, looked an absolute mess. "I haven't seen ya in the market lately, figured you might want a ride to the Capitol," he stated simply.

    "I- yes, thank you," she said, letting her shoulders droop in exhaustion. With a grateful smile lifted the rapier in its scabbard and hopped onto the cart. The Capitol was only a short ride away, the town in which they were located was just outside the city's walls. In fact many, townspeople go to the Capitol to trade, however since so many merchants travel through their town, many find they have plenty of business staying at home.

    "Ya look exhausted," Mr. Doir commented.

    Oriana snorted at what was possibly the greatest understatement she ever heard. "I look filthy," she said honestly to which Mr. Doir commented with a simple 'Aye'.

    "I can't imagine forging one blade would tire you out so much."

    "Of course not," she commented, waving her hand at him. "I have a business," she repeated the phrase she had used in the same cart a month ago. "I still had to make wares I could sell at the market next weekend."

    Mr. Doir's eyes widened, "You still made your other weapons and armor?"

    "And then some," she said with a sharkish grin that was cut off with a yawn. "I refuse to let this silly contest drive my father's business to the ground, you see."

    Mr. Doir whistled, "No wonder you're such a mess." To which Oriana simply snorted and wiped at her face, grimacing at the dirt and dust that she had simply managed to smear around her face. "Not that the sword you made isn't fantastic - amazing, really, Ana - but I thought you would make something much -- "

    "Larger?" It was true, Oriana had a huge preference for large weapons like Oakenshotts and Claymores and battle axes. But this time around she went with a simple rapier, with a simple leather scabbard. She smiled, "The hilt is patterned and welded with silver and gold, you see. And I made the blade with spring steel, practically indestructable. But --" she paused, getting haughty in her demeanor, "There's a hidden dagger in the hilt," she commented, just as they were arriving to the townsquare in Belvath, where the contest was taking place. "Wish me luck, Doir," she said as she hopped off the cart.
  4. The planning of the contest made it excessively arduous for Kalem to go hunt in the last week, but he had still managed to change some of the more worn down furs and hides in his quarters for some more appropriate for the slowly approaching winter. It was a way for him to unwind, to let out his bottled aggression without having to pay for the disapproval of his people at the same time. As such, had they been still a bunch of warring tribes, the crown prince would no doubt have been a chieftain by now, leading unerringly his men to bloodshed and victory. That life haunted him on cold winter nights, making Kalemir the Mirthless mourn a life that he couldn't help but dream to be more fulfilling. Of course, his duty as the heir to the Feradyne throne passed before his own wants, but dreams were unfortunately out of his control, showing great hunts and drawn out wars for more land, more resources... and sometimes more women.

    Shaking his circlet crowned head of such stray thoughts, Kalem concentrated his sharp and cold gaze upon the commoner before him, his tall and well built body thrown carelessly on his rightful place at the right of his Grandsire's throne, on a handsome and no less intimidating throne of iron and oak. Swiftly and subtly shooting a glance at his King, the young man sighed imperceptively at the sneering yet stern glare Gebernon the First gave the mediocre blacksmith before them before dragging his gaze upon the hopeful faces of the merchants and commoners standing around the imposing room. It looked like the contest would drag on for the whole day and then some, and the prince once more had to stop himself from thinking of the freedom he had until his fourteenth birthday, when he took his rightful place as Heir after his father's untimely death on the battlefield.

    A cold wind blew all the way into the Hold that day, and brought the smell of rotting leaves, wet earth and burning wood as the gathering was bundled in heavy wool and furs. Kalem scowled once more as the commoner let place to another, as dull and talentless as his predecessor. Would he really find someone worthy for his patronage today? The thought seemed less and less likely as time crawled on. By the gods, he had yet to find something as common as a serviceable sword! Growling, he gestured for yet another hopeful to leave his sight as he secretly despaired, his eyes having dimmed and his features having turned even stonier than usual.

    Would this day be nothing but a waste of his precious time? Was such an endeavor as someone as passionate about weaponry and warfare as himself but a child's dream after all?
    #4 Reveuse, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2014
  5. Oriana could no longer see the farmer once she pushed her way through the crowds. It seemed that this contest had really gained the attention of those from all over the lands and then some. She had heard from the townsfolk and merchants that they were planning to capitalize on the huge crowd gathered by traveling and selling at the market, so she had expected a large crowd, but nothing quite like this. At first she was trying to be polite, or as polite as was possible for someone as naturally angry as her and who had averaged two to five hours of sleep every night for the past month, but the crowd was refusing to budge and Oriana had no idea as to how this contest worked exactly. By the time she was nearing the front, those who didn't move out of her way were shoved harshly out of her path as she grumbled and complained to herself. People wrinkled their noses at her, but she even down to the depths of her soul she still couldn't give a rat's ass about it.

    Breaking through the crowd, Oriana straightened herself up and arranged her dusty, matted hair as presentable as possible (that is, not presentable at all). She tensed slightly as she saw the royal family and the prince turn away yet another blacksmith. This was definitely more trouble than it's worth, she thought as she saw the dejected smith slink back into the crowd with his weapon in hand. If you asked Oriana, the prince seemed like he had a stick up his arse, and she wondered if there was no pleasing the man with the way he coldly stared those who presented themselves before him down. Oriana stared down at the sword in its leather scabbard she held. What a bother this little thing had given her, and for what? For the prince to look down his nose at her and send her off like the rest? Well, one thing was for certain, when this whole debacle was over, Oriana was going to go back to the Smithy and jump into her bed and sleep for however long she saw fit. She damn well earned that privilege.

    Seeing no one else step up to present, Oriana took this as an opportunity to present her own work. She made her way forward before realizing that she really had no idea what she was supposed to do and should have likely paid more attention to what the other blacksmiths had been doing. She paused in front of the prince and looked him in the eye before getting down on one knee and presenting the rapier before him. "A rapier, your majesty," she said simply, although it came off in her usual tone making it sound as if she were pointing out an obvious fact to someone who was too dumb to know what she was holding. She couldn't tell what the man was thinking, so she went on, in a need to explain. Oriana wasn't one to rant about anything, unless it was her craft because she wanted the world to know how much damn trouble she puts into all the weapons and armor she crafts. "The scabbard is simple leather, but the blade itself is made of spring steel, virtually indestructible and the hilt is patterned with gold and silver."

    Oriana licked her lips, tasting the salt of her sweat on her tongue, before looking back up to meet the prince's eye. "There's a dagger in the hilt. You can pull it out by pressing the silver patterned etching on the hilt. I casted the gears and mechanisms myself from the same steel as the sword," she explained, before petering off into silence and staring at the man, narrowing her eyes to try and see his reaction.
  6. Well, at least that one was fiesty enough, Kalem thought was he examined both the dirty woman before him and the deceptively simple sword in her hands for a moment before nodding once. Straightening his posture for the first time that morning, the prince stood with the groaning of leather and the tinkeling of silver from his throne and made his way to the still kneeling woman, each step resonating in the silent room as he made his way down to the first blacksmith to earn his attention that day.

    Circling the woman with slow and deliberate steps once, then twice, he took in her figure before stopping just before the outstretched sword presented to him. Gently taking the weapon from gloved hands into his own, Kalem first tested the rapier's balence, nodding once more and letting a smale smile reach his thin lips as he noticed that it was perfectly balanced. Second came a small bout of shadow fencing to test the weight and making of the weapon and finally came a closer inspection from hawk-like blue eyes as he found the dagger and tested the edge of both blades with his rough thumb, nodding in aknoledgement as it split skin at the merest pressure, a rivuled of blood marking the virgin blade.

    Satisfied, the young heir sucked his blood back in his mouth and handed the blade back to its maker. A vaguely approving look upon his rugged features.

    « Well done, this is at least worth a place at tonight's banquet. Follow one of my servants and go get ready, we will commence the festivities at dusk. » He intoned, before dismissing the woman before him and going back to his throne to see who else could provide something decent that day.
  7. Oriana wasn't sure what to do as the heir to the throne circled around her and stared her down like a hawk. Her instinct was to stare back at him and had this been in the market, she likely would have made some crude gesture, however, she thought that that wouldn't be as well received here. So instead, Oriana simply kept her gaze on the throne the man had stood up from and furrowed her brows. She couldn't help the small smirk of satisfaction that came when the man seemed to look at her blade in approval, and she sighed in relief that he knew how to properly use the weapon for something that she had spent so much time on deserved no less.

    When the man mentioned the banquet, Oriana's gaze lifted up at him swiftly and she blinked a few times dumbly before the words registered in her head.

    "What." was all she managed to say before the man in question had already dismissed her and she was approached by a servant who looked at her as if she were a drowned rat. "What is this about a banquet?" she asked the servant, crossing her arms in front of her and making no move to move. The servant promised to explain on the way, and Oriana sighed but followed nonetheless, her lips pursed the whole way as the servant explained that the victor would be announced at the banquet. "I'm hardly dressed for that," she murmured to herself and she heard the servant scoff in a tone that said "Obviously". Oriana was still a little disorientated from the fact that she was apparently about to attend a banquet to really pay attention to the fact that she was being led through the royal palace. She registered the high ceilings and whatnot in the back of her mind, but her mind was still reeling. This was not part of the deal, she thought, although to be honest she wasn't quite sure what was supposed to happen. In her head she had imagined it being more like she shows up, gives him the sword and if she wins then great! Oriana could then head home and sleep. That was her plan. Oriana was quite fond of that plan.

    She was brought out of her thoughts as the servant led her to a room where several other servants were gathered and a bath was ready.

    "Bloody hell," she cursed.
  8. Whispers followed the woman's wake as she left the imposing room, leaving behind a renewed hope for those gathered, that perhaps some would be found worthy of the prince's approval. As the heavy doors closed behind the first candidate to be chosen, a sense of stillness took hold of the room before another brave soul dared attract his lord and master's attention, and the world was once more back on it's axis. It was once more Kalem before a sea of faceless blacksmith, all vying for his approval and each one more mediocre than the next, with a few exceptions. Sighing silently at the long chore ahead, the young man steeled himself for the long day ahead...

    As it was, only two others made the cut, one a solid fellow with a heavy yet deadly spear and the other an old man with a delicately forged dagger with some hidden compartment for devious poisons. As the craftsmen got ready for the banquet, so did the royal family, a small army of efficient and loyal servants catering to the three noble's every whim as they were each bathed in warm and delicately scented waters and groomed as was their standing by expert hands. Soon Kalem exited his own quarters and knocked on his mother's door, being greeted by the latter's head maid as was customary and led to the delicate and beautiful woman that once brought him to life. Taking her thin arm with a gentleness he only showed to the woman herself, Kalem lead Augheline to the dining hall, his head high and face set in a mask of perfect indifference.

    As they arrived, the prince led the former Princess Consort to her rightful place at her father in law's side and himself took the opposite side of the long table, sitting before his grand-sire regally. As he did so, the guest started to arrive, from merchants to nobles and finishing with the guests of honor; the blacksmiths chosen by the prince earlier that day. Night slowly crept through the narrow window as the long process of greeting and seating took place as the servants lighted torches and candelabras to mimic the sunlight.

    Finally, all were seated, and Kalem reached his verdict. Standing and nodding to the gathered slowly, the young prince stared at those gathered around him, each of those he met the eyes listening with bated breath.

    “I have found three worthy of the title I will grant today, but only one is needed for my goal. As such, after we are fed and watered, I will examine the three weapons that caught my eye more carefully by putting them to the test. Each weapon will be put against the other in a series of three duels. The weapon who will gather the most victories will be the one I will choose, with breaking of one of the weapons being evidently an instant disqualification. Should there be a tie, another duel will take place, with the first blood being the outcome, as previously. Now, let's lift out goblets to fine craftsmanship.”

    With that said, Kalem sat back down and lifted his silver goblet, the exquisite container filled with fine wine, as was customary when holding such a feast. Soon enough the food arrived, and the room was in a whirlwind of polite conversations and hearty nourishment.
  9. The preparation for the banquet had been quite the event on its own. The bath had been pleasant and she had practically fallen asleep in the warmed, scented water, however her grime had quickly dirtied the bath water and the servants didn't let her stay in long enough to fully relax. The young blacksmith supposed that they were mildly disgusted with her, which Oriana simply found more amusing than anything. Then luckily for her, Oriana had some voice in the clothes picked out for her. In reality, she didn't, but refused to budge on her stance on the issue. She ended up in breeches tucked into leather boots and a simple but elegant waistcoat. They had objected at first, but Oriana was nothing if not persistent and a pain in the arse when she wanted to be - that is to say, nearly all the time. She was a blacksmith not a lady of the court, she pointed out to them, and she was here to represent her trade and her work, so she should dress like it. And perhaps the servants attending to her were sour after that because Oriana's head still hurt from their attempts at unknotting her hair, and the blacksmith has gotten several burns and injuries on the job and learning to use the weapons she crafts and she wasn't ashamed to admit that brushing her hair was downright painful.

    As Oriana walked through the halls of the palace, she took the time to properly appreciate the grandness of the palace as she figured she'd probably never see anything as grand and exquisite in her life again, so she figured she might as well appreciate it while she was here, although she did gaze out at the darkening sky wistfully. What she really wanted more than anything was to get back home and sleep and it was doubtful she'd try and make the journey back tonight. After this whole banquet and contest was dealt with, Oriana figured she'd go hit up a tavern or inn to find a place to rest for the night and head back early in the morning. At least that way she can get a warm bed and some good ol' mead in her belly.

    The young blacksmith followed the servants into the dining hall and promptly sat down alongside who she supposed were the other blacksmiths chosen for this contest. The one man was nearly twice her size with his biceps being nearly the size of her head, but the other was elderly and clearly experienced in his craft as the callouses and marks along his hands and arms revealed, his hands looked like they had had much experience crafting a blade and his eyes were kind. There was idle chatter going on, but Oriana didn't say much and didn't much care to. It didn't matter either way since it all died down as the prince stood up and began to speak. He announced the duels that would be taking place soon to determine the winner and Oriana couldn't help but feel the excitement at the idea of someone fighting with so expertly with one of the very weapons she crafted. As the Prince finished his speech and his toast, Oriana took a sip from what she supposed was the finest wine she'd taste ever in her life. The blacksmiths next to her seemed to think so as well. Soon, the chatter rose up again as everyone began drinking and eating more food and wine than Oriana sees even at the marketplace in town. She was silent mostly, trying to find a way to eat as much food as she possibly could without making a fool of herself, until she gave up and just started digging in because she was certain that the last time she had a real meal other than bread and cooked meat was when Mr. Doir invited her to dinner with the wife and kids several months ago.

    The elderly blacksmith leaned over and began asking her about her craft, and although normally Oriana would brush off attempts at casual conversation, she supposed that the man felt out of place in this dinner of the rich. If the girl had been paying more attention to them, she supposed she would as well. And besides, one of the easiest ways to get Oriana to speak would be to talk about her craft. And it wasn't every day she got to sit next to some of the best blacksmiths in the kingdom. The other blacksmith joined in on their conversation and soon they were all discussing their experiences in smithing and their techniques. All in all, Oriana supposed it was actually pleasant.