- Age / Gender:
- 20, Male
- Fradmannsburg, Atlantis
- All Stats >
Fascist, stoic, weapons designer, CAD all-round designer, amateur psychologist, only human. Mainly enjoying that what I call a good sound, good humor, good artistry, and good stories.
- Community Stats
Level 4 Art Lover
Ranked as Civilian
I decided to post one of my older stories. Sometimes I look at it, and wonder whether I really finished this story, or is there an important gap somewhere... It is not exactly the setting or theme, I usually write about, but either way, if you read it, I hope you enjoy it:
It was a cool, early spring's morning in this medieval village. Ethan - village's blacksmith, sitting by the table, filled with the tools of his trade was sipping water, while covering himself with a fur blanket. Only now did the water turned liquid after being a solid block of ice throughout the night. He didn't had any work for a couple of days now, and that wasn't helping his purse - what was evident because of him not lighting the fireplace - he was saving wood. Had no work right now in part because the villagers could not afford his services right now, in part because they called him cursed, in part because most of them are indebted to him.
Right now, he was sitting here in his forge/house, submerged in fantasies of a better life. Suddenly the door opened up shedding in some morning's light, and scents of early spring. Ethan didn't took notice of it. He was just too deep in his world. Heavy steps walked over, covered his face with it's towering shadow - still nothing. Finally a voice said firmly, but neutrally:
Ethan jumped in his place, nearly spilling the mug, turning to the direction of voice, kneeling and saying:
"I'm so sorry, m'lord, my minds got carried away."
The figure sighed and sat down:
"It doesn't look like you have anything better to do anyway. Last time I visited this place it was like in the heart of inferno... Now... Colder than rocks of my castle."
"Yes, sire, business has been bad recently, I guess if this persists... I'll have to move, sire."
"That would upset me greatly..."
"I know sire, but what am I to do? I need some means to live. Last work I had was two days ago, and it was merely a set of horseshoes."
"As a matter of fact, I came here to make an order... You remember that elaborate armor suit sketch, you had... Do you still have it?"
"Yes, sire..." Ethan shuffled, then headed for a table and after spreading numerous parchments he finally found the sketch, shown it to the lord and asked him: "What about it?"
"I would like you to make it... Just... A little.... Even more elaborate... With some dark shading or lines added if possible."
"When do you need them?"
"In two months... Think you'll manage? You still have the measures of me, right?"
"Yes, sire, I do. I knew that they may come in handy. Let's see..." Ethan pondered: "Two days for every arm piece, so four. Three for cuirass, so seven. Three for every leg piece, so thirteen. And four for the helmet, so seventeen... And chain mail for it all would take a week. so a little more than three weeks, sire."
"Are you sure?" lord straightened up.
"If I spend all my time to your order - I'm definite. What's the occasion, sire?"
"A tournament. I thought of impressing other lords, you know... Something made by my very own blacksmith... Are you up to it? If you do it as fast, as you say you can, AND qualitatively, I shall give you a bonus."
"It shall be done, sire."
"Another thing... I suppose you do know that me and my men are to go on a campaign to the Holy Land... I thought, I would need a reliable engineer for certain tasks... On a weekly basis wage, of course."
"Uh, sir..." this came to Ethan as a surprise - he didn't knew what to say. A steady wage while he wasn't making expenditure would mean that everything would go to his wife, and while he himself would face a little hardship, she would at least be fine, and for once, she would be much less bound to her parents and the rest of her family. On the other hand he was unsure how would she react. She grieved a lot when her brother was absent from home, because he signed up for previous Lord's campaign. Ethan still remembered how she prayed in every absent minute for him, and how she expressed her worries to him every evening, right up to his return. The lord as if he'd be able to read Ethan's mind said:
"The pay will get you to live a lot better... And a widespread recognition of your intelligence too... But I guess, you are worried about your wife... Your heart is very kind. When I think of you, I think, that God was unfair that he landed the curse on you... Well... Talk with her, you'll tell me your decision, when you will bring me the armor. Is that fine?"
"Yes, sire." Ethan slightly bowed.
The Lord nodded and stood up:
"Another thing, Ethan. Just call me by the name... After all we were flogged by the same teacher in our days..."
"If that is your will, Johan."
"The will, I give you..." Johan nodded and walked out of the forge.
Ethan finished the mug of ice-cold water, which lashed his teeth with pain, stood up and started to get the fire going in the furnace. After some ten minutes the fire was gently sparking and the large room was slowly warming up. While heating to a right temperature was in progress, Ethan started to check his tools, and prepare the material. Once he was done, he only needed the fire to set out good so he could start bringing up the heat. It was around six in the morning right now, and by this time his wife should come here. Because of persistent colds Ethan insisted that she should go to her parents, where at least it is warm, and for that - safer to her health, whereas he can guard the forge. She didn't like the idea of leaving Ethan, but he convinced her, that while he got weaker over a year, he still is as rugged, as he always was, and little cold is not going to harm him.
For a second time in this day, the main door of the forge have opened up, letting in the sunlight, and scents of the cold spring. Ethan turned to see that this time it was his wife. He smiled briefly to her, and then pumped the air to fire, a burst of flame started coming upwards, then he poured some coal. Once he got freed up he asked:
"How are your parents doing?"
"Quite the usual. What's with the commotion here?"
"Johan ordered himself a suit of armor - the ones I showed you.... So I'm starting... I've not much time either way."
"Really? That is great. But will your hands be able to handle something like this?"
Ethan's hands had a rheumatus which impeded his work. Many hours he had to work through gritted teeth and pain, after work unable to move a slightest muscle. Something like that would be quite a challenge to him. He said, while placing a brick of iron into the smelter:
"As long as my tools are kept warm, I shouldn't have any complications. It's only the coldsmithing, being the hard part for me..."
"If you say so... Have you ate anything yet?"
"Fruit are still too cold..."
"I figured, I am going to find you with an empty stomach. My parents already started making bread, so I took some."
"Any meat by any chance?"
"Just pork... I know you had yourself a food poisoning last time you ate it, Ethan, but it can happen with any food. It's not good for your profession to resorting yourself solely to poultry and vegetables."
That was true. He did lost a lot of weight and that sometimes was making his work quite complicated. After the poisoning with pork half a year ago, he became unwilling to eat pork, and either it meant poultry, which wasn't too frequent on his plate, or such meats as beef, which very few ate in these parts, as it was very expensive or lamb, which was hard to get, because most of sheep farmers were in highlands, not plains, where Ethan lived. He sighed lightly, and asked her:
"You've brought any?"
"Now you are talking. Yes I did, Ethan."
He nodded, and observing his furnace he asked:
"How's your brother, Emilia?"
"He's doing well. Now that the spring came, orders for his carpentry started to flow in. The humidity rotted everything out."
"Good to hear he's busy." he said half-bitterly "How's the nephew?"
"You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?" Emilia said, her voice cracking down.
"What?... Goodness, no. I-I am sorry, I didn't mean that." Ethan said, now cracking down himself, swiftly nearing to Emilia, and hugging her tightly. Over four years ago Ethan and Emilia gotten married, with all the Christian traditions and all the superstitions in their favor (aside the fact that while Ethan was away, his parents got killed in a pillage). They both were looking forward to a child, and there it was, but Emilia gave birth far too early, and so the child died. Ever since the locals called Emilia cursed. Some old crones were making rumors, that Emilia murdered her child... It was the hardest strike to Emilia's heart - it was the day when her world started to turn upside down. Ethan started crying. It was not what he meant at all. He may be in cold relationship with her brother, but he didn't meant to sting her by inquiring about nephew. Emilia asked:
"What is it? You haven't cried since... The day you asked to marry me... Just that time you were crying with happiness."
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, that I've hurt you."
"Ethan, you're getting too sensitive. I take it as my fault - shouldn't been angsty to you..."
"So how is our nephew anyway?"
"He's doing fine. Wild-one... Remarkable, considering it's so cold."
"Hey, he haves the blood of your family, there's no surprise, knowing that." he smiled.
"Are you calling us wild?"
"And crazy." he laughed.
"Oh you." Emilia leaned into his chest.
Ethan ran his hand through her rich, raven hair and whispered:
"How could I?..."
"What?" she looked up, the blue of her eyes seeping inside him.
"Johan also asked me today to be his chief engineer on the coming campaign to the Holy Land..."
"He asked what? Have you accepted?"
"Not without having a word with you, my wife."
"Ethan, I had enough grievance when you left me, by going to the East, as blacksmith's apprentice."
Ethan have traveled to the middle east when he was fifteen, to learn the trade of blacksmith. Over those four years, he didn't just earned enough to afford his own forge and a plot of land, but also learned craftsmanship from a goldsmith and ornamentalist, which made him one of the most skilled craftsmen in these lands. Aside that Ethan also learned to appreciate hygiene, learned the art of medicine, learned to speak Latin and Arab and learned how to properly prepare meat. Once he was back he immediately managed to cure Emilia and her entire family from multitude of illnesses and health disorders, they had. Emilia's fair skin, rich hair and healthy teeth were all his work. It was only him why Emilia and her family looked entirely different to anyone else in the village.
"That was exactly what I was thinking, my love. But you have to admit, that the pay would let us to live quite ripely."
"And what is from that?"
"Well, in the recent days I was thinking, that we should try it again... After all they say that first pancake is always burnt..."
"So now you are wanting children for pancakes, huh?" she smirked at him.
"So what about it?" he asked again.
"Ethan... I know that you mean the reward after everything, and I'll be honest, just hearing of possibility on having a child is warming my heart, but I've to be realistic: and what if you are not to come back? Then I would have nothing at all. As much as it pleases me, that you are willing to dedicate yourself to my happiness, I above all do not want to lose you this fast. Please. Don't leave me."
"Then what should I do?"
"Provided that Johan is setting out, you could do your best, while here, can't you? You're a good weaponsmith after all."
"We'll see. I'll ask him about it. Now, I'll just prepare the first set of iron sheets, and then we'll eat, okay?"
"Just don't take too long, as you always do."
"No, just sheets, I promise."
When Ethan was making armor, he made them out of sheet iron:
He poured the iron into the mold, which was treated with heat, cooling down only slowly. When it was in a right solidity he started to hammer it, making a thin, but mechanically dense sheet. Because of his technique it was easy to repair the armor, they corroded less and were far tougher than armor made by any other blacksmith in the region. Right now he just poured the iron into the two molds, and went to the table. After a modest meal of bread, smoked pork and water he stood up and started to work again. He was hammering a sheet of iron onto a special shaper, he made for making arms' armor, by the time someone came. He turned to direction and saw Guthleid - the local merchant. Ethan asked, drawing his attention back to armor:
"How may I help, kind merchant?"
"Bah that town's blacksmith is useless. Imagine: I paid a largest sum and he made me lousy horseshoes. They're all different and none of them are good for my horse."
"Couldn't you wait till I finish my main order?"
"How long would it take?"
"About three and a half week. It's a suit of armor after all."
"Three and a half weeks??? Can't we arrange anything? I will need to leave withing three days!"
"Very well... But this takes time to me... Is your horse outside?"
"Yes it is, why?"
"Well, naturally enough, I need to take a measure, kind sir..."
"That lousy blacksmith never did that, it's evident that you're the working man." Guthleid tried to please Ethan.
After Ethan taken measure, he said:
"Will four hours suit you?"
"Thank you, thank you! Nails too, yes?"
Guthleid went out satisfied. Ethan shrugged as the door shut, then poured iron into another mold. This mold was for horseshoes. In fact Ethan never forged them: He simply casted them, then he covered them in mineral resins, hammered both surfaces and that was it. Of course, had he told Guthleid his trade secret, then it would have severely devalued them, therefore, he had to say things in a right way, to make a good sale from this little task.
As evening came and pain overtook Ethan's hands he sat down for a rest and asked Emilia:
"Are you going to your parents again today?"
"Then, just please tell your brother I apologize for the last time we spoke... What I said... I had no right to."
"You missed him, didn't you?"
"I indeed did..."
"I'll tell him."
Ethan silently nodded, rubbing his wrists. Emilia took them in her gentle hands, and asked, staring at them:
"Do they hurt?"
"A little... What do I want? I was working this whole day... It wasn't so in a good while now..."
She massaged them for a few minutes, then clasped both his hands into a fist and kissed them:
"Yes. Thank you."
"I guess, I should go now..."
"I'll see you..."
Ethan nodded and started to carry on with his work. His work turned out to go faster than expected, but it was just the base layer of what's to come - much of fine craftsmanship is to take place.
Guthleid came after a while for his horseshoes. Ethan handed them and the nails. All, already cold and shiny. The merchant spoke:
"Remarkable. All of them are like brothers of eachother. I couldn't tell the difference."
"That's what you get from a working man."
"Indeed you are, Ethan, thank you so much."
"Especially because I took my time about them, while having order from our lord."
"Why, yes, of course..." Guthleid shuffled handing him his reward. Significantly more than Ethan's usual pricing for the horseshoes.
Ethan silently nodded and said:
"Don't forget me, if you need anything to be made. I may not be as busy next time."
"I won't forget you, not after such a good work, you have my word, Ethan. It was the last time I went to that lousy town's blacksmith." and then Guthleid went out quite satisfied with his purchase.
Ethan sighed and carried on to his work - now he was crafting the upper arm armor. Gauntlets, being a complex subject were to come last. At that time a priest came in:
"Good evening, Ethan."
"Good evening, Father James... It's still odd to call you like that..."
"Then why don't you call me by name? We grew up together after all. Anyway, I remember that you are good at works of wrought iron. I was thinking of buying a gate from you..."
"Had you came here yesterday... Today I at this time, I would've been halfway through. But now I am working on Johan's order." Ethan gently patted the armor with a hammer:
"I've hardly three and a half a week for this..."
"I can wait, Ethan, it's nothing urgent." James smiled: "It's great you are finally busy."
"And how is your "work", James?"
"Instead of confessions those old crones are telling me gossips and rumors about the rest of the village. And trust me, I am sick and tired of them."
"I would have said: "Their sins have long since have been forgiven, but why shall we not talk about your sins?". I can imagine their reaction..."
"Sometimes I have a belief, that it's you who should have been the priest around here. When I think about it, it's our discussions about bible, what helped me in the seminary."
"I know, I haven't been in a church for a long time, and I can feel God's wrath crawling my back, but could you as a priest help me decide?"
"I might try, go ahead."
"Johan asked me whether I could go to campaign with him as a chief engineer. Of course, that would come really hard on Emilia. And that is evident to me, since I and her talked about it already. The risk is, but the reward would bring us a new life."
"I will tell you a simple moral: "Moses and his followers were not happy at where they stopped during dinner, because they gotten to eat well, but because they have shared what they had.". In other words I think you should stay, and it is not worth to risk your life. Scraps you may get, but why to count the gold, which you may not get, when you, right here and right now have the immeasurable treasure - love?"
"Thank you." Ethan nodded, then turned to the armor, and kept on hammering, while they spoke for some half an hour dissecting the bible some more. James finally left Ethan on his own. Both with a smile. A skeptic and open-minded priest is a decent combination. After an hour Ethan heard the doors open up again, and saw Emilia's brother George. Ethan failed to find any words, so he said quietly and shyly, then turning to his work:
"Let's leave it at the past..." George said with a sentiment in his tone.
"I've to agree... How have you been keeping?"
"I am well, work is beginning to pick up. How about you?"
"Busy for this month at least."
"Listen, Ethan, wouldn't it be too hard if you made me some tools?"
"What do you need?"
"Carpenter's usuals, I had them made from the town's blacksmith, but they can't even scratch a plank."
"You're the second person today to tell me, that the town's blacksmith has his arms growing out of his ass, George. Yes, I can, but I must barter a little then... I make you the tools, and you provide me with some of your firewood. You're still a forester, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. I guess, I can accept such a deal."
"Good, because I don't have much of it left, and I still am going to need coal also, so speaking with the other forester isn't a feasible option."
"Do not worry, I'll get you some. Say, would you like to visit us this Sunday after the mass? You haven't seen my parents, since our last time..."
"I'd love to, thank you. But there's urgent work for me at hand, so I can't... But I promise, that I will, as soon as I am done with the armor."
George nodded, smiled, gave farewells and left. Soon after Emilia came back. Ethan was a little surprised to see her here and said:
"What are you doing here, it's going to be cold."
"I'm sick and tired of being without you, Ethan. And speaking of that, I'd say it is quite late, and you look tired."
Ethan shrugged and nodded. In half an hour he was for the first time after this winter in bed with Emilia. She said gently after some time:
"It must've been hard for you to be here alone..."
"A bit cold, absence of you, but otherwise not too bad."
"It still was uncomfortable for me without you. Why this pain?"
"Maybe we pray not enough?" Ethan said with skepticism in his voice.
"Or maybe great gifts come at a big price?"
"Come again? What do you mean?"
"Well, your head and hands are gifted: you can make the finest works, and heal the deepest wounds... Only Jesus himself was more gifted than you are... And for that he paid the price."
"I think, I'm more gifted than him... I've you."
"Ethan..." she said softly, as Ethan leaned in, listening to her heartbeat.
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