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The Swordsmith

by Karlos Allen

Ottur Sigurdsen wiped his brow. The heat from the forge felt good on a snowy day like this, yet too much sweat with the cold wind blowing through the cracks in the shop could drain a man’s strength. He couldn’t afford to be sick now, he was already behind on his work, and there was news that soon a new batch of warriors would be arriving with wounds for the village healer and broken swords for him.

He looked forward to the work, there was something deeply satisfying about feeling the hot metal bend and shape under his hammer. It was real, the kind of reality that made a man feel alive. Knowing that he was feeding his family with nothing but his strength and skill gave him a sense of worth. Not arrogance, he was a simple craftsman not a swaggering warrior, but a sort of comfortable solidity. “This is who I am; this is what I do.”

A fresh blast of cold air made him look up. One of the new warriors was here now. Half-healed wounds still showed on his arms and legs and a broken sword was held in his hands.

“Welcome, sir. How fare you?” The stilted language still came stiffly to him, but the warriors liked it, and that was good for business.

“Badly, Swordsmith. I have shattered my sword in combat with a monster of fearsome power. Were it not for my companions another’d be bringing this to you now.”

Ottur nodded wisely, he’d heard this story many times before. “Aye, many’s the time a good companion is worth more than a good blade.” He looked at the pieces laid before him and shook his head inwardly. The warrior, for all his strength and good armor was obviously young and inexperienced. Whoever had sold him this sword had seen a mark.

“Aye, I can fix this for you. I can make it better than new, in fact. Whoever forged this blade did so in a hurry, with an eye to easy profit. I’m sure that many an unhappy customer of his lies in a clearing in the woods or in the belly of a foul beast. You were lucky, young man.”

“Yes. Will you fix it for me? I have gold, I would pay well for this.”

Ottur shook his head at the bag in the warrior’s hand. “Gold is no good to me son. I charge money.” He carefully emphasized the last word.

“Dear?” The voice of his goodwife came from the room behind the shop. “Dinner is ready.”

“A minute woman, I have a paying customer here!” He looked at the young warrior: “Don’t I?”

The young man looked nervous, “Money?”

Ottur shrugged, spreading his hands expressively. “As you can see, I am a working man, with wife and children to feed. Mayhap being a warrior is entertainment, a game, to the likes of you. But to me this is a living and the goodwife would scold were I to hand out work for something that does not put bread in our bellies.”

There was a brief hesitation and then the warrior nodded. “Here is money, and I’ll double it if the sword is to my liking.”

“That it will be, sir. Why don’t you rest at the inn across the way? I can have your weapon ready for you tomorrow.”

“Very good.” The warrior strode out.

* * *

“Very good.” The words blinked at him from the black screen. Next to it was an account number and a very satisfying dollar figure.

Barry grinned to himself, this was more then he had made in a week at the convenience store. His stomach rumbled, reminding him that dinner was ready. Grunting, he heaved himself up from the chair, the effort making his head swim. Then he turned and waddled into the kitchen, where Brittiny was laying the pizza boxes on the table.

Copyright © 2007 by Karlos Allen

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