LEGEND OF THE EMPYREAN BLACKSMITH
WAR OF WRITS
LAST BASTION OF MAGIC
BEFORE IT ALL BEGAN (I)
A dirty road stretched through the thickly veiled forest, dampened by the last night’s rain, yet to dry due to the sun’s rays failing to reach it through the branches. Varied shrubbery rose at the road’s sides, some bearing strange fruit, some even stranger insects, but the path itself was oddly clear of any greenery.
Just slightly off the distance, an entourage of roughly forty men and women, surrounding a massive wagon loaded with crates of goods, walked slowly and steadily, occasional bouts of laughter and booming loudness interrupting the silent forest. All of them appeared to be the rugged bunch, hardly an expensive piece of clothing anywhere to be found, with any form of jewelry being even rarer.
There seemed to be no clear leader, with groups largely formed at random, individuals crossing left and right from time to time to join another. If there was one thing that they all seemed to have in common, it was the thick accent; very few, if any, who would hear them speak the Common Tongue could properly understand them, yet that barrier didn’t seem to exist within the community.
The wagon suddenly came to a halt as someone exclaimed ‘lunch time’; seemingly beyond just practiced, a few individuals began stripping supplies from the wagons, a few others rounding the driest branches they could find -- and supplying the rest from their own reserves -- while others rolled out a massive pot and pulled it over onto a small, elevated platform made out of steel rods.
At the same time, the last group began pouring water, strange-looking mushrooms and a few pieces of beef from the wagon into the pot, as the last group began stirring the flames beneath. When the tasks were completed, everyone sat around the wagon calmly, waiting for the meal.
In a small corner, leaned against a thick oak, were five people; two women and three men, all with starkly similar features -- black hair and eyes and rather playful smiles seemingly permanently etched on their faces. One of the women had a rather large bulge on her stomach, while one of the men often did rounds around her to ensure there were no insects.
“Oh for the love of hell, give it a rest!” seemingly getting tired, the woman cried out as she pulled the man’s arm and forced him to sit. “If my ass was so weak to die to some fuckin’ bug, I’d have died long before we met you bastard.”
“We met when we were four, you lunatic!” the man cried out.
“Alright, alright, you two, don’t start again, please,” the other woman sighed and rolled her eyes at the two. “You’ve already exhausted all our patience with your antics. Hold back for the rest of the journey.”
“Humph, when did it become a crime to be attentive to your pregnant wife?!” the man mumbled out in a wronged tone. “Humph, get bitten. See if I fucking care.”
“Of course you care Lyro,” one of the men laughed out loud. “Joy is pretty much the last joy you’ve got in your life.”
“I swear, if you make a pun out of my name one more time,” the pregnant woman, Joy, growled in a threatening tone. “I’ll shove a goddamn spear up the hole where the sun don’t shine. You hear me?”
“I bet that’d be a rather joyous occasion for him, ha ha ha ha ha ha...” while Lyro burst out into laughter, he failed to realize that the four had all began glaring at him, especially Joy who suddenly punched his face, knocking him on his bum. “W-what was that for?!”
“Oh, sorry. It’s pregnancy.” Joy shrugged.
“Oh, of course, how silly of me,” Lyro said, smiling oddly. “It’s always pregnancy. It’s pregnancy when you punch me, when you break down crying for no reason, when I wake up in the middle of the night to see you on top of me like you’re practicing horseback riding----uh, too much?”
“You think?!!!” Joy cried out, her cheeks flushing red while the remaining three around them broke out into laughter. “Shut up!” she turned toward them. “Go away! Right now!”
“Ho ho,” one of the women laughed strangely as the three got up. “Looks like she’s about to do some more practicing fellas~~”
“I’ll practice shoving a sword--”
“Alright, alright, they’re gone honey, clam down,” Lyro held her back from leaping after the trio like a panther, smiling bitterly. “It’s not as though nobody knows, you know? After all, you didn’t just get fat.”
“Oh, I know,” Lyro stuttered in surprise as he saw Joy suddenly return to normal. “I just wanted to chase them away but didn’t want to seem rude. You know?”
“... well played you devil. Well played.” Lyro clapped slowly, nodding.
“... should be any day now,” she smiled, rubbing her belly gently. “Who do you want?”
“A girl!” Lyro exclaimed without hesitation.
“Eh?! Really? Why not a son?” Joy asked.
“What? You want to condemn our child to the life of eternal solitude?!” Lyro exclaimed in horror.
“Just imagine it --- a son of ours approaches the lady... boom, what’s the first thing he says?”
“Your tits are blessings from the gods?” Joy muttered, tilting her head sideways.
“And pa! Slapped like a little bitch he would be.”
“... there’s a lot wrong with you -- but, this by far takes the cake.” Joy said, chuckling bitterly.
“If it’s a girl, she at least stands a chance, you know?” he said. “I mean, I’m handsome, you’re beautiful, she’s bound to shake the hearts of many men. So long as she keeps her mouth shut for a while, she’ll make it, I just know.”
“Wouldn’t it be the same if it were a boy?” Joy asked. “So long as he kept his mouth shut, that is.”
“No, no, no, it’s different for guys,” Lyro shook his head. “I mean, he’d only have his handsome face. There’s only so far you can go with just a face; we’re poor as all shit, so charming girls with glitter is out of the question. Since he can’t talk, he can’t be charming or funny. He’ll also be lucky to be able to wear anything half the time, so bedazzling them with fitting clothes is out of the question. He definitely won’t ever know how to cook, clean, and most-certainly won’t ever learn how to fight, so... he’s only got his face going for him. At most,” he added. “He could become a mute gigolo or something.”
“I have a feeling you’ve just cursed our child more than anyone has ever cursed any kid in the history of the world,” Joy said. “Now I’m almost certain it’s a boy.”
“... ah, poor lad,” Lyor said, leaning against her shoulder. “He’ll turn into that creepy old guy who collects snakes and yells at kids.”
“I don’t think so.”
“I think... he’s going to be brave,” Joy said, smiling warmly as she glanced down. “I think he’s going to be honest... strong... smart. Kind to people. After all, those are the things that truly matter; whatever his undoubtedly poisonous tongue may spit out, I think the world will see him for who he actually is.”
“... my question is,” Lyro said. “How in the god’s name is he going to become any of those things? We are literally opposite of all of them!”
“Hey, you bastard! Speak for yourself!” Joy exclaimed.
“... alright, I’ll humor you. Proceed.”
“I’m very honest--”
“--the hell you are. Tell me, who drank my last bottle of good wine?”
“Of course he did.”
“Khm, anyway, besides that, I’m also very strong--”
“--and that’s why we have mysterious diseases that prevent us from exerting ourselves too much.”
“-a-and...” Joy seemed to be on the verge of tears while Lyro kept smirking. “I’m... I’m very smart...”
“Ah, face it honey,” he said, kissing her gently. “We’re at most cruel beauties. If we weren’t married to each other, we’d be making two completely innocent people beyond miserable.”
“... ah, who am I kidding... you’re right... I’m just an evil, beautiful goddess.”
“Hey, at least you’re a goddess,” he added. “More than what most other women can claim.”
“... ah, why weren’t we more careful!” she exclaimed. “We’ve basically condemned this kid to the most pathetic life!”
“... maybe we’re just letting our shortcomings plague our minds,” Lyro said after a short silence. “Perhaps he’ll really become all you’ve said.”
“Pfft, ha ha ha ha, no way.” both burst out into laughter, holding hands tenderly, wishing inwardly they were wrong.