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A note from kosnik4

Longest chapter I’ve ever written.

Please enjoy. 

“Why in Tarrow's forge, would you want to be my apprentice?” Del stands, scowling at me.

…..

“Are you not going to say anything!” he looks even angrier.

“It’s just, your change of accent is throwing me off.” Looking at the Stone Kin, I can’t imagine why he would talk so funny to people.

“Why does it matter how I talk?” The pressure coming off of him is almost visible. He’s just scowling at me and I feel like I need to run! What level is he. Do I back down or continue?

Continue!

“Well, why wouldn’t you always talk like this? How do people even talk to you?”

“They don’t, that’s the point; ya daft girl!”

“Oooo, you're just shy with people.” I try to keep a straight face. I learned from mom, the more you antagonize someone, the more mistakes they make. Considering how angry he looks, I think I’m almost there.

“I’m not shy! I don’t like idiots like yourself, bothering me!” That’s a little mean, but gives me something to work with.

“So, no one knows your accent is a lie; I wonder what people would think of that?” I make sure to leave it ambiguous for his imagination.

“You're threatening me, girl?!” he takes a step forward.

“It’s Aaliyah, and I would never dream of threatening my master.” My passive answer astounds him. I take a step forward and look him in the eyes.

Trying to add a little Charm but it does nothing to his outward scowl, atleast I tried. “Teach me how to be a blacksmith.” I say again with the firmest tone I can manage.

“I can’t teach you magic, girl.” What! What’s he talking about? His expression turned so solemn so quickly, I don’t know what to say.

“What does magic have to do with blacksmithing? My question seems to surprise him greatly.

“You just want to learn some blacksmithing? Why come to me?”

“You’re the only blacksmith in town. Why else would I come to you? Dad said you’re really good, even made his custom axe.”

….

No response from him, fine! Looking around, I notice all the wood father dropped off next to one of the sheds. Might as well do something while I’m waiting.

Walking over to the wood pile, Del finally breaks from his silence. “What are you doing?” He asks still clearly shocked.

“Putting the wood away, sounds like apprenticeship stuff, right?” I turn around giving him a smile and start stacking the wood inside the shed.

The silver logs appear to sparkle it the sun. A fire from these logs must be beautiful. Dad said they could melt stone, how hot was that again? Stanley would give me so many fun facts about rocks, it’s hard to remember them all; lava straight from the ground is about 1200°C and if I remember correctly steel takes up to 1500°C to melt. Can hese logs can be used to melt steel?

Is it wrong that I want to burn them right now?

After I finished stacking the logs, I look over at Del. He’s just sitting on a bench sipping something from a crude metal canteen.

He doesn’t say anything as I walk up to him.

“What else do you need done?” I stand over him, trying to show my confidence.

Taking a big swig from his canteen, he looks around scrutinizing everything. His eyes finally stop, with a smile crossing his face. What now?

“If you need something to do so badly, clean out the forge. It’s been awhile since I really cleaned it; and you are my apprentice, right?”

That’s how you want to play this.

“Sure,” I reply, making sure my smile covers my whole face. He looks disappointed at my reaction, but he would feel much more worried if he knew how tenacious I could be.

Walking over to his forge, I can admire it up close. The square forge is roughly five feet across and five feet wide, being three feet tall. The walls are made from a black stone that I can’t remember Stanley ever talking about. The whole thing is covered in ash and soot, with warm coals leftover from Del finishing the pan earlier.

Looking around, I see his tools thrown around haphazardly covering an anvil and workbench. Brush… check, shovel… check, container… aww, there; grabbing a bucket of water I toss it over the remaining coals, container… check.

First, I shovel the coals into the bucket. There’s a pile of ashes close to the forest so I dump them over there. It takes seven trips to remove all the debris. Below the coals is a metal mesh grate. The air comes up through the grate, pumped with the bellows beside the forge. I don’t know what the brush is made from, but the hairs on it are incredibly bristly. Del wasn’t lying about rarely cleaning out his forge, even with the strong brush I can barely scrape any of the grime from the walls.

I don’t know how long I can keep this up.

“If you want to quit, you can!” Del taunts from his bench.

Like I would give him the satisfaction of seeing me quit.

 


 

“Ready to go home, sweety?”

I look up from my work to see dad dropping the last load of wood next to the same shed as last time.

“I still need some time to finish cleaning the forge, dad.” Looking down I can see I still have 30% to go. I’ve been scrubbing for hours and I can barely feel my hands. I must look a sight; ash covers my body head to toe, I think I can even taste it.

“Th’ts nuff, find jab.” (That’s enough, fine job.) Gods, Del is back to sounding like a drunkard.

“See honey, you’re not even his apprentice. I thought you would help him straighten up a little, not this.” Dad waves his hands at the forge.

Del is just smiling off to the side. Probably thinking he won.

“It’s ok dad, Master Del-Razen said he’d teach me. I start work tomorrow.”

Del stops laughing, he and dad both stare at me, dumbfounded at the joy on my sooty face. Dad turns wide eyed to Del.

“That true Del, she working with you now?”

Before he can answer I interject. “Master is happy to have someone to talk to that understands him so clearly." Father looks at me then back at Del waiting for his answer.

Del looks at me judgingly, so I sneer back at him.

With a look of defeat, he answers father. “Ja, werkin morrow.” (Yes, she’s working tomorrow.) They both share a look at each other conveying how difficult their futures will be.

“I told you I could get his apprenticeship.”

Both men stop and stare at me.

This should be fun.

 


 

Running out the door to our home, I sprint off towards the woods. I’m running with all I have because I overslept like usual. Mother wasn’t happy with my job choice and didn’t wake me up like she usually does. This might mean, gods forbid, I have to get up by myself.

After I had changed, I hugged mother and ran away before she could continue to try and talk me out of my apprenticeship. Father and mother spent most of dinner last night giving me reasons why I shouldn’t work for the grinchy Del-Razen. Mother was practically mad about how filthy I was when I came back home with father last night.

573, 574, 575, 576 whewww 576 seconds. It takes almost ten minutes to run to Del’s. Breaking into his clearing I thought he would be waiting for me with an angry face. Looking around I don’t see anybody.

The forge is still empty since I cleaned it yesterday and all the tools look like they haven’t been moved since I saw them either. Where’d the dwarf go?

Walking around, looking for clues I close in on his little hut. Pushing on the door it swings in and I gasp at the filth I see before me. The one room hut has to be only 50 square feet, but is packed with crates of rocks, unfinished metal objects, and junk laying everywhere.

The fireplace is dirtier than his forge! Old pots are stacked around his fireplace ready to fall like dominos. The ants are trying to carry one of the smaller pots away!

Amongst the filth lies a sleeping Stone Kin. He’s bundled under a pile of hides on top of a stone bed. Clutched in his hand is his canteen I saw yesterday. Slipping the canteen out of his grasp, I open the cap. One whiff of the liquid and I barrel over coughing. I wasn’t a drinker in my old life but that stuff smells like gasoline. Out of all the dwarven stereotypes he failed at, he has to be a drinker!

Walking over I try to call his name.
“Del”
“Del”
“Del”
“Del-Razen!!”

He didn’t even flinch! I go to poke his cheeks and it feels like I poked a rock! This guy has to have at least double the endurance of dad. If he’s not going to get up, perhaps I should just go home.

No, mom wouldn’t let me live that down. Looking around at the filth, I might as well clean like yesterday. I will probably level my Cleaning skill a lot in this pigsty.

I need some room to start, so I pull everything I can out of his hut. I make sure to separate everything as I go. Armor, weapons, pottery, dishes, chunks of metal; each type of item gets its own spot. 20 minutes later his hut is empty besides his bed and three metal containers each holding loose stone. One container appears to have a red stone in it most likely iron, while the other is a green stone, so maybe copper. The last container is the smallest and has black stones like the ones his forge is made from. The black stone looks rough but feels smooth to the touch. I try to pick up a small chunk of stone, only to find it weighs more than lead!

Buried amongst his things, I found an old broom and a few rags. The first thing that needs to be cleaned is his fireplace. I grab the supplies I used yesterday to clean the forge and start to work on the fireplace. After I have the soot out, I tie a rag around the broom and try to sweep the chimney. "Phew, done!" Now that it's as good as I can get it; I just have to scrub the bottom and rinse it out.

Should only take me a few more minutes.

“What the dragon-shit happened to my house!” Aww, Del finally woke up.

He flails around, trying to get out of his covers. When he finally gets out, I notice he slept in his clothes from yesterday. I stop scrubbing the fireplace and turn around waiting for him to notice me.

When he finally sees me in his fireplace, his confusion only doubles.

“What are you doing here?!”

“Cleaning, obviously. And I thought I slept in too long. The sun's been up almost three hours.” He must have a habit of stating the obvious.

“I don’t care what time it is! What did you do with my stuff!” He demands looking around.

“Outside, sorted into piles. You have a lot of junk, you know that.” Rolling my eyes, I get back to scrubbing the fireplace I need to finish so I can move onto the cobwebs and sweep the floor.

“Why are you cleaning my house?" No longer looking concerned about his junk he looks furious at me again.

“It’s an apprentice's job to clean for the master and your house was a toxic pit, I tried to wake you to ask what I could do but you never woke up.” I tell him leaving the hut to grab a fresh bucket of water from his well.

Walking back in with fresh water, Del is still standing beside his bed. After a quick glance, I decide not to bother with him and continue cleaning.

“Where’s my food?” He finally says something, as I finish up the fireplace.

“The rotten food, or the jerky?” I ask.

“The jerky!” He yells again, not happy with my joke.

“Follow me,” I walk outside again with Del stomping after me this time. “Your jerky is in the box on top of your bench,” I point with my chin.

While Del grabs some brunch I dump the grey water and grab the broom again. Still eating, Del tries to follow me inside.

Tuning around, “Stay out here you’re only going to get in my way as I clean.”

Mouth open, some of his chewed jerky falls out and whines to me. “It’s my house!”

Luckily, he doesn’t follow and leaves me to dust and sweep.

 


 

I’m finally almost finished. His house is swept, wiped down, and most of his junk is organized in crates back inside. The only thing left is washing all his kitchen utensils, covered in grime and insects.

Del’s been complaining to himself the whole time, sitting drinking what I assume can only be lighter fluid.

In the middle of cleaning, I couldn’t help but ask him if he plans on doing anything.

“Don’t you have anything to forge, or something?” I say out loud.

“I don’t just make random things, that’s a waste of materials. You want me to make you something, He-He.” His sarcastic remark finally worries me. What if he refuses to teach me anything?

I stop scrubbing a pot and seriously look at him. “You are going to teach me, right? I don’t mind doing chores for you, but I’m serious about being a blacksmith. Dad told me you’re the best blacksmith in hundreds of miles. I want to learn from the best.”

“I’m not the best.” Del takes a long swig from his canteen. “The reason I don’t want an apprentice is because I’m not qualified.”

“Not qualified, what do you mean?” How can he not be qualified to take on an apprentice?

“You see girl, Stone Kin are born naturally talented with magic. We live longer and focus on our crafting skills the most. Despite our lower birth rates compared to humans our city’s grow twice as fast because of our magi-tech. A Fledgling picks a path and sticks with it till he’s a master then passes that knowledge on to the next of Kin. Almost all of our knowledge incorporates magic in some small way.

Del stops to take another drink. He shakes his canteen and it sounds almost empty.

“I was born, “Stripped”. “Stripped” is used to describe a Stone Kin born with no mana abilities. The chances of being born with no mana abilities is 1/100,000 for Stone Kin. No matter how hard I tried I could never use the true knowledge from my elders. Like most crippled Kin I left my only home after my 70th birthday.”

Finishing his drink, he throws the canteen on the ground.

“We stone kin are known around the world as the best magic crafters, so no matter where I went people hounded me for magic items. Each request only reminded me of my failure. I secluded myself in this village to finally have peace. I started to talk funny so people would stop asking me to teach them magic. That’s why I don’t want you as an apprentice, I could never teach you properly. You should find someone else to learn from.”

Wow, that’s heavy. He reminds me of how I felt after the karhu attack, he needs someone to tell him it’s ok.

“That’s sad and all, but you’re the only blacksmith around and I really had my heart set on metalworking. You can melt metal, right?”

I stare at him till he answers.

“Ya”

“You know how to shape it, right?”

“Ya”

“Then you sound like a blacksmith to me.”

He looks genuinely stunned. Now that I have his attention, I can continue.

“I saw how beautiful dad's axe is. He swings it thousands of times a day and it never seems to chip. You made that without magic. That’s what I want to be able to do too. You still have all the knowledge of your kin, right? That’s what I need the most knowledge and a teacher.”

Standing up, I slowly walk in front of Del. “Del-Razen, please teach me how to be a blacksmith!”

I try to convey my will with my eyes.

A fire starts to burn in Del’s eyes, it evaporates the sea of pity he was stuck in. Taking a step back I watch my master rise from the bench.

“I, Del-Razen, will teach you all I can about blacksmithing; if you’ll take me as your master.”

With no hesitation I agree. “I Aaliyah, thank master Del-Razen for accepting me as an apprentice. I promise not to let you down.”

With those words Del looks the most invigorated I’ve ever seen someone before.

“Alright, let me grab some metal and I’ll show you how to fire the forge!” Del starts running towards his house.

“Wait, Wait…Wait!” I scream after him.

Stopping suddenly, Del turns around looking confused. I’m happy for his enthusiasm but there is something we need to finish first.

“We still need to finish cleaning Master Del.” I remind him about the rest of his work area that needs to be cleaned.

“You sure?”

I rub my eyes at his response.

This might be harder than I thought.

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A note from kosnik4

I want to thank everybody who gave me suggestions yesterday about adding in proper smithing experiences without going overboard. I’ll try to keep it informative so you could learn a little about blacksmiths, without adding in too much turning it into a lecture.

I also want to thank the reviews I’ve gotten and all the ratings that pushed me into the top 2000.

If you see anything wrong or just don’t like, please comment below. I’ve been checking every comment given and take your words to heart.

 

Thanks as always, and please be safe.


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kosnik4

Bio: Just love a good story.

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