It’s a sure sign of a dissatisfied customer when my toes can’t reach the ground. Nevin the blacksmith was at least as big as the battered warrior holding my throat, but he just stood back and watched. No loyalty there, just a business arrangement.
That’s not my fault. In fact, that is Nevin’s fault. He does the metalwork, I add the magic. That’s how magic sword manufacturing works. The magic can’t stop the steel from breaking, but the really good stuff can make it cut through sorcerers, demons, other magic swords and…
“Broke how?” Nevin asked gruffly.
“In battle.” The warrior lifted me higher, which was fine because toes far off the ground hurts just the same as almost touching.
“Broke how exactly? You hit something with the sword, or something hit you?”
The warrior dropped me, turned on Nevin, and then thought better of it.
“Another sword did it.”
Nevin scratched at his beard. I used to think he must have a really itchy chin, but it’s his way with stroppy warriors in the smithy. It reminds them that his fists are big and his forearms are thicker than the average leg.
“Show me the bits.”
The warrior kicked at the rough sack he’d dropped when he first came in – you want to see, you pick it up.
Nevin scratched his beard again until the warrior crouched, rummaged, and held up a sword in two parts. It was one of the really cheap ones Nevin knocks out and calls a Bearkiller, because the sort of fool who buys a cheap sword will always go for something called Bearkiller, or Demonslayer. I’m no expert in this stuff, but I know swords break, and I know that the Bearkillers can snap if the user sneezes too hard.
Warriors are like children. It broke, fix it. They don’t ask can it be fixed? With a broken blade like that, Nevin would hammer out the pieces and make something like a chunky dagger, and one of the skinny, flashy blades he calls a Windslicer – cheap, fragile, but makes a really impressive whistling noise cutting through the air.
“Needs magic to fix,” Nevin said, more to me than the warrior. “I’ll get the heat going.”
I don’t do magic, I collect magic. Applying it to the swords is easy, but nothing I’ve got can repair a sword. Like I said, Nevin does the metalwork.
The smithy is poorly lit and once Nevin starts pumping the bellows, all you see is the glow of the coals, unless you know where to look. While the warrior was bedazzled by the sparks, Nevin slipped a freshly-made Bearkiller off the pile and set it close by. We ought to practice this misdirection routine for the next dissatisfied customer, but there’s no real point. Warriors who buy cheap swords rarely live long enough to complain about workmanship.
“Come on, man,” Nevin growled, and he was right – I was daydreaming, whilst the warrior was inching closer to where he might see what we were doing.
“Stand back,” I said, as commanding as I could be, and the warrior inched closer instead.
I picked a jar of whispering prayers off the shelf and tossed two into the fire. I like the prayers – I buy them a dozen the farthing from a decrepit monastery a half-day’s walk away. A sword bound with one of those prayers will tell the wielder how fine and proud they are. You can see it the moment they pick one up in the smithy – yes, yes, I am!
Never burn a whispering prayer. A banshee scream of terror ripped through the smithy driving the warrior two clumsy steps backwards. I already had my fingers in my ears and Nevin – well the big lump doesn’t hear so well after so many years of hammering.
Next I took a sun potion and flicked a drop into the cherry coals and just for a moment a blinding noon light flared out. I usually use a drop mixed with a little brandy and work it into the blades to give them that alluring glint in the dark that says look here, I’m a magic sword. I’m told that glint can attract goblins in the night, but none of our customers has ever complained about that.
“Are you ready for this?” I called out, reaching for the edge charms. “This can be…”
I had no idea what would happen to an edge charm in the fire. When I attach one to a blade, it holds the edge forever, provided you keep the metal out of the sun. I suppose I ought to mention that when we sell a sword.
“Ready,” the warrior grunted.
“Just give me a moment. This third one is tricky.” Instead of the edge charms, I eased the stopper from a jar of whitefire I bought from a warlock. It was supposed to be pure magic – I think he lied, but far safer than edge charms. “Here… third one…”
I tossed a piece of whitefire into the forge and bright, white light even stronger than the sun potion blinded everyone. When my eyes cleared, Nevin was standing before the forge, holding forth a brand new Bearkiller, smoke just curling around the blade. I still don’t know how he does that, but it impresses the customers.
“Your weapon,” he said and held it out.
The warrior took it, almost reverentially, and then tried a few test swings.
“Do that outside,” Nevin growled.
As soon as we were alone, he pulled the broken pieces of the old sword from the forge.
I went to the door and watched. The warrior took a few more good swings, gave me a glare, and then stamped off eastward which is where they say the armies are currently fighting.
“That third one…” Nevin pushed me out into the daylight so that he could see the warrior go. “Was that a charm?”
I wrote this in response to the #BlogBattle prompt of Charm.
Image from Pixabay
3 thoughts on “Edgewise”
Quite a colorful tale that leaves me pondering the ramifications of the narrator’s ‘No’ at the end. I chuckled at the reference how being lifted far off the ground hurts as much as lifted slightly, and also enjoyed the remark that warriors who buy cheap weapons rarely live long enough to complain. Makes you wonder if that has something to do with why nobody ever complained about the glint attracting goblins! Good dose of humor that contributes to the story ringing true even in a fantasy setting.
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Nice world-building. The world-weary air of a young magic-worker who’s in on a hustle. I’ve never thought about cheap charms and cheap swords, but there was bound to be someone who made money off them somewhere. : )
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