The Adventures of Caegrin I
Caegrin hammered away endlessly on the sword. He thought something classic, and simple would be easier to do. Should be easier to do. But as many times as he tried forging the blade just right he failed. He would then toss it aside after inspecting it and start a new one. He didn't even have to wait for it to cool down to know it wouldn't meet his father's expectations.
He grabbed a new sheet of metal once more to start again. Precut into the dimensions and ready to be forged and crafted into a brilliant weapon. He had the tools, the resources, and the training, yet try as he would Caegrin could not forge a sword of greatness like lord Okrin expected of him.
The blades he made were battle ready for dwarf, elf, and man alike, yet he knew they wouldn't pass Okrin's test for him. If he had been forging just steel or iron alone he could do it. Even with dwarven magic, there was only so much you could do with base metals such as those.
He didn't care about blacksmithing, it was the family's legacy, but he was the fourth son. The legacy would continue with his brothers. Still, his father refused to let him go see the world, to explore, like he was meant for unless of course, he could successfully craft what was deemed an ‘appropriate weapon or armor'.
The problem was that he lacked the talents his brothers had to meet their father's expectations. Try as he might he couldn't forge a sword crafted with an edge of magic to enhance it. He had been at it for near eighteen hours now. He only had nine more until he would have to present his work to lord Okrin.
Caegrin took a short break while the new piece of metal baked in the forge. He took a deep drink from the water bucket. Didn't even bother grabbing the ladle, just put his face in and began gulping down as much water as he could. Then with what was left he splashed it all over himself.
Then he put the thick firen-salamander leather gloves back on and grabbed the white hot chunk of metal from the forge. After a few layers, and some spellbinding mixed in, those gloves would allow him to hold the white hot metal indefinitely without being burned.
He placed the metal on the anvil, picked up the hammer, and hammered away at it; beginning to shape it into a basic double-edged sword fashion. Not long after the metal had its shape did a voice call out to him between the rings of the hammer. Caegrin stopped and turned to see his eldest brother Brazek approaching him.
Brazek was average height for a dwarf, coming in at four feet and five inches. He wore his thick black hair in a braided tail behind his back. And like Caegrin, kept his beard short trimmed. He was dressed in casual trousers but otherwise went without clothes.
Like most blacksmiths his chest and shoulders were broad, and his arms were bulky. He even had the lean muscle of a warrior on his abdominal region, but it was mostly covered with his thick body hair. Overall Brazek was very handsome, and not for the first time Caegrin found himself a little envious of his brother's blessed looks.
Caegrin wasn't ugly by any means, but he didn't stand out very much to the ladies. Not that he cared too much, a lot of the dwarven girls had more hair than he thought a girl should have. It was the beauty of the elves that caught his eye, but everyone, except Brazek and his mother, thought him weird for lusting after elves.
He put the hammer down and hugged his eldest brother. He hadn't seen Brazek for days, his brother was working non-stop helping their father craft something secretive and unknown.
When they broke the embrace Brazek looked over at the anvil, and then to the pile of tossed swords. "Not going so well then?"
Caegrin sighed, then asked, "How about that secret project you and father been working on?" He was desperate to take his mind off his exceedingly impossible task.
Brazek looked around him, making sure no one else was around. They were alone.
"Adamantite. Some high elf commissioned us to forge as many blades as we can. We just finished one."
Despite his obvious exhaustion, Brazek seemed greatly enthusiastic to talk about the metal he had been forging. Caegrin indulged him.
"Do tell brother."
Brazek's lips parted in a wide smile as he could barely contain himself. "The way that metal sings when struck with the hammers. It's like a gift from the gods. Such a melody should be heard by all." His passion leaked heavily from his voice as he spoke.
And for a moment the dwarf almost lost himself in his thoughtful delight of telling his brother about the forging of the legendary metal. Until his eyes swept back over the pile of swords, and he chuckled.
Brazek waved his hand through the air as if casually swatting at a fly. "Bah, you don't really want to hear this. You want a distraction!"
Caegrin grinned, his plan foiled. He turned back to the new sheet of metal he had started on before Brazek approached him and sighed. "I can't do it," he said dismayed.
Brazek moved past him to inspect the pile of tossed aside swords. He picked one up at random and spoke as he looked over it closely. "Father practically started me off forging with mithril. Thelnar managed to convince him that a dwarf should learn to forge and craft with all the appropriate base metals, even if they were below some of our talents. Of course, it wasn't long until he started mixing the metals, one part mithril, and two parts iron."
He put the sword down and picked up another one.
"I don't know how you do it. I, well I'm sure it was you who talked father down to it, but I'm still only working with four parts steel, and one part mithril and I just can't do it. I can get the shape, the edge, all of it, except for the infusion of magic."
Caegrin raised the steel hammer to eye level. "Not with these subpar tools!" He then turned and tossed it away from him. "Even the anvil is made of iron."
"Enhanced tools would help," Brazek admitted, continuing his inspection of the blades. "But father wants you to do it with your own magic. Not the magic already infused into your forging hammer, or its anvil."
Caegrin looked back to the anvil and the new sheet of metal he was forging into a blade; glowing red with heat. "I'm lame aren't I?"
Brazek hesitated to answer. After finishing an inspection of another blade he turned to his brother and said, "Being without magic isn't like being without your arms. Or being blind."
Brazek grabbed his younger brother by the shoulders, looking him in the eye, and asked him, "Do you want to be a sorcerer?"
Caegrin met his gaze, and confused with his question he answered, "No?"
"How about a master blacksmith?"
Caegrin rolled his eyes, "Obviously not."
"Then what's the problem with you being born without magic hmm? One in every three dwarves is born without magic. It happens to elves too."
"You don't understand," Caegrin argued, "I made a deal with father. If I can't infuse the blade with magic then he won't let me leave. It was bad enough I didn't want to get into the family business, but if he finds out I'm lame; he might disinherit me altogether."
Brazek was silent in thought for a time. Eventually, he asked, "How much longer do you have until you must present your work to him?"
Caegrin stifled a yawn, "Less than nine hours."
"Sounds like we both could do with a wink of sleep eh?"
Caegrin shook his head. "No, I don't have time for sleep."
Brazek put a firm hand on his shoulder. "Me and father been going for three days, almost non-stop forging that metal. He's both too tired and focused on the job to worry about you right now. You need some rest, I need some rest, father needs some rest... Go get some sleep. You have plenty of time for a short nap and to figure this out, I assure you."
Caegrin hesitated, suddenly thinking about how tired he was. "I'm not sure."
"You're a dwarf, we sleep, we drink we sleep some more, of course, you're sure. Ask any of the gendron, if there are three things dwarves do best it is, drink, forge-"
Brazek smiled, "No it's sing. That's how tired you are, forgetting your basic calling."
Caegrin scoffed, Dwarves didn't sing. They were loud and rambunctious sure, but not singers. All the same, he let his brother talk him into heading to bed for a few hours. It was the middle of the night so he ordered the first guard he saw to come wake him in the morning.
He was so tired he practically fell asleep the moment his head hit the pillow.
Caegrin was woken at sunrise, but not by the guard he had asked to do it. Instead, it was Brazek who was shoving a blade in his hands urging him to move and telling him to present it to lord Okrin. He rubbed the tiredness from his eyes and inspected the blade as he walked. It appeared to be like all the others he forged before.
Had he made one infused with magic and just didn't know it? Perhaps Brazek had found a magic-infused blade in the pile after all. He doubted it all very much, but he had to present something to his father.
They stood outside on the balcony, Caegrin and Brazek, watching as their lord father slowly inspected the blade. Like them, lord Okrin was average height. His thick beard and hair had turned grey in the more recent years, and his eyes were sunken from the recent long restless days and nights working.
He was grumpy, they could tell. It didn't bode well for Caegrin, as he watched with anticipation. He dared to glance up at the blue sky above and immediately dreamed he was a bird. Free to soar along the clouds, and see the world below from the perfect vantage point.
If he were a bird he could go anywhere, see anything. But he wasn't a bird, he was a dwarf. And hard as it was he brought his eyes back down to his lord father and put himself in the present, now wasn't the time for daydreaming.
"Quite the mediocre job," lord Okrin said. "Downright pitiful for a dwarf of this family. If your grandfather saw this he'd be turning in his grave. You wouldn't leave the forge for years!"
Caegrin swallowed the lump in his throat, and summoned the courage to speak. "So the blade is not to your liking, my lord?"
Okrin glared at him. "There's a lot of things not to my liking."
Caegrin downcast his eyes, suddenly feeling ashamed.
"So does the blade meet your acceptable requirements or not?" Brazek asked, a hint of defiance in his voice.
Okrin scoffed. "This blade? Aye, terrible as it is. The blades forged by your brother, however, do not."
Their lord father then turned his head and nodded. A moment later a few guards each dumped out a crate of recently forged swords at their feet. "Care to explain how after all these failures you managed to successfully forge a magic-infused blade when you were confirmed to be in your room sleeping for the past several hours?"
After a long moment of silence Caegrin finally said, "I can't do it."
"Well I should think that is quite obvious," Okrin sneered. "Perhaps I've been too lax with you. Maybe you should put in mandatory hours at the forge each day until you can do it."
"You misunderstand father I..." Caegrin choked on his words, unable to reveal the truth.
"Oh, then enlighten me, boy?"
"Father," Brazek started.
"Not a word from you son!" Okrin snapped at him before he could go on further. He then advanced to Caegrin with an angered look on his face. "Out with it now."
"I don't have any magic!" Caegrin half shouted.
His father was taken aback by the answer. He always knew Caegrin didn't want to follow the family tradition, but his own child being without magic, it was inconceivable to lord Okrin. And yet there stood his own son, completely without magic in a world where it was a common power.
Okrin chuckled; almost hysterically. When he finished he said, "Go then, get out of my sight. Go make those pretty scratches on parchment you spend all day on. Perhaps you can draw me a son that isn't lame!"
He turned away and Caegrin called out to him as he walked, "I don't want to live here in these mountains forever father. Or trapped to these lands. I want to go see the world, what's so wrong with that?"
Okrin turned around, his eyes filled with anger and he looked like he might run at Caegrin any second and throw him off the ledge. Instead, he just said in a cold and cruel tone, "You misunderstand, boy. You are free to leave, but if you do then don't ever come back. Should you take even one step outside our lands without my permission, you will be banished from here forever. And you will no longer be my son, or have my family's name."
His father then turned and walked away from him. Leaving Caegrin to stand there on the balcony outside, hot tears streaming down his cheeks.