The Forging

The footfalls of myths thundered through the lands. Towering mountains and deep seas called Dragon and Giant master. Shimmering veils between worlds danced like reflections inside the vast forest of gargantuan trees illuminated from within by the shining cities of the firstborn elves. Under the protection of their sorcerer kings, elves crafted wonders unimagined.

In the city of Mhiilamniir, the elder king cast his divinations into a foreboding future. Brimming with hate, rage and unnatural ferocity, an army of orcs, spurred on by the bloody blessings of their cruel master, Gruunmsh, poured into the forest. The pain of knowing the heedless destruction of beauty and life nearly broke the elder king’s heart, but he swore before his gods that this time of slaughter would end in fey fire and elven steel. Thus, he called upon his crafters to put aside their hearts’ desires and take up the uncompromising arts of war.

“O my beloved kin, whose hearts are ruled by the love of art and creation, turn your minds now to the matter of steel and mithril. Heed the cries of your murdered kin whose light was extinguished by merciless iron boots and mailed fists. Make now the weapons of vengeance that our unbearable sorrow may find voice in the arms and hearts of our stalwart host.”

And, so, Eloen, lady of the mithril forge for Clan Liadon, called most fair of her kin, found herself inspecting rocks.

“Aolis, come here,” she said. Her child, never far from the forge, danced his way to his mother. Both mother and child were fair, lithe and red of hair. Their playful grins and mischievous glances expressed the small delights they so easily found in everyday life. Their carefree movements seemed inspired by the same internal song. “Do you know this rock?”

Aolis looked at the pile of gray rock and noticed the flecks of white ore that reflected the light of the moon. “Mithril ore” he whispered. He took one of the larger rocks and studied it. “But not ours, this comes the from mines of Myth Draenor.” He put the rock with the others, fidgeted a bit and looked back to his mother.

“Do you remember all the prayers to Corellon?” she asked.

“All of them.” He said. He face lit up at this question and the tightness left his body.

“You remember how to call the sacred fire?”

“I remember the prayer but I’ve never channeled the power.”

“You remember the invocation of forming?”

“But I thought was forbidden to children.”

She looked frowning upon her child and said, “When my father began my apprenticeship, I crafted a jeweled dragon egg made of silver-white platinum, emerald and diamond.”

She looked past him into memory and smiled.

“All the clan gathered when I was done and celebrated its beauty and the rare talent that  could make its like.”

She closed her eyes for a moment then she looked upon Aolis once more.

“But, as much as I wish it so, your first creation will not be a work of wonders. The high king calls for blades and that it what we must master. Simple weapons of war.”

Aolis took a step back from his mother, head cocked as if listening for a song sung far away.

“You have my blood in you,” his mother said, “and you’ve been taught all the prayers.”

“But our family doesn’t…” he tried to gently protest.

“You will be the first in our line.” She picked up a rock from the table, “This is good ore, a good start.” She looked back at him, her fair face darkened, “You must answer the call of our people. Fashion the blade tonight, I will inspect it at morning's first light.” And she stepped out into the night.

He watched his mother leave and looked back at the ore. At dawn, if he succeeded, he would be a smith of weapons, not the artist his forebears had been. But answering the high king’s call would mean, when the time of troubles was over, his work would be forgotten by all his kin and he would be known as a maker of tools. A sad footnote in the clan’s otherwise glorious history of culture and imagination. He took up the rock in his hand and addressed it.

“I suppose time is short and you didn’t plan on spending an age as a blood drinking knife, either. Maybe you’ll only be a sword, and I a smith of swords, but we shall make of each other what must be made.”

So, he placed the rocks in the crucible and added glass, leaves and flowers. Then he sealed the crucible with clay and etched Corellon’s sacred symbols on the surface. Once the last symbol was finished, he inspected his work.

“There, it’s about as well as I’ve ever done with this.” He said, “and now the song of sacred flame awaits.”

He set the crucible in a metal stand so that he could place his hands on the surface.

“I’ve seen mother do this often enough,” He said. “Make the words, keep the pace and rhythm, let the divine provide the power and my mind’s eye will guide it. May the god of war find my sacrifice pleasing.” His hands tightened around the crucible, feeling the holy symbols that were now strangely warm to his touch. He began the summoning the sacred flame, keeping is chant at a slow pace.

“Osren ennore, filmelion una edhil nsa unarith…”

Burning pain flared. With a shriek, he pulled his hands from the crucible. His palms reddened from the exposure to the flame. The crucible itself was unchanged except that the runes now glowed with a deep crimson heat. He stared at the object and then paced back in forth, rubbing his hands.

“Other craftsmen did not burn when purifying rock and ore. Why is this so with me?”

He thought for a moment more.

“Or, is it with us? Maybe you resent the future as much as I,” he said to the glowing crucible.

In the morning, his mother would return. He thought about the high king and his hosts facing the monstrous horde. He thought about Mhiilamniir, its trees burning and its people calling for someone to save them. With all this flashing in his mind, he turned back to the crucible.

“This isn’t what anyone wanted but this is what we have to do. If you’re going to be an expression of my art then you have every right to take a piece of me. But I’m also going to take a piece of you.”

He placed his hands back on the crucible.

“I choose the form, you choose the path. The bargain is made even if the way is fraught with pain.”

He began the chant again.

“Osren ennore, filmelion una edhil nsa unarith…”

The crucible turned red and, again, he felt the heat of it. He continued the chant, his voice cracking as he made the words. The scent of burned flesh filled the workshop.

“Osren ennore, filmelion una edhil nsa unarith…”

Over and over, he repeated the chant, summoning more and more sacred flame until the glow went from dark red, to brilliant orange to bright yellow. It felt like he no longer had hands. He pushed it out of his mind and focused on the power of the elves’ highest divine. He could not let go.

“Osren ennore, filmelion una edhil nsa unarith…”

Now it glowed a bright white. The young smith’s body finally betrayed him and turned away from the bench. He did not let go as he fell to his knees.

““Osren ennore, filmelion una edhil nsa unarith…” he shouted one last time and smashed the crucible on the ground. He pulled himself along the ground and then sat up to look at the glowing orb of silver-white metal radiating patient innocence.

He looked at his hands. He still felt a sting in his palms and turned them. With eyes which no longer seemed young, he gazed upon the sacred symbols of Corellon burned into his palms.

“A fair trade,” he said still staring at the marks on his hand, “I mark you, you mark me.”

With a quick incantation, he summoned a spectral hand to lift the hot mithril cake onto the anvil. He called upon Corellon again and channeled the divine energy into the form of a spectral sword in the curved, single-edge style that he was most familiar with.

“This is the shape you must take,” he said. There was a sternness in his voice that had not been present that morning. “You will be simple but light, like dragonflies on the wind. You must be hard and sharp as hawk’s talons yet flexible as a dancer. ”

As he chanted, the mithril orb flattened into a cake and slowly began to take the shape that matched the spectral sword. The blade, hilt and crossguard formed together into a single object. When it was done, he had a simple elven longsword, curved for superior cutting. The blade was smooth, silver-white, like starlight.

He examined his work in the dimly lit workshop. Every aspect of his creation was disappointing, it was a shame he could not decorate it more with fine gems or runes. But it was to be a simple soldier’s weapon, not a witness to the high dramas nor a symbol of power. Still, it did need one last thing, he etched in a small symbol of a hawk to represent the craftsman who made it. And then he rested in the shop, wondering how anyone could approve of this as a creation of the Mithril Forge.

The young swordsmith woke to find his mother inspecting the night’s efforts. His eyes fell upon the master’s unblemished hands, perfect after so many long years heating the crucible and forging works of art. He stood up, balled his hands into a loose fist and locked his eyes on the sword.

“This is well done,” Eloen said, “It may serve as tool and companion for our kin during the times to come. There is one more step that is not traditional in our art.” She produced a small vial filled with a dark red liquid.

“The orcs have already killed so many but they too have paid the price for their slaughter. In this vial, there is an acid carefully crafted from the blood of fallen orc raiders. We will etch all the weapons we produce for this conflict with this.”

She took a thick white cloth and poured a small amount of the red acid on it. She then gently rubbed both sides of of the sword. She looked up to see Aolis wincing at the liquid on the blade, his hands were in a tight fist.

“Come and look,” she said.

He stepped closer to see intricate patterns forming on the blade. The surface of the blade was still smooth, as if the etching were just below the surface and it still shown a silver-white glow.

“This is your first creation, the first expression of your art,” his mother said, “you may keep this one as a symbol of what you can do and your place in this world. Let it remind you of your bonds to your people and your gods.”

Aolis took the blade carefully into his hands. “In the legends, great heroes name their swords. Should I name this one?”

“It’s really not a common practice to name tools.”

Aolis shrinked while still staring at the blade.

“But it’s yours do with as you wish,” she said.

Then he stood to his full height and held the sword in front of him.

“I will name it Anglachel, as the bird of prey, our enemies will be torn by its swiftness.”

“We are a clan of smiths,” she said, “we serve our people in the workshops, not on the field of battle where warriors rule. I doubt any orc will learn the name of Anglachel and you can’t name all the blades you will forge.”

She grinned as she watched him test his new creation with quick slashes at empty air.

“Go home and rest. Tomorrow, you will begin the toil of saving our people.”

To part 2: The Shattering

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