A hiss. Soft, sharp, and silenced with a swiftness. He could feel the warmth that bled through the dry rag he held. Ezrano watched closely, any pull in the metal, any misbehavior. Not all metal acted the same. Even if it was from the same vein, the same growth of silver, the two pieces never were really the same. It was something not everyone understood, especially when they commissioned a sword. Beads of sweat dripped from his brow, one fell onto the butt of the blade, it quickly sizzled and dissipated.
In a quick motion he pulled it from the slack tub, a salty brine that wicked away from the heat, leaving the metal finished, cool, ready for his hands. He looked closely at it, but before he could find out what this blade was, the door to his shop swung open quietly, spilling light into the fire-lit room.
“Welcome,” Ezrano said without looking up, his deep voice welcoming. “How have you treated the day?” He wiped his forehead, wiping the sweat from it and brought his attention to his customer. They liked that, attention. All things liked the attention, a validation of its presence.
“Thank you!” A young man stood there, “It’s treated me well.”
“That is interesting. I’m glad, really, but I asked how YOU are treating it.” The blade had cooled enough, set itself enough, for him to put it down for the moment. Some things had to believe they were ready. People were like that too.
“Good…great?” The man seemed unsure.
“Well don’t ask me. It’s your day.” Ezrano laughed a soft, short, and rough thing.
He wiped his hands on a nearby rag, already sullied with the chaff that built up during the forging process. The bits that fled before hammer-strikes, sparks that burned bright for breath, those added up, and left a charcoal-like film on everything. He had been at it all day. Some days the metal spoke out to him, today was one of those. But customers had a way of speaking up and to him, too. Being much harder to let alone he paid his attention to the newcomer.
He was tall, dark-haired, and, absentmindedly, he rubbed a tattoo on his arm. It seemed to be a word, some sort of scrawl that Ezrano couldn’t read. He stopped staring at it, people didn’t like to be stared at. Well, not all the time. It was funny, people were like metal in a lot of ways, and in ways, only a lifelong metalsmith could know. Ezrano didn’t see himself as a metalsmith, he just tried to get the metal to the shape it wanted to be in.
“What can I do for you this morning?” Ezrano asked.
“I am in need of a sword. A good one.”
“Oh, then you’ll want to go three doors down. Coja has great weaponry over there, he does well with it. Solid, well priced and worth every penny.” Ezrano turned as though done. Few that came in here looking for a sword really wanted one of his. They wanted something practical, something with only one use.
“I already talked with Coja.”
“Then why are you here?” Ezrano stopped and looked more closely at the fellow. “He must have told you I don’t sell these.”
“He did say you sold one three years ago though.” The young man stood in a room full of swords, they filled out all shape and size.
Each one seeming to hold a life of its’ own, a story of its’ own.
Ezrano had sold one, he had made an exception. There was a reason he had stopped selling them, but he still made them. One after another, it was who he was. Ezrano Silversword. Bladewrite, shaper of ever-sharp silver. They lined the walls, each one a piece of him. They had all felt different, had garnered a different part of his understanding into their making. They had all wanted to be something different, like people.
“I did,” Ezrano admitted, a distant look drifted over his eyes.
He turned back toward the hearth-fire, the heat that radiated off it washed over him, like the memory. Beside the fire, rows and rows of silver bars lined the wall, the faint light that glistened off of them flickered between orange and metallic. Sturdy, weathered and worn hardwood tables, cedar buckets, simple furniture that surrounded a king’s wealth.
“I will pay any price.” The young man said, sternness rich in his voice, maybe it was something else though; a dull metallic thud followed his words.
Ezrano turned to find the very sword the man was referring to. It was his alright. The tell-tale sheen of his ever-sharp silver. There was the rippling that grew only in the moment of its true form, it broke off, the blade was shattered inches from the hilt. Broken as though it was glass. He frowned. It was impossible.
“This is a fake, my swords don’t shatter! The silver doesn’t break, or wear, ever.” He gestured with disgust, felt it too, twisting in his stomach.
“It is yours.” The man said he didn’t seem as young as Ezrano had thought.
He reached out and picked it up. The hilt felt right. Even as he denied it, Ezrano knew it was his own work. His hand had made this, it was a sword made for a purpose. The metal seemed to have been sheered off. There should not have been any way for it to break like that, only through him could it be undone. Clearly, he was wrong. This was the same sword, from three years ago. It grew heavier, the dim light even seemed to press in, as if to look at the broken blade.
“Who are you? How did you get this? The man I gave it to would not have misplaced it…where is Arandt?” Ezrano ran the questions out.
“Grimwood, my brother was Arandt.” Solemness cracked, and struck the voice of Grimwood, a deep strung chord.
Was his brother. Ezrano put the broken sword down. Sighed, both hands placed on the worn wooden table in-between them. A silence settled there too. Arandt had been a close friend and brother.
“I was there.” Grimwood filled in the quiet. “I need another sword.”
Ezrano bristled a moment; the demand of one of his life’s work pulled at his irritation, but he considered what Grimwood was thinking.
“What are you going to just go running off after him? You think you can do what your brother couldn’t?” That was blunt, piercing, Ezrano knew.
The whole situation was damned. Arandt was dead. He picked up the broken hilt, “Who was it? Did he find out who has it? What do you know?”
“I know enough. He was my brother, in life and purpose.” His eyes gleamed, almost afire one of his fists clenched.
Ezrano threw the broken hilt into the forge, letting the heat consume it. His frustration welled up, it burned like the fire itself. The bastard was still out there, Arandt dead, and now his brother wanted vengeance. It was only a matter of time, did he have a choice?
“Come back in four days.”
The words fell from Ezrano as he stared into the forge. He watched the hilt’s leather wrap burn, and crisp, falling ashen. The door swung shut, Grimwood was gone. The room felt darker, heavier, his burden grew. He pulled the glowing remains of the sword from the fire. Only his fire could -should- have been able to unmake it. He placed it on his anvil. Etchings glowed, glistened in the low light, marks from its making, reminders of what it had been. One furious hammer-strike, for Arandt. Another, for his anger. Again, Grimwood. He hammered until the strike was pure, quiet, a true and keen tune. Ezrano reached for one of the silver blocks off the wall.