Friday Flash Fiction: Ashes in the Sword

Clang clang, clang clang.

The rhythmic beat of the hammer echoed through the smithy, the apprentice moving the sword slightly in anticipation of his masters next stroke. The orange glow of the fire illuminated the work space as the twilight fell outside. There was little of the town left outside the smith’s walls and few people to appreciate the sunset.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The raiders had come through and burned most of the village. They’d taken nothing, leaving what few treasure the town had to burn with its buildings and it’s people. Anybody who had tried to flee had been run down, shot with an arrow or run through with a sword. This, then, was to be the bloody vengeance the injured lord has sworn.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The people had known what was coming. They knew it the minute somebody had decided to throw a rock to emphasize the villagers refusal to comply with the lords latest demands. They were not his property, this land was not his, and they refused every demand he made for the first fruits of all their labor. Somebody had thrown a rock when he was red with rage at their refusal. Somebody else had seen who it was. All refused to give up the perpetrator.

Clang clang, clang clang.

They did not bury their dead and the funeral pyre’s would be burning long into the night. The first heating of the metal to make the sword had been in the heat of the pyre of the smith’s wife. The ashes from the wood had been mixed in with the sword in an ancient ritual forgotten by many outside the village. The survivors of the attack had all been there to witness it, pouring their hatred, their pain, into the glowing metal that would be destined to see vengeance done.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The sword was taking shape, the metal more pliable than it normally would have been, being drawn into shape by the smith’s anger and rage and grief. His daughter had been one of the ones who ran. His son had tried to protect her. She had died. He stood next to the forge, one arm bandaged to his side, intent on his mission, his goal. There would be little time after this night for his apprenticeship.

Clang clang, clang clang.

They forged on into the night, the metal being worked and molded, glowing with magic as well as heat every time it met the fire. The songs of lament lifted outside in the village, the people sending their loved ones up to the gods, with promises of peace and love and vengeance. As midnight neared, the apprentice began to instruct his son on what was to be done. He would have to gain more skill at sword-fighting, learn subterfuge and the ways of the people of the world.

Clang clang, clang clang.

Things would be hard, his father told him. But he would be there for him, always there for him, throughout the whole ordeal. He instructed him to build a pyre after the  whole thing was done and burn the sword. It would survive anything but being placed on a funeral pyre for all the souls it would release would render it down into the ash from the first pyre it was heated in.

Clang clang, clang clang.

The boy nodded, his tears running down his face and splashing on the anvil as he moved the sword slightly, anticipating his father’s blow. The sword glowed as midnight approached, becoming brighter than the fire. You know how to finish it, his father said. How to put on the handle, give it an edge. Make it a good one, serviceable, don’t let it call attention to itself.

Clang clang, clang clang.

“Bear witness, my boy,” the smith said as midnight struck. “Avenge your mother and sister.”

Hissssssssss.

The boy watched as the sword they had forged in hate and anger and grief was cooled in his father’s heart’s blood. A great explosion rent the air and, when he could see again, his father’s body had turned to a pile of ash. He took up the sword and finished his fathers work.

Then, he began his own.

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2 Comments

Filed under blacksmith, flash fiction, forging the magic sword, magic, sword, vengeance

2 responses to “Friday Flash Fiction: Ashes in the Sword

  1. Maybe its just me, but I hear march of cambreadth by heather alexender in the background of this story. a fine tale of woe and vengeance.

  2. I love that song and I definitely hear that song in the background.

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