This is a bit of dabbling with part of the rough draft for this chapter. Artwork by Raina Kuptz. 

Ace of Swords.

Alexander entered the forge boldly and with purpose. He walked toward the light of the smith’s fire, stepping around piles of metal ingots and fuel for the forge. He paused at the edge of the circle of light cast by the blue hot forge fire. Watching the smith work upon a piece of metal for several moments, he admired the craftsmanship of the man. This is what had drawn him covertly to this master craftsman.

The smith ignored Alexander’s presence. All of his focus of his concentration was upon the piece of armor that rested upon his anvil. The breast plate was glowing almost white hot, yet the smith held it in one hand. The smith’s left hand was covered in some type of large heavy glove with which he held the glowing armor piece. In the other hand the smith had a small ball peen hammer which rang down on the inside of the breast plate in repeated blows. With these hammer blows the smith was carefully shaping the subtle contours of the armor piece.

The moments passed slowly as the heat of the forge caused Alexander to sweat. His silk shirt was soon saturated. Yet Alexander showed no discomfort to any observer that would have been there that day. His will was intent upon watching every movement of the smith’s actions.

The contrast between the two figures was drastic. There stood Alexander, a slender tall man wearing a blue silken shirt and fine white trousers while being shoe shod with elegant polished black boots. His concentration was all upon what the smith was doing. In contrast there stood the the smith, hunched over his anvil, focused upon his hammering. He wore no shirt, covered only by a heavy leather apron over a short legged set of trousers. No shoes were upon the smith’s feet, and he ignored his silent guest completely.

A balance of ignoring and intense concentration stayed the equilibrium of the moments for over two hours. Only when he had finished shaping, forging, and tempering the armor piece several time, did the smith show any awareness of Alexander. He glanced up as he sat the breast piece aside upon a cooling rank, but still he said nothing. Then he sat about cleaning up his forge. He put away all of his tools in a slow methodical way. When he had finished sweeping up the tell and ash from the floor and banked his forge fire, then he turned to look straight at Alexander.

The smith’s voice sound like gravel rolling over a thick iron plate. “Duke Alexander, why are you at my forge? What do you desire that brings you here? “

Alexander quietly bowed slightly to the smith in respect. He ignored the discomfort of his fine quality clothes soaked with sweat and clinging to his frame. “Great Wayland, I have come seeking a boon. I seek a commission. “

The large smith snorted in derogation toward Alexander, and turned away. He took off his forging apron and hung it up on a peg in a center pillar in the forge. He hung the glove from his left hand on the peg after placing the apron there. Three steps took him to a large wood barrel filled with water. Wayland reach within and pulled up a large sponge saturated with water. He began to sponge off the sweat and ash from his bare chest and back.

“Duke Alexander, what makes you worthy to commission my work. What makes your desires of any significance to me? “ questioned Wayland in is deep, rumbling voice.

Alexander studied the smith in silence for several moments, calculating his response. The smith was a proud and powerful man, whose works were legendary through the centuries. “This commission would not be for me, but for my daughter. I seek to procure arms and armor for her future.”

Wayland threw the sponge back into the barrel. “And what will your daughter need of such things? I thought it was the way of your people to place your women behind closed doors and sequester them away from all doings of the worlds.” Wayland strode over to stand facing Alexander, towering over the slender noblemen.

“My daughter is of mixed heritage. Her mother’s kin are of a different mind set about such matters, “ said Duke Alexander.

The large ancient smith studied the slender man. “Alexander, you are a snake in matters of power. What is your plan here, and why should I gift my time to your schemes?:

For the first time since his arrival Alexander seem to hesitate. This was a vital moment to the beginning of his plans. “ I know my daughter will be a great power, and feel she needs weapons worthy of her coming stature. Once her destiny is revealed she will be beset by enemies on all sides.”

Wayland scowled at the slender man. “You are a liar. I do not know nor care what your schemes are. They are nothing but ash to me. What do you offer to pay for this commission.?”

Alexander launch into his spill, “I bring gifts worthy of your stature and skill. I also bring the materials for the arms and armor, sufficient for five times what is required for the commission. The remainder is yours. “

“I will decide what it takes to craft my wares. But I will see your gifts and materials. Be warned that if you insult me, I will break your arms, and legs and throw your crippled body back to your retainers.” warned the ill tempered smith.

Alexander was unphased by the threats. “Then come, my retainers have the goods and gifts outside your forge door. “