Fantasy
Scales of the Smith

Scales of the Smith

Looking at his half-empty bucket of ores, the blacksmith sighed. He could not make a living like this. He would need to find another cave to mine, if he wanted his orders to be on time. Slinging his pickaxe over his shoulder, he picked up his bucket and trudged out of the mine.

He had seen another cave once, in the mountains, that looked like a good place for finding iron. It was a longer trek through rougher terrain, but he supposed it would have to do. There was plenty of daylight still. He would see if he could fill this bucket after all.

Viggo’s mood brightening as he approached the cave, he began whistling to himself. His bucket swung loosely at his side, as his boots crunched pebbles along the entrance to the cave. When he stepped into the mine, glinting minerals caught his eyes as they adjusted to the dimness. And deeper within, he saw movement.

A massive shape rose up before him in the darkness. He fumbled for his headlamp. When it clicked on, he froze. A beast covered in hardened green scales roared at him. As the creature stepped forward, it sent gemstones tumbling from the pile beneath it. Viggo backed away just before sharp teeth snapped at where his head had been. 

Another roar shook the cave. “Turn that glaring light off!”

“Y-you can speak?” Viggo asked, before clicking the headlamp off.

He heard the dragon call out from the darkness. “Obviously. Now, get out of my cave before I eat you. I won’t have you stealing my treasure.”

“Oh,” Viggo replied. “you misunderstand me, great dragon. I didn’t come for your treasure. I just wanted to mine the iron deposits.”

The dragon roared again, but it sounded different. In the dimness, it looked like the creature was laughing. “You expect me to believe that you would leave my mound of jewels untouched, and be satisfied with some iron?” The huffing roar sounded again, and the dragon’s front arms wrapped around its golden stomach. 

“I may be a humble blacksmith, but I am no fool. I would not risk the wrath of such a ferocious beast. I would surely die before I could lay a hand on any of your treasure. I simply seek the means to continue my craft.”

“A blacksmith, you say?” The dragon’s wings settled to the ground. “Hmmm…you may mine the ores, if you swear never to try to steal my treasure. And,” he continued, “don’t shine that blinding light into my face anymore.”

Viggo was taken aback. He was just hoping to get out of the cave alive. He hadn’t expected the dragon to let him stay and mine. He debated whether he should leave anyway, but he needed the iron, and he didn’t want to risk offending the dragon by refusing his offer. So he took up his pickaxe and began to mine.

For a time, only the clanging of metal on stone echoed through the cave. The dragon lowered itself back onto its glittering hoard, watching. It did not seem to be watching out of wariness or curiosity; it seemed oddly at peace with the sound and motion of the blacksmith’s swinging arm.

“Are you a very good blacksmith?” the dragon asked.

“I am very good,” Viggo replied. “But I could be better.”

“How so?”

Viggo swung his pickaxe a couple of times before answering. What harm could it do to speak to this dragon of the things he never said aloud to human ears? 

“All those from nearby towns come to me for their tools and weapons, and I am grateful for that. It is enough to take care of me and my family. But what I really want is to make weapons for heroes. To have the products of my hands bring good to the world. To have tales told about the great weapons forged by Viggo Fjordorn.”

The dragon turned its head and looked Viggo up and down. It let out a soft sound, as if pondering some question. “I could see it…” the dragon mumbled to itself, so Viggo barely heard. The dragon raised itself up into a proud stance. “I am Fafnir, both dragon and dwarf, and I will help you.”

What do you think of the story so far? Check back in two weeks for Part 2!

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

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