Scales of the Smith – Part 2
This is part 2 of Clever’s short story. If you would like to read the beginning, you can find it here.
It turned out Fafnir had been a dwarf in a former life, before he was cursed to become a dragon, and still remembered the ways of dwarven smithing. And dwarven armor was coveted for a reason, for they knew a powerful secret.
Fafnir challenged Viggo to forge the best weapon he had ever made and bring it to the cave. Viggo chose his finest ores and made sure his hammer struck true, as he drew out the blade. He expertly quenched the sword and artfully shaped it. When he was finished, he presented the blade to Fafnir.
The dragon took the sword into his claws and twisted it to examine every angle. Finally, he nodded. “You are worthy,” he announced. “I will show you the secret known only to dwarves.”
Fafnir scanned the cave and pointed with a claw towards one corner. “Mine some of those ores and bring them to me.”
Viggo sat the dark ores in front of the dragon, who used his claws to break them apart. He made an exasperated sound and called Viggo over. “My hands are too large for this; you must take these drops of quicksilver and mix it,” he turned to pick through his pile of treasure, “with these silver coins. Step back now.”
Fafnir clawed a small hole into the ground, pushed the coins into it, and melted them with his flames. “Now, the quicksilver.”
Viggo came forward and tilted the split ores so that drops of the metallic liquid dripped out into the molten silver. He looked back up at the dragon.
“You must do this next part as well. You will use the mixture to write runes on the sword, in the center inlay, and on the hilt. Let me show you the symbol to draw, only make yours smaller.” Fafnir then used a claw to scratch out what looked like an arrow, and other lined symbols, ending again in the arrow. “These are called victory runes. They will lend the bearer strength and luck in battle.”
Viggo laid the sword next to the hole in the ground and pulled out the thinnest drift from his belt, dipping it into the metallic paste.
“As you draw the runes, you must think about a time when you felt strong and victorious,” Fafnir told him.
Viggo thought back to the time he completed his apprentice-ship. His arms had grown muscular, he’d felt in the best shape of his life, and his skill had been deemed worthy of becoming a proper blacksmith. He began to copy the runes onto his sword. As he did so, the runes glowed blue. Taken by surprise, he pulled back, and they flickered.
“Focus,” Fafnir chastised him.
Viggo continued inscribing and brought himself back to his memory, the feeling of being young and strong. The runes glowed a steady blue, as he completed the drawing.
“Step away,” the dragon ordered. This time he fired the entire sword. The blue glow faded, and in its place the markings were bright silver, as with any silver gilding. “It is done. This is a sword for a hero.”
Word of Viggo’s magical weapons soon spread, and heroes came from far and wide to commission him. He worked tirelessly in the forge, comforted by the sound of ringing metal and the heat of the furnace. Fafnir taught him more runes, and he began sharing the memories he used to fuel the magic with the dragon. After setting the gilding with his dragon flame, Fafnir would honor him with a story of his own. Surprisingly, Viggo found he liked having a companion in his work.
The small town began to flourish, the innkeepers filling every room and cooks busy feeding the appetites of heroes. They would thank Viggo profusely whenever he went through town for food or goods, some even offering the requested items for free, in repayment for the business he brought to the town. Viggo was uncomfortable with these offers, and turned them down, for he was an honest working man and surely made enough from his own work now to pay for all his needs and more.
A few months later, Viggo noticed a change when he came into town. No one offered him any gifts, which at first he took as a sign that his constant refusals were finally being accepted, until he realized no one thanked him or clapped him on the back either. And then there was the grumbling.
“The poor bar-maid was dodging hands all night as she brought out the drinks, and hardly a tip for her efforts.”
“Suppose they think their mere presence is a tip enough for her.”
“They all wanted the best room I had, but I’ve only got one best. It came to blows right in the middle of the common room. The victor declared he had won the right to the best room, with no mention of payment for the broken stools and shattered glasses.”
It seemed that the novelty of the heroes had worn off, and patience was now wearing thin.
Viggo was taking a short-cut around a stable, when he heard a voice call out to him. “What are you doing taking a stroll, when my horse is yet to be saddled?” The man speaking was tall and broad shouldered.
“Sigurd, we are waiting on you, as usual,” a nearby man called out.
“Stop pestering me, Thidrek. It is the fault of this lazy excuse for a stable hand,” Sigurd replied. He raised his hand to Viggo. “Get my horse saddled, now, before I strike you.”
Sigurd? Thidrek? These men in front of Viggo were heroes he had heard songs about. The ones he dreamed of making great weapons for. He was so shocked by their presence before him, and the incongruence of Sigurd’s actions toward him with the courage and generosity the songs spoke of, that he immediately began to saddle the horse.
The two men were soon joined by others, swaggering around the stables and boasting of themselves.
“Thidrek and I have both slain dragons, what of the rest of you?” One of them challenged.
“I will have my dragon soon, Gunther, and its treasure,” Sigurd answered. “I have heard of one in a nearby cave. He used to be a dwarven prince, they say.”
“And how do you plan to defeat him, mighty Sigurd?” The other men chuckled.
“As soon as I have an enchanted sword from that famed blacksmith, I will find the weak spot in the dragon’s belly, and use it to stab him in the heart.”
What did you think of part 2? Who do you prefer, the dragons or the heroes? What do you think Viggo will do? Click here for the conclusion to the story!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF