Last Autumn I set a goal to try and improve my ability to write by setting aside some time to write every night, and although I am not currently following this routine, here is a short story I wrote one of the nights last fall. I wrote it using a “stream of consciousness” approach where I jumped in with just a basic idea (proud blacksmith) and tried to write the whole thing in one go. I hope you enjoy, and feel free to drop any comments or critiques below.

Clang. Tang. Bang. The hammer blows fell in measured time. A shower of sparks exploded with each impact of the hammer’s cold face on the red hot iron. As each blow fell, the muscles of the blacksmith’s arm could be seen to ripple with energy beneath his soot weathered skin. His hair was black, and he wore a thick beard that nearly hid his mouth from view. Bushy eyebrows overshadowed eyes which shown like coals. Called Jakall, he was the great smith of Amverdale, known for creating the arms and armor of such heroes as Merasmus, Ophis, and Bilthar: men who were known for great skill with sword and spear.

It so happened that on this particular day in early spring, before the heroes went out for the summer campaigns, that a certain stranger came to Amverdale. He wore a rough tunic that had once been white, but was now soiled by the dirt and grime of the road. His only possessions were a haggard looking horse, meager rations of food, and a sword at his side.  He approached Jakall, and Jakall, assuming the stranger to be a penniless knight of little worth said:

“Ye may as well pass on stranger, for you’ll find no labor here that can be hired without any coin.”

“Well,” replied the stranger in a dry and raspy voice, “I have no money to pay at the moment, but in some short time I should be in a situation to repay you ten times over.”

“I don’t do work on credit for men of no reputation,” Jakall said, spitting into the fire as he turned away from the stranger.

During all of this interchange the stranger had been bringing out a parcel wrapped in heavy cloth, and begun to unfold it upon Jakall’s bench. After he was done, he drew the hilt of his sword from its sheath and set it on the bench top, saying:

“And what makes you think that I am a man of such little renown? Is it my garb? Or the fact that my horse is worn and thin?”

“Sir…” began the blacksmith spinning toward the stranger angrily, but he was cut off in mid-sentence as he viewed the sword –or more precisely “pieces of the sword” –that lay on his workbench. The hilt and handle were intact, but the blade had been broken above the point of balance, and lay in several shards across the workbench. However, this is not what caught his attention, but rather the insignia that the pommel of the blade bore: a leaping leopard. Only one knight bore that insignia, and he had not been home from the crusades in the wilderness for many years.

“Sir Hector,” the startled blacksmith blurted out, “please forgive my impudence and my harsh words. But sir, please let me forge anew your sword to repayment the hurt that I have done your name.”

“The slur you have cast cannot be rescinded my good sir. Your fiery tongue makes you most unjust and will do you much harm if not kept in check. I wish to have my sword repaired. Can you do it? I am willing to pay you as I said before, no different; but if not, I shall have to find a better blacksmith than yourself who can do the work for me.”

“I will do it, and all else that my Lord commands, should my Lord forgive my rash and disrespectful speech.”

At this the stranger turned to go and said,

“You were forgiven before you asked. Now bear no guilt in your mind about past wrongs, but go forward a better man. Forgiveness heals all wounds, but anger only creates new ones.”

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