Bou and Rau: The Blacksmith
There was a disturbance reported in the residential quarter of Frewyn's capital. It appeared that an elderly gentleman of unsound mind and fowl temper had taken it upon himself to torment one of the blacksmiths who had decided to enjoy the exquisite weather and labor away from the aegis of the smithy for the day. It was reported that the old man had purposely pestered the smith as he was hammering at a pair of horseshoes on his anvil and did so much to gain his regard that he tossed a shoe at the blacksmith while he was mid-swing. The elderly man shouted all manner of disreputable swears and evils at the poor smith, claiming he owed him a shoed horse. The worker was kindly to the old man and gave him back his shoe, assuring him that they had never before had business together, and when the elderly man began his retort of contrary claims once more, the blacksmith assumed he was not in his right mind and called to the surrounding guard for assistance. The Frewyn forces became alarmed when the old man threatened to utilize his other shoe as a weapon and therefore called to the castle for a commander or a captain to diminish the situation.
Captain Connors had taken the charge but it was the commander and Den Asaan who had answered. They were summoned to patrol the residential area for the day and agreed to assess the circumstance themselves, much to Captain Connor's relief. They were only a few steps away from the blacksmith's when they heard the muffled sounds of the elderly man shouting without the aid of teeth and when they turned the corner they observed a small, shrunken man of eighty with a hunched back and brittleness of form assaulting the enormous blacksmith who stood perfectly still wearing his apron and holding his large hammer in his hand. The smith allowed the elderly man to wail at him indistinctly, as his size and tranquility allowed for such composure, and he waited for the Frewyn forces to arrive to take the man back to his home and his family.
The commander asked her mate to remain a fair distance, as she feared one look at the foreboding beast would murder the mad old man, and she approached the prepared to remove the elderly codger from his one-sided denunciation. The commander neared and the old man immediately quieted when he noted the stateliness of her tabard and the Frewyn emblem upon it. She placed her hands on her ample hips and glared at the gaffer with an astute and shrewd eye.
"Very well," the commander said in a threatening tone. "You received the attention you wanted and now I give you a choice. You may return to your home yourself or I will allow that giant to escort you." The commander pointed to the mauve-grey mountain in the distance and Rautu snarled, flexing his hands toward the old man. The commander could see that the elderly man was regretful for his rebellion and she stabbed her finger in the direction of Frewyn's nursing home across the lane, certain that such an eccentric codger could only have come from it.
The elderly man collected his shoes and hobbled back toward the nursing home with a faint apology for the blacksmith. The young smith nodded his acceptance and sighed, saddened that he was moved to call the guard for assistance. He turned to speak quietly with the commander and it was only when he faced her did she receive the full effect of his immensity.
The commander believed the smith to be nearly as large as the Den Asaan with more weight apparent around his midriff. His apron hid much of his overall definition but his bare arms portrayed his unassailable might and chiseled tone. Had the blacksmith succumb to more exercise and healthy regimen, he could have easily been mistaken for a Haanta warrior were it not for the Frewyn shade of pale skin colour and his fiery red hair. Even his expression retained something of the Haanta countenance of serenity and his bright green eyes were clear and discerning.
"Not to worry, blacksmith," the commander said, smiling at his sudden upset appearance. "You bore his maddening musings with resolution. I'm certain he would have had it no other way. I daresay you have given him more sport than he's had in years. Now he has story to tell the others and they can embellish his little adventure for hours."
The blacksmith managed to simper and shook his head. "I just didn't want to yell at 'im or not'in'," he said with a timid shrug.
"You're a very large lad from Westren," the commander said, deciphering his heritage from his thick accent. "I think he would have fainted if you had."
"Many t'anks for comin' over. I didn't want to turn my back on 'im for fear of him tossin' his shoes at my head again. Dat one is known for bein' a t'rower."
"Then you shall have to be known for your hammer hurler," the woman laughed, thinking of the elderly man being flatted with one pound of the smith's enormous mallet.
The blacksmith and the commander peered across the lane to find the gaffer had found his way back to the home. The elderly folk who were adoring the front yard of the residence were squawking to each other in their aged and toothless muffles and those who believed that quiet speech was unseemly took to howling at each other across the enclosure, making their conversations important to everyone in the immediate area.
"I should send a giant of certain distinction to quiet their party," the commander mused. "They're much more boisterous than usual. Perhaps the nurses have forgotten to stir their drinks with sleeping roots today. Do your utmost not to leave the smithy unless during our winters where the frigid weather will keep them behind their doors and freeze their toothless mouths should they attempted to smack their gums at you."
The smith bent over in laughter and held tight to the hammer in his hand to make certain he would not drop it for all the mirth that overcame him.
"If there is anymore shoe-tossing, I shall have my mate kindly place their brogans back upon their gnarled old feet," the commander said with a terrible grin.
"I will not admit I shouldn't like to see that," the smith guilty said.
"But you just have."
"Aye, I 'ave. My t'anks, commander." The blacksmith inclined his head and walked back toward his anvil with a gracious look toward the approaching Den Asaan.
The giant silently commended the metalworker for his quietness and enormity, wondering himself if he would consider conversion to the Haanta if only to escape the attacks of the elderly across the lane. He took his place at the commander side and they continued their patrol along the same road, passing by the nursing home to cast their aspersion upon its residents accordingly. However, before they began their amusing activity, the commander looked back at the blacksmith as he began hammering away on the horseshoe he was attempting to finish before he was interrupted. She titled her head as her curiosity toward him was piqued. She should not have known him to be different than he seemed but there was something in his air of concentration and expertise while performing his work that was familiar and inviting.
"Do you know him, Traala?" the giant asked his mate.
"No, not intimately. I have heard of him, rather of his abilities. Though he have our own blacksmith at the keep, I've been told that he's the one who sees to all of king's requests for perfectly fitting shoes for his horse. He almost never comes to the castle himself but I believe the king's mare will require new shoes this afternoon."
The Den Asaan studied the woman's elliptical speech and realized the means for the abundant
need of horseshoes when he caught the depraved look in the commander's eye and recalled her forlorn friend who was currently taking shelter in the guest quarters of the keep. "You believe this man would treat the woman differently?" Rautu quietly said.
"Loughnas requires a man with a firmness in constitution and an integrity of heart," the commander told her mate with conviction. "His hefty size and tremendous hammer add to the protector quality that we women so adore. It is all my ambition to see her happy again after her misfortune and I daresay I shall by the time the season is out, and if she finds peace and happiness with a gentleman of good character who enjoys hard work then she will be all the better for it."
Although the commander and the slighted woman had known little of each other since their younger days in the Tyfirrem Church, she believed that no woman that delicate and dulcet deserved such a cruel fate. She looked to the blacksmith one last time as her mate continued ahead of her and when he looked up to greet her approving gaze she could not help but notice how terribly handsome he was for a man from the west of Frewyn.