The Knight that Wasn’t

“Fine work as always, Darin! You even added the engravings I mentioned – thought I would have had to visit Samuel for that.” I bowed at the praise, shoulders and back aching at the gesture.

“You’re too kind, Milord. I merely wanted the challenge is all.” It wasn’t a challenge at all – just like the last dozen times I’d done the same thing, and had the same conversation. Not that the baron would remember. He never did.

“Of course, of course. Speaking of challenge, the Duke of Barrinton is due for a visit in a fortnight and I need my boar-spear replaced. Something sturdy, but intricately detailed. I want to be the talk of the hunt! What say you?” The man asked, though it was not a question. It never was with noblemen.

“It will be done, Milord. I’ll have the design sent up to you later this evening if it pleases.” The rest was said for courtesy more than anything – the man had already begun to walk away the moment I had voiced my agreement. His cloak being the only part of him that I could see, slipping out of sight as his train of guards and advisors followed behind.

Sighing and running a hand across my forehead and through my hair, grimacing at the soot and coal residue I no doubt smeared across skin, I turned to look at my apprentices. They were young lads, half my age and, honestly speaking, as poor students as one could find in this pisshole of a township. But, they were eager to learn, even if it was comparable to butting heads with an ox trying to get them to remember. They were strong, though, and had endurance to spare if their working the bellows was any proof.

Gods, was I ever so stupid? I could hardly fathom it. Nay, you were worse… A voice whispred in the back of my mind.

Shaking my head, I gestured for the two to cease their work. They did gratefully, moving away from the forge in an instant and wiping the sweat from their brows. “Alright – Harid, Taylin. You two collect your pay and head home. I’m closing up tonight to work on His Lordship’s spear. Make sure you’re back first thing tomorrow – at dawn! You hear me?!”

Shouting to make sure that the two heard me, as they had begun moving the moment I had mentioned “pay” and “home,” I could only sigh. Eager to learn as they may be, no youth wants to spend their entire day working. Something you know all to well, eh, Darin?

Scowling at the thought, I pushed it aside and turned my attention to the task of closing the forge for the evening. Making sure to take any valuables with me as I did so – more out of habit than worry for their stealing. As the Baron’s – and thus the castle’s – personal smith, thieves would think twice of robbing me. The penalty would be equal to stealing from His Lordship’s person.

Moving about the forge, I found my eyes drawn to the half-finished swords that littered the benches and walls. Some missing handles or guards, while others needed to be sharpened or to have some minute detailing added. Their future owners having forgotten – or decided to add – the last possible moment. Picking one that was closer to finished than the rest, I tested the balance and eyed the fuller to make sure it was optimal. Giving an experimental swing, I couldn’t help but sigh.

“Darin, you fool. Give it up.” Tossing the blade onto the table I’d retrieved it from, I grabbed the box that contained the day’s earnings and headed towards the stairs located at the rear of the smithy. Still, I could not help but turn and look back at the blade, tossed aside roughly, near falling off the table it lay on.

“Damnit…” Placing the box on the nearest surface, I made my way back to move the sword into a more dignified position. The blade was fine, of course. It was tempered steel. But the idea of it falling to the dirt like that, discarded and left there…

Too close to home, isn’t it? My mind supplied, and I could only agree with that conclusion.

Reaching out to trace a finger down the blade to the hilt, my mind was drawn back to the past. The blade fading away into a simple wooden stick and the smithy replaced by a wide and bountiful forest. Crackling embers became the laughter of young boys, all dreaming to be knights or kings or adventurers, leaving their tiny village behind to find glory and to fulfill their youthful ambitions.

But, just as quickly as it came, it fled. And the smithy was all that remained. The embers dying in the forge and the sword left there on the table, unfinished. Its potential not yet realized. And perhaps it never would be. Perhaps this sword, like so many others, would be worn as a status symbol, never drawn for anything but ceremony.

I turned away from the table, heading back to the box I’d left behind and continued my trek up the small, cramped, staircase that led to my own miniscule quarters. The embers in the forge growing dark from a lack of fuel and and air. No doubt they would be cold by morning.

For once, the voice that taunted me was quiet.

Read More: Clean Nails – Another Fantasy Short

Just a random short I threw together to get the creativity going. I don’t know if its any good, but at least it was some writing done! Please let me know what you think, check out the rest of my blog and its posts, and leave a like if you liked it!

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