Erik drew the blade across the wooden model's torso again, then brought his new shield up to block the return blow. He had rigged the simple wooden-framed statue to swing its sword arm at him when it was pushed to the right. When it was not pushed back, its shield was in front of it. Erik found this a simple, yet effective way of practicing with his sword and shield. He would find a weakness it the model's cloth sack armor and wooden shield, then slash. When the wooden sparring sword swung forward, Erik would raise his shield and push the sword back, then raise his sword and clash with the statue for a moment before repeating the entire process over again.
Erik wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead and sheathed his sword before walking back out to the front of the forge, where the work was actually done. He sharpened his sword for a while and then set it aside, making a quiver full of arrows. The resistance fighters were always needing more arrows, most of which really only got used in hunting expeditions. Still, keeping the people fed took up a lot of arrows and several broken bows. After finishing the arrows, he set them aside to be stored away later, then went into his armory. He was responsible for one of the armories, as well. He always kept a few of each type of weapon in working condition, as well as the ones in his forge that he was working on.
Most of his days went by like this. He would wake up early, eat breakfast, work in his forge for a few hours, practice for a bit, go to lunch, head back to the forge, work till dinner, eat, and then practice. Before going to bed, he would quickly stroll through the armory and secure all of his weapons and tools, then he would wake up the next day and do it all over again.
About a week after he first met Layla, he was eating dinner when she sat next to him with Zane. He greeted them and they talked for a while, and then Erik noticed the ring on her finger. He was quiet and did not ask about it, but he kept glancing at it and couldn't help but wonder where she had gotten it.
Later after dinner and some work, Erik went to bed and was greeted by a night of painful memories and unwelcome dreams.
Young Erik brought the hammer down on the blade hard, and it bent downward. He frowned and sighed in discouragement. "Father -"
"Here, son, let me show you." Erik's father gently took the piece of steel and the hammer and tapped the blade until it was aligned again. "Here, now very carefully tap it with the hammer just a few times, so that it flattens the side of the blade."
Erik did as instructed, and the blade flattened after just a few gentle hits. He looked to his father, excited, and waiting for further directions.
"Now, put it in the water over there - just for a moment, so it'll cool. Leave it in long enough to be safe to handle, but not so long that it becomes soft - soft steel is brittle. Don't want a brittle blade, now do we?"
"No." Erik carefully lowered the steel into the water, and looked at his father. After several seconds, his father signaled for him to remove it from the water. Then, with his father's help, he finished the rest of the sword and made a sheath for it. The blade was a reflective, mirror-like surface on the flat side, and razor-sharp on the edges. His father told him that the blade would serve him well for years.
Erik awoke the next morning after the dream, edgy because of the memories of his father. No matter what he did, how busy he kept himself, they always haunted him.