“Ok, go ahead and throw five of those pigs in the crucible.” Drisbin told Gabriel, who followed the directions closely picking up the metal bars as instructed, recognizing the hammer as one that had hung on the wall, and the steel as being of higher quality than the metal that they normally used for horseshoes. He then handed the thick gloves to Gabriel and told him to put them on.
Sliding his hands into the gloves, Gabriel then followed the next set of orders from Drisbin.
“Pick up one of the long pigs with the tongs and put them into the fire. Just like you’ve seen me do.”
Excitedly, Gabriel watched as the tongs and the large chunk of steel began to glow, Drisbin working the bellows, not a bead of sweat forming on his brow.
“Can you tell if has heated enough yet?”
Gabriel tried hard to look into the bowl without bringing his head too close to the fire. “How would I know?”
Drisbin laughed, “Well, what color is the metal?”
“Um, yellow, at the bottom, white at the tip.”
“Good, pull it out then.”
He did, and slowly, trying not to burn his teacher, Gabriel held the steel so that Drisbin could see inside.
“Ok. Set it on the anvil and take this hammer. Give it a good solid smack.”
“Keep at it until the it gets to be the right shape. If the metal gets too cool, grab the tongs and stick it back in the fire. Try and work in small sections.”
“I am going to go get some more supplies.”
“Ok, bye.” Gabriel watched out of the corners of his eyes as Drisbin left the smithy. He continued to hammer away at the metal, and after a few more strikes, the small section he was working on had begun to have a slope to it. The metal had also begun to cool, and his strikes were not having the desired affect, the hammer ringing clearly, but not causing any change in the bars shape. With the bar back in the fire, Gabriel allowed his mind to wander.
He was fighting a werewolf, the beast stood about a foot taller than him, and it’s foul breath was a mixture of death and disease. The creature had a taloned hand around his neck and Gabriel held a shield in between it and him.
The beast had jumped out of a tree, catching him completely off guard, sending him sprawling. Gabriel had managed to recover quickly, but as soon as his sword was drawn, it had been knocked away and now all he had were his shield and his free hand.
The werewolf pushed forward and managed to knock Gabriel, who tripped over an upturned root, over. The landing knocked the wind out of Gabriel and he struggled to draw his feet up. Once he felt they were in place, he kicked out, and pushed with both his arms, the shield acting like a platform, and launching the werewolf away. Scrambling, Gabriel grabbed his sword from where it lay and turned to meat the beasts charge.
When the beast saw that he was no longer facing an unarmed man, it slowed and cautiously advanced, swiping at Gabriel with one of it’s long forelimbs. Gabriel sidestepped the attempt and swung his blade back but met only air. The werewolf took the opportunity and charged in behind the blade, an arm outstretched to knock away the shield and the snarling mouth open wide to latch onto whatever got offered.
Gabriel took the offered blow to his shield, managing to get his feet planted and keeping himself, and his shield steady. The open mouth found purchase on his sword arm, the teeth sinking through the rings in his mail, drawing blood. Keeping the creature at bay with his shield Gabriel tore his arm free from the jaws of the beast and swung his gloved hand, hoping to connect with the creatures snout…
“Gabriel,” he was being shook by a firm hand.
Gabriel ’s eyes came back into focus and it took him a moment before he remembered where he was. Cailin was standing nearby shaking him.
“Gabriel, the metal.”
Looking down, Gabriel saw that the tongs were bright orange all the way up to his gloved hands and the thick leather was beginning to smoke. He jerked his the tongs and the metal out of the fire and dropped them onto the ground, the earthen floor immediately smelling scorched. Gabriel looked around and found a bucket and dipped it into the large barrel of water that Drisbin used to cool whatever it was he happened to be working on. He then dumped the water on the heated metal that was lying on the ground, sending steam rising to the ceiling.
“Sorry,” Gabriel said, shaking his head at the damage the distraction had caused.
Cailin smiled. “We all get distracted. Better now than when your life is on the line.” Knowingly, Cailin winked at the young man. “Father Meinos asked me to come in and remind Drisbin of what happens in six months.”
“You mean my birthday?”
“Well, there is that. But please just tell him that Father Meinos said ‘six months.’ Also, do not be late tonight, we will take you to your sister’s tree. Now get back to work.” Cailin left the building after a nod from Gabriel who picked up the tongs and the metal bar and began to heat it again, concentrating hard on remaining focused.
After a hard two hours of work, the metal was beginning to resemble a rough blade, the edges were not sharp but were close. Gabriel stood up to admire his handiwork and took a few light hearted swings with the flattened metal rod. It was this time that Drisbin entered the room and the blade struck the leather of his apron with a lout thwack.
Drisbin glared at Gabriel before bursting out in a laugh. “Here, let me see it.” He took the blade-to-be from Gabriel and after looking it over, told him that it was a decent first attempt. He then took the blade, a hand at each end, and brought the brittle metal down over his knee, snapping it in half.
Gabriel’s jaw dropped open and he started to protest.
“There was nothing wrong with it Gabriel, but I did it to prove a point. Tomorrow, we will make another blade and we will sharpen it as well. Now go on, I heard that it is time for you to find your sister again. Get cleaned up.”
Gabriel stripped off the gloves and the apron and turned to leave before remembering the message he was to give Drisbin. “Ahh, Master?”
“Cailin came by. He said that Father Meinos said six months. That was it.”