The wagon rolled onwards. He was gone. The bottom of a companion's sheath rose, as she bent to gasp for air. To her aid, another ran to comfort her. Would comfort heal what she lost? No. He was gone, and we all knew another would be soon. They all must have known it to be their fate, the goal in mind or not.
Siting atop the wagon, the young man gripped the reigns tightly. It was hard to hold back the incessant tears, so he flung up his hood to hide them. The harmonious wind and awe-inspired sights all took heed to their inner secrets. Their dire secrets. All that stuck to his mind was of the past, of his dreams made then.
Wiping the final tears, he turned to see his close comrade's expressionless face. The shadows disappeared and the sun's rays directed into the youth's sight. His vision closed, and so a vision of the past began.
The sound of a mallet could be heard against some distant metal. Close now, the expected smell of smoke, and a hint of beeswax, filled his senses. Taking hold of his own hammer and iron, the boy began the carbonizing process. The process of creating steal from iron.
The youngster nodded at his mentor, who made paces left and right as he envisioned the blueprints of his next weapon. But distractions ceased.
The pit's flame engulfed the coal as the boy compressed the bellows. Air swelled below the blazing fire, up and away. Next was the iron's place in the flame. The novice watched it melt as he continually pressed against the bellow.
“Not to much now!” Teiy shook at the sudden remark from his mentor, who proceeded back to his work.
Wiping sweat and ashes out of his eyes, Teiy continued. The iron seeped slowly as time progressed. So coal enfused with iron, and Steel was born. The almighty substance that directed the glory of those citadels that dotted the region. Teiy examined the red-hot thing as he prepared his snatch at it. Tongs through flame, they enclosed on Steel. Teiy lifted the steel bar and rested it against the anvil. For the first time, he would be his own guide. Teiy would create his own tool.
What should be made? The piece was not of size to make an efficient shield, but only a blade or helm. The blade could be of his own craftsmanship, his own defense. The concept of relying on his own armaments sent a shiver down his spine. Finally, he would attempt his first step.
A hand clutched him from the rear. Teiy jumped forth, his tongs falling abruptly against an iron slab.
An absurd laughing flourished. Wik, the mentor's son and personal combatant, leaned back with crossed arms against a charred post. “You sure are jumpy, aren't you? So, what are you doin-”
“Clod!” Teiy yelled enraged, with his hands by his side. He prepared for a hit to the chest... but no such one came.
“Say, you're planning on making a blade aren't you?”
“I - uh, why would you say that?”
“Well, you have a perfectly-shaped, steel lump for such a thing.”
Teiy looked back and forth, unsure of his fate.
“Calm down! Ha, it may be a little soon to be doing that, but that does give me an interesting thought. I have a bet for you.”
“I do indeed. How about you make a blade that can pierce this little-one.” Wik lifted up his banded shield, built far prior to his prime.
“That hunk of junk?” He flinched from a raised fist. “I - I mean... I accept! Now go away!”
“Huh? Just like that? Well, I'll be back later then.” Wik waved off with his shield at hand.
That banded shield, was it made of oak? It was made before he was able to carbonize steel if I'm right. A banded iron shield of oak, against a blade of steel in the arms of a 19-year-old assistant... It must be done!
Teiy grabbed the hammer and eyed the steel piece. A blade that would curl inward towards mid-length, then back out and in to its tip. A cross-guard that would face out and curl to each side to guard the knuckles. A grip that would be curled to fit each separate finger, personal taste in mind. And so the whacking began. A fire and tongs stood by his side to keep the material from getting cool.
And so the night went on...
The moon shone bright, only an inch or so away from shining fully-bright. A commotion arose down the trail into the village. The radiance of torches reached close, and the beating of horses caught sound. A group of knights went by atop their prancing ponies. What adventure might they be taking at this moment? The thought was exciting to ponder.
“Teiy!” The voice of his mentor came to light.
“Oh, yes Master Mundi?”
“Where is Wikleyt?”
“I haven't seen Wik in some time.”
“Damn... what's that there?”
“Oh - uh.” Teiy took it up in his arms. “It's a sword. It isn't quite complete yet.”
“Hm... Teiy, you know the horses well don't you?”
“Huh? The wagon? You've watched me ride it Master Mundi.”
“Yes, but my boy, I needed Wikleyt to send a shipment, yet he isn't anywhere to be found. Damn him!”
“I can do it Mundi...” Teiy choked his last words at the thought of the knights that rode by. “But I might require some protection.”
“Yes... yes, that can be dealt with. Let me see, we'll need a shield, some armour, and equipment for your journey.”
“Where will this shipment be to Master?”
“The Ruler of Builth. It's a castle to the south, if you remember. You accompanied me there a long while ago. Anyhow, the trail has signs posted that will direct you. You are of age to be able to complete such a task. But I’ll pay up for one of our bodyguards in the case of bandits. One moment.”
Teiy sat holding his almost-complete blade. It was short in length, yet sharp at all edges. The cross-guard went through some complications, and only one side remained. It did curl as it should down the side of the grip, yet the grip lacked the nudges for a proper grip in itself. It was no matter however, the blade was more than useful. It had the ability to inflict damage. But could it really penetrate that oaken shield? Its real use was a memento of what he can now achieve through sweat.
“Teiy, come here. You'll wear this. Now, now! You should look grateful! I have some durable stuff here for you... not to mention premium in price~”
The armour gleamed as Teiy stood in it, torch at hand. His blond hair ruffled as he waved it over, holding the helmet aside.
“Good! You're finally starting to show your true colors. That blade you hold should be the one to accompany you on your way there. While it will probably never be awoken from its rest, you crafted it with your own hands. It's very durable, I’m very proud.”
“You're making such drama of this Mundi. Will I be riding with a companion?”
“Of course. Gladius, are you ready!”
A voice could be heard mumbling from inside the shop.
“Oh, Teiy I almost forgot, your mother sent in a package just this morning. I'm sorry I didn't hand it to you earlier, but I was very busy. Here.”
Teiy took hold of the stone box, wrapped in cloth and rope.
“Now listen Teiy, there are bandits who roam these trails between cities in search of supplies. I want you to take this shield for -”
The warrior from inside the shop stepped into the outside breeze. His face and hair, hid by the protruding headgear. His voice arouse, muffled with a raspy echo, “Mundi, my friend, I will give the boy my own. I have no need for it anymore. I haven't been seen with it in the past spoonful of months. It should be used! Here boy.”
Teiy took the metallic thing. It was curved and the color of bronze, yet was not made of such a fragile mass. Teiy rose it up and tied it to his back, just before sliding his blade through a crevice within it. It felt stable, and with his helm at hand, Teiy felt prepared.
Mundi peered at Gladius, “Watch him.”
“Of course, 'til our return!”
Teiy sat on the wagon's seat and took hold of the reigns. The powerful steeds breathed heavily as they paced in place. Gladius pulled a large tarp over the back of the weapon and armor-load-en wagon. He climbed up and laid over the stout covering. “On with it!”, he said prominently.
And so it began... whatever “it” be thought as. One might look over and simply think “an adventure”, before going back to their homes.