Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, compiling my old writings has obviously taken a little more than a week. I'm up to 99 pages at the moment, and expect to add a few more (honestly. I'll be surprised if I hit this incarnation). I'm pretty well up-to-date on formatting and that sort of stuff, but the monsters still need some work (updating stat blocks, adding small bits of information that I was too lazy to do the first time around). Illustrations will probably wait for the next go-round with this manuscript.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Smith's Wife

As it was told to me, so do I, Cheven os'Wend os'Kyulun, tell it to you. This paper is my tongue, this ink my voice. These facts were given to me by Scios Argentstone, called The Little, sage of the kingdom and scribe to Wesinol, King-in-Waiting of the noble realm of Thurinfel, Bulwark of the Misting Lands, the Jewel in the Horns.

In years long gone by, before the dragons were bent to the will of the gods and the giants fell, the Smith labored in the Underhalls of the Fortress of Tige, the citadel of the gods. In the expansive darkness, lit only by solitary torches and the flagrant illumination of the forge, he crafted wonders. The shield Culm was born in that echoing place, and it is said the thunder of that bulwark, that can send an army into retreat, is no more than the palest reflection of the sounds of the Smith at work.

The Smith had little patience for the vagaries and whims of other beings, and sought no company for himself. In solitude he labored, and in solitude lived his life. From time to time he bound demons or elementals to his service, but found the value of their assistance lessened with time, and the gratingly inflexible nature of their beings. Elementals shunned each other, and only those of fire and earth would willingly work the forge, but shunned the touch of water or the breath of the bellows. The daemonic servitors were even less successful; some shunned iron, others silver; on those occasions the Lord of the Forge had visitors the fiends were often unable to approach, or handle those instruments which the powers of weal had commissioned (indeed, it is rumored that the Chalice of Tears, that spiteful tool of chaos, was first corrupted by the errant touch of a fiend in the Underhalls, and it is for this reason it was so easily turned against the worshipers of the Gentle Goddess).

Likewise was the Smith dissatisfied in other matters. In his dreams, the restless and troubled creations of a sleeping god, he imagined a woman, one skilled in many arts, companion, helpmate, and lover in one. Long he considered this in his dreams, and then in his waking moments, until finally he took up hammer and tongs, and began to work.

She was cast from the purest silver and mithril, with diamonds for eyes and heart. She had knowledge of all the arts a woman should know, and those of the most skilled smiths as well. Her breath was frost and her skin no warmer than ice, and she took no notice of either heat or cold because of it. Her hair fell in platinum locks to her knees, and the Lord of Hammers wove her gowns and robes of gold and silver. She shone like the winter moon on a field of snow, and the darkness of the Underhalls was lessened.

It is not know how long she labored there, in the company of her husband and creator. She assisted Catil in all he did, and crafted great workings of her own; the Tapestry of Merlighol; Daishaironuoth, the enchanted jewel of the Fallen Kings of Throllier; and Iedain, the Crown of Songs, are all reputed to be creations of the Smith's Wife. She made no complaint to her lord that she never left the darkness of the Underhalls -- her own luminance was most familiar to her, though she had seen and was made most curious by the glimpses she had of starlight and sunlight that the Smith brought in for his work. She labored uncomplaining, satisfied to be in the company of her who had made her, and filled every need she had ever known.

The creation of the Smith's Sword was unknown to her; the God of Hammers had labored long and in solitude on that which he believed would bring him immortality greater than his undying life. Likewise was his punishment unknown to her; He Whose Name is Lost was cast from the Vale of Andÿn long before anyone thought to relate his passing to her, a construction of silver and mithril.

She sat without moving for many days after she was told, and then arose and left the darkness of the Underhalls of the Fortress of Tige. She left the forge unstoked, and the hammer where it lay, and entered into the sunlight. She traveled across the world, and saw the sun and the moon and the stars, and knew the feel of rain on her skin and sunlight on her brow. And where she traveled, she asked, until she heard of a man with no name, who knew not what he did or what he was, and she sought him out.

Tears of diamond fell from her eyes at the sight of her lord, and she rushed to him in pleasure, embracing him. But her heart turned inside her silver chest when his skin burned at her touch, for the Lord of the Dead had cursed the Lord of Smiths that his skin burned at the touch of metal, and there was no part of her that was not shaped from that substance. "I cannot touch you", he said to her. "Your skin is too cold, and it burns me," for he could not know what had been done to him, and she was colder than ice. And with these words she turned from him and left, for she knew she could bring no comfort to him.

The Smith's Wife sought the oldest wizards, and begged their council. "There is naught we can do", they said, after casting many spells over her. "The arts that have shaped you are far beyond our working." She sought out the priests and priestesses of Aeva, the Goddess of Life, and pleaded an audience with the wisest of them. "There is naught we can do", they said after much prayer. "You are no more alive than a coin of silver, and the arts to make you otherso are well beyond our ken." Finally, she sought out the deepest of the dwarfen folk, and bargained with them, gifting them with all the knowledge that was hers. "There is naught we will do," they said. "You have nothing left to bargain with. As you have given us knowledge, so shall we give the same to you. A heart of the purest gold will turn your skin to flesh and warm it with blood. A draught of the elixir of life will bring breath to your lips and motion to your limbs." This filled the Smith's Wife with despair, for she knew that she could never shape a heart to beat in her chest; only those who already know the beatings of such a thing could work such a wonder.

She withdrew unto herself, retreating to a desolate place to live apart from the living races she was no part of. In time the land around her grew cold as she was, and it was always winter. She received travelers with good cheer and willingness, but travelers were few and grew fewer as the frost retreated less before the summer. Now, the place of her dwelling is forgotten and her existence beyond the sphere of learning that most wise men inhabit. Only, perhaps, the dwarfen folk still pay her tidings, for it is from them that this tale is told, and it is from them that the greatest workings come in this age of pale miracles and withered wonders.

As it was told to me, so do I, Cheven os'Wend os'Kyulun, tell it to you. This paper is my tongue, this ink my voice. These facts were given to me by Scios Argentstone, called The Little, sage of the kingdom and scribe to Wesinol, King-in-Waiting of the noble realm of Thurinfel, Bulwark of the Misting Lands, the Jewel in the Horns. May the sun ever ride in the sky, and the moons ever follow. May the Lord of Words take notice of this tale and remember it.