06-01-2007 05:02 AM
Andric Graven sat on a rough bench polishing his new dagger. The darkened smithy around him was quiet but for the sibilant hissing of the few live coals left in a forge. He had made the dagger himself. His uncle owned the smithy where he worked. After months of flattening rings for ring mail, Andric had been allowed to use one of the forges after dark for his own project. It was supposed to be an impressive weapon. Impressive enough to convince Uncle Reginald to let him apprentice under a weapon smith. Now, looking at the product of hours of work, Andric was rather unimpressed himself.
The blade was slightly curved, though not purposely. It was two hands long and somewhat asymmetric. The tang had broken when Andric had plunged it oil for tempering. Still, the edge was undeniable keen, and the point sharp. He had never been taught how to work Iron into a blade but he had seen it done many times. Hopefully there was enough tang left to firmly attach the blade to the stag horn handle that he had been saving for his dagger. It was an excellent hilt. The polished ivory glinted in the lamp light when Andric glanced at it on a work table. Andric sighed and rose from the bench. He walked over to the work table and picked up the ivory hilt. The night before, he had drilled holes in the hilt that matched the holes in the tang of the dagger. Only three of the holes in the tang had survived the improper tempering, so one of the rivet holes would be empty. No point worrying about it now, thought Andric. He placed the dagger’s tang in the hilt and once more admired his work. It’s not so bad, he thought, Uncle Reg has to be impressed.
Andric had been living with his Aunt Lillia and Uncle Reginald since he was ten. His parents had been killed when the Scors raided his father’s farm six years ago. His aunt Lillia was his mother’s sister. She had considered it her duty to take him in. He liked her well enough. She never belittled him about his short stature or low voice. His uncle, however, treated him with casual indifference at best. Uncle Reg usually referred to him as “the mute” or “shortie”. He didn’t do it maliciously. He just didn’t care enough to use Andric’s real name.
Uncle Reginald’s smithy, The Hammer and Tongs, was currently booming. Duke Agranon Loudsouth, the Duke of Erif, had commissioned Reginald’s smithy to make a large amount of arms and armor for his soldiers. The King of Cei had recently died heirless. The barons and dukes of the royal bloodline had yet to come to a decision on who would receive the crown. Duke Agranon, being a realist and an opportunist, was preparing to seize the crown by force of arms if necessary. He was by no means alone in this, however. Every barony and duchy in the kingdom was arming up to seize the crown or throw their military might behind the most likely candidate. Anderic had never been outside of the Duchy of Erif. It was terrifying to him to consider marauding armies at the gates of the city.
The boy shook his head to clear it. Surly things would not get that bad. The old men in the town all said that Duke Agranon had the strongest claim to the throne. That was enough for Andric. The rest of the nobles would just have to wise up sooner or later and realize their mistake.
He gingerly placed the two pieces of a rivet in the dagger hilt and hammered them together, taking care not to mar the antler hilt. Anderic repeated the process twice more securing the blade to the hilt. He then considered the last hole at the bottom, the one that the tang didn’t reach. After some thought, he decided to run a buckskin thong through the empty hole. It seemed like it might be a useful feature since he had neglected to make a sheath for his new weapon. He hung the dagger around his neck, under his shirt and banked the coals in the forge.
It was getting late when Andric finished cleaning up and strolled out of The Hammer and Tongs. The air outside of the shop smelled unnaturally clean and crisp after the smoky odor of the forge. Anderic stretched the cramped muscles of his neck and shoulders. He was short and stocky with a round face. This led many to believe that he was soft. His wide shoulders and powerful arms gave lie to this for anyone who bothered to look. Few did however, and most of the young men in town delighted in teasing young Andric. He didn’t try to defend himself which led to more teasing. Anderic was shy and rarely talked. When he did speak his voice was low and mellow. People sometimes thought that he was slow witted because of it. Andric didn’t mind that so much as it meant that less people talked to him.
It was a long walk back to his uncle’s house. His uncle took a carriage to and from the Hammer but wasn’t inclined to wait for Anderic after hours. The house in which Andric resided was in the Pond District. It was the richest realistate outside of the Noble district. Unfortunately for him, it was also the furthest from the merchant quarter. Andric was willing to walk quite a way though, for the opportunity to make something beside flat circles. The reason that his uncle had won the commission for the duke's army was the Hammer and Tongs created the finest weapons and armor for miles around. Andric dreamed of becoming a famous blacksmith like his uncle Reginold. The whole kingdom knew the name Reginold Adderly. An Adderly Broadsword could fetch up to 100 gold talons. He made his blades with special metals that strengthened the iron and made them almost impervious to rust. The weapons were also beautifully engraved with etchings of mythical beasts. It was often rumored that the weapons were enchanted. Andric was pretty sure that uncle Reg mixed his iron with silver. Andric had once glimpsed a large store of silver bar stock in a back room that was usually kept locked and chained.
The streets were cobbled with granite slabs that sometimes shifted underfoot. It was a dark night, the moon and stars obscured by billowing clouds. The tall buildings along the main street cast long shadows fueled by the smokey torches outside of inns, taverns, and houses of ill repute. Aunt Lillia had repeatedly warned him about straying into these types of places as they were full of “brigands, cutthroats, and harlots.” Though Andric had his doubts about that, he was not willing to spend any of the 5 copper pennies that he made per week in these establishments. There was a carefully hoarded stash of money in his bottom drawer that he had been saving to court Rochelle Delins.
Rochelle Delins was the daughter of the armor-smith that Andric apprenticed to. Whenever there were errands to run she often turned up around the shop to carry them out. She was as tall as Andric, which was short for a man but tall for a woman. The sight of her red hair and green eyes made Andric loose his breath. In truth he had never had a conversation with her beyond the casual exchange of helloes. There was now more money in his drawer than could be easily spent on a few evenings out on the town. But Andric had gotten used to the ritual of depositing most of his meager pay into is hiding
place and continued to do so in the hopes that one day he would workup the nerve to actually ask the girl to do something with him. It was an even bigger stretch on imagination to believe that she would actually say yes but there was a seed of optimism buried in someone in the young apprentice’s heart.
The sound of heavy footsteps jerked Andric out of his reverie. Quickly spinning to face the approaching sound, Andric planted his back foot. He was no stranger to fighting. Experience had taught him to always be prepared for the worst. There were two of them. Both were tall, dirty, and carrying cudgels. One of them was skinny with a scar disfiguring his upper lip. The other was heavy around the middle with round shoulders.
“Let’s have a look at yer coin purse young ’un” Scarlip slurred.
The fat one just grinned stupidly and moved to put some distance between his partner so that Andric had trouble facing them both at once. Andric quickly glanced around and saw that they were on a deserted stretch of street. There were no open businesses for several blocks in either direction. With a stinging sensation sweat popped out on Andric’s forehead, despite the cool night air. His limbs began to tremble slightly as he tried to position himself to face them both at once. Andric licked his lips and croaked out “I don’t have any coin with me”
Fatty spat at his own feet, “Best do as he says lad. Van gets mean when he’s been at the spirits.’
“Aye wee one, ‘s best ta do as I say now hand over yer coin” leered Scarlip.
Both of the vagabonds were steadily advancing as Andric backed away. There were more than a few fights under Andric’s belt. But all of his past fights had been with young boys who had forced the issue on Andric. Most of the young men in town had learned that the short, soft spoken apprentice could handle himself and made sure not to ride him to the point of exchanging blows. This was a lot different than a neighborhood scrap though. These were hard men with little to loose.
“I really don’t have any money sirs” Andric reiterated louder than the last time.
“O ‘es a bright one hay Rigger” laughed Van.
“Aye Van,” Sighed Rigger, “guess he ‘as to learn the ‘ard way”
Both men lunged at Andric simultaneously. Van came straight in swinging his club straight down at Andric’s head. Andric dropped to the left and rolled before coming to his feet. The roll had temporarily taken him out of Rigger’s range but Van reversed his swing aiming a blow at Andric’s head. His scarred face contorted hideously with concentration and rage. The blow clipped the top of Andric’s shoulder as he tried unsuccessfully to dodge away. He fell heavily the air rushing out of his lungs. Something pricked him sharply in the stomach on impact with the cold cobles of the ground. The dagger, realized Andric. He had forgotten all about the weapon in the first terrifying seconds of the encounter. He rolled several times trying to put some distance between himself and his assailants. The dirty duo grimly and slowly pursed the fleeing boy, confident that their quarry couldn’t escape. Andric scrambled to his feet with his back against the wall of a rug weavers shop. Reaching behind his neck he attempted to jerk the thong securing the dagger over his head but the thugs were already upon him. With nowhere to run Andric sprang off the wall directly at the fat Rigger. Unprepared for the sudden show of offence both of the thieves flinched back momentarily. Rigger didn’t get his arms up fast enough to block the looping overhand right that Andric had thrown at his jaw.
Andric felt his fist explode into the fat man’s face. The skin under Riggers left eye gave way under the terrific impact. The man reeled away and slumped down to a knee. Taking advantage of the confusion that he had caused, Andric sprinted between the two thugs. He would have been free and clear if the scar faced Van hadn’t recovered in time to swat Andric’s legs as he passed by. Stumbling and nearly falling Andric tried to continue fleeing but a club landed heavily on the back of his head knocking him into the stone wall of a tailor shop. Andric looked over his shoulder to see that Van had thrown his club at him and was helping Rigger to his feet. The club was near Andric feet but he didn’t trust himself to bend far enough down to pick it up. His vision was swimming from the impact of the thrown cudgel. Grasping the thong with both hands Andric lifted the dagger from under his shirt and over his neck. Rigger was up now, blood spilling down his face onto his dirty leather shirt.
“You are gonna pay fer that one lad!” thundered the fat man.
“Please, I don’t have any coin”, pleaded Andric.
Van chuckled evilly, “I really don’t think it is the coin that is bothering him now”
With a savage yell Rigger came charging in at Andric club held high. He brought it crashing down with all of the force that his considerable bulk could muster. To Andric the club tip was moving in slow motion. It whistled towards his face but at the same time it was traveling as if it were trapped in molasses. Once again Andric dived to the side rolling to his feet. Rigger was much slower than Van had been to readjust his aim. The club was just hitting the wall as Andric got to his feet. Acting on instinct Andric stabbed out with his dagger. He felt the muscles and tissue part as the newly forged blade slid effortlessly into the beefy shoulder. A horrible vibration traveled up the blade as the tip scraped along the bones deep in Rigger’s torso..
The fat man let out an unholy scream and bounded away from the young blacksmith apprentice. The dagger blade slid out of the man’s body as easily as it had penetrated it. Blood abruptly spurted copiously from the deep wound as Rigger staggered back. Andric was so mesmerized that with the wound that he had inflicted that he never saw Van’s fist coming. The thin man had approached unnoticed while Andric was engaged with Rigger. The boney fist struck the young man in the side of the head. He felt himself falling. A booted foot caught him in the ribs as he was going down.
“What the blazes is going on over there,” a voice came out of the darkness.
Van glanced up. “Damn, it’s the watch” he called to his wounded partner.
Rigger’s bloody face appeared over Andric. He spit on the boy and kicked him once more. “Let’s get out of here.” He hissed through clenched teeth. “We will catch this one again.” Then to Andric he bellowed, ”Do ya hear that whelp? We are gonna’ come after you.” The statement was followed with the sound of booted foot beating a hasty retreat down the soft dirt of an alleyway.
Andric pushed himself up to a sitting position and turned to where the voice of salvation had come from. He made out the shapes of several armored men jogging towards him. Reaching up he felt the back of his head. Surprisingly he didn’t feel the tale tell wetness of blood, but there was a monster of a goose egg back there.
“What’s going on here,” the watch officer shouted again, though by now he was close enough to be heard at a normal tone of voice.
“Thieves,” Andric replied. The watchman never heard him his low reply. It didn’t matter to Andric as the soothing darkness of unconsciousness overtook him.
06-01-2007 11:58 AM
Uncle Reg usually referred to him as “the mute” or “shortie”. He didn’t do it maliciously.
Personally i would make that one sentence, make two ideas flow together, also there are at least one spelling/word usage mistake I have found in the first block of writing but it is minor.
I like it
06-01-2007 12:01 PM
Duke Agranon Loudsouth, that name reminds me of Allanon from the Shannara series... i like it
06-01-2007 01:18 PM
06-01-2007 02:22 PM
Most of the time character names are one of the key componets to a great story it used correctly, such as proper names for the time period in which one is writing and names that match their cultures and way of life, if i was writing about the dark ages i wouldnt want to name someone Ethan (hehe my own name) or Bob, or any name that doesnt seem native to that period of time cause it could set off the story.
06-20-2007 11:04 AM - edited 06-20-2007 11:07 AM
I like the name "Graven" is sounds if at some point he's going to put people in their grave. Or maybe, Andric's demeanor is serious or solemn.
I have some questions. Who is the antagonist of Andric's story? What is Andric's passion and focus? Although the story starts with the dagger, he seems focused on getting the girl. Is Rochelle his motivation for taking the apprenticeship?
I would also strengthen the opening sentence of your story.
Something like ...
Andric Graven made the dagger himself.
(if this dagger is used later to solve the story problem)
At last, Andric Graven made a dagger by himself. "Rochelle will be impressed." he smiled.
(if he plans on killing some bad guys then getting his girl in the end)
Use your opening to hint at what's going to happen at the end.
Keep going. I can't wait to read more
Message Edited by Noir on 06-20-2007 11:07 AM
06-22-2007 09:07 AM