Pack on your shoulders, you stride through the village, your skin smarting in the cold winter air. Though you are a stranger in this land, the villagers pay little heed to your passing. Perhaps they are too busy with their own toil or perhaps visitors are common here. Either way, you push on, your mind set on your errand.
Your last errand brought you to the hut of the potion maker, and three vials of brightly colored, magical elixirs now clink within your pack. Your next destination lies on the top of the hill where a stone statue of a great eagle hovers over the town, a watchful guardian, its cold, unblinking eyes taking in the great hall and the village that stretches out before it.
You pass the great hall, pausing to listen to the merry voices drifting from within. A feast is underway, the fragrances of smoked meat and flowing mead potent even from a distance.
Behind the great hall, stone steps curve up the slope leading towards the foot of the statue. A clanging of metal upon metal hammers out a rhythm as sure as any drumbeat. You hesitate. Your instructions are so vague. What if the man does not understand why you are there? Where will you go next?
You reach the top of the steps and pause for a moment. A burly man, white of hair but muscular and strong, stands before the anvil in a leather apron. His hammer falls send sparks flying into the clear blue sky and smoke from the forge curls around him. For a moment it seems as if he has not marked your approach, but then out of nowhere he speaks.
"I had a dream you were coming."
You startle, but then, head bowed, come closer.
"Do you know the purpose of your quest?" he continues.
You shake your head. You too have been plagued with visions, dreams you don't understand and no one has been able to interpret for you. They give you no explanation, only instruction, places to go, people to speak to. What greater purpose these tasks have, you do not know.
He nods slowly. "I thought as much. Sometimes this is the way of great things. They come broken in small pieces, and their true form is unclear until they are finished, much like how a blade or an axe starts out as rough lumps of ore."
He strides to a great wooden chest, bound with leather straps and iron buckles. From this he removes something wrapped in cloth and presents it to you.
You pull away the cloth and the late afternoon sun glints upon a shining blade, engraved with many runes and secret symbols. Leather wraps the hilt and a sheath of the same material lies beside it.
"Take this," the man says.
You protest that you know not how to wield such a weapon. You have never been a fighter, never taken a life or drawn the blood of an enemy.
"That may not be your fate, but whatever your quest, in my dream you were wielding this blade. Take it now, and may fortune favor you."
Relenting, you take the blade and wonder at its balance, how easily you can hold it aloft, how perfectly it fits your grasp, so much lighter than it appears. You thank the man then realize you have nothing to offer in payment.
He smiles, as if reading your mind. "Never fear. If your quest is as important as I sense it is, then your completion of it will be payment enough, not just for myself but for all the folk of this cold, hard land."
You thank him again and carefully strap the sheath onto your belt. Your journey is long, but the day is almost ending. Your mind turns to finding food to eat and a place to shelter for the night. You ask the man and he points you down the path you just came, explaining who you should speak to and what you should ask.
You leave the forge, your heart lightened. Wherever this path leads, you have found allies. You do not walk it alone.
The Blacksmith is part of Mythologie Candles Skyrim-inspired collection, Arcane Scrolls.