Making a try at sword and sorcery…
Comments/recommendations appreciated as always.
The smaller man laughed. “Honest to a fault. Maks, do you understand what has happened today?”
Lubec’s mind whirled, That voice. I…know that voice. But where? It’s been years, the pitch… is different.
Maks replied, “We found an honest blacksmith? Granted that is odd, Sire, but…”
The smaller man threw back his hood, “No, we have found the man I’ve searched over a year for. Adlion, you have not changed a bit.”
Lubec dropped the bit in the dirt. “Adlion? My name is Lubec.” Who? How? It can’t be!
The smaller man chuckled, “You mean you don’t remember me, Adlion?”
Lubec fell to his knees. “Ctibor?” This can’t be little Ctibor can it? Oh deity, rumor had it there was a new baron…it must be. “M’lord Jurec?”
The smaller man nodded as Orum fell to his knees, trembling. “Oh, get up, both of you. This is beneath you. Do you still have Poppet?”
Hearing her name, the wyvern jumped up and wheeted loudly, flapped down, landing at Ctibor’s feet and rubbed his thigh. Ctibor pushed her away, “No, Poppet. I don’t have leathers on. You know better.” He scratched behind the wyvern’s ears and she burbled happily, lightly flapping her leathery wings. He looked up and said seriously, “Adlion, I need you to do something for me.”
“Maks, fetch my bags please.” Maks walked quickly out to the horses as Ctibor continued, “Da is dead. The Blacguards got him and his escort. He was on his way back from the western border with Imrich’s body.” He pinched his nose and said softly, “A mile, maybe more, and he would have been home, Adlion, err, Lubec.”
Lubec shook his head and glanced at Orum. Well, the wyvern is out of the bag. Orum will want an explanation, probably sooner rather than later. I wonder what he’s going to do when he finds out I’m his father, not just his master. I guess we will have to move on, again. “Yes, M’lord, we heard. A sad thing.”
Maks returned with the bags, handing them to Ctibor with a small bow. He reached in and pulled out a bag that clinked, and Lubec shivered, knowing what it contained. Lubec finally asked, “You are now the Baron?”
Ctibor nodded without speaking, and opened the bag, spilling the broken pieces of a sword onto the workbench. “The first people there found the sword shattered in pieces. This…should not be!”
Lubec shook his head sadly, “No, this is what happens when a blooded sword is not passed from generation to generation. When I made this sword for your grandda, I gave him specific directions on to how to pass it to your da. It requires a blood sacrifice.” He looked up in horror. “Once your da died, the sword… he blooded Imrich didn’t he? And not you. The blood bond that held it together no longer existed as a life force.”
“I was at King’s Court, a captain of horse. Second son and all that entailed. Da sent a messenger for me to return but I didn’t get there in…time. Can you repair it,” the baron pleaded.
“No, once it dies, it cannot be…put back together.” He moved the broken pieces around, pulling the hilt out and holding it up, he said softly, “Your father died with honor. The fact that the hilt stayed in one piece is evidence of that. He fed it with his own blood in the course of the fight.” Ctibor sagged against the table, prompting Poppet to wheet quietly and shove her head under his hand. Almost unconsciously, he petted the wyvern, stroking her ears while the tears rolled down his face.
Lubec, Maks, and Orum all looked away, and Lubec swept the remaining pieces of the sword into the bag, handing them to Orum. “Put these outside the corral. We will bury the pieces individually in a bit. Set the spade with them.”
Orum gulped, glanced at Baron Jurec, then Lubec, and grabbed a spade as he headed for the door. The baron started to reach out, but Lubec said, “No! It is better this way.” He handed him the hilt. “This is what you need to keep, this shows you are honoring your da. Those who know will know he died honorably.”
Maks asked, “Is there a place to stay in the village?”
“In Skop? The Broken Spoon has rooms over the kitchen. Sablan or his wife Mata can tell you what is available.”
Glancing at Ctibor, Maks continued, “I think the Baron would rather not be identified, if you understand?”
Lubec nodded, “I do. If I may ask a boon?” Maks nodded, and he continued, “I would prefer to be called Lubec. I have not been Adlion in…well over seventeen years. Not since I left the keep.”
The baron replied, “Done. Has it really been that long? Where did you go, Lubec?”
Lubec bowed his head, “After Rie died, and the Baron gave me benison to leave, I went over the mountains to the east. We settled in a little village on the river called Lubec. We were there for almost six years, until people became suspicious of me.”
“M’lord, do you remember what I looked like when I worked for your grandda?”
The baron pulled Lubec over to the door of the smithy, looking him up and down. “I…you…you look the same. It’s almost—”
“As if I didn’t age, M’lord?” He nodded and Lubec sighed. “That’s the problem. The villagers became suspicious when I didn’t age like the other men, or the women for that matter. It wasn’t bad until someone saw Poppet. They started shunning me, so I left. This is the third place I’ve set up shop since in the seventeen years.”
Maks asked, “How old are you…Lubec?”
He looked up at the rafters, shook his head and said, “I have something over a hundred years. I came to the keep when your grandda was a boy. I was already a blacksmith, from my da, and knew the arts from him and my grandda, but I’d never practiced them. It wasn’t till your grandda became the Baron that I first started making swords and halberds, because my da died saving the king.”
He heard an intake of breath behind him and turned to see Orum standing with his hand over his mouth and eyes wide. It’s better that I tell him now. Before he has time to think about it and ask more questions.
The baron eyed Orum, then turned to Maks. “Let us get a room at the…Broken Spoon. It is late, and I have no desire to travel further today.” Maks nodded and glanced at Lubec. “Would you and Orum join us for food, after you talk?”
Lubec cocked his head, “Yes, M’lord, but it may be a while.”
“Join us when you can. We will wait.” The baron and Maks swiftly saddled their horses and cantered toward the village as Orum stood rooted in the same spot.
Lubec steered him gently to the stump at the forge and pushed him down when Poppet sidled up to him. “Orum, I fear I have done you a great disservice. I was going to tell you, but after you became a master.”
“Who…what are you,” Orum asked in a trembling voice.
“I am your father. You are not and have never been an orphan. When your mother died of the flux in the keep these seventeen years ago, I could not bear to remain. The baron gave me the benison to leave, since there was a journeyman I had trained for years who could step in. I told the baron I would never again touch or make a sword, so that nothing I did could be lifted against him or the king.”
Lubec chuckled. “Both a blessing and a curse.” He started pacing. “We, our line, are from Ferrucrag, an island in the northern seas. We are gifted with a feel for the metals, the strength to work them, and an ability to form things that are bonded to a person with our wyvern’s help. Did you ever wonder why you always know where your poignard is?”
Orum shrugged. “I…not really.”
“Remember how you burned your hand on the blade when you were heating it and bled on the iron?”
Orum nodded. “It hurt, but Poppet licked it and it went away.”
“That blood bonded that blade to you. That is part of the blessing. The curse is our long lives. Grandda lived over a hundred and twenty years and died saving a maiden from a flood. Da died at the battle of Norheim, defending the king.” Lubec stopped, bowing his head, he continued softly, “I saw him fall, but couldn’t get to him in time.”
Orum looked up in wonder. “But, that was eighty years ago! How could you?”
“I was behind the lines, sharpening weapons and repairing armor. The Crags broke through the lines, attacking the king. Da had just taken the king’s sword back after sharpening it, and killed a Crag with his poignard, then used it to fight off the Crags side by side with the king, until the knights could rally and push them away. He took a halberd in the back that was meant for the king in the last Crag push before they retreated. We were part of Baron Jurec’s grandda’s levy, and after the battle, we were discharged and returned to the keep.”
Orum asked, “Am I your only child? You didn’t have others?”
“No, I never married until Rie. She was the Baroness’ handmaiden. I…she was years younger than I. She was just twenty, and I was seventy, but looked forty. We were married for ten years before she conceived, and you were born. That’s a curse on our line, only single male children, and few of those.” He knelt in front of Orum. “My birth name was Adlion, your birth name was Adorjan. All of the males of our line’s names start with A. Due to our long lives, multiple names are used to confuse others.”
“Why do you call me Orum?”
Lubec hung his head, “I wanted to shield you, in case you didn’t have the feel for the metals. And blacksmiths and ironmongers with names starting with A are treated with suspicion, because of rumors of our abilities and the wyverns.”
“Is that why we hide Poppet? And I was never allowed to mention her?”
He nodded. “Yes, we bond with wyverns, which is, again, a blessing and a curse. They give us strength and are a boon when we work metals. Especially doing bonded swords. When she licked you, she healed you. Have you ever wondered why you don’t get sick?” He pointed to Poppet. “It’s because of her.”
Orum burst out, “Why didn’t she heal my ma?”
“We were away, at the western border forts when she took ill. We could not get back in time.”
He picked up a horseshoe and absentmindedly straightened it and flipped it to Orum. “Bend it back.” Orum bent it easily, and Lubec said, “You don’t realize how strong you are. Very few men can do that.”
Orum protested, “You do things like this all the time! You just straightened it!”
“It’s part of the blessing. But it’s also a curse. That is why I’ve done all your weapons training myself. I didn’t want others to be wondering about your strength or asking questions.” Orum started to protest again, but Lubec got up, stomach growling. “That is enough for now. I need food. Go wash and put on your better clothes. We will go eat with the baron and Maks.”
Orum got up slowly, “Yes, Mas. . . Da? Can I call you Da?”
Lubec folded Orum in his arms, tears rolling down his cheek Poppet spread her wings and enfolded both of them. “Yes…son, yes you can.”