They came from Zelkor's Ferry

The Smithy

It’s easy to tell that the next building is the smithy; the clangor of
metal on metal told you even before you could see the forge through the
open double door. The smith is a tall man, with the impressive arms and shoulders one would expect of a man in his profession. His sleeveless
tunic and pants are leather; his head is shaved clean and glistens with
sweat, making his skin look like polished mahogany. The heavy hammer
in his hand falls in a ringing rhythm on a bar of iron, forming it into a
horseshoe. As quickly as he finishes one and cools it in a bucket of water,
his tongs take up another glowing bar and he starts work on the next shoe.
Behind him you finally notice a young boy pumping away at the bellows.
He seems rather slight, but you realize the smith’s stature probably makes
him look small in comparison. Taking that into consideration, you estimate
the youth is probably 12 or 13 years of age. Just then the smith dips a final
shoe into the water with a flourish and growls, “Take a rest, boy, and be
sure to drink water. We’ll be back at it in a few minutes.”
The smith leads the way to the water barrel near the door where he
pours a dipper of water over his bald pate before drinking, and then wipes
his sweating face and head with a handy cloth rag. The boy drinks first,
splashes a little water on his own face and steps out into the sun. He is
dressed similarly to the smith, but has golden brown hair pulled back
in a stubby braid. The lad stretches thoroughly, then slumps against the
building in a shady spot.
The smith notices you standing there and approaches. “Hello!” he
rumbles. “Need a horse shod? Not right now? Just getting to know us, eh?
I’m Big Morgan.” The hand he offers you seems about the size of a dinner
plate but his grip is moderate. “If you need plain smithing, I’m your man:
shoe a horse, fix up the little metal bits on their gear, repair a wagon, mend
the iron rims on its wheels. Even tools I can do. I’m no good at the fancy
stuff, swords or things. But Verestin here may be, when he grows; isn’t
that right, boy?”
The boy looks up at that, and steps up by the smith. “This is Verestin
Pye,” Morgan says. “His folks live at the trading post but he doesn’t much
take after his dad and so he’s apprenticed over here, to myself and also to
the guards. Keeps him out of trouble, eh?”
“Yes, sir,” the boy replies, then addresses you. “I’m learning smithing
from Big Morgan. I practice weapons with the guards morning and
evening and do some of their chores in exchange for living in their attic.
The house here is too small for me to live also, but Deslena Potter does
give me all my meals. I’m already a lot stronger than when I started with
Big Morgan, and when I’m grown I’ll be able to be a warrior if I choose,
or learn to smith weapons and know how to use them. If nothing else I’ll
always be able to do a useful trades there is. At any rate it’s more useful
than just traveling back and forth and taking people’s money from them
for a lot of stuff they don’t need.”
“That’s disrespectful, boy; don’t be talking that way. Get in there and
sweep up any scraps, then stir up the coals. You know Deslena in baking
today and wants us to keep the heat nice and even for those pots of hers.”
“That she does,” interjects a new voice, “And I’m glad to see that fact
hasn’t been sweated straight out of your mind, Morgan!” The speaker
rounds the corner of the smithy and you see a tall woman with skin the
color of a nice brown ale. (That thought makes you realize you may be
getting thirsty yourself.) Her hair is covered by a kerchief woven in a
colorful pattern, and the sleeves and hem of her tunic and skirt have
matching trim. Most of her clothing is covered by a large plain apron
smudged with clay. “I still haven’t forgot how you ruined an entire batch
of drinking mugs by going off and letting the forge cool,” she goes on,
looking at him with accusing eyes.
“That was before I had an apprentice,” the smith replies in his deep
voice, “and that’s the only time such a thing has happened in three years.”
“Well, it’ll be at least that many before I let you forget it!” the woman
says vigorously, then glances curiously at you.
The smith takes the chance to change the subject, introducing you to his
wife, Deslena Potter. “Pleased to meet you!” she says. “I make the dishes
and mugs we all use hereabouts. You also may have seen some of my
things at the trading post: jars for oil, little bottles for ink and other exotic
contents. Why, Ulman Dark himself has bought several of my bottles and
jugs to store whatever he keeps in that house of his.”
Deslena laughs and goes on. “I always glaze my pottery; it makes it
more useful, especially for holding liquids, and it makes it more attractive.
Right now I’m looking for ingredients that will give me a beautiful dark
blue color, but I can’t seem to find what I need. If you hear of something
that gives blue dye, or makes a blue color when cooked, dissolved in
alcohol, or whatever, that information would be valuable. Just remember!”
She pats Big Morgan’s cheek, then says, “I just wanted to check on
the fire.” She raises her voice slightly. “I need to get back to what I’m
cooking; now that I have this bottomless pit to feed every day, it takes a
lot of work.” An inarticulate mumble comes from inside the smithy, but
Deslena raises an eyebrow and calls back, “I heard that!” She gives you a
little wave, then goes back to their quarters on the other side of the smithy
as Big Morgan returns to his forge.

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