Writing Prompt: “You’re a blacksmith and a woman you’ve never seen before walks into your shop, asking for a blade. She stops by daily to check on it’s progress, and you form a bond over time, until one day she disappears. You’re afraid you’ll never see her again, until you’re summoned to the castle.”
“I’d like a blade.”
The voice came from behind me while I was busy with the forge. The fire was bright and the heat was intense. I was so focused on the forge that I didn’t here the voice.
“Sir. Blacksmith. I require a blade.”
The voice was a bit louder and it was enough to pull me away from the flames.
“Oh sorry, didn’t hear you come in,” I said as I stepped away from the fire and wiped the sweat from my brow.
Standing in front of me was a Human Woman in her late-Twenties, early Thirties with long, dark brown hair. She wore leather armor similar to the woodland hunters in the region. Across her back she carried a long bow and a quiver full of arrows.
“It’s quite alright,” She said. “You are the smith here correct? This is your forge?”
“Of course, Miss. My name is Addor Stump and this is my forge. What is your name?”
She pulled a leather pouch from her belt and sat it on the table between us with a hard thump and I heard some coins jingle.
“I want a blade. Made by you,” She said.
“Oh, well of course. I’m happy to make you a blade. That is my job after all,” I said with a bit of a chuckle. “Anything particular you want out of the blade.”
“I require a simple blade. Nothing fancy,” She replied.
“Is this a hunting blade? I only ask because you are dressed similarly to the nearby hunters who live in the woods.”
“Simple dagger. Can you do it?”
I let out a belly laugh, but quickly stopped myself.
“I don’t mean to laugh, Miss. But I’m not just some average smith. I’m the best one in town. My family have been smiths and forgers for generations and their talent has been passed on to me. A dagger would be an easy request.”
“Great. Give me a dagger. That bag of gold should cover in with plenty left over,” She said.
“Yes I’ve noticed that you put down quite a load of coin. That is very generous Miss,” I said.
The woman nodded.
“I’m sure your dagger with be worth every gold piece,” She said and then she turned to leave.
“Excuse me, Miss. Before you go, who can I say the blade is for?” I asked.
“The gold speaks for me. I require a blade. That is all you need to know,” She replied.
“But how will I find you once the blade is finished?”
“I will be back tomorrow to check on progress,” She said.
“Oh, Miss. That won’t be necessary. The blade will require several days of work.”
“I will be back each day to check on the blade,” The woman said before quickly leaving.
The door closed behind her with a small chime of the bell hanging overhead.
“Quite a lady,” I muttered before turning back to the forge.
The next day I went about my business heating up the forge and I started melting down the iron needed to forge this mysterious woman’s blade. About an hour after I opened the forge for the day, the woman opened the door and slipped in. This time I noticed how careful she was to enter without setting off the bell at the top of the door.
“I’m just starting on your blade, Miss,” I said as I saw her enter.
“Very good,” She said as walked in and then leaned up against the wall.
“Ah, did you need anything else Miss?” I asked. “I’ll be primarily focused on the blade. I’m not really a good conversationalist when I’m working.”
“That’s fine,” She said. “I’ll just watch.”
“Alright, suit yourself,” I said with a shrug before returning to my work.
Over the next several days the same thing happened over and over again. I would start up the forge and then the woman would enter and watch me work on her blade. We would chat a bit during these sessions, starting out with small bits of small talk and eventually the conversation continued.
She told me that she grew up with her mother out in the woods about a days travel outside of town. She grew up a hunter skilled in tracking beasts throughout the forest. Her favorite thing to hunt were wild boars.
“Fierce creatures some might overlook, but I always gave them the respect they deserve and fought them head to head. A great foe but never one I couldn’t defeat,” She said.
I told her about my time living in the town and running my business as well as some stories of the forge.
“Anyone ask for anything strange?” She asked me.
“Strange? Not really. Once a noble came into my shop thinking I could make him a sword that would fight for him,” I said. “I told them that I knew nothing about a blade that has its own will to fight, but he insisted they existed. After a lively conversation I told him to check with the mages in town.”
She let out a laugh which caught me off guard. During the days she was in my shop, I had never heard her laugh, but something about it made my heart jump.
I gave her a smile.
Throughout our time together our conversations deepened and we both grew to know each other; however she never gave me her name.
Finally the last day came and I finished working on the blade. It was a simple iron dagger but I added some small details along the metal of the blade that looked like vines.
“Here is your blade, Miss,” I said as I placed the finished blade in a small box and handed it over to her. “I hope it suits your needs.”
“Absolutely,” She said as she accepted the blade. “I’m sure a blade by your hands will be perfect.”
“Of course,” I said with a smile.
For a moment we both stood there in silence with grins on our faces, not knowing what to say.
Eventually I broke the silence.
“Well, don’t be a stranger, Miss. Feel free to come back if you need anything else from me.”
“Of course. I will return once I have need for your services again,” She said. “Have a good day, Addor.”
She turned and left my forge with a small dinging of the bell above the door.
The next day I woke up just like any other day and a little bit of me hoped that this woman would come back and keep me company while I worked. However, my door didn’t open up in the morning and the woman didn’t step in to see me work and talk to me. It was a quiet morning and I found myself unwilling to concentrate to focus on my work. My thoughts kept going to her. I wondered if she was on her way back to the woods with my blade on her belt.
Part of me wanted to take a couple days off from the forge and wander out here myself hoping I’d run into her. Of course this was a really dumb idea. I mean, was I really going to take off work just to wonder into the woods hoping to run into some woman that I just met, a woman I had a small crush on.
I just shook my head and continued about my work as best as I could.
The next few days after that my life seemed to return to normal. I didn’t have any special visitors but I spent my time in the forge working on other commissions.
On the fourth day after I finished the boar-hunter’s blade, I was in the middle of finishing up a long sword when I heard the bell above my door ring.
My heart jumped skipped a beat when I turned to see who it was, but was a bit disappointed that the hunter had not returned. Instead there was a proper, noble dressed in the finest armor, with the symbol of the king on his chest.
“Good afternoon, Sir,” I said as I wiped my my hands on my tunic. “What can I do for you?”
“You are being summoned to the King’s Court,” The noble told me.
“Excuse me, did you say the King’s Court?”
The man nodded.
“There has been a situation and we believe you are the best to be called in to answer some questions before the King,” The noble said. “You must come with me now.”
“Oh. Well I’ve been spending my whole day in front of the forge. I’m not really in any condition to be before the King,” I said as I stumbled through my words.
“Now, Smith,” The Noble said before turning to the door.
“Right. Right,” I said as I pulled off my blacksmith apron and followed suit.
Outside were half a dozen guards wearing similar armor which escorted me and the noble to the king’s palace. I had only been to the palace once before when I was a small child. My grandfather did a ceremonial piece for the upcoming King and was brought before the King and his court to present it. My grandfather brought me and my parents along to watch the ceremony and it was absolutley stunnig.
Today was not like that day. That day was full of excitement and wonder and whimsy. Today the whole place was quiet and nobody looked happy. There were more guards standing around then I’d ever seen and none of them spoke to one another. The whole place was filled with silent tension.
“What is this all about?” I asked the noble as we walked, but he didn’t respond. We just kept on walking in silence.
Eventually we made our way through the halls and stood before two large doors that would enter into the King’s war room. Outside were even more guards armed to the teeth. As the noble and I approached, the guards saluted him and opened the doors without request.
As the doors opened the silence was broken by loud conversations and yelling. Some sort of argument was happening between a noble woman and a military general. The Noble and I entered and the voices quieted.
“I have the smith,” The noble said nonchalantly before taking a seat a large war table.
I stood in the doorway motionless as the two large doors closed behind me and everyone in the room turned to look at me.
“Hello…hello..” I said as I gave a nervous bow.
The noble woman engaged me first.
“You are the smith in town, right? Uh… Addor Stump,” She asked.
“Yea, Ma’am, I am,” I nodded.
“Please have a seat, Mr. Stump,” She said gesturing to a chair while putting on her best fake smile.
I obliged and took a seat next to the noble that came to fetch me.
“What is this about?” I asked the room full of nobles and advisors.
“There is no easy way to say this,” The noble woman said. “But last night the King was murdered in his bed.”
“We found a dagger in his chest,” The military man said.
“A dagger we believe you made,” The noble woman said as she placed a dagger before me.
My eyes widened as I saw the blade I forged a few days ago for the hunter laid before me.
“So you recognize the blade,” The noble woman said as she read my expression.
“I…I do,” I said. “I made this blade.”
There was a stir among the people in the room.
“Who did you make the blade for?” The military man asked.
“I…uh… I don’t know,” I said.
“What do you mean, you don’t know,” The military man took a step closer to me, his hand on his sword hilt.
“I really don’t know who bought the blade,” I said. “If I did I would tell you. It was some stranger. Someone I had never seen before.”
“Can you tell us anything about this person? A name? A description? A location where they might have gone after the assassination?” The noble woman asked.
I looked around the room at all the nobles who stared back at me with anticipation.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know a lot of details about them. They came into my shop, gave me a large bag of gold, and bought the blade. Then they left. That’s all I know,” I said.
“They bought the blade from you and you didn’t ask questions?” The military man asked.
“Many people come into my shop and buy things like swords, knifes, and smaller blades. I don’t usually ask too many questions, especially if they are locals,” I explained.
“Was this person local?” The noble woman asked.
“I don’t believe so but I can’t be sure,” I replied.
“You instantly recognized the blade but you don’t know know who bought it?” The military man took another few steps toward me.
“I’m sorry I really don’t know anything about the buyer,” I said as I felt sweat build up on the back of my neck. “I recognized the blade because of the engravings on the side. I have just started engraving small markings on my blade.”
“So this is a recent sale?” The noble woman asked.
“Within the last couple months,” I said.
“This is useless,” The military man threw up her hands in frustration. “We should be out there searching every house and busting down doors until we find this killer.”
“Like I said, we do want to cause a panic. We can’t just go around busting into random people’s homes,” The noble woman argued.
Then the discussion quickly broke out into a screaming match between nobles and advisors as I sat there nervously glancing around. The noble then escorted me in then stood up.
“I think we are done with the discussion around the blade,” He said. “You can return home now.”
“Oh alright. Sorry I couldn’t be more help,” I said.
“We will contact you again if we feel it necessary,” They said as we left the King’s Palace with an accompany of guards.
That evening I returned to my forge, but kept it closed for the day. I figured there was no point of doing any work when I had so much on my mind. I just made myself an early supper and went to bed thinking about how I had lied to all those nobles in order to keep the identity of that woman from being discovered. And she was an assassin. She killed the king with the blade I made.
Why did I protect her? Should I just go back to the palace and tell them everything I know? If they knew I lied the first time would they have me jailed or killed for being a traitor.
All of these questions filled my mind as I tossed and turned in my bed. I was struggling to fall asleep when I heard the small ding of the bell from my shop.
I jolted up out of bed and quickly made my way down to the shop.
Once I entered the forge I saw a dark figure with their bow pulled back and an arrow pointed at my chest.
“Please don’t hurt me. Just take whatever you want. I don’t have much gold, but you can have it all,” I said.
The figure stepped forward and I saw the woman’s face come into the light. I recognized her eyes and her dark brown hair.
“What did you tell them?” She asked.
“You’re back,” I said. “I thought you were gone.”
She continued to point the arrow at me.
“Tell me what you told those nobles,” She demanded.
“I…I uh… I didn’t tell them anything. I swear. They asked me about the blade and who bought it and I said I didn’t know. You. You killed the king.”
“That man was a monster,” She said. “I did the world a favor by plunging a blade into his chest.”
“How do you know that?” I asked.
“Because he was my father,” She said. “He went out into the woods and took my mother like she was some sort on conquest to have. Then nine months later I was born into a cruel and unforgiving world while he gets to live in a world where he is rich and pampered, never wanting. I swore revenge and then I got it. I slayed that monster.”
I stayed silent for a moment before I responded.
“Then why are you here?” I asked. “Are you here to kill me too?”
She let out a sigh.
“I came here to see what you told the nobles and if they have any leads on me,” She said.
“Well I didn’t tell them anything about you, Miss. As far as I know they are just planning on going door to door, trying to find you,” I replied.
“Well then you better leave with me,” She said as she lowered her bow.
“Well if they are coming around and storming into homes, it won’t be long until they will be busting into here. Plus they will know if you lie to them again.”
“How do you know that?”
“These people are relentless and have the money and power to do anything they want without repercussions. Do you think they’ll stop at just knocking on doors. Soon they’ll be tearing the whole town apart. They’ll start torturing people. Using magic. Whatever it takes to find the killer. If they know you made that blade, they could easily blame you. You’re in danger,” She explained.
“I…I guess I didn’t think of that,” I said.
“Hurry, get your personal belongings together. We leave in five minutes. I’ll get started on the fire.”
“The what? What fire?”
“We have to fake your death. If they know you are alive, they are going to come after you. If I burn this place down it will just look like the Assassin is taking you out. You’ll be clear,” She said.
“Oh. Right,” I said not giving it too much thought.
I quickly darted back to my bedroom and starting shoving clothes and personal items into a bag. I then made my way downstairs to see dark smoke bellowing out from the forge.
“Is everything alright?” I asked.
She poked her head in the door.
“Fire’s started,” She said. “Now let’s get out of here, quick.”
She grabbed my hand and lead me out from the back of my house. As I looked back I saw flames starting to spread from the forge into my house.
The woman pulled me into the nearby woods.
“My name is Hellen, by the way,” She said as she gave me a smile.
I glanced back to see my house and business up in flames.
“Nice to see you again, Hellen,” I said.
Header Photo Credit to CG Trader
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/vlbrown1997