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The metallic sounds of the forge echoed through the air, the sounds of hammering and fire accenting the occasional passing of breath as the woman within worked. She would occasionally pause to rest, to walk away from the fiery heat that filled the air and grab something to drink or snatch a slice of meat from the decently-sized hunk positioned over the open fire pit in the middle of the shed. She would place some meat over the fire at the beginning of the day and it would roast slowly, serving as her meals as the hours passed. Whatever her rest consisted of, it would only last for few seconds, enough to regain her strength before she set about working again. The building itself was situated at the edge of town, far enough away from local residences so that the sounds of metalwork wouldn't disturb the occupants but near enough that people could walk by and watch the dance of orange flames that flickered with green light. It was a small building with the largest part being the attached 'shed' that the noises echoed from. A sign listing the building as a blacksmith's workshop hung on the open door outside of the shed, swaying slowly in the gentle breeze. 

Demi had been around the forge and heat that accompanied it all her life. Raised by her father, Demi had begun learning the art of blacksmithing from an early age. She had always found a certain… beauty in the metal work, from the smelting of ingots, to the casting, to the forging of various equipment and had strove to be as skilled at it as her father. It hadn’t helped that, as a little girl, she’d been mesmerized by the flames that would spout from the forge whenever her father worked. Although it didn't do so now, the dance of orange flames tinged by green light had done wonders to excite the fantasies of her then child-like imagination, as if her father were taming a giant, metal dragon that spewed out green and orange flames...

Blacksmithing wasn’t the only thing Demi had ever done in her life. It was a passion, to be sure, and one that she followed to honor the life and passion of her father, but it wasn’t the only thing she did. At one time she had been a soldier of another province’s army and her body showed it, from the tone of her arms and legs to the flat of her abdomen. While she was no longer a soldier her current ‘occupation’, along with her artistic talents, helped her maintain that same muscular tone. As a soldier, her hair had been once been cut short, shorn to a small buzz on her skull. Now however, the thick, jet-black tresses trailed down to just below her shoulders, typically styled into a low tail or a braid, as it was now. Her eyes were grey and her skin was pale and accented with scars, both from swords, teeth, and claws alike. Demi was a warrior and if the scars didn’t show it, it would be that her right arm ended at the elbow.

Straightening from her hunched position over the anvil, Demi removed her glove and wiped the back of her hand across her brow, lips pursed slightly in a sigh of mild exhaustion. She’d been at the forge since early in the morning and had it not been for the fact  that she had naught else to do that day, she might have stopped for the day. For Demi, it was either work or do nothing… and Demi had always had a rather hard time doing ‘nothing’. In this case, it wasn’t so much her making something just for the fun of it as it was something she’d had the mindset of making for a while now. Right now it was just a mess of leather straps, metal gears, screws, and other bits of miscellaneous metal bits but she hoped that soon she might see the piece in life as she saw it in her imagination.

Edited by ViverFever

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It was an especially beautiful day in Coth. 

On such magnificent days Constans could not help but think of God, of the world God wanted him to create where all days could be as serene as this one, where all places could be as filled with peace as Coth. It was a monumental undertaking, to change the world in such a way. Yet looking up at the bright sun and how it spilled its warm light with such favor upon the sleepy civilization which had risen on Coth's idyllic hill, Constans believed it could be done. 

Yet if Coth was to thrive, he thought as he walked out of his ruined church this morning, it would have to thrive upon the hard work and effort and, yes, blood of loyal Cothites. The realm that needed to be fashioned required hard fighting. War had never been Constans' strong suit, but it was necessary. Coth's peace could not only be spread through forgiveness and love. There were vile monsters out in the world: undead and the necromancers who propagated them, foul races with false dark gods who could never be brought into the light, god-pretenders who saw themselves as higher than any other divinity-- these people could be forgiven for their errors, but they could not be spared God's wrath. 

Constans hated it, personally, but it was not his will that led Coth. It was God's. God wished for him to dispatch those foul hearts which would never turn toward his green light, and so that was what Constans would do. 

Or, at least, that is what he would ask others to do. Others who could accomplish it. For while Constans had God's fire at his disposal, his heart was always bent towards peace. He needed fighters to do God's work. He needed warriors.

"Father!" a child said as Constans walked, his hands clasped behind him, through the streets of his town. He smiled and yelled back at the child in greeting. it was not long before that child, and a few others, were trailing the Prophet of Coth on his sojourn down the hill. 

"Father!" a woman called, and he stopped to talk to her and to kiss the forehead of her child. The child's eyes were bright green like the mother's, like Constans', like almost everyone's in Coth. She too followed the Prophet as he walked on. 

"Father!" the butchers called and "Father!" yelled the seamstresses and shoemakers. "Father!" cried the soldiers and "Father!" the farmers. He stopped to speak to them all. They told him that the recent rains had been a blessing to the crops, that the meat of the cows was especially well marbled since he had prayed over the sows, that the elves had brought fine animal skins back from the wilds and that the people loved the new opera singers who visited Coth, and the new library the elf Ioreth was raising. 

A bard picked up her flute and trilled a marching tune as Constans walked down the paths between the homesteads with his growing train of people. A walk of five minutes took Constans over an hour to make, but by the time he arrived at the blacksmith's home and workshop he knew all about what sort of day Coth was having. True to his first impression, it was a good one. 

"You will all forgive me, but I must leave you. Many of you have heard of the blacksmith who lives in this home. It is said her fires are touched by God." he said, standing and raising his hand and addressing the crowd in front of Demi's house. 

"Today, I must confer with her in private. You may not know, but she has more than once ventured outside of Coth for your benefit. She is an example to all of us, and I hope you will all favor her with your patronage. Now, you must disperse and do your parts to keep our happy home safe." 

And with that gentle command the people who had followed him down the hill said their goodbyes. Some kissed his hands, while others bowed before walking back up to their homes and shops and their play. He watched them go, holding his hands clasped together, smiling until his eyes crinkled with joy. 

When the were all out of sight, Constans listened for a moment for the sounds of the blacksmith's hammer. When he heard them, he walked around to her shed and, knowing she would never hear his knocks on the door, let himself in. 

For a shed, it was spacious. It had to be: the fires would burn down a smaller space. Yet they were contained in a great stonework oven, and beside that open and blenching cauldron of fire stood the one-armed woman, her work clamped in an iron press as she slammed her hammer down upon her newest strange piece of metal.

Constans didn't speak, but when she noticed him he bowed his head toward her metal and signaled for her to keep working. He moved beside her and watched her hammer for a moment, noting the fading red metal of her project. It was beginning to cool, and so Constans held his hand over it, opening his fingers wide and inhaling. 

He exhaled sharply, and from his palm blasted a small flamethrower gout of green-hot fire. His eyes began to shine light down over the work as his fire bathed over the metal, licking her hammer and hand harmlessly whenever she let a blow fall. God's fire spared the innocent, always, but it had no such mercy for the metal, which it melted down until it was as orange as the sun and as pliable as clay. 

When he was satisfied, Constans closed his fist and withdrew his hand. He walked over to the center of the room, allowing her time to use the gift he had given her. He grabbed an oil-stained knife and sliced himself off a piece of roast pig from the second, smaller fire pit. He held it gingerly in his fingers, taking small bites of the delicious meat, and found a table to sit on while Demi finished her work. 

@ViverFever

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When Demi had been a child, the noise of the forge had always seemed so loud, from the roaring of the flames to the constant clang and grind of metal and stone. She had always been able to tell when her father was working by the various noises; she had been roused from sleep more than once by them but the older she became, the more the noises shifted. They became softer, easier for her to ignore and to dismiss entirely. She barely heard the noises at all now, in fact. It was like background music to her, something she heard but never really acknowledged.

The forge was still loud enough to block the obvious commotion that collected outside of her home, however. Normally, had she not been surrounded by the loud noises of the forge, the fact that  both the window shutters and the door stood open would be enough for the noise to filter into the shed. She’d be able to then hear the pluck of bard strings and happy chatting and would grow curious enough to put down her hammer and venture outside to see what all the activity was about.

Instead, all Demi heard was the repeated clangs of her hammer in her ears and her own thoughts that circulated in her head. They were thoughts of measurement, idle mental tracings of the design pattern for her recent project. It was easy enough for her to get lost in the inches of metal and bits that lay in an organized position on the workbench, to focus entirely on curving the strip of metal she worked on now. Pulling on her lower lip with her teeth, Demi bent back with a soft sigh and looked at the metal strip, parts of it now curved. Getting the shape of it exactly right was the hard part, Demi thought as she twirled the hammer idly in her hand. A lot of her pieces were never this delicate, this precise. Given the design of it and its intended use however, it had to be perfect.

Closing her eyes against the cool breeze against her neck, Demi released another sigh then went back to work, her hammer coming down on the heated metal with a clench of her jaw. Her hammer had come down a few mores times, the red metal slowly beginning to fade and cool, before she’d noticed a body had walked into her shed. Grey eyes raised from her work bench as she saw a shadow move from the door. Her hammer stopped when she saw who it was, eyebrows raising.

She had met the prophet before, of course. She sometimes took jobs from him, sometimes ridding the countryside of some monster or villain that posed a threat to his little community. He and his followers had done much to help her in the past; the least she could do was pay that in kind in whatever way she could.

Parting her lips to speak, she stopped when he motioned to her and smiled, turning back to her work. When he neared, she paused again, hammer laying flat against the half-curved metal strip. Her eyes watched his movements and at the flicker of green fire from his palm, her eyebrow raised in a silent question. The green fire washed cool over her hand, the glove only glistening with a green light as the fading red metal began to brighten and glow, silver turning white. The green flames were familiar to her and her eyes softened as she struck the metal. With the renewed heat, it was easier to curve the strip, to mold it into the half-curve she saw in her mind.

By the time she had struck her hammer down for the final time and slid the metal into water to cool, half an hour had passed. A sigh echoed from her throat as Demi laid her hammer down, using her other arm to pull off the heavy leather glove she wore to protect her arm and hand. Turning to the father, she smiled softly and leaned gently against the anvil she'd been working on.

“Apologies for the delay, Father, and I appreciate the help,” Grey eyes turned to the forge fires near her, hand wiping the beads of sweat from her forehead. “Made my project easier to finish.” Her eyes slid back to her and she bowed her head. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit, Father? May I offer you something to drink? Had I known you were coming, I might have stopped to make my workshop a bit more presentable and less,” Her eyes turned to the stray bits of her project laid out on the workbench, "...like a disorganized mess." 

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Constans ate and left the woman to her work. Even without his help, the fires in her smithy were flecked with green whenever she toiled. He watched in awe. It was not the first time he had noticed the fires of God in her forge. She was blessed, like he, with the color of destiny. Constans had long since learned to trust its familiar glow. 

"I will take that drink, Demi." he answered, ignoring her apology. As she fetched a drink, he held his hands before him and imagined his oily fingers smearing over her tankard or goblet. He looked around himself and spied a rag that, if anything, was even more filthy than his hands. He wiped his fingers with it and discovered that it cleaned well. 

"Friction." he said to himself. And again when she returned: 

"Friction, lady. Cleanliness is about friction. Do you see this rag? Oily, greasy, blackened, charred. And yet if I rub my skin with it, I come away clean." he said, holding his hand up for his own inspection and hers. His fingers were dry of oil and, indeed, relatively clean. 

"So too does a land require occasional friction. It requires good men and strong women to scour it clean, else the filth at its edges with creep further in toward its core and disease will take root." 

She offered him a drink, and he took it. Before he thought to drink, he raised it up to her. 

"You have helped clean the land around Coth before, Demi. And I thank you for it. I must ask you to do it again." he said flatly, "I have had nightly dreams of the restless dead and of monsters. There are dark shapes rising in the wilderness. Why? For what purpose? And why do I dream of them marching under a flag?" 

These were the questions which had plagued him for three nights now. Three nights he hadn't slept-- or he had slept, but had gotten no rest, because God refused to be ignored. 

"These are questions which cannot be answered from Coth. I need strong warriors and scouts to settle the questions which plague my dreams. I need you, and I need one other, to ride out and see if it is true: if some evil is rising in the countryside. Are you able to do this thing?" 

It was, as it always was, a request. Constans had on him the face of a man truly entreating for aid. Command was not his way. The dignity of all men required that he only ever lead the willing and the able. 

 

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With a singular nod of her head and a soft smile, Demi exited the shed. It only took her a matter of a few minutes to gather one of her better goblets and fill it with water before returning to the shed. She held the goblet gently in her singular hand, curving around the room to position herself on a chair close to the Father. When he lifted his hand, she handed the drink to him then held up her hand alongside his own. Her hands were the hands of a worker, of a warrior, with a mottled assortment of old, barely visible scars and rough skin.

Curling her fingers, she lowered her hand to her thigh and shifted as Constans spoke, listening to his words with rapt attention. She had done jobs for the Father before, as she had done with the various towns people. To her, it was a way to pay them back for their kindness, among other minor reasons.


Demi released a soft sigh and turned her eyes away from the father, eyebrows furrowed in thought. “I can’t begin to imagine what the meaning is behind your dreams, Father.” Demi turned her eyes back to Constans then rose from her chair.

Wandering over to where all the pieces of her newest project were laid out, she picked up a screw and looked at it, seemingly scrutinizing it. Twisting it in her fingers, she laid it back down after a few long seconds and picked up the piece she’d been working on before. She laid it out among the other pieces then turned, hand lingering on the surface of the worktable as she looked to the father.

“You should know by now, Father, that you don’t have to ask if you need my help.” A soft smile graced her face. “Just point me in a direction and bide me farewell. I don’t know if you have in mind who this ‘one other’ person will be but I’ll help you, Father.” Her eyes turned down to her project, then back to Constans. “How soon do you want me to leave?”

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Constans smiled proudly. 

"You're incredibly sweet to say so Demi. I hope you'll forgive me if I do ask anyway. Every time." he said with good humor. One of the heaviest burdens of leadership was resisting the urge to thoughtlessly accept the fealty people offered. When the day came when Constans had to command rather than request, he hoped someone would have the good sense to slap him. 

After all, what was he? A man. God's man yes, but not God himself. 

"The other person is an elf named Tirkas. He's a swordsman of considerable skill and a very useful person to take with you through the wild lands. Once he arrives I'll ask you to head out as soon as you're both ready." 

Constans took another drink of water and nodded to the work she'd been doing when he'd entered. It was clearly something complex.

"What is that?" he asked, nodding at it. 

 

 

(Enter: @Spooky Mittens !)

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The sight of The Green Knight was not an uncommon one around Coth and it's surrouding territory.  He was a man of normal stature, beautiful by human standards, sporting robes of green and black.  The gentle clicking of metal plates about his chest and legs heralded his approach where he walked, though little warning they did give as Tirkas stepped with grace and stealth.  Despite his armaments, he was no more noisy than your average man carrying a bag of coin.

He wore several layers, some comprised of normal clothing, and some comprised of armor.  His outermost garb was a brigandine jacket that protected Tirkas' torso from the front and back.  Under this jacket he wore some bright green robes that peeked out around his neck and legs.  His pants, once grey, were a newer black pair, stuffed neatly into a set of greaves that had been oxidized near-black.  His arms were adorned similarly, with a vambrace only on his right hand and jack-chain strapped to his sleeves.  His satchel was plain brown hide.  He carried two weapons on his left hip as well, a sword by outward appearance, and a funny looking dagger with a grip that was far too long.

He strolled through town, headed to a specific location.  He recalled the previous evening when The Father had given him his mission.  He was told a time and a place, as well as the nature of his visit, and so Tirkas carried a deep satchel over his left shoulder.  He didn't need provisions of his own, but his newest companion might have need of them.  There was obviously food in the bag, since Tirkas' newest animal companion stood upon his shoulder pecking at the bag opening now and again.  It was a bird, a sleak and shiny green peacock.  Tirkas had named him Percival, but the bird obviously cared nothing for the named given to it.

Tirkas arrived promptly at the time he was told, for what was a man who could not keep a schedule?  While he might normally keep to convention and announce himself, he saw no need.  His pointed elven ears could hear the conversation within from up the way, and his bear-like sense of smell would recognize Constans anywhere, so Tirkas simply let himself in.

The door opened, and he slipped inside the forge shack like a ghost.

He was obviously ready to go already, so the elf stood and waited to be addressed directly.

 

@Vansin@ViverFever

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