Library:Dragon and Fang
Dragon and Fang
I was strolling around Wasteâ€™s Edge one day when I decided to visit the blacksmith, Sulin Turvale. For his chosen trade, he was a favourite of the Dwarves. Perhaps they favoured him because he was the only blacksmith close to Uzdun'kal and a fine craftsman as well. He was also a favourite of the novelty seekers. He never ceased to have new or interesting items for trade or talk. There were others in the village with novel wares and secret knowledge, but they were not so free with their news. Some days, Sulin had little else but gossip or the newest sword or axe to be forged, but on other days, he had rare wonders. This day would prove to be one such day.
I stepped into his shoppe as usual and greeted his wife, who spent her time selling the things he made, and his children, who spend their time trying to break or divine the secrets of those selfsame things. His eldest daughter sat in a corner, cutting her hair with his latest invention - a pair of knives held together by a pin.
â€What tales have you, good madam?â€ I asked her mother.
â€A strange one indeed, friend Andare,â€ answered she. â€A new wonder my husband has conceived in secret. Would that he had spent that time to conceive a thing in me, but it is done now. Perhaps he will spend less time at forge and more time at play now he is done. You must go see it, if only to be done with it, friend.â€
â€Indeed? What does this wonder of craft do, Mina?â€
â€It spits fire or throws stone, or some such devilry. He is most proud of it, as he always is of his creations,â€ replied she, smiling for pride in her husbandâ€™s craftsmanship.
â€I will see it then, surely. Sulin Turvale is only the best blacksmith this side of the Elenstroem, after all.â€
With no more ado, I left the shop and wended my way around to the entrance to his smithy. He was haggling there with the village healer, Risartus Solmanus.
â€Solmanus, as I have said ere now and say again, you set too much value on your elixirs. Do you not know how brisk is my trade in craft? Surely there are other ways to turn lead to gold than by your arcana.â€
â€I will keep my arcane lores, Turvale. I have learned half your lesson, whereby I turn dust into gold since you pay so readily for it. What do you make with it, anyway?â€
â€A tool of fire, Solmanus. But, in sooth, it is my customers who must make things of it - whether life or death. My craft, I think, may have many uses, as does your own.â€
â€An answer more befitting a pedant than a blacksmith that was, but I concede. Send quickly if you or yours should need my physicianâ€™s skill.â€
â€Of course, old friend,â€ said the blacksmith as the physician departed.
The elder man muttered as he left. â€Gold for sulfur. Who would have guessed,â€ he wondered aloud, but I could see pleasure in his eyes, perhaps that someone else had begun to learn his arts.
He stopped and looked over his shoulder at me. "Perhaps you will take up the craft more truely, dunVelain?"
"Nay, young wizard, I cannot. The Owl Clan meddles as little as possible in powders and potions," I replied.
"Of course, you are Cirades', part and whole. But keep you well, for you keep us and wisely."
With that, he turned away entirely and strode quickly back to his own shop and home. I, for my part, turned to enter Sulin's smithy.
â€Greeting, Turvale!â€ I shouted over the din. The smith had set immediately back to work. He turned to face me, his hammer paused in mid-air over the red-hot blade of a new sword. He smiled.
â€Well met, Andare. You have interrupted my labours just as I begin them anew. In recompense, you may pump the bellows,â€ he said good-naturedly, and laughed.
Seeing a new thing hung on the wall of his smithy and no excuse not to aid his labour, I put my hands to the bellows-pole and began to pull on it. Turvaleâ€™s son was surely trying to do the same, but he was yet too small to pull with any force.
â€I have heard youâ€™ve created some new devilry and that I should come to look into it, Turvale.â€
He smiled again as he hammered at the sword and thrust it back into the forge. â€Yes, I have made a dragon and a fang for him. You shall see more when I am done with this blade,â€ said he, then finished the blade and quenched it in oil.
â€A dragon? How do you mean? Such things are the realm of loremasters, Sulin.â€
â€But I have made it, just the same. It is here.â€ He went to the thing I had noticed. It was like a rod of iron with a club of wood affixed to one end and a knife affixed to the other.
â€This is my dragon and his fang - a tool for war or the working day.â€
He took it from the wall and brought it to me. Looking more closely, I found the rod hollow.
â€This is that devilry, Andare. Certain of our physicianâ€™s powders will burn when they are mixed together. And fire, though it burns in the open, will throw a thing forward if one gives it no room for burning. I can cause those powders to throw stones or lead. Think of the uses! With dragon and fang both, a man may hunt without worry of boars. One may strike down a hart for food or boar at need. And with this, any town defender is well armed. He has fire, stone, club, spear, and blade all at once.â€
â€Yes, but still, why call it a dragon? Dragons belch fire and not stone.â€
He bade me follow him as he took the thing outside and fed it powder and stone. Then he set it to his shoulder, directed it at the scarecrow which guarded his wifeâ€™s garden, and contrived to make it work. With a deafening roar, a fiery flash, and a belch of smoke, it did his bidding. The scarecrow had gained an extra eye-socket.
When my ears stopping ringing, I spoke again. â€A fearsome thing indeed, Turvale. Will it always strike down what you bid it to strike?â€
â€It is yet delicate in that respect. Betimes it will not fire at all. This thing requires training and knowledge. A little of the wisemanâ€™s and mechanicâ€™s skills one must have to use it to purpose. Any fool may swing a club or plunge a dagger, but a dragon needs husbandry. That is the mystery of this weapon. Knowing nothing, a man may use it poorly. Knowing a little, he may use it well. Knowing all, it may still fail him completely. One last thing you must see,â€ said he, and pulled the fang from the mouth of the dragon.
â€Of this dagger I am most proud. It was not easy, fixing it to the mouth of the thing. Take it as my gift to you. I will surely make more of both fang and dragon. Return when you have the skill to wield it, or sooner if you can.â€
I found, happily, that the â€™fangâ€™ hung easily from my belt by the same loop of iron which held it in the dragonâ€™s mouth. Smiling, I accepted the gift.
â€But what price in gold or arms do you ask for this, Turvale? Surely a dragon is not bought with a song.â€
â€That, I have not decided, my friend. Would you buy it, though your mechanic skill is slight? Would that Solmanus were here now. He is not so much the master of alchemy as he thinks himself, for he has not mastered the alchemy of trade.â€
â€And what, friend, is that? To make ore of wood?â€ I asked, laughing.
â€Nay, to make gold by ironmongery. Watch, when the guards learn of this, how dearly I can trade a knife, a stock of wood, a hollow rod of iron, a pinch of powder, and a ball of lead for gold. I will be rich indeed, unless some other smith has had like inspiration.â€
â€I would sooner you turned my gold into a better bow than that one I now have, Turvale. A ranger needs quiet things: simple potions, a blade small and keen, and a stout bow. Such roaring as your dragon makes will drive the birds from an entire forest.â€
â€Or an army from the field, but I see your meaning. Bring me your bow and I will see what I can make of it.â€
â€Thank you indeed, Turvale. I will surely do so. Have you heard aught of the Dwarves?â€
â€Not a whit since the matter with Fingolson was concluded. They have withdrawn to the mountains, I think. Take care of them if you move into the hills. They do not like the tall peoples now, I warrant.â€
â€I will that,â€ said I and went on my way, wondering how I would gain the wisdom to wield one of Turvaleâ€™s dragons, should ever I need more than a rangerâ€™s bow. Perhaps Cirades Rymon would have such answers. His books had often proven a useful source of information.