Andros’ Tale ((Audio Book))
What had he gotten himself into this time!!
He was either a short giant or a huge human (1,2). Carrying his full-length apron of well-worn boiled leather and wearing his best work cloths consisting of sturdy leather breeches tucked into high black boots, Andros was carefully following Kogh To-Kow and his wife, Gratch, deep underground into a huge dwarven complex (3). Their three young children had long since raced ahead, obviously traveling familiar paths and heading home.
As he walked, he fondly remembered, yet again, the chance occurrence which brought him here.
“T ’was on a quiet day like today when I first met the To-Kows. I was in my old wagon, delivering a new plow blade and a few cast-iron pots to farmer Jim Lash, when I heard a wild scream and the sudden clash of steel! Jumping from my seat, I grabbed my club and raced ahead of the heavily loaded and slow-moving wagon. Rounding a bend in the road, I came upon a family of five dwarves under vicious attack by a party of highwaymen—thieves! Kogh and his wife, Gratch, although badly outnumbered, were doing their best to fight off the thugs. Their three young ones were huddled together under the wagon, the eldest with a short sword. The heavily besieged parents were holding their own but rapidly tiring.
What a fight! Kogh and Gratch, with their flaming two-handed battle-axes (4), and I with my club—those seven thugs didn’t stand a chance! Within moments of my arrival, Kogh dropped two, Gratch fatally wounded another, and I bashed three more. The one remaining thief fled like a hare with a pack of wild hounds on his tail!
When we’d checked on their young ones, bandaged our wounds, and tossed the would-be thieves’ bodies into the woods to rot as they deserved, Kogh strongly insisted on rewarding me. To this day I still don’t know why. I had done what any honest man would have, besides, I enjoyed it! Anyhow, when he told me he was the Lore Master of the dwarves of Iron Mountain—the dwarves famous the world over for their fabulous, intricate, and downright impossibly perfect works of all metals—I thanked my lucky stars and immediately named my prize!”
Along the way, Andros admired the delicately wrought golden receptacles which were strategically mounted to the walls every few hundred feet, and provided illumination through the myriad of twisting and branching tunnels (5,6). Inside each receptacle was a small, perfectly round ball of polished gold which had been glowing bright white but was now fading, mimicking the sun which was setting upon the world far above.
Deep in the mountain, on the side of a huge natural cavern, they finally reached their destination and were enthusiastically greeted by the family and friends of the To-Kows.
Andros was introduced to all as their mighty savior and the story of his fighting beside them to ward off a pack of robbers grew with each telling. A little embarrassed, Andros made an extreme effort to remember as many of their strange sounding names as he could, but stumbled on most of the pronunciations.
The To-Kows told their friends and relatives that they had invited Andros, a human blacksmith, into their enchanted homeland to reward him for risking his life and saving them. Andros’ chosen reward was instruction and hands-on training in the dwarven spell shape metal – secret and almost NEVER taught to humans (7).
The first few months were the most difficult for Andros. Many of the concepts and techniques of dwarven metal work could only be defined in dwarven terms, so, he had to learn the language first. Their techniques and special tools were constructed specifically for dwarven hands. Andros was a very large human. He matched the dwarves in shoulder size and nearly in arm strength, but, he had to make the special tools to fit his hands. His much greater height presented many complications in working at their forges and on their anvils.
Sometime in his fourth month, Andros was successful in carrying on complete conversations in the dwarven tongue and had acquired appropriate tools and even an anvil to match his large stature.
He learned many new techniques and even taught a few of his own. Andros was at peace there. The daily life and challenging metal work suited him well. However, he could feel that something was missing. He was working on hammering out a silver serving piece, when he was summoned from the children’s craft area into the main, adult only, workroom.
“Andros, join us in the council chamber, and bring the serving piece”, invited Kogh.
This was a first. He had been forbidden entrance, like all dwarven children, until that moment. He was instructed to bring his current metal project, the serving plate.
Centrally located in the core of their community, the dwarven work room surprised Andros. It was a very plain, simple circular room approximately 30 feet in diameter. Its outer walls were lined in utilitarian wooden benches. In its center sat a solid, stone table and a single wooden chair. Everything in the room was either of wood or stone. No metal was visible anywhere. No decorations adorned the stone walls. No carpets covered the stone floor. Though plain, the room felt somehow alive.
‘Andros, place the serving piece in the center of the table”, directed Kogh.
“Sit in the chair”, instructed Gratch.
Many adult dwarves, including Kogh and Gratch, stood closely, encouragingly around him.
Kogh picked up and very closely examined Andros’ silver plate. He then pointed out a small imperfection along the edge. When Andros went to take the plate back, he was gently stopped by Gratch. Kogh placed Andros’ finger directly over the imperfection and moved his hand as if to smooth the blemish away. At first nothing happened. After several minutes, the dwarves in the room joined hands and formed a circle around Kogh and Andros. When Andros stared at the dwarves he noticed a very faint glow, like molten gold, surrounding each of them. Following Kogh’s silent directions, Andros concentrated on the plate’s blemish. He focused the energy from the core of his being. At first it was a tiny spark at his finger tip, and then it grew into a pulsing molten gold colored glow covering both of his hands! Andros was shocked, but he continued to concentrate and soon was able to use the mystic energy to rub the blemish away, leaving the plate flawless! He had, for the first time, controlled the dwarven species magic and performed the fabled spell shape metal.
It took another three months of very intense and exhausting practice for Andros to partially master the shape metal spell; but he loved it. Working with the molten-yellow dwarven magic was the greatest joy Andros had ever experienced and he reveled in it.
When the time came for him to return home he was both saddened at leaving and ecstatic at being able to resume his smithy practice with the magical assist.
Over the next two years, Andros visited the To-Kows frequently, often staying for a week or two, until he fully mastered the shape metal spell. They became like his second family.
Today, in Meren Beach, Andros was happily hammering out the rough shape of an iron stove grate, reminiscing over his childhood on the family farm and his deceased parents, his 2 brothers, 3 sisters, and their mixed up families. He even day-dreamed a brief image of Garthane, the local healer, who, only a few years younger than he, had secretly captured his interest for the last few years.
When he finished with the iron grate, his combination of physical skill and dwarven magic had produced another work of perfection.
Upon hearing a bard’s baritone voice and lute passing outside his door, he set aside his work, stood, listened, then he …
To continue Andros’’ story, please read “The Last Tale of T’Lar” by RJ Borton
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by RJ Borton, 8/18/2014 last updated 2/04/2017
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This story is a work of fiction. All names, characters, species, classes, places, things, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblances to fictitious or actual persons living or dead and events or locales real or imaginary are entirely coincidental.
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