Tap. Scribble. Tap. Scribble. Scribble. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Fëanáro cringed as Rúmil continued to trace passages onto the slate. "Why can't we use paper?" he asked, a plaintive note entering his voice. "The chalk makes scratchy noises, and it hurts my ears."
"Until I am pleased with your penmanship, we will continue with the slate. Your letters are too round," Rúmil stated, not faltering once in his inscription to be copied by aforementioned pupil.
"Yours are too square," Fëanáro mumbled. "If you changed them–"
"Do not mumble, young prince. It is impolite. Now copy the Sarati until I am satisfied," Rúmil ordered with a final flourish of the chalk on the slate.
He muttered, "You'll never be satisfied because you invented them." Despite his complaining, he still began to trace out the Sarati that Rúmil had copied for him. Once he was finished, he glanced down at his letters. They were not as beautiful as the drafts of new letters that he had been busy writing, he decided. Looking out the window he also came to the conclusion that he was quite bored.
"Muttering is just as rude as mumbling. Elflings these days." He sighed recalling the blissful days in Arda when all did as they were told. It was instinct, an instinct that was needed for survival. He was pulled out of his reverie when he felt the room become suspiciously still.
"Curufinwë, did I ask you to stop writing?" Turning around, he noticed the empty chair and open window. Rúmil sighed in exasperation. He would need to have a word with Finwë. Or better yet, he thought, maybe I'll visit Niquessë. "She will know what to do," he mumbled, turning back to the passage he had been painstakingly writing for the young prince to copy.
Letting out a whoop of joy, Fëanáro made his way out of the gates and to the smithy. The smithy had quickly become his place of refuge, ever since Finwë had married that Indis. It was a place that allowed Fëanáro some space and privacy.
"Mahtan, I'm back," he called. Grabbing an apron from a hook, he made his way to the nearest furnace and picked up a pair of tongs.
"Hello, anyone around?" Shrugging, he began moving through the workshop. For only being fifteen he was quite adept at making little trinkets.
"Do not forget to light the fire, young Alyan." Fëanáro smiled upon hearing the booming voice of his master. As far as anyone was concerned, no one need know of his true identity.
"Where were you yesterday?" Mahtan asked, coming into view. Soot and silver shavings were dusted into his beard, almost as if they were actually a part of it. "I could have used your help with the new circlet for the crown prince."
"You know, I was helping my Atto. He needed help in the-" Fëanáro searched frantically for an excuse, flipping through his mind palace until he found the perfect one. "He was hung over," he stated. He cringed at the pathetic nature of that excuse. As if his father could ever get drunk. Wine was not even his favorite beverage.
Scratching his beard, Mahtan looked again at the elfing. "I don't think a father should get drunk when he has children. What does your mother think of all this?"
Fëanáro, suddenly finding the hammer quite interesting, realized that he hadn't thought this through. It had only been two weeks since he had forged his father's acquiesce to his apprenticeship. His lies would only carry him so far.
"My mother is a healer; she always ensures that he has the best cure for his hangovers."
"Really?" Mahtan said with a suspicious look. "What's her name?"
"Niquessë!" Fëanáro blurted out a little too quickly. "She is a wise nís."
The bearded nér let out a laugh. "Do not let your nerves consume you. I did not mean to attack you." Beckoning the child forward, he turned his mind to more serious matters. "Come. If we are to finish this piece for the king, we had better get to work. It is going to be a gift for the crown prince."
Taking the sketches from his master, Fëanáro perused the illustrations. The circlet was to be made of gold with an eight-pointed star at the center.
"I am not the most suited apprentice to craft this circlet. I have not even been here two months." Handing back the design, he looked his teacher in the eye. "I do thank you for the consideration, however."
Mahtan took the sketches from Fëanáro and studied him closely. Fëanáro was surprised when he was handed back the designs as well as the design for a new project. "Do not be so humble!" Mahtan exclaimed, clapping the elfling on the back. "For someone your age, you are indeed a talented smith. You will make the circlet as well as this ring. It is for a close friend of mine who wishes to be left anonymous."
Recognizing that he had lost this fight, Fëanáro took the pages from his master. "Thank you, Master Mahtan. I will not let you down." Grabbing a stool I sat down and perused the intricate details. "This ring would be best made with rose gold. It would help to accent the pale diamond."
"Why rose gold?" Mahtan inquired.
"Silver is far too traditional, so should be made with rose gold to make the piece unique. It should also be inlaid with pure gold to add the glamour that this design suggests." Looking to his master for approval, he hoped that he had made the correct assumption.
Mahtan stood for a moment looking at this new apprentice in wonder. It had been only two weeks and this scrawny eighteen-year-old was already growing in knowledge faster than he had expected.
"Rose gold it is," he said with arms folded. "Make sure you pay attention down to the last detail."
A feeling of excitement entered the young elfling's heart. It was rare for Mahtan to give a compliment, but he had received two in one day.
"Do not be so hasty to finish it. You have one week from tomorrow." Taking back the design for the circlet he continued, "I will craft the circlet for the prince. You may take charge of the rings."
Relieved, Fëanáro handed the circlet design to his master. "I propose a contest," he challenged. "The first to complete their work may extract whatever favor they wish from the loser."
"What would that be, Alyan?" Mahtan said with a jovial smile.
"I don't know. But when I think of one I will tell you, for I intend to win," he said with fire in his eyes.
"There is the fiery nér I know so well," Mahtan said with a smile. "Let the contest begin!"
Both elves worked many hours that day. When the leaves of Laurelin began to wane, Fëanáro was still not ready, nor was he willing to part with his beloved tools.
"There is something special about crafting rings." Fëanáro said as he placed his cloak around his shoulders. "It starts out as a simple wire, but hammer it, heat it, bash it, and buff it–" he paused, opening the door, "–you end up with a ring. Pure magic."
With a nod of the head, he exited the smithy and made his way home to reality, leaving his master wondering what or whom he had allowed into his smithy. His words were silver, and his pride golden. "He may very well surpass me in the craft," Mahtan said, placing the tools away. Turning, he sensed that he was not alone. "Though what that will be is yet too soon to tell. Nerdanel, what do you think?"