Jack's Rise to Glory

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Chapter 6

After the slightly escalated gathering, Jack made his way through the now rather vacant streets and mused about the event he had witnessed. Two joined bars of wood, moved slowly by an invisible force. But was the exitement of the people justified? What strange construct had they seen up there on the platform? Jack couldn´t explain it and he doubt anyone else really was able to, possibly with the exeption of Bernard, who somehow seemed to be a lot more self-confident than he appeared just a few weeks ago.

Jack presumed the slight change in character might be connected to his new discovery, if it had truly been an invention and not just a cheap magic trick, a desperate attempt to excite the bored community, although they would hardly promote workshops in that case.

Well, the explanation would surely follow soon enough, in the evening, to be exact.

Not a single hammer or plier was out of place back in his forge. Jack tended to check the inventory a few times during the day, adjusting the position if a hammer handle was slightly tilted to the left or laid on the „wrong“ side of the head. A strange quirk, for he was usually rather generous when it came to tidyness, but somehow he could not stand the sight of messy tool placement. And thus they were all neatly placed on the far side of the workbench, sorted after size and weight, almost like a disciplined row of man-at-arms.

There were currently no tasks, so Jack continued the endless task of perfecting his own set of armor. Chest plate, bracers and greaves where as form-fitting as they could be, but the helmet was just a crude construction that somehow kept escaping Jack´s usual strive

of sophistication and thus had not changed its shape within the last month. However, there was still one crucial component missing: A proper weapon to go with the suit of armor. Not that there was a need for such a tool of war or even a cuirass in the lands, for there had been an astonishingly low amount of skirmishes in the area, let alone a full-fledged war. And even if the fires of war would be charring the villages, Jack would not be keen on getting slaughtered in the blood-drenched mud in the constant pursuit of might and ground of the lords and counts.

Now, the problem with forging a good weapon to accompany his armor laid in the range of weapon types that were at choice. A sword is useless against any kind of armored foe, the armor penetrating cappabilities of a dagger were compensated by the puny range, polearms were unwieldy and ineffective at close quarters...it simply was impossible to make a choice without knowing the applying circumstances, and countless half-finished maces, arming swords and axes scattered around expressed the indecisiveness of the blacksmith. If ever a daring thief would enter the smithery, Jack would probably just reach for one of the heavy iron hammers anyway, for he had years of practise with those.

This time, he tried his luck with an axe. However, this one was forged with a steel handle and an exaggerated amount of metal at the head, the blade being about two thumbs in thickness at the center. The edge itself was straight and measured about two hand´s breadth in length. All in all, a fusion of a club and an axe. Jack quenched the soon-to-be sharp edge in oil and then put the prototype into a stand close to the window opening to accelerate the cooling process. Some people passing by eyed the strange weapon with a raised eyebrow, but most did not even pay attention. After the steel was safe to touch, Jack, did a few swings, left hand clenched over his heart, his common fighting pose. The weird construct certainly did not handle like a sword, more like a heavy club or a cleaver; however the thick blade would keep it from shattering on armor as well as making acts of cutting rather difficult. The last question to answer was wether this weapon combined two good or bad properties. The sun had descended during the smithing process, and the light was not sufficient anymore to properly grind a sharp edge on the unproportional cleaver and Jack deemed the time to be late enough to commence the walk towards the first course in the „Obsidian Fist Inn“, this time he carried a small dagger with him.

During the stroll towards the tavern at the other end of the town, he noticed a constant exited chattering in the streets and out of most open windows. Word had spread even towards even the most solitary inhabitants in the meantime and debates about the occurance on the square earlier. Most of those were positive, albeit some people warned about the danger of new inventions in contrast to well-proven methods. The lack of information however was all-encompassing, and Jack increasingly became eager to have certainty about the ways of this new discovery.

The walk had taken longer than he had expected, and the sun was already merely peeking over the city walls. The „Obsidan Fist Inn“ stood close to the southern city gate, warm glow pouring out of the windows between porphyry slabs. About five paces infront of the dark wooden entrance, the name-giving skulpture was placed: A stylized closed fist of rough, dark stone on a pedestral of grey marble. The fist itself measured about half a fathom in height; the attached start of the wrist was covered in a sleeve or possibly a broad bangle. Within the dozen folds of the rough stone, moss had settled. No one really knew about the origins of the stone fist; the inn had been one of the first buildings when the town was founded and the sculpture had been found half-buried in the close forest.

Now it served as distinctive symbol for an upper-class hostel.

The choice of this particular establishment for the course was reasonable as the main hall was both roomy and comfortable, perfect for any kind of gathering, as Jack had experienced during a meeting of the town´s craftsmen. It had been both the first and the last one Jack attended because the only topic was a lengthy and tedious discussion about taxes and trading partners and -routes. Those subjects might be noteworthy for a craftsman that seeked wealth, but for Jack, the source of enjoyment of his occupation laid in the process of creating and perfecting objects from the plain ressource, usually a metal ingot in his case.

With an attitude placed between curiosity and cautiousness, he approached the gate.


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