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The Blacksmith's Sword

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Just another day at the smithy: make a sword or anything metal for your customer and get your pay. Simple, right? That is until it isn't... It was just another request for the blacksmith: make this sword and you will get your pay. That's it, short, sweet and simple. But beneath this simple request was an outcome that he didn't expect...

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Chapter 1

Clank!! The griffin raised his hammer and struck the heated piece of metal with a melodious note. Clank!! Picking it up, he inspected the beaten edge with a critical glare, his eyes never blinking as they scanned the surface for any dents, any nicks, any sort of flaw that would make his newest work of art unsatisfactory.

Giving a grunt of approval, the artisanal blacksmith dunked his artwork into a barrel of water nearby, piercing the surface of the water with a resounding hiss.

Beautiful, he thought as he gave the sword one last glance, wiping it dry with a towel. Taking a chisel and hammer, he began the laborious task of carving out the designs. Glancing back and forth between the design on the instructions from the buyer and his artwork, he carved each circle and rune with meticulous care.

After all, the buyer had already paid a generous amount of gold to last him and his family for two generations and he surely wouldn’t want to fail him like that.

The griffin’s beak was ceaselessly moving, muttering the words that were written on the paper. He knew that the words were anything but ordinary, for each word that was spoken drew upon his energy, draining him bit by bit. He felt colder and colder as the minutes passed, but still he did not stop in his work, not that he could, making sure that everything was perfect before he could lay the finishing touches.

After what seemed to be forever, he finally placed the hammer and chisel down before giving in to his shaking legs. Collapsing onto the floor with a thud, he could only barely see the circles and runes glowing brightly, firstly in white, then blue, pink, green and all sorts of various colours before fading away. He lay there, breathing heavily, taking in as much air as possible.

When strength finally returned to his legs, the griffin stood up, albeit very weakly, and returned to the table. In his mind he knew he must hurry. He had promised the buyer two days ago that he would finish the sword by tonight and judging by the clock in the wall, he would be here soon.

With the remaining metal he got from the ore in which he crafted the sword from, he began making the cross-guard and the grip. Compared to the blade itself, this was infinitely much easier. Within 40 minutes, he had finished the hilt and had just slid the rounder, narrower part of the metal blade into the handle, sealing the cross-guard and the flat blade together.

“Just one last thing to add,” he said breathlessly, eyeing the empty hole at the base of the hilt. That was the hardest part to craft for the pommel. The buyer had already provided him with a diamond, cut and polished to perfection. Even as he picked it up in his claws, the firelight from the forge bounced on the surface of the gem and reflected into many beautiful rays of light.

He sighed, wishing that that was part of his payment, but he knew that it was already fixed. Heating up the end part of the grip ever so slightly, he sighed once more, this time with a smile that said ‘perfect’ as he fitted the diamond in nicely. Once that was done, he let the grip to cool off, letting it to set around the diamond so that it was impossible to remove it.

He then took a strip of leather from one of the tables, one of two that he requested from the local tanner and retrieved when he was melting the ore. It was plain black with no unnecessary patterns, save for the runes that when wrapped around the grip which spelled Messorem Animarum. He didn’t know what it meant, but he just chalked it up to magic, same as the cold feeling he felt before.

The sword is evil, he knew, but no matter how much he wanted not to craft the sword, it was already too late for him. The moment he spoke the first word and chiselled the first rune, he was cursed to finish it even if it killed him.

Sighing, he took the leather and wrapped it around the grip, gluing it in place. Finally done, he stepped to the side, allowing himself to admire his masterpiece despite it being the most evil weapon he created. He smiled, feeling the compulsion he was cursed upon finally receding. But he also knew there was one more thing to craft.

“The sheath.” The blacksmith sighed, preparing the materials needed.

In truth, making swords and their accompanying scabbards were not his speciality; the intricacies of making them were a little complex for him. In fact he never liked making any sorts of weapons. Horse shoes, necklaces, even the odd bits of knives and axes were fine, but bigger weapons just irked him.

Yet as long as it helped to put bread on the table, then he had not really much of a choice. Thank the stars that he paid attention to his masters for teaching him to craft all things related to metal, with a little woodwork.

While his minds were filled with these reflecting thoughts, his arms crafted the sheath instinctively. Without thinking, the claws moved without stopping, as if knowing the steps by themselves. Cutting the groove in the wood, gluing and shaping the sheath into a more appropriate shape, he managed to get it done within the hour. Fitting the chape over the tip of the scabbard, he then wrapped the second piece of leather around the scabbard and stitched the ends together, finishing the whole thing.

“Finally, it is done.” he sighed, just in time to see a shadow coming upon him. Turning around, he saw a cloaked figure carrying a staff just a few feet behind him. Figures, he thought. Even magic users need to learn the ways of the sword these days, lest they got cut down when their enemy got too close for comfort.

“Is it done?” The griffin shivered at the figure’s cold voice.

“Yes, it is,” The griffin slid the sword back into its sheath and presented them unceremoniously to the buyer. Accepting it, he quickly drew the sword, marvelling at the designs before swinging it around in circles expertly. “You like it?” The griffin asked.

“Oh quite, blacksmith, quite indeed.” He replied, satisfied with its weight and balance.

“Good, now get that thing out of here!” The blacksmith waved his claws at him, shooing him away. “The further that thing is away from here, the better I’ll be.”

“Oh I will, don’t worry. I’ll be gone soon enough.” He chuckled, raising the sword to eye level, seemingly examining the designs. “But aren’t you a little curious about this sword? Surely you must have a question or two about it?”

“Yeah, just one: the words. What do they mean anyway?”

“Oh that?” The buyer chuckled. “Very well, I shall tell you. The name means...” Suddenly, he appeared in front of the griffin and plunged the sword into the griffin’s chest. His breath caught in his throat, the griffin stared wide-eyed at the sword, the light in his eyes fading rapidly as the monster leaned down to his ears and whispered, ”The Reaper of Souls.”

Black markings spread rapidly from the sword and made their way around the unfortunate blacksmith. The monster saw all this and slowly drew the sword from the griffin’s body with a malicious grin, eyeing the white mist that was being drawn out of his body and into the sword.

The griffin’s mouth was still open, as if screaming in pain, but barely a sound came out of it. He felt…cold, as if all the warmth was being sucked out of him along with that white mist. Was he dying? Many similar thoughts filled his head, slowing drowning any rationality he could muster. What about his daughter? Who’s going to feed her? Why did he accept the deal in the first place? His thoughts were in a mess, bouncing chaotically in his head. Then as more of his soul was sucked out of him, these thoughts became lesser and lesser, his mind slowing down to a complete halt.

And when the sword was fully pulled out of him, the griffin dropped onto the floor, barely breathing without a mark or a drop of blood on his body. Drool leaked out from his beak and his eyes stared aimlessly forward.

“Rise, griffin.” The sword-wielder ordered.

“Yes, master,” The newly-made slave said as he rose from the floor and stood stiffly in front of his new master. His eyes were still lifeless, but there was still a shred of sentient intelligence in them.

“Good, good, that means this weapon does work.” The slaver commented with a cruel smirk. “Excellent work.”

“Thank you, master,” the griffin replied, bowing to him.

“No time for that. Now listen, no one is supposed to know I am here, so I want you to act as normal as possible, and make sure no one suspects a thing.” The griffin nodded in understanding. “You are to make sure that everything is normal until I call you, am I clear?”

“Of course,” The griffin gave an uncaring shrug. “But then, what about Krystel? What am I to do with her?”

“If she, or anyone, gets in the way, kill them.”

“As you wish, master.” The griffin’s eyes became half-lidded and gave an apathetic smile as he waved goodbye to his master before going back to his house, where the daughter he no longer loved was waiting for him.

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