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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Knell"

This poem came out of the March 20, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from kelkyag, catsittingstill, janetmiles, and the_vulture.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  It's written in two halves, and although it's free verse, there are some tight parallels between the first and second halves.  This poem belongs to the Path of the Paladins series, and you can find the other poems through the Serial Poetry page.


Knell


Matin followed the sound of hammer on anvil.
It always made him shiver a bit, reminding him
of the tolling of the bell at a funeral.
More personally, a priest of Talaton was advised
to walk softly around a smith's forge,
for Barzay, god of smiths, was an ally of Gorrein.

Matin spread his toes in his sandals,
feeling how the balance of the world was shifting.
He had asked before.  He would ask again.
Matin lifted his chin and crossed the threshold.

"What do you want?" the smith asked,
whanging away at a red-hot blade.
"I am Matin, priest of Talaton,"
the stout man said with a polite bow.
"I am here to inquire about the balance of power.
Does Barzay still support Gorrein?"

The smith turned around, hammer emblem
swinging against his naked chest,
and Matin felt the world tilt underfoot.
"I am Einon, paladin of Barzay,"
he said solemnly. 
"I have not been easy with all things
that my god has asked of me.
I am pleased to report that 
He supports Gorrein no longer --
there is so much trouble, the ore does not flow."

Matin bowed lower,
bidding his giddy heart to tranquility.
"I thank you for this news, Einon," he said.
"I will pass the word to those who would know."
He walked away, slowly, evenly,
but his heart filled with music
and dance steps tickled his toes.
Everything was changing, tilting, twirling.


Bodil followed the sound of hammer on anvil.
It always made her heart quicken,
reminding her of the death knell
and the sweet war-song of swords in battle.
More personally, a paladin of Gorrein
was always welcome in a smith's forge,
for Gorrein and Barzay were allies of old.

She had need of a new sword.
She would go in and ask for one,
as she had asked before,
and it would be well worth the journey.

"What do you want?" the smith asked,
his anvil ringing as he worked.
"I am Bodil, paladin of Gorrein," she replied.
"I have come to commission a sword from you."
She gazed upon the fine blades in their racks.

The smith turned around, clasping his left hand
over the hammer symbol at his chest.
"Go away," he said brusquely.
"Barzay no longer supports Gorrein.
I will make no more weapons for you or yours."

Shock rocked her back on her heels.
"I will kill you for this!" Bodil snarled.
Einon bared his teeth.  "Here, in my place of power?"
He hefted his great hammer, muscles rippling.
"You are so very welcome to make the attempt."

The air shimmered with heat, pouring out of the forge,
as if the whole summer had come into this one moment,
ringing the sweat from her body until her black hair ran with it.
"There are better weaponsmiths," Bodil snapped.
"I shall commission one of them instead!"
She turned on her heel and left.

"No," said Einon,
"that there are not."

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15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: March 23rd, 2012 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if this is the first that Gorrein has heard of this?

If Barzay's paladins rejoice in metal work maybe they would be just as happy making nails for building, ploughshares and kitchen utensils?

A kitchen knife of Einon's make...
siege From: siege Date: March 23rd, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
...would outmatch a dagger of any others', don't you think?
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 23rd, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

*laugh*

I love it.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: January 13th, 2015 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love that!
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: March 23rd, 2012 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes. I was thinking in terms of a really good carving or vegetable knife and how good they can be to use.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: January 13th, 2015 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. When my wife and I were in the SCA we had a couple of daggers commissioned; hers was explicitly designed as a kitchen knife, and served many years in that capacity at tourneys and revels.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 23rd, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

Yeah, I think you're right on that.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 23rd, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> I wonder if this is the first that Gorrein has heard of this? <<

It is. This is the turning point, and the breaking of that alliance.

I imagine Gorrein is up there throwing crockery and shouting his version of "WTF" and "Et tu, Brute?"

>> If Barzay's paladins rejoice in metal work maybe they would be just as happy making nails for building, ploughshares and kitchen utensils? <<

Barzay is the god of smiths, in general, not just weaponsmiths. Blacksmiths, whitesmiths, goldsmiths, etc. They could be making weapons, tools, horseshoes, jewelry, whatever. Not all smiths will necessarily choose to follow Barzay, but they all have that option, regardless of what they make.

>> A kitchen knife of Einon's make... <<

I have actually seen damasc kitchen knives and pocket knives. I've always loved damascus steel. Then there's the guy who regrinds stonecutter blades into swords and kitchen knives and athames, for sale at Renaissance faires.
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: April 21st, 2013 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I actually own a set of them -- Colleen and I got ourselves a set of Shun kitchen knives for a combined holiday and anniversary present one year. Our 30th, I think.

The only thing better is ceramic, and that's a bit too fragile for everyday kitchen use.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 21st, 2013 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>I actually own a set of them -- Colleen and I got ourselves a set of Shun kitchen knives for a combined holiday and anniversary present one year. Our 30th, I think.<<

Wow! I'm partial to Cutco for kitchen use. We've been using that for holidays -- last one was a can opener with ergonomic handles. <3

>> The only thing better is ceramic, and that's a bit too fragile for everyday kitchen use. <<

Yeah, too fragile for my taste.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 23rd, 2012 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Nicely done! <<

Yay, I'm glad you like it!

>> In addition to the story I mentioned above, it reminds me of a scene in The Deed of Paksennarion, with a similar bit about the foolishness of attacking a Smith in his Forge. <<

*laugh* I'd forgotten about that scene until you mentioned it. Yes, Paksennarion was one of the foundational influences for this series, according to the original prompters, and it's a favorite of mine too.

In this case, the slant is even steeper, because this forge is a paladin's holy place. Two paladins on open ground may be evenly matched. But in one paladin's own shrine -- which this forge is for Einon -- the interloper is essentially fighting uphill staring at the sun.
From: minor_architect Date: March 24th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
"Go away," he said brusquely.
"Barzay no longer supports Gorrein.
I will make no more weapons for you or yours."

Shock rocked her back on her heels.
"I will kill you for this!" Bodil snarled.
Einon bared his teeth. "Here, in my place of power?"


It occurs to me that a wiser paladin might have asked, "Why?" instead of hurling insubstantial threats about. You still wouldn't get your new sword, of course, but the information would have been much more valuable.

Time and again, it's often the small mistakes - when added together - that turn the tide of battle.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 24th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>It occurs to me that a wiser paladin might have asked, "Why?" instead of hurling insubstantial threats about. You still wouldn't get your new sword, of course, but the information would have been much more valuable.<<

That's true. It may occur to her, or someone else, later.

>>Time and again, it's often the small mistakes - when added together - that turn the tide of battle.<<

Yes. To be fair, though, nobody goes to an ally expecting to get slapped in the face like that. It's not an easy thing to recover from, especially not fast.

Me, I was impressed that she managed to keep her temper. Not all of Gorrein's followers are fly-off-the-handle types.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: March 26th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad this was sponsored! Thank you, janetmiles.

How much, I wonder, are these decisions made by the gods, and how much influenced by their human followers?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 26th, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hmm...

>> I'm glad this was sponsored! <<

I'm glad too!

>> How much, I wonder, are these decisions made by the gods, and how much influenced by their human followers? <<

It's a mix. I think the gods have a slightly upper hand, because they are gods and that influences what kinds of people they attract, but also because it's their level where those types of alliances are made. (Humans conversely have the upper hand with political alliances.) But the humans still have some influence; they can refuse to do things, or walk away and choose another deity. You can only pressure people so far before they'll bail on you. Also they can nag in prayers, and devout people pray a lot, and that can be really really annoying.
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