The Smith
by Mikey The Wolf

The ringing of a hammer on an anvil echoes clearly across the valley as a deadman drifts along a path cutting through this forest of elders, soon coming upon a small home and forge in a small clearing, the only structure in hours of travel through dense wilderness.

A voice, raspy and measured, whispers to the wind from a long dead throat. “Hopefully, this one is more amicable than the last. Liches may be immortal, but this venture is starting to feel like a waste of time.”

The Lich made its way steadily up a well-worn path, its legs striding. The motion is more from habit than necessity. Its destination was the forge on the side of the structure but he was in no hurry as the sounds of the smith had not ceased despite his assumption, no certainty, that the smith had sensed him an hour ago when he entered the valley the man called home. Turning the corner, halting at the sight of his subject, tall and broad was to be expected all revenants were, but the garb of a smith and forging hammer rather than the normal tools of war put this one out of the ordinary.

“What brings you this far out, Brother?” A deep voice more befitting a mountain than the undead cut through The Lich’s mind.

“I have come to inquire about your kind.” Taking time to straighten his robes and pushing up a pair of glasses no longer on his aged face, the Lich looks about the room cataloging what he sees; it's a simple forge, old but with nothing out of place beside the revenant and a pair of worn war-axes resting on a workbench, one missing its head “Curious.”

“Smiths or Revenants?” The Smith spoke, gesturing to a chair placed to the side near a small table before turning back to his forge and bellows going back to work heating the metal inside back up to temperature, head tilted slightly to listen.

“Revenants, Would you be opposed to an inquiry?” finishing his examination of the room, the Lich drifted over to the chair and sat upon it, withdrawing a worn leather journal and quill from within his robes.

“Opposed? No, if asking an old soldier questions is your purpose, be my guest.” a chuckle bellows from the revenant as he pulls tongs from a rack and grabs a glowing ax head from the flame. Starting to shape the blade blow by blow a small showering of amethyst sparks shooting out from the steel.

“It's only a few for now, first of all, Who were you?” leaning over his journal to ink his quill, the measured pace of the Lich’s voice drifts through the air slowing a blow from the smith's hammer.

“HA, a few sure but not easy ones, eh?” the small smile that was on his face slowly fades to a cold mask. “My name was Ferron Lyall, the fourth son to a smith of some renown. In my youth, I thought the forge was stifling, and I could find my honor and glory in fighting.” sighing, the smith puts down his hammer, letting his work cool against the anvil, a somber pride filling his voice.

“Got locked away for wounding a merchants son, hard labor camps became my life until we got pressed into a penal legion when a war started, In a way, i did, find that honor and glory in the comradery of brothers and sisters in chains, it was truly the place I belonged because for every fallen sibling, we would rejoice for the battle won or the cost our loss had on the enemy, we among the soft gold that was the nobles we were forged iron. Tempered in battle and quenched in blood. We were the wolves among the guard dogs of the rank and file. Truly, a force to be proud of as we won more battles than we lost and cost the enemy army twice our number if we didn’t.” The smith's gaze drifts to the slowly dying coals in the forge, seemingly lost in old memories.

“I see, but how did that lead you to become a revenant?” The Lich's raspy tone cut through the air bringing the smith back from his thoughts.

“Aye, I would have simply stayed a man, and have been long dead by now.” A small ember of amethyst flame starts to grow from within the smith's eyes, and an edge of violence enters his voice. “At the war's end, victory was just a signed piece of paper away. We were told that a feast was set to our honor for our contributions to the war, a small private affair. We weren't nobles, but our lord wanted to reward us. Dressed in our best and with pride in our hearts, we celebrated like it was the end of days, but it was a rouse, see a battalion of ex-criminals forged and blooded wasn't something our lord wanted, as we made merry. He bared our mead-hall shut and set it aflame

“An elite force of soldiers and he tossed you aside so soon after a war?”

“He owed us land and money he didn't have and thought we would revolt if not paid properly” the ax head on the anvil flickers lightly with the same flame as the smith's eyes “a false assumption we were happy just to return home victorious and alive, it was a bloody war by the end, and even we wanted the comfort of hearth and home.”

“That’s where you died?”

“Aye, don't remember much of my death, just the screams, burning, and anger.” Slowly rising, the smith's steady gait rounds the anvil and collects the empty handle on the bench and returns to the head, now alight with amethyst flames “Have you seen the flow of death? The endless tide of souls beyond the gate of death. Now imagine well over a hundred of those souls turning against that tide and fighting its everflow. A mass of living rage pushing back to the land of the living. It was awe-inspiring but death is not so easily beaten. As I'm sure you know, I made it fighting like the animal I know I am. In the end, I made it one out of so many; I made it a simple smith's son."

"How, out of all those souls, did you succeed?" The Lich's full attention was on the smith now, and a simple venture now raised more questions than answers with what he was hearing and witnessing.

"You ask 'How,' but that's not the real question; it's 'Why.' Is it because I know how to work the bellows and temper steel, or is it simple chance I will tell you this I don't know how but let me tell you that the lord I served was long dead, his house and kingdom long since ruined when I returned so 'WHY' do I still stand?" Setting the ax head with a wooden mallet, the flames from the head start to envelop the haft as the smith walks away from the Lich to the workbench at the rear of the workspace

"I couldn't possibly know, and maybe you're barred from the gate of death for your return?." Standing and spacing himself from the Smith, whose amethyst fire had spread across his shoulders and the weapon in his right hand as he hefted the second ax from the workbench with his left.

"Possibly, but I'll tell you my answer. When I looked back before my final push, I still saw members of my band still fighting. So I prepare for them, My brothers and sisters." Fully wreathed in an amethyst blaze, an ax in each hand, the Smith turned to the Lich a steeled look across his face. "So Lich, Drop the falsities and tell me why have you COME?"

Meeting Ferron's gaze and the Lich froze, his scholared mind grinding to a halt as the image of a large wolf from his youth flashed before his eyes. He was powerful and could definitely escape, possibly kill this revenant if this turned for the worst, but with everything he's seen, he couldn't waste this opportunity.

"Tell me, have you heard of N'Gaztak?"​
 
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Temuldjin

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Damn this was good, send shivers down my spine just as I finished it!
 
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