The Yoke of Eternity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Review Chain


Hauel realizes that he must escape his father's island...

Chapter 1 (v.2) - The Forge

Submitted: March 07, 2019

Reads: 81

Comments: 2

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Submitted: March 07, 2019

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Chapter One

The Forge

 

A little wisp of ash, as light as the hot air around it, caught a rising stream and danced with a stray bourn of smoke rising from the furnace. It shuddered with each hammer blow beneath, and distanced itself from the pang of iron, collecting specs of dust beneath its shadow. Its destination was freedom, a sunlit window in the wall of the forge, but a cruel wind blew and sent it back towards its birth place. The little wisp approached the smith, who was much more than a smith, and hovered above his brow. The violent hammer blows muted the smith’s heartached murmurs even here.

The ash fleck abandoned freedom, went to comfort him and rested on the tip of his black hair. The smith, who was a Lig’Shaddin, and a Lig’Shaddin was a great many things, turned and quenched the horseshoe in sizzling waters. The wisp fell in the wake of his movement and descended to the floor, forgotten by the History of the world.

Hauel inspected his masterpiece, rotated it in his tongs. The black crescent metal steamed in its perfection, just the same as the thousands that came before it. But it wasn’t the perfection of the shoe that disturbed him, so Hauel buried it again in the raging coals. He took it out, its faint red glow seemed to protest saying its removal was too soon. Hauel lay it on the anvil and heaved his hammer against it, punishing its smooth curvature until it bent in agony. What he created was a reflection of himself, so he struck with grunts until it shattered, peppering the floor and barrels.

He wiped the sweat from his brow, disjointing his hair from his eye, sending a droplet falling and snaking down his chest. The myriad of scars were a permanent reminder of his combat training.

Hauel had never broken perfection before. The intended catharsis was unsatisfying. “Four hundred years,” he said to himself. His tongs carelessly clattered on the anvil, and Hauel stooped to collect the hot shards off the ashy ground.

“Four hundred years of what?” came Inella’s voice from the door.

Instinct took over, and Hauel turned and grasped at his side, where his sword would have been. Four hundred years of beating sword draws and strikes into fiery reactions had tempered his mettle.

He lowered his hand, picked up the shards again.

“Four hundred years of living?” his half-sister persisted. “Four hundred years of perfecting every skill and knowledge? Our other brothers and sisters envy you, Eldest, why are you angry?”

Her subtle tone, with as much emotion that their father allowed, was telling. She seemed to already know the answer to her own questions. Regardless, Hauel tried to evade them, piling the broken shoe on the anvil. “It is not proper for you to ask such questions.” He took a soft towel from a rack, wiped his face, and breathed in the scent of warm wool that reminded him of his mother.

Inella came and prodded a finger through the heap of iron. She inspected one. “You used your knowledge to break this?”

Hauel put his arms through his shirt and spread the coals to cool.

Inella turned toward the door. “If father found out-”

“Father won’t find out,” he said as he stood. Her sharp black eyes seemed to hide worry beneath accusation. “Unless you tell him.” She wouldn’t.

“Velrune is dying,” she said.

“I am aware.”

“Breaking things won’t save him, Eldest.”

Hauel tucked both sides of his shirt into his trousers and tied his cloth belt around his waist. “You overstep your boundaries, little sister.”

“You overstep yours. The others would not understand, they would say your mind is leaving you-”

“Enough!” It had been ages since Hauel had raised his voice. Inella trembled once, but quickly stood firm again. A prick of guilt stung him because she was right. He couldn’t say so, but she was right to warn about his actions. She was looking out for him. If his brothers and sisters had seen this, he would be stripped from his title, and wouldn’t be able to mentor and teach anymore. Then what? All his centuries of work and art would be forgotten faster than they were made.

He sighed through his nose, an almost dangerous display of emotion. “I’m fine, Inella. Go and check on the new mother and see that she feels safe and comfortable on the island.”

Inella squinted up at him, as though she wasn’t entirely convinced. She turned and left out the bright doorway with her dark red cloak flipping behind her.

Hauel rested his forearm on the doorframe, admiring the expertly crafted houses in the village. Wooden sliding doors scuffed as Lig’Shaddin villagers came in and out. Inella’s form disappeared over the river bridge.

Hauel swept the unwanted dust off the floor and cleaned every surface. He gathered the shattered horseshoe, the edges prodding his cupped palms. “Father,” Hauel said in the empty room. “You promised war with the humans. I was to be your tool of vengeance. Now what am I? What purpose do I have now that I am becoming old, and broken?”

Like the dawn beaming over the sea, an epiphany, vibrant with rainbow hues and shining colors, rose from the East of his mind, consuming cloudy ideals and the dark recesses of the folds of his brain. “The answer…is not on the island.”

He looked out the door, as if the realization had spread through the entire village. But no, it was only in his mind. There was no turning back from the vast expanse of possibilities that lay before him, that there was a whole world beyond the Strait of Aengela ready to answer him. Suspicion would grow the longer he tried to subdue the bubbling energy of his desires. The more he tried to hide this realization, the more his malcontent would show. His father and siblings wouldn’t allow it. He needed a plan, needed to escape. Hauel’s face tingled with the machinations of rebellion. If he was to die in another four hundred years, it might as well be out there in new lands, not in a grave of stagnation like so many that had come before him. If he had any hope, he had to leave tonight.

 

 

 

“The penitent will kneel

Then I will know their mind

My heart sees all that they feel

Before me, they tremble, I shine.”

  • Book of Starlight


© Copyright 2019 C. S. Spence. All rights reserved.

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