Reflections In Crystal
When you wanted something made right, take it to the capital. Crocus, the capital of Fiore, home to many legends of the land - not only did it house the royal family, but it also carried the very specific implication that the absolute best of the best of every craft and trade imaginable would be here, in service to the royal family. This was a very important point to Lyra, for what she sought was nothing short of the utter pinnacle of craftsmanship. She intended to have a weapon forged for her that met her rather exacting specifications, one that she knew she could wield with finesse and grace. Over the last few weeks, Lyra had been training hard. She’d been tasked by one of her mentors to ensure that she could wield a rapier with the precision that the weapon was known for, which meant long hours of grueling training, usually six or seven hours at a time. While her magical abilities were progressing rather nicely-- and she was incredibly happy with that progress-- her martial abilities were rather lacking. This was a shortcoming that had been pointed out to her by both other people and by her own personal experience, which she intended to rectify as soon as possible. Such being the case, her spirit-bound friend Rhett was training her as hard as he possibly could. Knowing the weapon was one thing, but this was something else entirely; it was as if he knew the blade personally and could draw out its absolute best. She, on the other hand, could not, and were she to demonstrate those levels of technical proficiency then she might be able to actually defend herself should some issue arise.
So, wandering the market streets of Crocus, she had made a number of enquiries to the innumerable merchants that lined the streets. Of course, there were those that had turned that inquiry into an attempt to make a quick jewel off her, trying to hawk whatever moorish wares that they possessed onto someone that they likely considered sufficiently unaware that they might be able to bluff their way into convincing her to buy it. Lyra was not having any of that today, however. While it was certainly nice to take time and browse such a rich and vibrant marketplace, she was here with an objective. Those merchants who took the time to listen to her requests got her time and attention, and of those people she had asked a simple question: where in this city could she find someone who was a very talented bladesmith? She was, in fact, hoping for some artisan that could forge her a weapon so perfectly attuned that there was no question as to the workmanship that the blade carried at just a first glance. This, in fact, carried an implication to her as well: it was likely going to be made from an incredibly rare material that most other craftsmen could not even hope to work. It would be, of course, a magically attuned rapier. Something that was bespoke to Lyra’s needs and desires.
To that end, Lyra did in fact find her craftsman. Actually, to use the term correctly, it was a craftswoman.
Lyra had been pointed in the direction of a building known as Ilara Forgeworks. This building, cast of marble and billowing a small amount of smoke from the stack that protruded from its roof, had a number of suits of armour and weapons that sat on bright and vibrant displays in the window. In the back, which one could see past the counter - likely a draw card of the way this person liked to work - a golden-haired elf-maiden could be seen, handily hammering away at a forge unto a molten piece of steel. The ringing of metal upon metal echoed out of the back of the shop, where one could absolutely hear it from outside. Little signage was required out the front to that effect, where the hammer did all of the speaking for her. So the stories went, this shop had provided for nobility on more than one occasion, with incredible talents that could only be seen to be believed.
Such being the case, Lyra opened the door and stepped through.
”Hello?” Lyra shouted in what she figured was a sufficient break between hammering, taking a moment to admire the suits of metallic plate mail that sat on the displays. They were perfectly hand-crafted; shining brightsteel as they gleamed under the sun, trimmed with gold and hand-etched with floral designs. It captured not only the attention of the onlooker but the imagination and the soul as well; these were absolutely exquisite pieces. Lyra had never seen the like of it in her life, which was an unfortunately easy fact to point out.
”Hello!” came a bright and cheery voice from behind Lyra, breaking her out of her entranced reverie.
Lyra spun around to see the smith before her; this was an elf-woman who was considerably shorter than even she was, with flaxen hair, soot decorating her otherwise porcelain skin, and a long worn leather apron that was festooned with pockets and a wide array of blacksmithing tools such as hammers and chisels that Lyra could not even guess as to the requirements of use for. After all, if it wasn’t just a hammer, she had no idea what purpose it served. That said, the wiry frame of the elf bespoke considerable physical strength; muscles bulged under a shirt and broad shoulders showed a frame that told stories of years in front of an anvil and forge that had been ceaseless, tireless, repetitive work. This was a blacksmith who had honed her craft with nothing but practise - magical assistance need not apply, for this was the absolute real deal. While, yes, Lyra could sense a tinge of magical prowess from this woman, it was certainly not a huge amount. Perhaps sufficient to ply her trade and shave off a little time, but not a crutch or a cheat code. Everything in this store was made by the hands of a maker that could not be denied. Dedication to a craft such as this, in this modern era, was rare. If anything, this was a rapid departure from the norm and from the trope that she had been expecting. Lyra was expecting maybe some big, burly, sullen man with a big beard that wasn’t ever to be distracted from his work. This was, if anything, the absolute polar opposite, for which she was right glad.
Well, at least she was friendly too. That was good.
”Hi - I’m so sorry to be interrupting,” Lyra started, wringing her hands nervously. Despite the fact that this woman seemed sufficiently kind, she did feel bad for intruding on her work. The elf’s kind smile and otherwise friendly countenance said otherwise, however, for it appeared that there was little to faze this woman.
”Oh, no, no, it’s quite alright! Please don’t feel guilty about that. My name’s Tanith, and welcome to my shop. How can I help you?”
At least to this, Lyra had to smile. Yes, this was going far better than the first five seconds than her anxious mind had been replaying over and over again on the way up to the store. That had been an absolute trip to be dealing with, that was for sure. Lyra had almost panicked her way out of not coming to buy this weapon, despite travelling all the way from Sakuramori to have this custom piece commissioned. One that, in fact, she had already paid no small sum to have created.
”So I’ve got this…” Lyra started, reaching behind her and revealing an item swaddled in a delicate silk wrap. Deft hands untied the rope knot that bound the silk together, only to reveal a large pink crystal that seemed to thrum with magical energy at the merest glance. It was a crystal of similar construction to the phoenixes that her mentor, Mysie, had hatched but recently - this was no accident.
The smith looked down at the crystal expectantly, staring at it with wonder. Keen brown eyes perused the material, staring at it for flaws or imperfections that could have potentially become an issue in the forging process. So far, it seemed to be absolutely free of those.
”Gosh, this would have cost you no small fortune,” Tanith murmured to herself, her gaze intently fixed on the prize before her. ”May I?”
”Oh, of course!” came Lyra’s reply, to which she handed the crystal over to the blacksmith with two hands. Two elven hands readily accepted the bounty, which was drawn ever closer to the face. Every facet of the magical mineral was examined with a well-trained eye, which sought to discover the truth behind the crystal as best as possible. It was a beautiful thing to behold.
”My question is what would you like crafted from this material? I expect you are not here simply to give this to me,” came the response from behind a smile.
”A rapier, if at all possible,” replied the rose mage. ”I was intending to ask you to work your proverbial magic upon this and create something that you thought was suitable in terms of design. A long, flat blade with a sufficient point for thrusting and a beautiful design for a guard is enough for me. I am no expert in the art, but I feel it is now time for me to have a weapon that enhances my ability and gives me something to work towards to approach mastery.”
”I can appreciate that sentiment. I hope you know that this will not be cheap - crystal is not a simple material to work, but I am confident that this is a sufficient amount of it that I can work it with magical assistance.”
Lyra nodded her assent. She had come here with such expectations, knowing that this was not only going to be difficult, but a long wait, an expensive item to have crafted by an artisan, and yet still entirely worth the funds that she was going to give to this project. This was what she wanted, something that she knew she was going to need in the near future. Lyra no longer had any illusions about the necessity of owning a weapon that could keep up with the people around her.
”That’s okay with me. Price is currently no object. I would kindly place this project in your hands so that you can do what you do best.”
The elf took one last look at the crystal, then re-wrapped it in its binding silks; the package was placed upon the store counter. ”Do you have an iLac? They’re incredibly useful for my business - I can send you status updates and contact you directly when it’s finished. I’m expecting it to take maybe a month, given my other projects that I need to complete, as well as the time I’ll need to take to actually make this item. However, you can rest assured that this will be one of my best pieces yet. I rarely work in magical cryst, but it has always been a great success. I expect the same here.”
Lyra nodded. ”Here’s my contact details for you,” she said, and they traded their numbers; this way, Lyra could know exactly when she needed to come back and collect this weapon. Her rapier was so close. It was going to be a wait, of course, which simply meant that she’d have ample time to continue her training and improve on her skills before her return.
”Great. Do you mind if I take a few measurements before you go? I want to make sure that this weapon fits well.”
”Of course! Happy to do it.”
The elf-smith smiled. ”Wonderful. Follow me through to the back and we can get started.”
With that, Tanith led Lyra to the back of the shop, where, with the help of a tailor’s tape measure, she took a number of detailed measurements; height, shoulder width, arm length, including distance from shoulder-point to elbow and elbow to wrist, hand length and width,finger length and width, distance between knuckles, the works. Lyra was entirely sure that Tanith could have faithfully sculpted Lyra’s hand from little more than the series of scribbles before her, but this was no matter. These measurements would form the basis of creation.
And, with that, Tanith bade Lyra farewell, and promised the best work of creation that she could possibly make.
One month to the day later and Lyra had been summoned back to Ilara Forgeworks to take receipt of her beautiful creation. Tanith was waiting there expectantly for her and, after some messaging back and forth via iLac, the day came. A time was appointed. When she arrived, there was a single display case that sat upon the counter top; lined with red velvet and glass-topped, it sat only to reveal the contents. What was inside was little more than abject perfection.
The blade in question was a long rapier, shimmering crystalline as the light hit it. The tip of the weapon, unlike most, was a slight diamond shape; the crystal itself was bladed on both top and bottom edges, using slightly more power than most rapiers to pierce powerfully through its targets. The hilt design was almost as if two bolts of lightning were dancing about each other, still of crystal, with a long hilt that had a curved guard about it, cast of bronze. It was, in fact…
”Beautiful,” Lyra breathed, walking over without hesitation and opening the glass display. Behind it, Tanith stood, hands on her hips, proudly admiring the reaction that it brought out of the woman who had just taken her weapon in her hands.
She raised it to the light, inspecting every edge and facet of the crystal-forged blade. It was, in every way, free of imperfections. The balance point was incredible, being just beyond the quillons of the hilt; this hilt could in fact be gripped just above the hilt and on the ricasso of the blade, where it was dull, yet still protected by the twirling lightning effect of the guard. It functioned perfectly as a rapier.
Trembling fingers took it in a ring grip, allowing the blade to feel in her hand. The weight was perfect. It felt charged in her fingers, like it belonged there. She could not have asked for better.
”Tanith, thank you, thank you so much,” Lyra said. She’d already paid for the weapon on the way - thank the gods for iLacs - and so she was free to hold her weapon and examine every inch of it. Now was not the time to swing it, but she didn’t need to. She could feel its raw power.
”You’re welcome, Lyra. Any time you need something made, you come to me, okay? I’m happy to help you with whatever you need.”
”I will. I promise I’ll send you some really nice photos of it out in the world!”
And that was that. Lyra, having taken receipt of her beautiful rapier, was now its proud owner; it was inevitable that she would enjoy this weapon, now that it had been tailored to her. It looked as if it belonged to her. It was hers. It was a beautiful weapon that deserved only praise and respect. Lyra merely hoped that she could do it justice with its keen edge. Soon, perhaps sooner than she wished, that would be put to the test.
TAG: --- WORDS: 2672 TOTAL: 2672/2000 JOB: Exam