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Randomgold42 t1_ixqjyrm wrote

Zack had no idea why he was there. This was not a part of the city good people went to. This was the kind of place where a guy could get his teeth knocked out for walking on the wrong side of the street. And the less he thought about the store itself, the better.

But he was determined to see this through, even if it could end up with him in a hospital. Besides, he already had ideas on how to get back at the others for forcing this onto him.

He took a deep breath and entered the building. It was a small pawn shop. So small that there was barely enough room to move without tripping over anything. The man at the counter looked like he crushed rocks for fun, and had so much ink that Zack was left wondering what color his actual skin was.

"What?" The man growled.

"Nothing." Zack said quickly. "Just, uh, you know, looking around."

The man grunted but did not say anything. Zack took this to be a good sign and began looking around. Not that there was much to look at. His eyes moved along the few shelves, glancing at the various items.

Old dolls, mismatched keyrings, old instruments, even a worn out hammer. Nothing was really interesting though. Zack sighed and turned to leave when he heard something. Well, not really heard. It was more like he felt something. Something deep down inside of him. He could not figure out where the feeling came from, but he looked around again.

He slowly perused the various items. Suddenly, the feeling came back. It felt old and powerful. And it got stronger the closer he got to the hammer. It was a piece of junk. Covered in rust and sporting a few thin cracks along the side. The head was short and stubby, with one side ending in a relatively large face, while the other side was much smaller. It looked like a pain to use, but he was hardly an expert on tool use.

Zack was about to pass it by when the feeling came back, more potent than before. Without even intending to, he picked up the tool. It felt warm, like it had been bathed in heat for a long time. And when it was off the shelf, his mind began churning. Racing with images, sounds and feeling. Flashes of a massive man using the hammer to strike red hot metal. The sound of hammer and anvil. The feeling of blazing heat.

Suddenly, the visions stopped flashing at a break neck pace, and steadied into the image of the great blacksmith. The man's eyes glowed like hot coals, and his hair looked like strands of hot metal. He was also big. Bigger than the shopkeeper by more than double.

"Hm, not worthy." The man said in a voice as heavy as a mountain. "Not yet anyway. Hm, but someday. Yes, someday you will be. Hm. Go, young one. Learn well. Use my hammer well and restart the Great Forge. Hm. It will not be easy. Very difficult. But it will be worth it. Good luck."

The vision ended. He blinked as his vision returned to normal, and the small dusty pawn shop came back into very.

"Hey. You gonna buy that or not?" The shopkeep rumbled. He looked a lot less intimidating for some reason.

"Huh? Oh, uh, yeah. Yeah, I think I am."

Zack hefted the old smith's hammer and resolved himself to learning the art of the forge. He had no idea who that giant blacksmith was, but it was clearly someone important. And Zack was not one to let a challenge go unfulfilled.


Archavos t1_ixro2iy wrote

read the god using Ornn's voice from league, absolutely wonderful.


CoruptedUsername t1_ixr0a1g wrote

Part 2 perchance?


ryry1237 t1_ixsltyj wrote

You have a way with tying the mundane to the magical. Would love to see more of your work.


gaborrero t1_ixqkcbr wrote

If there was ever a word to describe Reinita, it would be "small." She didn't have much height to her despite being a full-grown woman and she didn't have much muscle or meat to her, either. As such, it was no surprise that on one of the busiest days of the year, she was bumped about the street until she ducked for cover in the nearest store she could find.

It was still packed, even if less so than outside; the musty air mixed with the humid sweat of the many patrons as they looked to and fro at the wares being offered. Reinita couldn't make out anybody's faces; she tried to calm her racing heart by attempting to steady her shaky breath. It felt like the world was closing in on her in a way she couldn't place.

Another person came into the store behind her and said something she failed to comprehend - they could have been speaking the same language as her, but for all she was concerned, it might as well have been word salad. She tried to escape out of their way, bumping into this person and that person unnoticed until she stumbled and fell to her knees, knocking onto the floor some of the stacked wares in the shop.

Reinita stared down at the various items beneath her, hands on the floor to keep her propped up. "Damn," she whispered.

A nasally voice called out to her, "You! What do you think you're doing!" She scrambled to pick up each of the items and put them back. The last item she was to pick up was a hammer, battered with its cloth wrapping about its shaft, tattered. She lifted it with surprising ease despite its size, such that it caught even her offguard.

The owner of the nasally voice made their way to her - a man covered wrinkles with skin like tanned leather, green eyes jaundiced. He held in his hand a carved wooden cane that supported him, as he stood upright as best he could. His lips parted as he revealed yellow-stained teeth, uneven and some sharper than others.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... I mean... I'll buy this, to make up for my clumsiness... please don't yell at me," Reinita rushed out, still holding the hammer in her hands.

"Buy it, eh?... you will pay twice. First, your name."

"Rei... nita..." she said unsurely.

"No, no, sweetie, your full name."

She questioned briefly if she should tell him her full name, but it was all she could do, if he didn't want her to pay for damaging the goods she had knocked over. "Reinita Agaufe."

"I see... and for your second payment, you will owe me a favor." When she opened her mouth to speak, the man countered, "Just a small favor, nothing really, a trifle. A use of your skills, and nothing more, sweetie."

Reinita held the hammer with one hand as she asked, "Skills?" She hadn't yet landed a job that she kept for more than three months, and she was starting to think there was nothing she was good at or good for.

"You'll see yet. And when you do... I'll come find you. Now, out."

Reinita stumbled out of the store and back onto the street, hammer in hand. She lifted it to look at it more carefully. "... what in the world am I supposed to do with this?" She had to take back her previous thought. She was pretty good at gathering random junk. Before she could contemplate the hammer any further, the crowd walking down the street pushed her along again, like a wave sweeping her away.


gaborrero t1_ixqzv69 wrote

Reinita navigated the crowd like a salmon pushing upstream, striking against the natural order of its movements back towards her home. By the time she got there, metal on harmonic metal rang out sweetly as the church tower's resident bell echoed over all of Laderande and surely beyond as well. For a change, the sound rattled her as much as it did visitors to this small city. "Oh no..." she whispered as she got to the door. She fumbled with her keys in her pockets, hands shaking as she tried to line it up with the lock. Once it got in and turned with a click, Reinita ran into the small pale brown house.

Her mother wasn't home, which she was grateful for. She didn't want to think of the earful she was about to get. She went to her room and carefully, almost reverently, placed her new knick-knack on her bed. "... stay," she said to it, before bolting out of the house once more.

The bell had long finished ringing when she arrived at town square and the large well there. Sitting at one of the benches was a woman in black slacks and white blouse who looked beyond irate. She had short hair that curled in thick ringlets and, when she saw Reinita, stood to reveal that the little lady was only up to this woman's shoulder. Reinita rushed over and, between breaths, said, "I'm so... so sorry, Dura..."

The woman, Dura, held up one hand. "I don't want to hear it, Reinita. This is the third time you've been late for a date. Out of three dates."

"I didn't MEAN to, there was- there was the crowd, and then-"

"You knew there would be a crowd. It's the busiest day of the year. Everyone goes shopping today to get ready for Holy Week. Everyone." Dura crossed her arms and looked down at Reinita, tapping her high-heeled foot.

Reinita took a step closer and placed a hand on Dura's arm. "I should have thought better, you're right, and I-"

Dura recoiled from her touch as if it was a hot flame. "You messed up. Again. But I respect myself a lot more than you apparently respect me. We're through." Dura turned and walked away, putting her hands in her pockets as she departed.

There wasn't anything Reinita could do or say to get Dura to come back, and she knew it. "... not again," she whispered to herself. She took a few steps after Dura only to stop, watching her fade away into the crowd.

Reinita made her way home, and this time, she wasn't as lucky as before.

"Rei? What are you doing home so early? Didn't you have a date?" Reinita grimaced at her mother's words, which the equally-short, plump woman did not fail to notice. Her weary features accompanied a growing frown as she asked, "You blew it? Again? How did you blow it again? What is with you? You keep finding all these amazing women who will give you the time of day, and then losing them."

"Mom... I don't want to talk about it," she said as she went to head towards her room.

"You're going to have to talk about it! You can't just push me away like you always do! One day, you're going to wish I was here to open up to, and-"

Reinita had already crossed her mother's path and gotten into her bedroom, where she almost slammed the door shut, but caught it last second to very, very gently close the door. It would have been a catastrophe if the door had slammed - all around her room, small trinkets of various shapes and sizes and, most importantly, fragility. She locked the door and then went to her bed.

She took off her worn-down white flats and threw herself on her bed, only to be greeted by the hammer she had previously left there. "Oof." She sat up and moved the hammer until it was in front of her, on her lap. "... at least I can tell what you are. You're a hammer. And you're not going to leave me, are you?" she asked as she looked down at it. "I don't know what to do with you."

A knocking at her door. "Rei?" called her mother. "Stop talking to your junk and come talk to me instead, or at least clean your room!"

Reinita took her hammer and burrowed its head and her own under her pillow, a bright magenta as opposed to the pale pink of her dress. The door knob jiggled loudly as her mother tried to get in. "You're twenty two, you can't hide and wallow in my home forever, young lady!"

She closed her eyes and waited for her mother to give up. She wasn't sure if her mother gave up first or she fell asleep, but before she knew it, she was dreaming.


gaborrero t1_ixrpqa2 wrote

Laughter echoed across the vastness of her mind as she felt herself walking, cold and alone, through a familiar town she was certain she had never been to before. People she passed were all taller than her and looked down at her, chuckling, nodding in her direction as they spoke with one another. The town had a notable overcast of somber blue-gray about it.

Reinita pressed on, walking down the winding street past the multitude of people she had never seen before, their faces clear and producing in her a feeling of longing for an unknown past and repulsion. Each was more beautiful than the next, ethereal existences in an ephemeral plane.

At the end of the road she walked along, floating, clear, glass steps that ascended up forever into the sky. She began to walk up these steps, each solid beneath her feet. She knew in her heart if she looked down, she would see the world below; despite this, her eyes were focused up into the sky, at what had to be the logical end of the stairs.

As she continued her climb, she made it past the clouds. It was getting harder to breathe, and she was beginning to tire. Still, Reinita climbed on, until she saw the vast blackness of night above her, and a pinpoint of swirling light, blue and red, up above. With renewed vigor, she pushed on, the light getting brighter and closer, until she was at a platform.

An amorphous, muscular man stood at an anvil, looking forlorn. He had but one arm - the left one - and on the right, attached to his shoulder a glass-and-metal contraption that ended in a pair of pliers. His body was like he was made of moving, shifting glass, and in him, all the patterns of space.

He slowly turned to look at Reinita with his bright eyes, shining like stars. His mouth moved, and the words he spoke were unintelligible to her. Yet, she understood them...

Where is my hammer?


gaborrero t1_ixs7o9k wrote

Reinita awoke with a start and flung the pillow off her face, looking to the window. It was already night, and her stomach reminded her of the fact she needed to eat.

She pushed herself out of bed and headed into the kitchen. There, she found some quickly-going-stale bread left out, sliced. "Mom," she said quietly to nobody, as the kitchen was devoid of presence save herself. "Thank you."

When she finished eating, Reinita went and sought out the family bible, which contained in it her mother's genealogy and the stories of their faith. One day, she knew, this would be her book. She never had an urge to read it before, but the figure in her dream was familiar to her. She sat on the couch and read from the beginning.

>It is said nobody truly knows Who came first. In the beginning, there was darkness; in time came the stars. It is said that, seeing the void of space and the great lengths between the stars that land of iron was created.
>This first land that was created was wide and the playground of creation, in which Caprea formed the first life. Its shape was as wild as its spirit, and in truth, Caprea's spirit as well. There was little more she enjoyed than creating being after being, but soon, their number grew too vast.
>She took her most perfect creations and had them placed in another land above the Realm of Iron, the Realm of Gold. This land was far smaller and populated by the Gods. It was there that the Gods took inspiration from Caprea and began to create Their own life forms, amongst them humankind, which they sent down to the Realm of Silver. Caprea, satisfied with the fractal infinity of creation She had seen brought about, took to resting and was never heard from again. Those who leave Her offerings find themselves with neither help nor response.
>The Gods, as They are named, were... And many names were listed. But among them, the one who caught her attention was, ... Madofue, Lord of the Stellar Forge...

Reinita flipped through the book until she found the relevant chapter.

>A titan among men, Madofue is most noted for His single arm. He is the ugliest of the Gods, and for this, one of his titles is "The Ugly." Even the kindest and most compassionate of Gods laugh at His countenance, offering Him little more than pity at best. He was the one who forged the weapons the Gods used to fight back the Army of Iron. Not much is needed to be said about this God, whose existence - while honorable - is unfortunate and unhappy.

Just before sunrise, her mother came into the living room wearing a flaxen nightgown. "... going to shave your head and become a priestess?" she joked.

"Ugh," Reinita said in response, rolling her eyes.

"What got you reading the bible all of the sudden?"

"I had a dream about a man at an anvil. It sounds a little like Madofue, doesn't it?"

Her mother's silence made Reinita choke the words out once more, though she failed to spare her mother so much as a glance. "It... sounds a little... like Madofue, right? Doesn't it?"

"... I suppose so," she sighed and walked around the couch to take a seat next to her daughter. "Reinita... there's something I ought to talk to you about."

"Not interested, reading the bible."

"Reading can wait," said her mother.

"No, whatever it is you have to say can wait." Reinita turned the page. "The guy in my dream wasn't exactly hot, but if it was supposed to be Madofue, why was He called the ugliest of all the Gods?"

"Well, if I had to guess, it had to be in comparison, as decided by those doing the judging," said her mother with a shrug. "The followers of Madofue are often lacking in looks and are deformed in some way."

"You say that like you know any," said Reinita as she turned the page, reading. "I mean, you are a gossip, so it shouldn't surprise me that you would know at least one."

"Ugh! Rei! Where are your manners? I'm your mother, not your friend, be respectful!"

"Stop hounding me to get married, first. YOU never got married."

"That's what I want to talk to you about."

Reinita's nose curled in disgust. "Ew, no."

"Not... not how you were made. Well. A little." Before her daughter could counter her or make any sound of distress, "I mean who made you."

Reinita looked at her mother now, giving her proper attention. "Does it matter? He was a deadbeat, he never stuck around to find out what would happen."

"It does matter. It matters a lot. Let me tell you about him, and his connection to Madofue."

Slowly, the young woman closed the bible on her lap. "Alright, mom. I'm listening, but you better tell me what he's got to do with Madofue first!"


Jacky1111111 t1_ixsafch wrote

Brother i feel like this will be a good story if you decide to finish and your a really good writer, feels like you could be an author or are one


gaborrero t1_ixsefuh wrote

Thank you so much! I am self-published through Amazon, just one book. I'm glad you and everyone else enjoyed what I wrote and I hope to write additional enjoyable stories in the future!


Rou2_Rambo t1_ixtvbun wrote

holy shit, this slaps. awaiting new updates if any are coming.


McModknower t1_ixuji5m wrote

I like this story. Please ping me when/if you continue this.


shmueliko t1_ixvks69 wrote

This story is awesome. Are you planning to do a part 5 to this?


Jacky1111111 t1_ixrq9t4 wrote

This is amazing is there going to be another?


gaborrero t1_ixrqhav wrote

If people want me to keep going, I can.


Alexreddit103 t1_ixsjslz wrote


And thank you!

But - off you go, finish this story!


gaborrero t1_ixsk1ar wrote

As much as I want to finish it, I can keep thinking of more for it. I'm in a bit of a self-made pinch.


Alexreddit103 t1_ixtuk3b wrote

Well, as much as I would like to read - a lot - more an ending would be nice.


KeefeSencenismydude t1_ixr8xgd wrote

not gonna lie the entire time I was thinking "ha she be Hephaestus's kid." I can't help it.


Snowdog1967 t1_ixungi1 wrote

Buck's Pawn was the place you could find about anything. I mean, I usually went in once a month or so to see who had sold their dreams of rock stardom in exchange for rent money, food, or much more likely, meth. Saturday was a day that while trying to decide if I could part with my hard earned $200 and change for that undervalued Tama drum set, I heard something an isle over that totally changed my life.

"... I threw my back out and I have to sell these until my disability checks start." I could hear the sob story but not see the owner of the voice. It was a story I had heard on more than on visit to the store. Buck was a good businessman and a better human. So he generally figured out how to give more than fair prices on some items and still turn enough profit to support his family.

"I can give you this much for the lot of them. Maybe your back will get better, so I won't put them out for sale for 90 days. I know you're a hard worker and won't want to sit on your ass for long, so I'm only gonna charge you 8% for the vig." I heard the cash register open and Buck counting out some money. I waited until his customer exited the store before walking around to see him. It was often embarrassing for those who were selling their dreams just to survive.

"I'll be with you in a moment." Buck called out as he carried the tools to his back room. I turned around and pretended to be interested in the hand tools on the shelf behind me. That's when I saw it.

Right across at eye level was a hammer like I had seen the blacksmiths use at the county fair as they demonstrated a craft that had been long since taken over by the industrial revolution, or so I believed. The wooden handle was seasoned by the heat of years of use. There was a leather wrap around the lower third of the handle. I reached out before I even realized I was doing it, and picked it up. I began to study the head of the hammer. It had a slight mushroom shape at the end where you knew it had shaped tons of metal over it's lifetime. The wedge at the other side had a few nicks in it, but mostly it was just smooth. For some reason, holding this in my hand and studying it, I knew I was not buying a drum set today.

"Hey Buck, Do you really want..." I looked at the price tag taped to the bottom of the handle, "... $50 dollars for this thing?"

Buck reappeared from the back and was amazed to see me holding the hammer. "Why would you want an old blacksmith's hammer? I thought you were taking that drum set off my hands today?" The look on his face seemed to suggest he was actually worried more about what I would do with the hammer than him not offloading some drums in his inventory that had been there too long.

"I don't know, it kind of called out to me. It's old, right?"

"You have no idea. I didn't even want to take it from the guy who sold it to me. He kept insisting that I would find the next person who needed it to earn a living. Complained that people didn't make things any more and his craft was dying out." Buck studied me for a moment. "What would YOU do with it? If you are going to say anything dumb like mount it in a shadowbox and display it on the wall, I'll kick your ass right out of here."

I laughed a moment at that comment. Not that he couldn't kick my ass, but I did consider displaying the hammer. I didn't know why I wanted it, but now, it felt like maybe it, and I needed each other. "Hey, I just... Maybe this starts my new hobby. One that can make me a little money instead of annoying my parents with a drum set. Do you still have that portable forge?"

"Yes I do. It's in my warehouse. Too big for in here sometimes, so I leave it in the back. I tell you what. I will sell you the Hammer and the forge for $200 together. You don't know the beating I will be taking on this deal, but I want to see what you make with it, okay?"

I silently handed over the $200. Buck helped me load the portable forge in my car and even gave me the tongs and a small anvil that were part of the forge set. He told me I could try to use lump charcoal, but I would probably want to find a source for actual coal to get the heat I needed, or I could cheat and get a gas furnace source. Away I went.

"Now what?" I said to the hammer. Imagine my surprise when in my mind I heard an old voice respond.

"Now, you learn from the best."


jaleny222 t1_iy4r4ct wrote

Pushing through the double doors, Jim pulls out the tattered handkerchief to wipe the sweat pouring through his brow. The shade of the dusty shop provides only meager respite as the heat of the noonday sun radiates the stale air. It's not the best shop in town by a long shot, hell, most of the citizens hardly call it a shop.

There have always been rumors about the owner, Rusty McTavish. He's the sort to keep away from, the kind of man who always seems to have an empty seat next to him at the saloon. No one has ever overtly accused him of a crime, but it always seems to happen that anytime a train or stagecoach is robbed, his shop is filled with new wares.

Jim knew all of this, of course. If it were up to him He'd be trading over at Haggarty's or even the General Store, but the war had put a stop to all of that. If it were normal times, Jim would be making a comfortable living shoeing horses, mending pots, and all the duties of the town Blacksmith. Now, the Union Quartermaster has him pumping out swords, bayonets, horseshoes, and all manner of equipment needed to supply an army on its last legs. They took his good steel and his bad steel, leaving him with old nails and fittings to cobble up what he could.

Of course, he gets paid, but only enough for Rusty's shop.

Most people who enter grab their items, pay, and leave quickly to avoid any conversation. Whether he was a braver man than most or just too tired, Jim just didn't care. Rusty was just a man, flesh and blood like everyone else.

"Mornin' Rusty," he said through the damp handkerchief.

"It's afternoon," came a low voice from the back of the shop.

"I suppose it is," said Jim as he peered through the window. "You have any tools come through lately? My hammers busted and I could use some new blocks and oil if you have it."

Rusty waved him over and walked toward the shelves on the back wall.

"Lucky for you, I've got a full stock of everything you could need, most of it brand new," he said, a slight grin on his face. Everyone knew a military convoy had been nearby a few days ago and stripped of their equipment, but these days no one seemed to care.

Jim walked over, unhappy about the prospect of spending more money, but there were orders to fill. Despite that, he was pleased with the available stock. At least he would be able to get back to his craft quickly. He had lost half the day already.

"I'll take these two, the can of oil over there and..." his voice trailed off.

Jim leaned down and rummaged through a pile of rusted and rotten equipment while Rusty looked on curiously. At the bottom of the pile, Jim pulled out a plain hammer. It was unassuming, not falling apart, but definitely old.

Jim couldn't wrap his mind around the thoughts in his head. The hammer reminded him of the first hammer his father had handed to him as he was learning the family trade. It wasn't completely that, though. There was something else about it. Something that made him want to work.

"... and this," Jim said, not taking his eyes from the hammer.

"Why in the hell would you want that?" Rusty asked, brow still furrowed inquisitively.

"Does that really matter? I can tell this has been sitting for a while. You should be happy I'm willing to take it off your hands," Jim spat out. He was surprised with himself at the tone of his voice. He had never been one quick to anger, but he could feel his blood rising at the thought of not going home with the hammer.

Rusty's expression changed from curiosity to amusement as he walked away from the wall back to the front of the store.

"I tell you what, you can have the hammer."

Jim looked up quickly at him, inhaling quickly as he could feel his excitement rising.

"There's a catch, though. I want you to make your next order with it, and if you don't like it, you have to give it back," Rusty said," almost as a challenge.

Jim wasn't very pleased with this outcome. Sure, he would get it for free, but there's no way this old, average hammer would be able to keep up with his rate of work. Despite his reservations, Jim agreed and quickly paid, eager to get home.


jaleny222 t1_iy4rity wrote

With the forge coming up to temperature, Jim started laying out his equipment, the small hammer at the end of the table. He paused as his eyes came to it, still unsure while being fully drawn to it.

"Well, it's not like they're going to win anyway," Jim muttered to himself, grabbing the hammer from the table.

In a week's time, the Quartermaster pulled through town, stopping by Jim's shop and calling him out. The soldiers were tired, their demeanor befitting of those, knowing their war would soon be over. Even the Quartermaster on his horse was clearly disheveled. The man, usually groomed and looking the part of a career soldier waiting for his next promotion, was dirty, unshaved, and even failed to discipline his troops when they dropped their packs without orders.

"Good morning, sir!" Jim chimed out, more cheerily than usual.

"And to you," the Quartermaster almost growled. "Just get it loaded in the wagon. We need to be off quickly. McClellan is planning and attack and we need all the help we can get."

Jim was surprised he was being told about Union plans, but what good is keeping secrets anymore anyway. He motioned to the soldiers to grab the bundles and help him load up the equipment. It took a few minutes, but eventually the cart was full and Jim walked up to the Quartermaster and handed him the ledger.

"500 sets of horseshoes, 100 sabers, and 300 bayonets, all accounted for. And sir, if I do say so myself, this may be my best work yet" Jim said dryly, knowing he was about to lose the next few hours as the soldiers counted and recounted their order.

"Very well, here's your payment," the Quartermaster said as he signed the ledger.

Jim was taken aback, almost not even realizing the caravan had already started to depart. He realized the situation must be even worse than he realized and ran to catch up once his stupor wore off.

"Sir! Did you not have another order for me?" Jim asked breathlessly as he caught up to the wagon.

"We won't need another order if we're all dead."

Jim stopped and watched on, muttering a silent prayer for the doomed men.

A month went by with no real news on the war until eventually a newspaper from the city came through town. Somewhere out East, the Union had won a hard fought victory near a town called Antietam. Apparently, this could be a major turning point in the war, but for Jim, nothing had changed.

Jim had returned to his normal duties, but this time everything seemed... easier. His work was just better, and it wasn't nearly as difficult. He was taking a break from his work as he saw a small band crest over the hill. He could only identify them by the time he realized they were heading directly for his workshop. He recognized the Quartermaster's unmistakable sideburns and was impressed by the extra stripe he wore on his sleeve.

"Good day, Jim! I hope you enjoyed your break, but I pray you are ready to get back to work," the Quartermaster said as a smile spread across his face.

"Of course, sir. I heard the news about the battle. Congratulations on the victory!"

"The thanks should be given to you! Your equipment made all the difference. I know it may seem arbitrary, but I ensured all the shoes and sabers went to a single cavalry regiment, the same for the bayonets. Our men claim their horses sped faster than ever, their blades cut through rifles and steel, and that every bayonet struck true. I wouldn't have believed it had I not read the reports. The men we outfitted with your equipment saw the last amount of casualties and were the most effective units on the field! Whatever you do, Mr. Jim, do not put away that hammer!

His words struck Jim to the core. Jim realized that there must be something he had missed that day at Rusty's shop. Something must have been said or implied, and Rusty must know about it. He hadn't been to the shop since that day and knew he had to talk to him right away.

"I'm sorry sir, I have an urgent matter to attend to. You can discuss the details with my assistant, and I will be back with you as soon as I can," Jim stammered out.

Jim could feel the eyes on him as he ran toward the town, but he couldn't care less as he was driven by a singular purpose. Breathlessly, he burst through the door and locked eyes with Rusty. He could see the initial burst of anger dissipate, and a sly smile came over Rusty's face.

"What can I do you for Jim?" Rusty asked as he leaned back in his chair.

"I'm keeping the hammer," Jim blurted out, realizing he hadn't planned on what else to say.

"I'm glad you like it."

"What do you know about it? You must know something?" Jim was almost hyperventilating at this point, the need to understand consuming him.

Rusty stares at Jim for a few moments, contemplating his next move. He seems to make a decision and walks up to Jim. Jim recoils but realizes that Rusty is putting his arm over his shoulder. Rusty motions to the back room, and they walk in together.

The room is extremely dark, save for one corner lit up by a small candle. Amidst the dancing shadows, Jim can make out what looks to be a decent sized forge and a small book placed on top. Rusty grabs the book and hands it to Jim, the pages filled with a language he had never seen. Jim looks awestruck through the pages and around the room and is pulled from his reverie once Rusty begins to speak.

"What do you know of Hephaestus?"


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