DraqAttack's avatar


  • 2023-04-02 03:18

A feeling of defeat hangs over me the next morning despite the three rabbits slung over my shoulder as I wander in through the front door. I never found another entrance into the grove. When I tried to climb a tree, I discovered a dense barrier of old undergrowth, extending deep into the darkness. I decided to come back later, but knew I wouldn’t find anything.

            Taryn is already up and finishing breakfast even though the silver rays of morning are only just now filtering in through the window. His glower meets my grin, lifting my spirits a bit.

            “Good morning, brother!” I say as I step over and hang the rabbits on a hook in the kitchen. Soreen stomps down from the loft, yawning.

            “Hullo, Tiryn.” She flops down at the table. Our young apprentice does not appreciate the hours my brother keeps. “Did you find the bear?”

            “Bear?” Taryn asks.

            “Wait, you knew it was a bear? You told me it was a wraith! In a cave!”

            “You should know better by now,” Taryn says. Soreen nods.

            “You really should.”

            “Well… I did doubt it was actually a wraith and more of an excuse to get me away from the house so you and my brother-”

            “Hey!” Taryn stops me from going any further, but Soreen manages to look both guilty and pleased with herself at the same time. Taryn glances at her then clears his throat.

            “Did you have to go chasing bears-”


 “-two nights and a day, though? We have work piling up.”

“Work?” I sit down at the table next to Soreen and grab some bread and jam. She avoids making eye contact by taking a long drink of tea. ”You must be the only halfing in the End to think about work after a… relaxing night.”

“We got another shipment in from Sorhiryth,” Taryn says, dodging my bait.

“Oh so by ‘work’ you meant, fixing up the garbage they send us.”

Taryn and Soreen look at each other.

“Actually…” Soreen says, “it’s… from Weedwhip’s.”

I pause in the middle of taking a bite. “Weedwhip’s… sent us some of their stuff to fix? That’s… unusual.”

“Not quite,” Taryn says while collecting a few coals from the kitchen fireplace to bring to the smithy. “They want you - specifically you - to engrave them. They’ve sent us 20 gold as a downpayment and say they’ll send us a platinum on completion.”

“A platinum! How much work did they send us?”

“Again, not us. You. And it’s a single tea set. But.... It has Latar’s masterwork seal on the bottom.”

I stare at Taryn in silence.

“So… don’t mess it up or we might owe them a few platinum.”

Taryn walks out to stoke the forge and I pull out the coin the elf gave me, rolling it across my knuckles.

“Want to hear a riddle?” Soreen asks. I nod.

“What can be given, taken and lost but never held?”

“Life,” I say after a moment. “That’s a bit darker than your normal riddles.”

“It’s probably that coin of yours, it’s giving me the creeps. I would throw it out if I were you.”

“Have you seen this before? An elf gave it to me yesterday.”

“No, but it doesn’t look like anything good. I better get to work before Taryn gets mad.”

I nod, not looking at her or the coin. After a moment, I sigh and get up from my uneaten breakfast to head to my workshop.

A beautiful tea set sat waiting for me, including a shining silver tray polished like a mirror. Taryn has his own cheeky side and he had placed everything as if ready to serve.

Weedwhip’s usually adds ornate twists, life-like leaves and vines. They forgo etching, my specialty, in favor of forged ornamentation. This tea set is simple, but gorgeous with delicate curves and a flawless polish. I’m quite certain a mastercrafted plain tea set from Weedwhip’s would actually be more valuable for its rarity when set amongst their over-decorated silver and gold wares that made them famous across Kingsreach.

I separate everything out and group them together. Saucers, tea cups, cream pitcher, sugar bowl, serving tray and teapot. Something very important was missing however, so I walked over to the forge and to pop my head in.

“Taryn,” I say. “Where’s the brief? What do they want on these things?”

Taryn doesn’t look away from the bar of silver he is heating up.

“No brief,” he says. “They just said to have you decorate it and gave no further instructions.”

“What.” Soreen glances at me from the bellows and giggles.

“They sent us masterwork silver,” I say, “and twenty gold, with no expectation or ideas about how the work should turn out.”

Taryn removes the silver bar and taps the darkly glowing metal with a small hammer, listening to the sound it makes. He flips the bar over and returns it to the bed of coals.

“As far as I can tell, yes.”

“That doesn’t concern you?”

Taryn sighs and looks back at me finally.

“Tiryn. You’re very skilled. Weedwhip’s is interested in hiring you and this is their test. They haven’t had an engraver in over 20 years. I feel as if soon you will have to set yourself on a path and stop crawling through the brush.”

He turns back to his work. Soreen spares me a sympathetic look but can’t stop working the bellows. I close the door to the forge and sit back down at my workbench. Instead of getting  back to work, however, I once again pull out the medallion with its ring of knives on both sides.

I set the large coin down on my bench and spin the disk around. I pull out my tools while it spins and lay them out, then focus on the spinning, trying to clear my head. The spinning slows down, my thoughts congeal. The reflection of the lamps off the silver tray catches my eye and my focus moves from the medallion to the work laid out in front of me. My tools seem to float into my hands and I start to carve out a design into the silver.


* * * * *


            Time slipped past me. When I step out of my workshop, the tea set complete, I find Taryn and Soreen once again eating breakfast. And sitting very close to each other. I give that a small smile but make no comment as I sit down and dig into breakfast. Leftover rabbit stew in a bread bowl.

            “That’s not very healthy, sister,” Taryn says. I’m too tired to come up with a quip.

            “I can’t put it down once I’m inspired.” Soreen glances over at me.

            “You finished the whole set?” She asks. “Can I see?”

            “Yeah. Sure. It needs to be repolished. Would you mind? Once you’re done eating.”

            “Of course,” she says, but jumps up anyway and pushes into my workshop. She flings open the shutter to let some morning sunlight in.

            “Did you have to spin the coin all night long? I swear I heard that sound in my sleep.”

            “The coin? Did I spin it the whole time? I don’t remember.”

            “You don’t… Tiryn, it’s still spinning.”

            Before I can respond, Soreen comes running out of my workshop.

            “Tiryn, this is amazing! You did this in one night?”

            She sets down the tray from the set. A bramblefan vine grows out of a corner. The twisting trunk, made of many vines, crawls around the edge of the tray before curling back on itself and terminating in a single bloom of a clawblossom. The vines part in several spots, leaving voids in the design. Soreen sets down the teapot in the center of the largest void. Vines across the body of the teapot connect to vines on the tray, forming a seamless transition. Looked at from the right angle, the design on the tray would be unbroken.

            Soreen and Taryn stare at it for a moment. I continue to eat, but the sound of the still spinning coin is loud in my ears now.

            “Bramblefan?” Taryn says. “That’s… a choice.”

            “The world isn’t all rainbows and Ulon trees. Art should reflect that.”

            Soreen nods, distracted by trying to trace all of the vines. After a moment, Taryn nods too.

            I stand up, done with breakfast. I start to speak but pause, then go into my workshop and grab the spinning coin. The silence leaves a slight ringing in my ears.

            “I’m going to get cleaned up,” I say. “Soreen, could you give it a quick polish and pack it away for me?”

            “Of course!” Soreen picks up the tray and teapot and squeezes past me into my workshop.

            “I’m going to travel to Sorhiryth. I’ll deliver the work myself. I want… I want to see their workshop. And visit an old friend. I’ll have them send the platinum here, though.”

            Taryn nods, then frowns.

            “Not that old rogue? Why do you spend so much time with him?”

            “Vorc. He teaches me some interesting things. I wanted to ask him about the coin, though. He’ll probably know more about it.”

            “Well I hope he tells you to throw it out.”

            “Maybe he will,” I say as I start up the stairs toward my room. “But I don’t think it will be that easy.”