On Writing, The Many Trials of a Blacksmith

He is swearing an oath to be warm

April’s Chatterbox is here once more and the topic is Resurrection (in this case – a resurrection of hope and of fear. A big thank you for Rachel for hosting again). This month I have chosen to write of The Many Trials of a Blacksmith and the character of one Gufflocks Thomas, former advisor to a slain king.

 — — —

The chamber is cold.

The black iron spirals across the white stone walls and he remembers a time when they weren’t there and the stone was crisp and without shadows.

But he also remembers the blood.

One night – that was all it took.

One night and red spattered the walls, coating it with dripping specks which shone dark by candle light.

He remembers the gurgled cries and cut-off screams.

He remembers the monster who strode in, whose armour was dark and sword was already crimson. One short laugh at the room and at the lords and the councillors in their white nightshirts and thick robes now torn and bloodied by the seeking blades.

One short laugh and fear rose up and consumed him. Choking him like a clinging vine.

Fifteen years and the fear has died – beaten down with sparse food and prison bars and an apathy that clings like the damp does the dungeon walls.

But here he is now – standing where it all began and all ended and he attempts to force down the memories which rise up before him and paint the walls red once more.

He turns his mind away from these thoughts and dwells upon a faded image – fifteen years have worn away the edges and dulled the face so that only the clear, ringing laugh is remembered with clarity.

But then he remembers the loss and turns from thoughts of her as well.

“Did you know – I distinctively remember meeting you for the first time in this room.”

He starts and turns and there, standing by the open door is him. He isn’t wearing armour, isn’t holding a sword. In fact, he is attired in a deep purple tunic, light yellow hose and brown boots with a thin circlet of silver atop of his dark head.

Nothing could be further from the monster of that night, long ago.

Except for one thing.

His eyes.

And fear is resurrected. Or perhaps it was there all along – slumbering in a deep sleep like a dragon awaiting its awakening in the distant caverns of his mind.

As he meets the Duke’s gaze, he realizes that it doesn’t matter if the man is wearing armour and surrounded by bloodshed or standing in a clean room arrayed in immaculate purple – his eyes stay the same; cold as a winter’s night.

And he shivers from the cold of his gaze and wishes for a tinkling laugh which always seemed to melt every chill and warm him from every icy day.

And then the Duke is speaking and he is offered a choice. And the owner of the tinkling laugh is placed within his grasp and he sees her image, resurrected and alive in his mind’s eye and he chooses.

He may become a traitor to his country, a betrayer of his friend. But he is so very cold – he has been for fifteen years – and he has longed for an age and shivered in a tiny cell for an hundred lifetimes while her warmth fades from his heart.

And now a blazing fire could be his and he will do anything – anything at all, to sit by it and bask in its flickering blaze.

And so he closes his eyes and sees his wife once more. He gazes at her in hope and opens his lips and promises to be a traitor.

But in his mind he isn’t making a vow to doom a country.

He is swearing an oath to be warm.

A little while more, my love …

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