Breaking Down

by Joe W

“Well if you're vouching for him sir, then I can probably work him into the schedule some time within the next year.”

“Such matters are entirely at your discretion, my masters simply bid me make the introduction, and with that done I bid you good day.” The Master Smith's brow wrinkled in a disapproving frown once the retainer turned his back and slipped out the door. Slimy little toady; making as if his master's introductions were of as little consequence as breaking wind. An introduction would have cost the young man leaning against his wall some considerable service, and a service to the Velasquez probably meant that someone, somewhere, was dead or else wishing to be. “So what was it you were wanting done, Mister…?” The man lurched away from the wall, head spinning back and forth in a panic before settling on the smith. Must have fallen asleep on his feet, judged the craftsman, not bothering to repress a snort of amusement. The man quickly pull his hood back forward as it threatened to slip off his head. Bloody adventurers, always trying to maintain their 'mystery'. “I'm Mister…I'm…you're asking, who am I, right? Ummm… that's, that is you see….my name being….They're calling me Timothy now.” The smith blinked and then forged onwards. Fellow was just a little simple maybe. “Alright, Master Timothy then, what can I do for you then? Here for a blade, I should think right?” “Yes, Timothy will do…it's not really…oh the blade. Yes, yes, yes, please! I want one. The best, the best.” Surging forward the adventurer seized the smith's hand in his own gloved paw and began to shake it vigorously. “Your work, very nice, good swords all of them. Piero's blade is beautiful, so sharp, so very…but I like his father's better, all those golden serpents; so many teeth!” “Um, yes. Thank you.” Eager to extricate his hand from the overenthuiastic client, the smith clenched his grip bonecrushingly tightly around the offending hand. Much to his dismay he felt the young man's hand give and splinter within his grasp; worse still the fellow didn't seem to care and continued to rave his appreciation. He sighed; bloody Velasquez. The sooner he was rid of this loon the better. “Look, before we get started we should talk payment, because you know my work isn't chea-” “Oh no, of course not, of course! We all have to pay for the best don't we? Yes, we do. So whatever price, whatever price.”

Later the Boy sat opposite the workshop and listened to sounds of the street, the clangs of the smith's hammer and the chorus of the voices. Five hundred hexa, that was a lot. A real lot. He looked up and down the street and sighed. He'd be cutting purses till his fingers turned to ash Cut some throats instead. The pay is better. The gruff voice, sour and impatient. Sword like that is worth bloody hands, right? No! You mustn't, you have no right! The woodsman, always close to panic, pleading and begging. We can work for the money. Earn it We are Sovereign, we have right over all who become our subject. The king, unmoved and imperious. The blade is ours if we wish it. He buried his head in his hands and ground his heel down onto his other foot. Why wouldn't they shut up? Always talking, talking, talking. Sitting in his secret place on their broken chairs. Always talking, shouting and screaming. How could he concentrate? One must learn to ignore the jeers of the uncultured mob, my lad. A clear rolling tone, that was…who was that? His head jerked up and a low moan passed his lips. Not another one. There wasn't room, wasn't any room! His tower was all full up. There weren't enough chairs. He'd get there and they'd make him sit on the floor. Come now lad, I've been here all along. Ever since those wonderous weeks with Rodonski's Fine Companions, the finest troupe in the East, remember? He didn't. Not at all. Wait…he'd been an actor. A famous one…and he didn't remember that either so… That's right my lad, for a glorious six months, I, Horatio Montango, dazzled the people of Crossroads with our theatrical talents. I've been on tour for many years, and now I'm back! Oh, on tour. Well that made sense then. Now then, my lad, about this sword: I had some thoughts…” The Master Smith peered out of the forge's window once more and gritted his teeth; the loon was still out there. Sitting on old Jebbit's window sill, rocking back and forward. Probably meant to jump him as soon as he left the workshop. Didn't do any good for custom having that sort hanging around neither, probably a couple of commissions lost already this afternoon, what a waste. And yet… The smith turned from the window and paced across the room to his bench. The surface was covered in papers, which were in turn covered in a mess of sketches, notes and diagrams. Here a design to store poison inside a rapier's hilt and send it flowing down the blade with a twist of the pommel. There a series of mandala to be worked into the steel each time it was folded. Say what you will about the Velasquez but their requirements kept things interesting.


Something sailed through the window and thumped off the table leg. From outside an uneven hooting laughter echoed down the street accompanied by the heavy patter of running feet. The Master Smith cautiously peered under the table, and then with a pair of tongs in hand extracted the projectile and brought it out into the forgelight. The weapon that had demolished his poor window was a bulging sack of hexa. He wiped his head wearily. He should have mentioned that he didn't take deposits. Now he had the madman's money and no way of handing it back. Fantastic.

Hours later in a cramped bedsit the Boy stares into his mirror and looks. He flinches as his mind passes through the tower, snagging and tearing on every floor. He whimpers and topples over on his bed as the top of the tower bursts apart and he stares across the glinting, jagged plain. Then the mirror clears and he gasps in relief and looks up out of the fragments of a broken window to see the craftsmen bent over his bench, stylus scratching fervently as he works to make the Boy's mad dreams a reality. The Boy slides the mirror beneath the pallet on which he rests, then hugs his legs tight to his adult's body and for once as sleep reaches out for him there is a grin upon his face.

And in his tower the voices sit upon their broken chairs and argue over who is next.

misc/fiction/breakingdown.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/05 19:45 by osj01
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