Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chapter 9: Dreams

        Caden stood in blacksmith Tony's shop. The air was hazy and warped from the heat. The red glow and sparks from the flames surrounded him. Beyond the red light, it was all black and darkness. Sparks floated out of the coals and around the anvil like little insects.

        He remembered the Dread Knight's swords. Caden felt around his stomach and back, under his shirt and the heavy leather apron. They were gone.
        Caden put on the heavy wool glove and grabbed the tongs from the fire. He removed a piece of metal that glowed red. He set it on the anvil and grabbed the largest hammer and started hitting it. Caden never worked in a forge, and didn't know what he was doing. But it felt right to be hitting the metal. Watching the sparks fly to the floor.
        After hitting the metal for a time, he used the tongs, picked it up and looked at it. He made a square bar, about one hand long. He carried the bar over to the cooling trenches. There were two, one filled with water, the other was filled with oil. Caden looked at his reflection in both. He could see through the water, making his reflection look indistinct, uncertain. But the oil was black, and reflected a steady reflection.
         Caden dipped the hot metal into the water. Steam swirled around him. He stepped away and set his square bar down on the anvil. He took the smallest hammer and started hitting it. Before long, the bar had bent into thick chain link. Caden looked at it, small cracks covered the bend.
         The tongs were back in the fire and the hammers were put away. Caden had the link he made, but everything else was just like when he started. So he pulled out the tongs again, and started over. He did everything the same, except when he went to cool the metal. The second time he used the oil. And the finished link didn't have any cracks.
        Caden continued the repetition of making the chain. And it grew longer. Caden kept pounding at the steel and anvil. Blacksmith Tony emerged from the shadows. Caden looked up. "Tony? What am I doing here?" "You're making a chain." "But why? How did I get here?" "You died." "What?" Tony held up the chain Caden forged. "This is the chain you forged with your actions and your choices. This is your fate." "I can't die!" "Every man dies once, then faces the final Judgment before the goddess."
         The chain flew around Caden and bound him to the floor. Caden struggled against their grasp. "Fate is like a chain. It is forged by your choices, and you cannot escape the consequences of those actions."
         Tony faded away, the forge faded away, the anvil and tools faded away. Only Caden remained, bound to the floor by the chain he created. His head hung low, and he kneeled in the center of the red glow from a fire that was no longer there. He was cold.