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|The simple life of a young boy is thrown into a world of chaos on one fateful day.||
In the weeks before the Festival of Life, the young boy had more than his share of work to do. In fact, of the entire village of Renman, it seemed as though this dark skinned, dirty blond boy of fourteen was putting the most work into the event. It wasn't surprising though, considering that his father had put together the entire festival for as far back as the boy could remember.
Ever since Jonathan's father, Darlith, had suffered from a stroke, the child had taken up a great deal of his responsibilities. And although he didn't have the knowledge or the means to run the festival, as his father had done, Jonathan felt that he owed it to Darlith to take care of as much of the work as possible.
So every day, Jonathan made his way to the festival grounds and helped others set up their booths and find the best areas for these men to set up their wares, paying little attention to his own small blacksmith's booth. As he passed by his booth on this chool morning, the day before the festival was to open, he looked down at the battered sign that had stood in front of his family's booth for coutless years. The boy's deep blue eyes, the thing that most people noticed first about him, shone with a deep pride as he looked at the sign as he had countless times before. The faded lettering that the boy was sure took his father a freat deal of time to get just right in the flowing script seemed to catch Jonathan's eye more than anything else at the booth. "Trekmann Family Blacksmiths." Three words that seemed more valuable to the boy than all the gold and silver works that lay beneath the glass casings. There wasn't a ring or trinket that his father could make that Jonathan would exchange for the words on that sign.
The pride of Jonathan's life was that he was part of a legacy of blacksmiths, reknowned through all four countries of Dornn. His family, as far back as his great-grandfather, had produced some of the best made weapons the world had ever seen. Things as simple as a small axe that a farmer may use as a hatchet, to his father's famed Swords of Kings, carried by the rulers of each of the four countries. Weapons that were so intricately created that it was rumored Jonathan's father had made a deal with the Trinata in creating them, saying that the faery-folk had imbued them with magic of shaping. Despite Darlith's fame as a weapon-smith, there wasn't a single dangerous item in the small booth here at the festival. The Festival of Life promoted just that, life. Jonathan's father refused to sell weapons at such a thing. He decided instead to sell just rings and other things that didn't have the same violent purpose.
Jonathan sighed as his eyes dropped away from the sign. A part of the legacy he may be, but it was a legacy fast approaching its end. Jonathan had started his studies as his father's apprentice, but he had only learned the basics as of yet. The work that had made his family famous was far more advanced than the boy had learned. His father's stroke had caused an early end to the training that Jonathan so vitally craved.
Jonathan wasn't sure what he wold do if his life as a smith didn't work out. He had never really thought about it. He once had an uncle, his father's brother Garet, who decided to forget being a smith and had set out on the road to find a new life. Word was sent back to his family later that he had been killed not far out of Renman only a few days after he had left. Jonathan's older brother Derek met the same fate after a similar decision to find a different way of life. As far as Jonathan was concerned, any way of life other than that of a blacksmith was doomed to failure in his family.
Another sigh broke through the boy's lips as he decided quite simply, A smith I was born, and a smith I will be. Even if it means abandoning my father's work and just doing my own thing, and continued on his way to help old man Jenkins set up his archery booth.
* * *
Jonathan walked along the dusty main road of the village, passing many of the townfolk on their way to their own homes. The sun, just setting, caused a shock of oranges and reds to appear over the treeline in the west. His thoughts drifted to wonder what was beyond those trees. He knew the places, many people had told him of all the wonderful places outside the village, his father being one of them. What he really wondered was what those places held for him. What marvelous things might he do there? He was happy where he was, Renmann held his entire life and he knew his place in it, but he felt as though there was something missing, that there had to be something out there more than what he had.
His musings took him right into the doorway to his house, at which point he stopped, letting his eyes adjust to the soft glow of candlelight. A brigt smile came to his face as he looked around the room with its sparse furniture. For how successful his father was, the man had never given in to the materialistic parts of life. His father wasn't the type of person to fill his home with a great deal of extravagent items. Looking around the small home, nestled neatly into the forest that lay at the border of the town, Jonathan would never have known the difference between this house and any other in town. Some of the poorer men in town could have the same home and not need worry about expenses one bit.
That was what Jonathan loved most about his father, his success had never gone to his head. That was a thing that Darlith had inspired in his son's life early on. Jonathan's attitude when he first started his little bit of schooling was one of superiority over the other children. After all, his family had been what put Renmann on the map. His father had straightened out Jonathan's way of thinking soon after he heard that his son was having problems at school.
Jonathan remembered that conversation very well. "Son," his father had started, "you have to understand something about how life works. We have been blessed with recognition, people know us and our work," he had stopped and looked at his son here, then tilted his head in his usual questioning manner, "How do you suppose that happened?" When Jonathan hadn't answered, Darlith answered for him. "When your great-grandfather had started as a blacksmith, the only people he had to sell to were those who lived in this very village. There wasn't a single person who would travel to our little village for anything he made. He had no name in the world after all. That didn't stop him from doing the best job he could. He was a very proud man. Nothing was good enough until it was made to perfection.
"Some of the people of this village did some traveling around that time. Just a few of the local merchants trying to expand their business. That was something that grandfather couldn't afford to do. He was barely making by on what regular work he did have, he couldn't just pack up and go traveling, leaving his family here with no money. But those villagers did a great thing for our family. They believed in him. A few of them started taking some of his creations with them to sell. Thanks to them people found out about us. And so our recognition grew. It may have taken time, but it did happen. The people of this village are what made us what we are today," Jonathan could remember the look on his father's face better than anything else from that day, he had never seen his father look this serious in all his life. It was something that Jonathan knew, just from his attitude, that his father believed in very deeply.
"There's another thing you have to understand about the order of things in life. Just because we are recognized so well for our work, that makes you no better than anyone else who does their share in life. In some cases, I believe that others in this village could be thought of as better than you or I. What we do is provide things to make life a little easier, but they are by no means a necessity to life. Would you or I be able to do our work without the food the farmer sells us to be put on our table? Or would we have ever started our business without the carpenter who built not only our home, but our forge as well? These people deservenot only your respect, but your admiration." Jonathan remembered how his father had stopped at this point and went up to bed, leaving him to think about their discussion. It was a long time before Jonathan had finally went to sleep.
The talk had done its job quite well. Jonathan had stopped his previous thinking altogether. The boy actually found that he was better off once he had ended his superiority thinking. People in general were easier to deal with and talk with when they were treated as equals. This was something that Jonathan could have figured out for himself, but for him to actually act on it was something that the talk he and his father had could only start.
Jonathan suddenly realized he was still standing in the doorway and looked up to find his father watching him curiously, a warm smile on his almost always-jovial face. A slightly embarrassed smile answered his father's when he realized his father had been watching him for quite some time. The boy's eyes dropped down as he finished his entrance into the room. Unfortunately, when the boy's eyes dropped, they came to rest on the cane his father now clutched in his hand. The cane his father now needed to walk. The smile that had previously occupied the boy's face vanished suddenly as he noticed how his father kept the cane back behind his leg, as if it was an embarrassment to such a proud man.
As the boy looked back up at his father's dark face, tanned just as his own was from the countless hours at the forge, he gave his father a quick encouraging smile. When the smile wasn't returned and the expression on his father's face showed more despair than Jonathan ever remembered seeing, Jonathan bit his lip then looked down at the wooden floor. Despair was one thing that Jonathan remembered seeing only a few times in his life on his father's face.
When his brother had died, his father had a very similar look as the one presently on his face. Despair was something expected at such a time. After all, the man had just lost his first born child. Jonathan remembered his mother saying once that any parent's worst nightmare is burying one of their children. In this case it was made worse because they didn't even have a body to bury. And when his mother had grown ill shortly after his brother's death, Jonathan remembered how the same look had never left his face the two weeks he spent standing watch over her bed until she finally passed away as well.
Those were hard times for his father and himself, though they made it through it together. More than three years had passed since his mother's death and his father and himself had made it through a lot since then. When his father had his stroke just a month earlier, Darlith made it through that as well. He had too much hope to give up on himself. He knew he could make it back to his old life given time. Looking at his face now, Jonathan wasn't so sure his father believed that anymore.
Jonathan did something then that he couldn't remember doing since we was a young child. Jonathan ran to his father and wrapped his arms around him, feeling the strong arms of his father, arms strengthened by hammer and heat just as metal was strengthened in much the same way, wrap around him in a very tight hug.
When Jonathan felt tears touch his cheeks, he thought it strange that he had never before seen his father cry. It took him a minute to realize that not all the tears were his father's.
|Nexus of Souls-Chapter 2||Nexus of Souls-Chapter 3|