Built for This

Happy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone has had a great day and gotten whatever play, work, or new vistas they desire. Today I have a bit of holiday story for your enjoyment.

The forge crackled a counterbalance to Lem’s clanging. Broad shouldered and thick legged, the work was a good fit for him, and a bit more independent than he was used to. A horse trotted past and he could hear voices as the town woke.

Lem paused, tasting the air. Nothing beyond the expected of a quiet town. No taint of browns’ magic. He could be at peace here.

He glanced at about the forge. He’d lay a slat floor. Easy to sweep and less to gum himself up with. Unlike most of his kind, he’d never cared for dirt. Just wasn’t hot he’d been built. Turning back to his work his proceeded unblinking.

He glanced up from the hot metal as a man walked past his stall’s open walls. The man stopped in the doorway and didn’t say anything. Lem frowned and kept working, trying to ignore the man.

He didn’t go away. Trusting the metal into the water Lem turned toward the man. “Can I help you?”

“Creli imul” Lem staggered backward as the man spoke raising his arm. The man raised his hands himself and took a step backward shaking his head. Lem snorted drawing in a taste of the air. No magic, browns or otherwise. Still, those words.

“What do you want?” Lem reached for his hammer, wrapping his fingers around the shaft.

“I came to meet the new blacksmith.” His mouth hitched up on one side. “To appraise my competition.”

Lem looked the man over. Yes, he had the build of a man who’d worked forges in the towns Lem had passed through on his way here. “Is that all?” He scowled looking the man over.

The man tilted his head to the side as if considering. “As long as you’re here to work.” As long as he was here to work. He could hear the threat the man didn’t speak echoed in his first words. And his eyes. They moved over him appraising, not as a brown would trying to decide how to best take him apart. There was an appreciation to the man’s gaze.

He tasted the air again. It was stale but there, the man was a magician. He hadn’t caught their taste since the browns had found his creator and him. He’d escaped. His creator had not. “Would you care to see my work?” Lem asked. The stranger nodded and Lem gestured him forward turning away from the open wall. The man walked around stood the opposite side of the anvil.

Lem paused and nodded once. Opening his shirt Lem exposed his interior. Gears snapped along, following the rhythm of his non-existent heartbeat. The man leaned forward and Lem felt the writing along his gear sizzle to life.

The man nodded and leaned back. “My name’s Mord.”

“Lem.” He closed his shirt again.

Mord circled around and clapped him on the shoulder. “Welcome, Lem. May you find the work you desire here.” Lem turned and watched the man walk away. He was met in the street by a blonde-haired woman. Catching her arm, the two walked away. Lem allowed himself to retrieve his hammer and get back to work. After a bit he had the metal ready again, and the hammer sang out. Labor was what he had been built for.

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