3. Spirit of a Sword
I smile. We are not a race of dreamers, not as compared to Elves, or even Men. Practical, sometimes loud, even grim; that is how we are known to the world. Our eyes are turned to the richness of the earth rather than the beauty of leaf and sky. They are ephemeral, ever changing; but in the earth is constancy, and abundance. Yet we are dreamers in our own way, seeing with eyes attuned to stone and earth, the beauty in the metals which run as lifeblood through the rock. Aye, the respect and love of a Dwarf is for the spirit which is already there and our duty is to give that spirit a pathway to life.
I turn from the door of the forge, from the sunset, trying to still my excitement. I feel almost giddy, like a youngster, new to the smithy; a raw youth, still feeling the joy of his first creation’s call. Other voices have I heard, other souls have I nurtured into being. I have felt their birth pains in stinging sparks across my hands, in the ache in arms worked past my strength to end the waiting. Yet always have you been there; in my mind, your spirit dreaming, wandering in visions of your incarnation.
I take a moment to steady myself and look down at my hands. Hands made rough with years spent with hammer and anvil, honing my skill as I tempered my soul in the heat and sweat of the forge. Yet my hands are no mysterious creation. They are marked with the perfecting of my craft, with calluses and long-healed scars. “The price of inexperience,” my master said once, when I was very young. Yet I know and love each blemish, for each is testament to a creation, a beauty given life in the heat of the forge and the imagination of a Dwarf.
I am my own master now, and unlovely though these hands are, they are the means by which I live, the means by which I love. For there is no greater love than a father for his child, and those whom I create are my children, born of a melding of my body and Her searing heart.
I wait until She grows red-hot, feeding her with the bellows, stoking her until I can feel her heat on my skin. She is my wife and the mother of my children, and she is ever faithful. I have felt Her joy, the echo of mine and I feel Her now, anxious to begin, coals glowing, spilling Her light out into the falling night.
And I feel too your impatience curl through me once more, your spirit vibrant, eager to be born, pushing at the bounds of my mind.
Peace, my child, I soothe.
The steel is ready on the bench. I whisper my prayer to Aulë, my plea that I may find your form and nature in the dull grey metal I now hold in my hands. Yet even this raw, unfinished metal hums with the force of creation, the anticipation of life.
She is hot enough now and with a breath I push the steel into the forge and listen. You feel Her warmth, writhing, twisting and your song becomes a tangible thing, a thing I can touch, tracing it with heart and mind. I follow your lead, singing your essence into the blade I now place on the anvil, my hammer blows a counterpoint to your voice; the ancient songs of smith craft, the magic of the Dwarves, capturing your spirit as you willingly offer it to the steel I now draw out.
The forge flares, white and red flame and in its light I see the fire of the sun and the cool light of the moon. A name now begins to weave into the song, secret, silent. It is elusive, yet.
My hammer blows change as I taper your length to create tip and tang and now the song changes rhythm as your beauty begins to be revealed. Your voice soars through my mind, a clear and vibrant note. I sing back to you, the low steadying chant of Dwarvish halls, of rock and stone, of bright gleaming metal and glittering jewels. You will be the brightest of them, my child.
I carefully edge you back into the heat, settling you on a glowing nest of coals. You murmur softly, as I watch you rest in your birthing.
What deeds will you see, I wonder? What battles? What triumphs and sorrows will shiver along your blade? In whose hand will you nestle, fitting close as to a lover’s caress. You will see death, feel it along your length, the parting of flesh, the shattering of bone. You will be the cause of it, times beyond counting. Yet you will remain pure, never forgetting the song of your forging, the spirit of your making, the soul of your maker.
Yet will you forget, I wonder, as you cleave to the hand of Man or Elf? I cannot say, until I hear your voice, quiet in the stillness of the night, I will remember…..
Again, you whisper your name, but still it is too faint to hear, lost in the spiralling strands of melody. I return you once more to the heat and then place you carefully aside, leaving you to cool slowly. I move to the door where night lies quiet on Nogrod, sweat cooling on my brow, glistening in my beard. Sometimes I turn my head, watching, waiting as you settle into your form, murmuring to yourself.
And now I must seal the bond, setting edge on blade in the way of my people since the beginning, focusing my intent and will, joining it with your spirit and soul into a gleaming, blinding sharpness that will never dull or fade. You stir once more, seeking, moving against my hand and mind. And I whisper to you. Soon, soon,I murmur.
Another heating and you are fully awake now. Almost can I touch your bright spirit and my soul reaches out to the sound. I plunge you into the water to quench your fire, but it only flares higher, ever seeking.
Again, to the fire, carefully tempering. You struggle to be free, but now I must be cautious and I ask you to wait, be patient, else your life’s spark could be ended in a heartbeat, severed with the shattering of the blade.
I dare not look at you fully, not until I have finished and I bend close to my work. It will not be long now, as near as the dawn approaching in the East. You are silent, as though you also sense the time is near. Working quickly, reverently, fingers deft with practice and with love, I attach pommel, hilt and guard as you sigh in anticipation.
Then, all is still.
You lie on the bench before me, alive, yet silent once more. For a moment I am reluctant to touch you. Though I am your creator, you are more than that which I have created, more than my mind could encompass. I reach out and you arch into my hand, crooning, your silent silver voice a balm to my thundering heart.
Slowly, I move to the door. Dawn is on the horizon, its light striking sparks from the gold in hilt and pommel. You reach toward it, the fire of the sun and the silver of the moon. You are exultant now, stretching, weaving an intricate dance, ethereal, elusive and infinitely powerful. I raise the blunt hand that is curled around your hilt as your voice rises, higher, higher. You are keening, singing, soaring free of my hand and in the blinding light of the golden dawn I hear at last the name you have chosen, the name you will bear in peace and in war, the name that will be uttered alongside that of Kings.
‘…and the sword of Elendil filled Orcs and Men with fear, for it shone with the light of the sun and of the moon…’*
* From The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
Author’s note: The Encyclopedia of Arda makes the following observation about the origins of the name, Narsil. ‘Narsil is a name composed of 2 basic stems without variation or adjuncts: NAR ‘fire’, & THIL ‘white light’. It thus symbolised the chief heavenly light, as enemies of darkness, Sun (Anar) and Moon (in Q) Isil. (from The Letters of J.R.R Tolkien No 347, dated 1972.) (It does have square root signs before the Elvish, but my computer won’t do them!)
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.