‘I want it strong, flexible, and versatile. No compromise. And I want it by the full moon. Positively!’ How did a girl knew so much about swords.
Well, I had 10 days in my hands. I made the steel by heating the iron sand and coal together. My furnace was more furious tonight. That old grandpa’s spirit struck me. I felt like a workmen preparing weapons for the warriors at battlefield. For three days I had to heat the iron to get the perfect steel out. By the time I practiced carving. Saw dust in my lungs and cuts on my hands. My steel block was ready by now. I hammered it to make it thinner before folding it. My furnace gulped the block once again longitudinally and horizontally, I had to fold with all the resistance that my cramped arms offered. Red, yellow, orange, and then white, grandpa had told me the secret. When it is between yellow and orange that is when you take it out. I fetched water from the tube well 3 miles away and immediately placed the blade in the water to harden it. Sunlight was rare to me now. My tools weren’t that good but my skills were. I polished the blade with grinding stones. The grinding sound became music to my ears. I went outside to see the days I still had. It was two days to full moon. The blade was sharp and shiny. The edges and the angles were perfect for its width. I fitted the handle that I had already made. When I started carving the crosses and wolf’s head I felt something unusual. I was aggressive, fierce and unstoppable. When I was done I felt somebody had sucked me in a vacuum. I was very weak and fragile. The sword was done a day before full moon, but was forbidden entry into the palace.
The D-day arrived. My lady collected the sword from me before the sunrise. I was curious to know what a girl would do with my sheer artifice. She asked me to do her another favour. I agreed. ‘Clear the back side hills. Ask people to evacuate and hide in their homes. And don’t let the gossip spill to the royal doors.’ I did as she said. This grew my curiosity even more. I decided to go there after the sunset. All the birds flew back home. The dusk struck Itah. I hid myself behind a tree. Princess Nadia walked on the massive ground behind the hills. The dark clouds covered Itah. She reached in the middle of the ground and stopped. Black shadows surrounded her. She fought with them alone. I saw the fire in her eyes. I saw them cause her pain. I heard her scream with anger and hurt. I heard them laugh causing her that. But then lighting flashed from the sky. The wind flew wilder. Her sword was igniting blazes now. The tables had turned, the black shadows screamed and vanished. Itah was a happy town again after 50 years. She paid me the price I never thought of.
Hence the prophecy came true, “On the 600th full moon, someone inappropriate, with something unusual, made by someone unknown shall have a hand and break the rigid curse of this barren land.”
I was hammering some of the tools that peasants had asked for. Neither mine nor their work was prospering so we helped each other like a family. Itah, our town was not always like this. At least my mamma said so. It was happy and cheerful. We all were rich. No crops were destroyed, no sudden weather change, no lives rotted before. But in all these 25 years my eyes had never seen happiness in real. We have heard stories. The royals do parade their fancies but there are no actual celebrations here. Children cannot roam around or play. They don’t go to school. They learn their father’s occupations and enter the cycle of debts. Royals call the looting of the common folk as loans. Even the weather hasn’t been kind on Itah. Some afternoons are hotter than my furnace and some nights are freezing. There are no seasons, it’s just sudden. Amidst the loud bangs of my hammer, I realised a feminine voice calling me from behind. I stopped.
‘What do you want, girl? Don’t disturb me. Go away.’
‘Sir, I want to get a sword made,’ said the girl.
With utter pride I mocked her, ‘Ha-ha… This isn’t your tea party game, lass. Swords are meant for men.’
‘Please, sir.’ She begged.
I was already annoyed with all the heat and my job. I turned around and yelled at her.
‘Shoo away, girl. Don’t you see I am working? Go find someone else to bother.’
She turned around and started walking away. I noticed the symbol of the royal family on the back of her hood. Realizing that what I had done could cost me my life, I ran behind her to coax her.
‘Sorry, My lady. I didn’t realise it was you. I thought you were some peasant’s girl who was annoying me. Forgive me, Madam.’ She started laughing. I had never known that royals also laughed, I thought only faking smiles were their etiquettes.
‘No problem, Sir.’
‘The name’s Blake, my lady.’ I said as if I was a prince.
‘I want you to make me a sword. Any price you say,’ this could be an opportunity that could change my life. But my neck would be chopped if I couldn’t provide her with what she wanted.
‘Okay. I will do it.’ I said for the fear of losing my golden chance to somebody else.
‘So you want it studded with some sort of jewel like other royal swords.’
‘No I want you to carve a wolf head over a cross around here,’ she said pointing between the handle and the blade on her imaginary sword. Although that was a weird thing to ask. But denial and doubts were out of question now.
By Swarajya Singh
(Edited by Hrishi Ram)
Image Source – flickr.com