Tangra’s Blade – A Gorean short story

aurora borealis

By Lieutenant Atlas Tereshchenko – Port Olni Scarlet Caste

The ringing of metal on metal resounded through the lower market. This was the Square of the Metalworkers and here was the forge of Hamdrid. There were many smiths, all working diligently, scattered about the square at forges and anvils. It was at the back of the square one could find Hamdrid, laboring at his art. Warriors milled about this part of the square, speaking as men of war always do, a jest or jibe between friends, the passing of a bota of paga, and the latest stories of glory and honor from far afield. It was to Hamdrid that all manner of men at arms would bring their swords to be reforged, and a few would bring a desire for a new blade, and a considerable sum, to seek the efforts of Hamdrid at his forge.

That night, when all the other forges were cooling, Hamdrid was to be found next to his. Hamdrid was an immense man, stronger than any three other men combined, with a chest, shoulders and arms grown massive from driving hot metal into the shape he wanted. Beside him stood a youth, tall and strong, formed much like his father next to him. The youth worked the bellows, to fire the wood and charcoal in the forge.

“Lanmar, a bit more heat if you would son, this piece is almost ready to come to my embrace.” The young man pulled even harder against the yoke, the flames burning blue from the intense heat. Hamdrid drew the sliver of steel from the forge, and began to sing as he began to form the metal. This occurred several times throughout the early evening, Hamdrid’s companion bringing him and her son water and small bites of food. She knew better than to try and feed either of them when they were working so late. The effort consumed both of them, a son so much like a father, a father so much like his own.

Long into the darkening night the two labored over the blade, forming, folding, and drawing the steel into a form and length the young man had never seen before. “Father, this blade, for whom is it forged?” Hamdrid took the glowing shape from the forge, having tempered it once and now was busy preparing the edge “It is for Tangra, the First Sword. It is a gift to him from the Ubar himself, for his part in rescuing the Ubar and Ubara’s daughter.” Lanmar nodded, and fell back into rhythm, his Fathers hammer on the steel, matched his pull on the yoke for the forge.

The blade sat quietly, nestled in Hamdrid’s hands, where he slowly worked progressively finer and finer stones against the edge, bringing the blade to a sharpness of unequalled quality. “The effort for this blade is even beyond your normal exacting standards Father, can you tell me why? Why is this one blade so worthy of so much of your skill and heart?”

Looking up, the giant smith said simply, “It is for Tangra, and that is reason enough.” The stone began its painless journey along the edge again, and a few ehn later, Lanmar voiced another question. “You say it is for Tangra, and that is enough, but I must admit I am more a fool than I had imagined, as I cannot comprehend why that is a sufficient answer.” The young man looked at his Father, and watched as the stone slowed, then stopped. The blade glittered in the dull red light of the dying embers in the forge, and it was several ehn more before Hamdrid spoke.

“Tangra is the finest swordsman in our City, and perhaps all of Gor. Yet you will never hear him brag, or lay claim to his title out loud. No, you will find him on duty my son, or in the training arena, and nowhere else. Remember that the will to win is nothing when compared to the will to prepare.” Hamdrid turned the blade in his enormous hands, and then looked back at his son “There will come a time my son, when Tangra will face a situation where there are no options, and only one choice. On that day, when he holds this blade, he will see fear flee and courage rise, because like himself, I have placed all my effort and knowledge into this blade, it is the best of me, it possesses all the honor of my name and caste.” Lanmar sat quietly, and nodded at his Father’s words. Standing, he was about to begin cleaning the shop, when his Father’s voice rumbled through the stones.

“We may be of low Caste my son, but that does not mean we are any less honorable men.” Pointing to the forge, Hamdrid continued, “The fire heats the metal, and we temper it. Men are no less different. Some will find the fire to hot, and withdraw, while others find they are strengthened by the heat. Honor is not a cloak, nor a crown. It is nothing you should be able to take on or put off at will. Honor is our last defense, and our finest weapon. Against the edge of our honor, must we run the deeds of others, and judge if they hold as dear their honor as we hold ours.” The great smith paused, and laid the deadly blade onto a fine cloth, and wrapped it carefully.

“Tangra is a magnificent warrior. He does not require a shiny blade, but one that will not yield, will not break, will not fail when he needs it most. He needs a blade with as much honor in it, as is in him. That is why I have poured so much of myself into this sword, because Tangra fights with my honor.”

Comments are closed.