The Lost Drafts: Sheralya and Gram

So way back in the day, I played a lot of Earthdawn with my friends. I came across this piece that I haven’t looked at in years, and realized that it actually tells something of a complete story. As in it’s a complete scene in and of itself. 

That it, y’know, kinda doesn’t suck. So yeah, something decidedly different from the Warcraft stuff that’s usually here, but maybe you’ll enjoy it. ^_^

Gram’s blond hair was held back with a scrap of cloth as he hammered away at the unruly steel. Someday it would be a sword, but Gram knew it would take a lot of work to get it there.

His magic tickled the nape of his neck with the sense that someone bearing steel was drawing close. He looked over his shoulder to see Sheralya pulling aside the canvas that covered the entrance to the makeshift forge. The sound of flapping wings, barely audible over the crackling fire, told Gram that the beastmaster’s owl didn’t like the idea of an enclosed, hot space.

“Everything all right, Sheralya?” He drew an arm across his face to rid himself of sweat, streaking his cheeks with soot.

“All is well. I came to ask a question or two of you, if I may.”

“At your service, m’lady,” Gram said with what he hoped was a charming grin. He hefted the steel hulk from the anvil and made for his cooling trough. ”Let me just put this pig-iron away and…”

“No, please,” she said, “I’ve never seen an Adept of your Discipline work his skill before. Might I watch?”

Gram blinked, but then grinned amiably in response. “Oh, certainly…” He lay the unshaped steel back on the anvil and struck true with his hammer. For some reason, the sound of his tool striking the metal felt infinitely louder. He winced and looked back at the elfin woman, who had found a stool to sit on. “Sorry for, well, the noise…”

She waved a hand to dismiss his words. “Do not worry yourself. Please! I do not wish to distract you!”

Gram nodded sheepishly and set back to hammering.  His growing frustration about the obstinate metal soon absorbed his attention again, as every strike he made seemed to sour the shape of it more than what he intended. After some time, he finally muttered a curse or two and thrust the metal back into the forge.

“The metal troubles you?” Sheralya said from the stool as Gram pulled up another and sat across from her, drawing the scrap of cloth across his forehead. He nodded in reply, trying not to voice his frustration too loudly. He was about to open his mouth to speak to that effect when Sheralya spoke again:

“What does the metal say to you?”

Gram’s head tilted, like when a cat is confused. Sheralya must have understood, as she sat up and continued.

“As a beastmaster, I speak with animals. They do not speak in a language that only beastmasters can hear, but their thoughts, their feelings… I can read those. I think many Adepts speak with their Discipline: Sabree speaks with spirits, Atsuko speaks with the hearts of those who hear him, Seiryuu and Chi speak with the elements. Does a weaponsmith not speak with the material that makes up his weapons?”

Gram shook his head. “I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t believe it works for all kinds of Adepts. What does a thief like John speak with? Ultimately, metal doesn’t have thoughts for me to read. Even an animal has a mind, and has a will, even if it doesn’t have speech. Metal doesn’t have a desire.”

“It doesn’t?” Sheralya looked pensive for a moment. “Part of what a beastmaster does is train animals to perform tricks or tasks. Obviously some animals will be better at certain tasks than others.”

“Well, of course,” said Gram. “You’d send an owl to scout ahead, but you’d ride the thundra beast into battle.”

“But perhaps you might find that unique thundra beast that is skilled with scouting. Or an owl who is fearless and doesn’t shy away from battle. Every animal has a nature of their own, just as people do, just as the world has varied places of varied natures. Why is metal so different? Perhaps you have found metal that does not wish to be a sword, so it resists you.”

Gram looked thoughtful for a moment as the thought rolled about his mind. With a grin, he looked back up at Sheralya and said, “Funny, I thought I was teaching you about my Discipline, but I think you might have told me something even Cesus didn’t know!”

“You have shown me much, my friend.” She rose from the stool, gripping Gram’s shoulder as she did so, and pushed aside the canvas to re-enter the day outside the forge. Gram stood and watched her go, holding the canvas up. He saw the owl flit down and land on her shoulder gingerly.

He chuckled as he let the canvas drop back into the place. Pulling his heavy gloves back on, he picked up the red-hot metal from the coals and set it back on the anvil. With a smile spreading over his face, he regarded the twisted, misshappen steel and said, “so then. What do you want to be?”