Blogisode 8: The King’s Blacksmith

This is part of a series of posts.  To read from the beginning please click here

The process to make an Orisgothian sword is a time honoured one indeed.  A rare few have witnessed the creation of swords from start to finish; the king himself only having been in audience once previous.  A fire is started in the furnace a fill day ahead of time.  Usually the assistant to the blacksmith, a son or daughter, lights the fire and stokes it for the duration of the burn.  Once the furnace has burned hot for a day the blacksmith arranges a large clay bucket with pieces of iron ingots.  The bucket is raised by a pulley system to an opening above the furnace.  The blacksmith will raise the bucket while his assistant guides it over the furnace.  An iron cable is fitted to the top of the bucked and it is lowered by the assistant into the furnace.  After 10 minutes has past the bucket is raised, glowing bright hot red.  The iron is mostly melted.  At this point a small Blistrar ingot, its size no more than your finger, is added to the liquid iron.  After stirring with a long clay pole the bucket is lowered into the furnace again for another 5.  The bucket of liquid alloy is removed from the furnace and carefully lowered over the waiting clay moulds.  The assistant carefully and continually stirs the bucket of liquid metal as they position it over the moulds.

Orisgothian sword moulds were made to manufacture either one or three swords.  The single sword moulds were smaller but of higher quality.  The blade edge and its shape was desinted for officers of the King’s circle or as ornate gifts.  Moulds of three were slightly more crude and received less finish treatment.  This was for mass production of the King’s regular forces.  The moulds were unlashed after about 30 minutes of cooling.  The blades were solid but still glowing red with heat.  Each was removed by tongs and placed on the anvil to be hammered smooth.  Each sword was hand finished until it cooled.  The metal was polished using a cloth and a special soap developed to clear the soot from the sword.  They were then mounted in a stand which held each blade vertical by the hilt.  A file was used to hand sharpen and smooth the biting edge of the blade.  A strip of leather is soaked in liquid cow’s fat glue and wrapped around the hilt of the blade.  The leather will tighten and harden around the steel as it dries.  More ornate and special swords see hand stitched leather and etchings as well as blistrar, gold and platinum inlays or etchings.  Ceremonial swords are of the highest caliber and artistic quality.  The blacksmiths compete every year by presenting these swords to the king during his annual celebrations.  The blacksmith who’s sword wins has the pleasure of being deemed the lead blacksmith.

What a pleasure it is.  This blacksmith also rides with the king into battle as his official weapons bearer.  The job is prestigious in title only and comes with no extra compensation or accolades from the royal court.  The chosen blacksmith can simply hang a beautiful purple and gold flag from their shop bearing the royal insignia embroidered into the material.  When the king decides to go off to fight the blacksmith is pulled from his family and shop, often without warning, and fights at the kings side.  As a result there is much pressure on the blacksmith’s young children to step up and learn their father’s craft.  They also learn combat to be prepared to fight in their father’s stead.  Oftentimes the children of the kings were masters of their father’s craft in the early stages of their teens.  Sadly, as is tradition in society, the son is who the King usually selects once the father passes.

Borisgoth and his family had been the official blacksmith to King Orisgoth for 3 generations; despite countless attempts from other blacksmiths to remove the title.  In recent times they had given up due to the skill shown by his son Ari.  Borisgoth’s family had developed a smelting process that took the blistrar alloy and made it even stronger.  They first melted the blistrar bars they bought into small pellets about the size of your thumb’s end.  They would mix one or three scoops of these cooled pellets and mix them into the liquid iron as opposed to the larger single blistrar bars.  A simple change but one they kept secret.  The fast and more thorough mixing of the alloy created a strong sword with much less waste.  Borisgoth worked hard to create the very best and strongest swords.  His family had lived on the edge of poverty with the few handouts the King gave him as their sole sustenance.  His success with the king had been cause for his poor success as a business.  The jealousy of the other blacksmiths had driven them to push Borisgoth out of business.  There were only a few of the local farmers who came to Borisgoth the rest being driven off by the others.  These farmers were smaller but steady and very loyal.  They knew the quality of Borisgoth’s goods were second to none.  He was the king’s blacksmith after all.

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