Endremzo’s feet pounded against the tough dirt as he ran north as he entered the wide plains of Theslin. Behind him were the foothills of Morbaren, and if he would bother to stop and look back, he would see the last slope of the Mesgraven Mountains, which separated Morbaren from Lanuman. But Endremzo would not pause for such a trite fancy, and was set on his course.
He wasn’t fleeing anything, and he was in no particular hurry. He only ran for the pure exhilaration of the wind in his face, the earth under his face, and the excellent sleep he got every night. This wasn’t to say his journey wasn’t purposeless – on the contrary, he was headed to the famous smithy of Adenso, the equally famous blacksmith and inventor.
On his previous adventure, Endremzo had slain a troll terrorizing the local villages. In the process his family sword had broken, but the troll’s treasure trove yielded no weapons that might replace his honorable heirloom. He had found plenty of other treasures, but he had distributed these among his friends, neighbors, and the victims of the troll’s villainy. Keeping only a small portion for himself, he had then begun his adventure north, to replace his sword by means of the greatest smith in the world.
So Endremzo ran, passing over the plain in his brisk pace, stopping only when night descended on the earth. Sometimes he slept at an inn in town, but usually he rested in the middle of the plains, his back in the dust and his eyes toward the stars.
After nearly two weeks of travel, he at last came to a large building standing solitary on the plains, flanked by the bend of a great river. The building stood at least two stories high, with a colossal chimney reaching up to the heavens and billowing dark smoke from the fires within. On the side of the building, a great wheel churned the water. On the other side was an open door, and Endremzo approached this as he slowed to a walk. He peered inside, and saw the famous smith hard at work in the center of the spacious shop, decorated with various mechanisms and creations.
“Good afternoon,” came the voice of Adenso, who did not look up, though he did pause in his work. “How can I help you?”
“I need a sword,” replied Endremzo as he stepped into the shop. He gazed around at all the beautiful things on display, but he turned to the smith again as he felt Adenso’s gaze on him.
“You need a sword? I really doubt that. But why come to me for such a simple tool?”
“I wanted a proper replacement for a weapon that once belonged to my family, but broke in combat. And I’ve heard that you make the best weapons.”
“Well, you would be correct. But I don’t just hand out such devices to anybody.”
“I can pay you well.” Endremzo presented the small sack of the troll’s gold that he still possessed.
Adenso laughed. “Gold is not enough to receive my services. Tell me, boy, for what purpose is this tool meant, and for what purpose shall you use it?”
Endremzo considered this question for a few moments. “Is a sword not to be used in defense? So you are saying I must use it only to defend myself?”
“A good, if incomplete answer,” replied the smith, smiling. “Yes, it is for self-defense, but it is also for the defense of others. Ordinarily, I abhor the creation of such weapons, but I sense that this one shall be critical to events yet to unfold. I shall render you a service by making this tool, but I ask you render a service to me.”
“What is that?”
“Your oath: only to use the sword that I shall make for you in defense of the innocent and the protection of the weak, against those who would seek to ruin and destroy the lives of others. But whatever justice you deal must be tempered with mercy, lest you lose sight of your cause. Will you do this?”
Endremzo swore so, and the smith smiled again. Then he set to work.
He moved a small portion of his shop outside, under the blazing sun. He took lumps of steel and set it through the crucible, tempering it until it was stronger than any other metal. The next day he took a barrel of water and spoke some words over it. Endremzo watched the water, never letting his shadow cast over it at the behest of Adenso. As the day passed, the water caught the light of the sun and, come night, blazed gold. The next day the smith really began his work.
He took the steel and fashioned it, bending it and twisting it between the hammer and the anvil. He heated it over white flames and dipped it in the shining water, and somehow it changed the metal. The steel was no longer silver, but was now golden.
The long blade complete, Adenso next fashioned a handle, wrapping it in red leather and embedding a deep ruby in the hilt. At last it was complete, and the smith presented it to Endremzo.
“This sword is named Casecaron,” Adenso said. “For it carries the flames of the Sun, and thus it shall smite the forces of darkness. Look!”
He took the weapon and plunged it into a wooden beam. Immediately, the beam burst into red flames, licking the air with greedy tongues. Endremzo hesitated a moment, surprised by both Adenso’s move, and by the power of the blade. But then he seized the handle, which was not a degree warmer for standing amidst the flames, and pulled it out, holding it aloft as it reflected the glorious Sun.