Solo [The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

After too long away from a forge, Baelin gets back to it

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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[The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

Postby Baelin Holt on August 11th, 2019, 12:38 am

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5, Summer 519 AV

For a city that was supposedly without law, there certainly seemed to be plenty of rules. Steer clear of certain areas. Don’t be gold on legs. Leave the giant rats alone. And—most importantly—discount these items this much for these people.

“These” people being those with a specific brand on their hand.

Baelin was pretty sure that if he didn’t follow through on that last one, he could kiss this job goodbye.

He was too new to the city to know all the details of what the brand meant. And he definitely wasn’t about to be so stupid as to ask around. So, for now, it remained just a brand. Regardless of whatever it was, the people sporting the mark were favored and catered to by the Knight’s Armory. And Baelin figured that leaving one of them waiting by the smithy’s entrance was probably a bad idea.

Which was a problem. Because, at the moment, there was a woman hovering near the entrance whose hand bore the mark. Baelin was still too fresh and untrusted to run sales, but the Knight’s Armory was surprisingly busy at the moment. Karos was right in the middle of a quench, Lawrence was carefully monitoring a heat treat, and Nathaniel was working a customer. Yet there was the woman with her special brand, waiting for someone to attend to her.

Nathaniel looked up from the studded leather he was trying to upsell and saw the woman waiting. He glanced to Lawrence and Karos, frowned at the ongoing heat treat and quench, and then levelled a glare at Baelin.

Alright, Baelin could take a hint. He left the block of hot iron he was working on to cool, put aside his tongs and hammer, and then went to attend to her.

The branded woman saw him approach and seemed to stand a little more at attention. She gave him a quick once over—just an appraisal, if he had to guess—and then flashed him a toothy grin.

She waited until he was close enough to hear her, then said, “I’m gonna need a dagger.”

Daggers would come half-price to those with the mark. Baelin glanced down to check that he hadn’t been mistaken and…yep, it looked legit. As much as he could tell, at least. Eight triangles laid around a circle, burned into her flesh, with one of the triangles filled with ink. She’d get the discount; he wasn’t about to botch one of the rules right off the bat. If he was wrong, he supposed it’d be better to have a gold cut from his paycheck than to get fired for breaking the smithy’s rule.

Baelin led her over to their current selection of daggers and gestured for her to browse at her own leisure. He stood back, close enough to talk if she had any questions but far enough to avoid hovering.

She picked up one of the daggers and tried the grip, shifting her fingers ever so slightly and testing the feel of it. Then balanced the short blade on one finger before flipping it over and testing both of its edges on the hair of her arm. Seemingly satisfied, she asked how much.
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Baelin Holt
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[The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

Postby Baelin Holt on August 11th, 2019, 2:41 am

“One gold.”

The woman flashed him another toothy grin that felt disturbingly like an animal baring its teeth. Baelin took her offered miza, watched her leave the smithy with her new dagger in hand, and walked the coin back to Nathaniel. He was still working the walk-in for more of his mizas and—without even looking—snapped the coin up. Baelin had to give him credit; Nathaniel’s commitment to squeezing every last miza out of customers was truly impressive.

That done, Baelin went back to his bar of iron. It still looked nothing like a knife yet, but he could see what it would become. Could practically feel the shape that would soon enough form out of its thick strip. In all seriousness, he’d be a pretty lousy blacksmith if he couldn’t envision his goal.

The metal had cooled a bit as he attended the branded woman, so Baelin went ahead and grasped it with tongs and took it back to the forge. He pumped the bellows, feeding life to the coals and calling on fire to engulf iron. When the iron got to a dull, brown-red, Baelin pulled it out and side-stepped over to the anvil he’d sequestered. Not wasting any time, Baelin snapped his hammer down on the bar’s edge.

The absolute best part—so far at least—of working at the Knight’s Armory was that a lot of the equipment was sized for humans. The Defiled Blade had been owned and operated by Isur, with only a handful of human apprentices coming and going. Accordingly, most of the anvils and workstations were lowered for their ease of use.

It had meant that Baelin’s back had become an aching, unyielding problem. He’d go home at night and lay on his belly, one arm stretched behind him to slowly knead the knots that never seemed to soften. He hadn’t even realized how bad it’d gotten until after he had stopped working. After several days free from bending over, the ache had finally—shockingly—started to ease up.

It’d been like getting a whole new body. The sudden realization that he was now unburdened by ever-present, dull pain—that he had evidently grown accustomed to—had been amazingly invigorating. The return of back pain’s torment was something that Baelin had been truly dreading now that he was done travelling and could resume working. Isur and their lower anvils were a part of most smithies he’d worked in outside of Black Rock, and he had no informed reason to expect Sunberth to be different.

Most Isur he’d met have all been hard workers and excellent smiths; he had nothing bad to say about them in that respect. But damn if he wasn’t happy to be in a shop that had more humans than Isur working it. Not having to crouch over everything was a petching blessing.

Scales formed on the iron bar’s surface as he worked, and the red-brown slowly faded until there was only the barest hint of red. Baelin twisted his left wrist to lay the cooling iron flat and hammered along its face. Then he flipped it to its other side and hammered that flat as well. Baelin tended to find that bars like this would twist on him as he worked if he didn’t stop to flatten them back out.
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[The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

Postby Baelin Holt on August 11th, 2019, 6:02 pm

That done, Baelin moved the cool metal back into charcoal. He switched the tongs to his right hand and pumped with his left, not wanting to exhaust his right arm as he worked. Baelin kept it up until the iron was a dark yellow, then switched the tongs back to his right and pulled the iron out.

Baelin tapped along the edge with his hammer, slowly and steadily nudging the bar into shape. He continued for several hits, then rolled the iron back onto its side and beat it flat again. Flipped it, hammered that side flat, and then back into the forge.

Smithing had a way of being relaxingly repetitive. Baelin could just sink into the rhythm of it: shape, flatten, reheat, shape, flatten, reheat. Over and over again as the bar of iron slowly formed into what would soon be a knife. All other thoughts and worries had a way of draining out of him as he worked. The exhaustion of well over a season of travel. The fear that this move would wind up being as much a mistake as Ravok had been. The nervous dread that he was too foreign to this place and it would gobble him whole. It all faded.

And then it was just him. His hammer. The forge, belching heat. And the iron as it slowly molded itself to his will.

The tang and spine formed, clear as day, with an emerging bolster between them. Baelin tilted the knife so that what would be the edge was down on the anvil face and the spine was slightly raised. Then he began hammering the edge thinner. Compacting the iron down, starting to form a wedge.

Baelin continued working the edge into shape, trying to form as much of a taper as he could before he moved from the forge and transitioned to grinding. Baelin was very much of the opinion that a bit of extra forging could go a long way to avoiding bells on the grindstone.

When he was satisfied that it was as good as it was going to get, Baelin brought the developing knife to the forge once more. He heated it to a cherry red, then took the shaped metal to a bin of ash. Carefully, Baelin buried the red hot knife in the ash and unclamped the tong’s grip.

Letting it cool slowly in ash would made the metal easier to grind. It’d likely take the better part of a bell for it to properly cool, but it’d be worth it for the saved time on the grindstone. In the meantime… Baelin poked the ash with his tongs, fishing around in the space he left his last knife-in-progress. He had forged the same sort of knife earlier today, then buried it in the ash and began another as it cooled. Now, after having sat in the ash for so long, it should be good to go for the grinder.

His tongs bumped against something solid. Baelin nudged the object up and snatched the earlier knife from the ashes. It was indeed cool to the touch; he could use his bare hands now. Slipping the tongs back onto their place in the forge’s rack, Baelin took the cooled, edge-less knife to the grindstone.
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[The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

Postby Baelin Holt on August 11th, 2019, 6:26 pm

The Knight’s Armory had a larger grinder for bigger projects, but for knives a grindstone about two feet across would do. And would keep him out of the way of the Armory’s more senior smiths.

This particular grinder was set up so that you’d stand in front of it and work the axle with a foot pedal. Suspended under the circular stone was a trough of water. The grindstone’s bottom edge sat submerged, soaking as it idled, while the rest of the stone was still damp from earlier use. Baelin went ahead and spun the wheel a few times to get the entire circumference well soaked.

Baelin settled into place and worked his foot slowly and rhythmically. With the wheel rotating steadily towards him, Baelin brought the forged knife’s edge down. The high whistle of metal on stone rose to greet him, a quiet shriek of progress being made. Baelin held the tang in one hand and pinched the spine with his other. Never letting up his steady foot pumping, Baelin carefully maneuvered the knife’s edge against the curve of the wheel.

The grindstone sometimes felt like a living thing. A beast that wanted to gobble up anything and everything that came into contact with it. Baelin would hold a blade against it and the stone would do its damndest to snatch it and drag it down. It was why Baelin always grinded with both hands. One to hold the knife tight and the other to keep the beveling edge steady.

It was a fight that Baelin welcomed. While the tedious battle of grinding was inherently different than that of forging, it was still a form of repetitive routine. And while others might require new and fresh challenges to keep themselves engaged, Baelin couldn’t help but appreciate the relaxing comfort of repetition.

Baelin worked the edge of the knife against the stone, flipping it over every now and then to keep the two hollow grind bevels as even as he could. He worked from spine down to edge, the whole bevel looking a good deal like a flat grind due to its scale.

As he continued to grind, he had to admit that there was one very major difference between grinding and forging. While Baelin could see the shape he wanted and how to get there as he forged, he had no such skill on the grindstone. He worked blades so infrequently that it was an art that he was no better than a novice at.

Repetition, he figured, would solve that. The more often he made knives, the clearer the grind will seem to him. It wasn’t like some kind of magical sight that you were either born with or not. Baelin could remember being a boy trying to make his first cattle shoe, and not having a petching clue how to get from a strip of iron to what was supposed to be this specific curvy thing. He had stared at that block of iron helplessly until his uncle had pressed him to get moving.

And he moved. And he learned. And now, if anyone needed cattle shoes, he could probably whip one out without thinking about it too much. Blades would be no different. He’d get there.
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[The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

Postby Baelin Holt on August 19th, 2019, 12:25 am

Baelin worked slowly, fastidiously careful to not overgrind. While ruining the edge was technically recoverable, it’d take considerably longer to fix any mistake than it would be to just not petch it up. And so Baelin hovered over the point where blade met stone, staring down with a single-minded focus: Don’t overgrind.

When a good taper―but not a real edge―finally took shape, Baelin stepped away from the grindstone and went back to the forge. He’d heat it up, quench it, and then check to see if it warped or cracked. If it warped, he’d still have a little bit of time to try and straighten it back out. If it had manageable cracks, he still had enough material left to grind it back and come out with a workable―if smaller―knife. If neither happened, he’d get to go straight to grinding the edge razor-sharp. The post-quench grinding was always a bit harder to do―the metal a good deal less soft than before―but it would be downright stupid to try and finish grinding before the final heat treat. If the blade did warp or chip, he’d be petched.

Baelin pumped the bellows, always liking his forges as fresh as possible, and buried the nearly finished knife in charcoal. The metal heated slowly and a bit irregularly, the tip getting to a dark cherry red while the bulk of the blade was only dark red and the thicker spine still just a brown-red. Baelin shifted the knife to try and get the thicker part of the blade in the center of the burning coals, then raked over fresh coals over top.

The blade and coals needed frequent readjusting to keep the blade’s temperature as uniform as possible while the color grew brighter. From the barest hint of red to a full cherry, then finally into a very light red. The tip of the blade started to look a little yellow, so Baelin shifted the blade so the tip was on older, cooler coals while the rest of the heating metal tried to catch up.

Eventually the blade was as uniform in color as Baelin thought he could get it. Moment of truth. Baelin checked that his path was clear to the oil basin: no one in the way, nothing to trip over, and the basin itself was unobstructed. All looked good.

Baelin took in a careful breath―he always got a little nervous for a quench―then went for broke. In one quick side-step, Baelin pulled the knife out of the forge and then submerged it in oil.

Smoke billowed from the basin and Baelin kept his body and face as far back as he could lest fire also belch from the oil. He moved the hot blade carefully, trying to keep his motion along the knife’s long axis. After a few long, stressful ticks, Baelin pulled the smoking metal out and checked to see how it went.

Baelin twisted his grip on the tongs to get a good line-of-sight down the knife’s spine and almost groaned. While it wasn’t the worst Baelin had ever seen, the knife had definitely warped during its quench.

It should be fixable. Baelin would commandeer the vice and get to work slowly trying to force the blade straight. If all went well, the blade would straighten out and he could move on to grinding a razor edge. But if straightening failed and he was left with a warped blade, then all of that work just went out the window. Baelin took a deep breath, tried not to think about it, and moved to clamp the blade in the vise. He’d get it fixed. He’d make it work.
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Baelin Holt
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[The Knight's Armory] Return to the Grind

Postby Kreig Messer on August 29th, 2019, 11:59 am

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Grade :
{Name}



Experience

Skill XP Earned
Blacksmithing +3
Weaponsmithing +2
Observation +2



Lore

Sunberth Gangs: Sun's Birth gang symbol
Weaponsmithing: Forging knives


Notes :
Howdy there, interesting thread to read and hope I gave you what you were aiming for in this thread. If you've any questions feel free to PM me or contact me on Discord.



Credit goes to Trickster for this lovely Template

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