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Genre - Historical Fiction
Rating - PG13
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Miners, grimy and stooped, returned in the gathering dusk to the settlement huts beyond. As Gebann greeted passing men by name, Cian related messages to certain weary miners.
Gebann asked if the cloud of dust covered the Boyne at the past spring, and they talked about its aftermath, the brilliant sunsets and stunted growth. When he asked about the Starwatcher woman who married Elcmar, it was the lad’s turn to give clipped answers. Gebann glanced over at the smelting activity. “We could sit farther away from the smoke. I see it doesn’t agree with you.”
Not knowing if he might have private access to the great smith again, Cian risked asking questions. He asked first about the stone molds he’d seen used to pour copper axeheads and simple tools.
“You know that I carve in stone. The molds for the axes—how are those made?”
Gebann sat back, big hands splayed on his knees, and eyed Cian. This was probing of secrets, the deep secrets of the metals known by very few in all the world. Information that this Starwatcher is not privileged to have. Not just yet. But the time may come. This quiet lad’s got the fire in him, as sure as the sun will rise again. Perhaps this Cian had a fight coming; let it be with Elcmar.
The smith reached for an axe mold, its flat hollow for the axe carved into solid rock. His stocky forefinger jabbed at the smooth, symmetrical outline for the axehead. “See that? We trace the shape of a folded leaf onto stone, that way the axe is exactly the same along both halves east to west. You would know how to do it yourself, lad. Now heft this axe in your hand. It’s heavy for the size, isn’t it?”
Cian nodded as Gebann gave him a new copper axehead to hold.
“We can adjust the axe size with different molds. The crucible holds what a man is capable of pouring while the metal is hot. Once the mold is filled, we quickly lay on the cover.” He handed Cian the mold cover, flat on both sides, then Cian noticed slight tunnels routed into its ends.