You There! Swordsmith! Can We Count On You?
Ho there! Swordsmith! Lay off your anvil-striking and daggerwork for the moment and hearken to me, skillmaster – there’s profit in it for you, and glory to be one for your name and your mother’s name. Mop your glistening brow with a meaty forearm – laid open to the sun, as I see your workshirt has been carefully rolled up past the elbows, in the manner of your people, to better display the Hephaestion veins that pump blood through your skillful wrists – and listen well!
Yes, by all means wipe your broad hands against the sides of your leathern apron, my good bladesward! An honest journeymaster like yourself must take a moment to rest from the sword-fires before committing to joining a band of questers such as ourselves, and we would have you well-served and well-supped before hearing our request. Throw down your half-finished mass of steel on the anvil’s horn, and let the ringing of your work-rest redound for seven leagues in each direction! Listen, villagers: the swordsmith hearkens!
Ah, the time for speech draws close at hand – see the bladehammerer drop the forge-tongs into the slack tub and watch the ensuing cloud of steam issue forth from the barrel! By the sound of the anvil-ringing, by the sight of the slack-tub-cloud-pillar, there is no one present who can deny that the farrier attends. Smithwight, I present to you our band of companions: you see before you a holy-fool, a layfool, a pair of jugglists, a notary public, a county ordinary, a lockpick, a parking enforcer, a skirmisher, a jurist, a team of aunts, a siege-breaker, a Carthaginian, someone wearing a soft peaked cap, a geometrist, a Faussart-bearer, a halberdier, a jolly monk with a surprised look on his face carrying a staff, an antipope, three sibyls, an alewife, a witch’s loom, someone from what will be later called Germany, an oathsplitter, a broomsquire, a lion with a dog’s eyes, a quartermaster, a Stockholm rower-woman, a diagnostician, and a den mother. Come, rest yourself awhile on the frithstow and let us exchange a frankpledge with one another, worthy tither! Let the youngest lad on our team sit carefully on the side of your great bellows, and let us all laugh heartily as his smallweight fails to move it! Another time, lad, you’ll grow stout enough on the journey!
But enough of jests and merrymaking. We come to you, cokeringer and forgemaster, with a charge: will you bring your great leather gloves, your striking hammer, your meaty paws, your chisels and your steam tongs, your allows and your squareshanks, and serve us in our quest? We are in sore need of nickel and copper, of pig iron and steam, and would pay handsomely for you and your kiln to join us. For too long we have had nothing for a single hopeful light to glint off of, no skillful craftsman to wince carefully at a prospect in the distance, no metal edge to cut our teeth on. Bladegrinder! Will you wrap a small towel around your broad neck and lend your massive shoulder muscles to our journey?