He cleared his throat before announcing, “Marcus of Cardenia, you are hereby commissioned to become Royal Blacksmith in service to His Highness King Stellan. This honor comes to you after the King and his court did extensive reviews of your family’s reputation in the blacksmithing profession.” The knight rolled the parchment back up and replaced it in the pouch, his eyes containing the glimmer of a hidden smile as he watched Marcus’ emotionless face. “Oh, come now. Better than being called upon to be the Royal Pig Slopper, wouldn’t you say?” He winked at Alais, who grinned back at him.
And so it had been that though Marcus and Alais still lived in the same old ramshackle cabin where Alais had grown up, they now walked or rode the
three miles to the castle, six days a week to shoe horses for the king.
Alais almost always accompanied him there, working long days, side by side with the man he knew as his father. He was a lot of help as time went on and he grew even taller, his lean muscles becoming more defined by the hard work. He pumped the billows, poured the hot metal liquid into the molds, and then learned to expertly beat them into shape with the large blacksmith’s hammer. The part Alais loved most, however, was when it was time to carefully use the long tongs to transport the shoes over to the large water barrel, When he would dowse them in it, he always enjoyed the satisfying sizzle and the clouds of steam that would rise. Marcus had taught him all of this, and he was a natural when it came to being an excellent smithy.
The same knight who had ridden to their home two years before now peeked inside the stable door. He had become a good friend to them since they first met. Gareth was carrying a large tray laden with delicious smelling game hens, vegetables and bread, and he held it near the door so the aroma would waft in to tempt their appetites. :”Come join me for this good repast,” he said. “I have some news, and it calls for a little celebration.”
Alais and Marcus finished up their current task, rinsed their hands and headed out to the makeshift table they had built, which sat just under a spreading maple tree. Autumn was approaching, and the leaves were beginning to turn brilliant shades of red, gold, and orange.
Marcus’ eyes lit up as he saw a flagon of wine and three cups waiting on the table, along with the excellent food. He wasted no time in pouring himself a glass of wine, as well as one for each of the others, then he thirstily made short work of it. Gareth’s eyes twinkled as he watched his friend’s enthusiasm for food and drink. Marcus seldom displayed passion for much of anything, other than a good meal and the welfare of his son. It was good to see him enjoying himself.
suffer from the past, to long for the future, but to forget the present.
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