flASH fiction: Volume 3: The Iron Lord (03)

FB flASH fiction

The Iron Lord
By
Jason Pere

The stack whistle sounded loud and mighty above the skyline of Rustwatch. The Ironmen had turned back the chimera once again. The ramparts of the cities seal wall erupted in victorious cheers from the armor clad warriors who had fought against the beast’s onslaught for the last three days straight. The Ironmen had seen many of their own stuck down never to rise again. It was a heavy price to pay but the blood of good men had purchased the safety of Rustwarch at least for a short while.

The Iron Lord, Coal Roarkwin, walked the remnants of the battle line where the chimera had laid siege upon the battlements of his city. As he passed every one of his men stood to full attention and offered a warriors salute to their leader. Coal did not linger over the bodies of the Rustwatch dead, though he stopped just long enough to pay proper respect to the men who gave their lives in defense of his city. The Iron Lord let his cloudy eyes access the damage that the beasts had done to Rustwatch’s seal wall.

“Foreman,” called the Iron Lord with a surly bark that befit his battle-hardened manor.

“Yes, my Lord,” responded Foreman Everstone as he maneuvered his way through the heaps of dead Ironmen and chimera that crowded the Rustwarch ramparts. The Ironmen still on the battlements made way for the stocky mastersmith. Everstone was not a clumsy man but he had limited experience negotiating the chaos of a battlefield. His talents were best put to use when he held a hammer in his hand and stood behind an anvil in the Iron Lord’s forge.

Coal waited for Forman Everstone to appear at his side. Once the sooty blacksmith had fallen in line beside him, Coal pointed at the breach in the seal wall with a blood covered glove. “The plates on this panel were over stressed. They could handle the weight of the wall but the incessant ramming of these…” Coal trailed as his shoved the body of something that had once been some kind of swamp dwelling reptile before warping into a chimera. “We are going to need to make haste in the repairs before they regroup and return. We are taxed as it is, holding the main gate. I’ll lose no more Ironmen to beached walls,” Coal said with powerful authority. The weary Iron Lord wiped the visceral combination of soot, blood and sweat from his brow. Coal scratched at his Smokey grey bead with one hand as he sheathed the saber he held in his other hand across his back. The Iron Lord’s fingers quickly danced over the pommels of the arsenal of weapons that were draped all over his person and he took a silent inventory of the blades he had lost in the fray.

Everstone looked at the sundered and warped metal of the seal wall as he absorbed his master’s words. “Yes my lord, I see where it all went weak. I think some twice refined ore tempered at the furnace’s top end should suit. Add another set of arch braces and this wall will stand impenetrable,” said the master blacksmith with a tone that reflected decades of practiced metalwork and architecture.

“I concur. Make repairing this breach you only priority. Rustwatch does not sleep until the seal wall is made whole. I will be in the forge and start on the smelting the latest supply from the mines,” Coal responded as he began to unbuckle the leather straps that bound his numerous swords and daggers to his body.

“Absolutely, I will put every mastersmith and apprentice on double time until the task is done,” said Everstone with the pride that was indicative of all Ironmen.

Coal left the broken section of Rustwatch’s seal wall after coordinating the removal of the dead and a establishing a formidable guard of battle ready Ironmen. He swiftly made his way through the towering metallic metropolis that was his kingdom. The Iron Lord found his way to the forge in no time at all. It was as if his anvil pulled him like the strongest tides of Argaia’s oceans. He saw the telltale plumes of white steam and black smoke emanating from the forest of chimneys and stacks that jutted form the top of the forge.

Coal’s eyes wandered down from the black and white trails of vapor streaking the sky over his city and found his gaze affixed to another striking image. The Iron Lord regarded the red robed man and his escort of armored personal guards waiting at the mouth of the forge. Coal grunted to himself as he rued the appearance of a Vermillion Councilman in Rustwatch. He bore no personal animosity towards the red cloaks but Coal could not recall and instance when the arrival of a Councilman harkened good news.

“Brother Osmond, what purpose finds you in my city today?” Coal asked directly as he walked passed the lethal assembly of Amurai bodyguards and stood in front of the Councilman.

“Greetings to you Iron Lord. I would speak with you about something of great importance,” said Osmond with a polite nod of his head in Coal’s direction.

The Iron Lord quickly looked around at the Amurai that surrounded him with something that could have constituted a glare before proceeding into the forge and speaking over his shoulder to Brother Osmond. “Well you had better speak quickly. I have a large hole in the seal wall that is my current something of great importance and I will not see it neglected.”

Osmond followed Coal into the forge after silently indicating to his Amurai guard that they should hold their station outside of the building. “I know of the chimera’s latest attack on your city. The beasts have become increasingly volatile of late. That is in part cause for my visit,” said Osmond as he followed in the Iron Lord’s footsteps.

“Ah, I see. Come to beseech me for more of my Iron Men to take up the hound’s sigil. Your Rayward and Blackcloud stock dying faster than you can recruit them?” Coal goaded as he began tying on a thick leather blacksmith’s apron.
“In his beloved name…” Osmond muttered under his breath with a not so discreet roll off his eyes. “No I have not come to ask for more men. In fact the ranks of the Amurai are quite ample.”

“Oh? Then perhaps you bring a turn of good fortune. Are you here to replenish Rustwatch’s dwindling ranks of Amurai. My magic is strong but I can’t defend this city single handedly and I have seen more than enough of my Iron Men rested on a widow’s pyre then I care to.” Coal continued with a cynical mocking inflection as he began wheeling carts of ore over to the forge’s smelter.

The Councilman was exhibiting a formidable volume of self-restraint as he endured the Iron Lord’s sustained disrespect. Despite his extremely venerable age Coal was acting with all the maturity of a scorned youth. “No, I have not come for that purpose either. I am here to take about putting an end to the chimera,” Brother Osmond said with enough poise that his words came out without sounding like an irritated growl.

The Councilman’s statement was intriguing enough that it stopped the Iron Lord from his task. Coal turned and looked the Councilman in the eye as he spoke. “What do you mean an end to the chimera?”

“I mean, wiping them form the face of Argaia,” the Councilman said with clarity and resolve.

Coal cocked his neck to the side and ran his sooty fingers through his thick long white hair. “That is some talk I like the sound of. Go on,” the Iron Lord said with piqued interest.

“For ages the Council thought that you, the three Redmoon siblings of Viros, Eduanna Naire, and Dimona Odinsatr in Rayward were the only ones of your kind. This is not true. Why in the last century alone reports have begun to reach the Council of children being born in great numbers that have magic like yours. One such child in almost all of the sealed nations by this day,” Brother Osmond said with a tone that had begun to become more excited and hopeful.

“What do you want?” Coal asked flatly as the flames of his forge burned brightly all around him and danced a violent colorful dance.

“The Vermillion Council would see a unified army of your breed go beyond the seal walls, with the collective might of the Amurai at your backs and crush the chimera,” Osmond said as he clenched a fist in the air to illustrate the meaning of his words.

Coal turned from the Councilman and looked long into the flames of his forge. He let his eyes become lost in the fiery serpents that writhed above the bed of glowing embers. As always the Iron Lord found the greatest measure of clarity when he looked into the fire. “I want to believe what you say but before I put any risk to my city or my people, I will need to see proof of what you say with my own eyes,” Coal said firmly.

“Come with me and I will show you all the proof that your eyes can bear,” Brother Osmond said with a confident smith and a victorious gaze.

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