[Back-story: This was a dream sequence I originally wrote for the novel. It was supposed to introduce the secret motivation of one of the primary characters. I cut it, though, because I thought it was just too much too soon in the story. But I kind of really liked it! Well, at least it looks better in my head than it actually reads, if that makes any sense. I have a long history as a photographer/cinematographer, so I guess I tend to “think” cinematically. Trouble is, translating that into the written word. Anyhow, it’s going back in, but not as a flashback/dream.]
“Griff!” CLANG! “GRIFF!” CLANG! The heavy hammer slammed into the glowing metal on the anvil, the ringing sound of metal on metal reverberating through the forge. Griff seemed oblivious to the call. He lifted the hammer again, raised it high, brought it down swiftly, surely, precisely. CLANG!
“Don’t pretend not to hear me, Griff!” A figure now stood before him, red in the glare of the light cast by the fire of the nearby forge. Griff looked up from his work. The workers continued pumping the bellows, feeding oxygen to the fire within.
A woman stood before him. She was slightly shorter than him, her hair, black as the coal that fed the forge’s flames, fell in neatly plaited braids about her face, her skin ruddy beneath the glow of the roaring fire in the forge. The scarlet and gold trim of her tunic glowed here in the smithy, the firelight danced in her eyes. Or was it her wrath, Griff thought absently. He returned his eyes to the metal he was shaping on the anvil. He did not speak.
“Don’t do this, my son!” she implored, her tone softening somewhat. He ceased his work but did not look up, still not speaking.
“Why, Griff?” she asked. “Why this course of action? Your place is here, with the clan. Morden has already stepped forth to fulfill this task, allow him to do so. Stay here, where you belong, where you are needed.”
Griff sighed. Again, the same old argument, the same old words. Could his mother not understand him, understand that he must go? Why was she making this harder on everyone? Why could she not simply give her blessing and allow him to go in peace? He looked up at his mother’s eyes.
His words were terse and to the point. “You of all people, mother, must surely understand why I must go. It is for the clan I do this, not me. It must be done and it is my duty to do so. I cannot deny it or set it aside. Would you have me do so? Would you have me betray our clan, our family, our honor? You know me better than any other, look into your heart. You know that there is no other course of action.”
His mother looked intently at her son, hoping the pain she was feeling was not reflected in her eyes. Yes, she knew. Nevertheless, a mother must try, she thought. Try to protect her only son. “This consumed your father,” she began. Griff winced. If she noticed, she showed no sign. She continued. “Then, it claimed your brother, gone these 10 years now. Must I lose my last son, as well? Morden…” she started to say but Griff cut her off sharply, slamming the hammer’s oaken shaft onto the huge anvil before him.
“This is not Morden’s duty!” he growled, his temper rising. “This duty falls to the sons of the clan’s founding father and Morden is not of that line! You know this, mother. My grandsire’s father was the first, then his son. Then my father. Then my brother. Now it is my duty to fulfill this charge or give my life in the attempt.” Why was she pushing this issue again? Did she think he enjoyed these arguments? Had she no idea how much it pained him? “Let Morden fill my place here, while I am gone. He is competent and the workers respect him. His head for business is clear and keen. He will do good service in the name of the clan. But this duty is mine and mine alone, it cannot be set aside, willingly or unwillingly.” His voice was firm, his will resolute. Moreover, his mother knew it. He was too much like his father. Too much like all the men of his father’s line. Determined. Strong-willed. And obstinate, she would have added, but never openly. She stepped forward, took her son’s hands in her own, held them tight.
“Then fulfill your duty, Griff, son of Grom, son of Rogar. Fulfill your destiny and bring honor to our clan and hearth.” Her blessing poured forth unexpectedly. She released his hands, turned quickly and strode away, hoping her only remaining son had not seen the tears starting to well up in her eyes. Griff did not watch her leave. He continued to stare at the now-cooling slab of folded and melded metal before him on the forge. Almost without thought, he picked up the heavy tongs, grasped the hot metal between its teeth and shoved it back into the fire of the forge behind him. His assistants dutifully continued pumping the huge bellows that fed oxygen to the fire of the forge, seemingly oblivious to the events that had transpired. Beads of sweat poured down Griff’s brow from the heat, running into his eyes, clouding them. Hiding his own tears, which were welling up.