The Godsforge

The godsforge lies at the center of the earth, and there are as many paths to it as there are ways for steel to break.  Some paths pass through caverns where crystals unfed by unsunlight glow in unchanging gardens, and fungus feasts on the bones of forgotten heroes.  Others have driven people mad with the sourceless sound of water ever dripping in a monotonous beat, or so mazed them with darkness that their useless eyes were sewn shut.

Down, down through the halls of stone came two women and a man.  The color of the darkness was the color of their skin.  The path they took is not important.

The godsforge was in a cavern densely hung with stalactites.  Gaps had been broken into the stalagmites so they could enter.  Past supplicants had carved the symbols of their sects and nations into the limestone: two-headed tigers and bird maidens, fish-tailed lions and phoenixes.

The three stepped past the stalagmites and stood before the godsforge.  It was hot almost beyond bearing, but they had been selected because they were the bravest and wisest of their people, and they endured.

The first woman held out her offering, a sword with its blade damascened in gold with poetry in her people’s abjad.  “This sword is our faith,” she said.  “Let it strengthen our god.”

The man held out his offering, a six-flanged mace of watered steel.  “This mace is our honor,” he said.  “Let it strengthen our god.”

The second woman held out her offering, a curved dagger whose blade was polished mirror-bright.  “This dagger is our truth,” she said.  “Let it strengthen our god.”

A voice came out of the forge like the hammering of iron on iron.  “What god would you have me forge for your people of these objects?  There is no more suitable weapon than what is in your hearts.  Go back to your people and nourish the strength that is already in them.”

Leaving the weapons behind, the three returned to their people, empty of hand but better-armed.

 for Sam Kabo Ashwell