In the southern Kältheim Mountains, in the heart of Duerfar territory, is a tall, majestic mountain named The Anvil. At some point in the distant past its peak was sheared off, leaving a flat summit upon which a great forge was constructed. The Duerfar maintain this was done by the First Smith, the Great Maker, for the benefit of the Duerfar. The truth they have buried is that the goblins, at the height of their power, shaped the mountain and built the forge. But it was not the goblins who awakened it. To the goblins who created it, the forge was only a tool. During the Duerfar war on the goblin empire, the Duerfar leaders told their people the forge was a divine gift. The subsequent generations of belief and reverence finally awakened the Forge, and lit the eternal fire which now powers it.
A forge is useless without a smith. But, as this is no ordinary forge, it requires a being who is no ordinary smith. The Duerfar name this smith the Hammermaker. There have been only a few Hammermakers since the Great Forge was awakened, and the most recent is a bard named Jerrek Earthsong.
The Hammermaker makes, well, hammers. Forge hammers to be precise. They are light and strong, and in the hands of a master smith they will hit unerringly. They make crafting magical items far easier because they enable the smith to imbue the item with magic during the crafting. This makes the magic an inherent part of the item, rather than a property added on like an afterthought. One cannot buy a Hammermaker hammer. Each hammer is created specifically for the smith who will use it. To request the services of the Hammermaker, one must prove oneself worthy. The Hammermaker tests each smith for both crafting ability and spiritual (or magical) connection to stone and metal. Those who cannot channel the essence of stone and metal cannot wield the power of the magical hammers, and the Hammermaker regretfully turns them away.
Jerrek was a restless child. He tried to learn mining, but was distracted by the sounds of the stones. He would experiment with hammers and other tools, drawing out different tones from the rock he was supposed to be splitting for ore. His experiments were distracting to his fellow miners, and he was soon asked to leave. He tried to learn smith craft but again was distracted by the sounds. He would listen to the changes in pitch as a piece of iron was worked. Again he was asked to leave. The jewelers just said, “No.” The brewers didn’t deign to answer.
Duerfar appreciate music and poetry as much as any race. They simply failed to hear what Jerrek was hearing, and so didn’t recognize his true talent. He was considered odd, eccentric, perhaps a little addled. He was tolerated, and cared for, and left to his own devices. By the time Jerrek had learned to construct songs with his hammers on stone his kith and kin already thought of him as impaired, a man incapable of caring for himself or of being productive.
When a troupe of entertainers arrived, Jerrek was tapping out a complex rhythm on the stones and stalls of the market. Elliam, the troupe’s Alfar leader, asked about the strange Duerfar and was told, “Oh that’s Mad Jerrek. He’s harmless and makes a pleasing enough noise, so we just let him rattle around where he wishes.”
Elliam sat and listened. While the rest of the troupe wandered the city and entertained its people, Elliam followed Jerrek. When the troupe was ready to leave, Elliam approached Jerrek and asked if Jerrek would go with them. When Jerrek asked why, Elliam handed him a small drum and a pair of drumsticks. A fascinated Jerrek sat down with the drum and, within a few moments, had learned all the tones the little drum could produce. Elliam then said, “I can teach you more.”
Jerrek took his leave of his mother and family and joined the troupe. Elliam named him Earthsong, and taught him to sing as well as drum. Jerrek spent decades traveling with them, learning the stories, ballads, odes, and epic poems of people all across the continent. He never forgot his first love, though, the song of stone and metal.
Time passed, and the Hammermaker grew old. He sent out a call to find an apprentice, one worthy of the Forge, the Hammer, and the Anvil. Over a hundred Duerfar attempted the climb, but none could ascend the mountain without help and all had to be rescued. Far to the southwest, Jerrek heard the call and asked Elliam to take him home. It took two more years, but Jerrek finally returned to his beloved mountain. With the song of the Earth in his heart, Jerrek scaled the mountain to stand grinning before the Hammermaker.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.