Despite the presence of the dark skinned metal walker the time in the forge became the time he needed, at nights he returned to his qualm shattered, muscles aching, yet without the knots and strains that anxiety placed upon him.
The Hammerhand seemed to disregard the elf, his eyes lighting as he fixed upon a member of his kin, great sweaty hands clasping his shoulder as they worked the forge together, side by side. They had never met, never forged together yet there was an instinctive unity and uniqueness of their movements a tie that linked all brethren of the depths despite the cleft between their skills.
Even as they worked natural came the conversation, though it could easily be mistaken by the casual onlooker as lectures, tales of the elder his chant rising and falling seamlessly with the beat of hammer on steel, the songs that swelled from their hearts, bursting from their mouths to ring through the forge, its conclusion always ending with mutual smiles and laughter.
As much as he loved the sounds of his own voice, rarely stopped but to correct a grip here or pose a question there, the Hammerhand sought for tales of a homeland he had long since left, a thirst in his soul for the depths that Daruk felt all too keenly.
They were born in the depths, bred in the depths and it was the natural expectation that they would one day return to the ground that had shaped them.
Even as the weeks wore in, the calm of his mind and the exertion of his body was undermined by a sense of futility, though the elf spent little time with his master, his skill seemed to rise, new talents springing from his fingers at a whim, whilst Daruk learned little he did not already know despite their close proximity.
Worry seeped through the cracks of his persona, the logical conclusion that metal was not his field, that he could never in truth work the forge as a dwarf should, that his talents were merely in the murder make.
Soon the knots were back, the laughter and tales of the Hammerhand no longer a balm to his ill tempered soul, an irritating reminder of his own failings.
The day he could bare it no longer, he threw down his tools, the hammer ringing upon the anvil as it skipped away eyes fixed ahead of him, his body desperate to round upon the Hammerhand with anger and confusion, the question stalled upon pursed lips by the possibility of a response he could not bare to here.
A mighty palm clasped his shoulder and he turned to meet a smiling face, eyes twinkling like diamonds as he looked upon Daruk, the smile knowing as his booming voice became rye and taunting.
"So you think that I have taught you nothing but swinging a hammer and a bit of history,"
Daruk lowered his eyes in shame, nay, Master Hammerhand had taught him much, soothed an anxious soul, twas his own failings that haunted him, not the.... he opened his mouth to speek yet the Hammerhand overrode him
"Close your eyes Daruk and tell me what you feel."
Grudgingly he shut them and reached out to recoil in surprise as a wash of furies rushed over him, metal and steel that had seemed lifeless becoming a block of buzzing life, furies inter locked hand to hand solid and unbending yet filled with potential. A stuttering laugh, amazed by the beautiful pulsating life of the forge twisted his lips even as he opened his eyes to find the Hammerhand grimly returning to the forge with a low grunt
"Furies are like a good woman boy." He winked, the smile twinkling once more "You have to get to know them a bit, share a few tales and some time together before you can feel for them."
Alone at last, for the first time he had left the forge as soon as dismissed, beating the elf to the door, he had hurried to his chambers, his mind consumed by a single thought.
In a flurry for excitement he slammed the door and reached for the two pieces of himself that hung like guardians upon the other side.
The axes in his hand buzzed and vibrated with life, the sensation so foreign yet so welcoming, every inch an inch he knew intimately, yet now twisted into another form. The furies at the very tip of the blade reached out with barbed claws stained blood red, a tickling caress at his finger tips, the haft sturdy and dependable, the furies twisting and turning, melding seamlessly under his grip as they reached out to him as battlebrothers, brothers by blood he had never known he had.
He entered the forge early, yet despite rising at the crow of the cockerell, a hurried breakfast and a hasty shower he still could not beat the Hammerhand to the forge, the bustling of the great dwarf somewhere beyond his vision bringing a smile to his lips.
The calm had well and truly descended a contentment and happiness that set his lips into a whistle as he slid an apron over his biceps, content at how it strained over new layers of thick muscle on chest and arm, true testament to his labours at the forge.
"Not today lad, but perhaps someday soon. Today your Qalm needs you."
The voice sent him spinning towards the Hammerhand, face falling, lips spreading, the question bursting before he could stop it
"Why?" shock filled his features and he snapped upright, words becoming formal
"My apologies Master Hammerhand. Your gifts of knowledge have shamed me with their generosity, yet the balm to my heart is a gift I can never repay."
Pah, lad I ne'er had a way with words. But I'll take that as a thankee and to that I say you are very welcome."
He waved a dismissive hand wiping his nose and smearing it with yet more soot
"As to why, I canae say exactly. The Radan has many plans in action at the moment and many a piece on the chessboard. Where you and your Qalm go has been entrusted to your Hetat, who is sadly not under my watchful eye."
He gave a little chuckle
"You keep a keen ear on the words of your Hetat boy, mind him, he is one of the best that I have seen in quiet a long time."
The Hammerhand gave a conspiratorial wink
"not that I had anything to do with it."
Daruk felt his face break into a small smile, a quick salute hand to breast and he was gone leaving the Hammerhand beaming absently in his wake.
Even as he strode through the corridors, he felt the blood rush, the tingling anticipation of battle ahead.
Without a word he pulled the pendant from under his shirt to swing across his broad chest, the gentle caress of three furies against his soot stained fingers
kudos to lillian thorne for the awesome sig