Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Past work part three - the Sun-shaper, Master of the Bronze...
So, another piece of old work...
This is Torvachyll the Ashen-armed of Modhrin'mos... or to give his full naming - Torvachyll son of Maeloryll, son of Tor, son of Tangarach... so it goes on!
He is another character from my long forsaken creative writing project of some years ago and one I was always rather fond of. His story is too long and too dark to go into, but he was the Bronze Master, a Sun Shaper - a sort of spiritual leader of his Clan, which was an isolated bronze-age type society.
I was drawing on the idea that metal workers of the bronze age were believed to be held in high status, feared, perhaps revered for their 'magical' skills and knowledge of ores and smelting.
The Bronze Workers in my stories were few, brethren of a solar cult who worshipped the sun and believed the 'sun metals' - copper and gold were sacred.
There are a few instances of metal working with this character in my writing (if you can bear to read through more of my long winded writing!) and I think maybe there might be at least one blogging friend out there who could point out any glaring inaccuracies in my understanding of bronze age metal working?? See what you think...
Beneath spreading boughs that lowered to the moss kept ground, smothering out the moonlight, dim figures crouched in silence motionless before the dawn. Hidden in the sheltered hollow out of sight of the fires of Modhrin'mos, the Bronze Masters worked their secrets in solemn ritual. These few warriors most revered of the Clan, were its strength and its guidance in the tenuous uncertain years since the exile of the Wyrdteller that had shaken their lives.
Torvachyll of the Ashen-arm opened his golden-shot hazel eyes, emerging from his deep reverie to survey the shadowed faces of his kinsmen around him in the gloom. The night was still, the vast sky beginning to fade towards the grey of pre-dawn, and yet he was uneasy.
The night long he and his smith brothers had worked the bronze, Ar-Dathril the youngest of them stoking the great oily goatskin bellows until the sparks rose in a white frenzy, settling to burn on the backs of their hands and sooted faces. The presise task of the crucible with its measures of tin and copper ores had been the charge of Shadraih the Grave, the eldest of them whose long storm grey hair fell glinting with copper beads clacking in the ends of his tresses.
The bronze workers had used their highly wrought skills to craft the moulds of clay and carved stone, nimble fingers and sharp eye to the arc of arrowheads and the slender curves of blade and spear. And Torvachyll - he was the Shaper, his were the dreams to make real, in the bright white blood of metals, the master of their art.
Torvachyll was also the Caller, when the flames turned to burn white and the new metal was joined in the furnace, he reached out his spirit to summon powers to the metal seething in creation within the fire's heat. Some objects he made held a brighter edge, arrowheads that sang flashing through the air, leaf bladed spears that held a Name and a soul of their own. Quite why he could not explain nor what powers lent themselves to creation, only that some objects when born out of their dark husks of ash were more special than the rest.
Now before the dawn, the time was at hand. The fire fury of the baked clay furnace had slowly died back to a dull red glow that drew their darkened faces from the gloom, though its heat was still strong. Through patient hours of stillness the dark moulds of clay had cooled and they were eager now to see their work born into the world. Without any word they began slowly and reverently to break the bronze from its ashes with pride in eye and touch, but Torvachyll held the brittle ball of clay that was his toil alone, reluctant now to breach its dark shell for fear of sucess or failure.
"Torvachyll, has it worked?" spoke Shadraih at last watching those serious golden eyes.
"I fear to discover Shadraih, we have done nothing like this before." Torvachyll answered softly.
He remembered the fragile detail of the beeswax disk he had crafted, transluscent with the pale light that it held in its misted centre, a form that had come unbidden to his hand and mind. It had been painful to entomb that effort of painstaking detail in a dark shroud of clay and dung and see its pale beauty obliterated and lost. He had attached a wax spout to the disk that protruded alongside a second vent hole from the packed clay, and into that the molten bronze had flowed in a bright cascade of sparks until the liquid wax bubbled and spluttered out.
Nothing was left of that dim luminous waxen image and all the hours of work that had gone into crafting it. Carefully Torvachyll began to break the new bronze from its blackened ashes, almost holding his breath as the cast fell away.
It shone... like the very sun it shone and in his golden eye the awe of reverence answered it. From the smooth fire-held light of of its centre the curvelinear relief of the design radiated outwards, every intricate turning of its convolution unerringly exact to that lost disk of wax, and yet in its metamorphosis it had gained some greater presence, some quality of power. Speechless he gazed into its face, a solar emblem whose dim light glowed gold on the brows of his cult brothers.
"You have crafted a Talsiman," whispered Shadraih in the hush.
"It has crafted itself." replied Torvachyll in wonder.
His story took a tragic turn leaving him the last of his kin, which is what has led him to the ominous gates in this sketch... I hesitated to post the full version of this - I would hate to offend, but if anyone has a problem with me showing this of course I will take it down...
This is about to be a mercy killing - and he has to kill the angel to open the gates to where he must go to avenge his kin... I hoped to have captured compassion in Torvachyll's gaze and acceptance in the angels'....
If you can bear any more here's another (shorter) bit of metal working writing...
.... Torvachyll gave in to weariness, his golden eyes closed and chin rested on chest, lost in the low eerie rhythm of the bellows and waiting to feel the quickening of the flames turn. As the blue vaporous breath faded from the ore's shifting surface to leave no sign of the eagle-blest token infusing the new metal, Torvachyll opened his eyes.
Something felt different, somehow charged and bright. He reached for the crucible, always eager with the awe of reverence. Abandoning the steady roar of the bellows and with sweat beading from his sooted arms, running from his brow and into his eyes, he lifted the fiery vessel from the furnace. The ore-light glowed from his avid face, grim with concentration, the sweat-streaked muscles of his arms stood out, his grip steady and strong upon the antler tongs as he tipped the crucible. He began a deep chant - a dark strong timbre and sparks cascaded, motes of fire streaming over his blackened hands as the white blood of molten metals flowed into the carven stone mould before him.
The orb of the sun rose over the mountain and the flash of sunfire was blinding as the dawn rays struck the cascade of bright flowing metal. Its white-gold fury drank in the blaze and grew, impossibly brighter. The fiery heat slowly travelled up his arms, hotter and brighter as if it would blacken his bones. His muscles trembled and burned, sweat poured from him until at last he fell back, the empty crucible tumbling from his scorched grip as the dazzle of molten Sun's Blood began to fade.
Ok, I promise to lay off the old writing excerpts for a long while now - think I've got that out of my system for now! Hope You'll forgive me the indulgence!
Please respect my copyright of these images and words...