Sparks were flying at the anvil. The hammer, like an iron meteorite, crashed relentlessly over the incandescent landscape of the gestating pauldron below. Blow after blow, the metal was bending, twisting, warping.
She was alone, standing by the forge outside of the temporary hide hut they made for themselves, close to her sister’s sturdier wooden lodge. They were only staying for a few months, until she was finally unburdened, and maybe a year after that.
She was alone now. Farrin was gone. Gone, or rather, chased away.
He had been humming. The skaald was always humming a little tune, known or improvised, and Ylva was used to it. Except on that day.
That day her head was pounding.
Farrin was sitting nearby, humming while he tuned his lute. It shouldn’t have annoyed her as it did. It shouldn’t have. Still, the hot hammer flew, nearly missing his face.
In her sudden rage, she knew not to aim at him, at least. But the tool, heated by the flames, still tore a wound into the side of their new home, clattering into the stored weapons inside. For a long moment Farrin remained there, frozen and wide-eyed, while his wife fumed in silence, face twisted in a savage snarl. Then he lowered his head, nodded, and, without a word, packed a few things and left.
Ylva learned only later that he had told his step-sister he would come back. Eventually. When, he did not specify. But he was never gone for too long.
The weaponsmith would rarely get this furious. Whatever anger she would feel, she would pour into her work, or upside the skulls of enemies, and almost never upon loved ones.
She was missing his humming now. Over the years, it had become as familiar and as comforting as the chime of metal hitting metal, and the billowing breath of fire. Without it, the forge was unbearably quiet, even among the usual racket.
Farrin would often hum the melody of that song he made about her, back when they decided to form a mated pair.
That song annoyed her.
Poetry was something that never truly resonated with her. She was not so brutish as to not be able to comprehend the use of fanciful analogies or emphatic hyperboles, nor was she completely devoid of the ability to appreciate the… prettiness of it all, but that song…
In that song, he compared her to a she-wolf. She knew that he meant it as a compliment. A way to praise and flatter her. To celebrate some… wild spirit of independence and strength he saw in her, but…
In it, she was a prey, pursued relentlessly by a obsessed hunter. A prize to be snatched and paraded around. An object of all-consuming desire. A–
The memory of the song had distracted her, enraged her, made her strike with increasingly disproportionate strength. On the anvil, the pauldron was misshapen. Nearly folded like a Krytan twisted bread.
She huffed and shoved the piece back into the flames. Nothing she couldn’t fix.
The weaponsmith shuffled to the water bucket to splash her face. Cool down.
Her belly was sticking for far out in front of her now. She was waddling about like a land-locked quaggan. Flailing around like a beached whale. Bumping into things like a drunk dolyak. That belly was getting in the way of her smithing, forcing her to stick her arms out in a rather uncomfortable position, just to be able to see what she was hammering. And the heat. There was snow all around her, yet the familiar warmth of her forge was getting too hot for her now.
She gently flopped down on her stool, a wet rag wrapped over her shoulders.
She couldn’t wait to give birth.
She missed her stupid hunter.