This is the opening of my current WIP (Work In Progress), The Cost of Belonging. In it we meet Gabe Rodgers, blacksmith, who works shirtless, the anvil over which he works most of the day, Eliot Whiteoak, goldsmith, vampire, and owner of Draven, the black stallion who’s thrown a shoe.
“Some iron hates me,” the young man muttered. Sweat carved out trails through the ash and dust on his bare forearms and chest.
The old man sitting on a chair over in the corner, out of the way somewhat, but still close enough to let his comments be heard, close enough to pick nits, grunted. “If ye’d do it the same way as I showed you pert’ near an hunnert times, that iron would purr like a kitten in your arms.”
The young man gritted his teeth. “Yes, Da, just as you say.” Gabe picked up the iron, fortunately not still so hot as to burn, at least on that end, looked it over carefully, then tossed it onto a scrap heap.
“What’d you do that for? ’S a perfectly good piece o’iron. I tested it meself while you was a-talking to that lass w’pot as needed a mend. She’s not so comely, but her da owns t’sheep farm down Grayson way. Make a prosperous match, son.”
“Then you marry her, Da,” Gabe muttered, just at the edge of his father’s hearing.
“Nothing, Da. You say you tested this iron?”
“Aye. I put it in t’fire and stretched it summat then rolled it back.”
“No wonder it wants to twist. Can’t you leave off—“ He stopped himself before the bitter accusations started. Fighting with Da no longer had quite the pull it once had when he was a boy and had thought victory over his father was the way to raise himself up.
Before Da’s grumbling started again, a shape appeared in the dark open doorway, wide enough for a carriage to enter, just beyond the reach of the light from the lanterns. This was no carriage, but a man astride a beautiful chestnut stallion.
“Good evening to you, sir. Oh. Sirs. Beg your pardon. Didn’t see you in the corner there.” The shape changed as the man swung gracefully out of the saddle. “Might I be able to have my horse shod this night?”
“Leave,” the old man snapped. “Leave t’damned beast! We’ms will shoe it when we take a mind to.”
“Da! Dinna be so rude!” Gabe turned to the newcomer. “Good evening to you, sir. I’d be proud to shoe your horse straight away, Mister…? Or m’lord, as may be.”
The stranger smiled and the workshop seemed suddenly brighter. “Whiteoak. Eliot Whiteoak, and I’m no lord. My living does well by me, but I put my breeches on one leg at a time, same as you.”
“Look and sound like some lord to me,” the old man grumbled.
“Mr. Whiteoak, I’m asking yer pardon for me father. ’Tis the pain speaking.”
Whiteoak turned. “Are you in pain, Mr. …?”
“Rodgers, ya daft beggar. ’Tis why the sign over me door says, ‘Rodgers, Smithy’, though why I cannot say with as little smithing as seems to ‘appen ‘ere.”
“Da! Do not speak so around the forge! Ye know the forge can hear ye!”