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In Empty Lands
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Boromir woke before dawn, dressed swiftly, and hurried to the dining hall, where it seemed ever at least some fruit, bread, and drink were to be had. He swiftly gathered sufficient to see his early morning hunger allayed, and then went on his way to the smithy where this day’s excitement would surely be found.

Aragorn son of Arathorn was already there, as were the smith he’d seen before, Master Elrond himself accompanied by Lindir, Erestor, Glorfindel, and his twin sons, and Legolas of Mirkwood. Gimli arrived a few moments later, followed by Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, and the Wizard. Gimli wore his heavy boots and what appeared to be a comfortable shirt with scarred sleeves, and carried what proved to be a thick leather apron that he swiftly drew on.

The broken blade of the sword, its shards looking strangely bereft after the removal of the mithril runes, lay before them upon a length of blue velvet. Aragorn stood looking down on the steel, his eyes thoughtful as he considered them. He also wore a leather apron over a shirt that had seen much use in hard labors. Before them was a table on which lay three hammers, two obviously of Elven make and one that had a shorter head and haft that yet appeared heavier than the others—plainly a Dwarf hammer intended for Gimli son of Glóin to wield.

The master smith looked at those who had gathered to see the reforging of the blade. “I believe that this is best done by cooperation of all of the Children of Ilúvatar. Lo, this blade was originally wrought in the depths of time by Telchar the Dwarf and was eventually given by him into the keeping Elu Thingol, who passed it to Finrod Felagund, who in turn gave it into the hands of his friend Barahir, a Man. So it has descended to the heirs of Barahir and in time into the keeping of the current Heir of Isildur.

“Its light has helped to dispel the blackness of evil for over three Ages of the Sun. It is time for it to be reforged and rekindled, and it will be by the joint efforts of Dwarf, Elf, and Man that this shall come to pass. Each of us shall strike in turn. And, Master Baggins, if you will assist in the working of the bellows for the forge, I believe that we will see this done.”

“And if you will allow me to spark the fire,” murmured the Wizard. At a nod from the master smith, Mithrandir stretched out his arms, lifting his staff; and closing his eyes uttered a Word, at which the fire upon the forge suddenly flared first green and then white hot. The smith’s helpers were swiftly shoveling lumps of charcoal into the firebox, and Frodo took a place as indicated across from one of the smiths to help work the bellows, Sam hovering behind his Master’s shoulders.

With tongs the shards of the blade were lifted and thrust into the flame of the fire, held there until they began to glow white hot, at which time they were laid upon the anvil set for the use of those who worked to reforge the blade. And the Elves sang….

This was a song of making, of craft, of forging of weapons, of beating the white-hot iron into blades keen as shards of glass but far more durable. Noldor magic? Boromir wondered. Yea, it must be that! And he heard a wordless tune, a descant to that sung by the Elves, added by Mithrandir, which inspired the golden-haired Legolas to add his own song, and at last the Dwarf began his own addition, timed to the beating of his hammer, guiding the blows of the other two, Aragorn and the Elven smith, as each took part in the reforging.

The fields of many battles appeared before Boromir’s eyes, then the flights of Eagles in defiance to the spawn of evil magics. He saw the stealth of those who appeared out of the depths of the forest to attack those who would bring darkness into the sacred places where the Elves of the forests kept their revels. He heard the primal beating of the hearts of the Earth’s own children as they explored Mahal’s gifts of metal and stone, as they brought beauty out of sheer mass of matter. And then he heard another song begun, as Frodo Baggins, who ought to be so winded by his efforts on the bellows he could utter no song or music of his own, also began to sing. And now Boromir saw what it is that weapons were forged to protect—the beauty of the land and its children, the innocence of families as they strove to bring in the harvest and marveled at the glory of flowers and turning leaves.

Seven times was the steel folded and hammered out, the last time into a great long rod that should be the blade once it was properly flattened and shaped and sharpened. The fourth, central, time, the three hairs were laid upon the steel as it was folded, and the three drops of blood were shaken into the new barrel that held the liquid in which the blade was being tempered.

Each time that the metal was folded and beaten anew the two Hobbits changed places, allowing each some rest. Food and drink were brought to those who filled the forge, both workers and observers, throughout the day, and it seemed ever someone was settling a mug or small plate of fruit or cold meats by the sides of the two Halflings.

As evening fell they could see that the steel was now in its final form, the blade straight and true, the edge beginning to show its definition, the side of the blade shimmering but smooth as it caught the light. The Lady Arwen had entered the forge among those who brought the latest offering of food for those who had labored all of the day at the task of seeing the blade of Narsil forged anew. Aragorn turned to catch her eye, and gave her an exhausted smile. As he lifted the blade for her inspection, she came closer. “This shall seek ever to protect all?” she asked.

“So I have vowed,” he said with conviction.

She touched the metal with the tip of her finger, and, lo! It proved already sharp enough to draw blood! She allowed the blood to run down the edge, and then shook her hand over the barrel. “May it never be raised solely for reasons of gain or to merely seek mastery over others,” she said. “May it ever by a tool of defense for all that need protection!”

The smith lowered the blade once more into the barrel, and as it came forth Boromir saw that it shone indeed, as it was said of old Narsil had ever done. And now it was laid upon the forge, and with a special tool the Dwarf began to draw the sigils and runes that would serve to guard both blade and bearer from the evil intent of those who threatened all of the Children of the Creator, crooning a different song now. Once the runes were drawn and the steel polished once more to smoothness, two came from an inner forge, carrying a crucible between them. Gimli’s eyes opened further with approval. “The mithril!” he breathed.

The Elves sang as the crucible was lowered and carefully turned to allow the liquid mithril to flow down the ribbon of groove that fed from one rune to the next, until all was filled with the silvery metal. Then the sword was turned over, and now it was the smith who drew the signs as the crucible was borne back into the inner forge. This time Aragorn, Gimli, and the smith together sang as the remainder of the liquid mithril formed the second set of runes and decorations. Sun, Moon, and stars bloomed upon the blade, as well as the name Aragorn had given this sword.

“For it shall now be known as Andúril, the Flame of the West,” he proclaimed as he this time drew it from the barrel, shining brightly in the light of torches, Moon, and stars that now filled the building.

Frodo appeared very weary as he watched from the high stool someone had brought for him to sit upon. “It is nearly done?” he asked.

“We will polish and smooth it throughout the night,” said the smith, “and tomorrow the blade will be sharpened. Yea, it is nearly done. Will you now breathe upon it?”

The Hobbit appeared startled. “Breathe upon it?”

“Your people are not given to warcraft, but instead to the nurturing and turning of the earth and to the raising of food. Your breath shall help to hallow it to its purpose of protection of all that is fruitful and innocent.”

Only when the Wizard nodded, smiling in encouragement, did Frodo slip off his stool and approach the anvil. The smith thrust the blade once more into the barrel and took it out, rubbing it dry with a length of new chamois before setting it upon the anvil. The fire of the forge itself was finally settling into a dull red as the flames were allowed to sink at last, and the air within the exposed shell of the building was becoming cool. Outside it was frosty, and as he looked behind him Boromir thought he saw hints of a veil of cloud descending from the crests of the mountains to the east. “Snow before morning,” he murmured.

“Indeed, so it would appear,” agreed Lindir.

One could see the mist of the Hobbit’s breath as he leaned forward to breathe upon the length of the blade; then it was turned over and he walked its length again. He looked a bit light-headed as he finished, and his face was pale when he finally pulled back and Sam settled his hand on the taller Halfling’s shoulder.

Now Mithrandir came forward, and examined the blade critically, finally raising his head to beam at those who had taken part in the forging of the sword. “Well done indeed,” he said. “Let the flame of this blade, once kindled, ever lead truly those who seek to protect others.” He leaned over, and breathed upon the symbols of Sun, stars, and Moon, and they shone forth as he stood once more.

Boromir felt the hairs on the back of his head lifting as he watched Samwise Gamgee urging his fellow out of the smithy and back to his own quarters. “That was quite a bit of work, and no mistake,” he heard the gardener saying as he and Frodo quit the building. “But a body needs rest, too. Come on, Mister Frodo.”


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