Once Upon A Time: Fjorn Ironbender

Blacksmith working hot iron
Blacksmith working hot iron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time where the mountains rise above the clouds, there was a man name Fjorn Ironbender.  Like his father, and his father before him, he was a blacksmith.  In those days the blacksmiths were necessary to any community.  They built the shovels, the plows, and the knives for farming.

Fjorn was the only blacksmith in his village, so when his Lord called to him to come to the great hall in the valley and make weapons, he was sad.  Who will build the plows now? So Fjorn worked day and night to lay up a store of horse shoes and plows for the farmers before he went down to the valley.

The blacksmiths in the great hall worked day and night to build the weapons of war.  Some times Fjorn worked nights, and sometimes he worked days and nights.  Eight of the men of the village came down as well.  How could Fjorn tell them they were well met when he knew many of the men would not return home again?

But the Lord’s greed and envy of other lands could not be turned.  The great army marched.  Because Fjorn was a blacksmith, he stayed behind the lines.  Every day bloody, broken swords were mended, spears were rebuilt, and iron casts were made for wounded men.

In the end Fjorn wasn’t sure who had won.  Perhaps his lord’s lands now extended to another river, or perhaps another village had sworn him fealty.  But Fjorn only knew that three of the eight men remained to return home with him, and two of those were wounded.

Only two years passed, and again the Lord called to Fjorn to come build the weapons of war.  Fjorn joined the three men, one of whom still limped, as they traveled down into the valley.

The Lord called his assembled army together before the great hall and they knelt before him.  As he looked about at his shrunken army, the Lord was not pleased.  “This will not do!  We will call the boys from the villages.  You will teach them the ways of war on the march.”

Something came over Fjorn then.  He stood.  His silence was so potent the Lord paused and asked him:  “What is it you want?  Why are you standing?  What is your wish?” Fjorn looked up at the Lord and said:  “I challenge you for the Lordship.  A battle of single combat.”

It had been done in the distant past.  No one had thought of it for years.  But it was the law.  A gasp swept through the men.

The Lord retired and called his advisors.  He was afraid of this strong blacksmith.  “Get me out of this challenge.”  The advisors thought this and that, but the law was clear.  “If only you hadn’t asked, he would have had no claim.  But you asked him what his wish was, and he said it in front of the assembly.  The challenge must be met.”

“What would happen if I were old or sick?”  The Lord wanted to know.  “Well, if you were old or sick, then you could have a proxy fight for you.”  That night the Lord fell down the stairs, badly spraining his ankle.  So the next day when Fjorn came for the challenge, the Lord’s largest and most experienced warrior awaited him.

Fjorn did not flinch.  “Give up now,” said the Lord, “and I will pardon you.  I need you to build my weapons of war.” Fjorn looked in the Lord’s eyes, and knew that once the weapons were finished, his life would be ended.

Every challenger has a choice of weapons, and Fjorn picked a hammer.  He picked up the great two handed hammer and held it above his head.  Fjorn’s challenger flipped his sword around expertly.  This blacksmith was no warrior.  It would be a simple matter to kill him.

Fjorn did not move.  He held the hammer rigid above him.  At last, the warrior moved in for the kill.  As he did so, Fjorn brought the hammer down.  The warrior thought to deflect the hammer with his sword, but he had forgotten that Fjorn was a blacksmith.  In the night Fjorn had forged himself a hammer with a solid iron handle, so heavy that all he could do was hold it aloft.  As the hammer struck the sword, it shattered.  The hammer kept on coming, down onto the warrior.  The battle ended as quickly as it had begun.

The Lord was banished, and Fjorn Ironbender became Lord.  He told his people that there would be no war.  He was the first of a long line of kings who ruled in peace and harmony.

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