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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)

TITLE: The Blacksmith
By Joseph Veseli


Standing before the forge, hammer in one hand, tongs in the other, the blacksmith holds the long metal piece in the fire. Sweat glistens his forehead, with some of it making its way into his eyes. The dust, long settled in his leather tunic, helps to chafe his neck and arms.
He leans his head back and his throat constricts, making him cough. The heat is overwhelming, but he's used to it.

Pulling the metal out and placing it on the anvil for the hundredth time, he begins beating and shaping it with all his might. A grunt escapes with each, "ding", as his mighty arm swings through the air. The glowing blade, slowly taking form.

Back to the forge, he lays the steel directly atop the burning coals. He puts the hammer down and takes long gulps from the wooden goblet that rests on his workbench. The water, hot from the heat, barely touches his thirst, and his stomach growls reminding him how long it's been since his last meal. Wiping his brow, he picks up the steel and examines it. Satisfied with the look, he sets it in a long thick cloth, wrapping it up until dawn when it will be cool enough to finish.

The next morning, the blacksmith grabs the unfinished sword and smiles. Walking over to the grinder he unwraps it with gentle care, as if he were unwrapping a baby. Working the edges, he shaves off tiny bits at a time, sharpening it with each pass of the tool. The top, he pushes harder, whittling the metal away until it's nothing more than a sharp, deadly point. With expert hands, he chisels and files, adding the marks of his trade. A Scripture verse that wraps the sword just above where the hilt will be.

Isaiah 44:12
"The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool, pounding and shaping it with all his might. His work makes him hungry and weak. It makes him thirsty and faint."

He laughs. A million swords made, and you would think this was the first. Picking up the sword, it's time to strengthen it, to make it ready for use. Back in the fire it goes until it glows a bright orangish red. Grabbing the tongs, he picks up the blade and lays it in the quenching tank. The reaction is instant. The water boils and hisses at the steel invading its space. Lowering the temperature on the furnace, he repeats the process until the blade is strong enough for battle, yet flexible enough not to break when struck.

Placing the blade back on the work bench, he adds the pummel, guard, and hilt, finishing the job, and without a second to spare. Turning, the blacksmith senses the visitor before he even utters a word. He holds up the finished sword and the visitor takes it.

"Is it sharp?"
The blacksmith smiles but doesn't reply.
Michael tilts his head and closes his eyes, as if listening to some unheard voice. He grins, bows at the waist, "yes my King."
His eyes snap open. "I guess we'll find out soon enough. Thanks again Blacksmith."

Like lightning, he vanishes from sight. Suddenly, he's soaring in and through the skyscrapers above New York City. A blur, he cuts through each building as if they were made of butter. Watching the street below, vision like an eagle, he's able to see each person going about their lives, unaware of the invisible world around them.

"There you are." He descends, slowly at first, then goes into a dive, straight for the street below. He hits the pavement, passes through it, then levels up, making sure to stay below ground level, and out of sight. The pavement whizzes by like cars on a highway. He closes his eyes, praying for the right moment to emerge. The seconds tick by until...

Feeling the nudge, he shoots out of the street with blinding speed. Pulling the new sword, he smiles, and with deadly accuracy, swings the blade to within inches of the man in his care, slicing straight through the demon trying to lay claim of him. The fallen angel evaporates into black smoke before it has the chance to scream.

Michael holds up the sword with pride.
"Good job Blacksmith! This'll do just fine." He puts the sword in its scabbard, as he falls in behind the pastor, whose making his way to Church for Sunday worship.

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This article has been read 389 times
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Bonnie Bowden 03/15/13
Wow! Great imagery. I didn't expect this ending.
Judith Gayle Smith03/15/13
Rivetting. The water being hot - that truly grabbed me. You made me feel the heat of the forge and I stood with Michael as he successfully proved His sword . . .
Kim Norton03/16/13
Fantastic! Loved this. The details are so beautifully written and the ending unexpected!
C D Swanson 03/17/13
Great ending! Wow - didn't see that coming. Excellent job. God bless~
Christina Banks 03/18/13
Such care went into making that sword. I knew it had to be for an important purpose. I enjoyed finding out what that purpose was.
Virgil Youngblood 03/18/13
A bang-up story with a great close. I thought it started a little slow and that it would have been better to open with "Is it sharp?", but maybe not. The finish put the polish on it. Well done.
lynn gipson 03/18/13
I am smiling as I read this. What a riveting, up close and personal story of what goes into the making of God's protection. Thank you so much for sharing this. Excellent job!
Alicia Renkema03/19/13
Oh my gosh, I can't believe what I just read! First of all, I was totally enthralled at the immense and precise detail that you painted of what a blacksmith does (I thought you either do this for a living or did an incredible amount of research) but I thought that your intent was to simply acquaint the reader with these interesting facts in a very picturesque way which you succeeded in doing. But then when he had a visitor and we later learn that he was the arch angel Michael and how he wanted to use the sword, way cool. Go, Michael go! This was brilliant writing on every level. This is at least Advanced level writing here. Bravo, I pray this will get its (in my opinion) just reward. What a great read, you had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, even before Michael came into the picture.
Kelli Hunt03/19/13
Really enjoyed this - kept me wondering what would happen next, and the ending was perfect - especially since I am married to a pastor. What a wonderfully comforting image. Thank you!
Ellen Carr 03/19/13
What an engaging story! You tell it well. Keep on writing stories. Just one 'red ink' comment: In the last sentence 'whose' should be 'who's' (short for who is). But, well done!
Myrna Noyes03/20/13
I found the "blacksmithing" details in the first half of your story very interesting! However, the last half about the spiritual world around us but just out of our sight was fascinating! I love how the angel sped through the buildings "like butter"! I could just see it happening! :) Great reminder of our unseen guardians in this well-written piece!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/20/13
I really enjoyed this story. I think you did a wonderful job of developing the character and showing the process of making a sword. The only red ink I noticed is near the end you had whose instead oh who's. Overall I think you coveted the topic in a fascinating and fresh way.
lynn gipson 03/21/13
Somehow I knew this was a winner! Congratulations on you HC! Wonderful story!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/22/13
Congratulations on ranking 5 in your level and 27 overall!
Janet Kelly03/23/13
Absolutely loved this story. I held my breath through the entire story, I couldn't wait to see what came next. Brilliant writing! I cannot believe this did not rank first place but very well done! Thank you for this. Bless you!