Monday, February 20, 2017

Beyond the Rim Installment 26

Cart wheels clattered along the Way. Thurgod watched their wheel rims, and the bits in the horses' mouths. He watched the chain that linked him to Oorgo roam this way and that, wrapping in a circle around Thurgod's waist as Oorgo cycled from viewing the city over the rail, then back to watching the traffic.
Thurgod had sent the message by way of the town golem many days ago. He knew what to look for. A sack of silver coins, and one boon-coin. Such a cache of metal would not be discernible at a great distance. All traffic entering the city would have to come along the Way eventually.
Oorgo stumbled as he ran out the chain's length. Thurgod felt the child drop to the pavement, relieved to hear him giggling. "Child, if you would not wrap circles around me, you could walk further."
"Come over here, Thurgod. Come over here."
Thurgod followed the voice. "That is not my..." Thurgod paused. The chains were wrapped tightly around his legs.
Oorgo's giggling redoubled, and Thurgod smiled. He pushed on the metal with his mind, melting the links, sewing them together again. But then he winced. He could not push that kind of power.
Oorgo did not seem to notice, and only kept laughing. Thurgod looked at the metal in his mind. The job was half done, but with his recent torture he did not have the heart to finish it. The chain was ruined, until he could devote more time or a natural forge to it.
Thurgod bellowed, "Looks like you'll be learning chain forging this afternoon, child. I am too tired to push it the rest of the way."
Only then did Oorgo survey the oddly curled metal strip which the chain had become. "I can't move with that."
Thurgod said, "Certainly not." He reached to his waist and undid the fastener, then stepped his way out of the metal loops awkwardly. "Today, you walk without the chain." Thurgod knelt down, and undid the fastener on Oorgo's belt, linked to the buckle.
The belt buckle was a crude thing. Oorgo's first smithing practice had mostly resulted in a slight increase in the boy's muscle. His greatest accomplishment thus far was the belt buckle. Thurgod watched it in his mind. Without the chain, it would be his only means of tracking the boy.
As soon as the fastener was clicked off, the belt buckle bolted away, and Thurgod heard a small boy's laughter grow rapidly quieter at the same rate.
"Oorgo!" Thurgod bellowed. He did not understand this sudden burst of energy. For seven days they had not left the compound, and focused on training Oorgo in smith work, and not once had he acted like this.
"Find me if you can!"
This was a game Thurgod knew. "In this crowd? I will blunder into the street, young one." Oorgo had explained this game on the fourth day of smithing practice. They had tried it exactly once, in which Oorgo was only ever found after he grew bored. The blind god was a terrible seeker, and he had told Thurgod so.
"No you won't!" Thurgod kept his mind on the belt buckle, now very small. Then he opened wider and looked at all the belt buckles, the chariot wheel rims, necklaces. There were not a lot of people on the Way, and not many carts.
Thurgod extended a hand in front of him and muttered. "I am blind. I am blind." Thurgod hoped Oorgo would imagine himself hidden and become stationary. He could not travel quickly. After only a few steps he remembered the metal wreckage he had left behind. He backtracked and picked it up, then smashed the thin strips in his unflinching hands. Thurgod focused back on the belt buckle.
It was lying flat and stationary. Oorgo was laying on the ground. Thurgod shambled his way forward, hand extended, muttering. "Oorgo, your master has need of you."
The boy did not say anything, but this did not surprise Thurgod. This was the way the game was played, Oorgo had informed him. Oorgo either did not remember or did not care how little Thurgod had explained that he liked the game.
Finally Thurgod reached the spot, then quickly dropped and put his hand on the boy. But his hand met only the buckle and the stone pavement of the way. The fabric strip was there. The boy had dropped the belt.
Thurgod turned his head this way and that in an ancient habit of looking around. He grabbed the shoulder of a passerby, using a necklace to aim. "Human! Have you seen a small boy?"
The human stood transfixed in fear. To see the smith god was one thing, to be touched by his godflesh, another.
Thurgod withdrew his hand. "My servant has run off. I am blind. Have you seen the small boy?"
"I... I... I have seen many small boys. Running errands. Apprentices are all over the street."
"What about one with no belt, running no errand?"
"I... I... I am sorry, lord, I..."
"I am no lord, sir. If you have not seen my boy, I must be going." Thurgod turned away and walked quickly, bellowing, "Blind! Blind! Oorgo?"
Chariot rims rolled by. Purses on chains. Sandals. A golem approaching down the street. Coins. A journey cart with a depleted sack of silver coins and one boon coin, stopping to a halt.
The boy's parents. Thurgod inhaled deeply and faced the cart.
"Father! Mother! Mairda!"
Oorgo's voice. He had spotted the cart and ran at it, his life spared only by the attention of three different cart operators, all yanking on their horses' bits.
"Oorgo! My boy!"
The elated screams and yells of the family were followed quickly by the curses of the three drivers.
"He's right there!"
Thurgod watched as a small necklace turned to face him. The rims of the journey cart turned as it was pulled to the margin of the street, amid apologies and curses by various drivers and one occupant of the cart.
Thurgod looked down the street. Of course, he couldn't be hurt by anything rolling or walking along, but mortals interacted poorly with implacable godflesh. If a chariot hit him, a charioteer's livelihood might be destroyed with no harm to his divine body.
The golem was very near. Mortals always gave golems a wide berth on the street. Thurgod slipped through the gap and crossed the street.
"My servant has found his family, then?" He said.
"And quite obliged we are to you, Master Smith," said a deep voice.
A feminine voice agreed, but even Thurgod could hear the forced nature of her words, "You do our son a great honor and favor."
Thurgod bowed. "It is a privilege to teach the boy smith craft. But the driver is delayed. He should be let go."
Henlick asked, "Where are we to go?"
"You have come to see the boy. Or have I misjudged?"
"Well, yes. But where are we to stay?" the mother's nervousness was evident.
"Room will be found for you in my compound. And you shall see the city, as well, unless you already know the capital?"
Henlick gathered up a the sack of coins, and the boy's mother a sack of hearty rolls. Mairda leapt down from over the wheel, to the remonstrance of her mother, and the chariot was ordered away.
"Oorgo, why do you have no belt on? Your trousers sag..."
Thurgod answered, "I have it here, lady. He discarded it in a game of Find Me If You Can."
"Thurgod can see metal, but not anything else!"
Nobody said anything for a minute. Thurgod did not understand the silence.
"You... play hide and seek with our son?" There was a catch in the lady's voice.
Thurgod swallowed. "Yes. It is... our favorite game."
The necklace moved quickly, toward the metal buttons on the father's jacket.
The girl's voice followed immediately, "Can we play at your house?"
Thurgod pointed his face towards the voice. The voice was eager. She played the game, too? He muttered an incoherent filler then said, "Of course! But perhaps you two shall seek me?"

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