Passion Embedded in Fire
Far beyond the safety of his homeland, a broken Angr hiked northwest of the jungles surrounding the lands of Krugmar. Loamy soil and frigid grass made up these lands, though snow was scarce in a place like this as the ever present shadow of the Almarian volcanic ridge loomed over the many crags and hills below. Blackened ash-filled clouds cast the land into a warm darkness as thick smoke belched out of many lava spewing vents pockmarking the mountainside. Such was an unforgiving place, hotter than the molten heart of Kal'Darakaan and rougher than the scales of a wyvern. Birds rapidly flew away downhill as he trekked up the trail, singing songs of glee as they escaped the intense heat and into the tree lines where more kin sang. Yet he alone marched up the ridge in a land where most aspects of the Brathmordakin convened, for the land burned hot like Armakak's golden coin in the sky, fires raged on as if he himself stood inside a vast hearth tended to within Anbella's very own home. The winds whipped around him with the joy of Belka and carrying with it ashes and cinders from dying things that both crept above and grew below, Dungrimm's moonlight watchful even from beyond the obscuring clouds. He clung to a cliffside with fistfuls of igneous rock clutched in each hand, further and further he climbed toward the peak of Mount Elithel which firmly held in place an old burnt and torn flag stabbed into the summit. Thick beads of sweat formed and dripped off of Angr's mighty forehead while his matted beard flapped in the scorching winds, massive bolts of lightning would occasionally arc across the ashen clouds above him and cause him to nearly slip to his death. But still, Angr persevered and continued to climb, life barely beating in his chest as the weight of guilt rendered his life meaningless and without worth. He wasn't sure what he was going to find out here, only that he must continue to wander in search of purpose to replace the void in his heart.
At the peak a small camp welcomed him, not much safer than simply climbing on volcanic glass and burning rock, but a rest was welcome to Angr nonetheless. He took a seat atop a rotted and burnt log which partially crumbled to dust as he put his weight atop it, he surveyed the entire ridge surrounding him and saw nothing but hellscape. There were literal lakes and rivers of lava far beneath where he sat, the ruins of a draconic fortress far off in the distance almost obscured by fog and smoke, and peaks, endless peaks in every direction. He retrieved a handful of now toasted black bread and oats he had packed for the trip ahead and satiated himself as best he could, downing nearly half of his waterskin in the process. It was breathtaking out here, both figuratively and literally as thick smog threatened to choke you out should you wander too close to a caldera filled with runoff lava, but the raw and unforgiving power of the ridge was undeniably beautiful and scary. It was in his musings that Angr's attention was caught by the distant glint of an indiscernible object on the adjacent peak, a ways off but surely reachable if he could get down in one piece. Thus, he descended the mountain, his mind lulled by the glow of a foreign object in a place where only the land shone. His thoughts were tugged and weaved in a confused state of delirium, his safety was no longer paramount. He heard the whispers of the winds lingering in the air as he merely walked down the mountain in even the most dangerous conditions. He had tempted Dungrimm to claim his wretched oath-breaking soul in that very moment, not even using his hands to scale down into the searing hot magma soaked valley between the two peaks.
Yet, Dungrimm must have stayed his hand. For it was not the whispers of Khorvad guiding the dwed whom had lost all hope in his heart, but the joyous and passionate words of Belka drawing him in. The Lord of Death would offer her a moment to speak to his forsaken follower once, and only once. It was through her action that the loose rock beneath his careless feet did not crumble, and it was by her mercy that the nearest vent of lava did not spray him and melt his flesh to bone. It was as if the lure of something so beautiful sung to him, reassuring him with sweet songs of care and compassion. Angr began the climb once more, reminiscing on the days when such adventure held meaning and oblivious to the many dangers surrounding him. The clouds surrounding this peak swirled and churned with unrest, revealing a sole halo of clear sky nestling the moon in its center. As he climbed almost instinctively, he remembered his friend Ulfar, he remembered his words which stung like a hornet, "Never have I seen such a broken dwed." He had been told, and here he was proving him right. He had completely thrown caution to the howling winds, which only grew louder and more violent as he grabbed at the mountain and pulled himself higher, and higher, and higher, and...
At the very highest part of the mountain, there was an undisturbed silence. Save for the occasional breeze and wandering cinder strayed too far above, there was simply a peaceful silence.
Angr dropped to his knees in exhaustion, lost and confused. Before him rest a bed of ferrum ore glinting in the moonlight, easily miles above sea-level and piercing any natural cloud that would have formed anywhere else in the world. He took in the raw beauty surrounding him, as far as he could see there was nothing but fire and stone, ash and smoke, thunder and lightning, life and death. Yet here it was, despite everything that should have made this impossible, there was iron that had survived possibly countless rainstorms, an endless assault of volcanic spew, decimating and withering winds eroding rock to dust, blast of bolt after bolt of pyroclastic lightning and raining hellfire. In spite of it all, it still sat undisturbed at a peak, not even the highest in the lands. In mere moments, he understood a harsh lesson. Despite everything, the iron was still iron. Despite everything, Angr was still Angr. He wept alone at the summit, cried out in mental agony, the weight of guilt, betrayal of his oaths, the outing of his family and the swearing off of the sun had rendered him nothing more than he was with all of those present. With them, he was Angr and without them he is still Angr. The message was heavy on his heart, for even broken and forsaken he is still Angr. His soul had not been touched by the light or sundered by the lie of the Azdrazi, he had not been corrupted or destroyed, only having wandered off and lost his way. His tears sizzled and burnt up as they struck the bare stone surrounding the ore, though he remained on his knees for an hour more till his eyes were as sore and dry as the ridge itself.
And yet the fateful ore stared at him silently and baring his tears unto itself, even as he lie a crumpled mess atop a distant volcano, it waited patiently for him. It was typical for a son of Urguan to be emotionally charged by the land, capable of being shaped by Yemekar's perfect world just as much as his hands could shape it in return. He could never be sure whether or not his mind had been fractured or if he truly heard the words of the Brathmordakin that night, but there was now work to be done, purpose had been bestowed to him once more. To any other, this was merely an uncanny deposit of ferrum ore in a peak, but to Angr, it was irony. It was literature finely carved into the land just as the Lord of Creation had intended it so, it was metal that carried direct weight and meaning. It was an impossibility among improbabilities, teaching him that no matter the circumstance, if one had the desire and passion, the affinity for life, they could persevere even the worst circumstances the world could throw at them. What sprawled out the broken cap of the summit before him was not merely a random deposit of ore, but a metal which begged to live as the descendants, which reached out for the skies with the weight of a soul and refused to fade, showing its face to the moon and begging the creator to make it as alive as the rest of the world. The songs sung on the wind were of passion and joy for life, it was the very land in reverence of itself. Howling winds were actually the heroic songs of the volcanic minstrels, thunder akin to the beat of drums for the ridge's primal music retelling an ode to the heavens. The song of creation and destruction forever in tandem, molten rock decimated anything before it and in its place created new rock. This metal was its conductor, shining for all to bare witness should they simply stop and take in their surroundings.
With this knowledge in mind, he spoke for the first time in weeks, his voice hoarse with the strain of having wept for an hour. "Yu whu yearns fer dah stars, rock whech dares tae challeng' dah bright glow ov dah Khaz'a'dentrumm..." He begins, pulling a chipped pick off of the back of his belt and bringing it into his hands. He felt the old hickory handle for but a moment, a weak sigh escaping him. "...Yer cries 'av been 'eard, ahnd oiv come tae liberate ye from t'es peak soh daht yeh may ascend wif meh on dah dey ov moi demise." He beckons, striking the earth and cracking the darn rock. Sparks flew out in all directions as clumps of loose stone tumbled down the mountain. "But untel t'at dey comes, ye shal serve as dah bodeh ov ah moiteh 'ammer," He continues, striking the ore again and piercing the ground with building fury and resolve. "Ye shal shoine loike dah moon, brightah d'an Star-Steel!" He shouts, yanking his pickaxe out along with various igneous debris scattered about. "Ye shal strike strongah dahn boomsteel ahnd crack loudah d'an thunder!" He roars as he finally sunders the ore from the summit and split it in twain. "Ahnd ye shal beh named Passion Steel, fer ye bare ah spirit wifin ye daht longs tae live wif dah dwedmar dwellin' en dah Khaz'a'dentrumm 'bove yer 'ead. Ye bare nae significance ahs ferrum, bu' yer twinkle shines soh passionateleh daht ye 'old strengf wifin ye greatah dahn bluesteel." He finishes his declaration, carefully collecting the bed of broken up ore and storing it within his wrapped up cape and pelts before descending the mountains one final time. The whispering winds followed Angr down the mountain with material in tow, clutching his shoulders tightly and nipping at his bare skin with glowing hot cinders. The moon would recede into the clouds once more, satisfied by the ballad of passion embedded in fire.
A Broken Oath Reforged Twice as Strong
The deep roads are, in stark contrast to Mount Elithel, a soothing, cold and damp expanse that one could truly grow comfortable in. Whilst deadly creatures lurk in the shadows and in the cavern walls, you may find your surroundings odd and almost ethereal in nature. Thick mycelium webbing lines portions of the collapsed tombs, bursts of information whiz through the network at your feet in visible pulses of light between each interconnected mushroom, thick vines and soggy roots cling to the roof illuminated by the various slithering Slystel eating away at any good patch of stone they can find. Humongous beetles push oversized balls of dung and mud to their dens paying little mind to you, a small and insignificant foreigner only worthy of the occasional grumpy glance from a deep toad. Nothing makes sense down here except for the rock and stone comprising the walls of this sheltered habitat. Yet it is here, in the derelict camp of the long abandoned Forgeguard that Angr spends a good portion of his time if not at his own home. Protected by nothing more than a rickety and warped wooden gate, the Ireheart stood shirtless in the cold smithy as he set the mass of ferrum ore atop his London pattern anvil. He places a worn and callus hand unto his workspace gently and drags it along, scooping a thick layer of dust off of the wooden top. "Ah nevah wan'ed t'es..." He mumbles to himself, cleaning his hand off on his trousers.
Angr crawls between the forge and worktop, sitting down with his back against the wall tucked away from sight while in deep thought. The room was dark, cold and empty, the sound of dripping water in the cavernous expanse outside echoed and reverberated ceaselessly, masking the quiet sound of sniffles. Angr was once a great dwed with ambition, even if it was built upon falsehood, but now he sat in the empty chambers of a derelict guild amidst himself and his failures. He would weep if he could, had it not been for the soreness of his eyes in his prior escapades a stone week atop the volcanic ridge. "Oi walked dah path ov Khorvad, ah 'eld ambition ahnd atrociteh desguised ahs righteousness." He speaks out to the empty room. Angr knew full well that Dungrimm had always known of his intentions, but his lonely confession was an effort to lay out what he had done bare for himself to observe, to judge just as the Lord ov Death would. "Moi therst fer blood led meh astray from ahn othawoise noble caus', ah lied tu dah face ov Dungrimm and desgraced dah Lord ov Sunligh' whu hath endlessleh tried tae 'elp meh..." Angr wipes an accumulation of snot from his nose with the back of his hand, taking in a deep breath before continuing. "...Ah wesh tae walk t'es path nae more. Et's toime fer meh tae right dah wrong oiv comitted tu yeh, Dungrimm. Ahnd tae mend dah bridge between moiself ahnd Xan, 'swell ahs ah dear friend ov moine ah 'ave hurt, ensulted ahnd disappointehd." He says, sitting upright. "Ah wesh tae restore dah bond between us, bu' t'es void en me 'eart es vast and weighs 'eaveh wif guilt 'pon moi shouldahs. Ah dednae even possess dah loight ov dah lion en moi chest ahnd stell ah feel weak wifout et's presence."
The light of the lanterns in the main chamber would slowly fade, their radiance becoming dimmer and dimmer as almost an hour of contemplation passed over Angr. Just as the camp would have been plunged into darkness, the forge ignites with a fresh tinderbox having set a shovel full of coal and coke mixture alight just beyond the grate hatch. Angr stood, spade in hand and boot gently compressing a wooden pedal meant to pump a small bellows at the base of the forge's body. His muscular silhouette cast a long and wide shadow towards the entrance of the smithy, embers flying out of the grate and fluttering about the room as he stared deep into the fires dancing around within the vessel. "Bu' tae admet dah truth es bettah dahn tae live ah lie." He affirms, slamming the hatch shut and preparing many tools such as a pair of blacksmith's tongs, a heavy crucible which he rest at the foot of the forge, his hammer, files and chisels. "Ah ahm an Oathbreakah, such es ah fact. Bu' oi ahm nae irredeemable though moi honor 'as been stained fer meh actions. Fer now, ah mus fill dah void en me breast wif somfin else." He states as he turns to face the forge once again, the olive glow of his golemantic eye dim, almost absent as he continued to feed the fire.
Angr would retrieve his hammer and chisel, bringing it to the anvil and firmly planting the sharpened end of the chisel against one half of the split ore. "Yu whu 'av seen moi tears, whu hath dared tae reach fer dah moon and dah stars, whu wethstood scorchen 'eats ahnd survived maneh storms." He whispers to the ore as he brings his hammer down on the head of the chisel, cracking the ore into smaller chunks. "Yu whu oi named Passion Steel." Angr continued, grabbing ahold of the other half and preparing it the same. "Yu well bare witness tu moi secret oath ahnd carreh et en yer memoreh fer as long as ye exist, untel all 'as turned tae dust ahnd dah world grows cold." He coughs, having inhaled some of the dust kicked up from the process of dividing the ore into manageable chunks. He clears his throat and continues. "Oi ahm ah shoddeh smith aht best, ah beardlin' tae meh clan ahnd ah khazad broken. Bu' togethah wif yew, ah beh forged entu somefin differen, somfin strongah." He said as he scooped up the broken ore and deposited it into the crucible below. Momentarily, he'd leave the working space and approach the forge with a fire poker in hand. He opened the hatch and carefully made a large divot in the bed of the coals for the crucible to nestle inside of, then began preparations to create his first ever attempt at crucible steel.
Angr worked tirelessly, shoveling in fuel and compressing the bellows as necessary, consulting Starbreaker penned books he had rented from the library on the grueling task of refining metal and the art of smithing. He had worked up a glossy sheen of thick sweat coating his whole body and dripping profusely from his massive ******* forehead which shined like a silver mirror, he had already received several burns as embers belched out of the forge every time he opened the grate to feed it. Once the ore had been processed after many hours of careful observation and focus, Angr retrieved the crucible from the inferno and cast several ingots in a pre-prepared clay mold and allowed them to cool completely into the shape of large bars. It was then and only then, once the crucible was cool enough, that Angr re-introduced the ferrum ingots, coal dust, sand and added a layer of glass over top the mixture before he rounded it all off with a clay cap. It was a very questionable attempt at carburization and risky seeing as this was the only material he had; This was his only chance to make it work.
And work it did.
When the process was complete and Angr finally broke off the clay seal, staring back up at him was a beautifully shining mass of crucible steel truly worthy of bearing the title of Passion Steel. It was so stubborn in fact, that Angr was forced to split in half his only good crucible in order to free the massive heap of metal. Yet as soon as it was free, it was thrust back into the fires to immediately be worked once again. Soon enough the steel was brought up to temperature and removed, gently sat down atop his anvil where Angr set his tongs aside as the air in front of him rippled and crackled with immense heat. With a deep and mournful sigh, Angr brought a hand to his hip and unsheathed a master-crafted aurum shortsword, the Yemarin Anaros. Wielding the blade forged by his friend, the late Grimdal Irongut, he placed the pristine and sharpened edge firmly against his blackened and dusty left palm rife with tough and calloused skin. The room was bathed in a glorious golden-orange light as the weapon shone brightly in the presence of the forge's fire, the room plunged into gilded silence before he spoke. "Dungrimm." He called out, "Ah swear t'ess blood oath tu yeh, ah reprisal ov moi broken oath between yeh ahnd dah Lord ov Sunlight. Dah task assigned boi Garedyn es nae enou' tae rid moi 'eart ov guilt fer lyen tae yer face. Ahnd soh now ah swear, on moi own blood, dah same blood da' carries endless ire en meh kin's veins..." He'd begin, his hairs standing on end as he felt the watchful gaze of an absent presence, a paradoxical and tensing entity must have been listening carefully as he had began his declaration. "...Oi swear eternal servitude tu dah Iron Mask, dah ah may nevah retire even when moi bodeh fails meh. Dah ah mus' beh death etself fer t'ose undah dah enfluence ov dah Betrayur. T'ose whu would t'ink t'emselves immortahl ahnd all fings wicked da' breng imbalence tae Yemekar's beautifuhl creations. Daht oi shal beh dah unstoppable force meetin dah immovable wheel ov nevur endin corruption cyclin through dah loives ov all livin' fings. Daht ah wel usher moi kin en ahn age ov bliss untel dah dey t'aht yer mask falls 'pon meh at moi final breaths."
There was a brief pause as Angr held his tongue, choosing his words very carefully. The forge suddenly snapped and sputtered loudly at him as if commanding the dwarf to continue. "Oi shal beh denied ah bid en dah Khaz'a'dentrumm 'pon moi passin should yeh wesh et, bound at yur 'ip tae assist en dah usherin ov souls tu dah great ahnd sacred 'alls, loike ah shepherd's dog. Ah ahm ahn extension ov yer fist ahnd ferevah endebted tu ye." He says, gripping the blade in his hand tighter as he had declared his legendary blood oath to the Lord of Death. "Dah onleh witness on t'es mortahl realm ov moi oath shall beh t'es metahl, t'es Passion Steel. Ferrum blessed boi Belka, fer et must 'old dah passionate dreams equivalent tu ah livin, breathin' khazad." And though his first proclamation was complete, the tension in the air did not subside. Angr looked deep into the forge's fires and welcomed the light into his eyes before he spoke again. "Xan, Lord ov Sunlight, Bringah ov Ordah." He began anew, "Oi swear t'es blood oath twu fold, fer oi 'av trespassed ahnd en duin soh, betrayed both yer trust ahnd yur guidance fer moi own sick ahnd twestehd desires. Ahnd thus, ah call 'pon moi blood twice, fer oi swear tae yu daht oi well replace dah void en moi chest dah wus entended fer dah radiance ov ordah, wif dah unendin rage ahnd anger ov moi lineage, dah fury ah 'ave supressed for soh maneh decades needlessleh..." His words echoed out of the smithy and into the cave at large, those creatures that crawled and slithered and burrowed and writhed all silent and listening from just beyond the safety the camp's enclosure. "...Oi will wield dah moon en place ov dah sun ahnd bring ordah tu dah dwedmar lands, ah bulwark fer all descendan's wifin our mountains tae stand be'ind; Da silver sword en place ov dah gilded glaive. Oi will punesh t'ose who nae value dah loives ov descendan's or t'eir own lives, beh et witches, dah mockery daht ahre da Azdrazi, gnarled beasts, constructs, spririts, murderes ahnd all such wicked fings daht cower be'ind impurities. Fer en dah absence ov dah sun, dah moon stell shoines." He declared his legendary oath twofold. "Ahnd thus, t'es Passion Steel beh our onleh witness."
Angr slashed his palm open immediately after the last utterance of his double blood oath, not once, but twice. Spurts of his own life blood shot out of his palm and trickled out of his hand unto the burning hot steel below, instantly vaporizing into a plume of horrid steam billowing up from the metal's surface. Angr donned a single mitt on his right hand and wielded his smithing hammer, in one single fluid motion he forced his injured hand to grab onto the blistering hot steel with bare skin. As he held the metal firmly in place his wound was cauterized almost instantaneously. The immense pain of his flesh sizzling and searing as he refused to let go caused tears to stream down his cheeks and his teeth to grit. A long repressed anger began flowing through him, pooling in his throat and chest as he roared out with sudden exacerbated fury. "OI GIVE YE MOI RAGE, PASSION STEEL!" His voice boomed out into the deep roads as he slammed his hammer unto the metal's surface, deforming it for the very first time. "OI GIVE YE MOI MALICE, PASSION STEEL!" He bellowed again, "OI GIVE YE MOI ANGER, PASSION STEEL!" He screamed at the top of his lungs, striking the metal again and retracting his grip. He threw his hammer to the side, a crimson stain having been left on the top face of what would become a mighty hammer as the stench of burnt flesh wafted around it. He would quickly bandage his hand after crudely disinfecting it with cheap liquor, then donned both mitts and got to work.
It had been days since anyone saw Angr, the only exception of this being Ursus Grandaxe. The voidal scion was a friend to him and a zealot of Dungrimm, one who made just as many strides as he did mistakes and wore each of them with a badge of honor. In time, a mountain dwarf would in fact leave the camp, though they were Angr Ireheart no more. Wielded tightly in their grip was a great-hammer with square faces and intricate design etched into its surface everywhere, runework detailing many tales and fables in the days of yore with a complex and sprawling rune of Dungrimm at its center. Even the sight of the weapon was intimidating, exuding malice and an almost hateful animosity dripping from its surface. It's steel body was warped and patterned, gleaming lustrous like that of Star-Steel but without its renown supernatural properties. The dwarf wielding it was Angr the Angry, his cape flayed and torn at its edge from sojourning in the northwestern hellscape. His expression seemed noticeably grim and his voice grittier from his experience in creating this powerful artifact, there was none who would know of the process and dedication poured into his work. The steel might as well have been quenched in a barrel of his own blood, for every time it was removed from the forge he would dig a razorblade into his forearm and soak the metal once again. Every reheat meant carrying his blood oath to the end of his work until the hammer was complete and a new rune tattoo had been made from wounds in his arm which would scar over, reading "ᚺᚢᚾᛞ-'ᚢᚱ'-ᛞᚨ ᚺᚨᚱᛁᛏᛉ", or "Dog of the Dead". It was a miracle he could even stand, but having fed himself blood-lotus beetroot stew and remaining committed to the very end, he had shed enough of his own lifeforce to make even a blood magus blush. The hammer itself had been partially affected too, under the right light one could see a tinge of red reflection in the steel's patterns and bands. Angr had been reforged and re-released unto the world, carrying unparalleled ire and unbridled anger in his chest.
All screenshots and content involved were the result of one IRL week of solo-roleplay and character development following abandoning the Paladins and breaking an oath sworn to both Dungrimm and Xan.
Over 8 hours of writing, revising, digging up screenshots and formatting.
Both cover photos were sourced from Google Images.
While the contents of the post may not contain any significance as you could merely boil this down to me being overdramatic about an iron weapon with no ST signature, I really hope this post demonstrates that you can have amazing roleplay and character growth even when there's nobody online or you have nobody to play with. As nice as it would be to have made this an MArt weapon or some other fancy overpowered weapon capable of combatting blatantly overtuned CA's or event creatures, I think there's something to be said about making a emotionally or symbolically significant item as opposed to grabbing for power all the time. For a while I was stuck as I had backed my character into a corner after suddenly deciding to veer off attempting to become a Paladin, but after weeks of burnout and feeling my way through it carefully, this was the result. I hope y'all enjoyed as much as I did!