Old forges

Caveat: This is going to diverge drastically from the canonical.

Not many people came to Wayland Smith.

So it was with something approaching surprise that the Smith heard a soft knock on the door to his smithy. It stood atop a small bluff surrounded by dark woods, under a spreading chestnut tree.

Wayland Smith’s cottage was further away, at the edge of the Rookswood.

He was a boon to the villagers who remembered him from as far as memory went. However, when they wanted something forged, they came to the cottage. No one ventured to the Smithy.

Wayland opened the door to a client after centuries. For a moment he let the cold breeze stir his tangled grey beard, squinting his brilliant blue eyes. From atop his hillock he could see the far

white peaks from where came the chilling wind. Ah, once upon a time . . . he thought, then forced himself to come back to the presentand the dark figure of his visitor.

“Please step inside, good sir. The smithy is not much of a guest hall, but at least ’tis warm.”

The Smith went in, the man following. “And what may I do for you?”

His visitor lowered his hooded cloak and Wayland looked up keenly into the gaunt face, framed by windblown dark hair. It was the eyes, as always, he thought. They always bear the wisdom that comes from seeing more lives (and their ends) than mere flesh and blood could. That same characteristic in the smoldering dark eyes he knew was mirrored in his own azure gaze.

“Starlord. It has been a while.”

The other one agreed with a wry smile. “Quite a while, Master Weyland. And far too from the forges of Aulë.”

He who was once Weyland the Skilled smiled and gestured the other to sit. “Commendable, that you could find me here in this neck of the woods. Even in these lesser years and diminished paths, some of us Remnants must make sure that all folk may have clean fields to till. Word comes sometimes of what you are up to… but not so much of late.” He glanced at the other one quizzically.

“Of late – there have been… problems. The constant fading – both of memories and of grace. And injuries to recover from. How are you finding retirement Weyland? Has it rusted away your old skill at all?”

“Ah, now we understand why Elentyaro, Lord Greywrath leaves his allies and stratagems to travel countless leagues across Middangeard to Rookswood. What is it you want?”

“A sword.”

“A what?”

“It is a long metal blade with a hil-­”

“I meant to say ‘why’ I suppose.”

“Because the one I possess is no match.”

“Against?”

“The beings I seek to make a end to. Angrussë was a good blade, but it shattered in my hands when we banished the last Soulstealer beyond the Void. Here!”

Elentyaro flung upon the Smith’s oaken workbench a black bundle. Weyland gently opened it, revealing gleaming shards of metal. He grimaced. “There are many pieces missing. Even the finest steel of today will be inferior.”

“Then use this.” Another clatter of metal on wood. A larger bundle.

Weyland Smith looked wideyed at the lord. Sacrilege. Unspoken, that word hammered at both their minds.

“The pieces of Aeglos, the lance that broke under Ereinion when he fell before Orodruin. I have paid dearly for it.” He shuddered involuntarily. “Not for nothing have I scarred my mind searching for the remnants of ages past. There is a storm coming, darkening the minds and hearts of Men whose forebears had been doughty friends of the Light. This war goes on, old friend, be it the Third Age or the Thirty-third. The fact that Men now run from us and burn unfortunates at stake is just another evil we must endure.

“Reforge my old longsword Angrussë Weyland, with shards from Aeglos. Then, with the bulk that remains, make a broadsword blade for me. But keep it till the final tempering – to wield the full power, the blademaster must be the blademaker.”

Weyland hefted the pieces, then nodded. “Aye, lord, they will be forged.”

“Good.”

“They will be better.”

“I need the best.”

The Passage of Time

There is no more magic in the world. Jewels and Rings have no power beyond their shine and beauty. The time of the Elves has long since ended. The Wizards have sailed away. The Trees no longer move or sing. Goblins, Orcs and Trolls exist only in children’s tales. Even the Dwarf-lords and their halls of stone have been forgotten. The strength of Men is splintered and divided. There is no High King, the Reunited Kingdom has fallen. There are fiefdoms and city-states, Princes and Protectors, wandering chieftains long bereft of land and lordship. The Ship-Kings out of the West are a faint memory, a distant glimmer of Ages long past. The blood of heroes is all but spent.

How did the Dominion of Man come to this? No grand battles on foreign fields. No artifacts of great power holding sway over the future. No great shadow threatening to cover the lands. There is simply the passage of time, the slow, unending progress of the ages, the gradual fading of all things. There is no power left to slow the passage of time. History has become legend and legend has become myth. There is no more magic in the world.

Or, is there?