Piece II

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Ting! "More force lad!" the master blacksmith said to a small boy working on the anvil. "Keep the coal ablaze!" Clover puffed as she worked on the bellows. Beads of sweat rolled down her face, her clothes already stained with smoke. "That wood took a lot o' time!" the master blacksmith said to a trio of apprentices who came back from collecting firewood. 

        Splish! The mentor moved towards a boy who seemed to be finished with his work. "Is this fine, master?" His master lifted the steelwork, which stretched half foot. The rest of the apprentices crowded around their teacher and the crafter of the sword. They ogled at the dagger's smooth and shiny blade.

        "Out o' the way children!" the master blacksmith walked to the nearest anvil. A number of smith apprentices wrinkled their faces in disgust when their mentor lick the blade. Afterwards, He vigorously batted the dagger on the anvil until it broke. It left crafter brokenhearted. "Melt it again lad!"

        The mentor turned to the rest of the class. "Remember this children! Better create a solid nail that can punch a hole rather than a brittle blade that cannot withstand abuse," he commanded his apprentices to get back on their tasks.

       The master blacksmith's tone turned affectionate when he saw a young girl peering at the smithy's entrance. "Cornelia!" He wiped his hands and hugged his daughter lightly so that her garments would not be soiled. Cornelia visited the smithy to deliver her father's lunch. "Nobody can eat until he or she finishes the work assigned," the teacher then proceeded to the cottage beside the workshop to fill his stomach.

Clover wanted to lie on the haystack she passed by the road.  If not for the fence, she would have jumped onto it without hesitation. Her shoulders and arms ached from pumping air into the furnace the whole day. Tomorrow, she would be gathering firewood. She wanted no more of her apprenticeship!

        "Would you like a ride Clover?" Clover turned to her left and saw Mister Thatcher, a neighbor.  He was riding on a wagon pulled by a donkey. The neighbor owns the biggest farm in town. "Hmm, but I will need to take the hay stack at the vassal's manor. Is that alright?"

        "It's alright!" 

        "Hop in now," before Mister Thatcher can say to Clover that she can lie on the haystack, the girl was already making herself comfortable on it. "Oh ho ho. I miss my days of youth. Oh ho ho."

        "Why are you laughing Mister Thatcher?" Clover sat up. "Was your training enjoyable back then fun?"

        "Beyond enjoyable! It was hell!" Mister Thatcher pulled the reigns as they treaded a rocky path. "Every day, we worked under the sun. I always went home with soil caked on my legs and tunic. Oh ho ho." Clover did not understand her neighbor's expression. "And oh! We started training sooner than the rest of the apprentices..." the wagon turned around the corner and drove towards a big stone house. "But I had fun learning and all... because I like my craft. Now, I love it! Oh ho ho."

        Mister Thatcher's last statement hit the nail. He liked his craft thus he overcame all hardships of his apprenticeship. In the end, he fell in love with agriculture. Clover silently wished her attitude towards her craft would eventually become like her neighbor's.

Early morning the next day, Clover went to the shallow river. She had not visited it since four months ago. While listening to the birds' songs, she could not help but undulate her arms. She felt the cool breeze and breathed in the smell of dew-laden leaves. Slowly, the water began to rise from the river.  A pillar water rose up to Clover's eye-level. The girl started swaying her body in synch with her arm movements. Blue and magenta orbs formed beside the pillar and circled it in opposite directions.

     Clover moved her body to the rhythm she can only hear. After a few more minutes, she stopped. The water and color orbs became an elegant swan sculpture. The swan sat atop of a frozen fountain.

    "Like my craft. Love my craft." Clover remembered her conversation with Mister Thatcher yesterday. She looked at her art and adored how it shone at the touch of sunlight. "But the smithy's too hot and smoky! My clothes will always be rugged!"  The swan cracked and turned back into water with a splash.

       "You can sculpt water?"  The voice came from the opposite side of the river.

    "Who's there?" Clover scanned through the trees and saw a hooded figure on a horse. She remembered that raids were frequent again in the outskirts of The Land. Could they have already penetrated deeper into the kingdom? She turned pn her heels and ran back home.

      "Will you show that to me again at the smithy?" Clover did not hear the voice's last statement.

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