The Smith

~ a tale of revenge ~
      Once upon a time, as the king of Seeland was on his way home from a victorious raid through the Baltic lands, a nighty storm arose and his ships were forced to drop anchor, somewhere along the Ostsee (East Sea) coast.  There, he met a beautiful water fae named Wachhild.  She fell madly in love with the handsome mortal, and her feelings were returned.  However, as Autumn fell over the land and the leaves started to turn, the king knew he had so set sail for his home shores and said goodbye to the faery.
       Some months after his return home, he had a visit from Wachhild.  She presented him with a baby boy, their son.  Then she walked into the sea and was never seen again.  The King named the boy Wate and gave him over to the care of his weapons master, where he grew up to be a huge, fearsome warrior.  He married a woman of noble birth who bore him three sons:  Wieland, Egil and Helferich.
      As the boys grew, each showed extraordinary talents in their chosen fields:  Egil was adept with bow and arrow and became a famous archer; Helferich had an instinct for herbs and flowers and became a healer; while Wieland was fascinated with the forging of metal, so Wate sent him to a famous blacksmith, the dwarf Mime.  It is said that Mime had even instructed young Siegfried in the art of swordmaking.  Be that as it may, when Wieland returned home after three years, he impressed everyone with his craft.
      But deep in the woods of Saxony, two dwarf were practising their art with gold and silver (being of the fae, they could of course not work with iron).  It was said that their skills way surpassed those of Mime.  That is where Wate took his son next, but these two masters were not as friendly as Mime and Wate didn't trust them one bit.  He hid an iron sword nearby so Wieland would be able to defend himself if the need arose.  He promised to return in 12 months time.
      Wate did show up 12 month later, but laid down to rest by the gate which lead into the cave of the elves.  Those two tipped a huge boulder onto him as he slept because they wanted to retain the services of Wieland.  Thus was Wate killed.
      When Wieland found his father's body in the morning, he went for the hidden sword and avenged his father's death.  Then he buried Wate, sad that the man had not fallen in battle but had fallen victim to the fae.
      Back in the cave, he gathered all the elven tools of his trade before he set out to find his way home to Seeland.  For a long time he wandered, through forests, over mountains, until he finally came to a mighty stream that he needed to cross.  From his mother, he had inherited an instinct for the water and he knew of its dangers.  He fell and hollowed a huge tree and set himself adrift, hoping that the stream would take him out to the sea where he might be picked up by a passing ship that would take him home to Seeland.
      But this was not to be.


      As Wieland drifted along on the river, he got caught in the net of fishermen, who pulled him in and then brought their strange catch before their King, Nidung.  The king was highly impressed with the treasures found in the boat.  Wieland admitted that he knew something of the making of metal implements, and offered his services to the king.  The king immediately took him up on it.  Wieland managed to secure his boat and the elven tools in a hiding place.
      One day, he happened to lose a knife that the king used frequently at table.  Fearful of what might happen when this was discovered, he set about to forge a new knife.  When the king tried to cut himself a piece of bread with this knife the next day, the knife went through the bread as if it were soft butter, and even cut into the table.  The king was of course amazed at this, and asked who was responsible for making this amazing blade.  Wieland replied that it must have been Amilias, the king's master smith.  And Amilias readily agreed.
      Nidung, of course, knew better because he had used Amilias' products as long as he could remember.  But Amilias raged that there was no proof that he could not have made this knife.  So the king ordered Amilias to forge a helmet and breast place, and Wieland to forge a sword.  If the sword was better than the armor, Amilias would die, but if the armor could withstand the sword, Wieland would lose his head.
     Immediately, Amilias set to work, with the help of everyone in the smithy, and eleven month later, he pronounced the helmet and breastplate complete.
     Wieland had not even begun to work on the sword, and the king reminded him of his part in the royal amusement.
      The next morning, Wieland declared a sword ready.  Nidung was amazed and could not believe a weapon forged this quickly to be worth anything.  Thereupon, Wieland asked him to the river, into which he threw a ball of lint from a woolen garment.  He held the sword against the lint, and the gentle rhythm of the waves were enough to drive it against the sword ... it was immediately cut in two!
     Wieland humbly informed the king that if given one more day, he could make a REALLY good sword.  This Nidung wanted to see!
      Wieland took the sword and filed it into little shavings which he mixed with secret ingredients known only to elves.  The next day, he had a blade of the purest, hardest steel.  This sword cut a strand of wool the same way the first one had cut the ball of lint.
      At the appointed time, Amilias showed up with his brand new breastplate and helmet in place.  Wieland touched his chest with the sword, and hardly gently pushed it right through the armor, into Amilias' heart.  The smith was dead.
      King Nidung wavered between being quite upset and being very impressed.  Finally, Wieland told him the truth about who he was and how he had acquired his expertise.  The king asked for the sword as a gift.  Wieland agreed but asked to take it back to the smithy, where he forged a second sword, identical in appearance but of lesser quality.  This then he presented to the king.  Mimung, the blade forged with elven magick, he hid for himself.
     From that day on, Nidung held Wieland in high esteem and treated him almost as one of his knights.  Many a beautiful piece of jewelry Wieland made for the king's daughter, Badhild.  Of course he fell in love with the maiden....


      Then word reached King Nidung that the Vikings were on their way to invade his realm.  So he readied troops for battle and set out to meet the enemy.  Wieland rode with the king.
     As they got closer to the Vikings, they found themselves terribly outmanned.  But the worst fear befell Nidung when he realised he had left behind a magic ring that had always brought him victory in battle.  He offered half his kingdom and the hand of his daughter to whoever would bring his ring to him by next morning sun-up.
      Wieland told the king not to worry, he would fetch the ring.  The noblemen laughed at him and called him a fool, no-one could accomplish such a feat, but Wieland just laughed, swung himself upon his horse, and rode off.
      Before it was even midnight, he came upon Nidung's castle, got the ring, and got back on his horse.  But as he came near the camp, Truchsess, an advisor to the king's and himself after the hand of Badhild, waylayed him to take the ring and claim the prize.  Truchsess and his men were no match for Wieland, and soon they lay dead.
       King Nidung was very surprised when Wieland handed him the magic ring, but when he heard about Truchsess, he was happy to have found a way to get out of his hasty promise of the day before ... he called Wieland a traitor and a murderer and banished him from his lands.
      This quite angered Wieland, who asked the king is this was how he always kept his word ... and warned him that the would someday bitterly rue this day.
      Then he rode off.
      But wherever he went, whatever he did, he could not get the beautiful Badhild out of his mind.  He knew he could not see her openly, but what if he got her to take a love potion?
      Next thing you know, he was working in the kitchens of King Nidung, disguised as an old cook.  And the love potion was on it's way to the place of the Princess in her favourite dish....
      Not a brillant idea, really, had Wieland known that Badhild's knife possessed magical qualities and sounded when encountering magic!
      Who but the new cook could be responsible for this!  It didn't take long for Wieland to be recognised and in deep trouble.
      Nidung had him taken to a small island, where he was to work for the king for the rest of his life.  But the worst part was the Nidung bade his henchmen to cut Wieland's tendons so he'd be lame and could never escape.
      This upset everyone, including Badhild, but no amount of entreaties could change the king's mind and the horrible deed was done.
      It was a very long time before Wieland was well enough to drag himself into the smithy the king had set up for him on the island, so he could fashion himself crutches to get around on.  He knew that some day, he would be free again.  But first, he would take terrible revenge on the king.