The Daggers of Almathr

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Book7.png The Daggers of Almathr is a book by Arius Larithidun. It can be found in the Royal Library in Empo Sar.

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The Daggers of Almathr
by Arius Larithidun

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Once upon a time there was a poor Emposian blacksmith whose name was Almathr. Every day he would work from dawn to dusk in his shop, crafting all manner of weapons and tools. He worked hard, but rarely produced anything exceptional.

Almathr was a good man, and would often walk the streets of his the city he called home, to help the needy with food and kind words. On one such walk, Almathr saw a beggar accidentally bump into a noble as he looked across the opposite side of the road when walking round a corner. This sent the piles of papers and quills the noble had been carrying showering across the pavement. Fuming, the noble began to furiously kick and punch the beggar down to the ground. Almathr could not bear to watch, and rushed over, pushing the noble a few paces back.
"Hey! It was an accident! Let me help you pick them up." said Almathr, beginning to pick up some of the papers from the floor. The noble, eyes wide, turned his attention to Almathr.
"Do you know who I am, peasant?" asked the noble. "I… No, I am only a humble blacksmith, my lord. But you cannot just go around beating up every person who ". But he could not finish, as the noble had flung him against the wall and pressed a sword to his throat.
"You are very unwise to question me, blacksmith. You to me, is little more than an ant is to a dragon." With that, the noble pushed Almathr away from him, sheathed his sword and strode off down the street. Shaken, but otherwise unharmed Almathr ran over to

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the beggar, whose mouth was bleeding and nose was at a funny angle.
"Are you alright?" asked Almathr, to which the beggar nodded with a weary smile and accepted Almathr's arm to pull him up to his feet. "What an idiot. What makes some people think that they can just go round doing whatever they want without consequence!" The beggar grunted in agreement, and thanked Almathr before hobbling off on his way.

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Almathr thought little of the confrontation after that day. However, less than a week later, Almathr was visited by the same noble. This was particularly unusual, because the blacksmith was poor and rarely dealt with wealthy customers. However, the other blacksmiths of the city had long before closed up their shops, and of course, the noble knew he might have less trouble convincing Almathr than other, better known blacksmiths. The noble was desperately trying to find a weapon to present to the king for his meeting with him the following day. He promised to pay a good price for the weapon, but it had to be fit for the king! The price of failure, however, the noble made very clear; Almathr would never work again. Almathr tried deep into the night, but was only able to make very ordinary blades. Exhausted after many attempts, he fell asleep at his workbench.

The next morning, Almathr woke up with a start, to find a different dagger in place of one of those he had made. The new dagger was far more beautiful than any of his, and far beyond Almathr's abilities. Indeed, the heavenly blade shone and glittered as a star in even the earliest rays of morning sunlight. Astonished, the blacksmith could not understand it. But he had no time to make sense of the situation, as a few minutes later the noble burst into his shop. Almathr named the dagger Cerissa , after his late wife; for it was short, slight and beautiful, but terrifyingly

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delighted, and as promised paid the blacksmith a good price.

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A few days later, a knight turned up on the blacksmith's doorstop. He said he had heard of the noble's blade and demanded that Almathr make him one, too. So again Almathr tried deep into the night, but was not able to make anything special. For a second time, Almathr woke to find another dagger had appeared. It was slightly narrower but longer than the first, and no less keen. The edge whistled as it danced through the air in the knight's hand. Almathr named it "Inzithia", after his first daughter, a talented musician and dancer.

For the next few days Almathr began to enjoy his new—found wealth. Even boasting in the tavern about his skills as a blacksmith to an astonished crowd. Less than a week later, a less respectable, but no less wealthy customer came to Almathr. It was a thug, an assassin of the gangs of the poor district. The assassin asked whether Almathr had indeed created the blades for the noble and the knight.
"Yes," confirmed Almathr without much thought, "I made those blades".
"Perhaps then, you could make me a similar blade".
"I… I do not think I "
"You shall be paid well." interrupted the assassin. Almathr turned to his workbench, where the other two daggers had appeared from, his mind buzzing with questions. What if another dagger did not appear the next time? Would the assassin kill him if he did not make the dagger? How much would the assassin pay? As if in answer, the assassin went on, "You will be paid better than any have paid you before. I know your

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better than any have paid you before. I know your reputation, Almathr, I did not expect this to be an easy trade, given my own reputation."
"Alright," said Almathr finally, "I will do it."

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The next morning, to Almathr's immense relief, there in the middle of his workbench lay a third dagger. It was shorter and narrower than the two before it, and the blade was slightly rounded at the hilt making it more easily concealed, but the tip was deathly sharp. Almathr named it "Maera", after his second daughter, because she always surprised him. The assassin spun it round his wrist and thrust it into a log next to the blacksmith's fireplace and it passed easily through the grain as if the wood was butter. The assassin smiled wryly, and thanked Almathr. Then stabbed the blacksmith straight through the shoulder with the dagger, twisting the blade cruelly as he pulled it free. Almathr choked back on his surprise and slumped to the floor with blood pouring from his arm, which was now limp by his side as he was unable to move it.

It was only then that Almathr realised. He had forgotten himself, and everything that he stood for. And for that he could not blame the noble, the knight or the assassin, nor the mysterious daggers, the fortune or the fame. He knew he had only one person he could blame.