Qualinost was silent. The night lay oven the city like a dark mantle. Although it was closer to dawn than midnight, an orange light still flickered behind the windows of Flint’s small shop. Inside, the dwarf sank wearily to a wooden chair, regarding his handiwork before him. The sword was done.
It glimmered flawlessly in the ruddy glow of the forge, the light dancing on its razor-sharp edge and playing along the grooves of the dwarven runes of power that Flint had carved into the flat of the blade. The handguard was fashioned of smooth curves and graceful arcs of steel, so fluid it seemed as if it had grown about the hilt of the sword like the tendrils of some entwining vine. Even Flint—modest as the dwarf was wont to be—sensed there was something special about this sword. He could only hope Tanis would like it.
He enjoyed pleasing the half-elf. Perhaps someday he could show Tanis around Solace and let him see that elves weren’t the only folk on Krynn. That would please Tanis even more than the sword would, he thought.
Flint sighed and then stood. He banked the coals beneath the ashes in the furnace and blew out the one tallow candle shining in the dimness. By silver moonlight, he found his way to his bed in the small room behind the shop and, kicking off his boots, he tumbled down into exhausted slumber. Soon the dwarf’s snores rumbled upon the air, as rhythmic as the plying of his hammer only moments before.
It was the darkest part of the night. The door to the shop swung slowly open, smoothly, so that the chimes made no noise. A figure stepped through, carefully shutting the door behind itself. It paused, cocking its head, and then, as if satisfied, drifted soundlessly toward the workbench.
The sword shone faintly in the cool light of Solinari, spilling in through the window. The dark, cloaked figure lifted a gloved hand and ran a finger down the length of the blade, as if testing its edge, and then it held both hands above the weapon. Murmured words spilled forth on the air, spoken in an ancient tongue of a people turned to dust age upon age ago, the name of their people long forgotten. Few spoke the tongue now, save sorcerers and mages, for it was the language of magic.
The mumbling ended, the last syllables drifting on the air like motes of dust. The sword began to glow, not with moonlight, but with a light from within. It was a crimson brightness, growing hotter and hotter, until the sword gave off an angry illumination, the color of fire. Nearby, a small mound of iron arrowheads also took on the glow. Suddenly a shadow seemed to separate from the darkness beyond the ring of illumination and drifted toward the sword, as if beckoned by the stranger’s hand. The shadow defied the crimson light until suddenly it flowed down, coursing into the blade as if it had been sucked in. The weapon gave a small jerk, then the illumination faded.
The door to the shop swung in the gentle night breeze. The snores continued, uninterrupted. The stranger was gone.