**The Mahar Metalsmith**
“There is no substitute for feeling
the stone, the metal, the plaster,
or the wood in the hand;
to feel its weight; to feel its texture;
to struggle with it in the world
rather than in the mind alone.”
~William M. Dupree~
Darkside is the only land in Subeta that really suits me. Bitter winter winds never make it over the mountains, Mathis is good enough to let me rent space in his smithy when my demand for sculptures overcomes the space in my workroom, and I never need to worry about fashionable women in floral print dresses screaming at me because I got sparks from the forge in their begonias.
I'll try my hand at sculpting any metal. Size is not a factor. I am just as happy to shape a bird with metal feathers that sits in the palm of your hand as I am to solder together steel panels the size of a wall. I've shaped copper mosaics for the skyscrapers of Centropolis, statues to honor Subeta's heroes that are inlaid with real pearl strips, and sculpted busts of everyone from Alexander to Zosi. My works have been featured in the Delphi Modern Museum of Art multiple times. I've even created a replica of a sehkur for Saggitarius with a base of pure platinum and scales alternating between amethysts and emeralds.
I will only take those requests that interest me but anything in my collection is for sale, if your offer pleases me. There isn't a metal known to Subeta that I haven't worked with and I need no apprentice books to tell me the proper temperature for gold, steel, or even celestium.
My tool kit is never out of my reach but there is only one item that I consider essential. My plasma torch is second only to Spook in my affections. With it, I can weld even the most stubborn joints of metal into things of beauty. The heat of the plasma bolt calls to my inner fire, making my blood sing. Great care is needed to etch detailed carvings onto the surface of armored plates that will protect the breasts of temple guards dedicated to serving the Oracle. Each ancient symbol offers its own layer of protection to Subetans that will face sand monsters, giant scorpions, and plenty of other threats from the desert that I do not care to think about.
I like works such as these that pass through my hands, never to be seen again. Whether my works are being enjoyed as art or used as functioning pieces, it soothes me to know that they do not sit and rust in a vault, forgotten for decades until its value is lost. Metal is practical. It needs a function, just like the one that shapes it.
I will escort completed orders to their new homes on occasion, though bitter experience has taught me never to cross into Arctic Frost. Half a day of supervising the setting of a tribute mosaic to Vanya and his family left me in bed for two weeks with a terrible virus that makes the infections of the Great Pandemic look like nothing more than a day of suffering mild allergies. I cannot say I'm sorry that natives of AF are inclined toward ice sculptures.
Spook swoops in from the upper window that I always leave open for him. With a slight flutter of his wings, he lands on his favorite perch that looks directly over my workbench. He never tires of admiring the gemstones I set into certain sculptures for eyes. In return, he serves as my ears.
I have no desire to be a subject of gossip but I never get tired of hearing it.
He ruffles his feathers a few times as he settles in, beak clicking in excitement. "You missed a good one, Zariel. You know that pesky popoko that's always dancing around outside Maleria's lair, taunting her and telling her she's nothing next to Shinwa? Somehow he manages to get away before she can blast him, but not this time. He was cream when the day started but everybody will be mistaking him for twilight for a month." Spook chortles at the memory as I smile. I have nothing personal against Turlien but he is as annoying as soot flakes in your cereal some days.
"It gets even better. There's a representative from Subeatique down at Asmodeus Labs, trying to convince Ian to agree to a line based on his hair color. It's too bad Curie is so polite or she could eat the woman for lunch. I guess everybody who went in to try their hand at making combinations in the past hour turned around and walked back out, her perfume was so strong."
"What about Blackheart Hollow, Spook?"
"Oh, it was too funny! A Book of Inexplicable Light appears and there must have been fifty Subetans fighting for it. This tiny little kanis leaps right over their heads and grabs the book while they're all piled up trying to count out their wizard tokens."
We share a laugh. I do not care that many of my patrons believe I am aloof. Outsiders can only mar your happiness if you allow them inside your head. Real happiness comes from self.
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