A powerful stranger visits Southern Fishing Village
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"Either would be pleasing - the opportunity to talk freely is refreshing."

"It is good to hear the repairs go smoothly.  What's it like, smithing metal?"


"Oh! Well ..."

Lhemur thinks about how to explain it.

"It's not really like other crafts, because you have to be very aware of the temperature of everything involved," he begins. "But if I had to pick a point of comparison, I think it is most like working with clay. It's not a very close analogy, though. Working with metal, you can't really just slap parts back together, unless you melt them down all the way. To smith something, you really need to figure out how to make the final shape by drawing or beating your stock, with a minimum amount of joinery. See, metal sort of retains ..."

And Lhemur launches into a long explanation of metal stress, the effects of temperature on different working techniques, the differences between iron, copper, and tin, and the problems of inventory management they cause.


Eeferi conjures imagery approximately matching whatever Lhemur describes- faint heat rises from false forge-flame and metal clangs quietly when struck with imaginary force.  "What's it feel like, when it goes smoothly?  What do you think about, as you work?"


He drums his fingers in thought.

"It's ... when it goes smoothly, it's a bit like running," he says after a moment. "Where you make sure you can keep up a steady pace, since you know it's going to take a long time, but once the hammer starts falling in rhythm, it seems to take almost no time at all."

He's finished with his meal, so he sets his plate and knife aside and engages with Eeferi's illusory forge.

"There's a movement to it," he continues, taking an illusory hammer, and showing himself shifting his body — just slightly — around the anvil to get the right angle for strikes. "Because you can reposition the metal, but it breaks the flow. And you can't hammer in exactly the same place each time, or you won't make progress — or you'll make it too thin, or brittle. So you kind of watch how the shape changes, and then have to move yourself into position to keep up with it without hurting yourself."

He sets down the hammer.

"And then when you have finished the hammerwork, and you're dealing with barstock or something soft and delicate ... it's slow, and smooth, but still with the same underlying power to it. Your strength the only thing separating the metal as it is now from how you want it to be. I honestly don't know of anything like it. I admit that I get pretty sick of making nails after a while, but I like drawing just as much as hammering, really."

"As for what I think about ... I mean, usually I'm thinking about the metal, right? But it's not in words — just the sort of impression of how its shaped, and how I'm changing it, this constant awareness that took me a long time to perfect. It almost doesn't feel like thinking at all, sometimes, but more like balancing on a boat, with your body moving in time with the waves without conscious thought. Although there are also things to keep an eye on, so it's never completely automatic. Like the number of pieces you've produced so far, and whether anything is melting."

He sits down, shaking his head.

"One time, when I was an apprentice, I got into that state of focus for probably the first time making nails — I hated nails at the time, because they're such common apprentice work. I think I single-handedly supplied the village with two years of nails that week — but I got into focus for the first time, and I completely lost track of how many I had made. I only noticed when the quenching bucket spilled some water on my foot."

"Nowadays I'm a lot better at keeping track of things. That's the half of smithing that they don't tell you about, though. A village like this doesn't have a need for a truly full-time smith, so a lot of my time is spent doing inventory management for the kiln, and the charcoal fires, and our various raw materials. Plus maintaining tools, of course. You'd be surprised how quickly tongs can wear out, if you're using them seriously."

He blinks. "... I'm sorry, what was the question?"


Satenag snorts. "I'm pretty sure you answered it somewhere in there," she notes.


"I asked, 'What's it feel like, when it goes smoothly?  What do you think about, as you work?' and you answered.  I'm glad you shared that, with me."

Eeferi holds themself ready to answer further questions, or even ask them, if the opportunity arises.


"Well, I'm happy to have satisfied your curiosity!" he responds. "I'm always happy to talk about smithing."

He furrows his brow for a moment, trying to remember what he was going to ask before being (pleasantly) derailed.

"Oh! But I had a question for you as well — Rastenu was telling me about the information you'd shared on wishing, and I noticed that you said some wishes were able to manipulate ... wishers and genies, when they otherwise wouldn't. Like, mental changes, I think you said. And I was wondering why wishes would affect genies differently?"


"I don't know why the rules are as they are, they seem to simply be.  Genies are almost always protected from interference or modification in their ability to grant Wishes, from which freedom from one's lamp at the sacrifice of the ability to grant Wishes is an exception; rather than sharing a person's protection from almost all mental change, of which Masters are themselves mostly exempted."

"I suspect the rules are meant to protect themselves and prevent certain outcomes, but I do not know what, if anything, they strive against."

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