The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#1
The heat of the forge lit up Huldah's face as her hammer came crashing down on the molten ingot held on the anvil. The sun had slipped below the horizon long ago yet she still stood there toiling on a project of her own. There was more than enough work to keep both Huldah and her father busy for weeks on end but work was dull. Making something she could use however made it worth it's while.

The small hamlet lay less than a mile from Canterbury, the great shrine that drew constant pilgrims and business to their forge. Mostly just shoeing horses and fixing the implements of the local farmers. It truly was a dull boring place without even an interesting minstrel's tale to take her mind off the work.
 
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Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#2
Re: The Knight's Tale (Hulda)

Normally the woman would have closed the forge once the sun fell below the horizon, but the influx of work from Canterbury had put them behind. Her father had retired earlier, his age making his arm waver on the anvil. Hulda was young and strong however, the ring of hammer on metal continuing it‘s steady beat, pausing just long enough to heat the metal anew.

As she worked, the metal took shape. The axe they used to chop wood for the forge had splintered today. They already had plans to have a handle delivered in the morning, but Huldah had noticed a piece of scrap iron that would do well to replace the head as well.

As it took shape, her mind wandered. There had been a minstrel through town recently. She had heard a snippet of his music, the short tune turning over and over in her head. She hadn't heard any of the tale that accompanied it, however, so it wasn‘t long before the ditty had repeated enough to annoy her.
 
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Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#3
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

The axe head slowly took shape as Huldah's steady arm brought the hammer-head down against anvil. A droplet of sweat dripped down into her eye, yet she kept going, much like the song that stuck in her head. Annoying as it was the song would be stuck in there until the next minstrel passed through.

Perhaps she had begun to hum the tune as it repeated in her head, as she soon heard it being repeated by another from without the forge. Looking up from the anvil Huldah could see someone standing just at the edge of the light coming from behind her. She could make out few details of his face or dress as he stood within the shadows, but he dressed in garb typical of the many pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. She also caught the smallest gleam of steel from within his traveling cloak, marking him as armed.

It was an unfortunate truth that pilgrims attracted bandits on the roads and it was always a good idea to err on the side of safety. Perhaps he was just another well to do pilgrim or maybe he was a bandit, there was only one way to find out.
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#4
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Despite herself, Hulda jumped slightly when she noticed someone humming along. Her eyes darted up as her hammer strikes faltered. Tallish, dressed for travel. Armed, she noted, griping her hammer a little tighter.

“We‘re pretty much closed for the night, ser.“ She spoke up cautiously. “We should be able to handle any business you have tomorrow, though. There is an inn just a ways down, should still have the lights on.“
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#5
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

The man stopped humming as Huldah addressed him, though he remained where he stood just out of the fire light. His voice however came back calm and noble from where he stood. "You're hurt. You should have a healer check that burn out, it seems to have grown infected."

Huldah was completely taken aback not only by the sound of the man's voice but also by his statement. She had of course foolishly burnt her arm on the forge the other day, but that should hardly be visible from a distance. Much less the detail of it being infected. The man had the hood of his cloak pulled so closely that she could make out none of his features, though there a strange glow seemed to come from within. Maybe she had worked for too long.

The man continued by asking. "Are you quite sure that you're closed for the night. I would gladly pay extra for you to make the small repairs I am in need of."
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#6
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Huldah frowned again at the man's comment, glancing down to the burn across the back of her hand. She hadn't been paying enough attention taking iron from the forge, and had grazed it along the side. This stranger just felt off to her...

"Who are you?" She asked instead, trying not to let her concern touch her voice.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#7
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

The man once more remained where he was standing as Huldah posed her question. His unmoving way may have disturbed her but his voice seemed honest and reassuring as he answered.

"I suppose introductions do usually come first, you'll have to forgive me I spend so little time among normal people. My name is Daniel, most would refer to me as Sir Daniel but I feel I have not yet truly earned my birthright of nobility."

He took a ginger step forward so that Huldah could see him in full, he wore no armor under the brown pilgrim's cloak so far as she could tell. A long sword did peek out from under the cloak but only the most foolish of pilgrim's would travel unarmed and alone.

"I didn't mean to alarm you about the burn, but I spent some time working in the hospital in Acre, during the crusade. I've become far to used to seeing the danger's of uncared for wounds."
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#8
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

At mention of the man‘s name, her father‘s voice drifted into Huldah‘s head. ‘Always treat nobles with more respect than their title deserves. We can gain much from the work they offer, and lose just as much from disrespect.‘

“Of course, Sir Daniel.“ she answered after a brief pause. “I‘m sorry, there aren‘t many flk out this time of night. I did plan to let the fires die after i was finished with this, but I can keep going. What kind of work do you need done?“
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#9
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Huldah could see Daniel smile from deep within his hood, though he remained standing where he was. The hood still left the top half of his face obscured in shadow, though what she could see clearly painted a handsome picture. He avoided looking toward the fire of the forge for some reason, even going so far as to shield his eyes as he answered. Though perhaps it was just bright after being out in the darkness of the night.

"I suppose most decent people wouldn't be about this late at night. I guess I'm a bit eccentric in that regard. Anyways my horse threw a horseshoe not far up the road. Though I can I walk, I would rather not have to walk the rest of the way to Canterbury. Especially since I am a bit late for a meeting with some relatives of mine."
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#10
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

That made Huldah pause again. It seemed a typical lure to get her out of the building and away from help, but the way he said it... She decided to trust the man.

"It would be better to shoe him here, but point out one that should fit, and I can manage something on the road. You should get it done more properly here, or in Canterbury, however." She answered, setting the axehead aside for now. She'd have to heat it back up after.

Once Sir Daniel picked a shoe off the racks, she'd grab it and one from each approximate size up and down, in case his estimation wasn't perfect. Grabbing a few horseshoe nails and the proper hammer to set them with, she gave the hooded man a nod. "Anything else?"
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#11
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Daniel nodded and said, "Yes I suppose it would have been better to shoe her here. Thankfully it isn't far back on the road."

His keen brown eyes scanned the rack of shoes along the wall, before pointing to one and saying. "That looks about the correct size. I assure you I will stop and get it fixed properly as soon as I can. Perhaps when I return this way tomorrow night, if you would be willing to stay open again."

Once Huldah had gathered the proper tools and a few shoes, they began their trip down the road. A full moon filled the sky with its light making it easy to see the well-worn Roman road that they followed. Sir Daniel fell into the same pace as Huldah allowing them to walk side-by-side.

True to his word the horse stood next to a tree not far down the road. A magnificent white Arabian with unusual tack upon it. Unusual in the light that it wasn't the sort she usually saw. The horse too was unusual in that it was only a bit larger than a pony, most knights used far heavier breeds.

Daniel nodded and said with a tinge of pride in his voice. "There she is, Safanad. A gift from one of my more noble enemies after the battle of Dorylaeum."
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#12
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Huldah gave a nod, following him out of the forge and into the dead of night. "I remember the crusades some." She said, making passing conversation as they walked. "I was still young then, but I remember working hard to help my father with all the extra work we had. then everyone was gone, and we had very little work for a long time."

Once they reached the horse, the woman frowned again. Not the kind of steed she was expecting from the knight, but his explanation made enough sense. Once she got close enough, she could see which hoof it was that had lost the shoe. "Seems a fine horse. Keep... him, steady while i clean it up and get the new shoe on, please." She asked, waiting for him to start before lifting the hoof. Thankfully, there seemed to be little damage, so she set about removing any of the older nails, cleaning the hoof of any dirt and debris, and setting the new shoe in place. "Without putting this on hot, you're running the risk of having it come off again, very soon. I should be around late again tomorrow, but I would suggest even getting it done in Canterbury during the day, if you can. And try not to run him if you can help it, either."
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#13
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

"I suppose we all lost something in the crusade, even those of us who supported it from afar. Safanad is one of the few good memories I have of the affair. Her name mean pure in the tongue of the Saracens." Daniel said as he calmed the beautiful horse so that Huldah could do her work.

The horse stayed oddly calm while Huldah worked at cleaning and shoeing the horse. For which she was thankful the horse seemed incredibly powerful for its size. Daniel remained near the horse's head stroking her mane while saying little until she had finished.

"I'll certainly try to have it done the first chance I get, though I may still stop on my return. You seem so highly skilled with your trade, perhaps I might commission you and your father to make something for me. To make up for those lean times during the war. How much do I owe you for the troubles tonight?" Daniel said with a pleasant smile towards Huldah.

Spoiler
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#14
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

"Please sir, it's a temporary job at best." Huldah said in response to the praise. "I'd hardly hold you responsible for any hardship, but we'd be happy to do more work, if you require it. For tonight, three farthings for the shoe and work should do." She answered modestly, putting the horse's hoof back down and giving it's powerful flank a few strokes. It was a bit under what they'd normally charge, but more than the shoe itself was worth. With luck, it would entice the noble to actually bring his work back to them.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#15
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

The horse nuzzled at Huldah's face as she stroked its flank. Daniel seemed surprised at the price given though he duly reached into his purse and produced 3 full pennies.

"Truly you are a noble soul to under charge someone on pilgrimage as you have, milady. I insist you take this however and I promise to tell my relatives of your shop. I will definitely be returning with a commission for you and your father. So until we meet again my dearest lady."

With his last words Daniel took Huldah's hand and kissed it before mounting his steed and returning to his trip for Canterbury. Though he did give one last wave and a smile as he rode carefully down the road.
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#16
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

The smith's daughter began to protest, but fell silent as the noble continued to flatter her, a little at a loss to what to say. He was on his horse and starting away before she came up with a response, a stuttered 'It's too much... Thank you, ser." She finally answered, giving the man a wave back before he was too far away to see in the dark.

Still at a bit of a loss as to how lucky she seemed to be tonight, she gave a shrug and started back towards home. There was still that axe head to finish before she could cool the forge and call it a night, though it wouldn't take much longer now.

Spoiler
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#17
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

Huldah couldn't help but wonder at the strange noble she had just met. It was a short walk back to the forge and in an equally short time she finished with the axe head. More tedium she thought as she trudged into her home and to her bed. Even the noble despite being charming and unusual was really just more of the same, she thought as she drifted to sleep.

The next day was unusually busy for Huldah and her father as everyone seemed to stop for various jobs. There wasn't any major work to speak of but they all paid well and they all said their own masters had heard there was much to praise about the forge by one Daniel of Westminster. They had made a tidy bundle of gold which pleased her father.

Huldah and her father were just finishing their evening meal as the sun dropped beneath the horizon. Even if Daniel didn't return with some sort of commission for them he had at least picked up their business considerably. Huldah soon began the short walk back towards the forge and noticed that she had another customer waiting. A simple friar from the looks of his clothing, probably not older than she herself.
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#18
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

After the late night, Huldah slept fitfully. Her father was glad to hear of the extra money she had earned, though the daughter got a mild reprimand for heading into the night with a stranger.

Work that day was long and hard, the sudden influx of business going close to their limits, but paying just as well. By the time the evening meal came around, Huldah was glad for the chance to sit and rest. Father's wheeze was back after the long day, but he was happy as well, all the new money making life a little easier.

After dinner, she was making the short trip around the house to the forge facing the street when she noticed someone standing in the entrance, just as she had found Daniel last night. It took just that glance to recognize it wasn't him, however. "Good evening Ser. How can I help you?" She asked as she approached.
 
Nov 10, 2008
5,219
#19
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

The man was a friar in dark grey robes, his bald head and kind eyes almost put Huldah at ease immediately. Surely no harm could come from someone like this she thought as he smiled and nodded his head at her greeting. "Hello, my child. I am Friar Louis. You are Huldah, are you not."

The portly yet jovial man moved toward her slowly, a limp seemed to keep him from moving too quickly. As he made his way he continued in the same friendly tone. "A close mutual friend of ours has asked me to fetch you, a Sir Daniel. He said you would know the name and asked me to bring you to see him. There was something he wished to show you...now what was it? I don't rightly recall the words he used exactly."

The old friar was having difficulty remembering his exact errand it seemed. Still something about the priest seemed so trustworthy, it was almost supernatural how much she felt beguiled by this fat, jovial friar.
 
Dec 14, 2008
7,437
#20
Re: The Knight's Tale (Huldah)

"Yes I am, Friar." Huldah answered respectfully, listening with a small smile on her face. Unlike the previous night, the thought that there might be something else going on never crossed her mind.

"It must be about the comission Sir Daniel said he would have for us. Let me close the forge and get my father, he should speak to the man as well. Should only take a few moments." She told the man as her smile widened, starting to go about doing just that.