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Aeodh mac Aodh

March 10, 2009

siege_engineA cheerful orange glow issued from the coals as a stocky dwarf pumped the bellows three more times and wiped her forehead on a rolled-up sleeve, grinning. Between the clanging of hammer on iron and the roaring of the wind over the top of the chimney, Aeodh and her father weren’t able to speak, but they did share their excitement in identical expressions of glee as the last piece of heavy-tank armor plating got its final shaping. Tomorrow, the piece would be heaved up against the side of the great war machine being built in their shop and bolted into place. Technically, there were still some minor things to clean up, aesthetic modifications to make, and the final check of all the fittings, but effectively this project was done.

Aeodh resumed pumping as part of the coal bed started to darken, and her mind began to wander. After the first four daughters who took up tailoring with his wife, Aodh Steamsmith had decided that his next child would be a son, one way or another. One more bouncing bundle of joy later and he had Aeodh, his new “son”, wrapped in a blue scrap of wool and handed around the tavern for toasts. It was only about five years ago that she’d really started helping her father in his siege vehicle workshop though, even if she’d been in here “helping” since she was a baby. Truth be told, her first steps were made from her mother’s skirt over to her Pa’s toolbox when Ma wasn’t looking. Her father was just fit to bust with pride when he saw that, and knew he finally had the heir to the family business he’d been hoping for.

Truly it didn’t bother her, the work was tough but she loved every minute of it. Grease, grime, heat, and noise were her friends as she learned how to produce amazing and beautiful machines. True, the gnomes liked to think of themselves as tinkers, but their little gadgets could never be as practical and functional as dwarven feats of engineering. It had made her brawny, with big arms and shoulders from blacksmithy and moving large metal pieces around even if she’d never grown much taller than her sisters. She was comfortable in the patched, dark blue jumpsuit with a wide leather tool belt on. Aeodh never felt slighted getting her father’s hand-me-downs; it just made her feel closer to him.

An amused grunt woke her from her reverie and Aeodh blinked, realizing the last piece was done, set to cool for the night and be fitted the next day. “Ye have a good nap there at th’ bellows, lass o’ mine?” the elder Aodh chuckled.

“Oh aye! Ah need ter be catchen me beauty sleep, ye kin?” She retorted, pretending to primp her close-cropped red hair. Dramatically eyeing him up and down she added, “But ah s’pose ye wouldna know nuthin’ abou’ that now, would ye?”

Her Pa guffawed good naturedly as they walked out of the shop stepping out into the cool early spring evening. The weather was just beginning to warm up, and although there was still snow on the ground it was the sloppy wet kind that you get after a day of melting. Grinning wickedly, he scooped up a pile of it and chucked it into Aeodh’s back and dove to the side as she spluttered and lobbed back a handful of her own.

Hitting him squarely on a shoulder, Aeodh taunted, “Ach, ye throw like a field mouse!”

They laughed and exchanged a few more volleys before Ma Steamsmith stalked out of the house and threatened them both with a good dunking in the dish water. With a last few chuckles, both headed inside and got changed for dinner.

The house was warm and inviting inside, full of light, cooking smells, and happiness. It wasn’t exactly a tiny house, having two full rooms in the stony bottom floor with a loft for the girls above and a small root and ale cellar below, but it always felt a bit crowded with all seven of them in there. Ma was back by the hearth, checking the bread loaves for dinner with the eldest, Mairie, stirring the soup pot. Allie and Sine, second and third born, were finishing the final rinse and hanging of that day’s dye lot on strings along the wall to dry, today’s tub had been a nice dark green. Jinny, youngest until Aeodh herself, was setting out the dishes at the table.

After dinner the whole family gathered around the fireplace to talk about the day and share jokes and stories. Pa smoked his hickory pipe, Aeodh whittled a Winter Veil gift for her mother, and Ma and her daughters knitted or embroidered by their natures. When the time came to bank the coals for the night, Ma and Pa headed to their snug room on the bottom floor, and the girls tucked in upstairs. Aeodh drifted to sleep that night cozy between two of her sisters, thinking about the next big project for their little shop.

—————————————————–

The next morning was bright and sunny, set to be another warm day. Aeodh grabbed an apple from a barrel in the cellar and headed across the yard to meet her father in the shop. Whistling, she started digging out the tools and bucket of spare bolts that would be needed that day. A loud curse from the other side of the shop made her pause though and she yelled to him, “Sommat th’ matter Pa?”

“Ach, ets th’ damned bloody platin’ we worked on yesterday. Et cooled badly an’ ahm gonna have ter repound one o’ th’ corners what came outta shape. Could ye grab th’ barrow and git some more coal from th’ storage, Aeodh?” her father called back, “Ah kin get goin’ wi’ what we have, but ah’ll need more ter finish. Don’ mind th’ bellows, ah got it.”

With a “Sure thing, Pa!” Aeodh headed to do just that, grabbing the stout wooden barrow from up against the wall, and wheeling it around outside to the woodshed with its bin for extra coal. Six shovelfuls of coal and she figured that was enough for today, set the lid back on the bin and stepped back into the cheerful sunshine.

Boom.

The first thing that registered to Aeodh, was that the errant piece of metal plating was flying toward her. It stuck in the ground not three feet from her; vibrating, upright in the ground. Then came great clouds of dust and a wave of heat rolling out from the shop. Aeodh sank to her knees, sheltering behind the big piece of metal and hating it for keeping her from seeing what was going on. More dust and crashing noises as Aeodh realized her ears were ringing, but most of the heat was dissipated so she ran around her shield to help her father out of the building.

Shouting and crying people from the town were running down to the end of their little street to see what happened. Aeodh was in the middle of a storm of chaos, with only one thought in her mind: I have to save him! The forge was a wreck. Blocks of its construction were spewed in all directions, the blackened armor of the siege vehicle under a mess of timbers from the roof. She dove in where he would have been standing, near the bellows, pulling apart blocks of stone and pushing aside wooden beams.

He has to be here! He HAS to be okay! Quailed a voice inside her. Aeodh dug with splinters under her fingernails, vaguely aware that others were doing the same in other parts of the wreckage. She heard her mother and sisters sobbing somewhere behind her, and someone calling her name. Her body ached, her arms felt weighted, and her fingers bled on the stone but still she kept working, too soon the light seemed to be fading.

“Aeodh! La-Lass! Come down from there!” It sounded like Breaggin, the village butcher, but she didn’t care. Strong hands grabbed her arms and waist, pulling her away from the rubble of the shop and she twisted, trying to fight. They didn’t understand, how could they understand? Her father was under there somewhere, waiting for someone to get him out!

“Pa!” She cried, kicking her captors, “Pa! Hold on!”

“No Lass, et’s dark. Et’s been hours. Don’t ye realize how long yeh’ve been at it? Yer faether’s gone, and yer Ma an sisters need ye now.” This time it was Seoc, the priest. “Look. Look Aeodh. Look to yer family naow. They need ye.”

It was true. She wanted to go back and keep looking for her Pa, oh how badly she wanted to do just that, but she was the head of the house now. They needed her strength, and there was nothing she could do now but let the lads from town finish the cleanup while she turned to embrace her family.

———————————————————–

A month later the sun was high in the sky and spring was fading into summer. Irrepressibly, the weather turned fairer and the days longer. Though the spring rains had managed to drown most of the smell of burned wood and hot stone from the ruins of the siege shop, Aeodh’s mother and sisters were moving. Dun Morogh was closer to Ironforge they said, business would be better if they lived closer to the big city.

Aeodh stood in the field behind the house that she grew up in, light green grasses growing lushly to near her waist now, swaying in a breeze that carried the last hint of chill in it. Seoc was with her now; he’d spent a lot of time working with her this last month, helping to give her strength so she could in turn lend it to her family. Without turning, she stared out over the sea of grass and spoke to him, “Ye know, at th’ beginnin’ ah figgered it was insultin’ o’ the seasons ter carry on like nuthin’ ‘ad happened. What right ‘ad the sun ter shine when my world was all dark?”

“Ah know better now, Seoc. It’s the nature o’ th’ world to carry on the way et must. Ah gotta do what ah must too. Pa will always be wi’ me. Every time ah build sommat, or use what ‘ee taught me, he’ll be there, ye know? Whether et be yore Light, or jest th’ sunlight, ah see it all now. How we’re all linked tahgether. I think I’ll go to those paladins ye tol’ me about. I don’t care much fer dust prayers and candles, but if ah kin go and protect people, they’ll ‘ave a bit more time to spread their own Light, the way ah’ll go do Pa proud an’ spread his.”

Now, turning to face Seoc, they exchanged a brief smile. Aeodh dabbed at her eyes where the sunlight must have made them water and walked back to the house to mount a shaggy pony loaded with light traveling gear and one of her father’s hammers. Waving, she tapped the pony’s sides with her heels and called over her shoulder as she rode away, “I think I’ll be alright, Seoc! I’m going to see where the sun will take me!”

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One comment

  1. […] to 20, then probably delete them to make room for another character to push through. When I wrote Aeodh’s story, she’d only just hit level 10, and I’m considering restarting her on a different server […]



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