The story is called Forged in Blood and it’s my attempt to provide part of the mythological background to the world of Ladmas, a secondary fantasy world, in which I have based the occasional story – such as Demon River, and the beginnings of a novel. Forged in Blood is about a cruel and stupid god called Tiel, who is the god of the forge – an equivalent if you like to Vulcan. He lives in the mountains and despoils the lands all around. But Tiel finds love of sorts and almost becomes benign for a while until it all goes wrong and his desires become too much for him.
Here’s an extract:
I tell a tale of long ago, of the daughters of stoop shouldered Tiel, god of the forge. Blood maned Spera, Iana, ice-friend, and strong-armed Tera the three daugthers of Tiel, smith of the gods, forger of metals. Listen now to my tale, of the deeds of a god and his daughters begotten on a mortal woman – the Enbreeda as they were known. Their name lives for the deeds they did amongst the iron-spiked towers of the Fortress of Tiel, home of the forge. Be patient and I will tell you a great tale of danger, greed and revenge.
Some years before the recording of time began, Tiel came down from the mountains, down from his iron towers and took the bounty from the low lying hills and meadows. He took cattle for his table, squeezed dry bunches of grapes and fruit for his wine, and took the wives of mortal kings for his pleasure. The people of the lands below the mountains were scared and did not resist him. Their warriors and kings and proud princes were afraid and ran when he came and offered tribute against his wrath lest he swing his great iron-forged axe against them. Tiel was happy that the men of the low lands saw his power and quaked in their boots, he began to enjoy their feeble efforts to appease him. After he had taken many head of cattle, many gallons of wine and several of the prettiest of the kings’ wives, he told the men of the low lands that the time had come for them to be ruled by him in their kingdoms, that they were weak and needed a god as strong as Tiel to lead them, so that they could worship him and bow down to him. The kings and proud princes of the low lands gladly accepted the offer of Tiel, although their wives and their farmers were less happy.
Tiel, with his great axe made a road for the men to walk to his fortress in the mountains – he chopped down the trees and used his powers to make great holes in the mountains where no road could go. The men of the low lands could now come to him to give tribute and hear the wisdom of Tiel. Every year the greatest kings and the proudest princes of the low lands below the mountains came to the Fortress of Tiel, climbing the steep road through the forests and newly cut gorges. They brought their followers and courts and tribute, each trying to outdo the other in winning the favour of Tiel. Tiel was content to take the tribute from the kings, but they also brought with them questions, decisions to be made. These topics bored Tiel, the petty squabbles of these men did not interest him. Did they expect him to decide everything for them? The audiences with the kings lasted many days and the sounds of their voices became like hornets nesting in his ears.
One day Tiel had enough. He stood up from his great iron throne in the highest of the iron-spike towers of his Fortress and called for the kings to stop their talking, their arguing and their bickering. ‘No more of this! You must all provide me with twice the amount of tribute next year unless you can decide your own petty problems.’
With this the kings were dismissed and began to leave the hall of the higest tower before the great iron throne of Tiel. But one of the kings, Jelistin, was clever and wise and perhaps more foolhardy or braver than his fellows. He paused and bowing as he walked, approached the iron throne of Tiel. ‘Great Tiel, Lord of the forges, dispenser of wisdom, I have an idea to stop the squabbles.’ Tiel glanced at Jelistin, frowning his great creased brow and bent towards him, his stooped shoulders bending higher than his head. Jelistin told him his thoughts. He should nominate one of the kings to act for him, to decide the petty squabbles of the men of the low lands, to keep order and peace for him for there were many wars now in these days that prevented the gathering of tribute for the great Tiel. Tiel thought well of his idea. But who could he trust to act in his interests? Jelistin replied that he must choose the best of the kings, the one who had always given him good counsel, maybe he could put himself forward as the possible candidate for this position. ‘Yes I like this idea and you would be a good choice, but I do not trust you, less than the other kings in fact. I will take your wife as hostage for one year as a guarantee of good behaviour.’ Tiel had stopped taking the wives of the kings and princes as in recent years he had grown bored of prim aristocratic ladies, instead prefering now and then to take a peasant girl from the fields. But the wife of Jelistin, Quarona, was unknown to him until this session of his court – he had glimpsed her earlier that day walking with her maids and decided that he must have her one way or another, for she was a great natural beauty.