“From the ashes I arose, in the great mounds where they were heaped.” Its voice was like a deep bellows, whispers of fire raked over cherry-red coals, and each syllable breathed forth a pinch of acrid smoke and let a little of the burning light within escape.

“I’ve heard it said that the best smiths put themselves into their work,” said Ona. “I suppose that, with enough ash and time, the shards of great smiths past must feel the need to create.”

Cinderforge nodded. “The urge is overwhelming,” it said, “though the materials run low and the supply of fuel ebbs. I have kept this furnace stoked for an age, making trinkets and weapons and whatever else is asked for with a genuine need. But I cannot wander far before the fire begins to fail, and I am diminished form what I once was. I fear that another blade such as Heartseeker is not within me to craft.”

“Why not?” Ona said. She watched the sparks rise from each hammer blow as Cinderforge worked away at the metal. “You’re as strong a smith as I’ve ever seen.”

“There was a time when four arms worked these forges, manning the bellows as well as the hammer and tongs,” said Cinderforge. “To keep the fire, I have had to cast off pieces of myself. In a year, perhaps less, they shall gutter out unless I give up the last part of myself. Even if you could bring me Heartseeker itself, I could not copy it as I am now.”

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