The Memory Smith - Part 1 (Aaron Achartz)

The Memory Smith

Part 1

Magnus Stonhart shuffled through the chill, dark night while the knapsack slung over his shoulder glowed and thrummed and emanated sweet smells of all varieties. He preferred to work at night, when the world stilled and the crowds dispersed. Alone, he roamed the empty streets to gather sensations wherever he could. On summer nights it was pleasant, but the warmth of summer had waned. Christmas was near and the damp, cold night air clung to his skin, leaving a chill he could not shake even as he entered his workshop.

With an exhale, he set the heavy pack on the wooden table. He pulled loose the drawstrings and began to unpack. He removed the sensations one at a time, careful lest one drops or shatters. He sorted them out into their drawers: smells, temperatures, the large collections of sights.

A gentle knock on the workshop door roused him from his meditative movements. Outside stood a tall, thin man with a gray cloak wrapped around his shoulders. The man held a golden glowing memory in his hands.

“Sorry to bother you so late, Magnus.” The man’s wide eyes darted around the room for signs he had awoken the large smith.

“It is no bother. Come in, Shay.” Magnus’s voice was low and measured, so as not to betray his joy at company. “What can I help you with?”

“I have a memory.” He held forth the glowing thought as proof. “My children and I playing checkers this morning. I was wondering if you could…”

“Let me look.” Magnus gently took the memory from him. He could feel the crisp morning air, see the children gathered around a worn wooden table, and hear the joy in their gentle laughter.

“What needs to be better?” Magnus asked.

Shay shuffled his feet. “Well, I did have a few requests.”

Magnus waited in silence.

“I was wondering if you could put us in matching pajamas. I saw that in a catalogue. Also, my youngest spilled his hot chocolate, so if you could clean that up. Otherwise, you know how to make it a perfect memory.”

“Aye.” Magnus opened a nearby drawer and pulled out a bit of morning sun. There was a cloudy sky out the window in the memory.

Shay studied each sensation as Magnus pulled it out. “Those look great.”

“They are merely elements,” Magnus said. “On their own, they are worthless. It is not until they are combined in just the right portions that they make a perfect, whole memory.”

After a little more discussion, they arrived on a final plan and then Shay departed.

Magnus set to work. He liked to craft while the plan was still fresh in his mind. With nothing else to fill the night, he crafted the memory into the earlier morning hours.

It was nearly complete. The family wore matching pajamas. There was no spilled hot chocolate. The crisp morning air was now lit by a golden sun, instead of a dreary layer of clouds.

He had also added a few tiny, but crucial, details as well, which was the reason his smithing was so renowned. The rug was no longer frayed and threadbare, but instead was plush and new. Shay’s hair lay now completely flat. The distant rumble of the main road had been replaced with tranquil bird calls.

Magnus was just about to seal the memory when he noticed the daughter’s hand. A small scar, perhaps from a schoolyard accident, ran across the palm. That would not do.

He found his roller, and began to roll the scar away. It was troublesome, though. The roller seemed to pass over it without affecting it.

Grumbling, he dug for his shears. He would need to find a new palm and replace it. He forced the shears into the memory, but the palm still did not yield. He leaned bodily into it.

He knew immediately it was too much force. His stomach dropped. The shears slipped and he fell forward.

The memory gave no resistance to him as he fell through it. He toppled over his workbench, sending tools flying, and landed on his right arm with a crack. A bolt of pain shot from his wrist.

He lay there for a moment, tendrils from pain running the length of his arm, before pulling himself up with his left hand. He threw his cloak over his shoulder, groaned, and headed out to find a doctor.
“I just need an assistant for a few weeks, Alvis. A month at most,” Magnus said. He was on the grounds of the local University and talking with Alvis Lehrer, a fellow smith who ran the program there.

“I know just who you need,” Alvis said. “Val. Valkan Kynsol. Best student I’ve had in a long time.”

Magnus gingerly touched his sling. “You are not the only one to say so. I’m starting to think Val might be my best choice.”

“I can give him leave for a month. Apprenticing under you is more educational than a classroom.”

“What is his temperament?” Magnus asked.

“Cheery, hardworking.” His friend’s eyes drifted beyond him, across the open square. “In fact, why don’t you see for yourself? Val! Come over here!”

“Yes, Professor Lehrer.” A student, dressed in a gray uniform, scurried across the dead grass to them. A smile stretched his face, and he held out a calloused hand to Magnus.

“Val Kynsol. Pleased to meet you, Mister…?”

“Stonhart.” Magnus gave Val’s hand a single pump and released it. He did not fail to notice the callouses, a clear sign the student practiced his smithing.

“Wait, as in Magnus Stonhart? It’s an honor to meet you, sir.”

“Mr. Stonhart was just telling me he needed an apprentice-“

“Assistant,” Magnus clarified.

“An assistant for a month. I recommended you.”

“Really, Professor?” The grin somehow grew wider, stretching the young man’s face out even more.

Magnus groaned inwardly at Val’s enthusiasm. “Yes. Be at my workshop at noon tomorrow. I must begin my work promptly.”
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