The Forging of Greatness

 

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In an earlier day…

In the depths of the valley of Caprice, about 75 miles north of the Adriatic Sea, a great contest underwent. A war raged between the two great cities of Pella and Vanicia, a battle of beasts.

Who can tame the will to power of such animals? Man has known great gains in their infant history, but the human condition is as malleable as the tungsten weapons they forge against their fellow men.

Egos clash their phallic swords while the merry decision makers watch from their thrones afar, and such is the nature of the wild.

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Into the jungle we are thrust and find a woman. A woman whose thoughts and skin tone fell to the same hue. Bonéma lived as a beautiful, dark, silk cloak. She was woven by the fabric of strife.  Providence had it so that she grew into an old age, for longevity was a blessing not promised in those days in as much as simplicity isn’t promised in ours.

Madame Bonéma, in her quiet, contemplated the obscurity of people who desired to kill over the acquisition of territory.  She would think, “Why do the birds declare the sky free and the fish share the sea, when man will destroy what was given as a gift.”

She would then add a deep sigh only to be received by the ears of seclusion. She kept her doors open mostly because she believed that humans should aspire to connect instead of perspiring to conceal. She did not, however, show any hospitality to idleness and despair,  her two unwelcome guests.  She was a consistent woman who refused to indulge compromise.  She lived her life in accordance with an adage she came across in a book, “We never find purpose for our hands, until our hands find purpose.”

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Bonéma ‘s  gift was mastery of melding metal. Before the war came, she spent her time crafting immaculate works of art in the form of figurines and kitchen utensils. She found great peace and purpose in her work because a blacksmith’s task carries an attractive irony. There is a component of detail oriented craftsmanship, coupled with the raw strength of manipulating strong metal. It is the lion and the lamb living in faithful harmony.

She would often give away many of her most time-consuming pieces, confessing her reward was in the process, and that appreciation was the most valuable form of wealth.

The elite scoffed at her generosity, to which she would respond with a soft smile and a thought along the lines of, “How weak is he who falls prey to gold, than he who gives way to gratitude.” Mme Bonéma was a model of greatness, exemplary of everything we once knew to be a beautiful person.

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The war began transforming both the Pellan and Vanician people from people of purity and magic to people of aggression and unrest. The free thinkers of those societies conformed under durress. The war stole their innocence and few managed to maintain their substance. Pella was located by the sea, while Vanicia was situated on top of a hill. The Vanicians were athletically superior and more dominant in stature. Living on top of a hill provided another military advantage of a wider range of sight. What the Pellans lacked in sight however, they gained in foresight and what they lacked in outward strength they recovered inwardly.

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When threat of war was made common knowledge, Mme Bonéma went straight to work without a moment’s hesitation. She took to crafting the perfect weapon, a weapon that would boast sharpness, durability, and swiftness, traits of a conqueror. Three days and nights she toiled, barely stopping for a moment’s rest, protesting all the captivities of the flesh. Finally arriving at what she believed to be a sword of near perfection, she wrapped it up and set off for the battle camp.

Before she even began crafting the sword, she had an idea of who she believed worthy of such a weapon. His name was Alexander.  They had met through a mutual friend years prior and would privately take to each other’s company when they felt burdened. These occasions did not happen as often as either of them liked.  Alexander was a man equally equipped with wisdom and swordsmanship. He was a Pellan general with resounding fierceness and resolve.

Bonéma arrived at Alexander’s tent mid afternoon carrying the new born whose craftsmanship and beauty were adorned in the sunlight. Weary from the journey, she decided to remain there with Alexander for the duration of the afternoon. Aware of the dangers of Bonéma’s journey back, Alexander insisted she spend the evening.

True intent masked by this act of selflessness, he wanted to talk to her, in hopes of regaining his waning belief in humanity. They sat down to a cup of tea by candle light, setting a mood for reflection. Bonéma broke the silence first with a question, “What do you think of war, Alexander?”

Alexander answered,“I don’t give much way to the mysteries of the world, outside of evening tea time. I leave the things that are beyond us, to that which is beyond us. I’ve found no sense to war, but neither to love nor life, but still I partake. I don’t believe those rooms are open to us, nor should they be. I won’t walk in the light fretting over what lies beyond in the darkness. What I do believe, Bonéma, is that whatever we are given to do with our hands, we do with our whole being and to the best of our ability. “

He then picked up the sword and inspected it with awe, noting its magnificence as a father does his child when they first meet.

“Such a truth you are no stranger to, apparently.”

Bonéma took a sip of her tea to mask the sunshine creeping from her mouth. From then on they sat in silence until time to retire for bed.

The next morning Alexander awoke and glanced at the sword with the renewed confidence the weapon brought. He passed by the room Bonéma slept in the night before, which was now empty. He quietly thanked her for the feeling of purpose she spilled into his world whenever she visited. He slowly placed his armour on and stepped out into the world he now called home, the war.

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3 weeks later the fight had come to an end and despite all prediction, or logic even, the Pellans were victorious. When the ancients tell tales of their memories, none neglect to mention the fight of Alexander after that day. They light up while recalling how he moved as an inspired man yielding a sword of magic, while hundreds of Vanecians fell. Alexander ventured forth to earn the title of greatness, creating one of the greatest empires the world has ever known, never tasting the bitterness of defeat. He would say with great pride,

“Before the empire is the fight, and before the fight is the warrior and his weapon, but before the weapon comes the blacksmith.”

 

by @sledain // Artwork by  Alicia Krawchuk 

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