Myth used: Hephaestus, God of Metalworking
New title: Hezak the Blacksmith
Hephaestus - Hezak
Hera - Helenia
Thetis - Tabika
Zeus - Zeke
Athena - Amara
Aphrodite - Arryn
Helenia lay in bed, resting. It was only a few hours after she had given birth to her little son. The nursemaid was looking after him until Helenia had more energy. She was thinking about what she would name her son. Maybe Fredrick... Or Peter...
Just then, the nursemaid came in with Helenia’s little boy. Walking over to the bed, she gently placed the baby in Helenia’s arms. Looking at the nursemaid, Helenia grew a little worried at the look on her face.
“What is it? Is he sick?” Helenia asked worriedly, all thoughts of what to name the boy gone from her mind.
“No, Miss. He’s just a bit of an unusual foot.” The nursemaid replied.
Helenia undid the blanket that her son was wrapped up in. She looked at his tiny body with adoration in her eyes, until she saw his foot. She recoiled, thrusting the baby at the nursemaid. “He’s hideous! Get that thing away from me! That is not my son!” Helenia screeched.
The maid took the baby from Helenia, completely in shock. “Miss, it’s just a little deformity! There’s nothing else wrong with him.”
“He’s weak and useless! Get it away from me! Dispose of that...that thing at once!” Helenia screamed.
The maid dashed out of the room, the little baby cradled against her. “What am I supposed to do with you now?” She asked him, knowing he couldn't answer.
Hezak limped along the beach, using his fancy silver tipped cane for support, as he did everyday. He should have been playing with the other kids, but they never wanted to play with him. It wasn't his fault, he had never done anything to upset the village kids. It was just because he had a twisted foot. It had been this way for as long as he could remember. Ever since he first came to this island, when he was 4 years old.
He didn't remember much about his life before he was brought here, only that he was shunned and mocked back there too, in that place he was before this island. That was 10 years ago. Now he was the son of the couple who owned the island. Harrison Aldridge and his wife Tabika. He knew they weren't his real parents, his real mother had shunned him too. That’s not what Harrison and Tabika had said, but Hezak hadn't gotten the underlying message. His mother had given him away because of his twisted foot.
That didn't actually bother him much. What bothered him was that he had never really had anything to do, except watch the dockworkers who worked for his father while they repaired the ships that came and went constantly. They were the only ones on the island who didn't shun him. Some of them had deformities too, like the man who carried the sheet metal to the blacksmiths to cut to the right size. He had a twisted foot too, although his wasn't as ugly as Hezak’s.
“Hey Zak! How’s it going?” One of the dockworkers, Avery, called out.
Walking down the last stretch of beach before the docks, Hezak called back, “Good! How are the docks today? No accidents today I hope.”
Laughing, Avery replied, “Nope, no accidents. We are quite busy today though.”
Hezak climbed onto the docks, walking up to Avery. “I’ll stay out of your way then.”
“Oh, I know you will, Zak. You always do.” Avery smiled and patted Hezak’s head.
Hezak sighed and continued on his way to his out-of-the-way vantage point. He dodged around all the people out and about, until he reached the watchtower that was always unoccupied. He slipped his cane through one of his belt loops as he put his foot on the first rung of the shining yellow ladder. It took him a little longer than most people, but he climbed to the top without any problems.
Once he was at the top, he limped over to the edge that hung over empty space. Carefully, he sat down, his legs dangling over the edge. He liked to watch the men below shaping the metal sheets and fixing them to the hulls of cargo ships. There was a certain artistic skill to it.
“Zak!” Hezak looked around the docks below, until he spotted Avery who was waving his arms around wildly.
Hezak pulled himself to his feet and limped over to the ladder. He began to descend carefully. He was about halfway down, when his crippled foot slipped off the rung. He slammed into the ladder really hard, knocking the breath out of his body. He held tight to the ladder with his right hand, since his left hand had slipped off when he had slammed into the ladder.
“Hang on, Zak!” Avery called.
Hezak glanced down while trying to catch his breath, and saw Avery and some other dockworkers running towards him. He reached up with his left hand and grabbed to rung above his head, swinging his left foot up onto the ladder at the same time. Sliding his hands into his sleeves, one at a time, he grabbed the sides of the ladder. He put his gimped right foot against the side of the ladder as well. Taking a deep breath, he took his right foot off the rung it was on and braced it against the edge of the ladder. He loosened his grip and began to slid down the ladder. As he got close to the ground, he turned the rubbery soles of his shoes against the ladder to slow his descent. He stopped just a few feet above the ground, then jumped off the ladder.
He turned to face the dockworkers just as Avery backhanded him.
“What were you thinking? You could have fallen and gotten seriously hurt!” Avery exclaimed.
Hezak sighed. “I'm sorry. I was fine, I knew I was strong enough to pull myself back up. You didn't have to drop what you were doing. I wasn't gonna fall.”
“That doesn't mean we can’t worry about you!” Andrew, one of the younger dockworkers said.
“I'm sorry, I really am.” Hezak repeated.
Looking satisfied, Avery said, “Anyway, I wanted to ask if you wanted to try some black-smithery?”
Hezak immediately brightened. “Really?”
Laughing, Avery nodded. “I’ll take that as a yes. Come on then.”
Hezak pulled his cane out of his belt loop and followed after Avery. They walked back to the docks, all the other dockworkers crowding around them. Once they were at the docks, Avery led Hezak to the big warehouse that was open to the ocean. Inside, of to the right was the blacksmiths booth. Hezak broke away from the group and dashed into the booth.
Before Brendan, the blacksmith, had a chance to explain everything, Hezak grabbed a small piece of iron and stuck it into the hearth. After a few moments, he pulled it out and moved over to the anvil. Leaning his cane against the table that was beside the anvil, he picked up one of the hammers and began shaping the metal. He worked steadily, only pausing to look for the tools he needed. The crowd of dockworkers stared on in astonishment.
Hezak finished after about 10 minutes. He dipped the still hot piece of metal into a bucket of cool water that was beside the anvil. Stream rose in a cloud. When the sizzling stopped, Hezak pulled out the metal thing he had made. It was a coat hook, it even had the top point and the point at the end of the curved part curled down so they wouldn't catch on anything.
After a few moments of awed silence, Brendan asked, “Have you ever done any black-smithery before?”
Hezak shook his head. “This is my first time.”
Brendan stepped forwards and picked up a pair of gloves from the table. After slipping them on, he took the coat hook from Hezak. Inspecting it, he nodded his head in approval. “It’s quite well made, for your first time. But you can definitely improve.” Looking up at Hezak, he asked, “How would you like to become my apprentice?”
Hezak stared at Brendan in surprise. He was unable to speak, so he just nodded his head very enthusiastically.
Smiling, Brendan said, “Good. Come back tomorrow at 9 am and we’ll get started.”
Everyday after that, Hezak would go down to the docks, but instead of watching, he would learn more about black-smithery. He got so good that people started asking specifically for Hezak to do the black-smithery for their ships.
Hezak was walking down to the docks one day, when he spotted a village girl, Amara. He developed a crush on her and that day, he spent more of his time making her little knick knacks in the blacksmith shop instead of working on the ship repairs.
“Zak!” Hezak jumped and turned to look at Brendan. “What’s up with you today?”
“Nothing.” Hezak lied.
“Really? Nothing? Then why did it take me 4 tries to get your attention?” Brendan asked.
Hezak sighed. “I'm sorry. I saw this girl on my way here, and she was really pretty...”
Chuckling, Brendan said. “So that’s it. You have a crush.”
Hezak blushed. “I want to make her something, but every time I make something, it doesn't seem right.” He admitted, looking down.
“You should make her a flower. A rose, to be specific.” Brendan suggested.
“A metal rose?” Hezak murmured.
“Yes, boy. A metal rose, that way it won’t ever die.” Brendan replied.
Hezak turned back to the hearth and began heating a piece of metal to make the rose.
Hezak walked to the village, his cane in one hand, the metal rose in the other. He had no idea where she lived, so he wandered around the village for a while. He was about to give up, after an hour of searching, when he saw the girl working in a small grocery store. He limped to the door and walked inside. Nervously, he walked up to Amara.
“Hello.” Hezak said.
“Hi.” Amara said back, not even glancing at him.
“Uhm...This might be a little weird, but I made you a flower.” He held out the metal rose.
Amara glanced down at it. “No thanks.” She said, returning to her work.
Hezak dropped his hand. “Oh...Okay. Well, I’ll see you later.”
“Maybe.” Was all she said back.
Hezak turned and limped out of the shop. He turned to walk home, but then changed his mind and started towards the cliffs near his house that faced west. It took him about half an hour to get there, but the cliffs had the best view on the island. He walked right up to the edge of the cliffs, then shifted, so he was over a certain spot. Slipping his cane into one of his belts loops once again and putting the metal rose into his pocket, he sat down on the edge of the cliff. Slowly, he began to slid off the edge, and right as he was about to fall, he turned around really fast and grabbed a sturdy tree root that was sticking out of the face of the cliff, almost like a railing. Hanging from that, he waited for himself to stop swinging, then dropped to the ledge a little ways below himself. He sat down with his back to the cliff face and stared out at the ocean. He pulled out the metal rose, and examined it. After a few minutes, he put it down beside himself and settled back to watch the sun set.
After that first attempt at making Amara like him, Hezak spent every bit of his free time making things for her. She turned them all down, just like the metal rose. Hezak had a box in his room, which he kept in his closet, that had everything he had made for Amara in it. He was saving them for either her when she decided she wanted them, or for someone else.
After the 11th or 12th try to gain Amara’s affections, Hezak got frustrated and threw the latest gift off the cliffs near his home, and into the ocean. It was a little star that he had polished to make it golden. It didn't seem to matter what he made, she always said no to it.
He sat down on the little ledge and stared out at the ocean again, thinking about what he could make that Amara would like. He was there long past the setting of the sun, but still, Hezak did not get up to go inside.
After another 8 and a half days of Hezak trying to win Amara’s affections, a large ship came into the docks. It was a special boat, since the wealthiest, most famous shipyard owner was aboard it. Hezak was working in the blacksmith shack, when there was a commotion outside. He grabbed his cane and limped out to see what was going on. Most of the dockworkers moved aside for him when they saw him coming. He was the owner of the island’s son after all.
“What’s going on?” Hezak asked Avery, coming up to stand beside him.
“It’s Zeke Colton and his daughter! He came on his ship for repairs!” Avery said, excited.
“The Zeke Colton?” Hezak asked, incredulous.
“Yeah! The one and only Mister Zeke Colton! Can you believe he came here?” Avery exclaimed.
Hezak pushed his way to the front of the crowd, just as Zeke Colton and a girl around Hezak’s age, presumably Mister Colton’s daughter, came off the ship. Hezak was struck momentarily speechless when he saw Zeke Colton’s daughter. She may was gorgeous. Long strawberry blond hair, emerald eyes, flawless skin.
Shaking his head to clear it, he stepped forwards, so he was in front of the crowd.
“Welcome, Mister Colton. I am Hezak, son of Harrison Aldridge. If you will follow me, I’ll bring you to my father.” Hezak said, giving a slight bow.
“I would be most grateful, Hezak Aldridge.” Mister Colton said.
Hezak nodded and turned back around, so he was facing the crowd. The dockworkers moved out of the way, creating a pathway through the crowd. Hezak began walking past the many dockworkers, Mister Colton and his daughter following behind him. Hezak led them up through the village, past the cliffs and finally up to his house. He opened the door and led Mister Colton and his daughter to the drawing room. Once they were seated, Hezak went to his father’s office and knocked on the door.
“Dad, you have guests. Mister Zeke Colton and his daughter.” Hezak said, through the door.
The heavy pine wood door opened to show Harrison Aldridge. He wore a black suit, much like all his other suits, and a red tie. His dirty blond hair was ruffled and sticking up all over the place. “Really? Zeke Colton, you’re not joking around?”
“No, dad. I'm not joking. Mister Colton is in the drawing room as we speak. But before you go to speak with him, I suggest you fix your hair.” Hezak replied, smiling.
Harrison Aldridge turned back into his office, leaving the door open, and dashed to the large floor to ceiling mirror. He grabbed a comb off his desk and ran it through his hair. Once his hair was more presentable, Harrison walked out of his office, as calmly as he could, and down the hall to the drawing room.
Hezak had no real interest in staying to the conversation between Mister Colton and his father, so he walked down the hallway to the front door and then made his way back to the docks.
“Hey, Zak! What was he like?” Avery asked.
“I don’t know. All I did was take him and his daughter to my house. I told my dad, then left.” Hezak replied, continuing on towards the warehouse where he worked.
“You didn't listen in?” Avery asked, disappointed.
“No. Why would I? He’s a guest, not a criminal.” Hezak answered.
“I guess you’re right. But it would have been interesting to find out why he’s here.” Avery said, before walking off.
Hezak thought about that as he walked into the warehouse and got back to work. Yeah, It would have been interesting to know why Mister Colton came here, but it was probably why everyone else came here, to have his ship repaired, and maybe drop off some cargo.
A few hours later:
Hezak was walking home, when he saw Mister Colton and his daughter walking into the hotel. Well, at least they’re not staying at my house. That probably been a little awkward. Hezak thought, continuing on towards his house. Pausing at the cliffs, he looked out at the ocean. Thinking about whether or not he should try to ask Mister Colton’s daughter out on a date. He decided he’d try tomorrow evening, on his way home from work.
Hezak opened the door and slipped off his sneakers. He limped down the hall and into the dining room, where his mother, Tabika, and his father, Harrison, were waiting for him.
“Hello, Zak. How was your day?” Tabika asked.
“It was fine. What’s for dinner?” Hezak replied.
“Scalloped potatoes, ham and carrots.” Tabika answered.
Hezak sat down and rested his cane against the table. He picked up his knife and fork and began to eat, as did his parents. When they were all almost done, Hezak’s father cleared his throat and said, “Son, I have some news.”
Hezak looked up at his dad a little nervously. “I didn't do anything wrong, did I?”
Smiling, Harrison replied, “No, it’s nothing you did. Well, nothing bad that you did. You know how Mister Colton is here? And how he and I were talking earlier?”
“Well, it turns out that he came here for repairs, but he specifically asked for you. He said that a few of his ships have been here before, and gotten repairs done by you, and that the captains of those ships said that they had never had any repairs like yours before. So Mister Colton decided he wanted to see you working and see how you managed to impress his employees so well.” Harrison said, pride glowing in his eyes.
“So he came here to see how I repaired ships? Or to have me repair his ship, since I'm really good at it?” Hezak asked.
“Well, both actually.” Harrison replied.
"When?" Hezak asked, before putting a forkful or ham and potatoes in his mouth.
"Tomorrow. He'll probably be there before you get in." Harrison answered.
Hezak walked into the blacksmith shack around 8:30 am. He seemed to be limping worse, but it could just be the fact that Hezak got up earlier than usual to get to the shack early. He got to work, leaning his cane against the table like always. He set the fire in the hearth, got fresh, cool water in the bucket, and put on his work belt. It was nearing nine thirty when Mister Colton came into the warehouse. Hezak was shocked to see Mister Colton's daughter with him.
"Well, hello Hezak. How are you this morning?" Zeke Colton asked.
"Fine, thank you." Hezak replied. He hesitated a moment before adding, "Sir, if I may, why is your daughter here?"
"Arryn wished to see you work as well. She told me that it interested her to know more about the job of owning a shipyard, and that includes learning about repairing ships." Zeke answered.
Her name's Arryn. What a pretty name. Hezak blushed.
"Is there something wrong?" Colton asked.
"No sir." Hezak said, putting on his gloves. "I'll get started now, if that's alright, sir."
Hezak picked up a piece of sheet metal and shoved it in the hearth. After a few minutes, he pulled it out and began shaping it.
Hezak finished welding the piece of sheet metal to the ship’s hull. He was covered in seat, since he usually just worked in the shack, not out here on the dock, attaching sheet metal to ships. He stood back, leaning more heavily on his un-crippled foot.
“Well done, Hezak. That was very impressive, and nicely done.” Zeke said. His daughter, Arryn nodded in agreement.
“Thank you, sir.” Hezak said, turning to go back to the warehouse. Once there, he took a huge gulp of cool water, then got back to work. He spent the last 2 hours of work thinking about how he would ask Arryn out.
Hezak left his house, after grabbing the metal rose from the box in his closet. He made his way, slowly, to the hotel Mister Colton and Arryn were staying at. He walked into the lobby and asked for Mister Colton’s room.
“Room 107.” The receptionist said. Normally, the receptionists wouldn't give away room numbers, but Hezak was the son of Harrison Aldridge.
Hezak thanked the man and went to the elevator. Once it opened, he pressed the button for the fifth floor. While the elevator was climbing, he fiddled with the rose in his pocket. The doors opened on the fifth floor and he walked out. Going down the hallway, he stopped at room 107. Arryn answered the door after Hezak knocked.
“Hi, Uh, I was wondering if y-you’d like to go for a walk with m-me?” Hezak asked, stammering from his nervousness.
Arryn nodded then called out to her father that she was going out.
“Don’t stay out too late.” Mister Colton called back.
Hezak stood back from the door so Arryn could come out of the room. They walked down the hallway in silence. Neither of them said anything until they were outside.
Once they were a little ways away from the hotel, Arryn asked, “So, where are we going?” Her voice was curious.
“To my favourite spot. You can watch the sunset from there, and it has a wonderful view.” Hezak answered, leading her out of the village and towards the cliffs. Neither of them said anything else until they got to the cliffs.
“So we just sit and watch from here?” Arryn asked.
Hezak smiled. “No, there’s an even better spot. Come this way.” He led her to the point of the cliffs that were above his ledge. He slid his cane into one of his belt loops and sat down on the edge of the cliff. Slowly and carefully he shimmied off the edge and disappeared from view.
Arryn dashed over to the edge, dropping to her knees. She looked over the edge and sighed with relief when she saw Hezak hanging from a tree root. She watched as Hezak let go of the root and landed on a ledge.
“No you come down. I’ll catch you if you slip.” Hezak said, looking up at Arryn.
Arryn sat down. She slowly and reluctantly slid over the edge and grabbed at the tree root. She caught it with one hand, but her grip wasn't very good. “I'm slipping!” She screeched, voice full of fear.
She slipped off the tree root and fell for only a few seconds, before Hezak caught her. He was really warm and Arryn relaxed in his arms. She loved his smell, smoke from the hearth and the metal smell of iron and sweat.
Hezak set her feet on the ground and then let go of her. When she turned around, he smiled down at her.
Arryn loved to way the setting sun made his blond hair glow and cast his green eyes in shadow. The way the sun outlined his body and sharpened the line of his muscles was beautiful.
Hezak turned away from her and sat down on the ledge, his back up against the cliff face. Arryn slid down the rock to sit beside him. They sat in silence, watching the sun set. After a little while, before the sun had completely set, Hezak pulled out the metal rose from his pocket. He turned it over in his hands a few times, then held it out to Arryn. “I thought you might like this. It’s a metal rose I made awhile ago. Since it’s metal, it will never die and neither will its beauty. Just like your beauty.” Hezak said, glad the semi-darkness hid his deep blush.
Arryn reached out and took the rose. She examined it in the fading light, then smiled a genuine, radiant smile. “It’s wonderful. Thank you.”
Hezak and Arryn kept going on dates after that. They went all over the island, but their favourite place was the cliff ledge, where they would sit and talk, or just watch the ocean. They grew to love each other very much, and every month or so, Hezak would give Arryn something else he had made. He even made her a little golden star, like the one he had thrown into the ocean. Even though Arryn had to go home with her father, Zeke Colton, at the end of their trip, she would always come back when her father came for more repairs. Sometimes, Zeke would come to ask for a sculpture from Hezak.
After one of Zeke and Arryn’s visits, tourists started coming to the island to have Hezak make them things. He started making little souvenirs and giving them to the shops in the village to sell.
Arryn and Hezak ended up getting married, once they were both old enough. After their marriage, Arryn moved to Hezak’s island to be with him always.
Moral of the story: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. OR: Just because someone looks different or has a deformity, that doesn't mean they’re weak or useless.