Burning Smith, The
Virtue Sin Love
Legend says that the burning smith is a giant of a man, standing twice the height of a human man. His physique is said to be Olympian and perhaps once handsome. However, now his flesh is cracked with charred lines that bleed flame rather than blood and a face that is a black mask of coal. The air swims about him from the great heat he emanates and beads of perspiration cuts rivulets through his remaining skin like fine streams of molten lava. his barefoot steps leave smoldering ash upon the floor. He wears an iron apron, which armors his front and back. In one hand he always carries a massive steel hammer which glows with heat and whose runes throb with magical power.
The tale of the burning smith is not ancient, but quite new to the impoverished inhabitants of Hana. Although the name of the smithy changes, the tale remains remarkably consistent.
He was a smithy of middling skill, who might have been successful but that he cheated his customers with steel of poor quality and pursued his tradecraft with less than honorable artifice. When a minor noble commissioned a blade from the smithy as a reward for one of his captains, the weapon smith charged double what an honest smith might and quickly crafted a weapon of inferior quality, but disguised beneath a handsome appearance. It came to pass that the captain soon employed the weapon against a vagrant and the blade was so brittle that it broke across the beggars raised forearm. When the noble learned of how he had been cheated, he went to the weapon smith and brutally cut off the tradesman's hand, then cast him out of the city and razed the shop.
Furious, the smithy traveled during the night to the City of Evils, known as Sagar by locals of Hana. In Hana a man might do whatever he pleases as long as it did not displease a merchant prince, in Sagar only might and cunning determines what one man might do to the next. Dark spirits traffic among mortals and some whisper that there are even ways to the Lower Realms there.
So, there it was in the City of Evils that the smithy bartered with devils for his talent and the return of his hand. From that night, the weapons of death that he forged sent many souls into the fell Pits of Balbros. The payment he took for his creations was equally foul: each weapon required the murder of some mortal whose actions, past or future, ran afoul of the fiends of The Pit; gold would not suffice.
Though a brutal man, who dealt generously with the powers of death, the weapon smith was not alone in the world. He had a son, a skilled warrior who successfully lived by his talent at the blade. There came a day when a beggar came to the smithy, seeking a weapon to slay a young noble who had ruined him, a weapon whose price he would willingly pay for. The smithy knew this young noble for it was the same princling who had chased him from Hana and cut away his hand. The weapon smith summoned the hellfire of his forge and drew forth a spike of steel, taken directly from the torture halls of Balbros, laid it upon his witch fire anvil and created for the beggar a deadly dagger that would inflict a mortal would, twisting in the flesh of whomever it was employed against. As always, the fires of the forge howled with the damned spirits that powered it and the name they shrieked was the name of the victim whose life would pay for the blade; but this time the name was the son of the smithy.
The weapon smith heard the chanted name and knew it to be his own son, but he did not hesitate, even for the sake of his own kin, to finish his creation. It pleased him that a weapon of his own manufacture would be instrumental in the death of the proud noble, but the beggar would not be able to pay the price the devils exacted without some help. Eager for revenge, he bartered with the spirits of Balbros for the strength and skill to overcome his son's talent with a blade. He had always wanted to be a man whose stature and presence caused fear in others.
The smithy invited his son to his forge; the beggar hid in the shadows among dozens of terrible weapons to wait for the son to be subdued. In a great battle the smithy and his son fought, clashing and wrestling with one another, knocking over weapons and barrels. Finally, with a mighty blow the smithy struck his son, throwing him back, insensate, landing upon the hellfire fed forge. He pinned him there while the beggar snuck out from hiding and plunged the blade into the son's chest. With a mighty roar, covered in flame, the son rose to his feet, blood running from the mortal wound as the flames consumed him, and uttered a curse for his father's betrayal.
Fire leapt up from all about, strangely animate it pounced upon the weapon smith’s shop and home, sparing nothing but the beggar who fled into the night, dagger in hand. The son disappeared in the flames. Then, as though propelled by some power, the fires began to pursue the weapon smith. Through the streets they chased after him. Across the sandy wasteland and onto Hana they pursued him. His shouts echoed across the dirty streets as the fire licked his heals and left a trail of burning tents in its wake. Blindly, he plunged into the avenues between the mighty sepif of Hana and then entered into the catacombs, the fire behind him lighting his way as he fled onward into darkness.
They say that, in the end, he could not escape the curse of his son and that he perished in the devil flames that pursued him. Many say though that the smithy did not remain dead, but that in all his bargains with devils he took in the flame even as it seared his flesh, and was transformed into something terrible, immortal, and possessed of endless evil. Somewhere in the dark depths of the sepif of Hana the Burning Smith labors at his fell forge without cease, creating weapons for his fiendish masters and anyone else who comes to treat with him.