As Henry led me through the storage room towards the workshop, I was struck once again by the way he carried the past with him in those boxes. Unlike the storefront, the back room was a dark and musty place. Against the walls, stacked crates from our home before the Spire, I could only guess as to what he’s kept locked away in them for so long. Their wooden exterior bore the scars of our exodus from the storm. The sight of them inspired bittersweet nostalgia, what once was a mundane sight, wood had grown rare in years living in the Spire.
Henry placed his palm on the Hearthstone, it shone with a gentle blue glow which clicked green in recognition. The door sighed an internal breath and withdrew into the wall allowing us access to the stairwell. Inside Henry had a portrait of himself as a younger man with who I assumed to be his wife and two sons. I had been hardly more than a baby when we had come to the spire so I could hardly remember the village. My knowledge of life outside came mostly from the stories my father had told me. I had been told that Henry had lost his family in the storm, though he chose not to talk about it. Before the storm he been the town smith which had made him a very important man within the community. In those days we lived or died by our horses, so a quality of a horse’s shoe was worth more than any trinket or treasure.
But even then, it was wrong to think of Henry as just a smith. Mother called him an artisan, and Francis insisted he was a warlock and trafficked with demons for dark knowledge, but it was Father’s stories from when they were young men that most described him. Endlessly curious and tireless in pursuit of his curiosity, the way Father spoke of Henry convinced me to work in his store. In the time I had known him I had come to respect his practical wisdom and single mindedness when set a task that challenged him. Unfortunately, he was as aloof and introverted as he was interesting, this was the first time I had been allowed into the workshop.
Daydreaming, I had forgotten to pay attention as we walked through Henry’s living space I think it was neat and unceremonious, but the workshop immediately captured my entire focus. It was completely unlike the forges I had heard of in Father or Francis’ tales. A large flat table made of the the same material as The Spire stands in the centre of the room, a semi-translucent hood overhangs the table from the ceiling above with numerous mobile tubes which run from the ceiling to hang from hooks along the hood. Resting in the middle of the table held up by a frame lay what looked like a hand made of a shimmering ebony material.
“Henry,” I whispered, watching him eagerly approach the table, “What is this place? And what is that hand?”