Nikolai sits in town, his face covered in a thin layer of soot. As night falls around him, he’s lit only by the burning embers of the local blacksmith’s forge as he heats his blade one last time to smooth out impurities. He knows he needs to head back to the castle soon, clean up – before his mother wonders why he’s so dirty and his father wonders where he’s been. He hears foot steps approaching and assumes it’s the blacksmith back from his break at the tavern.
“It’s turning out to be a fine blade, is it not?” Nikolai asks with pride, not bothering to look up from his work.