The blacksmith’s foot expertly pumped the bellows as he turned the piece of iron first one way then the other in the bright orange coals. The glow emanating from the little forge provided the only light as the sun began its descent behind the western hogback. Intense heat caused bands of sweat to roll down the narrow patch of skin that separated the smithy’s thick black hair from his single bushy eyebrow. The long brow served as a miniature breakwater, sending the sweat to the right and left before releasing it to run down the sides of his round, puffy face in great droplets. None of this mattered to the Duende, who was accustomed to the discomfort imposed upon him by his chosen profession.
The strip of metal was now glowing brightly in the same shade of orange as the coals into which it had been thrust. Tightly clasping the iron with his fire tongs, the smithy pulled it from the forge and quickly turned around toward his anvil.
The shock of seeing the tall, thin, hooded figure looming over him caused him to drop the metal strip, sending it bouncing off his boot and leaving a burn mark on the leather toe. The metal clanged loudly on the ash-covered stone floor. His breath caught in his throat.
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