The Tales of Lady Gwenllian
9. Prenmôr Forge
One of the most important buildings in Prenmôr was the smithy. It was to be the first permanent structure in the castle, as a blacksmith was needed to prepare (and repair) nails, tools, weapons, and other miscellaneous steel and iron items. The need for a forge was immediate, so it was built with the first load of stone from the quarries and had little decoration. The initial stone from the quarries was irregular and contained smaller pieces than would eventually be used for the castle walls, so the blacksmith shop had a distinct appearance. It was intentionally located in what would become the inner ward for security and to ensure a steady supply of weapons and armor should the castle come under attack.
Fire was always a concern in the confined space of a castle, so the smithy was made from stone, located near the well for a supply of water, and placed apart from the residential structures. To further mitigate fire risk, Lady Gwenllian purchased expensive slate from a nearby dwarven mine for the roof.
The smithy's distinct appearance was not just due to its stone: the roof sloped one direction and only two small windows appeared in the side walls. Since the back of the smithy would eventually become part of the inner curtain a vaulted roof was unnecessary, and since the windows would eventually face the gatehouse and the inner curtain walls, their use as light sources was limited. Thus, two lanterns were hung inside the smithy to supplement the lighting.
Lady Gwenllian and Lady Seren planned for the future by designing a forge large enough for a master smith that they hoped to eventually attract to the site. Despite being large, the forge had enough conveniences (such as a bellows with a pull chain) so that a single blacksmith could work alone if need be.
A large horizontal window at the front doubled as a work counter, let in most of the light and fresh air, and provided an exit for the heat of the forge during warm months. This window was closed by a large wooden shutter that could be kept closed at night and in the winter.
A stone shelf near the forge contained charcoal fuel, and several log rounds would hold work, tools, and the all-important anvil. A huge bellows would blow air into the forge to keep the coals hot enough for steel. Iron bloom, wrought iron rods, and steel stock were kept in crates and barrels around the room. Outside, barrels collected rain water runoff from the roof to supplement the water supply in the forge. A small bucket of water was located in the forge for immediate use.
Lady Gwenllian’s blacksmith was none other than Sven, one of her family's blacksmiths from back in Albers. Sven had been raised in Mitgardia, where he fought and sailed, but had also apprenticed for a few years to a dwarven blacksmith. Sven was not a master of the forge, but his nails, horseshoes, and various tools were functional. His apprenticeship had taught him to let form follow function, and though his work was not always pretty, it could withstand quite a bit of abuse.
At the beginning of the summer, the forge fired up for the first time. Raw iron bloom was smelted in a makeshift clay brick furnace in the yard, then stored in piles in the smithy. Sven wrought this sponge iron and stored it as bars and plates for tools, weapons, and armor. The initial pieces consisted mostly of nails and a few repairs on plows, picks, and shovels, none of which taxed the capacity of the huge smithy. Sven set up a cot in the back of the forge that became his temporary home until the permanent apartments were built, which was just fine with him, as he was the oldest of the household and was pleased to sleep in warm, a water-tight building.
After watching Sven at work, Lady Seren’s daughter, Alis, became interested in smithing, and with Lady Seren's permission, Sven took her on as his apprentice. She worked the bellows, fed the fire, collected charcoal, fetched water, and practiced working on scraps of iron and steel as Sven handled the main load of work. By mid-summer, Alis had made great progress and was helping make nails, while Sven was starting to make more tools and even a few spearheads for rudimentary defense.
Being more sociable, Alis also routinely dealt with customers, which greatly improved the relations between the workers and the somewhat curmudgeonly Sven.
Particularly with the more unruly customers.