Smiths of Arriqah

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Smiths of Arriqah
Written802 BY
AuthorZeb Burnsthewick

This tomed is penned by Zietal Mar resident Zeb Burnsthewick, who delves into the technique and culture surrounding the bronze-working artisans of Arriqah.

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Arriqah is an ancient, Human city, sitting at the very edge of a vast desert.

Over many generations, it has grown to become a mighty power, with a modest income from the trade of various fruits and rare woods.

The city of Arriqah proudly standing as the last bastion of civilisation before an often lethal trek through the desert, displays its wealth openly - coloured banners, strong stonework and ornamental armour and weapons.

For all of its riches, Arriqah lacks resources that seem basic to most Dwarves, and indeed many Humans. Water is quite scarce, though irrigation has helped this in recent decades. Iron is in rare supply, due to the lack of natural deposits. The smiths of Arriqah have, over the years and over the generations, turned their hand to bronze as copper and tin deposits have been numerous and plentiful in the nearby regions.

The heat in Arriqah is immense. Mighty stone walls and buildings often form shadows large enough to cool down larger gatherings, such as the daily bazaar, which lasts as long as the shadow cast by the Arriqah Temple remains.

However, the work of a smith is rarely one of leisure. Work must be done swiftly, to a high standard and completed in time.

Due to the noise and clamoring of the smiths, they have been relegated to the far outskirts of the city. Over the years, the smiths of Arriqah have formed their own rituals, traditions and culture from working in almost exile.

Due to the heat of the region, the smiths will often start work in the late evening, finishing then early in the morning. Iron is rare in Arriqah, thus steel is seldom seen. Copper and tin have been common in the region since ancient times and the civilisation of the area has grown to rely upon bronze as the metal of choice.

The smiths of Arriqah are notable for their skill in working bronze, the ornamentation of it and the general high quality of their work.

When dusk falls on the town, a dull orange glow emanates from the edges, adding to the usually gorgeous sunset.

When the city winds down for the night, the sounds of hammers and anvils ringing can be heard quietly drifting in on the winds.

The smiths, dressed in loose robes of golden brown, begin their work.

In their forges, open to the outside, the robes of the smiths billow gently as they raise the hammers up, high above their heads.

To some onlookers, it may almost look lazy, the hammers slowly raised and then left to drop languidly. To some, the romantic notions of blacksmiths driving hammers down with all their might is a reality. The truth lies in the saying 'work smart, not hard'.

The smiths of Arriqah, in their bronze work, have taken this notion to heart.

The hammer does the heavy work, whilst the smith deftly positions the work on the anvil with their other hand.

Raging fires are not used here, in these hot climates it would be almost unbearable.

Instead, the fires are kept at just the right level in order to heat the bronze without it crumbling into dust from becoming too hot, or indeed too cold.

The works of the smiths are myriad, from weapons to armour, to decorative pieces.

Many ornamentations are based on the flora found around the desert and numerous water-based motifs.

Due to the care and skill of their work, the smiths can charge immense prices and their work is prized across the world. When their work is done, the smiths will simply dunk the pieces into the sands outside. Water is a scarce resource and cannot be wasted by dunking pieces of hot metal into it.

After a large commission, a team project or a particularly taxing workload, the smiths will often partake in some food and drink. Over the years this has become a sort of ritual, or ceremony for the smiths.

Loaves made from bou wheat are often eaten as the bulk of the meal, along with various side-dishes such as roasted chickpeas and boiled eggplants, rich in oils and spices.

Sweetened cinnamon buns are a common sight for desserts.

Boukah, a digestif made from distilled figs, is served in tiny, ornamental, silver cups. For the main meal, water and soma, a fermented mixture of figs and grapes, is served in quite large amounts.

Metapsima, an alcohol made from souma that has been further distilled, is usually served as a last drink before the meal ends.

After this, some smiths will travel back to their homes to relax and then sleep through the day.

Others will while away for a few more hours with their colleagues, with long pipes filled with sweet herbs.

Eventually the fires will die down to ashes and the forges go empty. Until the next day at least.