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"Here," the smith carefully placed his tongs on the stone bench. "Watch." Reaching behind him, the man took up a long iron pole- at its tip, a small wick trailed, tongue like. The young boy beside him looked eagerly on, as the man lit the wick, the flame lapping the air gently.
"Back." He said, and the boy obeyed without question.
Holding the pole at length, both arms grasping its shaft tightly, the smith began to lower the flame towards the central workbench with an uneasy amount of care. Shaky hands would not serve him well in this profession, a fact he had discovered all too personally. The object to which he was lowering the flame was another wick, but this one trailed out of a small, hollow half sphere forged from cast iron. It was perfectly cut, not a single jagged edge in sight. The half sphere was filled with a light grey powder, ground so finely, it could flow like water. The flame touched the other wick, hovering for a moment, before spreading. Quickly retracting the rod, the smith blew out the first flame, before backing away, motioning for his apprentice to do the same. They watched as the fire etched its way down the string, before it finally reached the base.
The reaction as flame hit powder was instantaneous. First the spark, then the explosion. A wave of heat rippled through the air of the workshop, followed closely by the sharp, crisp sound of the detonation. It was enough to jump the apprentice, who recoiled - his tutor however, merely stood and watched.
"Now you have seen it for yourself." The smith said, turning to the boy. "You saw how the fire at the tip of the wick made its way down to the powder, and you saw a fraction of the power it possesses. I can teach you, as my son, in the same manner my father taught me. But you must understand that there is no room for mistakes. Do you understand?"
The boy nodded.
Leading his son towards another workbench, they stopped and eyed the specimen laid out upon it. The boy wrinkled his nose at the pungent sulphuric stench that intensified as they approached. Stretched out on the table was a large, lizardlike creature, glistening scales of crimson and amber dotted along its body. Rows of pointed teeth lined its gaping mouth, its eyes staring blankly towards the ceiling. From sternum to abdomen was a large gash, yet there was no sign of brute force. The cut was surgical, delicate, calculated. Besides the gash was what appeared to be a reddish grey pouch, removed from the innards of what was evidently a fire drake.
"You see that? That's the key to everything. The powder, the outcome, all of it contained inside the stomach." The boy listened with eagerness. "Now, you see the skin, how thick it is? It helps contain the reactants - the components that make the explosion - safe. But it also means that it takes five strong hunters to take one of these things down, which is why there are so few of us."
For the first time since they began, the boy spoke.
"How long until I can make a rifle?" he asked, shimmering eyes brimming with excitement. His father chuckled.
"When was the last time you held a rifle?" The boy remained silent. "Until you have held one, and felt its power in your hands, you will not be ready to craft one yourself."
Outside, a light drizzle began to flitter against the window pane. Gently making its way down the glass, the water collected in small pools at the window's base, framing it. The man walked towards it, leaning against the sill, and sighing deeply. He ran his finger along its edge collecting dust and powder on his tip, and gazing at it - how the specs made their way into the lines and prints of his finger, how they traced the grooves. He waited for a moment, before turning back to his son.
"There is much do. Come. Let us begin."