Tedric: The Lost Science-Fantasy Novelette
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by E. E. Smith
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description: Only Ebook Edition--Lost Smith Heroic Fantasy. The original Smith story, not about the space pirates created by Stephen Goldin to go with the character's name, but the heroic barbarian created by Smith in his brilliant combination of sword and sorcery and quantum theory! With the Ultimate Catastrophe only a few years away, a daring scientist discovers the key moment in the deep past that if changed could turn destruction into survival for humankind. His weapon is Tedric, a brawny blacksmith in feudal times who hates human sacrifice. Read about the birth of this most fascinating of Smith heroes!
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner,
eBookwise Release Date: June 2007
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [38 KB]
Reading time: 20-28 min.
The Lomarrian ironmaster woke up; not gradually and partially, like one of our soft modern urbanites, but instantaneously and completely, as does the mountain wildcat. At one instant he lay, completely relaxed, sound asleep; at the next he had sprung out of bed, seized his sword and leaped halfway across the room. Head thrown back, hard blue eyes keenly alert, sword-arm rock-steady he stood there, poised and ready. Beautifully poised, upon the balls of both feet; supremely ready to throw into action every inch of his six-feet-four, every pound of his two-hundred-plus of hard meat, gristle, and bone. So standing, the smith stared motionlessly at the shimmering, almost invisible thing hanging motionless in the air of his room and at its equally tenuous occupant.
"I approve of you, Tedric." The thing--apparition-whatever it was--did not speak, and the Lomarrian did not hear; the words formed themselves in the innermost depths of his brain. "While you perhaps are a little frightened, you are and have been completely in control. Any other man of your nation--yes, of your world--would have been scared out of what few wits he has."
"You are not one of ours, Lord," Tedric went to one knee. He knew, of course, that gods and devils existed; and, while this was the first time that a god had sought him out personally, he had heard of such happenings all his life. Since the god hadn't killed him instantly, he probably didn't intend to--right away, at least. Hence: "No god of Lomarr approves of me. Also, our gods are solid and heavy. What do you want of me, strange god?"
"I'm not a god. If you could get through this grill, you could cut off my head with your sword and I would die."
"Of course. So would Sar--" Tedric broke off in the middle of the word.
"I see. It is dangerous to talk?"
"Very. Even though a man is alone, the gods and hence the priests who serve them have power to hear. Then the man lies on the green rock and loses his brain, liver, and heart."
"You will not be overheard. I have power enough to see to that."
Tedric remained silent.
"I understand your doubt. Think, then; that will do just as well. What is it that you are trying to do?"
"I wonder how I can hear when there is no sound, but men cannot understand the powers of gods. I am trying to find or make a metal that is very hard, but not brittle. Copper is no good, I cannot harden it enough. My soft irons are too soft, my hard irons are too brittle; my in-betweens and the melts to which I add various flavorings have all been either too soft or too brittle, or both."
"I gathered that such was your problem. Your wrought iron is beautiful stuff; so is your white cast iron; and you would not, ordinarily, in your lifetime, come to know anything of either carburization or high-alloy steel, to say nothing of both. I know exactly what you want, and I can show you exactly how to make it."
"You can, Lord?" The smith's eyes flamed. "And you will?"
"That is why I have come to you, but whether or not I will teach you depends on certain matters which I have not been able entirely to clarify. What do you want it for? That is, what, basically, is your aim?"
"Our greatest god, Sarpedion, is wrong and I intend to kill him." Teri's eyes flamed more savagely, his terrifically muscled body tensed.
"Wrong? In what way?"
"In every way!" In the intensity of his emotion the smith spoke aloud. "What good is a god who only kills and injures? What a nation needs, Lord, is people--people working together and not afraid. How can we of Lomarr ever attain comfort and happiness if more die each year than are born? We are too few. All of--us-except the priests, of course--must work unendingly to obtain only the necessities of life."
"This bears out my findings. If you make high-alloy steel, exactly what will you do with it?"
"If you give me the god-metal, Lord, I will make of it a sword and armor--a sword sharp enough and strong enough, to cut through copper or iron without damage; armor strong enough so that swords of copper or iron cannot cut through it. They must be so because I will have to cut my way alone through a throng of armed and armored mercenaries and priests."