honorat: (Will Turner by Honorat)
[personal profile] honorat
By Honorat
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer POTC, pick up the characters in Port Royal, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out!

Summary: In which Will settles in to life at the smithy and has his first sword fight. More of the the history of Master Brown and his apprentice. More movie novelization and missing scenes. This one is off the edge of the map. In fact this is an entire lost continent!

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] geek_mama_2, for the wonderful beta work; I’ll buy you a hat—a really big one.

Links to previous chapters:
Prologue: To Miss An Appointment
Ch. 1: Pirate Attack
Ch. 2: Unrestrained Piracy
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 1

* * * * *



Gradually, the small space under the eaves of the house had grown less strange. He could sleep even in its crowded heat. The noise of a large family had ceased to startle him. He began to feel more at home, less adrift in the world. The sweltering gloom of the smithy grew less alien.

Will had not realized that his life would now be immersed in darkness, defined by the glow of iron and the wavering light of the forge. Only in low light could a blacksmith determine the temperature of the metal by its colour.

Will soon became familiar with the different types of work that could be done at each temperature. At black heat, the faint gleam barely visible, a linseed oil finish could be applied to metal to prevent it from rusting. At cherry heat softer metals turned red and could be easily bent. When the metal glowed orange-red, iron could be cut with ease using a chisel. The smith would also draw out the metal at this temperature, hammering it into longer and thinner shapes. Then would come the bright yellow of near-welding heat at which heavier steel could be worked or upset, made thicker by clamping it in the vise and striking the heated end with a hammer. But the most thrilling temperature was the white hot heat of fire-welding, when iron and steel were on the brink of burning and sprays of sparks flew around the smith as he joined two pieces of metal together with a single smart strike.

The work of the forge was a fiery, sweaty, dusty business. Will was sure he’d eventually breathe so much metal and so much heat, he’d become fire-welded steel himself. He’d longed to try his hand at shaping hot metal, but he had much to learn before Master Brown would hand him the hammer and tell him to go ahead.

His days had eventually assumed an unvarying pattern of work. Six days a week, Will would arise before dawn, build up the fire in the forge, tend the donkey, and do his lessons before any one else was up. Then he’d break his fast with the family and return to the shop with the two smiths. Three days a week, he’d spend mornings in school with the two girls. Mistress Brown taught them herself, for she had said, the local charity school master was an incompetent wastrel, and they could not afford grammar school for the girls. There was no question of an orphaned apprentice attending grammar school. And so Will furthered his ability to read and write and cipher as per the terms of his indenture.

On Sundays, the whole family would file to the parish church, occupy an entire pew, and the younger set would twitch and wriggle and be frowned at and shushed until the whole interminable service was over. The only relief had been the chance to sing at the tops of their lungs.

Will had never minded services. Stillness came naturally for him, and he seldom wasted energy in unnecessary fretting. If he found no comfort in the words being spoken, he could remember his mother and talk with her in his heart. Far ahead of him, in the governor’s pew, he could see the top of Elizabeth’s head. It had pleased him then as now, to be in the same building as she was. Sometimes, if he was lucky, they would be able to exchange a few words afterwards before her governess or her maid whisked her away with a flutter of scolding.

The only variation to this pattern was his monthly half-day, when Will belonged to himself for a morning, free to abandon the forge and amuse himself as he pleased. Most of the other apprentices used these times to romp about town getting into trouble, but Will’s half-days had been his very own secret delight. He’d managed to let Elizabeth know his schedule, and she’d do her best to shed her watchdogs and meet him on a secluded, sandy beach where they’d build sand castles and talk and giggle and swim in the little bay. They had to time it so their clothing would dry before noon when she’d return meekly to her chastisement and he’d return to his work. She hadn’t always managed to slip away, and the day would be a little less turquoise and gold if he had to spend it alone, but Elizabeth was a master at misdirection, and she was almost always waiting for him.

Those halcyon days had made up for the drudgery of the rest of the month, when ceaseless, repetitive labour was all he knew from dawn until dusk. Mastersmith Brown was a tireless worker, and he expected no less from his apprentice.

Along with caring for the fire and the donkey, Will kept the shop tidy, the tools picked up and returned to their proper locations, and the dirt floor swept. Often he would be sent to fetch supplies, directing the delivery of iron bars and coal when the great merchant ships docked in Port Royal to exchange raw materials for sugar and coffee. He also delivered completed work to customers throughout the town.

There were also a ferrier, a shipsmith, and a gunsmith in Port Royal, but Mastersmith Brown had the largest shop, serving the sugar cane industry with axes, adzes, hoes, sickles, scythes, plow blades and other farm equipment; equipping the town buildings with latches, locks, nails, and hinges; creating the assorted tools needed by other crafts; manufacturing the variety of utensils, kettles, pots, and ladles need for housewifery; and providing the garrison with a variety of iron goods from gaol doors to shackles. However, the crowning production of J. Brown’s smithy were the blades—knives and cutlasses, rapiers and swords.

Will longed to be allowed to learn to forge the graceful weapons, but he had to be content with hundreds of hours of grinding and polishing the lesser blades of tools and knives. He wasn’t even allowed to forge a nail.

“Patience, young Will,” the smith had advised. “There is a time for everything, and all things must start at the beginning. When you have mastered the iron and steel, then you will be ready to let it master you.”

As far as Will could see, that meant breathing and eating a stone of ore as he filed and swept and scrubbed.

* * * * *

One day the routine had been interrupted. Will always remembered the day he’d met Gordon Brown.

The young man, freshly returned from a tour aboard the Dauntless, had managed to sweet talk his superior officer into allowing him a brief respite from his duties at the fort.

“They don’t need me so desperately to count cannon balls and peel potatoes and spit-polish the officer’s boots that they couldn’t give me a couple of hours to come home and meet the new addition to the family,” he explained airily. “I promised on pain of death to return post haste the moment the French attack.”

Such logic was not necessarily of the sort that impressed marine officers, but Will had soon learned that Gordon had a silver tongue with which he skipped in and out of trouble with astonishing rapidity.

His family was ecstatic to see him, surrounding him with their usual noisy welcome. Will hung back shyly, staring at the slender young man in his splendid marine uniform, until he was pulled forward to be introduced.

The younger and much shorter Brown was eager to demonstrate his new skills with the small sword over the fallen body of his towering older brother, so the family was treated to the excitement of a duello in the forge that afternoon. It soon became apparent that what Gordon lacked in height, he far made up in agility and expertise. When he disarmed his opponent for the third time, Joe threw up his arms and surrendered.

“I give up, you young rapscallion. You’ve got me beat. I’ll just be making those pretty blades you’re so fond of, and you can do the skewering of people with them!”

Gordon crowed triumphantly. “You see,” he confided to Will. “Old High and Mighty there is such a great, hulking, tall brute, I had to learn to defend myself or he’d certainly have pulverized me.”

This statement resulted in a brief wrestling match between the two brothers which proved Gordon’s point admirably. His blacksmith brother headlocked him almost instantly. Dusting themselves off, the young men returned to being on the best of terms.

Noticing Will’s interest in his sword, Gordon offered it to him. “She’s a beauty, Will,” he exclaimed with pride. “Much as I hate to admit that the halfwit there is such a genius, this is a magnificent sword.” He dodged his brother’s cuff to the head.

Will held out his hand for the sword eagerly. He’d not dared ask to touch the valuable blades racked around the central gear shafts in the smithy. But they’d been calling to him. As his fingers closed around the hilt, he ceased to be aware of anything but this incredible creature he was holding. If the cold, unworked bar had seemed living to him, this slender flame of folded steel sang to life in his grip. This, then was what the metal longed to be. Gently, he slipped the blade along the currents of air, feeling its balance, the ways it wanted to move.

Admiringly, he watched the flickering light of the forge gather and pool and ripple along the blade. Then he became aware of Gordon’s laughing voice.

“I think he’s asleep! Hey, Will! Are you in there somewhere?”

The young man’s voice was teasing, but his eyes were sympathetic.

Will took a deep breath and tore his eyes away from the blade in his hands. Reluctantly he offered the sword back to its owner. He was surprised when Gordon shook his head.

“I imagine you’d like to try it out, wouldn’t you?” he asked.

Unbelieving Will watched as the young soldier selected another blade from the racks.

“Let’s see what you can do,” Gordon suggested.

“I’ve never used a sword,” Will protested. “I wouldn’t want to damage it.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Gordon grinned. “If my brother forged it right, you won’t be able to hurt it. And if he didn’t,” he cast an impish glance at Joe, “I’d rather know now than when I have a pirate at the other end of my blade.”

“It’ll be fine, my reprehensible brother,” Joe rumbled. “Even you could not wreck that sword, and Will’s got a great deal more sense than you.”

Gordon slapped a palm to his chest. “You wound me, mountainous man.”

“No, but I could,” his brother responded good-naturedly. “Now are you going to show the whelp there how to use that blade before he combusts?”

“All in good time, you impatient lout.”

Gordon turned to Will. “The best way to start is for you to try to follow the moves that I make. Do you think you can do that?”

Will nodded, still mesmerized by the feel of the blade in his hand.

The young marine faced Will and raised his sword. Will carefully matched his stance, watching the way Gordon placed his feet and balanced his weight, how he held his shoulders and the angles of his arms. Occasionally, Gordon would correct him or make a suggestion. Gradually the room narrowed until he was aware of nothing but the man across the steel from him. Each action Gordon made, Will mirrored although their blades had still not even touched. Without noticing it, Will began breathing in time to the other’s breath. Every tiny muscle movement in the swordsman found its echo in the blacksmith’s apprentice. Each step grew closer in timing until they were almost dancing with the swords in perfect unison. Will felt as though he had become Gordon. As though Gordon’s commands to his muscles moved Will’s limbs. As though the beat of the other’s heart resonated in his own blood.

Then Gordon’s blade flashed forward. Without consciously thinking, Will matched that move as well, and the silver clash of steel rang down his arm and chased along his nerves. He did not watch either his blade or his opponent’s, only the man himself. Watched for the tiny signals that gave away his next movement, signals less in his eyes than in the patterns of motion in his muscles and tendons. He did not register the dawning surprise in Gordon’s eyes as anything more than an action to be copied. The thrill of crashing blades chimed through his body. He could stay forever like this, alive amidst arcs of deadly steel. The sword in his hand sang softly through the air, a siren song.

Suddenly, the blade was out of his hand, clattering to the ground, and young Gordon’s point was picking out the buttons on his shirt. The swordsman had made a move too fast for Will to counter. Will took a deep breath, aware that he was grinning like a madman.

“Try again?” Gordon asked grinning back with a puzzled look of wonder in his blue eyes.

“Yes, please,” Will nodded eagerly.

Twice more they’d danced the swords together, steel slicing percussion. Each time Will held on a little longer before he was disarmed. The family audience applauded wildly, Emily jumping up and down until Joe placed one huge hand on her head and informed her that she hadn’t been given permission to fly.

“Well, brother,” Gordon addressed Joe as he re-racked his sword. “You’ve been put to shame today. This bantling has outfought you entirely, and he didn’t even know what he was doing.”

“Hey,” Joe protested. “You beat him all three times, too.”

“Ah! But did you notice how I had to beat him? Of course you didn’t,” Gordon answered his own question. “You don’t watch what I do when I fight. But I couldn’t lose young Will’s eyes. I could only best him by using moves he hadn’t seen before and by doing my damnedest (sorry ladies) to mislead him with my physical cues. That’s not something I normally have to worry about with an inexperienced fighter. And I never have to worry about it with you.”

Joe looked indignant.

But Gordon had already forgotten him. Turning to the mastersmith, he exclaimed, “Father, it would be a crying shame for a lad with Will’s instinct for the sword not to be allowed to develop it.”

The smith nodded thoughtfully. “I can see that, son. And it would not be a bad thing for the man who crafts blades to be skilled in their use. What do you suggest?”

“Well, I certainly could teach him something, but I’m just learning myself,” Gordon thought out loud. “I’ll tell you what. I really wish the sword master at the fort could take a look at Will. I’m sure he’d be impressed. Maybe he’d even allow Will to join us for practice. He could really make Will into something special.”

Everyone looked speculatively at Will, who’d blushed and felt uncomfortable. He wanted this so badly he could taste it. “Perhaps Captain Norrington might make a request . . .” Will trailed off uncertainly.

Gordon lit up. “I’d forgotten. You know the big man himself. Well then, there shouldn’t be any problem. I’ll just approach him on behalf of a young friend of mine. It won’t hurt that this will bring me to his notice too.” He smirked at Will. “Enlightened self interest, boy. You won’t even have to thank me.”

“Thank you!” Will couldn’t help himself. “You don’t know . . .”

Smiling at his father’s apprentice still holding the sword like it was a child, Gordon interrupted softly. “Oh, yes I do, young Mr. Turner. I know.” He held out his hand, and Will had reluctantly returned the blade.

Noticing the change in the angle of light from the slats in the walls, Gordon grew more animated. “Alas, duty calls!” he exclaimed. “The fates of Port Royal and the entire British Empire rest on my scarlet shoulders, so I’d best be getting back to the fort.”

He embraced his parents, punched his brother in the arm, bowed over Susanna’s hand with a flourish, threw Emily in the air and kissed her soundly, and wrung Will’s hand. Then he vaulted to the loading dock, popped out the door and tore off for the fort at a dead run.

“There never was such a whisky frisky, hey-go-mad lad as our Gordon,” the smith commented with a rueful smile. “But the boy’s done well for himself.”

“Aye, if he can just keep himself from driving his superiors to hang him off the yardarm,” his brother snorted.

* * * * *

Gordon had been as good as his word. Will had received his invitation to join the marine cadets at their weapons practice. He took to rising two hours early, before dawn, and practicing on his own before his one hour with the Fort Royal sword master. It had not taken him long to outstrip his compatriots. The dance of swords was in his blood. He’d even begun to best Gordon once in awhile.

Will had been sorry to lose his friend and dueling partner when Gordon had been posted again to the Dauntless as she took up her patrol of the Caribbean shipping lanes. Gordon himself had been nothing but thrilled. He hoped they’d meet pirates. Then he’d get to try out that lovely blade for real.

But when the three month patrol had returned to Port Royal’s harbour, a somber Captain Norrington had come to the smithy to deliver the news that Gordon Brown, marine, had met and battled valiantly and fallen before a far more deadly enemy than pirates. Like so many British sailors, he’d been taken with the cholera and had not recovered. His grave would be the unmarked sea. To Will it had seemed as though the mastersmith grew older in one breath of a moment. That night Will hadn’t heard when he’d come home from the tavern.

The magnificent sword his brother had made for Gordon had been returned to his family along with his few effects and a letter he’d dictated when it had become obvious that he might not win this fight.

Will had never found out the contents of that letter, although he’d occasionally come upon Mistress Brown, seated at the table, brushing its folds with trembling fingertips. But the part of it that had concerned Will was that Gordon had left his sword to his father’s apprentice. “You’re the only one who will really appreciate it,” he’d written. “And it deserves to be used, not pinned on a wall.”

Every time Will practiced with that sword, a finer one than any other boy in Port Royal had possessed, even the sons of gentlemen, he felt as he had that first day he and Gordon had fought—as though another step stirred the dust beside his own, another hand clasped the hilt alongside his, and another heartbeat drummed in his ears.

TBC
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 3

Date: 2005-10-21 02:11 am (UTC)
alyndra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alyndra
Gordon!

For a background character, you have a talent for making your readers care about the people in your story!

I love the Will/sword stuff in this, because his fencing is so important to who Will is . . . I like reading more about how it might have developed.

Great chapter!

Date: 2005-10-21 05:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm delighted that you liked my Gordon. He is my favourite OC so far. He surprised me when he showed up in my story, flashed through it like a meteor, and left me missing him. It's good to know others find him endearing.

I wanted to explore what made Will the person he is in the movie, and sword fighting is such a part of him. I'm glad you're enjoying my take on a possible backstory.

Thank you so much for your comment.

Date: 2005-10-21 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thekestrel.livejournal.com
You sail in the uncharted sea's, off POTC's map. Here there be dragons, the maps borders state boldly. You've caught young Will, perfectly - as well as his love of steel, and swashbuckling. Great foreshadowing, as well, about J. Brown. I tip my hat to you.

Date: 2005-10-21 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Yes, this one went haring off into the wild blue yonder fairly rapidly. I will eventually get back to the movie but we are off to circumnavigate the globe on the way there. I'm so glad you find Will in character here. He's such a complex and subtle character, the master of steel at such a young age. I felt he had to have a unique past to account for it. And of course the first increments of Brown's fall are evident already. Thank you so much for your feedback.

Date: 2005-10-22 09:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] torn-eledhwen.livejournal.com
This is a review for both parts of this chapter! I'm wondering what's going to turn Brown into the drunken slouch in the movie, and I've a feeling you'll tell us. Excellent description of the forge and Will's feelings throughout.

Date: 2005-10-23 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Oh yes! The fall of J. Brown will be forthcoming as promised. Like most falls it will be more of a slide up to the edge of the cliff. But at some point that man had to have the talent to teach Will his craft. So he is an intriguing character. Thank you for the comments. I'm glad you're enjoying my foray into blacksmithing.

Date: 2005-11-02 01:55 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Oh. My god. Beautiful.

Date: 2005-11-02 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
*Bows* So glad you liked this. Thank you for your kind words.

Date: 2005-12-08 12:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hendercats.livejournal.com
Well, fie on you! Introducing us to dashing, charming Gordon and killing him off all within one chapter - hrrumph. *pouts a grandly big pout*

*also begins biting nails, for I know the rest of Brown's family must go, but dread watching*

Excellently done, however; I saw every bit of it. Your dance imagery worked very well - this paragraph The young marine faced Will and raised his sword. Will carefully matched his stance... somehow felt very like the setup for dances at a ball. (Hmmm... can you tell I've not only recently seen Pride and Prejudice, but am now reading it as well?) And I love how the sword sings to Will, ehchanting him, when he first holds it.

Having a marine recommend Will to the swordmaster at the fort seems a much more plausible way for him to have learned than Norrington's just deciding to teach him.

Also (sorry, but I seem to be reviewing this one from bottom to top for some reason), the heat and fire, hard work and sweat, and plain old drudgery of the forge and the smithy come through very well, yet it still is filled with unseen magic.

And I hate to nitpick, but use of "try his hand" twice within the same paragraph bothered me.

Date: 2005-12-08 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Oh! You liked my Gordon. Wasn't he a love? He was absolutely my favourite, although Emily is close. I know. I'm terrible to take him so quickly, but that fate happened to so many sailors and marines back then. It's good to know you were sorry he's gone.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here! Sorry about the manicure.

I'm glad my descriptions are making it to your imagination as pictures. When I see the swordfights in PotC, I think of dance. Watching the features on how the actors trained, it was very like dancing. And since seeing PotC, I've been spoiled by brilliant, character-driven swordfighting. So many fight scenes in movies now seem gratuitous violence or even clumsy.

Is this your first time reading Pride and Prejudice? Oooh you are in for a treat. I do love that book! Such gentile, snarky humour. The narrators of Jane Austen's books are almost my favourite characters!

Will's love affair with steel and swords seemed important for me. Something had to make him that extraordinary swordsmith and fighter. The writers say he is the best swordsman in the movie followed by Norrington and Barbossa, an even match, and then Jack, who's good but not as good. So where does that come from? I'm glad you like my take on it.

I thought, in a realistic world, which a movie can't be, many more people would have contributed to the making of any one character than just the starring characters. The really quite unusual training of an orphaned blacksmith's apprentice in the art of swordfighting needed some explanation for me. There would have to be a reason for such training to take place. I'm happy you felt this was plausible.

Learning about the ways of the forge has been one of the bonuses for me in writing this story. I think everyone has that experience when settling down to the day to day labour of mastering a passion. It's not all magic, but the magic breaks through once in awhile.

Do please nitpick as much as possible. I love constructive criticism. Anything that makes the work better. The story is what is important--not my ego as a proofreader. A person can't edit her own work--the mind just skips over what it believes to be there and doesn't even notice. I shall change that little repetition immediately. Thank you for pointing it out and feel free to continue doing so!

I'm so delighted to hear from you again. You have a habit of making my mornings very happy. Thank you.

Date: 2006-09-07 08:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myystic.livejournal.com
I knew it! Oh, at least it wasn't pirates. That would have been too cruel. And Will inherits the sword. Would that be the one he carries in the film I wonder?

Gordon reminds me a little of Jack, from physical descriptions to mannerisms. I wonder if that was intentional. And Will being a natural with the sword was a given, but his receiving lessons from the garrison swordmaster? A lovely way of clearing up how good will is in the film as 3 hours a day of practice doesn't mean a thing if you don't know what you're doing.

And its captain Norrington now? Was he promoted sometime between the Dauntless crossing and this chapter then? Not surprising if he was. Is he a true post-captain or is the rank just an indulgence here?

Date: 2006-09-17 09:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I thought to make pirates the source of all Will's losses would be entirely too unrealistic--not that realism seems a high priority in this universe :D. Will is going to outgrow that sword. He's not a small man like Gordon. But it will show up again.

Gordon was a fun character to write. His resemblance to Jack is probably because of his silver tongue and slight quickness, but the parallel was not intentional. Gordon just wanted to be that way. I'm glad the explanation for Will's learning swordsmanship makes sense to you. He would have had to have both instruction and people to spar with. The one thing that has never rang true to me was the idea that Norrington trained Will. The commodore does his best to ignore or put down Will Turner throughout the entire movie, right up until the end. That is not the way a mentor would act.

At some point Lieutenant Norrington would have to be promoted to Captain on his way to being Commodore. Usually the rank would come first and then the post. At this point, "captain" may just mean he is master of a ship, but eventually he will acheive true rank.

Thank you again for the comments! I do very much appreciate them.

Date: 2006-09-19 03:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myystic.livejournal.com
The one thing that has never rang true to me was the idea that Norrington trained Will. I hear that. I've seen that all over the place and I can't help but wonder where those authors get the idea. Norrington is condescendingly dismissive of Will throughout the film except for the very end and there's nothing to indicate that they had any sort of friendship, let alone a mentor/student relationship, before that. *shakes head at fandom*

Date: 2007-12-08 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reneeks.livejournal.com
Such a sweet family. I am sad to know what is inevitably going to happen...you have created such wonderful OCs. What a wonderful knack you have for writing. Thank you for writing and sharing your stories, very touching they are.

Date: 2008-08-05 06:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
It's always wonderful to know someone likes my OCs. I'm rather fond of them myself. Thank you.

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