The Smith awoke in the still-dark. She could not do otherwise, for it was she who brought the spark, the first hint of day. While she slept the Deep One held sway, and his world was all darkness.
She stretched in her humble bed and the sound of ice cracking off her skin greeted her ears. Her bones were old, and the house was frigid. Ice encased it; there was no entry or exit in the long nights. The walls sparkled with frozen water to her all-seeing eyes. She got up to a symphony of creaks from her body and the mattress, and headed down the narrow staircase to the cozy – if cold – downstairs rooms.
Her mother slept on the couch. As always, she appeared younger than she was, and acted it too – even now it looked like she had sneaked in late at night after hours of debauchery – or battle – and curled up on the couch, instead of going up to her room and risking waking up the Smith. One of the older woman’s arms was flung out; her long black-red hair was tangled and her black dress rumpled. Ice coated her still figure, turning her into a statue.
The Smith smiled, feeling the creases in her face stretch with the motion. She’d never shied away from looking her age, but then it was never a static thing.
She walked slowly to the hearth, careful not to slip on the icy floor, and put the kettle on the rod above the cold fire. It took a few tries to start the flame, for she was still tired and bone-cold, but after blowing on it a bit she finally got glowing coals and orange flames. She felt an answering rumble in the floor as the Deep One stirred, waking up from his icy prison at the first signs of life from her little house.
As the flames licked the kettle’s soot-covered bottom she heard a CRACK from the other room and knew her mother would soon wake. She willed more heat to the fire, and more ice around the hearth melted. The water in the kettle boiled and soon she had tea made to bring to the groggy woman on the couch.
“Nnnh,” was the dignified sound of gratitude as the cup of tea was placed in her mother’s frigid fingers. The Smith smiled at her mom. Already her skin felt smoother, less-wrinkled as she slowly heated up.
She shuffled about the house, lighting wall sconces and candles with her hand. Soon it looked like a miniature galaxy in her house, a thousand pinpricks of light flickering in the darkness, with the hearth forming the thick, glowing centre of the spiral.
The smithy was the only dark part of the house, now. It lay just off the main room of the house. The house was small and compact in the Twilight hours; it took little time to move from hearth to bedroom to smithy.
It was time to start the forge now, or the day would never begin.
“Feels like I’d slept for a minute, mayhap less,” said her mother, grumbly.
She shrugged. “Mayhap you did.”
The Phantom sighed and leaned back against the couch cushions. “Get on with it then. It’s bloody freezing.”
There was a deep grumble in the floor boards in time with the Smith’s chuckle. “Someone’s displeased with your notion,” she said as she started the forge fire, stoking the coals.
The Phantom snorted. “’e’s never happy.”
The Smith didn’t argue, for it was partly true. Instead she concentrated on getting the forge ready, finding her day’s project, getting the iron hot in the coals. Almost all the ice was gone now, and she knew the Deep One would be fully awake – and grumpy – soon.
When the iron was red-hot, almost white, she pulled it from the coals and placed it on the Anvil. Hefting her hammer, she took a mighty swing and slammed it down on the rod.
Sparks flew off and continued out to the edges of the house. Her ears rung with the sound. She was much warmer.
“You look younger already.” The Smith looked up at her mother. The distance between her smithy and the main room of the house had stretched.
“What are your plans for today?” she asked before striking again.
The second BANG stretched them farther apart, and the Smith felt her body reversing the ageing process, growing younger…and getting bigger.
“Nothing too strenuous. Become a very powerful figure in some local mythology somewhere. Take a long lunch. Come back in full strength in the afternoon.”
The Smith chuckled. “Well, maybe I’ll see you in the same area.”
“Undoubtedly,” was the snorted response as a fourth BANG rent the air and stretched her house – and her – further. “You’re everywhere these days.”
That was the end of the conversation, and both knew it. The fifth BANG brought the most change. The Smith was much younger now, and she felt a shiver as ice water ran in her veins.
The Deep One was liquid now, very awake. He was a vast darkness, and soon there would be little distinction between him and her.
She saw the candles flicker, farther away, little pinpoints of light in the inky blackness. She was within each flame as she sat at the Anvil, hammering on the rod. Sparks flew off and became planets, and flew to spin around the candle flames, tiny stars in the night. Her stars.
Soon all the planets would be done, and the sparks would become souls instead, to populate those planets. She would stretch, past infinity, and the Deep One with her. His deep waters would hold her bright flames as they became as close to one as possible.
Expressions of their essences would manifest on the different planets, with no memory of their progenitors. These expressions – their “children” — would grow powerful, carry their own mythology, and become well-loved. And at the end of the day, they would come home, and all memory would return to them. And the same happened with her mother, with the other Ones who slept in the still-dark, under the sway of the Deep One, and woke in the day-time, when the Smith reigned.
Soon each of them would contain multitudes, each expression of themselves becoming something new and different, and watching over a different set of souls.
Each BANG of the Anvil would make more souls, until there were too many for her heart to hold. She would grow cold then, as would her flames, and the Deep One would hold her close. She would grow older once again.
Night would fall as they would contract back into themselves, separating more fully. Her house would be restored, and sometime between her staggering up to her bed and a night’s rest and the Deep One locking the house in ice, her mother would sneak in and curl up on the couch.
Soon it grows so cold she stops breathing. Time stops, as They sleep, dreaming of a new tomorrow.