Artifice

in which a Prosthetic is contrived of rare Material

It was one thing to know that, in theory, the slightest amount of remaining moisture or irregularity would destroy a vessel placed in such extreme heat; it was another to hear crucible after crucible shatter in the small furnace she’d placed on the forge hearth.

Pottery was one of those things that was simple, yet maddening in the details. Yet after a week and a day, Drusilla finally had a crucible that survived. Inside, she placed ore that Brodie had crushed. She set the loaded crucible in the center of the furnace, then moved firebricks so she could stack coal. She fired the furnace.

It was not a big thing. It could’ve fit in a wine cask, and most of its volume was in the firebricks that confined the heat inside, focused it on the crucible where, over the course of an hour, flecks of metal would become liquid. Transformed, they would trickle together.

Next to the furnace was a plaster mold, warmed to a high heat on the hearth. She had started with the piece of beeswax Brodie had bitten into, and built up the shape of the tooth. The base would fit perfectly. She’d added a sprue to the top and would cut that away once it was unmolded. She defined the edges of the inlay pattern with the precise point of a steel burin, then cut away the rest of the relief with a tiny chisel.

She’d made the beeswax tooth to destroy it, though. Once she cast it in plaster with only the end of the sprue showing, she’d fired it in the forge to vaporize the wax out. Once the mold had done its job it, too, would be destroyed.

Drusilla leaned on the anvil, watching but not really watching as tricks of superheated air escaping from the furnace played games with the appearance of the forge behind. Her mind was remote while she waited, thinking of the Rooms and of her wilful charges gone so wrong.

At length, she took the heavy gloves and pulled them on. Incongruous with the blue and black brocade she wore, they afforded some protection as she moved firebricks aside. A breath of intense heat was released toward the ceiling. She grasped the crucible firmly with the tongs. Tipping it gently over the mold–a moment–then the liquid inside flowed out, a glowing metal. It could have been tin, or iron or silver from its look, but it was not. A thimbleful of molten mithril found its way into the mold and up the sprue, a few drops remaining pooled in the crucible.

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