Bellows Grimcock clenched his huge hands into fists, the wooden handle of his hammer cracking from the force as his tearducts tried and failed to produce any moisture. He looked on at his daughter, her body scarcely covered by the thin strips of armor she wore as she sat, unmoving.
“Are you…crying, master?”
Bellows gave a joyless chuckle before he turned to his apprentice, Phineas Flaciddoodle. “I watched my wife get eaten by a bear, my dad get eaten by an ox, and my mother get eaten by a pterodactyl without crying.”
“I remember, Master. That was a lousy day. You don’t get to be a smith of your caliber by being able to cry, though. You did a fine job of the taxidermy work, I would like to say. She would be proud of you.”
Bellows levelled a dirty look at him. “She’s dead, Phineas. No pride to be had there.” He pulled a piece of heated iron out of the fire beside his daughter. Looking at the broken hammer, he threw it aside, placing the molten steel against the anvil and punching it with his bare fist. Sparks rained off as the metal began to take shape.
Phineas walked beside him, his eyes never leaving Shaya Grimcock’s dead but intact body. “Did you eat all of the organs that you removed?”
“Like I said, she’s dead. No reason to waste good meat.”
Phineas had one hand held in the fire before he knew Bellows was moving. It might have hurt more if the arm it was attached to was still connected to his shoulder. “If you get any wise ideas about romancing a stuffed statue, start with the badger on the counter.”
Phineas looked over, seeing only a bucket full of hot coals there, two fluffy ears glued to either side of it. “I understand.”
Bellows pulled the thinned strand of molten metal in front of his eyes, growling. Without a word, he hurled it out the window, ignoring the screaming coming from the house he’d thrown it into. Phineas walked over to him, placing his remaining hand on his shoulder.
“What is it, Master?”
Bellows reached down to his finished works, pulling up what looked like a steel coin, flattened until it was the size of his fist. “They’re too big. They’re all too big.”
“Master, those only cover a little bit more than the woman’s nether regions!”
He grabbed the table full of steel bikinis and flipped them over, spilling the few ounces of steel on the floor. “Don’t you think I know that? I want it to only cover the parts it legally has to!”
Phineas reached out to the wall, pulling a thin bit of chain from a hook. “You remember this, don’t you? It was you who first forged the war thong, granting unmatched mobility to a woman in combat! How could you doubt yourself after that?”
Bellows laughed. “That’s a war bikini bottom, remember? I can cover less skin as long as I don’t refer to it like an undergarment.”
Phineas smiled, Bellows turning back to his work. “You can do this, master.”
Bellows stared into the fires, once more remembering the day the arrow sliced into his daughter. It had cut straight through the cleavage opening in the push-up chestplate he’d forged for her. “If I hadn’t been so damned concerned in putting a little bit of steel around the bikini, then it wouldn’t have been as heavy and she may have been able to move fast enough to avoid the arrow. That will never happen to another man’s daughter again. Every woman who can hold a sword will be all but naked on the field, moving too fast for anything to strike them. Practically weightless and soaked in sensual oils, they will be the match of any combative force in the world. The Leather Bustier Armada will never catch us unawares again.”
Bellows returned to his noble craft, a single drop of whisky, the only liquid his tear ducts could produce, trickling down his cheek. His work would be the stuff of legend, gracing every painted image of a female warrior for centuries to come. Truly, he was the greatest forger of female armor the world would ever know.