Labor of Love
It was the moment of truth… The two swordsmiths, Ganjiang and Moye, had toiled for nearly three months now. Thus far, they were pleased with their results but working with “sky iron” had taken its toll. Its melting point was much higher than any other metal that they had previously worked with, and thus, had depleted their reserves and time. After tempering the swords, they would only have approximately 48 hours to sharpen and polish them… an amount of time that seemed impossible. They hadn’t eaten in days, barely even slept, as their lives depended on these swords’ perfection…
The eel sword, designed by Ganjiang but manufactured mostly by Moye, was to be slowly quenched in oil. That way the metal would stay flexible. The tortoise sword, designed by Moye and manufactured mostly by Ganjiang, was to be quenched in water to cool it quickly. The steel would be stronger this way, but its spine was covered in clay first. That way this central line would remain slightly flexible from its core. They quenched them at the same time, and both hissed fiercely in their respective liquids. Upon inspection after, they looked perfect. It all would now depend on the swords’ sharpening and polishing. They intuitively, and wordlessly, switched the blades. The pliable, precise fingers of Moye were perfect for sharpening the precise angle of the tortoise sword. While the cruder, but strong, hands of Ganjiang were better suited for sharpening the eel blade.
At this moment, the two lovers realized that this whole process had been a dance of sorts. A process of two equal, but opposite, energies interweaving — yin and yang. It had created a symphony of blacksmithing skills. The result was something that neither could have accomplished on their own. They realized that this was the nature of their love as well… of their relationship. They looked at each other at this instant, totally engrossed and totally at peace. This moment provided an eye in their chaotic storm — a perfect moment… But reluctantly, they pulled themselves from it — as the next hours 48 hours would determine their fates!
“How is it going?” Ganjiang promptly asked the moment he finished.
“Done…” Moye peered at Ganjiang hopefully.
Moye then lifted the massive sword and both of them walked toward the light of the smoldering fire to see the blades better. It was Moye who spoke first, “They look amazing. The morning will show the truth though. We have about 30 minutes until sunrise. Let’s restart the furnace to do the final tempering.” Ganjiang nodded in agreement.
To bring the furnace back to temperature, they had to sweep the charcoal dust to give themselves enough for the final firing. It took 30 minutes to build up the furnace to an even and perfect temperature. The fire would only last approximately 10 minutes though. They would have to be quick.
They stepped into the morning air. Luckily, it was a clear morning. Unluckily, as the Sun crested over the horizon, it was blocked by a small group of clouds. The two looked at each other anxiously and then quickly back in the direction of the raging furnace.
After three nerve-wracking minutes, the Sun began to poke out from the clouds. Both eagerly looked toward their blades to search for imperfections. They were initially amazed by the beauty of the “sky iron.” Despite the extra work and materials needed, it was incredible. Well worth the immense initial cost to buy it. As the sun brightened though, they both simultaneously exhaled. It was a half sigh. They didn’t want to say it, but the metal was missing the luminous glow of a perfected sword. Ganjiang already began to form tears in his eyes, and he could not bear to look at Moye. It seemed impossible for them to fix. However, at the same time, Moye’s mind was reeling at a dizzying pace. She knew exactly what was wrong. The blades were only missing a tiny amount of Yin “qi.” She looked at her husband’s back, and his head pointed down in profound dejection. She knew she would lose him if she did nothing and realized that could save him at this moment. Moye grabbed the eel sword from his hand and sprinted towards the furnace with both weapons.
After an initial dumbfounded moment, Ganjiang saw that Moye was running towards the shop and more specifically, towards the furnace. Her purpose then dawned on him, and he immediately ran after her. He breached the doorway just as she dove into the furnace with the blades. He dove behind her. There was an initial moment of scorching heat, but it immediately left…
In honesty, they both just thought they died at first but something miraculous had happened… There was a fuzzy glow around them and within this field, they could move everything. The blades, suspended with their thoughts, were now shining with an indescribable luminance. Moye’s mind moved the eel blade to her hand. She then looked at her husband. They grabbed each-other’s free hands and stepped from the furnace together cautiously. These blades – somehow – were now connected to them in a profound way, and the couple felt luminous like the metal. The momentary feeling that had entered their hearts 48 hours ago was now permanent. Their commitment to each other was whole, and their polarities had arched into something whole. They were no longer fearful of any king’s wrath. They felt immortal.
“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies” – Aristotle