The Failure

Bruenor stood at the brink of a mighty chasm, clutching a magnificent, new axe in his hands.

He was trembling; the axe shook. It had nothing to do with the freezing wind blasting its way through the mountain pass.

He had done something he had known must never be attempted.

He had tried to make Aegis-fang's equal.

He failed.

The axe was glorious. Mithral and adamantite wove together in intricate patterns. Diamond dust glittered upon its surface. Any warrior in all the realms would be honored to wield it.

But it wasn't perfect.

When he had awoken from his magic-induced coma, he noticed that over half the diamond dust he had thrown lay scattered on the ground, a fortune lost in the snow. There were flaws in the alloys, microscopic cracks that no one could possibly notice.

Bruenor noticed. It was his creation; he felt the blemishes in it.

It was an outstanding axe, but it simply wasn't in the same league as Aegis-fang.

Tears trickled out of the corners of his eyes to become lodged, frozen, in his fiery beard.

What a failure he was! His girl was hurt, probably would never walk correctly again. His boy had left them, probably for good. His people looked to him for leadership, and he had gone adventuring after Gauntlgrym instead, and he never found it.

He signed the Treaty of Garumn's Gorge, allowing orcs to build a recognized kingdom next to Mithral Hall.

What a failure he was! He failed as a king. He failed as a father. He failed as a friend.

With a savage, guttural cry, he hurled the valuable, imperfect axe into the yawning abyss before him, thinking dryly that the clashes and clangs it made as it dashed upon the rocks echoed the chaos in his soul.

Wiping his nose on the back of an already soggy leather gauntlet, Bruenor returned to his lonely throne, intensely troubled.