} It all began nearly thousand years ago. Chen the Coppersmith was a
} skilled gan-tsik, or "maker of swords". He also made knives and daggers
} and shortswoods, but he was best known for his longsword: straight and
} heavy and sharp. It was the sword used by Dag the Warrior, the best
} swordsman in the city where Chen lived. Thus it was known as the
} Tsik-chor, for it was the "sword of warriors".
} Like most copper longswords, though, Chen's swords tended to break
} easily. The longer the sword, the more easily it would break. This
} saddened Chen. He decided to close himself in his smithy, accepting no
} customers, until he had found a way to make a sword that was longer
} than his longsword, but just as strong and durable.
} Eventually, after weeks of little sleep, no food, and only a sip of
} water each day, Chen emerged. "I have done it!" he shouted. He bore a
} sword that was different from other swords. The blade of the sword was
} not made from one simple piece of metal, but from many -- pounded
} together under great heat, angled one atop another, to produce a long,
} continuously curved blade. Where the pieces of metal were joined,
} hatchmarks could be seen running up and down the blade, glinting in the
} sunlight. "I shall call it the Tsik-Chen, he said -- "the sword of
} Now that the sword was complete, he knew what had to be done. He rushed
} to the Dag the Warrior. But Dag had been in many battles in his life,
} always with a straight sword. "I have trust in my sword," he said. "But
} I fear to lay down my life with this new and untested blade." This made
} Tski-Chen very sad, for he had worked so hard to create this sword.
} But this conversation was heard by Afuol the Merchant, a wily and
} clever trickster. He came later to Chen and told him that if Chen could
} produce for him three dozen swords in three months, then Afuol would
} buy them. Of course, Chen readily agreed, and Afuol paid him well.
} Afuol immediately began to spread the word of Chen's swords. But Afuol
} did not use Chen's name at all, calling it the Tsik-Ban, the
} hatchmarked blade. This way, buyers who heard his rumors would not know
} that it was Chen who created the swords. He also twisted the words he
} had overheard, saying that the blade with the hatchmarks was one that
} even caused Dag the Warrior to fear. When they heard this, sellers from
} miles around became interested in the sword that struck fear in Dag the
} Warrior's heart.
} Chen was displeased to hear of how Afuol spoke, but what was he to do?
} He had already made a deal with Afuol, and was honor bound to create
} nearly twoscore hatchmarked blades. Still, the words ate at Chen's
} heart, and he was unable to think clearly. Sword after sword was ruined
} at his hand, to foolish and simple mistakes. Soon, the three months
} were nearly passed, and Chen had only ten swords to show.
} But then Chen had a thought. He only promised to supply longer, curved,
} hatchmarked swords -- but made no promise that they be good swords, and
} strong swords. And none knew that Chen was the maker of the swords, so
} what had he to lose? He took six and thirty of his normal longswords,
} and began to rebeat them on the anvil. He drew them out, and bent the
} blades, and even cut into them hatched markings with a knife. Each step
} weakend them, but Afuol would not know, for Afuol was neither a
} swordsman nor a maker of swords.
} And so Chen delivered three dozen swords, and Afuol sold them. And
} those that bought them told of what poor swords they were, and few of
} them ever bought another thing from Afuol again, leaving him penniless.
} But when Chen offered to replace the poor swords with his own Tsi-Chen,
} he was hailed as a hero, and many saw the quality of his true
} This story may or may not answer your question. But more importantly,
} it demonstrates several very important points:
} 1) You cannot teach an old Dag new Tsiks.
} 2) Afuol and his money are soon parted.
} 3) Don't count your Tsi-Chen before they're hatched.
} You owe the Oracle -- well, no. Actually, the Oracle owes you a sincere