, , , ,

The ancient scabbard was still in relative disrepair but the more ratty sections had been wrapped in strong cloth.  The rust and dirt had been scrubbed from the hand guard to reveal a cracked black enamel finish and Friss had torn away the rotting cloth and rusted wire of the handle, replacing it with rich gray sharkskin.  I closed my hand around the large handle, feeling the weight of the sword.  The heavy pommel guard completely covered my hand, protecting my fingers and it seemed like I could almost feel the strength of the blade course through me.  I wrapped my other hand gently around the midpoint of the scabbard and pulled.

The sword slid free easily, the slightly curved blade a dark gray steel; the edge sharp and gleaming with oil.  I had never actually held a sword before, but it felt perfect in my hand, heavy and solid, but still swift.  I let out a long slow breath and turned, sliding the blade back into it’s sheath with exaggerated care.

I looked up and Serena stepped forward, holding out a hand.  She pulled the blade free and inspected it, a puzzled expression coloring her fine features.  Finally she shook her head and returned the blade to its scabbard before handing it to Tara.  I looked at her.  “What do you think?”

“It’s a fine blade.”  She said.  “One of the best.”

Tara looked at her, holding the heavy blade in her hand.  “It would have to be to survive so well.”

“It’s also definitely spent a lot of time among the dead.”  Serena said.  “I can almost feel their presence on the blade.”

Tara gave a small yelp of pain and jerked her hand away from the blade, thrusting her thumb into her mouth while Serena and I laughed.  I smiled gently and crossed the room, taking the heavy sword from her outstretched hand and wiping the blade on a nearby towel before sheathing it.  Tara sucked her wounded thumb and gave us both a dark look.

I held the sheathed sword in my hand, trying to get myself used to the weight of it and my eyes caught the strange club leaning against the wall behind Serena.  Long and crutch-like, beautifully intricate silver gears and wheels flowed along one side.  “What is that anyway?”  I asked pointing at it.  “Some sort of weird club or something?”

Serena smiled softly, her voice resonating with the tone of an important chant or prayer.  “It is an elf’s weapon.  It is my weapon.  I forged it with my own hands and quenched the steel in my own blood.  It is the manifestation of my soul, the embodiment of my Honor.  My rifle and I are one and while I live we will not fail each other.”

I blinked at her.  “Is that what it’s called?  A rifle?”

She barked a laugh and spun, gracefully swinging the weapon into her arms.  “The type of weapon is called a rifle, yes, but her name is Whisper.”

The rifle stood about four and half feet high, nearly as tall as Serena, but she cradled it easily in her arms and named some of the parts.  Beautiful silver scrolling vines ran the length of the barrel, disappearing against the dark engraved chestnut stock.  The multitude of silver wheels and gears on the side were all the same dusky hue and both the silver scrollwork along the barrel and the dusky silver gears on the side had been treated so as not to reflect light.  It was beautiful and I said so.

With sunset approaching the three of us scoured the smithy’s house for anything we could find that I might need.  Neither Serena nor Tara had extra leggings that would fit me but the smith’s wife had left behind a strong woolen traveling dress close to my size and my own riding cloak and boots were strong and of good quality.

Jason found an old rucksack for me in the smithy and I loaded it with sewing supplies, a bedroll, and everything else we had gathered.  Tara found a wide leather belt and trimmed it to fit me while Serena searched the pantry and cabinets.  In the loft I found a quality skinning knife and leather sling I knew had belonged to the smith’s son and from the bed of his sister, a young girl not yet twelve, I took a fine boar’s hair brush and added it to my supplies.