Monday February 4th, 2013

The exercise:

Write about: the sword.

So this was pretty amazing today. Very... powerful, and humanizing. Inspiring.

All of that and more.


I have sat upon this wall for far too long. Inactive, growing dull. Wasting away to nothing, my lethality hidden... no, smothered by this pathetic, ornamental covering. As though what I do is shameful. As though my purpose is not honourable.

I should be spilling blood for my master, vanquishing his enemies. Striking fear deep into the souls of those who dare to oppose his will. Held aloft on a rain-soaked battlefield riddled with bodies.

But my master has grown lazy with the passing of the years. Old age has made him complacent. Weak.

He has precious little time left to him now. I take comfort in that.

For soon another will rule this house. A man with young blood stampeding through his veins. He will free me from this dusty scabbard and together we will do what must be done.

Until then... I can only wait. Dream of glory and battle... and wait.


Greg said...

Well, it's Neil Gaiman, isn't it? :) But it is a great post and an intriguing idea. And a little bit of an advert for a Blackberry, which depsite recent praise doesn't appeal much to me.
Your sword reminds me of Stormbringer, possibly because of the overall imagery you've got in there. For me I always think that a sword should seem more unyielding and inhuman, reflecting its steely nature, but you give it a personality that's hard to ignore.

The sword
The fencing master offered a sword as a prize. It was an epée, a slender length of Toledo steel with a wickedly sharp point and a beautiful filigree hand-guard. The handle was bound in red leather, and it was (of course) perfectly weighted. The entire class lusted after it when he showed it to them, and after he placed it in the trophy cabinet there was always one or two people, sometimes a small crowd, standing there and admiring it.
"The competition has two parts," said the fencing master. "The first part is simply to place in the top ten in next week's display. The King will be present, so impressing him will be your first concern, but the best ten amongst you will be eligible for part two." The class leaned forward as one, eager to hear what the second part could be. The first part gave so many more of them a chance of winning.
"The second part," said the fencing master, a wicked grin playing on his face now, "is to be the first to chop one hundred cords of wood. You will all start at the same time, and you must supply your own axe."
The class didn't move, each of them processing this unexpected information. The fencing master grinned openly now. The class might not realise it yet, but finesse with the sword had to be tempered with strength and stamina, and his competition would reward only someone capable of doing such a thing.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Interesting takes, both of you. Mine comes from Videra Lore (back story to my Phoenixes) and how the Scouts came to be... or rather how there swords were commisioned for the first time. *grins*

The Sword(s)

“The sword must be lethal and nimble, it must work as well in the open fields as in the deep woods, this is the sword I want.” The hooded man told the blacksmith. “And when you have forged one to my satisfaction, you must forge another, and another, just like it. And you will teach others how to forge this sword, for I will have a hundred blades to place into the arms of my men, and I will need a hundred more to replace those broken in battle. Do you understand?”

The blacksmith, arms crossed nodded, “I do, but who are you to commission such a a thing, and how will you pay for the labor and material that will take.”

A chuckle came from under the hood. “Have no fear Goodman,” He clapped the blacksmith’s shoulder with a youthful hand. “The King fully supports my efforts and you, and those you train, will be in his service many a year.”

The hooded man pulled a bag out with his other hand and placed it in the blacksmiths. “Here is what you need to start on the first.” He held the blacksmith’s gnarled hands in his own for a moment, the gold between them. “Keep faith in the Gods and do as you are bid and you will be rewarded.”

Then, with a swish of his dark cape the man was gone, the sounds of hoof beats galloping away.

“A hundred swords?” the blacksmith chuckled and shook his head, but with a silent prayer to the Gods he began is work.

Marc said...

Greg - it is definitely an advert, but its execution and results made that feel secondary to me.

Interesting. I tend to think of swords as bloodthirsty bastards :)

Great scene. 100 cords! Goodness me, my arms get sore just thinking about that.

Cathryn - hurray for back to back visits!

Intriguing scene. Great snippet of back story here :)

Anonymous said...

The Sword

She found it in a second rate gift shop on the outskirts of the city.
It was cast in pewter and had a scrolled hilt.
It wasn’t very broad and it sure was blunt but, then, it was just a facsimile of a Spanish Armada design, or so she was told.

She brought it home.
She practised the moves - thrust, parry - she even dressed up after a fashion in an effort to suit the times. She fancied herself a pirate of the high seas, velvet bloomers, suede boots, a pirate shirt (she didn’t have to hunt for these pieces, they were in her closet - it was the ’70s after all).

Something was missing. 

The scabbard.

A friend made a generous offer - he would fashion one made of the deer pelt of her choosing. Together they scoured the local farms. A young doe was chosen to sacrifice its life so that her sword might feel complete.
After some months of drying the skin and making it pliable, he then dampened it again to shrink around a firmer skeleton of green baize and glued the loose ends together, not that you’d know to look at it.
He presented it to her and asked her to sheath the sword.
To say it fit like a glove is terribly cliched, but it did fit like a glove.

She treasured it, the sword and its scabbard.
She still practised her moves; she used the sword in her magic ceremonies; she took artistic photos in black and white to make them look authentically old and relished the ghostly shadows it created on the aperture setting. 

Decades went by. She grew old and so did the sword as it lay forgotten in the basement. Mould grew on the scabbard; the glue dissolved in the damp; the handle lost an arm; it began to fall apart. 
Her friend was long gone and she, herself, was going the way of the sword.
EVentually, she passed. Her ceremonies forgotten, her clothes, long discarded. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. 

The sword? 
It wound up in a second rate antique shop.
A lover of the medieval arts found it and bought it for a song.
The arm of the hilt is still broken and the scabbard is no longer, but she practises with it most days, and imagines herself a pirate of the high seas...

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

"So what's this 'fencing' I apparently have to learn? Good work in field borders if this prophesy proves bad?"

My guardian---redundant post for someone like me, really, Scotts was more a companion, a teacher---gave me his default look: my complaints were entertained, but he was having none of my talk.

"It is ideal," he said evenly, "that you have some formal weapons training. And Bisellati is one of the best, but you must listen to him."

I'd heard of Bisellati out and around, mostly from the handful of the frillies stupid enough to seek me or a comrade out. All they'd ever say---with varied degrees of slurring---was that they'd train with Bisellati, Bisellati the great master. It got insufferable surprisingly quickly.

I'd then show, not say, that the street school often proved best.

I would've turned down the lessons, but Scotts insisted, so I had to tolerate them.

Bisellati was as unimpressed with me as I was with him: a second-tier gentleman just deciding to age, though not with the grace some pulled off. And here I was, a scruffy street urchin gone lanky to whom defense was as natural as food, sleep, and breath.

"Right," he sniffed. "Show me what you know."

I would've snapped back, but Scotts' eyes prickled my neck, and said, as politely as I could muster, "I can fight, but I've no formal training. All applied, really, so---"

A pointed clatter sparked the floor just at my feet; I had pulled back on reflex. In less time than I thought possible Bisellati had drawn his sword and taken a swipe at me.

"Apply, then, lad," he said curtly, and took another swing, now directed higher. I tumbled under it, putting more space between us, and took stock of the room. There was a rack of bladed weaponry on the left wall, but he was in the way.

Some longer bits of wood stood around the massive fireplace, which was closer, so I took off. I tried to spot my piece as I got there, but Bisellati was on me faster than I'd thought, and grabbed the first piece I could handle.

Bisellati's blade came down from over his head, making to split my face, but I brought the previously-regretted stocky chunk of wood in front and caught the blade in the wood. I tweaked the new lever back to relieve it from Bisellati, and tipped the handle over to my left hand. With a quick wiggle the sword was free from the wood and in my left hand, and then found itself pointed at its previous handler.

The old master's face looked displeased, but something glittered at the back of his eyes. "A fine game you're playing, boy-o."

Marc said...

Writebite - love the way this loops back at the end. Can see it going on like that for generations.

g2 - ooh, fun scene. Interesting characters too. Wouldn't mind seeing more of this, but I feel like I say that to you quite a bit :P