As daylight gives way to echoing dark and the swaying glow of your head torch, you fill your lungs with familiar, dank, iron-rich air and smile. The tomb is becoming a second home to you. Tracing one hand along the slime-rimed wall of the corridor, you take in the once-delicate sconces, now rusted almost beyond recognition. A pity, you think. You should have loved to see their original splendour.
As the thought crosses your mind, your fingers slide suddenly from slick stone into empty air. You stand still for a moment, heart pounding, then reach out again, turning your head to cast light into the void that you swear wasn’t there before. Not a doorway, you realise with some disappointment, but an inset niche, housing a rough stone block. And there, propped against it, almost casually, is the sword.
You cannot help but gasp, the sound bouncing down the corridor. You hadn’t expected anything like this. It is a beautiful specimen, short and shapely with a broad, grooved blade, an emerald green grip, and the crowning glory – a gleaming brass pommel. It’s a miracle it’s survived this long.
The thought sticks in your mind uncomfortably. You recall the misshapen and rust-thick sconces, undone by centuries of damp. An unbidden shiver takes your neck as you stoop to gaze again at the brilliant brass pommel, almost untouched by time.
As you stare transfixed into the unlikely brazen facets, a flicker of movement is reflected in them. Someone – or something – is behind you.
You’ve been pacing for what seems like an hour now, back and forth across the creaking floorboards, no doubt driving the innkeeper to hysteria. But how can you rest with the duel looming over you?
You groan and sink into a battered armchair with your head in your hands. It ought to be a straightforward affair – another dalliance, another wronged brother or fiance, another ritual duel to brush it all under the carpet, then slinking away to another new city. But you’ve seen this gentleman fight – and you’ve a feeling he won’t settle for first blood.
You reach for a rag and your already well-polished sword, still bristling with nervous energy. Your fingertips brush the copper bird perched in the top ring of the guard. The heraldic guardian of your family, a mythical footless martlet who can never roost, and thus flies day and night. As you touch it, you hope for something of its airborne grace, its ceaseless effort.
Then your hand travels downward, tracing the deep fuller of the blade, finding the familiar figures carved therein. “Scoundrel”, your fingers read. Even in your heightened state you cannot repress a smirk. There is power in this totem, too. Martlet you may be, cast out for your crimes with nowhere to roost – but if you must strive on, you will do so with style.
You rise to your feet, sweeping the broad blade up in a salute to nobody in particular, and reach for your feathered hat. Oh yes, you mean to cause a scandal.
As we roll into a new year, we can’t help but reflect on the last one – and on how the international ups and downs of Covid and Brexit have affected our business. We have been fortunate as a small artisanal business to have had the support of our clients and community throughout these strange times.
However, the unprecedented uncertainty of the past year has inspired us to revisit our waiting list, which has certainly been pushed about more than we anticipated this year. In striving to maintain transparent communication with our customers, we’re rethinking how the waiting list can best serve us – and you.
When we add a new order to the list, we are giving it a place in the queue. By paying a deposit, you claim a right to that space, and the guarantee that no one can “skip ahead” of you. However, defining the queue in terms of months is not always as possible as it would be for a larger company. The best we can give is an estimate, based on our current workload and circumstances.
As a two-person company, we’ve discovered that a number of things can have a knock-on effect on the list. Chris may be ill or injured for a few days, a difficult-to-find machine part may need replacing, or a certain detail of an order may take longer than expected. Any of these affect not only the timescale of the piece Chris is working on, but the entire waiting list.
As such, we’ve found that estimating a particular month for completion isn’t always helpful to our customers. From now, we will instead give broader estimates in terms of seasons, and update customers with a more specific timeline closer to the time of production.
While we love the idea of making swords for special occasions, the way we work means we can’t guarantee completion by a certain date – no matter how far in the future it may seem. If you’re looking for a sword for a particular tournament, event or celebration, we’re unfortunately not the forge for you. Any orders placed with a specific date in mind are done so at your own risk.
Because of the way Chris works, it is often most efficient to heat multiple blades at once in the forge. Therefore, if you are ordering a bare blade rather than a complete sword, there is a chance we will be able to fit it earlier in the list without affecting the timescale for other orders. Get in touch with us to find out more!
Once we’ve given an initial rough estimate for completion in Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, we’ll issue an invoice for 50% deposit to secure your place on the list. After the invoice has been paid and confirmed, we will have time to further discuss any details of your order.
We’ll issue a balance invoice a month before work is due to begin, taking into account any increases or decreases to the price agreed in our discussions. At this point, we’ll be able to give you a realistic estimate in terms of weeks, and any further delays will be explained personally via email.
When the second invoice is paid, we will send you a document containing all the specs and details we’ve discussed for your final sign-off. Once you give the go-ahead, we will get your sword on the bench and send one or two work in progress photos to ensure you’re happy with the final design.
Once the sword is complete, we will send a separate invoice for shipping based on the actual weight and measures of the final piece. Tracking information and an estimated date of delivery will be sent to you as soon as the sword is booked in for collection.
As a small artisanal business, we’ve been steadily working out processes as we go along to ensure each order goes as smoothly and transparently as possible. We’ve had a lot to learn, but our core values have always been integrity and communication, earning the trust of our clients and building real working relationships with fencers around the world.
We’re always happy to answer questions about the waiting list, or about the ordering process – just drop us a message.
You walk the once-beloved field in silent horror. Shouts fill the air around you, but the words seem obscured, echoing, as if in a dream. Wild-eyed survivors and healers push past, desperate to leave the scene that will never leave them. Already the ravens are gathering, ragged-winged harpies, doing the only thing they know how to do.
You walk between them, unhindered, removed, staring at the scarred land and the broken bodies. You used to play here, not so many years ago. A stick as a wooden sword, and your father’s cap slipping over your eyes. Now you stand in the same place, the same worn cap pulled over your brow, the same warlike urge swelling inside you – but it is not a childish notion of glory that drives you now. Only a simple, inglorious need for revenge.
At last your glassy gaze settles on the thing you came here seeking. A black hilt half-hidden beneath the bulk of a lifeless horse. Not bothering to hold your breath against the stench, you kneel down and tug it free. Black saltires. Braided copper wire. A broad blade, and a simple basket. It will suffice.
Turning the blade in your bloodstained hands, you note an inscription engraved on the blade: Furia. An ugly smile escapes you. Perhaps it will more than suffice.
With the tideline before you, you close your eyes – and let the blade command your senses. Turning your body to match each flowing cut, you relish the sensation of balance in a way you forget to do while simply standing.
You feel the scrunch of grainy sand, broken shells, beneath a pivoting boot. You hear the soft lapping of little waves – the ornate lace edge of that black sea. You feel the sun slip into its treacherous depths as late-autumn balm gives way to dusky chill. Yes, all things in balance.
The sword stirs the air before you, and you picture the elegant lines of its wake – as if you were painting beautiful letters in a prayer book. Then let this be your prayer: each cut, each transition a mark of your devotion. And let the kingdom come.