The Farnevere Falchion

∴ A Sylvan Shift∴

Over the anvil all things are reborn:
The same and not the same,
And all we’ve known for the year’s dark half
Is alight with new life and new names
As eyes meet over clashing blades
Like countless times before,
Wreathed with well-known laughing lines
Long-mapped and oft-explored,
Yet lit with a dawning renewal,
Like barren earth made green:
Bright leaves budding from quillons
That countless blows have seen,
A golden blush consuming
A pommel’s scar-traced steel
Brandished forth beneath the sun,
Remembered and revealed.

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The Griobhan Arming Sword

∴ A Perilous Pilgrimage∴

The chalk path is soft beneath your bare feet, and bright beneath the moon. A warm breeze lifts your robes, as if to gently urge you on, yet there is no hurry. You know this place, every curve and meander of the way before you. And you know there is no stopping. No turning back. No rushing on. Only the steady, mindful progress of time, and the faith to see it through.

This is the place that you go to when you trace your teacher’s labyrinth. She gave this path to you when she left, carved not into an amulet or a smooth river pebble, but into the bright brass pommel of her sword. As your fingers work the lines they know by heart, tracing the deep grooves over warm brass, your mind sojourns a familiar moonlit moor of your own creation. You are calm when you come here. You know you are safe. All you have to do is have faith.

A distant sound piques your attention. For a moment you think it is an interruption to your meditation, and you clasp the sword closer to you, but then you furrow your brow. No. The sound did not belong to the moss-deep churchyard where you sit cross-legged, but the moonlit labyrinth in your mind. It resonates again, and this time you focus in on it. An unearthly screech – not an eagle or a raven, but something different. And it is closer. Much closer.

Your finger falters on the lines of the labyrinth. But there is no pausing. No turning back. You must have faith. With a deep breath you round the corner of the maze, and nearly scream as something launches itself into the air before you, blotting out the moon for a moment with a gleaming mass of feathers.

Then it is gone. Were you imagining it, you wonder? You shake your head at the absurdity of the question. You are imagining all of this. It is nothing but a meditation. The question you should be asking is why: why have you populated your pilgrimage place with monsters?

Heart in your mouth, you press on, knowing from your oft-repeated round of the pommel’s map that you are close to the end of your journey. Then another noise in the darkness: this time a scratching, like great talons scraping through grit. A panting, like a mighty beast of the hunt. And this time it’s behind you.

Your finger stops dead at the labyrinth’s heart as you turn slowly on your heel. Your watering eyes widen as they meet two mighty amber ones, framing a great, tearing beak. The griffin opens its maw to let out a shriek, and you are screaming with it. Your eyes fly open.

You are sitting cross-legged on the cushioning moss, with your back against a weathered tombstone. The linen of your robes is drenched with cold sweat. Your right hand, white and shaking, is clenched around the green leather hilt of your sword. The pommel gleams up at you, and behind the graven labyrinth you see the hardened lines of your face.

You are ready.

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The Aldarembine Arming Sword

∴ A Living Vow∴

Meet me in the bower
Where May breeze lifts the blossoms
And scatters them like blessings
Over our inclined heads;
Orchestra anthophila
Tuning honeyed instruments,
A chaos of creation,
And stillness in its midst.
Meet me in the bower
Where willows glow green-golden
In subtle growing splendour
Of a sunset yet to come,
And ivy leaves caress them,
Fervent with devotion,
Creeping into every crack
In worn and weathered bark.
Meet me in the bower
Over the steadfast anvil,
Wreathed in summer’s garlands
And rooted in the earth,
And raise to me the weapon:
Its blade a beaten, brilliant leaf
Of Askr and of Embla,
Crowned with braided splendour,
Alive with writhen flame.

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The Tusken Falchion

∴ A Story in Steel ∴

A blood-red gem dances across the knuckles of your right hand before disappearing into your palm. It is an old trick that the Castellan showed you when you were just a girl. With a smirk you open your left palm to reveal the jewel nestled there.

You can sense your father’s stormy look without looking, and with a sigh you relinquish your treasure to the growing heap of gems and casks and carved figures on the table before you. 

It has been a long evening at your father’s side, receiving the knights returned from their conquest in the Western Woods. One by one they kneel before you, offering stories and spoils by which to buy your father’s favour – his favour and your hand.

You have no need for jewels from the Western Woods. You had far rather explore the Great Forest yourself than wear someone else’s trophies. And yet true to your training you nod and smile graciously as each knight kneels before you.

You have almost expended your reserves of grace when a heavy, velvet-wrapped object is placed on the table before you with a thud. Startled, you glance up to meet the smiling eyes of your father’s bard.

“I too have a tale of the forest,” he begins, and the room falls silent. You, too, perk up and pay attention. You have missed the bard’s tales while he was away. His songs are dark and dangerous, unlike the honey-sweet ballads played for the ladies.

In low, lugubrious tones he describes a force riding gigantic boars which snarled and charged in the misty morning dark, tearing into horses with their great curving tusks. The riders’ armour was wrought of bone, he says, and their helms crowned with antlers. He is certain that they were not mortal men.

He gestures to the velvet-wrapped object in front of you.

“I had this sword forged from the tusk of one of those fell boars,” he announces, “to commemorate that terrible battle.”

At a nod from your father you fumble to pull back the cloth. A collective intake of breath greets the weapon within. It is a beautiful thing, unlike any knight’s sword you have seen. Indeed, its blade is shaped like some monster’s tusk, widening dramatically toward the curved and sharpened tip. 

Yet instead of bone or ivory, it is forged from steel, polished so bright you can see your own dark eyes reflected in it. You look up bewildered, unsure whether to be more disappointed by the bard’s pretence or delighted by the feel of sharp steel at your fingertips.

“It is yours, princess,” the bard says, favouring you with a wink. “A legend wrought real.”

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The Beastmarked Sword


∴ A Fateful Mark ∴

Blue and silver pennants whip in the wind as you process between gilded pavilions. You keep your eyes ahead, stepping to the beat of the drum, paying no heed to the calling and crowing of excited onlookers.

When you reach the carved wooden throne, you stop and take a deep breath, allowing your eyes to play for a moment over its writhen designs of serpents.

The silence is crisp and curious as the High Bard steps toward you, a smile in his creased and twinkling eyes, and an unsheathed sword in his veiny hands.

Solemnly you stare down at the weapon. You know it well from when it was your father’s. A broad triangular blade with two fullers merging into one, representing the twin rivers of your kingdom. The leather grip is the midnight blue of your house. And the pommel with its engraved serpent…

“Tell me, Highness, do you know the significance of the mark?” the High Bard asks.

“Of course I do,” you reply, surprised at the deviation from the words you have so often practiced. You reach out a finger to trace the chiselled beast, its jaws stretched open to bite at its own tail. “It is the mark of the dragon slayer. Whoever wields it is destined to kill a dragon. Just as my father did.”

“Dear child,” says the bard with a note of sadness, “it seems you were told only part of the prophecy. See how the serpent forms a circle, devouring itself?”

You nod with a gulp, your throat suddenly dry.

“It represents an eternal cycle of creation and destruction. Yes, your father slew the dragon. But you, my boy, are destined to bring it back.” Continue reading