The Osmic Sword

∴ An Eightfold Force∴

The door falls closed behind you, not with the sepulchral thud you might expect from such a portal, but with barely a whisper. It is as if the empty, unfinished cathedral sucks the sound from everything – the door, your footsteps, the words you might have uttered before the sheer vastness of the space took them away.

From here, the unadorned altar could be miles away, all perspective lost in the face of the forest of arches in between. Moon-pale and massive, they reach their arms into the sky, drawing your eyes unerringly with them, into a canopy of vaults and voussoirs. Lost in the woods you stand, stunned by the miracle of the place, disquieted by its terrible greatness.

As you fail to take it in, your fingers play anxiously at the hilt of your sheathed sword, keen for something solid in this dreamlike space. You count in your head: the eight edges of the blackened pommel. The eight facets of the straight, stern guard. The eight corners of the mottled green grip. It is a habit you picked up on your pilgrimage, adrift in the unknown. It grounds you somehow – the repetition, perhaps – your litany of eight.

Emboldened, you step into the emptiness, still counting silently. And as you walk, you notice: eight sides to the fluted columns. Eight eight-faceted ribs forming a star on the ceiling. Eight eight-petalled rosettes in the round window’s tracery.

One, two, three, four. The numbers mark the rhythm of your steps; describe the world you walk though; bind you to it somehow. Five, six, seven, eight. They fall from your lips with barely an echo, a prayer in themselves, your scattered breadcrumb trail in this strange, stone forest.

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The Thorneyisle Sword

∴ A Certain Poise ∴

The sun streaming through the clear glass window is too hot on your maille-coifed neck. The crack between stone flags wears hard on your knee, and your upper arms ache from holding their pious position, palms upraised to the heavens. You utter another silent prayer: please, Lord, let this be over soon.

“You’re slouching again, boy” the cowled brother snaps, peering around his wooden easel. “Tilt your chin. Hips forward.”

You groan, rolling your aching shoulders, before settling back into the uncomfortable pose. Keen as you were when the abbot suggested you pose for the illumination, the honour is wearing a little thin. You could be out in the training yard now, trying your new sword for size. Instead it hangs spotless at your side, brass pommel gleaming in the high noon sun.

Your fingers itch to grasp the ridged red leather of its grip, to draw it from the scabbard with a flourish as you rise from your cramped and buckled knees – a glorious knight, rather than a penitent one.

As if reading your thoughts, the monk cranes his neck over the easel, eyes narrowed, and shakes his head  slowly.

You give what you hope is an inaudible sigh, and turn your eyes heavenwards again, trying to block out the blade’s siren call.

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The Braznaz Sword

∴ A Brazen Treasure∴

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.

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The Tempelridarren Arming Sword

∴ An Unbowed Legacy ∴

Shoulders back. Feet together. Eyes forward. Crush the nervous urge to giggle. Breathe.

You thought this morning would never come – the first day of your long-fabled training. But even here, heart pounding in the dusty yard as the master at arms and his squire approach, you hardly dare believe it.

The master is stern-faced and solidly built, steely hair cropped short and blue eyes sparkling beneath a heavy brow. As he strides toward you, he reaches to his side and – with the utmost elegance – draws a slender sword. It is all you can do to keep your mouth from dropping open in astonishment as he holds it out for your appraisal.

Never did you imagine you’d wield such a thing of beauty – and so soon as well! Its brass disc pommel gleams in the afternoon sun, and the motto engraved into its long, narrow blade seems to speak to you directly. Uncertain yet enthralled, you reach out a hand to receive the stately sword.

At this, the master gives a short barking laugh. You raise your eyes to meet his, and find their mirth not unkind.

“One day, perhaps,” he says, returning the blade to its sheath. “If you work hard. A sword such as this one is not for the uninitiated.”

Cursing yourself for your eager folly, you glare at your shoes and begrudgingly accept the blunt, rusted weapon offered to you by the squire.

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The Brytengrund Arming Sword

∴ A Demanding Presence ∴

The blade that the monk holds out to you is broad – broader than any you’ve seen before. A fierce triangular jag extending from a graceful blackened crossguard, the immense faceted wheel of a pommel perched above.

You hesitate, weighing what you see of the sword against what you know of yourself. An untrained initiate, you are far more comfortable with wooden swords and makeshift bucklers than you are with this sudden, strange world of steel weapons and warrior monks. You wonder if the beaming brother is mocking you, waiting for you to reach out and accept the sword only to crumple under its weight. You search his face for answers, but he only smiles placidly, patiently.

At last, more from embarrassment than any sort of certainty, you reach out awkwardly to take the green-wrapped grip. Your eyes widen as the monk relinquishes the prize – the sword is solid and robust and real, yes – but somehow you can hold it. Somehow you’re longing to swing it. You glance up again at the smiling monk, and he gives a single nod of silent assent.

You step back into measure, and await your first lesson.

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