∴ Honourable Satisfaction ∴
You run you hand over long black case and sigh. It was only a dalliance.
In another time and place you might have gone through the proper channels, acted with propriety, married the girl and made a brother of Lord Sackville. But instead you saw her secretly, raised his ire and made him a deadly enemy.
You feel sick to the stomach. You’ve seen Sackville fight, and where he lacks finesse he compensates with sheer tenacity. You never imagined it would be you on the other end of your friend’s fierce and flashing blade.
Swinging the case open you’re greeted with graceful black curves and copper carvings, the wire-wrapped grip spiralling like the horn of Scotland’s unicorn. You nod curtly. You will not enjoy this duel – you may not even survive it – but propriety be damned, you’ll look dashing as you go down!
∴ A Training Sword with Bite ∴
You half-step-half-stumble through the sturdy storeroom door and pull it closed behind you. Sinking to the floor, you feel your way over flags, wary of any sound that might give you away.
Your fingers brush besom bristles and the base of a barrel. Cursing yourself for a craven, you consider clambering into the cask. Without a weapon you have no hope of defending yourself, but perhaps you can pass unnoticed.
And then the unmistakable chill of steel on sweating palms – fingers follow a broadly-tapered blade to the schilt of a feder. You hesitate – could this keep the intruders at bay? Grasping the string-wrapped hilt, you raise the weapon into guard.
A training sword it may be, but something about it cries out for the fight.
∴ A Scholar’s Defense∴
You place the sword before the altar of Walpurga, wincing at the clatter of steel on stone. The Saint’s painted eyes look on serenely, with no hint of her namesake’s challenging smile.
For months you pored over the texts by half-light, characters becoming companions as you sliced the still air of your cell. You found skill in the Lady’s lessons, yes, but Truth as well. Perception. Judgment. Balance. Truths you will need to carry close on a journey such as this.
Smiling you retrieve your sword, fingers finding their familiar place between curved quillons and twisted pommel. You make the sign of the cross and then, on impulse, bring the broad blade to your shoulder, point up, in an unmistakable Walpurgis Ward.
As you turn to leave, you think you see the Saint’s eyes sparkle.
∴ A trusty companion ∴
The cobbles are harsh and unfamiliar beneath your travel-worn feet as you pace the empty square. The spectre of last night’s wine sits heavy in your stomach.
You brush your hand over the pommel of your sword. Its slight yet certain presence heartens you.
You shouldn’t be awake this early. Only six hours ago you were sitting down to a hot meal and a glass of harsh tavern wine to toast your travels. The beginning of what you thought would be a quiet few days in Tuscany. But then some lousy local had to go and slight you…
Your head is pounding. Your hands are sweaty. You are in no state to fight the duel your hot temper demanded. But honour is honour.
You hear footsteps behind you. Swallowing hard, you reach for your faithful sword.
∴ A battlefield weapon ∴
You peel back the age-stained linen lining the cracked wooden chest, and there it is. Your grandfather’s sword. As strong and as strange as the man ever was.
Awe-struck, you run your fingers over the ridged leather grip, momentarily transported to childhood as the wine-drenched old war stories come flooding back.
Your grandfather said he was a a great war hero. He said this sword had won him battles. He said he’d been rewarded by kings and princes alike. If you thought it strange that most of these rewards were dented helmets, snipped rings and gold teeth, you didn’t like to say so.
You practice a cut to the air, the wide blade flashing brief and brilliant in a singular shaft of stale light. Oh yes, this sword may have its secrets – but it’s in your hands now.