The Furia Broadsword

∴ A Cold Fury∴

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.

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The Wæg Broadsword

∴ A Heathland Charm ∴

Go now – you know the path. Down the puddle-pocked track, along the boundary of blackthorn and briar, past the last candle-lit window of home.

Lose your boots where the road runs out. Crush bare toes into heather-rich pile, warm despite whipping winds. Step lightly over burns and boulders, feeling your way before placing your weight – let the dark be no hindrance to you.

Listen for the thunder of sea on veined stone, and breathe to the sigh of moon-dragged shale. Drink in the damp air’s salt-rich tang, and pay it back with a tear. All must be equal here.

Lift the iron gate, now rusted on its hinge, and let it fall open for you. They say the black metal banishes Sidhe, but that’s just a fishwife’s tale. Pick through the bramble-bound kirkyard, ruinous refuge at the world’s end, between dark earth and salt sea.

Pay no heed to the headstone thorns that snatch at your skirts and shawl – are they not as sacred as the crosses they climb? Pass through the door with no lintel, and pick through the aisle with no pews. Pull back the altar’s ivy – be patient, do harm to none.

You will feel it first: cold whorls of steel curling beneath the leaves. Then – as marbled cloud gives way to moonlight – you may take it in. The lacework of black and silver, the pommel’s rippled globe, the beckoning braids of copper, the breadth of the thrice-fullered blade.

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The Rosanglica Sword and Dagger

∴ An Ill-Starred Beauty ∴

“I used to have a ship, you know,” the old man says. He sighs heavily and stares across the water to the brightly-painted war vessel. “Nothing fancy like this ‘un mind, but she knew what she was doing out there. Aye, that she did.”

You grunt an indifferent response, eyes fixed on the approaching craft. You pat the left breast of your doublet, satisfied by the slight scrunch of parchment – the papers that will grant you a new start, another chance at glory.

“You’ll be off after the French then, will you?” the old man tried again. “Light some powder under their arses and show ’em what’s what, eh?” He chuckled to himself. “Well that’s a fine thing, I suppose.”

You wish the old sot would find some other seafarer to bother and leave you to your thoughts, but he persists.

“It won’t be a long life, mind. Never is. They all find their way to the bottom in the end. Boats, that is. An’ if you’re lucky, they’ll take you down with them.”

At this you tear your glance away from the incoming ship, irked. “If you’re unlucky, you mean,”

The old seadog grins showing stubs of brown teeth, and holds his palms out to either side as if to present himself.

“Look at me, lad,” he cackled. “Do I look like one of the lucky ones to you?”

You shift awkwardly, taking in the man’s haggard physique and straggly hair, a shirt that’s seen better days and battered leather boots. At his side hangs a sword, incongruous with his shabby appearance. An elegant basket of crossed black bars encloses a gold-patterned  lining, crested by a large segmented pommel.

He sees you staring, and his hand flies to the hilt. Slowly, so as not to cause alarm, he draws the weapon and holds it out to you.

“You looking at this? Ah, she was never mine to keep either. May as well send her back to the sea. Go on, go on, take her! And may she bring you better fortune!”

Wide-eyed you reach for the brown leather grip, barely daring to believe your luck.

“They all find their way to the bottom, you know,” the old man repeated. And then he was gone, lost in the burgeoning crowd, leaving you dumbfounded, a sword in your hand, and a ship on your horizon.

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The Conflagrare Dussack

∴ A Flickering Fury ∴

An ocean wave, or a tongue of flame? You never could make your mind up. You smile to yourself, turning the thick, wavering blade over in scarred hands, eying the twin fullers, the blackened rib cage of a basket, the copper strands that glimmer in the braided wire grip. The ceiling of your low, sparse cabin coughs dust as heavy footfall sounds above.

You pull an oil-slick rag from the box on the table, and run it over the rolling waves of the blade, humming an old shanty song to yourself. It is not one of your own crew’s – you must have picked it up in some port or another. A resounding cannon blast shatters the last bawdy chorus, but you do not look up from your task til the blade is bright and gleaming.

Only then do you rise to your feet, taking your time, relishing the feeling of the firestorm building within you. Sword in hand, you step without stumbling over the rough wooden boards, despite the alarming pitch of the ship. As you mount the steps to the deck, shouts and shots breathe a flurry of sparks into the very embers of you.

True, the waters ever did call you – but there’s always been fire in your heart.

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The Aparousia Schiavona

∴ An Unexpected Honour ∴

Saltwater, milky with moonlight, laps at the marble steps where even now ladies in their finery descend into sleek black boats. You watch with a faint smile as each craft slips from its bounds and circles silently. It is all part of the dance, you muse. All part of the ritual.

As the last gondolier pushes away from the dock with a ripple, the heady haze of gold and noise that held the palace in its sway falls away. You are alone, but for your blade and the winged lion that guards the door.

“Just you and me then, old friend,” you murmur, casting your eye upward to where the stone beast grimaces above the portico. The lion says nothing.

You turn your attention instead to the sword. It was the sword, after all, that brought you here. Hard won, but worth it. The artefact alone speaks of a world you once failed to dream of. A complex web of dark bars, and a tasteful glimmer of copper. Three graceful ladders sweep around your fist – like Jacob’s ladder, you ponder. A stairway from the profane to the glorious. From the docks of Zara to the palace steps.

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