The Dyad Smallswords

∴ A Certain Duology ∴

“It’s your right to choose”, the copper-haired man says, opening the case.

Loathe as you are to show admiration, you cannot repress a low whistle as he pulls back the ivory satin, revealing a pair of slender yet sturdy smallswords with blackened guards and gleaming wire grips. Half-reverently you lift one, then the other, keen to claim the better. At last you glance up, brow furrowed. 

“What is there to choose?” you ask. “The swords are equal in every way.”

“I’ll choose then,” the challenger grins. He curls his hand round the copper-wrapped hilt, leaving you its steelier brother.

Shrugging, you take your weapon and step onto the field of honour. As you salute and fall into guard, your opponent effortlessly matches the the grace that you studied for years, mirror-like in his precision. As the bout begins, the similarities grow only more frustrating – every move reflected, every feint forewarned.

You cannot say when it is that frustration gives way to a flurry of excitement. The precise moment when a battle of wills becomes a meeting of minds. You dance with the copper-haired man, daring him to surprise you, even as he draws out moves you never knew you had. You are certain that, standing against one another, neither can be truly victorious.

But together?

You catch your opponent’s eye. His reckless grin is contagious.

Continue reading

The Estella Smallsword

∴ A First Light Liaison∴

A chorus of birdsong heralds your arrival, footsteps certain over darkened, dew-strewn grass. A familiar surge takes hold of you. Once again in the half-light, while the city sleeps behind you, you come to meet your fate. 

It’s said that all men have their vices, and this is yours: dawn light, dishonour, duel to first blood. An anonymous challenger, curious to test his skill against your unblemished record.

A light gleams from the riverbank, and your heart lurches like a hound that’s caught a scent. There, beneath the willow – two figures. Your opponent, and a second. One steps forward, silhouetted by the lantern clasped behind his back. Eager to assess an advantage, you size him up: slight of stature and perfectly poised in pale breeches. Something about the swordsman’s stance irks you as you approach. Something familiar you fail to put your finger on.

It’s the sword you recognise first, though for a moment your mind refuses to place it. Dark and slender, a scattering of stars across blackened plates. How could you forget such a gift, when you were once the one to give it?

Heart in your mouth, you draw your eyes upward to take in your opponent’s face: pale and heart-shaped, a dark curl slipping from its nest of pins, blue eyes laughing in the lantern light.

“Estella,” you whisper.

“Shall we?” she replies.

Continue reading

Rascal, the Needle of Kinloss

∴ 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!

Continue reading