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 Angelo Broadsword

∴ A Martial Standard∴

“One. Five. Three. Four. Six. Two.”

The sergeant barks his orders down the line as blades whorl and return in unison.

Ten days, they said. Ten lessons to make a solider of you. You can’t say you feel much different to when you started, but tomorrow you’ll be off to fight all the same. Grimly, you wonder whether it matters much. You’ll die a soldier’s death either way.

Consumed by gloom, you barely notice the chanted numbers as they fade into rhythm. You look on as if abstracted, your body leading the way. Steel meets steel in synchronicity before snapping back to safety, speed increasing to match your master’s calls. You catch your opponent’s eye and see him grinning in disbelief as the commands come faster and faster.

Despite everything, sweat streaming down your face, you find yourself smiling back as you lean into another lunge.

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