The Volutio Rapier

∴ A Serpent’s Heart ∴

The curve of the dragon’s head is familiar under your thumb, almost comforting. You follow the sinuous wave with your fingertips, into the vortex of the guard, and for a moment you’re transported.

Soft firelight and the scent of warm beeswax. Your father, stiff-backed in his high-armed chair, a wax-covered cloth in one hand and the sword in the other. You loll over one dark-stained wooden arm, marvelling at the thing. The way the dark bars of the swept join like the prow of a ship, a great dragon figurehead like the barbarian craft in stories. The spiralling form of the serpent, whispering “touch, touch me!” How the beast’s open jaws make the shape of a heart – love, and danger, as one.

You recall the sudden sting as inquisitive fingers met sharpened steel, and a duller pain as your father slapped your hand away. The blade was sheathed, the serpent sat smugly atop it, as your mother bustled you away to the bedchamber.

That was the last time you saw your father. The last night before he was consigned to the tales you told, first to your brothers, then when they slept to yourself. In the stories, your father sailed the high seas in a dragon-headed boat, serpent sword flashing in his hand, waylaid by danger after danger on his long journey home.

And now it is here, in your hand. The sword from your stories, recalled at times more closely than your father’s face itself. In your mind it had silenced sirens, slain beasts and tyrants, saved your father’s life. And in truth? You do not care to know. 

You will let the serpent keep its secrets.

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Of Swords and Sea Forts

∴ A Swordsmith’s Reward ∴

When your passion becomes your profession, drawing the line between work and play gets increasingly hard. Take fencing events, for example. As artisans we’re keen to see our creations in action, meet our clients in person, and get some new ones on the books. As fencers, however, we can’t resist the opportunity to challenge ourselves, improve our own fencing, and cross blades with our international friends.

Taking our growing orders list into account, we’ve appeared at relatively few events this year. There was, however, one event that we couldn’t possibly pass up – our annual pilgrimage to Fort St Angelo in Malta, where the Malta Historical Fencing Association hold a long weekend of workshops, lectures, friendly sparring and camaraderie.

The MHFA kindly allowed us to run a stall this year, where attendees could handle the Angelo Broadsword, as well as purchase gorgets, frogs and baldrics. Thanks to the team’s laid-back professionalism, we were also able to spend plenty of time atop the fortress, fighting our friends in truly unforgettable surroundings.

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The Maristella Smallsword

∴ A Siren Call∴

A lone and late-to-bed gull makes its keening call, your sole companion as you gaze upon the brooding waters. You can’t explain what wonder this half-rotten wooden groyn holds for you – only that every night since the news of the wreck, you have found yourself here – waiting, willing.

The moon leaves a long path, stark and silver against the ebb. You imagine stepping from the worn planks onto the trail of light. As you trace the beam down toward your feet, your eye is caught by a glimmer between barnacled rocks. Entranced, you clamber toward it, little caring for your torn and sodden skirts. A silvern shell sparkles between stones, as if some siren’s gift.

Heart pounding, you fall to your knees and grasp the tiny, hand-hewn thing. To your shock you find yourself clutching not a shell, but the pommel of a sword. Bathed in moonlight you rise, and draw it, Arthurian, from the depths.

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Care and Feeding of your Balefire Blade

When I think of epic tales of heroism, it’s not just the heat of the battlefield that gets my heart racing – it’s the aftermath. The crackling of a campfire and the lugubrious hum of a wooden whistle, scarred heroes trading tales over dark ale – and the methodical, meditative polishing of swords.

In the old tales, this is a moment of quiet, pragmatic reverence. An act of thanksgiving to the weapon that saved your life today. An act of preparation for the battle that awaits tomorrow. While wiping down your blade in front of the TV after class holds a little less romance, it’s still worth doing properly – to cement that bond with your sword, and to keep it in tip top condition for future bouts.

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The Pandaemonia Dussack (Discordian Suite)

∴ A Darkling Voyage ∴

You thought nothing could be darker than the benighted vista before you – an infinity of ink-black sea and sky, unbounded by horizon, unpierced by stars. Then you saw the ship.

Its darkness is a corporeal kin to that of the sea, drifting silent over unseen eddies. At first it is only the slightest disturbance, a hint-of lack-of nothing. Then, as your eyes strain to focus, motion takes on form: black sails, a dark wooden hull, ropes silhouetted black-on-black.

You cannot say how long you stand, knee-deep in cold water, awaiting the craft’s approach. It strikes you as unusual that such a large vessel could come so close to shore without running aground, but you push the strangeness from your mind as lantern light flares against the deck.

There, in a muted amber aura, stands the strangest sailor you’ve ever seen. Fully armed in blackened steel, a helmet obscuring his face, he calls to you – though his words are lost on the wind. Somehow, despite the darkness, you know he sees you. He calls to you. Pinpricks brush your neck.

The sailor cries out again and, reaching to his belt, draws a weapon. The steel blade flashes, a momentary beacon against the night. The sailor holds it out – not as a threat, you realise, but… an offering? A blackened web of bars gives way to a broad, curved blade. Is it familiar, or is that just fancy upon fancy?

Without quite knowing why, you wade, entranced and weaponless, toward the waiting ship. Continue reading