The air is cool and honeysuckle-scented as you slip unnoticed from the feast. No sooner have you rounded the doorway than the roar of water deluges your senses. You close your eyes to greet the familiar sound, tilting your head toward the fall.
Alas, for all the water’s white-noise strife, it cannot overcome the sound of revelry from the hall behind you – though the music lilts and eddies on the breeze, you know the song by heart. The song of a great king. Of his great deeds. Of his eventual, inevitable failure.
Sequestered from curious eyes, you unsheath the sword at your side. The sword of songs and legends. Tarnished neither by age nor by the unimaginable evil it has faced. You run your fingers over the strong lines carved into the pommel, the steel ring bisecting royal red leather.
With a sigh you let the unsung truth settle: once more this sword will see battle. Once more it will face the foe that mighty heroes could not withstand. And this time it is you who will wield it.
Brass and blue. The evening sun, brazen against the deepening Mediterranean. The treasures of ancient kings, their knowledge forever lost. An unforgiving flame rushing to meet shaded streets.
You stare for a long time at the sword in your hand, its seed-pod pommel glimmering golden in the dusk. When you stepped off the ship into this city of legend, the sword spoke of potential. Of promise. Now, mere days later as would-be knights flee burning streets with arms full of plunder, its beauty is a hollow reminder and its weight one burden too many.
You hear a shout and recognise your name. Your ship is departing. It’s over, then. With a roar of betrayal and bewilderment, you hurl the once-treasured weapon into indigo waters and turn to leave Alexandria.
You pray the next soul who finds it might put it to nobler use.
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.