The Granat Sword and Dagger

∴ A Fruit of Battle ∴

You press your palm against the familiar globe of the pommel, and try instead to recall the fruit. How you marvelled in the palace garden as the duke plucked a pomegranate from the Queen’s own tree, breaking apart the tough skin with his nails to reveal jewel-like innards. The pleasing tartness of those precious seeds, and the strange dryness to its juice – a nectar that would never sate your thirst.

You recall gasping in recognition the first time you glimpsed the same round, ribbed fancies adorning the halls of palace itself – emboidered, gilded and carved. It was the emblem of Granada, the duke explained, and a symbol of Queen Catherine. A symbol of the union between our kingdom and her father’s.

Those innocent days of bitter-sweet pips and perusing the royal halls are gone now, you remind yourself. Your hand tightens about the wire grip of your weapon, and you contemplate the cage of black crosses that protects your curled fist. Those seeds were not garnets after all, you think, but drops of ruby rich blood waiting to be spilled. Your queen is gone – banished – a new mistress, and a new faith found in her place.

The sword is all you have left of that simpler time – and the familiar weight of it brings the simplicity of your mission home. You once swore on this blade to protect your Queen – and heresy or not, you intend to do just that.

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The Sustantia Sword

∴ A Heavy Blow ∴

Your father had no love for war. He scolded you and your brothers for playing at knights, and clicked his tongue in disdain when armour-clad mercenaries sloped into the tavern. He once refused to serve a group of youths on their way North to enlist.

There were no brawls in his well-behaved wayhouse. The locals knew too well that a scuffle over cards or a pretty wench would have them barred for life. And much as they might have called any other man coward or traitor, a glance at the towering barman’s bulk and brawn quickly silenced such sentiments.

No, he never had any love for war. Which is why you can barely bring yourself to look at the slender, leather-wrapped object on the table before you. Your inheritance, your mother said. He wanted you to have it. With a heavy sigh and a sinking feeling, you begin to unwrap the winding sheet.

It is, as you knew it would be, a sword. Not a new sword either, but notched and tarnished with use. Broad-bladed and heavy of hilt, its substantial black bars swell into skeletal knuckles. It is as beautiful as it is unbearable. Where did your father come by such a thing? For how long has it been sat in the rafters while he preached peace and temperance? What deeds has it done, and did they die with the gentle giant who once wielded it?

You clench a fist about the battered brown leather grip, pressing the wide pommel against the crook of your palm. Of course it is a perfect fit. As you raise it from the its wrappings, a yellowed scrap of parchment slips from beneath the blade. Sword in hand, you stoop to read it.

“Finish what I could not,” is all it says.

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The Fleeting Sword

∴ A Fleeting Visit ∴

“Must you go?” you ask as she laces her riding boots.

Black ribbon pulls tight against calloused fingers as she shapes the graceful loops. Sunlight sits dappled on dark hair, cast in many hues by leaves about the latticed window. You feel the strange urge to reach out and brush the gleams from her tresses like so much detritus, casting sunlight to the floor so it might be night again.

“I said not to speak of it more,” she replies, a half smile at her lips. “I have my commands – and you your custom. The palace will not wait. But for the time we have shared, I thank you.”

A kiss – barely more than a courtesy – and then she is gone, in a wave of rose-scented leather.

Alone in the chamber you bite your lip and curse your foolish heart. You might have said farewell weeks ago – when first she received her summons – and already be near-done with mourning her. But her teasing trail intoxicated you: each forgotten fancy, each silk glove unsubtly dropped. How you leapt at the chance to return them, like a prince in a fairy tale, desperate to see her again.

With a moan you let your head sink into ink-stained hands. Between your fingers the sunlight sparkles indolently, still dancing on the steel of her sword. Your head snaps up with a start. Her sword. Sat bright on the windowsill where she’d lain it the night before.

Lurching to your feet you clasp the wine-red grip, feeling the pommel press snug against your palm. You recall her tales of its deeds, her yearning for battles to come. How could she simply forget such a thing?

And then like a hound you’re away, thundering down the wooden stairs with the sword still in your hand. 

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The Braznaz Sword

∴ A Brazen Treasure∴

As daylight gives way to echoing dark and the swaying glow of your head torch, you fill your lungs with familiar, dank, iron-rich air and smile. The tomb is becoming a second home to you. Tracing one hand along the slime-rimed wall of the corridor, you take in the once-delicate sconces, now rusted almost beyond recognition. A pity, you think. You should have loved to see their original splendour.

As the thought crosses your mind, your fingers slide suddenly from slick stone into empty air. You stand still for a moment, heart pounding, then reach out again, turning your head to cast light into the void that you swear wasn’t there before. Not a doorway, you realise with some disappointment, but an inset niche, housing a rough stone block. And there, propped against it, almost casually, is the sword.

You cannot help but gasp, the sound bouncing down the corridor. You hadn’t expected anything like this. It is a beautiful specimen, short and shapely with a broad, grooved blade, an emerald green grip, and the crowning glory – a gleaming brass pommel. It’s a miracle it’s survived this long.

The thought sticks in your mind uncomfortably. You recall the misshapen and rust-thick sconces, undone by centuries of damp. An unbidden shiver takes your neck as you stoop to gaze again at the brilliant brass pommel, almost untouched by time.

As you stare transfixed into the unlikely brazen facets, a flicker of movement is reflected in them. Someone – or something – is behind you.

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