The Vela Dagger

∴ Another Stab ∴

You grimace as your opponent wheels round to the right, holding a steady line. Once again, your boasts have landed you in trouble – and it’s not going well for you.

You only meant it as a jest. A little ribald teasing. But the scar-faced mercenary didn’t see it that way. Stools scraped against floorboards and steel was unsheathed, and before you knew it you were stumbling backwards across the low-lit tavern, sword in hand, as the humourless blaggard challenged you to “prove it”.

There’s no use denying it, you’ve had too much to drink. Your judgment is slow, your movement impulsive. The mercenary sneers as you throw a clumsy parry, jerking back just in time to avoid a cut the the arm. You curse under your breath. If you were sober, you’d have him pinned in a flash. If you were sober, he’d be begging for mercy. If you were sober…

And then it all happens rather quickly. The scarred man beats your sword to the right, stepping in with a triumphant leer. In the time it takes to register this, your left hand has already flown across your hip to slip under the sturdy steel sail of Old Faithful. For a split second you revel in the dagger’s rugged realness, wondering why you hadn’t drawn it long before – then time starts again and you’re catching your opponent’s blade hard, binding to the left with the swiftly drawn dagger as your sword wheels round to leave a smart red line across his exposed left side.

“Told you so,” you hiss, before collapsing backwards.

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The Demeter Daggers

∴ A Kindred Calling ∴

“It’s time,” she says.

For years you’ve trained for this moment, but she’s been preparing far longer. For every kindness, a caution. For every peal of laughter, a pertinent lesson.

She is kneeling beside you now, placing the plain wooden casket on the silk-strewn divan. She gestures for you to open it, and you hesitate, willing the dawn dark longer.

She places her battle-lined hand over yours, and together you draw back the lid. The daggers lie like ivy and oak, distinct yet bound by their very nature. Enchanted, you trace the silvery spiralling grips, the blackened swooping guards.

“They’re beautiful,” you murmur.

“And fatal,” she replies.

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