The Cotyledon Hanger

∴ A Burgeoning Will∴

It had always just been there – the sword; simple; the black leaf of its guard furling about a grip of green leather. As long as you can recall it’s hung over the fireplace, above the grey ashes and below the grey photographs. You never paused to wonder which ghostly daguerrotype face it belonged to – not until today. It had simply always been there – and so had you.

Had you ever had an inkling of an adventurer’s spirit, you’re sure you would have asked your grandmother to tell you the its story as she peeled potatoes over the sink. But she did not care for tales of high seas or great hunts. It’s that sort of story that gets people killed, she’d harrumph, before crossing herself and returning to the task at hand. No, she never did care to bring up the past – and so neither did you.

But now she is gone – save for the small round-framed photograph that now graces the mantle, beside those of the sons she both birthed and buried. She is gone from this house with her stews and her sewing and her stern sort of kindness, and you are alone. It is a terrible kind of wonder, you muse, to realise that nothing holds you to a place any more. Not the bricks and mortar of it, nor the tasks undone in the garden, nor the solemn pictures above the hearth.

Slowly, you reach for the sword, which has always been there, but which you have never held. You lift it from its hook and wrap your hand around that smooth green grip, the dark steel wrapping your knuckles in turn. Does it feel right? You’re not sure. But it’s something.

You turn from the mantle – from that rogue’s gallery of relatives whose adventures you’ll never know. It’s time to write your own adventure. You don’t know what that will be – but you know it won’t happen within these four walls.

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The Dykra Shashka

∴ A Wilder Beyond∴

White sky. White water. Grass bleached white and waxen. You step forward and let the camp fade out of sight, out of mind, into the white expanse. You imagine pulling the landscape over you, a pale and prickly blanket against the still, iced air.

“So this is home,” a familiar voice breaks your communion. The word seems as foreign as the horizonless vista. You repeat it, watching it drift and dissipate in a plume of steamy breath. 

“Father said to give you this.” Your sister steps round beside you, a single-edged sabre in her hand. “He says we’re not to go wandering unarmed. We don’t know what’s out there.”

“There’s nothing out there!” You mutter. “Nothing at all.” You take the shashka, running your fingers over the smooth, dark bird’s head of its handle. Its red veins gleam, stark against your pallid skin. You grasp it tightly, willing some of its realness into you, half fancying yourself fading into the endless white.

“Spring will come,” your sister says, turning to leave. “You’ll see.”

As if in affirmation a movement catches your eye. You glance up to see a great bird circling the Wild Fields, its dark plumage laced with red.

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