The Chernomor Shashka

∴ A Quiet Communion ∴

With the tideline before you, you close your eyes – and let the blade command your senses. Turning your body to match each flowing cut, you relish the sensation of balance in a way you forget to do while simply standing.

You feel the scrunch of grainy sand, broken shells, beneath a pivoting boot. You hear the soft lapping of little waves – the ornate lace edge of that black sea. You feel the sun slip into its treacherous depths as late-autumn balm gives way to dusky chill. Yes, all things in balance.

The sword stirs the air before you, and you picture the elegant lines of its wake – as if you were painting beautiful letters in a prayer book. Then let this be your prayer: each cut, each transition a mark of your devotion. And let the kingdom come.

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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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