The Hessian Longsword

∴ A Listless Repose ∴

The trees whisper with raindrops, deluging the dark earth: that rich, reeking blackness that floods your senses as if you were already buried in it.

Water collects in the hem of your hood and trickles cold into your eyes. You stop for a second to rub at them, then hurry on. You do not know these woods well enough to travel them by night, but you have a feeling you will find your destination one way or another.

The clearing is still when you come to it. Even the raindrops, by now almost a comfort, seem muffled and muted. The tree is there at the centre, just as you dreamed it, like a body contorted in agony atop a mass of twisted roots.

And there, as you expected in your gut, is the sword. Its sinuous, writhing blade is half-plunged into the black soil, and from a distance it could be a simple grave marker, shaped like a cross. But you know better.

You know the leathern scales of the sword’s black grip, the talons that tease at its crossguard. You know the open maw of the serpent pommel, all fangs and brazen tongue. You know how it feels as it slices the air, unerringly meeting its mark.

As your palm brushes against the serpent’s head, a new sound fills the forest: a distant drumbeat, not of raindrops, but hooves.

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