The Itelhans Swiss Sabre

∴ A Steely Peace ∴

Twenty. Twenty two. Twenty four. You count the dusty stone steps as you scuttle down them in the old man’s wake. Twenty six. Twenty eight. Thirty. You try not to think of your mother’s ghost stories: of vampire crypts and torturous counts. After all, it was she who nodded her approval when the snowy-haired knight asked if he might show you the armoury.

A torch sputters to life at the foot of the stairs, and you see that your fears were unfounded: this room is welcoming and well-appointed, with vaulted ceilings and decorous tapestries draped on the walls. The subterranean space is divided by thick stone pillars, and between them stand row after row of dark wooden racks, each bearing ten or more swords.

You cannot help but gawp as you are led between the gleaming treasures, each more splendid than the next – here a lion’s head pommel, there a jewel-encrusted guard. Yet the old man strides unerringly to the end of the steely avenue, pausing before a simple wooden stand, which bears a single sword.

The moment you glimpse it, it may as well be the only weapon in the room. It is sapphires on snow, its long leather-bound grip the blue of a moonlit sky in winter, crossed with shining bars which brush together with steely kisses to form a sail-shaped guard. From this elegant tangle the pommel blooms: a six-petalled flower, writhen and weird.

The old man gestures toward the sword.

“Here,” he says, with kindness in his watery eyes. “This is the gift your father bound me give you.”

“My father?” you ask, eyes wide and head spinning. “Was he a warrior too?”

“Yes and no,” the old man smiles – though there is steel behind that smile. “Your father and I were men of peace, not war. But sometimes the right sword in the right hand can keep the peace longer than none. Do you understand me?”

You hesitate, then nod, hoping the knight doesn’t see the confusion in your eyes.

“Don’t worry my boy,” he chuckles, “You will.”

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