The Dokkalfar Set

∴ An Unusual Customer∴

You turn the rapier over in your hand, marvelling at how the light plays off the serpentine blade like a cold steel flame. Steadying it on one white-gloved finger, you check its balance, sucking breath through your teeth in surprised admiration. It is a beautiful piece: the gem-like pommel and quillons, the almost aggressive elegance of its curves, the glimmering facets of its onyx-black guard. And a dagger to match!

As you go to pick up the main gauche, you are interrupted by a gentle cough. You turn to find the smith’s apprentice hovering behind you, a look of consternation lingering behind his polite facade.

“I am afraid that this set was made on special commission, your Honour. Made for a rather… particular client.”

“Come now,” you smile, turning the rapier in your hand. “How many years have I been your master’s patron now? He knows I take a special interest in his more unusual pieces. Surely we can work out an arrangement. Go on – name a price.”

“I can assure you it’s more than my master’s job is worth to cross this customer,” the apprentice responds.

“Alright then,” you laugh, “who do I have to fight for them?

You are surprised to see something like fear flashing behind the young man’s eyes. Annoyance you might expect. Temptation, certainly, or at least a battle between conscience and commerce. But this is something else – as if his own blood were on the line.

You are about to speak again when the door behind the apprentice opens with a jarring jingle of bells. You fight to retain composure as you take in the figure who enters – and yet your face must betray some of your shock. Fine of figure and dusky-grey of complexion, the newcomer moves toward you with discomforting grace. Her coat and breeches are unadorned, yet perfectly fitted, as fine as any courtly garb.

She eyes the extravagant rapier in your hand, the decadent dagger on the counter beside you. A dangerous smile spreads from her wine-red lips up the length of her knife-edge cheekbones, to the tips of her pointed ears.

“Good,” the elf murmurs, “good. You know I hate to be kept waiting.”

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The Elytra Sword and Dagger

∴ A Solid Defense ∴

Late summer. Long grass waving, dried and waxen in the sun; downy heads tickling the backs of your legs as you run across the meadow; a stream of seeds taking flight in your wake. It’s days like these that make you never want to return to the city – to the vomit-splashed cobbles and oppressive, leaning towers. To the purpose and the pressure to prove yourself, the constant critique of your master, the endless drills and duels. What wouldn’t you give, in this moment, to leave it all behind and stay here beside the jingling brook, trade your rapier for a sickle, and till the fields beside your brothers?

And yet, as you let your knees crumple beneath you, tumbling against the cushioning grass to watch the clouds above, a streak of red catches your eye against the flaxen gold. You raise your head, resting your elbows on the dry ground, and watch as a solitary ladybird makes its slow, solemn pilgrimage to the tip of a straw-hued stalk. You marvel at its graceless yet gravity-defying determination, tiny legs at work beneath the hard, polished shield of its wing cases.

As you watch, you cannot help but recall another gleaming shell: the steel dish of a rapier guard, steadfast about your hand, granting you assurance as you line up your opportunity. You recall how it flashed in the lamplight as you lunged, twisting your wrist just slightly, your opponent’s counterstrike slipping from the beetle-like shell as your blade found its mark.

With a wry chuckle, you pull yourself back to your feet. So this is love, you think. You can’t live with the sword, and you can’t live without it. There is truly no escape – nor, truly, do you want one. Winding your way back to the farm, you pause to cut a switch of ash from the bramble-bound hedgerow, brandishing it as a make-shift blade. Your master will be pleased to know you practiced.

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