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The Sword of Legend

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Eloise’s time in her forge was lonely, meditative, and dreamlike. This forge has been her own for years, and she has since grown into it as a colony of roots. She hardly considers herself its master; rather, she is an arm that keeps it alive, moving its metal, its water, its fire in a rhythmic cycle that repeats on the daily.

Today, her thoughts kept spinning around a scroll case lying beneath her bench.

A few days ago, her mentor Maevan had arrived with the scroll in hand. He explained to her that he received a request from the Queen’s head advisor himself, a commission to recreate a legendary sword from an old tale of a Sword Warrior. Eloise was familiar with the tale, had asked her mentor if he felt like he could accomplish such a monumental task for Her Majesty. He said he felt he might; however, he planned to give Eloise the task instead.

She was shocked, stuttering out that she couldn’t be ready, she was no legendary Sword Crafter, she was still his apprentice, but he stopped her. He said he had been seeking a project for her for some time, one that could test her strength as a Crafter, and for her to forge such a well-known, fabled sword would be the perfect way to rise to the next stage of her training. Eloise could no longer argue, simply take the scroll containing all her instructions, and promise to her mentor that she will give it her all.

That was days ago, and the scroll still sat under her bench.

Inside the scroll is a single poem, a sonnet written in a standard rhyme and rhythm. She had read the poem before, in her studies as a Sword Crafter, but never as close as now. In a few days’ time, she could have it memorized. Her mind turned over the first few lines repeatedly during her rituals, so far unobstructed in her meditations. When alone, sometimes her mind fell through her lips, repeating those lines over again, aloud, to no one in particular.

“Is that a song?” a voice came from behind Eloise.

Eloise jumped, dropping her tongs with a loud CLANG on the stone floor, the cooling metal she was bringing back to the fire rolling away underneath one of her tables. She scrambled onto the floor, haphazardly grabbing her supplies and putting them back within sight, before whipping around to the source of the voice.

Leaning over a table, arms crossed, foot tapping quietly, with a wide, mischievous grin, was Theodora Verr Eurid, Eloise’s oldest friend, and occasional companion in the lonely forge. Theo was a young apprentice Goldsmith, her mage heritage only given away by the gold flecks in her wide red eyes and her well-tailored maroon dress with gold leaf trim, a hallmark of her family’s artistry.

Eloise glared at her, hands still grasped around her tools, and Theo giggled.

“Some warning would be appreciated, Theo.”

“Sorry, El. You just looked so focused!”

“So you thought you should sneak in and interrupt me?”

“Well, when you put it that way…” Theo said with a chuckle, moving around to Eloise’s side of the room. Eloise simply rolled her eyes in response, returning to her previous quest to reheat a small metal chunk, soon to be hammered into a small tool requested by one of her neighbors. As she bent over to check the stove’s fire, she sighed.

“You have good timing, at least. Can I get a hand?”

Theo trotted over to the stove, and wordlessly began gesturing, quickly conjuring a yellow and blue flame from the air. It moved from her upper forearm down to her palm, where it licked across her fingertips before leaping to the coals of the stove. The furnace erupted with heat, making both women throw their hands over their face in instinctual response to the sudden blaze.

“Thanks, as always,” Eloise said as she guided the metal into the settling flame. Theo perched on the edge of Eloise’s table as the crafter continued her work in silence. When Eloise returned to the table, Theo moved aside to give her more room: a simple motion that she learned to avoid interfering with Eloise’s ritual.

Minutes passed as Eloise worked and Theo watched. If Eloise needed to reheat her stove, Theo would oblige with simple magic; otherwise, the two girls existed together in silence. Eloise worked the metal chunk into a thin rod, carefully measuring before hammering a flattened end, this process repeated until the end fit perfectly into her gauge with no imperfections.

When she thought she was on her last round, her hammer landed too far up the tool, flattening a section she had already worked into a perfect cylinder. With a grunt, Eloise laid her head on her table, shoving the project to the side. Her hand clenched in a fist around her hammer until her veins and tendons bulged. Theo, who had since lain flat on her back on the table, sat up and rested a hand on Eloise’s shoulder.

“Alright, time to stop ignoring it,” Theo said. “You’ve had something on your mind all morning. Tell me what’s wrong.”

Eloise groaned, tilting her head to rest her cheek on her hands, looking up at her friend. “Fine,” she sighed.

With a stretch, she set her tools down and moved toward the bench. She grabbed the scroll case, sat with her legs spread, and tapped the spot next to her. Theo joined her.

“A warrior sat, his fate at once foretold.
His master found it in himself to give:
‘Below the stars, below the queens of old,
Your blade is forged from rock on which we live.

‘Forever held, through battles long and hard,
the softest branches grasped within your hand.
A stag will give his crown for you to guard,
and thus, you face the fire of his land.

‘To breathe the water as you might the air,
an iridescent treasure will alight.
Your sword will break, but yet, do not despair:
He’ll sing to you to close your final fight.

‘Your blade is forged from home, this much is true.
But learn, this world has much to give to you.’”

Theo stared at the parchment as Eloise finished reading. Eloise sighed and gently rolled the parchment back into its case.

“So…that’s it? That’s all you get?” Theo said over Eloise’s shoulder.

“Yep. That’s all Matthias got, after all.” Eloise tucked the scroll back under her bench.

“Did he really craft it, though? All from this? All by himself?”

“By all accounts, he did.” She sat back down, and Theo followed, concern still creasing her face. Eloise placed her hand on Theo’s knee.

“Don’t worry so much,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out. It’s not like we have to do this completely alone, after all.”

“I guess you’re right. No use worrying yet.”

“Correct. Now…”

Theo took the scroll back out from underneath the bench.

“May I?” she asked, unscrewing the cap. Eloise nodded. Theo delicately unfurled the aged paper, quickly skimming the poem again.

“Do you have any initial theories?” Theo continued, as her eyes roamed the page.

“A few,” Eloise said. “I’m almost certain ‘the rock on which we live’ means that the blade is a metal native to the Sword.

“‘The stag’ and ‘his crown for you to guard’ might mean the hand guard is made from horn ivory. ‘Softest branches grasped within your hand’ is probably about the wood for the handle, but I’ve no idea what kind of wood they’re talking about. That’s about it.”

“That’s not really a lot to go on, is it…?” Theo squinted as she trailed off. “That last line, ‘this world has much to give to you,’ do we know if Matthias went on some kind of journey?”

“It wouldn’t be surprising. I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if they’re specifically asking him to visit other nations for the supplies.”

After a few moments, Eloise continued, “Hang on.” She rose from the bench, scanned her shop, and opened a few drawers, before finding what she needed. She returned to the bench with a dusty notepad and dull pencil.

“Haven’t used this in a bit,” she said, “but might be useful,” jotting down all that she and Theo had said. Theo took the time to roll the parchment back into its casing.

Once the page was filled with the initial notes, Eloise closed the notebook and tucked it into her pocket. Theo spoke up, “So…what now?”

“What first, you mean,” Eloise said. “I’m not really sure. If I knew, I’d have started already.”

“Fair enough. Guessing you’ve already talked to Maevan?”

“Almost every day, but he keeps saying I need to figure it out without him.”

“Hm…” Theo looked around to the land beyond the shop. “Might be a crazy thought, but what about the Queen?”

“What about her?”

“Why not ask her? She’s the one behind this, isn’t she?”

Eloise’s brows creased. “I mean…” she said, her voice trailing, “what would we even ask? I feel like if she wanted me to know any more specifics, she would’ve given them to me. This sword has been broken and missing for centuries; if there were more specifics to know, I think we would already know them.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Theo said, resting her chin in her hand.

“Hey, don’t get so down. We’re off to an okay start. We’re both smart people, aren’t we?”

“Yeah, smart, that’s one way to put it.”

“There’s not going to be much else we can do today. Wanna go for a walk? It’s nice out, and I think I need some air.”


Eloise stretched her back and arms over the back of the bench, grabbed the scroll, and stood with her hand to Theo. Theo, in turn, stood, pat the ash and dust from her skirt, and took Eloise’s hand. The two started toward the creek near Eloise’s shop as the sun rose to its highest point.