Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Sword Gods," Awakening, pt. 1, 409 words

The god and knight departed in short order, leaving the smith alone to bleed out. Eventually, darkness closed over him, and he wasn't sure whether it was from the fading of the room's lights or death's approach. One was as good as the other, he supposed.

Somewhere on the edge he floated, a place he'd known only in those precious moments after a night's sleep but just before waking fully to the dawn. Dreams still haunted him, then, but took on a surreal note as the real world and his own thoughts began to intrude. Those dreams no longer moved to their own logic, but instead played out by rules borne of the waking world and dreaming world's haphazard commingling. They came more vividly and lingered longer in his memory, but in broad strokes at the expense of meaning and detail.

One of those dreams came to him as he sank into the darkness. A broken, disjointed narrative that flowed from scene to scene with little sense of how he had moved from one to the next.

Visions of casting and forging, of a multitude of beautiful swords of all varieties finished in his smithy. Only it wasn't his smithy, and the blades appeared as if by magic, the secrets and details of their creation never revealed to his dreaming eye. Some, he could deduce what he might do to produce such a thing; others, he had little idea about. And he had tried, but all were crude things compared to the works of art of his dreams.

And not merely the creation of such swords, but their use as well. Practice against imaginary foes, against wooden posts and dummies rigged out of sackcloth and stuffed with straw. One dream jumped erratically back and forth, as the straw-filled dummies turned into men stuffed into uniforms, or the motley of peasants pressed into infantry. Blood spilled freely before turning back into straw and cloth, and a dummy screamed piteously and stank of urine and shit as he plunged a blade into its breast. More dreams of violence assailed him now than he'd ever before remembered upon awakening.

One dream shook him more than any other. A desperate need clutched at his heart with icy fingers, and he shook with exhaustion. He fought with two blades, a long one held tight in his right hand and a shorter blade in his left, crossed to block the blow of a razor-edged falchion.

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