John Mody bought the simple bollock dagger from a high street merchant not long after his first payday as a town guard. He took great pride wearing it openly around town, even when off-duty, seeing himself as the sort to draw steel for righteousness even though the worst foes he’d ever faced had been ragged deserters and half-starved brigands.

Though the bollock dagger got its nickname from the handle appearing rather like a very familiar part of male anatomy, John always thought that the hilt looked more like a woman with a widow’s peak, her hair piled high on her head to form the handle. Once he’d had it for a year, he paid a friend of his who’d once apprenticed as a metalsmith to etch a lady’s face on either side, one smiling and one frowning.

Well-pleased by the look, John Mody took to calling his sidearm Mary O’Red or Dag Mary, and after spending his pay at the common house he would more often than not have her out for carving meat, cutting bread, or idle tavern games and boasts. If John couldn’t recall which way he’d put Dag Mary in her scabbard, he’d draw her as a simple scrying tool: the face that showed (which he touched up once a year or as needed) would be his fortune for the night. Despite her given name, Mary O’Red was stained more from wine and rare meat than blood, and her owner’s great feats were knife-throwing contests rather than chivalric battles.

On his last night on this earth, John Mody was roused by the town’s hue and cry to repel an attack. He never learned who the attackers were, nor would he have much cared about the kingly matters that brought civil conflict to his shire. But when the town guard had formed up and been shattered by a light cavalry charge, John was left with nothing but Mary when his spear, which had no particular name, was shattered under charging hooves. With chaos around him, John used his only skill, and the only possession he really gave a toss about, to defend his home. When he drew her, he was comforted to see that she was smiling side up.

Mary sailed true, lodging in the exposed neck of one of the riders. He would die in the saddle, and his death broke the attack, as the nominal commander of the marauding force was little more than a figurehead. John Mody was laid low during the retreat, trampled like so many others, and died during the night. But the town was saved, if its guard was somewhat decimated in the saving.

And Mary O’Red, otherwise known as Dag Mary? She rode away with the dead lieutenant, and was pulled from his body the next day. The cavalryman who did the deed wiped the clotted blood away, smirked at the face he saw–angry, frowning–before dropping her on the pile of damaged weapons that were for the crucible, to be melted down and recast.

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