“They call you the blade-bard,” the dwarf, Anx, said. “Does that mean you can sing? Come, sing us a song to pass the time.”

“Oh, that’s not quite what the name means,” said Hirt, looking around the dozens of other anxious, haggard faces clustered inside Kingskeep for safety against the siege. “I run the royal armory’s historical collection.”

The elf from the royal architects college, Tova, snorted in the shadows to Hirt’s left. “What’s bardic about being a librarian of old rusty daggers?” she said.

“You misunderstand,” replied Hirt. “I make the blades sing. Not the whistle of slicing through the naked air, either, but songs of their history.”

“This one would be more interested in the history-to-come, or perhaps the swords-to-come if the city walls are breached,” the goblin from the castle scullery said. “Perhaps the blade-bard knows how the siege goes, if King Uxbridge rides to relieve Simnel as the gobs in this one’s scrubbing-crew have whispered.”

“I’m afraid I don’t,” Hirt said. “But I could regale you with a tale of one of the blades from our collection. To pass the time, that is.”

Tova snorted again. “I could easily tell you a better story of a better sword, avdpas.”

Anx clapped his hands together, causing several of those huddled on the stone floor to gasp. “Now that is the first good idea I’ve heard all siege,” he said. “Let us each in turn tell the story of a blade we know, and thereby pass the time.”

“What if I don’t know any swords?” one of the pages, leaned against the wall, said.

“Make something up!” Anx said, laughing. “You there, blade-bard. You go first. Tell us of a sword. Something wondrous, from before magic began leaving the world. And don’t waste our time with the Purposeful Blade either, we know it’s kept in Aiov.”

“Very well,” said Hirt. “Let me tell you of my favorite blades: Volen and Elwva, the sword of shadow and the sword of light, taken from the Twin Monarchs by Eyon I when he took Pexate.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!