“What a sordid tale!” Nacee the milliner cried. “Of course, leave it to a wrestler and a mule to glorify heresy like the Hamurabash while disparaging the truth of the Creator.”

A man, leaned up against one of the great stone columns that supported the armory ceiling, called out. “What if they was only an orc mule?” he said. “What would the Anchor Blade do then?”

Zaldi, laughing, looked him over. “I don’t know, Kect-of-the-Mud-Pits,” she said, directing a singsong tease at her fellow wrestler. “Do you keep the Hamurabash like your mother did?”

“In my own way, I does,” the man, Kect, said.

“I imagine the Anchor Blade would hit you, then, but not very hard,” Zaldi said. “Bruising strength, maybe.”

“I’ve always wondered,” Hirt, the blade-bard, said to Kect. “The Hamurabash says that every male must carry an axe at all times, yes? Would a sword work for that purpose? After all, I imagine that the idea is to be ready to defend oneself.”

“Heh,” Kect responded. “Me mum had a story she used to tell, old orc tale, about that. Vivritan the Summoned and his Sword. I’ll tell it to ya, yeah?”

“Yes, please!” Hirt said.

“So, I don’t know what all y’know about the Hamurabash, but the great Hamur said t’keep an axe at all times. Folks what feel strong about it argue as to why, but he was clear as could be that you oughta do it. So one day, see this orc name of Vivritan comes to the great Hamur, who put down the Hamurabash (as you mighta guessed).”

“He was summoned there on account of he would not wear the axe, yeah? Vivritan the Summoned, that’s where that comes from. He says to Hamur, he says, this sword is fine steel, right? Great sword, been in my family generations, made in the Seven Sisters, same as your pirate knife, Zaldi. So Vivritan says to Hamur, he says, can I carry the sword instead of the axe?”

“Old Hamur, he asks to see the sword. It’s real pretty, real sharp, kept up nice, no oiled. Beautiful weapon, Hamur says. And Hamur, he takes out his own axe, and he says look at my axe, what do you see? And Vivritan, he’s shook. Hamur, the orc what wrote down the Hamurabash, the one what says to carry the axe, his axe is in real bad shape. It’s dirty and it’s dull.”

“So Vivritan says to him, to Hamur, how can you fight with an axe like that? Because, you know, Hamur was a great warrior too, not just a great author. And Hamur, he says oh, my arms are all around me. That is my spear, that is my sword, that is my shield. Each has its own, you know, purpose. He even had axes, other axes.”

“Vivritan is proper shook by this time and he asks what Hamur means. Hamur, he says, sure, you can fight with the axe if you want. Sometimes it’s a good tool for that. But sometimes there are better tools. But what the axe is always the right tool for, is reminding you of your commitment to the Hamurabash. It’s a reminder that you’re committed to thinking stuff out, to reason, so none of that superstition. Other than the Hamurabash itself, which is too big for everyone to carry, an axe is the best reminder that you’re cutting away the ignorance of the world like dead wood when you fight, yeah?”

“So Vivritan is all moved, and he begs Hamur’s forgiveness and gives him his sword. Hamur takes it, and gives Vivritan his axe. I have many reminders on my wall, but you need this one more than me is what he said.”

“So,” Zaldi said, after a long pause . “What happened to them? Don’t just trail off, man!”

“Well, Hamur called his new sword the Summoned Sword, and he had it with him in some of his greatest battles until he died. They hung it in his memory hall, the very first memory hall. And old Vivritan? He takes Hamur’s axe into battle and fights with it even though it’s nasty and dull. He wins a hundred battles with it before he falls, and some folks say it’s still around.”

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