I, Ad Dakhla, scribe and chronicler to the court of the Sultan of the City of Bronze, do here set down the story of an heirloom of the city and the sultanate, the Stained Blade. Long ago, when the city was ruled not by a sultan but by a shah, the current Sultan’s forefather sought to take the city to free it from the Shah’s tyranny. He appealed to fabled Vloles, on the Dreaming Moon, for a blade with which he could strike but a single decisive blow.

And his entreaty was answered, with a warning: stroke your blow, but the evidence of it will forever be known. The Sultan’s forefather smuggled the blade, and his men, into the city over a number of months before the gathered their strength, opened the gates from within, and stormed the palace. Only one blow was struck, to end the Shah’s reign and begin the Sultan’s, but the blood was forever imprinted upon the blade. Its pattern and spray seem to depict a blow not struck in combat but one from behind, on an unaware target.

The first Sultan was not bothered by this, and he displayed it for many years in his palace before it was consigned to the armory. The current Sultan is more ambivalent, and is not enthusiastic about his ancestor’s “cowardly blow.” I offer that if the first Sultan was not bothered by it, and if the hosts of fabled Vloles did not strike him down, none but the Shah may truly find fault with such an action.

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