Flash Friday 15/07/2016: Swords of Wisdom
Frederick was beginning to notice a worrying trend. No matter where in the castle he was, no matter what room he entered, every time he held his torch out to the darkness to see what was within, he found monsters. He didn’t understand; the way into the castle was eventless enough, save for the stray bit of rubble and rusted door. Now he was trying to leave, it seemed the whole place was swarming with monsters.
He opened the door to the next room, holding the torch within to illuminate the darkness. Sure enough, a sparse room with no interesting elements within now contained a ferocious looking wolf. Rapier in hand, Frederick swiped at the wolf, giving it a nasty scratch across the chest.
“No!” a male voiced yelled angrily. “Rapiers are for thrusting, you idiot! Try thrusting!”
The wolf was wounded,but not defeated. Frederick’s new battle strategy involved waiting until the wolf was almost in range, then making small poking gestures at it with the rapier. He didn’t get further than inconveniently prodding at the wolf, but it made it hesitant to attack, at least.
“Lunge, you fool!” the voice returned. “Skewer it with the blade as if it were a kebab!”
Frederick blinked. “That sounds like it hurts.”
“That’s the point!”
Frederick tried lunging. Unfortunately, it required a long wind-up, meaning the wolf had enough time to dodge and snap at Fredericks heels. Frederick swiped and slashed out of panic.
“Take a proper stance!” the voice said. “Sword arm out! Free arm behind! Shoulder facing enemy!”
Frederick held the hilt of the sword up near his face, glaring at the red gem on it. “Can you please be quiet for ten seconds?”
“I’ll be quiet when you learn to fence properly!” the gem snapped, its center glowing in tandem with the volume of its voice. “Now take your proper posture and show me what you have!”
“You know, I–” Frederick said, stopping to dodge a wolf taking the opportunity to try lunging itself. “I’d prefer it if you’d stop giving me lessons and started killing things better.”
“Me? I’m just a soul trapped in the hilt of a blade! You’re the moron using me!”
“Well cast a spell, enchant yourself, anything! Just do something!”
“I am doing something! I’m telling you how not to die!”
“Do something better!”
Frederick felt his entire body lock, as if he had lost control of it. Then, with no effort on his part, his body took a refined fencing stance. It thrusted the sword at the wolf, skewering it with a clean blow. The wolf keeled over.
“There,” the rapier said, returning Frederick’s body to him. “And don’t ask me to do that again. I haven’t much power, and even less patience. Next time, do as I did by yourself.”
“Do you have a training manual?”
“No. I had hoped you wouldn’t need one.”
Frederick tutted. “It’s not like I’m a hero or anything.”
“You told me you were a legend back home!”
“I am,” Frederick said, walking down the corridor with care. The one with seemingly no monsters in it were by far the worst to actually walk. “Beat Freddy Fast-Foot at a race once.”
“Do you have any idea of my legacy? I was wielded by the great Joseph the Quick, my blade used to draw blood from a tyrannical king. Joseph set a challenge that one who could retrieve me from a stone island in shark-infested stormy waters could have me, which Gregor the Witted achieved, using me to turn the tide of an entire war. He then set me within the den of Gezzakar, the Bearmother, who Susan the Brave defeated and used me to set upon the fiercest bandits in the land. Take a guess as to what she did.”
“I don’t know,” Frederick said, opening a door to reveal a decrepit larder with nothing more interesting past bygone foods. “Didn’t pay much attention in history class.”
“She set me within a podium deep within the castle, and cast a curse on it. Anyone brave enough to try to take me would have to prove their strength by fighting their way out.”
Content with looking in the larder, Frederick continued down the corridor. “I didn’t know that.”
“It said so on the podium! ‘Those brave enough to take me should make quick friends with me, for the way back will be more perilous than the trip here’. Didn’t you read it?”
“Of course not, those usually talk about boring civilisations and dead people.”
Another sigh. “Well, let’s just get you out safely. You may be an idiot, but nobody deserved death because they didn’t know how to fence.”
“Great. So, which way is out?”
“I don’t know, I’ve been stuck in a podium for two hundred years.”
“I’ll try the door at the end of the corridor. Looks important enough.”
“Fine. Now, a quick recap; sword hand out, spare hand behind. Aim your sword shoulder toward the enemy, and make sure you’re holding the handle. Now, for the finer points of the ‘balestra maneuver’. The balestra requires that you–”
Frederick opened the door, holding the torch into what looked like a very dark banquet hall. Almost instantly, a huge swarm of eyes glinting in the torch light turned to look at him, displaying a wide range of species, size, and hunger for human flesh.
They all began to creep forward.
“…okay,” Frederick spoke softly. “Can we skip to the part where you teach me how to use you against twenty monsters at once?”
“Yes,” the rapier said. “This one is what I like to call, ‘turn your tail and run’.”
“Sounds fancy,” Frederick said. “How do you do that one?”
Frederick’s body locked up again, his legs moving him at a blistering speed back down the hallway. Behind him, a swarm of monsters tried to cram through a small door all at the same time.
“Oh, this one,” Frederick said. “Yeah, very familiar with it.”