Sunday, February 7, 2010

The One-Eyed Man, Part 3

Last Week of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK

We lay on the scrub grass clad only in tunics and trousers and stared up at the night sky. After our discussion we had left Kusseth and had spent the majority of the day walking. Our kind had no need of sleep and our regenerative abilities allowed us to stave off exhaustion for far longer than a mortal could, but even we must eventually tire and need to spend an hour or two at rest.

We had shed our disguises and our ears had long since healed. Our weapons and armor and supplies lay nearby, for no creature can truly relax when clad in heavy leather or when gird in a dozen instruments of bloodletting. We had even removed our boots and socks. We had stopped when we saw a shower of falling stars to the south, one had been so large that a dust cloud rose into the sky when it finally struck the earth.

The scrub grass was sharp and dry, but we ignored it. I lay half-atop Callifay with my head resting on his stomach and his arm across my chest. Staring at the sky, the endless void which always mesmerized me, I could have lain there for a thousand years and not grown bored. Callifay laughed.

"What?" I asked.

"You stare at the sky, so mesmerized. There is no tension in your body."

"You know of my fascination with the heavens, and the comfort you closeness brings."

"I do," he said and I could almost see his smile in my mind's eye, he continued, "Do you miss the blade of Old Night?"

I chuckled, "What warrior does not miss his favored weapon?"

"What will become of it when Cenn the Reaver dies?"

I had not thought of that. In my tent deep in the Wild Lands there was a treasure trove of weapons and armor. My old blade was resting in an oak case, but when Cenn died the pile of loot would be scavenged by even the most loyal of my men and that blade could not resurface in this land.

"It cannot easily be moved," I said.

Even stored in its case it produced a profound chill that others could sense, though Callifay and I had never been able to feel it and if it were moved those of the band would sense it.

"And I cannot wield it, I've not the strength for that. Could you draw it here now and hide it?"

"No, it is not a weapon that can be hidden and I cannot call it to hand over so great a distance. Perhaps if we were closer."

"What will we do with it then?"

"I could not bear it with me in my new incarnation as your aide."

He chuckled and my head moved with his laugh, "No, it is rather identifiable. Could you secure it as you have in the past? Within you?"

I stared at the void above, counting stars and missing another presence.

"No, the Nightmare Lands no longer rest within me and that is where I have hidden the blade before."

"Could we not just let it be taken from your tent and released into the world? You can feel its presence as easily as you can feel mine, and I think no creature could keep it from you if you truly desired its return."

"You speak truth, but The Blade of Old Night is a subtle artifact. It is not a weapon to destroy armies or make a mortal into a god."

"What then is the power of such a blade? You have always been cryptic about its deadliness."

"With good cause."

He took his hand from my chest and I felt him cross his arms over his own.

"In this place, among such as you and I are, what harm is there in the telling, Cenn?"

I sighed, he was right. If ever a creature were worthy of knowing the nature of my blade it was Callifay, and there was no harm in telling him.

"Its most base power is the method in which it deals death. The Blade of Old Night is not an object of this reality. When it cuts, it does not truly cut, it removes. If I were to cut off your arm with it and you put the arm back together you would see it was now shorter, shorter by the width of my blade."

"Would that aspect not have come to light by now among our people?"

I shook my head, "How often has a warrior of our people had the time to stoop to the ground and reclaim a fallen limb? Is it not easier to wait a week for the limb to return of its own accord?"

"A valid point. What of the starry sky bound within the blade?"

"The Old Night. There is no other name for it. It is a carpet of stars and clouds and that exist within the blade. On no world have I seen such a sky, only within my old blade."

"What does that mean though?"

I shrugged, "I cannot say, I know only that that was the name that leapt from my mind when I decided to name my blade."

"What of the objects you pull from it? The knives of black and silver?"

I shrugged once more, "They are there. I know what the blade contains and know that my hand may draw it from within."

"Useful, but not something I would think it necessary to be cryptic about."

I nodded, "True."

He waited but I said nothing.

"Please," he said as his hand returned to its place across my chest.

I sighed and spoke, "It has the power to cut our Gifts away from us in a fashion that prevents their return."

"That, that is a power worthy of your secrecy. I almost regret prodding you."

"Yes. It was with the Blade of Old Night that I was able to become Cenn the Reaver and leave our homeland in such a state as it is. It is why I cannot will us back to our homeland."

"You mean you cannot reclaim your power?"

"No, I can, but I must return to where it has been stored. It has been truly severed from me, I cannot even feel it calling to me. It it gone from me, cut away by my starlit blade."

"I, I had not known that. I thought you, I did not know. It is one thing to be unable to use your Gifts to their full potential, that is my weakness, I can fathom that. To be unable to even feel their presence though, I had not imagined any of our kind could willingly do that to themselves. I did not know, Ker-"

"Enough," I growled angrily, "I more than anything living know what I sacrificed for our people. I need no one to tell me of my loss."

He was silent, but he shifted and was able to put his other arm atop my chest and clasped his hands there. We stayed that way for the rest of the evening.

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