Sword Play

Copyright Jerry Bridges © 2005

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"Why I think I have forgotten who you are"

Early in the morning the famed warrior, Lock Lear, began the daylong trip to the cave where he had sunk Orcslayer into the stone floor so many years ago. Reaching the cave near sunset, he looked in as Orcslayer vibrated in recognition of him. As he walked over and casually placed his hand on his sword, he felt the full strength, agility, and dexterity that the War god Grak-toran had always blessed him with just before battle come upon him in full. It had been almost a decade since he had rejected his God and His gifts after he had accidentally slain his nephew. Accepting his responsibility to his clan and people, he repented of his anger towards Grak-toran and was now ready to take up his sword again. He confidently pulled on Orcslayer's hilt fully expecting it to slide out of the stone with ease. Nothing happened. He pulled again, harder. Putting both hands on the claymore and pulling with all of his enhanced strength, still nothing happened. He got down on his back and put both his legs under the pommel so that he could push straight up. He grunted and groaned with his exertions. Still the sword was wedged in the stone as firmly as it had been.

He finally gripped the sword and tried to order it to his will. "Orcslayer, destroy the stone holdin ye."

"No." the sword answered him in his mind.

"Now sword I need ye. Ye must obey me, I am your master."

"You are? Why I think I have forgotten who you are. Let's see how many years have I been stuck in this stone, bored out of my mind? With only an occasional orc to scare witless breaking the boredom."

Lock Lear foolishly answered, "Ten years."

"Ten years! And you expect me to just come out and play? Ha, you're going to have to do better than that." With that Orcslayer shut up and would not answer his long absent master again. Lear glared at the sword with both hands on his hips.

The next morning Lear set out for Rana's cabin again. Three days later he returned with a bag full of things. From his bag, he pulled out rope, a pulley, a wrench, an axe, a hammer, several chisels, several pitons with rings, and two large hooks. He tried to talk to Orcslayer, but as it remained silent, he went to work. He set a piton into the stone overhead. He then ran the rope through the piton and to the two hooks that he then set under the pommel. He used another piton to set the wench up. Finally, using the wench, he pulled. He spent a full hour pulling at the wench. He broke two large branches he brought in from outside. Finally he sat down and rested, glaring at his once faithful sword.

He grabbed his son's largest chisel and hammer and began to chisel the stone from around the sword. He spent all that day chiseling. Finally in the early evening, by torchlight, he saw that he was near to freeing the sword.

"I have ye now!" He exclaimed as he ran over to the wench to pull. He gave a mighty heave. He fell on his back, since there was no pressure against the rope. As he heard the sword's laughter in his head, he turned around and looked. The sword was gone! He leaped to his feet and ran over to the three-foot deep hole he had just spent a day digging. Then he just sank to his knees in frustration. The mean, conniving, sneaky sword! No! How am I going to get it out now! The sword had disintegrated a hole nearly twenty feet deep and about a half foot across. Lear saw that the sword had made a mistake. He would be able to slip one of the hooks under the pommel and pull it up. He immediately removed one and tried to slide it under the pommel. Easy, easy. It looks like it will make it. No! You can't DO that! It's not fair. You MOVED! He kept trying far into the night.

The next morning he woke up beside the hole. He worked at it again. This time after a couple of hours of the sword moving to block the hook every time that he nearly had, he finally fooled it. He had it! He began pulling it up hand over hand as quickly as he could. When he almost had it in his reach, Orcslayer, which was a dancing sword, moved quickly up, twisted, and fell back into the hole, missing the hook. Lear simply threw the rope down on the ground in frustration.

After walking off his frustration for several minutes, he went back to trying to fish the stubborn sword out of the hole again. Hey, you aren't moving as easily, did you accidentally sink yourself into the stone again? I sure hope so. The sword apparently was still listening in Lear's mind, for just as he was about to hook it, the stone below the sword turned into a fine mist. But while the sword was busy disintegrating the stone, it wasn't dodging, so Lear hooked it again. This time as he pulled it up, when it was near the top, he gave a mighty jerk. The sword came out of the hole all the way to the roof of the cave. Lear had been an acrobat his whole life, as most Locks were. With a joyous shout, he leapt to the ceiling. The sword moved away just as his hand was about to close on it. It moved around and spanked him hard enough to make him skin his knuckles on the ceiling. As he fell down in a heap without his usual grace, he heard the sword laughing again. "I'll get you, you rusty piece of trash!" He shouted. Then he heard, "Where am I?" As he looked around, he realized the sword was invisible. Grak-toran had given it that ability when he forged the sword all those long, long years ago, since he knew that most rings of invisibility only extended for a foot around the wearer. Now he was playing blind man's bluff with a sword. He was only glad that no one was nearby to see his shame.

"Lear, honey, why are you feeling around this cave? I was expecting you back already so I came to check on you." Rana said.

The totally frustrated man simply sat down on a convenient rock and held his head in his hands as his wife entered the cave. She came over and affectionately stroked his hair.

"What's wrong dear? Did you forget how smart-aleck that sword could be sometimes? Tell me about it." With that, she sat down in front of him and took his hands in hers and waited. He described what his past few days had been like. When he finished, she asked him, "Have you ever told him clearly, like you told me why you need him to go with you?"

"Well, no. I have not. I was going to tell him after I caught him."

"Dear, does he want to be caught?"

Lear hung his head again and answered in a barely audible voice, "No."

"Then do you not think you should tell him?"

A thoroughly humbled Lear simply nodded yes. As he finished telling the story of how the Gaelaur had been almost completely conquered by a necromantic new enemy and what he planned on doing about it, the sword leaped into his hand. Another of Orcslayer's many abilities was the ability to hold Lear's hand or hands firmly on the pommel so that his grip could not slip. The sword now used that ability to pull the off balance Lear out of the cave and down the trail before he slowed to let Lear pick his way down the steep tricky slope. After all it wouldn't do to have your wielder fall and break his neck on the rocks.

"Sword, let me go back and say goodbye to my wife before we go." Lear told Orcslayer after he had a chance to become stable again. He had not been able to stop the sword's insistent pulling after he had been caught off balance. Oh, all right but make it quick. You wasted days before you decided you wanted me to go with you. After that comment, Lear just glared at the sword for a second before he sheathed Orcslayer, went back in and quickly kissed Rana goodbye. Before he started on his journey to save his people.