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> Birth of the Blade, Ukhel
Will
post Sep 10 2020, 08:59 PM
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Anxiety gripped his stomach and the roar of the waterfall drowned out the pounding of his heart as he slowly, rhythmically, and ever so carefully shaped the final true edge to the blade.

The master stood by silent and still watching his pupil; every stroke and sweep along the blades edge. Very few artisans were skilled in the ways of the watersmith, even fewer able to turn those talents to anything other than iron and steel.

The master glanced at his own hands, seeing the truth in their thin parchment like skin and the wizened, gnarled nature of his once slender fingers. It was an honour to be asked to craft such a blade, a higher one still to be entrusted to work it in precious jade. The honour he had in turn bestowed upon his most prized of pupils for he had been too proud to decline his gracious patrons request and admit that such a crafting might be beyond his age and declining talents.

His pupil had spent many years learning all that he had to teach and was in truth above many other masters in the level of his work but to work jade was a rare opportunity and even a rarer talent; he whispered a silent prayer to the Twin Fates that he had chosen wisely.

The artisan pupil stood and in a fluid motion with the final sweep of the blade pivoted his body and form to the temper bath beside the fall. He steadied his hand as he prepared to dip the blade to seal final temper of this forging.

He stood ready the jade blade glistening and glinting in the spray the fall threw up around them. The master gave an almost imperceptible nod and the pupil plunged the blade into the temper with the skill of the most exquisite of final cuts.

The water of the bath seemed to seethe and roil violently, sizzling as the blade entered, the water erupting up the curve of jade towards the hilt like the crashing wave of a tsunami scorching the pupil’s flesh with the power of the ritual temper. The pupil screamed in agony but did not let go. The master rushed to his side and grasped his hands over the grip of the pupil and pulled the blade out in one swift stroke. The pupil loosened his grip and slumped to the floor against the stone font that held the water of the temper.

The master held the blade aloft puzzling over what caused such a reaction to the art that was given to its waters. As the last drops of the temper fell from the blade to the floor and the light illuminated it fully he could see the imperfections; the jade was dull and dark as though a blackness like the ink of a squid had permeated it’s hue. Along the blade were a number of very visible and very obvious flaws like fissures in rock.

The master’s disappointment welled up within him. His shoulders slumped and the sparkle his eyes held despite his age seemed to fade away. He cursed himself for having entrusted his pupil so. Then, with the blade hanging limply by his side he simply let it go, to fall towards the solid stone floor and before it landed, he was already walking away.

The pupil watched the blade fall like a dew drop on a perfect morning. Straight down it fell but all around it was as if the world and time stood still. The sword struck the stone and as it did there seemed to be for the briefest of moments a glint of golden light along the flaws of the blade as it became a single crystal note piercing the waterfalls roar and shattered into several fragments.

***

Later that night the pupil knelt beside his simple bed, a roll of silk laying upon it. Slowly he unwrapped the silk shroud to reveal the broken pieces of a dark jade blade.

He stared at it for what seemed like an eternity and then he reached out and picked up a tiny brush from the small bowl at his side. The bristles glinting with gold in the soft lantern light as he began to work.


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Will Power - rednax1984@gmail.com
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