This is a guest post short story series by Redwinged Raven. Read more of her stories at World Anvil!
(Want your story or article featured on my blog? Submit it here!)
An Alliance Forms
A merchant selling daggers and swords sits in a dingy wooden stall in a dark corner between stone buildings. Her wares would be considered odd if they weren’t so incredibly plain. The curves of the swords she sells are reminiscent of ancient rare swords sold for exorbitant prices. But, of course, these swords are not rare at all.
“The shine is all wrong,” a blond young lady states as she critically eyes the collection. She picks up a short sword to inspect it.
“That’s exactly what your enemy is going to say when you slice him with it,” the merchant replies in a bored voice.
“You never know. This is Lawless after all. I can think of one or two who might say it,” the young lady says honestly. She holds the sword in her hand properly and executes a downcut. “The balance is exquisite! How much?”
The merchant considers her customer carefully. “How much is it worth to you?”
The young lady holds the sword in front of her. “I have a good feeling about this one. Two hundred.”
The merchant smiles. “Done.”
With her purchase successful, the young lady makes her way on foot through the streets to a modest mansion in a rich part of town. The doors open as she approaches, and an old familiar servant greets her.
“Miss Lucy! If you insist on traversing Lawless alone, at least use a carriage.”
Lucy laughs. “Esudyyl, a carriage takes all the fun out of walking. Everyone knows who I am; I’m safe enough. No one in their right mind wants Yelueisha coming after them.” She hands the servant her coat. “Is my brother in his study?”
“Good. I have another sword to show him.” Lucy makes her way up the stairs to the double doors of her brother’s study. She pushes her way in without hesitation. “Tereizu Yyshan, I found another weapon for Yelueisha to try out.”
Tereizu motions to Yelueisha, his butler, from behind his desk. Yelueisha bows and accepts the sword from Lucy while Tereizu looks on.
“Odd looking, isn’t it?” Tereizu comments.
“It is a Gathyran blade,” Yelueisha explains, “crafted to combat certain reptiles. That accounts for its shape.” Yelueisha turns the blade around. “The shine, though is odd indeed.”
“Go ahead. Break the seal on the enchantment.”
Yelueisha nods. A burst comes from the sword. The blade stretches and lengthens. The hilt becomes beautifully ornate, and script appears down the length of the blade.
“Good work, Lucy. Another legendary find,” Tereizu praises.
Yelueisha’s expression does not change. He swings the sword in wide arcs. “Perfect in every way. And yet… this sword is quite odd. Enchanted blades of this quality ought to have a considerable personality of its own, yet I sense none from this one.”
“Has the enchantment waned?” Tereizu asks.
“Not at all. It is as if the sword is newly forged.”
“Forged? That’s not possible,” Lucy declares. “We need to speak with that merchant.”
“Set up the meeting,” Tereizu agrees. “The sooner, the better.”
“Are enchanted swords really so rare? I thought a country so enamored with them would have discovered the secret by now.”
The merchant sits in lavish living room with Lucy, Tereizu, and the butler Yelueisha. Lucy nods at her question. “We are quite proficient at summoncraft. We also have some skilled individuals who wield legendary enchanted blades. But enchanted forging is akin to crafting gold from lead.”
“And yet, that is exactly what this blade is, is it not?” Tereizu motions to the sword purchased the day before.
The merchant smiles. “If it is, what is your intent? Such a secret can shake countries.”
“Your craftsmanship is so fine, not many in Lawless would be able to tell between the new and the old. But such fancy swords take time to forge. Can you put out a more basic model, in greater numbers?”
“The answer of a master is always yes, provided I do not get bored in the process. Yet I do not think that will be the case if I lend my skill to you. My forge is yours.”
Yelueisha bows. “Welcome to Lawless, Lady Djarai Gryphn. We look forward to working with you.”
Greenworld has changed in the last hundred years, since I took up the title of Queen of Durashat. The goals I had then have all been fulfilled. Durashat is rebuilt and flourishing. The Shataf live and laugh in safety.
Beyond Durashat’s borders, Greenworld has changed since the Great Fall, bringing new challenges on the horizon. It is time I changed with it. That is not something I can do here in Durashat. Also…
“Tell King Tuchir I wish to speak with him privately at his earliest convenience.”
“Yes, my Lady.” A small silver gryphn bows and flies toward the short distance toward the king’s quarters. My nephew has done well as king since the unforeseen death of my brother. Watching the generation born into this age has shown many of us how to adapt to it.
“Tuchir. I had not expected you so promptly.”
“Something has been troubling you for some weeks now. If you are ready to speak, I wish to know what occupies your thoughts.”
I give a small smile. “You are much more forthcoming than your father was. Tell me, what do you see beyond the boundaries of Durashat?”
Tuchir answers readily. “Rim Nasur maintains its isolation, trading only with our royal family through our personal holdings in the Old Forest. Our monopoly on their fine enchanted goods draws merchants from all over Greenworld, allowing Durashat’s economy to flourish.
“Your status as Gryphn Sazim keeps the magical creatures from attacking in mass numbers, and the Gryphn themselves patrol the roads leading to Durashat. This allows the merchants safe travel.
“The surrounding nations are either our allies or our vassals. Our walls are high and thick. Our soldiers are well-equipped. Durashat lies secure. Yet I know that eyes older than mine see farther. What do you perceive that I have missed?”
I nod. “As expected of the one born to be king. You have missed nothing. I see how old friends are changing in this new age, and not all of them are changing for the better. The actions which I now contemplate may create enemies for Durashat.”
Tuchir’s eyes flicker. The welfare of Durashat has long been his only priority. He may not have enough of the reckless Kifaris blood in him to accept the gamble I have determined to make.
I continue. “Djabiz, protector of Rim Nasur and Dragon Sazim, has crossed a final line which as Gryphn Sazim I shall not ignore. How the Hushaf of Rim Nasur will react I do not know.”
“Not even hordes of dragons nor the charge of the mighty Hushaf could break the defenses of Durashat,” Tuchir declares. “You and my father have seen to that. But Rim Nasur is a major trade partner. Could you not avoid antagonizing them?”
Am I right about his blood? It is too early to tell. And my path lies separate from his. “Within the week I will challenge Djabiz for his title, which the Ancient of Days has already declared forfeit. Three days later, a rumor will be spread that the Red Reaper has assassinated the Queen of Durashat. Of course, I am the Red Reaper, but only a handful of the living know this.
“It will be presumed that the Red Reaper has taken revenge for a fallen comrade. When the news of my death spreads, we will see who comes forth to take advantage. It may be interesting to watch how Greenworld reacts.”
Tuchir strokes his short beard. “So you mean to go into hiding for the foreseeable future.” His eyes narrow. “You risk the future of everything the Kifaris family has built, of every life in Durashat.”
“It is already at risk, for the future is by nature uncertain. It is only by risk that anything is attained. The Kifaris way is to charge forward unhindered.”
Tuchir nods slowly. “I cannot stop you.”
“I know Durashat will be safe under your leadership. My name will remain here, so the Gryphn will continue to protect Durashat and it roads. I leave the kingdom completely in your capable hands, King Tuchir Kifaris, son of my brother King Dukharad Kifaris.”
It has been seventeen years since I left Durashat. Since then I have learned much about how Greenworld has changed since the Great Fall. Some familiar banners remain. Old faces have new banners. And many new powers have risen in place of those that have passed.
So why am I in Greyworld?
I do not completely understand myself.
There is one old face I cannot forget. He has long since passed on, but I discovered that his blood remains in Greyworld. It is foolishness, but I had to seek it out for the sake of old bonds. To see how his blood has established themselves.
“The shine is all wrong.”
A young lady examines one of my wares. It has been my custom these past seventeen years to set up shop in whatever settlement I find myself. Not really for the money, as selling just one of my swords is enough to live comfortably as I travel. I like to see what customers my blades attract.
This young lady has a good eye. “That is exactly what your enemy is going to say when you slice him with it.”
“You never know. This is Lawless after all. I can think of one or two who might say it.” She executes some cuts to test how the sword handles.
I like her. This city too intrigues me. I might even extend my stay.
“The balance is exquisite! How much?”
Now we get to the fun part. My skill in forging enchanted swords knows no equal. I crafted that blade to test the wisdom of my customers. Just how perceptive is she? “How much is it worth to you?”
“I have a good feeling about this one. Two hundred,” she says without hesitation.
Of course, that blade is without price, as are all my wares. But wealth has never been a concern of mine. She has passed my test. “Done.”
She pays for the sword and thanks me. I watch her as she walks away. There is something vaguely familiar about her. I look forward to watching what she does with that sword.
Much later, as I pack up for the day, the young lady returns and breathlessly inquires about my plans for the next evening. Then, after catching her breath, she invites me to meet her brother at their residence to discuss a business proposition. I accept.
When I arrive the next evening, an unpleasant presence is waiting at the door. “Yelueisha. I can honestly say you’re the last one I expected to see. Have you found a new bond-master then?”
Yelueisha bows neatly. “Lady Djarai, welcome to the Tozujaete household. To think you were the metalsmith Miss Lucy discovered. The pleasure of this unforeseen meeting is all mine. Please do consider my new bond-master more kindly than you did my last late bond-master. He is yet young and still learning.”
“He must be a fascinating person, to have become your bond-master. I always try to judge a person based on their own merits.”
“I would be most grateful,” Yelueisha says with his fake smile. “My master is expecting you. Do please follow me.” Yelueisha leads me to a sitting room where a young man and the young lady from before are already seated. The young man rises. “Master Tereizu, may I present Lady Djarai Gryphn, master of metal.”
“Welcome, Lady Djarai. Your craftsmanship is astounding.”
“Nice of you to say so.” I thought Yelueisha looked more smug than usual. Tereizu is without a doubt of his blood, the very reason I have come to Greyworld at all. And the young lady is Tereizu’s sister. No wonder she felt familiar.
I participate in the verbal dance as Tereizu sounds me out, but my mind is spinning on a thousand other thoughts. One thought binds them all, that this meeting is not by chance. By the time he asks me to join him, I am already decided. What was shall be again; the blood of the prince shall return. I am willing to bet that Tereizu will be the one to fulfill this promise.
He has yet many choices to make, but should his path at last lead to Greenworld, I will be there to see it happen. Until then staying by his side should not be boring.
Well, well. I knew the moment I chose Tereizu as my bond-master that Lady Djarai would show up eventually. Time seems to enjoy bringing us together. That said, I expected her sooner.
“Lady Djarai, welcome to the Tozujaete household. To think you were the metalsmith Miss Lucy discovered. The pleasure of this unforeseen meeting is all mine. Please do consider my new bond-master more kindly than you did my last late bond-master. He is yet young and still learning.”
I recognized her signature when I held the sword bought by Miss Lucy. Last I knew she had only just discovered the secret. She has become a true master since then.
“He must be a fascinating person, to have become your bond-master. I always try to judge a person based on their own merits,” she answers. Her sense of loyalty has not diminished even with the collapse of the past age.
“I would be most grateful. My bond-master is expecting you. Do please follow me.” It is beginning just as it was prophesied. The age of guardians had passed. The age of guardians will be again. “Master Tereizu, may I present Lady Djarai Gryphn, master of metal.”
She has recognized him. Tereizu himself is not aware of his lineage, but that is only because he has yet to ask the right questions. Even so, it is remarkable how much he resembles that great man. If my bond-master continues in those footsteps, he will become even greater.
Tereizu is not the only one in Lawless seeking to enlarge himself. In this, the age of pirates and privateers, enemies and rivals abound. Greyworld seeks only a catalyst to cast all into conflict. The present state of things cannot continue indefinitely; even those to call for peace seek release. Now with Lady Djarai present, the fun will really begin. “Welcome to Lawless, Lady Djarai Gryphn. We look forward to working with you.”
To be continued… Keep checking back for updates on this exciting story!