Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tiny Story Time: The Boon

It began as simple trade, a small, calculated risk. She had no idea what she was doing, but knew she needed better axes. Her protectors dissuaded her from entering dungeons, encouraging her to only quest due to her lack of experience and skill. But it was slogging, muddy work at best. Never before had she spoken to anyone outside of her small, constrictive circle. She felt shy.

It began as a simple trade, a fair trade: two axes, and a crossbow, for a fair price. But she had no coin in her pockets, but her older sister did. Her sister controlled all of the funds, which may have been inconvenient at times, but efficient control of purse strings seemed important then.

She whispered quietly to the warlock, that yes, she would like the axes (the bow came later). They met, axes for gold, not much gold, and as swift and unremarkable as a firm handshake, the deal was struck.

And that would have been it, but something else happened.

Though she knew what, she could not remember how. The trade was years ago.

Perhaps it was a look in the eye, or a second hello.

The huntress stared at the fire, and the shaman rested on the fire next to her. “How did it start, really start, your friendship, after that trade?”

She had asked him one night, long ago, if he knew why combatants shook hands. It was a way for warriors to gain and show trust, that one couldn’t shake a hand with a weapon in it, and that is why handshakes are always with the right hand, because practically most are right-handed. The left-hand was considered sinister, evil, the devil riding on the left shoulder. Cruel Sisters would sometimes beat children’s hands to make them stop writing with their left hands; there was so much superstition. He laughed and told her he was left-handed, and she said, “Well, then, I will always be at your right side so we don’t bump at the dinner table!”

She could remember that conversation, but could not remember how they got there. It seemed they had always been friends. And it’s curious: the moment when they met to the present time, was as if it had always been. The friendship is proof that something extraordinary happened, because the world’s populations meet and trade and talk and witness one another constantly, but what makes that one moment walk to more, to continue on? Two axes, and a crossbow. Nothing ordinary. We all remember how we meet those we cherish, but we do not remember the next words: there is a bridge, we cross it, and the landscape changes, but we stay the same. We look in the eyes, we see the smile, and it is stable and sure.

Time and experience, the only constants: there weren’t only axes in her arsenal; now she and her sisters had many weapons, too many to name.

Now there is comfort in a grip of a solid axe. An ax chops, the blade is the wind, a breeze blowing from the four corners to the four directions: north is body, south is soul, west is heart, and east is mind. An axe can be surprisingly delicate butchery, meant to get to the root of a foe. Axes serve many purposes: building shelters, providing wood for warmth: not many weapons could claim this loyalty.

Swords are roads and directions, virtue straight and stay on the path, meant to cut through in linear righteousness.

Daggers are secrets; they bite the spleen and sauté hearts. The cost of a dagger is the speed of a wrist, the strike, the cut, and the blood dripping on the ground after the body falls.

Maces are the bones, jointed together, sailed with sheets of skin and buoyed by blood.
The fist weapon is the animal’s paw, the hand that is a beast, which cannot sweep hair from a lover’s eyes, but can only scratch and cut.

The unassuming polearms are the weapons of peasants and farmers, used in lethal service to their owner and not the false, arrogant masters.

The staffs are the wise elders of weapons, drawn from the sinew and water and rays of light that burns or enlightens. Sometimes the monsters required enlightenment by fire and ice.

The shield is a survivor, moored after stormy passage, waiting for entry, protective: a movable haven. A shield is judgmental consequences if one is breeched, and will be the one to protect all.

In a healer’s left hand, the sinful hand, a lantern glows, or a book. Knowledge is power, and when the gods fail us in instruction, we learn for ourselves, even if it is a false artifact or holy relic. The phantom is in the left hand, the heart in the right.

The wand is the spark that ignites bolts and fiery kisses till the monster burns cold and stops dead.

But what if the weapon takes both hands, a two-handed sword or mace? Is the warrior, the protector always-clashing righteousness, paradoxically suffering joy? The hands must work together.

Bows are dance partners, skirting a waltz: knock, draw, and release, one, two…and three. Percussive strings whistling through aerial arias, on time, in time.

She looked at her sister and said, “I do not know, but the weapons chose me. They have been with me even if he was gone. I never used my blades in harm to love; I never cut myself, and have used them only in protection and service. How many can say that, sister?”

Her sister hugged her, and smiled. The fire was warm, and the night peaceful. Let the blades rest, for tonight. All was safe; he was out there on the watch.

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