This week, we’ll be posting daily stories from special guest Jeremiah Marshe. Enjoy some short fantasy!
The sword lay in the river, the end of its hilt barely resting on the sandy bank. He’d been looking for this blade for months; now that his goal was in sight, though, he hesitated. If he picked up that blade, his search was over.
With halting steps he moved through the underbrush. The gentle bubbling of the running water, the rustle of dead leaves in the autumn wind, the songbirds stirring in the branches – all were drowned out by the pounding of his heart in his ears. Step by agonizing step he moved forward until the submerged blade was covered by his own massive shadow. Sighing heavily, he leaned down on one knee and grabbed the longsword by its hilt. Water drained out of the scabbard as he hefted the weapon out of the river, studying the broken leather belt that had once anchored the sword to its owner’s hip.
A rustle in the brush behind him broke his reverie. Reflexes overtook thought as he whirled around, drawing the drenched blade and holding it aloft. Sunlight glanced off the exposed steel, its golden runes untarnished in spite of the river’s efforts. The water goblin that had been sneaking up on the kneeling human froze for a moment as the human it had mistaken for easy prey stood and snarled.
“You.” The man spoke with practiced authority, his knuckles turning white as he clenched the hilt of the abandoned sword. “You will tell me how this sword got here. Now.”
The water goblin staggered back in fear, its wrinkled form quivering in mortal terror. “Is bought from merchants, yes?” it answered in a gurgling, shrill voice. “Is bought with coins, yes? Is something you want, yes?”
The man’s slate-grey eyes narrowed in skepticism. “You’re lying,” he said flatly as he pointed the sword’s tip at the shambling moss-coated wretch. “You will tell me the truth.”
“Is not lie, yes?” the goblin nearly screamed, tipping over itself and falling flat on the riverbank. “Is not good to lie to man, yes? Is good to live, yes?”
“It is good to live,” the man agreed, a heavy sigh on his lips.
The water goblin grinned, misshapen teeth filling his mouth. “Is good to live, yes! Is good to live, is good to swim, is good to eat!” The water goblin dunked one hand in the rushing river. Before the man could react, the water coursed up and around the goblin, lifting him up. Now, there was now height difference between the diminutive goblin and the towering human – the water bonded to the goblin gave him the rough appearance and size of a truebred ogre.
Tossing the ruined scabbard to one side, the human shook his head. “Little fool,” he muttered as he slid forward. The water goblin reached out with one massive column of water, but the experienced warrior saw the strike coming and nimbly ducked underneath it. The borrowed blade whistled through the air as he brought it up in a clean arc. The water goblin looked surprised for a moment, then its watery shell erupted in a riot of crimson blood. The goblin fell backwards, screaming as the river swept it up and away. The man looked on impassively for a moment before turning his gaze back to the blade.
“Never swear an oath you can’t fulfill,” he murmured as his eyes traced the golden runes. “Isn’t that what I taught you, my son?” He began to step away, pausing only to gaze at the tattered remnants of the scabbard. An odd etching in the leather caught his attention; he leaned down, sorrow turning to confusion and anger as he looked closer. Scratched into the scabbard’s side, crude and hasty runes spelled out a simple message:
I haven’t failed you yet, Father.