Antiques



Antiques swords stories
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greenleaf
greenleaf"oft hope is born when all is forlorn."
Autoplay OFF  •  10 months ago
A famed soldier stops anonymously in a tiny town and is surprised by what she finds.

(a short medieval fantasy ficlet.)

Antiques

I chose to be discreet, that day. It was a small town, from what I could see when I rode up the path, and in such towns, tongues wagged freely.

It wouldn’t do to arrive in a state, with Ganthring’s prominent red and golden hilt in my belt and the Queen’s emblem on my cloak, shouting my identity louder than any hundreds of silver trumpets.

No, it wouldn’t do at all.

When I arrived at the gate of the village of Hone, it was as a nameless, weary, mud-splattered traveller tightly wrapped in a tattered grey cloak.

The gatekeeper was jovial enough, and if he noted that my horse was of the tall silver breed so typical to the grasslands of Gavenon, he said nothing,

The gatekeeper was jovial enough, and if he noted that my horse was of the tall silver breed so typical to the grasslands of Gavenon, he said nothing, and only patted her shoulder and told her what a fine lady she was before leading her off to the stables.

The armed guardsman keeping watch with him was fast asleep, snoring over a flagon of something ale-scented with his sword clearly unbuckled and tossed in the corner behind him.

Once I might have envied these quiet small-town folk, so clearly untroubled and untouched by the western wars, but now I was glad for their unsullied innocence.

Clearly, here there had been next to no terror and little shortage of resources, and, Elest willing, no loss of life in their ranks.

The cobblestones were worn with the feet of all the generations before us, and the houses were clearly weathered yet cheery nonetheless,

with candlelight glinting from the windows and the smells of tens of dinners wafting through the streets.

I could hear laughter coming from a ramshackle stone building that must’ve been the tavern, with its sign so old its runes could hardly be read.

But in such a town like this, where everyone knew everyone, who needed signs?

On another night I might’ve entered the tavern myself for a warm dinner and a quiet room, but my eye was drawn to the next-door building,

a no less old yet better maintained structure with carefully polished windows and a light glimmering on the inside.

The sign at the door proclaimed that it was OPEN despite the late hour, and as I approached the front stoop, the sign below it, with its smaller text,

could be more clearly seen in the light of the roadside lamp. 'NEW selection of swords, daggers, arrows, and other weapons, both new and antique,' it read.

'Perfect for your front hall or your fireplace.'

I had seen many things over the years, but a town where weapons were stored in an antiques shop and not an armoury was a new one. I couldn’t resist - I pushed the door open and stepped inside.

It didn’t take a sleuth to know this town likely didn’t receive many visitors, but this shop, perhaps, was the one place most frequented by passers-by,

if the prominent displays and local town maps on its shelves were anything to judge. There was no merchant at the counter, so I was content to wait and peruse the tables and stands.

Despite the sign, weapons were not the only items sold; one display held nothing but ancient compasses, some dented and cracked beyond recognition,

others so faded and worn they looked like they could belong to some ancient adventurer straight from the old tales -

others so faded and worn they looked like they could belong to some ancient adventurer straight from the old tales - and on some, the clouded glass revealed just enough to show the compass’s markings, from plain black arrows to beautifully-painted swirls of faded colour and patterns. Upon seeing one of the latter, I leaned closer.

Could it truly be a genuine Brennau, marked with the ancient runes of the old kingdom?

The twist of the jade-green dragon around its centrepiece was nearly impossible to make out and impossible to confirm,

The twist of the jade-green dragon around its centrepiece was nearly impossible to make out and impossible to confirm, but the golden glint of the quivering arrow - the white curve of the waves that lapped the bottom of the compass-face, replicated in the textbooks of all eager tinkerers across the kingdoms -

Where the signature would’ve been was hidden by a blotch of some unidentifiable stain.

Even if it were not one of the five hundred pieces crafted by the sun-smith, as they called her, over a millenia ago, it was an exceptionally good rendition.

I fingered my purse but didn’t seriously consider it.

I had no need for such a trinket that would be much better-suited in the collection of some avid fan or clueless homebody, either of which would admire it much more than I ever could.

The next table was occupied by what must’ve been over fifty unique flasks of varying sizes and shapes.

My attention was diverted, however, by a collection of arrows haphazardly thrust points-down in what looked like a repurposed umbrella stand,

carved and repainted to look like an oversized quiver.

I ran my fingers over the soft goosefeather fletchings of one - made by someone with no knowledge of archery, clearly,

I ran my fingers over the soft goosefeather fletchings of one - made by someone with no knowledge of archery, clearly, for the downy fluff could not possibly have sustained the spin of the weapon.

I ran my fingers over the soft goosefeather fletchings of one - made by someone with no knowledge of archery, clearly, for the downy fluff could not possibly have sustained the spin of the weapon. I couldn’t help but admire the golden paint and finely-carved lines that ran down the length of its shaft.

I turned my attention from the arrows to the daggers on the next wall, and then to the swords, and then -

Oh.

The merchant bustled in just as I saw its gleaming silver blade, the pommel shaped in the crude outline of a griffin’s head,

The merchant bustled in just as I saw its gleaming silver blade, the pommel shaped in the crude outline of a griffin’s head, the utilitarian hilt of brown leather that I could still practically feel clutched in my hand.

“Good evening!” He beamed at me. “My apologies for the wait, I was just in the storeroom at the back.

“Good evening!” He beamed at me. “My apologies for the wait, I was just in the storeroom at the back. We have a new shipment of odds and ends from a museum up north - all the way from Fasarn, can you believe it?”

I had been in Fasarn on a scouting mission not two weeks ago.

I had been in Fasarn on a scouting mission not two weeks ago. “That is quite far,” I said, lamely, unable to take my eyes off the display case hammered into the wall behind the counter.

“Ah, a Northerner yourself, aren’t you?” The merchant winked as he ambled behind the counter and cut off my line of sight to the sword.

“I can hear it in your accent. My wife’s mother is from Aumden, Elest rest her soul, and she used to pronounce her As in the exact way you did. Exasperated the townsfolk to no end, when she visited. You from Aumden?”

“Something like that,” I said distractedly.

I could hardly believe it.

I had thought the first sword I had ever owned was long gone, lost on the battlefields of Maeven during the War of the Drowning over a decade ago.

I had thought the first sword I had ever owned was long gone, lost on the battlefields of Maeven during the War of the Drowning over a decade ago. Only now, it had finally turned up again - as a wall ornament in an antiques shop in a tiny, unknown town east of Evren, where I now stood.

I had thought the first sword I had ever owned was long gone, lost on the battlefields of Maeven during the War of the Drowning over a decade ago. Only now, it had finally turned up again - as a wall ornament in an antiques shop in a tiny, unknown town east of Evren, where I now stood. I suppressed the urge to laugh.

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