Blade And Arrow (Mindswords Book 1)
Vengeance is his who casts the blade Yet he will in the end no triumph see. Whose flesh the Sword of Mercy hurts has drawn no breath; Whose soul it heals has wandered in the night, Has paid the summing of all debts in death Has turned to see returning light. The Mindsword spun in the dawn's gray light And men and demons knelt down before. The Mindsword flashed in the midday bright Gods joined the dance, and the march to war. It spun in the twilight dim as well And gods and men marched off to hell. I shatter Swords and splinter spears; None stands to Shieldbreaker. My point's the fount of orphans' tears My edge the widowmaker.
The Sword of Stealth is given to One lonely and despised. Sightblinder's gifts: his eyes are keen His nature is disguised. The Tyrant's Blade no blood hath spilled But doth the spirit carve Soulcutter hath no body killed But many left to starve. The Sword of Siege struck a hammer's blow With a crash, and a smash, and a tumbled wall. Stonecutter laid a castle low With a groan, and a roar, and a tower's fall. Long roads the Sword of Fury makes Hard walls it builds around the soft The fighter who Townsaver takes Can bid farewell to home and croft.
Who holds Wayfinder finds good roads Its master's step is brisk. The Sword of Wisdom lightens loads But adds unto their risk. Sign In Don't have an account? Start a Wiki. The Swords Coinspinner , the Sword of Chance. Symbol: A pair of dice. Pros: Provides unnaturally good luck to its bearer, and bad luck to his or her foes. Can also be used as a less-powerful version of Wayfinder presumably by steering its bearer away from "unlucky" routes. Cons: If the bearer takes his eyes off Coinspinner, even for one second, it can disappear and reappear anywhere in the world, even into a rival's hands.
It often inflicts bad luck on the former bearer before it goes, especially if the bearer tried to keep the sword from leaving. Doomgiver , the Sword of Justice. Symbol: A hollow circle. Pros: Turns any attack upon its bearer back onto the attacker. Cons: Destroyed by Shieldbreaker before we can see any. Dragonslicer , the Sword of Heroes. Symbol: A Stylized dragon. Pros: When used against a dragon it automatically guides its bearer to the most fatal spot, cutting though scales and limbs like butter.
Cons: Provides no protection to the bearer. When used against anything non-dragon, it's just a very well-crafted sword. Farslayer , the Sword of Vengeance. Symbol: Concentric circles, similar to a bulls-eye. Pros: Swing the blade in a circle and wish to kill someone and the sword will shriek through the air, sending a rainbow trail behind, on a direct and unstoppable journey straight into its target's heart or its equivalent.
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Object - Magic
Regular Foil. Nemesis : Light Play, English. Whatever prayer he at last managed to say went up in silence. Outside, spring wind howled fiercely, shoving against the rough stone walls of his lonely hut, rattling the crude, ill-fitting door, spattering rain through the hole in the roof that served as chimney, so that the small fire, fueled mostly by last year's dried vines, hissed as if in pain. An unknown visitor, working alone in pursuit of some unguessable purpose, and come and gone before Valdemar had been able to catch more than a glimpse of him--or her--had just made the young grape-grower a present of one of the Twelve Swords.
The recipient felt overwhelmed by the discovery. And yet--even in that tremendous moment when Valdemar first glimpsed and began to recognize the ebon hilt, he found himself thinking that he ought to be more surprised at the nature of this gift than he really was. He had the strange feeling that with some part of his mind he had always known, had never doubted, that something like this--something truly great--was fated to happen to him sooner or later. Well, here it was. And whatever unconscious anticipation might be keeping him from being properly astonished, he was certainly beginning to be afraid.
Scant minutes ago, the unexpected shadow and the drab, silent image of the mysterious caller had moved almost simultaneously, and with a swiftness almost magical, past the door of Valdemar's isolated dwelling, interrupting the young man in the midst of preparing his evening meal.
The door had been left slightly ajar for more light, and to let the smoke-hole draw. Until that moment, Valdemar had had no suspicion that any other human being was anywhere within a couple of kilometers. By the time he had jumped up and run outdoors, the figure of his anonymous visitor was already almost out of sight in mist and rain. Valdemar caught only a single glimpse of a human shape, so muffled in gray garments that it might have been either man or woman. The gigantic youth started in pursuit, swiftly bounding up one, two, three of the narrow cultivated terraces that rose above his little hut.
But by the time he had reached the third terrace, his caller had already disappeared into the wet twilight shrouding the domesticated vines, the scant wild bushes, and the granite outcroppings of the lonely mountainside. Shouting for his vanished visitor to stop, Valdemar continued the chase a little farther, almost to the boundary of his cultivated land, but without success. Returning to his hut a couple of minutes later, the young man picked up the bundle which had been so mysteriously deposited at his door. He paused to reassure himself that at least it was not alive he had heard stories of babies being left at the doors of lonely huts and carried it in by the fire.
After closing the ill-fitting door again, and shaking his garments dry as best he could, Valdemar hesitantly commenced the process of unwrapping his present--which came, moments later, to a shocked halt. Though he was scarcely past the age of twenty, and for most of the past year had dwelt in this lonely place, Valdemar could not claim complete innocence or ignorance regarding the affairs of the great world.
Like every other thinking person, he knew something of the history of the Twelve Swords, magical weapons created almost forty years ago by the gods themselves. Valdemar knew also that two of the Swords had been destroyed not long after they were made. This black hilt partially visible before him, if it were genuine, might belong to any of the remaining Ten. And though like most people he had never seen, much less handled, any of the Twelve, Valdemar could not doubt the authenticity of this one.
A heavy elegance of magic flowed into his fingertips the instant they brushed against it; and to magic he was not a total stranger. It was common knowledge in the world that four Swords--Shieldbreaker, Dragonslicer, Stonecutter, and Sightblinder--had for some years been gathered in the royal armory of Tasavalta, under control of that realm's powerful and unfortunate Prince Mark.
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Among the six others now lost to public knowledge were the two Valdemar considered the most abominable of the god-forged weapons, Soulcutter and the Mindsword. No one, as he understood the case, could ever be sure of the whereabouts of Coinspinner, a tricky blade given to randomly moving itself about. Nor was there any way to guess the whereabouts of Farslayer, Wayfinder, or Woundhealer.
That last was the only one of the surviving ten that Valdemar would have rejoiced to find in his own possession. Crouching in his windswept, earth-floored hut, alone with his mysterious gift, the youth hesitated for a long time before continuing the process of unwrapping. His irresolution was grounded in the fact that he feared certain of the gods' Swords more than others, and at this point it was still at least theoretically possible for him to refuse the knowledge of which one he had been given. At this point he would still be able, if he chose, to tie up the gray cloth again, carry the whole still-mysterious bundle back out into the rain, and drop it, lose it, deep in some rocky crevice among the nearby crags, in such an inaccessible hole that it would be possible to hope that no one else would ever discover the presence of the thing of power, or be able to come near it.
For what seemed to Valdemar a long time he sat there on his heels.
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The wind battering at his door seemed to mock his fearful hesitancy, while outside the clouded daylight slowly faded. Still, enough light remained inside the hut, around his dying fire, that he should be able to see whatever white mark might be emblazoned on the Sword's hilt, when his next tug at the gray cloth should reveal it.
The most hideous possibility had already occurred to Valdemar, and held him back.
Most to be feared was the absence of any white symbol at all--that would mean fate had put into his hands Soulcutter, the Tyrant's Blade. The young giant's eyes closed briefly. His strong, almost-handsome face was troubled. Awkwardly he uttered words aloud: "Ardneh, let it not be that one. I do not want the responsibility of trying to hide that demon's blade. Or of trying to destroy it. Valdemar's prayer stumbled to a halt, as he realized that for him the second most fearful of the Blades would probably not, after all, be that called the Mindsword.
Given that one, he could simply refrain from drawing it; for him, he thought, the power to bend others to his will would pose no great temptation. Farslayer would be far more likely to be his downfall. There were certain people in the world, oppressors of humanity, for whom--though he had never met them--the youth felt a dislike that threatened always to spill over into personal hatred; and if the life of one of those persons, wherever they might be, should be so helplessly delivered into his hands, Valdemar feared his own latent capacity for violence.
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Yes, it would be better if he got rid of this unknown Sword at once, not tempting himself by looking for the symbol which it must bear upon the hilt. Valdemar's hands quivered but they did not move. Because he might, for all he knew, be holding Woundhealer, the Sword of Mercy. That glorious possibility was enough to eliminate any chance that the mysterious gift was going to be put down into a crevice in the rocks before he had identified it.
After minutes of immobility, the youth with a sudden jerk stripped back the gray cloth completely from the black hilt. A small white arrow-symbol, pointing upward to the pommel, leapt into view. Neither the best nor the worst of possibilities had been realized. The weapon in Valdemar's hands was Wayfinder. The Sword of Wisdom, it was also called--Ardneh grant it bring him that! Valdemar breathed somewhat more easily.
Toward Wayfinder he felt timidity and awe, but no overwhelming fear. Gently he peeled away the remaining wrappings, exposing a plain leather sheath. Without pausing for further thought, he clasped the hilt and drew forth a Sword's full meter of incomparable double-edged blade. The faint light of fading day and dying fire gleamed softly on steel smoother and sharper than any human armorer had ever crafted, at least since the lost civilization of the Old World. Beneath the surface of the metal a lovely mottled pattern was perceptible.
Valdemar ran a tremulous finger along the flat side of the tremendous blade. No, despite his youth, he was no stranger to the touch of magic. But he had never in his life felt anything the like of this. A happy thought struck suddenly. Some of the new strain and worry vanished from his youthful face. Guide me, therefore--guide me to the person--to her--to the woman I have--I have almost despaired of ever finding. The one who is most fit, most suitable, to share my life. Though he was utterly alone, the young man could feel his cheeks warming. Frowning suddenly, he quickly amended: "Let all be done in accordance with the will of Ardneh.
Having concluded this awkward speech, Valdemar arose, gripping the black hilt firmly in both of his great hands, fingers overlapping. Tentatively he moved the great blade in a horizontal circle. One direction alone, almost straight east, set the Sword's tip quivering. The youth's nerves thrilled with the surge of magic. He cried out, wordlessly. For just a moment the movement had become so violent that the weapon almost leaped free of his grip. On a warm spring afternoon, seven days after the day when Valdemar had unwrapped the Sword, and more than a hundred kilometers distant from his hut, two pilgrims were making their way across a heavily wooded hillside that formed one flank of a deep ravine.
The first of these gray-clad travelers was a woman, apparently about sixty years of age, but still vigorous and hearty. There was nothing feeble in the way she moved across the steep slope, among the thickly-spaced, narrow trunks. Her silver hair was long, but bound up closely. The strains of a long life showed in the woman's face, but no burden that seemed too much for her present determination. Like many other female pilgrims or other travelers, she wore boots, trousers and a loose jacket, and was armed for self-defense with a short ordinary sword.
The crowded treetrunks made it all but impossible for two to travel side by side.