The Right Weapon—Bilgewater


from The Right Weapon


The Keeper led Mauro out of the Freljord cold-vault, and shut the door tight behind them. He went over to a shelf.

Mauro held up his hands. “First, please tell me this one isn’t going to finish me off.”

The Keeper paused, and looked back at Mauro, unamused. “Depends on how you use it. Like I said. You’re looking for a weapon. And not to hang up on your wall as an art piece. So you’d better show these some respect.”

He turned and presented Mauro with a sturdy cutlass. The blade was storm-gray steel, etched with dark blue flames, or possibly waves, rolling up from the hilt.

Mauro hefted it.

The Keeper began to describe it. “Nice handguard. Very practical. Made for chopping, not slashing. It’s a close-quarters weapon. You can take this below decks just fine. You can fight someone inside a broom closet and still snap it with enough weight to take off an arm. It’s single-edged, too. You can brace it with your off-hand, and use it at even closer range if you have to. It’s solid enough to block a much bigger sword’s swing full-on, without any fancy slipping or deflecting.”

Mauro gave it a few twirls. It was a weapon that craved freedom and adventure. A life on the sea, going wheresoever the wind could be made to take him.

And here he was, a Summoner of the League, twirling a pirate’s blade around. He felt quite foolish. And no matter how solid his grip was, the sword always seemed to want to reach a bit further than he could swing it. This wasn’t a weapon for a posh diplomat-scholar to carry around for self-defense against ruffians. This was a weapon for ruffians, and adventurers. Mauro loved the fine points of elegant swordsmanship; this weapon disdained such things, and yearned to bash its way through graceful slashes and artful parries to chop its foes apart like fish in a dockside butcher shop.

He returned it to the Keeper, just a bit forlorn as he thought about what it might be like to cast off all his obligations and stately ambitions and live a truly free life.

No, he thought, he’d rather accept some restraints and conform to some stilted etiquette from time to time than live in a creaking wood box packed together alongside a bunch of rough brigands who were surrounded by water but hardly ever seemed to bathe in the stuff.

The Keeper put the cutlass back. “Rather like that one myself, I have to say,” he remarked, and then turned to Mauro again.

“I think I’ve got something for you.”

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