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Among Graveyards of Swords [Quest]


Artificer

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AMONG GRAVEYARDS OF SWORDS
NORTHEASTERN HIGHLANDS OF THE GREAT DIVIDE, MADAI

CYRUS ALJHIN

The heaviness of the dagger was one that he would never get used to. The sword-like weight in his palm, the strange warmth it suffused, and the sight of gray steel rusted with white bone — nothing about the blade was natural. The words of his mentors echoed in his mind, warning him of the dangers posed by arcane instruments. Magic had no place in Madai, but like all things, it had its purpose.

There, Cyrus stood alone in that graveyard of swords, knife in hand with the wind howling at his back. The lichen-covered remains and corroded armor of warriors long departed peeked slightly above waves of grass. These were once his contemporaries.

His hazel-blue eyes drifted down to the familiar sword buckled to his waist. Purpose. The thought wormed itself back through his head. How often had he contemplated the nature of purpose in life? He thought of Mikhail, his brother, and Vasiliy, his father. He grit his teeth. Afanii…. Why couldn't he just forget? Perhaps in a different life, he would still be flourishing his greatsword and killing for the highest bidder, but now, no more. He had long since resolved to never turn back to that way of life. There was no reason for him to go back. 

His wandering gaze returned to the skeletons in front of him. Thinking of them, he was awash with solemnity veiling pangs of guilt. He knew their hollowed eyes silently judged him. After all, he wasn’t there to mourn ⁠— he was there to scavenge.

Squeezing the hilt tighter, he redirected his attention to the feeling in his hand. He needed to focus. Though he couldn't see it yet, he was familiar with the sensation of entanglement. He could imagine threads of magic — winding and binding itself — weaving and interlacing his fingers with the blade to form something larger than its constituents. Connection — potential — power. His jet fur bristled as a phantom electricity ripped through his skin. Forbidden.

Vision sharpened — the clouds and sky behind becoming a more vivid play of pinks, oranges, and blues as the sun made its final stretch over the horizon. Their light painted the grassy land at the base of the escarpment something brighter than its usual gray-green with shards of weathered silver. It was an hour as beautiful as it was fleeting.

Faint silhouettes of scattered lines and hanging strings of light soon came into view, becoming more legible and tangible as the dagger’s power channeled itself through him. The magic which saturated his view looked like the fine, flowing silk of spiders in the wind. Parallels and crossings — tangles and whorls — this was the tapestry of the world: Vanakara.

The weapons in front of him would soon betray their true nature.

When all had settled, the wolf-faced man began his robbery of the dead.

 
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