Sorry, guys. I just couldn’t leave it alone. I had to give you something. I was compelled to. So here is a thing.
A Blacksmith’s Adventures with Weapons of Legend: Azure Lilly, Sword of the River Tears, Pt. 1
“So,” Catalina began, breaking the awkward silence, “your family’s been blacksmiths for generations now, yeah? Have any of them ever produced a legendary weapon?”
“Yeah, we’ve been smiths since the Ekoalem first settled into Sorowa’s Cradle, and even before that,” Tom answered. “We earned the name ‘Riversedge’ centuries ago. But as far as legendary weapons go? Not that I know of. I mean, not any that the kingdom has any legends about. We’ve produced some impressive blades in our time, but few of them have even earned a name.”
“Really? Nothing? I guess that’s to be expected, but, I don’t know, you’re really good with your hands-uh, I mean, you know your way around a hammer-and by your own admission you’re not a great blacksmith. I guess it’s just surprising that that kind of legacy hasn’t produced something.”
“Uh, heh, yeah,” Tom muttered, a little red in the face. “There are a few named blades we did make. Some of them have small myths associated with them. Let me think, there was the Water Sprite, wielded by a Storm Rider in the Battle of Tears. There was also the Weeping Woman, used by a Man of the River who participated in the War of the South. We made the Crescent Moon, a scimitar carried by a lone adventurer who achieved some fame after he had lost the blade. Umm, what else…Oh! I know! It’s a Sorowa’s Cradle legend, but it’s not really well known outside of the Cradle. The Azure Lilly; it was a blade crafted by my great great great grandfather for a Cradle noble. Old Mason Riversedge was one of the finest smiths of his time, not just in the Cradle but across all of Koeleth. So, when Lord Bernard Bywater sought a smith to forge him a sword, naturally he found Old Mason. Old Mason was a stubborn man and had no fondness for nobles, so he initially refused Lord Bywater’s request. Lord Bywater, however, was persistent. He desperately wanted a blade forged by Mason and he promised a handsome reward. Still, the old man refused. Lord Bywater offered to double and triple his payment, but Old Mason wouldn’t budge. You see, the old man had good reason to distrust nobles. A few decades prior, when he was still a young man, with a home and a beautiful wife and a son he loved, the previous Lord Bywater, a cruel and vicious man, was still alive and wielding a great deal of power over Lilly Pond and the other villages in the region. Lord Bywater came to Lilly Pond one day and sent his soldiers to harass the people of the town. In the panic and chaos, Lord Bywater caught sight of a gorgeous young woman, and in a fit of lustful desire, he captured and raped her.”
“Oh my, that’s awful!”
“Yeah, and it gets worse. After he had done the deed, he executed her right there in the streets. At that time, Mason happened to be searching the streets for his wife, in the hopes of getting her to safety. Now, you can imagine what his reaction was when he saw her corpse, ravaged and bloody, lying lifeless in the streets. He attacked Lord Bywater only to be pushed back by a group of soldiers. He would have been killed, had it not been for Lord Bywater himself, who, in a cruel twist, insisted that Mason be allowed to live, so that he could suffer knowing that he could not save his wife. Several years later, news reached his ears that Lord Bywater had died, pierced through the eye with a spear. Not a single tear was shed by the people of Lilly Pond, and that evening Mason and his son slept like they hadn’t in years. Now, Lord Bywater’s son was coming to him for a blade? Laughable.
“When Bernard asked what price would be fitting, the aging smith merely replied, ‘Can you give me back my wife?’
“Without another word, Lord Bywater left. The next day, he returned.
“‘Please, reconsider. I desperately request your aid,’ the noble begged. ‘It is not for my own sake that I ask this. I will pay whatever price your require, but I must have that blade.’
“Bernard then explained to Old Mason that his daughter, Ruth, had been captured by a swordsman who had a grudge against his father. The swordsman demanded that Bernard face him in a duel, or he would never see his daughter again. If he was victorious, Ruth would go free, but if he failed, his own life was forfeit. ‘I know that I cannot undo what my father has done, but please allow me to offer you something in exchange. If you do this for me, I am prepared to ennoble you and give you my daughter’s hand in marriage.’ Old Mason thought about it for a moment, and then he gave his response.
“‘Keep your wealth and your nobility. Your daughter is no bargaining chip, so I will not take her.’
“Crestfallen, Bernard replied, ‘So you will not do it, then? I feared this. I apologize for wasting your time.’
“But Old Mason held up his hand and declared, ‘You didn’t let me finish. I will do this free of charge, if only you will do one thing for me. This blade will be the finest I ever make. It will be the legacy of my family. Simply return it to me when your business is finished. If you are the honorable man that your father was not, I look forward to your victory. However, if your words are hollow and disingenuous, you go to your doom. Return in eight days, and you shall have your sword.’
“Bernard bowed deeply and, with gratitude in his heart, thanked Old Mason.
“‘You have my word that the sword will be returned to you, and your family will not want so long as I live.’
“With that, Bernard departed. Old Mason, true to his word, crafted the finest sword he had ever made: a brilliant longsword with intricate designs running along the flat of the blade. The luxurious silver handle was embedded with a sapphire of matchless beauty. It was just as sharp and deadly as it was beautiful and elegant. Bernard claimed the sword and with it struck down his foe in battle. Not wanting to prove himself ignoble, Lord Bernard Bywater returned the blade with interest: enough gold to pay for any materials needed to make it. Old Mason, not inclined to material indulgences, used the wealth to aid the people of Lilly Pond. Mason remained friendly with Bernard until his passing, at which point Bernard extended his kindness to Mason’s son. Unfortunately, after Bernard’s passing, the bond ended and the families grew distant. The story of the Azure Lilly, as the blade came to be known, grew into something of a legend, though the name of my family was forgotten. That’s okay. We never wanted fame.”
“Do you still have the Azure Lilly?”
“Heh, no, unfortunately. My grandfather claimed he lost it on a stupid bet, but I think there’s a whole other story there that he’s too embarrassed to tell. Sadly, he passed away before I could pry it from his lips. I hope to get it back someday, and that is part of why we’re headed to this particular destination.”
“Yeah, to Lord Cradleborn himself.”
“What!? B-but that’s crazy! You can’t just approach a lord from your station!”
“Ha! Baldy knows me.”
“Lord Baldemar Cradleborn.”