In my grandfather’s time, they say there was a sword in the body of a man―no, wait, that’s not right. Was it a man in the body of a sword? Or…. Ah, I remember it now―it was a woman. Yes! A woman’s spirit in the body of a blade, a geas blade grandfather used to call it. What’s that you say, lad? Aw, come on now, I might be well into my cups, but I know this story as well as the back of my hand. There was a woman’s spirit in that sword, yessiree! I’d bet my britches on it.
What was the woman doing in the sword, you ask? Aw, shucks, I dunno, why do people magic anything these days? Here’s how the story goes, and don’t you be interrupting until I’ve finished the telling, all right?
So where was I? Ah, yes. The sword! But I can’t talk about the sword till I talk about Lord Eller. Lord Eller was Old Rathan’s son, and he was as cruel of a lord as you’ve ever seen. He’d gone to wenching when he was barely of age, and not all the lasses was willing, if you catch my meaning. Well. Ain’t nobody can say nothing: Old Rathan’s too old to see what’s going on under his nose, and the good lady of the house―well bless her soul, she’s already done passed on. So Lord Eller is the Lord and that’s that, though the lad is barely seventeen, and has about as much wits as a headless chicken.
One night, the Lord is taking to picking on one of the new maids, a young lass, maybe, oh, twelve or thirteen. Just a baby really―young enough to be my daughter, or your sister! Well. The Lord goes to wenching on her, but this maid was strong spirited, and a quick one, too. Tries to give the Lord the slip, running through the manor all willy-nilly. The poor lass, she’s new to the place and she don’t know where she’s going. She’s sending vases and tapestries to fall as she flies down the halls, takes too many wrong turns, and ends up in the armory.
How’d she get all the way to the armory you say? Aw, I dunno, maybe it was fate―maybe it was dumb luck. Shut up and listen, would ya? It’s a good tale, and I reckon by your wide eyes and the white knuckles around your mug that you be wanting to hear the rest!
So there’s the Lord and the maid in the armory. She’s shaking like autumn leaves, poor little chit. And here’s the Lord, stinking like ale―the brute!―towering over her like an ogre. He makes a grab for ‘er, but he’s not very quick, being drunk and all, and it gives the lass an opening. The lassie isn’t thinking. In desperation, she reaches out and grabs the first thing she finds―yep, you guessed it, lad! She found the geas blade you were asking about.
My Grandfather says the sword took right over in the lass’s hands. It glowed a bright blue, and then, like it had a mind of its own, it swung through the air in a ringing arc and plum removed Lord Eller’s head from his spine―kkkkkrack!―just like that. Can you just imagine it? Oh, to have a sword such as that. I have a few people I’d like to relieve of their swelled heads, if you catch my meaning!
What happened to the maid, you say? Aw, poor lass. Well, what’dya expect, she was hung the next day for killing the Lord. Oi, don’t look at me like that! There wasn’t nothing no one could do about it. It’s a shame, really…should have been the sword that was hung, and not the unwitting lass! But how do you hang a sword? Ah-ha…well… As for the sword, grandfather said the thing was melted down and reforged into a bell for the church. Every time the damn thing chimed, it sounded like a woman weeping.
Eventually, the townsfolk took down the bell ‘cause they couldn’t stand the sound of it―word was it would ring of its own accord. All night long, that bell would go to weeping and wailing, tolling from its perch in the chapel, keeping the poor people awake. Huh? You say the townspeople didn’t deserve to sleep well? Ah, lad, you don’t know what you’re talking. It’s like I said, weren’t nothing no one could do for the lass that was hung―and if you’d have been there at the time, you would have kept your mouth shut too, lest the Lord kill you, or take your own sisters into his service. Then where would you be?
Now hush and let me finish the tale! The townsfolk took down that bewitched bell, and they melted it down again into coins, or wheel spokes, or maybe…. Yes, I think they melted her down into hinges―hinges for doors and such. Yes, I’m sure of it! And every time the doors creaked opened on those hinges, they sounded like the low moan of a mourner. That’s what grandfather said, yessiree.
Aw, I didn’t mean to kill yer buzz there lad, but you said ya wanted to know about the blade, and so I told you. I know it’s a sad story, but don’t blame me if you didn’t like it! Blame grandfather…or blame my cups. Mmmm. Speaking of which, be a good lad and pass the pitcher o’ ale now, would ya? Ah, that’s better, my boy, that’s better. It’s best to forget the things we can’t control, and can’t quite name…
Rachel Rose Teferet graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Fine Arts and a penchant for photoshopping the world with her eyes. Her work has been published by Page & Spine, Slink Chunk Press, From Sac, Necon E-Books, Sierra College Literary Magazine as the winner of the 2016 Flash Fiction Contest, and more. Her play has been performed at Synthetic Unlimited in Nevada City, California. Her website is lettersandfeathers.wordpress.com, and her Twitter handle is @art4earthlings.