“We're here to choose a weapon for Lord Thomas,” she told him.
“Yes, my Lady, my Lord,” the guard at the table responded, jumping to his feet and giving a short bow.
The guard in front of the doors gave a respectful nod and stepped to the side. Aeden pulled the right-hand door of the room open. She motioned for Thomas to enter first and stepped in behind him. Pulling the door closed, she called mage light to her hand and flicked her wrist, setting it to float above them.
“Try to do the same, Lord Thomas.” She gestured at her light. “It's good practice.”
Thomas glanced at her, then held out his hand, centered his ki and concentrated his will on creating light. Magelight danced above his fingertips. He moved his hand upward as if tossing a ball and the light soared to the ceiling.
Lady Aeden laughed. “Not quite so vigorously, Lord Thomas. Gently.”
He covered his laugh with a cough. He had actually done it right this time.
Lady Aeden crossed her arms over her chest and turned toward the rows and racks of weapons. The smile left her face, and her lips thinned.
Thomas glanced at her then turned to really look at the room and its contents for the first time.
Narrow slit windows at the top of the armory walls allowed dim, dust-filtered light to relieve the gloom. A long wooden table, badly scarred with nicks, scrapes and cuts, but well cleaned, took up the center of the space. The smell of metal, polish and oil permeated the space. The faint coppery hint of old blood underlay it all. The walls were lined with racks holding swords, maces, claymores, falchions, battle axes, and every other weapon of war. Spears, halberds, swordstaffs and poleaxe weapons stood between pegs on floor racks standing along the back wall. The uneven floor of flagstone and walls made of huge stone block radiated the chill of death.
“All of the Arach weapons - won, bought, found, and passed down for generations - are kept here,” she said. “Many have come from battle. Some have spells of health or healing, battle frenzy or strategy laid on them. Some are more powerful than that. It is your time to choose.” Her last words echoed around the room, gradually fading away.
“How do I choose, Lady?” he asked. He very much feared he would make a mistake.
“Use your eyes and listen to your gut. Feel.” she answered.
Thomas’s gaze roamed along the walls, thinking about all of the lives that these weapons had taken over the years, the centuries. He pressed his own lips together in a thin line. As he waited, he began to quiver inside as the weight of time and agony and death wove their menace into his awareness.
He shook his head, trying to dispel his disquiet. He centered himself again and stood quietly.
Slowly, slowly, he recognized a pull toward the left side of the room. He moved toward the attraction with hesitant steps. He raised his arm and allowed his fingers to lightly touch each of the weapons as he moved carefully along the wall. Sword after sword passed under his fingertips.
He’d almost reached the end of the room when he felt heat on his fingers. His mouth went dry and his stomach clenched with excitement and dread. His hand moved without his thinking to grasp the hilt of a sword at least eight hand spans long - longer and heavier than any he had ever used. The blade rested on a rack above its scabbard.
Carefully he lifted it from its place among these weapons of war.
A graceful extension of the guard curved from the left quillon to a Dragon’s eye stone mounted in the Dragon claw pommel. The grip was wrapped in finest deep brown deer hide. Steel gleamed in magelight. For a moment he thought he saw runes light along the fuller in that gleam. A shiver ran up his arm. Certainty filled his mind and heart. This is mine! He grinned fiercely and thrust the sword to full extension. Its balance was perfect. Recovering, he turned toward Lady Aeden, the sword raised in front of his face in salute.
A deep thrumming sound filled the room. What is that? He grasped the sword tighter as he looked wildly at the windows and then the corners, trying to locate the source. It emanated from the stones themselves. His body vibrated with its resonance.
Lady Aeden hummed deep in her throat, echoing the sound that filled the room. Magelight flashed a deeper blue from her eyes. “That is a powerful choice, my lord.” She smiled and nodded congratulations. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind. The noise was almost frightening in its intensity.
What is that sound? Why is it happening now? Is this sword something special? Thomas glanced again at the blade and saw the runes glimmering along its length.
He felt as if a missing piece of him-self had returned. He knew he was complete as he looked back at Aeden, grinned and nodded to her. He took the scabbard down from its rack and sheathed the sword. He removed his belt and threaded the scabbard onto it. As he belted it on, the volume of the thrumming increased. He shook his head again as he and Lady Aeden moved to the doors of the armory.
The thrumming faded slowly away as Thomas, with his new sword, walked out the door.
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