The next morning came and went the same as yesterday. Dull and gray with a constant drizzle punctuated by achingly intense boredom. In the warmer part of the cold day, I took Silah aside.
"We should practice," feeling awkward with the phrasing.
She raised an eyebrow, then gave a wicked look.
"Oh yeah?" She purred.
I blushed uncontrollably—likely turning an awkward mottled red-green, I was sure.
"I have no idea how we will work together in a fight." I stammered, breaking eye contact.
"I knew exactly what you meant." She smiled and stood, "Where to?"
Silah extended her hand, leaving it hanging in the air. I stood and took her hand leading her out back, opening the door for her.
We stepped out into the overcast. The rain had turned to a dense mist. It was better than the constant drizzle, but only slightly. I looked around the delivery path and small outbuilding. We were alone. I hadn't revealed her true nature to anyone outside of our small group. It would happen eventually, I was sure, but I felt that I would meet challengers with her revealed nature. Even with a short portion of a tour under my belt, I felt completely unprepared what would happen next when that did happen.
"So, how do we do this?"
I still hadn't held her as a weapon since we initially bonded. The whole idea of her magical nature was unnerving to me. Perhaps, it was what I didn't want to acknowledge? I let her wander around and engage at will, seeing her human nature, but always knowing she was much more than that.
"Let's start with the basics. Grab my arm and think of me as a weapon."
She stood still, looking me in the eye as I reached and held her arm. It was what I had done in the Poulterhaud mine. With the thought, she seemed to melt in a flash forming into the glittering greatsword. It took literally no time for the transition, yet watching her transition was unsettling.
Her satisfied sigh echoed in my head. She felt so … different. I recognized the feeling from earlier. Sig was right about her. She seemed to settle easily into either form. I shouldn't feel I was doing her a disservice.
"So, you understand?" she echoed. I could feel her gently nudging up against my thoughts pressing her influence in, like she was looking over my shoulder as I held her in my hands. She was a warm presence, but I could feel that she could exert her influence quite readily. This was going to be interesting.
I think I do. I thought. It's going to take some getting used to.
"It'll be second nature soon enough." She settled into my thoughts easily, "Now, bring me back."
I turned the blade toward the ground and thought of her returning to her human self. It took a moment longer, a couple of seconds as her womanly frame formed out of the blade, the etched scrollwork formed into tattoos and elongated with the length of her body, her purple dress was in place, but there was a moment where her form shown every line and every curve as it truly was.
I let go as she stood. Rubbing my sweating hands on my undershirt. I don't think I was going to get used to this very quickly, for a variety of reasons. I breathed deeply.
"You don't have to point me toward the ground. I know where the ground is."
"Like a … cat?" I mused, "You don't want me to drop you, do you?"
"Yes, it takes me little longer, but I can still land on my feet," she seemed a little exasperated, "Just trust me. I may seem delicate, but I'm pretty resilient."
"Let's try this," she moved a few paces away, "I'll run to you. Grab my hand and think of me as a sword and use my momentum for your backswing."
I nodded appreciatively and readied myself. She sped toward me and I reached for her hand, the transition was instantaneous, and I continued the motion smoothly into an upward strike. I was shocked at how smooth each stroke felt. I could feel her smiling as I practiced a few improvised forms.
I hadn't used a greatsword before. Yes, I've used my hand-and-a-half with great effectiveness. But this was different. I was used to working in tandem with a shield with a series of other soldiers. Tactics were very different in a battle. I'd be the only one on the frontline now and I felt unprepared.
"You've got a lot of doubts running around in here." She said, concerned.
Experience will fix that. This is a far less restrained approach to what I'm used to.
I continued my thought, So, could you adjust the balance between the blade and pommel? A little more weight toward the blade, perhaps?
"You chose me to be this way!" She echoed, incredulous, "Am I not to your liking?"
I felt her glowing warmth turn more fiery and press in causing my head to ache. Her anger was palpable and … painful.
I'm just exploring how this works. I'm used to a little more weight in the blade, is all.
"Weight in the blade? Wait. Are you comparing me to your old war sword?" There was a shimmering sensation as she outright laughed, "I should be offended, but you really have no idea what quality is."
I suppose I don't. You do feel wonderful. By far the best blade I've ever handled, even if that isn't saying much.
"It isn't saying much, but thank you."
The familiar warm feeling returned as well as that familiar warm embrace that I had experienced just days ago. I closed my eyes, enjoying the closeness.
I have a lot to learn.
"It's good to hear you say that. I don't think I've ever heard any of my previous owners even hint at being teachable."
You don't recall a lot about them.
"I suppose I don't." She mused absently.
I'd thought about it before, but this reminded me. I was another blip in her timeline that would slowly fade. I pushed the thought aside. Knowing it was something I'd have confront later, alone. I had never given much to the thought of surviving long enough to grow old, but now I wanted to. Unfortunately, being old or being dead; either was incompatible with Silah's purpose. Either way, it pained me to think I'd eventually be among her forgotten.
I became aware of her tracing up and down my arms gently.
"We have time, yet," She whispered closely, "I wouldn't worry yourself with such things."
"It's this damn weather," I said out loud, shaking off the gloom, "We need to get out of here. Where is Floki anyway?"
I felt Silah shrug and I smiled. Such a strange sensation, yet it felt perfectly natural. I swung the blade a few more times. There were a few things I knew about wielding a greatsword, but it still felt out of place to completely abandon defense.
"I wonder if the others would want to go and check in on him? Perhaps he's in trouble?" I mused, "It'd get us out of here. Plus, there are Orcs out there. There's bound to be something to fight."
A feeling coursed through the blade that could only be considered glee.
"I bet Bramm would do it!" She chimed in.
"Bromm. Yes, Bromm would go for it."
"And Dan! And Ziggy."
"Danin? Yes. Ziggy? Wait, are you serious?"
"What?" I swear I could see her, hands on hips, looking up at me stretching to her full height, challenging me.
"You haven't gotten a single one of their names right." I said through a smirk.
"What do you mean?" She pinched her eyebrows.
"Exactly what I said, not-a-one." I emphasized.
"I'm sure I said them right!" She was vehement.
"Oh yeah? What's my name?" I tossed it out there, bracing for the worst.
"Hacker?" She ventured a guess.
"Hah! You're likely going to offend someone."
It did hurt a little, yet I couldn't help but grin at this newly discovered artifact. Perfection had a price, afterall.
"What's in a name, anyway?"
"Well," I mock pondered, "A lot?"
"Maybe you could invite Brimm's, er, Bromm's mom, too? She looks feisty."
I nearly doubled over laughing, nearly losing grip mid-swing.
Never, ever say that to Robyn. She would hate you endlessly if she knew you'd said that.
"She's beautiful for a mom. I'm not sure why she would take offense?" She seemed confused.
She's not his mom, for one, and I'm not exactly sure that you two would get along. She's … unpredictable. I thought these words, making sure they would never touch the air. Hell, I have no idea what I'd do if you two got together.
"A challenge, then." She conspired quietly.
"Oh hell. Really? You're going to do this to me?" I bowed and shook my head.
I held out the sword and thought of her in human form, being a little less cautious, I let go before she finished, and she landed on her feet perfectly.
"Absolutely," She got on her tip toes and pulled my head down to give me a peck on the cheek, "Someone's got to. Why don't you ask your friends about finding … that other guy. The one near the Orcs?"
"Sure." I opened the back door to The Sea Witch and held the door for her. She pulled her lips into a subtle smile and bowed slightly as she passed.
Once inside, she moved right to the stool next to Robyn and I rubbed my forehead, feeling a headache coming on.
Sig and Danin were there. Bromm seemed to have been sent off to run an errand. The Sea Witch was starting to fill up for the evening. It had been at reasonable pace since the rains started. Fishermen hadn't gone out because of the chop, they had said. The town had largely shut down during this weather, so there was a constant crowd at The Sea Witch. And, as evening approached, many more showed up to unwind. Many of these faces were becoming familiar even if they had kept their distance from the beefy half-Orc who's smile looked like a toothy threat.
"We need to get out of here." I said to Sig and Danin as I sat heavily on a stool which groaned in protest, "Another day indoors and I might lose my mind."
The others nodded in agreement. Sig had put away the books, apparently whatever his grandfather had given him was complete. Something I hadn't really noticed before, a scorpion clung to his shoulder. He seemed to be aware of it or I'd have done something untoward.
"You've got a little something..." I looked at Sig and, a bit too emphatically, pointed at his shoulder.
"My little friend?" He smiled secretively.
"A pet scorpion?" A scrunched my face thinking of a million other pets I'd rather have, "Well, that's nice."
I let a few moments pass.
"We should go find Floki." I said, trying hard to smoothly introduce the idea.
From the sidelong look Sig gave me, it had failed.
"He said he'd meet us here tomorrow morning," he said plainly.
"But what if he's in trouble?" I pressed.
"I guess we'll find out tomorrow morning?" He pushed it aside artfully.
"In fact, I have some business at the city offices."
Sig pushed himself from the stool and I watched the scorpion secret itself in an inner pocket in his cloak.
"Danin? Would you like to join me?"
Danin obliged and stood creakily from the table.
Sig turned to me.
"We shouldn't be long," he looked around The Sea Witch, "Not like there's anything to do anyway."
I shrugged. They turned and walked out the door and I sat down at the bar again. I heard a fuss across the room. I turned and saw Robyn and Silah roaring with laughter. Heads back, slapping the table. I leaned against the bar, rubbing my forehead again. I could just imagine how much pain this was going to cause me.
"Barkeep? I think I'm going to need a couple and then a couple more."
I was going to have to eventually pay Bromm back; and Danin. I just didn't know how or when.
(Get the know Akeron.)