This is a more romantic, and less violent, tale of Hymaytience, the legendary sword.
The Fourth Night - The Love of Hymaytience
This bedtime story was created for, and is dedicated to, my girls. My girl elves that is. There are eight of them. I "acquired" them (not that I own them at all!) sometime ago through Craigslist.
You see, one day I started thinking about the possibility of getting myself some story-idea-feeding-elves, as I desperately needed help with my tedious, limp stories. The girls were advertised as such on Craigslist. The guy who was "selling" them had listed them at a ridiculously low cost. This made me suspicious since story-idea-feeding-elves are almost always super pricey...as I'm sure you well know. I asked him straight out, "Is there anything wrong with them?"
He said, "No worries, my elves are awesome at feeding ideas for stories." He explained the only reason he was looking to get rid of them was because he was upgrading to one of those suped-up, Greek muses, which were all the rage back then, as they still are to this day. And no wonder, for not only are Greek muses superlative at inspiring stories, but they're the sexy embodiment of classic, Mediterranean allure to boot. What man (whether he writes or not) in his right mind wouldn't want one? Anyway, his reasoning made perfect sense to me.
So, I bought his girl elves, then he and I both focused our Psycho-Kinetic Energy (PKE), and 'puff', there were the girls, in all their knee high splendor, in my apartment. PKE and the mystical link it creates is, by the way, the best means of transporting elves.
Appearance wise they were exactly what I expected; diminutive, slender, feminine and pretty. They had sharp, little noses and tiny, pointed ears. Behavior wise they were...hmm, how shall I put this? Well, suffice to say I was not prepared for what was to come.
Their first order of business was to ransack my frig. Then they found a couple of bottles of booze I had stashed away and partook of them heartily. They seemed feral and would do this vicious, hissing-snarling thing whenever I got too close to them, which scared the crap out of me. The evening, which was filled with lots of singing and wild dancing (on their part), eventually ended with them discovering, and taking over, my new, queen sized bed. I slept on the couch that night, and have done so every night since their arrival. My back is killing me.
I soon discovered they had no gift whatsoever for feeding stories. I mean obviously they don't judging from the quality of this story so far, right? The guy who sold them to me would not answer my emails. He had also stopped focusing his PKE, so the link between us was broken and I couldn't send them back. Eventually it dawned upon me that the bastard had swindled me.
Yet I had to admit, while they weren't any good at whipping up for me a gripping piece of prose, they soon proved useful in other ways. In no time my apartment was spotless, I'd never eaten better, and I even liked my new frilly, pink, paisley curtains. Oh, did I mention yet that they were witches? Their spell-weaving was a constant source of...sigh...really those bizarre accounts of their magical dabblings are so long and involved, in order to do them justice I think I'll need to tell them another day. Needless to say they've made life very interesting for me, and I've become pretty attached to them. They, in return, have grown to tolerate my presence, in a sort of condescending way.
Now a friend of mine, mblank , has "the boys," who are story-idea-feeding-elves. Now her boys love the crap out of her, and are the real deal as far as whipping up the best stories go. I've borrowed them from M from time to time in the past, and they were the ones who helped me with the all of the Hymaytience stories "I've" previously written.
My girls love and adore M's boys. Nothing is more attractive to a female elf than a potent, male elf who can feed ideas for stories like gangbusters. M and I are often focusing our PKE to hook the boys and girls up, usually at my place for the girls love to host. They've had tons of dances, craft nights, slumber parties, socials, feasts, musical jam sessions and the like. The boys' unveiling of a new story is often cause for a celebratory get together. Regardless of the occasion, the girls always go all out in preparing for a visit from their beloved boys.
Of all of the stories the boys cooked up, their stories of Hymaytience were the ones the girls liked best. Yet, after a while, the girls grew upset by the nature of the stories. The stories were always violent and too many of the characters they had come to love were being killed off. Plus, there weren't nearly enough romantic subplots for their taste. The girls, you see, love a good romantic story.
"Why aren't there any elven characters these stories?" the girls asked the boys. "And how about throwing in a witch or two into the mix?" they added.
The boys did not disappoint them as the boys love my girls in return. They provided the girls (via me - their mere scribe), with a story that has romance, the return of an old, deceased character, elves (well one elf at least), and a serious ratcheting down of the violence. Indeed, no main character dies in this story, not even the evil ones.
And so, without further adieu, here is the story the boys fed for me for the girls. You may not like it but I can tell you one thing, my girls sure did.
Xatriel planned to do something that she had not done for more than seven hundred and fifty three years, she planned to leave her dreary abode. Ironically, the actual preparation for such a momentous occasion took her but a few moments. First, she slung a skin filled with water over her shoulder. Next, she grabbed a backpack and put some food and clothes in that. Lastly, she dug out a small bag from out of her chest and placed that in the backpack as well. She donned the backpack, retrieved her wooden staff, and then simply left her home, only briefly stopping on her doorstep to mumble a spell which sealed her dark home's entrance magically shut.
Hevid was doing what he always did those days (other than eating or sleeping) being laboring at his forge. He stoked the coals of his furnace with mighty pumps from his billows until his bare sinewy arms bulged. His brow glistening, not only from the heat of his forge, but from the effort of it all. His back and arms ached as they did of late, reminding him he wasn't the dwarf he used to be. He gave orders to one of his automated, metal golems to take his place at the billows, allowing him to attend to his smithing upon his anvil. He picked up his hammer and tongs and set to work as he had done for thousands of times and, despite his aches and pains, a smile broke across his face as his latest piece began to take shape to his liking.
"Boom, boom, boom!" came the sound of something massive striking his door, completely breaking his artistic reverie, but Hevid was not worried. He knew nothing could break through his solid metal door, as he had fashioned it himself and then reinforced it with enchantment. It was impregnable.
Nevertheless, with a sigh he put down his hammer and tongs and went to his door. He peered through a clear gem that he had placed in it to get an eye-full the bold being who dared interrupt his work.
On the other side of the door was the biggest, and ugliest, ogre he had ever seen. This was saying something for Hevid had been quite the adventurer back in the day, and he had seen (and slain) some of the biggest and ugliest ogres ever to "grace" his world. This ogre carried a huge, crude, wooden club, which was obviously what it had used to pound upon his door, Hevid concluded.
Hevid snorted in derision at its sight. He contemplated fetching his battle axe and chopping the thing down stroke by stroke. It may actually succeed in dinging my beautiful door with any more persistent pounding, he thought. However he decided otherwise, as killing it would just be a waste of his time - he had more important work to do.
He took one last look at it and was about to turn on his heel and take back to his work when something about the ogre stuck him as out of place. Perhaps it was the way it stood there, not stooped over and menacing, but with one hip out. Or maybe it was the way it looked, dare he think, almost thoughtful? It even could have been do to the fact that it did not drool upon his doorstep. Anyway, whatever the reason, he took a closer look through his clear gemstone. His eye popped open as he now realized his mistake. Twas no massive ogre upon his doorstep he now ascertained. This, ironically, made him wary, for what he perceived, he knew, was more dangerous than an enormous, ten foot ogre could ever have dreamed of being.
Hevid opened the small slot in the door which allowed him to converse with those outside. "Why do you come here in deceitful disguise," he asked.
The orge laughed and bellowed, "Forgive me, Master-Smith Hevid, I forgot the condition I had to assume. My journey was a perilous one and while those who recognized me gave me berth, others who knew me not tried to accost me."
"The ignorance of folk these days knows no bounds. It's criminal. I'm sure you enlightened them in the error of their ways, no doubt?"
"Just for a moment, before they met their abrupt and untimely deaths. But I grew weary of such interactions, so I took the form of an ogre. Forthwith I was left alone."
Hevid's mind worked. He started to shift through the wizards of his time he knew of that were capable of pulling off such a feat of magic. They were very few. Yet looking at the "ogre" he realized something about it, ironically, struck him as feminine. He knew of only one woman who had the arcane might to achieve such a mighty transfiguration.
"You are Xatriel, no?" deduced Hevid.
The ogre smiled broadly and said, "Aye. So refreshing that someone remembers his history. How was it you were able to see through my spell? No others were able. Does this ingenious little, spy stone you view me through see deceptive people for who they truly are?"
"No, it does not. When you work at smithing for most of your life, looking for flaws in all you do, you get a sharp eye for things," said Hevid as he switched from common speak to accented but understandable elvish.
Xatriel smiled at his elvish and she wished she could speak dwarvish to him in return. She responded in her own tongue, "Yes, but you are being modest and that is not the whole story, is it? You have some magic about you too, right Master-Smith?"
"Aye, but it all concerns smithing, and it is not nearly as potent as yours, Xatriel Witch-Queen."
Now Xatriel normally took exception to the title of witch, and a queen she was not, that was her sister Janielle's domain. Yet somehow when Hevid said the "w" word, there was no insult about it. Indeed, he said it with respect, somehow making her feel complimented. And fine, if he wants to think of me as a queen, all the better, she thought.
After a silence Xatriel said, "I have need of your services."
"What do you desire?"
"I would prefer to come inside to discuss this," she responded.
Hevid was quiet for some time then he said, "Show yourself to me."
"Agreed," said Xatriel. Slowly her ogre form fell away and was gradually replaced a striking and voluptuous, dark haired elfin female.
Hevid looked at her for some time. Eventually he said, "Try again."
Xatriel laughed, "You don't like this?" So many males do, you know."
Hevid simply replied, "No, I do not."
Xatriel was impressed. She had come to Hevid as much for his rumored magical abilities, as well as his talent as a smith. So far he had lived up to his reputation. She snapped her fingers and immediately her true self appeared. Her hair was still mostly dark black, but it also now shimmered from the silver hairs mixed within it. Her grey eyes had a hint of crow's feet about them and the corners of her pouty mouth drooped just a bit. Hevid thought her beautiful and his heart quickened. He was alarmed by this. It had been some time since a female had moved him so, although this shouldn't have come as a surprise to him since he was one hundred and seventy four old (or was it seventy five, he couldn't remember) and his taste had always run toward women who were older than him, but still had it. He himself had grow so old he didn't know if such a woman still existed. Apparently, he saw, one did, as Xatriel definitely still had it.
Hevid looked through his gem at her for some time. He was wary and he knew it. If she stayed on the other side of his door he knew he was safe. Yet if he let her in, who knows what might happen to him with this legendary witch-elf who could take so many forms, not to mention kill with ease. He noticed she had dirt smudges on her elfin face and her beautiful hair was tangled. Her cloak was torn in a few places. She leaned for support, just a bit, upon her wooden staff.
Eventually he said, "You look tired, Xatriel."
Xatriel chuckled sheepishly despite herself. Suddenly she had the desire to share her vulnerability with this wise dwarf. She wanted to admit she was exhausted, that her journey had been a long, hard and dangerous one, and that she was not the young maiden she once was. During her traveling she had to tap into her powers more deeply than she had ever had to before. This had taxed her greatly and she rued the new silver hairs that she knew would inevitably appear in the weeks to come for such efforts. She wouldn't be surprised if she went completely grey. Such was the price of magic. But she was not one to wear her heart of her sleeve, to share her weaknesses. Yet looking at Hevid's sparkling eyes through his speak hole, she could not bring herself to lie to him either and so she said, "Again you see all as it truly is, Master Hevid. I am weary and I'm very cold too. Hevid, will you please let me in?" She tried to say all this matter of factly, but as the words came out she knew she had failed in being aloof. She was embarrassed by the note of plaintiveness in her voice.
Her 'please' was what finally got him. So it was with a mixture of reluctant fear and excited interest (aren't all men, even dwarvish "men" optimistic when they meet a woman who floats their boat?) that Hevid the ancient master Mage-Smith opened his door for the legendary and dangerous Elven-Witch, Xatriel. She, in return, thanked him, and came inside. She tried to recover some of her dignity as she did, attempting to appear regally nonchalant as she entered his dwelling. Yet again she knew (and she loathed herself for it) she had failed in this too, for when she stepped inside his safe and warm home, she knew she did so not coolly, but in a rather shy and girlish fashion. She hoped he hadn't noticed.
She need not have worried for Hevid's keen eye suddenly abandoned him. He did not notice her lack of composure in the least. Indeed, as he let her in and then closed his door behind her, he noticed nothing other than the fact that she was extremely beautiful.
The room that Xatriel entered seemed to be both Hevid's living sapce and his workshop. His furnace and forge were in the center of the room, vented by chimneys that rose out of his roof. His anvil, too, lay in the center of his room. Pipes and duct work lined the walls and Xatriel was baffled by these as she had never seen their like before. Tools of every sort lay upon shelves or hung by hooks attached to the walls. Three strange, animated metal golems attended to tasks.
Likewise, Hevid himself hurriedly tidied up one of the many messes about his stereotypically, cluttered, bachelor pad. He told Xatriel that it was the custom of his people that no business could be discussed until after the needs of a guest had been attended to. Xatriel had never heard of such a dwarven custom, indeed dwarves were usually rather contemptuously inhospitable to vagabond travelers, particularly elves. Nevertheless she did not gainsay him. How could she? He looked so pleased to have her as his quest.
He gave orders, not in dwarvish but in some exotic tongue Xatriel didn't recognize, to one of his metal servants. The creature began to draw, through some strange copper tube, hot water into an ornate gold tub in the room's far corner. Hevid was about to order another to prepare some food, but he changed his mind as the simple fare it was capable of making just would not do. He began to prepare the meal himself, doing so on a hot part of his furnace that jutted out for the purpose of searing and frying food.
Before the bath finished filling Hevid disappeared into a side room. He made some rummaging sounds, which were eventually followed by a muffled 'aha.' He came back with two little green vials. Xatriel looked at him questioningly.
"Bath salts and fragrant bath perfume," he said as he poured some of each into the tub's water.
A big, smile broke across her face and she raised an eyebrow at him. "Really?"
Hevid looked sheepish. "A gift from a client," he mumbled in his defense.
Xatriel laughed. As the tub finished filling, a wonderful scent arose from its steam. She realized she was actually going to enjoy this.
Hevid turned the water off and before he could close the curtain to give her privacy, she disrobed. He froze instantly, flabbergasted, his mouth agape. He had forgotten elves had a different standard of modesty (being none!) from...well...from everyone else. Great Moradin, she was beautiful, he thought.
"What is it?" said Xatriel oblivious to what was causing his shock.
"Nothing," said Hevid as he averted his gaze and began to fiddle with something that needed no fiddling at all.
Xatriel shrugged her shoulders and then entered the bubbly water (but not before Hevid snook one last appreciative look). She sighed with pleasure as she sunk beneath the foam, and as Hevid fought back his own urge to pleasurably sigh he silently paid homage to Moradin for the gift of differing customs. Hevid even threw in a muttered prayer of thanks to the elven god Corellon Larethian (or was it goddess?), and he thought it ironic that such an androgynistic deity could be responsible for the creation of such an unambiguously feminine elf, such as Xatriel. Hevid made a mental note for a future project, to immortalize a nude Xatriel in gold statuette from. Normally, such a brief look at the model would not have been sufficient for him to pull this off, however in Xatriel's case this wouldn't pose a problem for him as every bit of her lovely form was firmly ingrained in his mind. Hevid went to pull the curtain hanging by his tub closed.
"Why are you doing that?" asked Xatriel growing more confused by his increasingly perplexing behavior. To her pulling the curtain closed, thus cutting her off from him, actually struck her as rude. Her infamous anger began to flare.
"Umm, well...," Hevid stammered for he didn't know how to try to explain it would be voyeuristically inappropriate of him if he didn't. After a moment he simply went with, "I thought you might enjoy your bath better that way."
"Oh," she said as her eyebrows knitted. His explanation illuminated nothing to her, except to clarify his intent had not been of disrespect, but instead seemed to stem from some misguided attempt at considerateness. Realizing this, her anger mollified. Yet when Hevid again went to pull the curtain closed she said, "But I wouldn't enjoy my bath better that way. So far all of this has been surprisingly more fun than I thought it would be. It's amusing and entertaining to watch you fly around, attending to me like I was the queen you mistakenly take me for, rather than the lowly, hermit witch I actually am. Leave the curtain open...please."
Hevid was uncertain for a moment, then he smiled. "As you wish, oh Queen of Isolation," he said as he comically bowed to her. She played along, waving her hand in a dismissive you-may-carry-on fashion.
Hevid returned to preparing the meal. He was a decent enough cook, but still he worried that the food would not be up to her standards. Xatriel, he noted, seemed to be enjoying her bath well enough and this comforted him. Indeed, so far everything had gone pretty smoothly, he thought. And she had not tried to kill him yet, this was reassuring to him as well.
A new even more pleasant scent soon replaced the aroma of the bath water as Hevid finished the meal. Just when Xatriel was thinking it was a shame she would have to leave the wonderful water, which had completely taken the chill from her bones and was now soothing her aching muscles, to eat, Hevid delighted her yet again. He put the food on a tray and the tray he placed over the tub itself where it snapped into place and allowed her to sup without having to get out.
"I made that tray for just such an occasion, but I never thought I would actually use it. It must be more than thirty years old. This is the first time it's ever been used."
The food smelled delicious, and it tasted even better. Xatriel, who hadn't eaten for days and was ravenously hungry, tried to control herself but couldn't stop from devouring it. Hevid, without comment, took the plate, refilled it and placed it back on the tray, along with a goblet of wine. Xatriel thanked him and began on this too, but this time she was able to so in a more civilized manner.
As she ate and drank she noticed Hevid was...sewing? He had a sewing needle sticking out of his mouth toothpick style and was looking through his sewing kit. Her cloak was upon his lap. From his kit he chose the color thread he thought best matched her cloak's material. He threaded the needle, then began to sew up one of the rents in her cloak.
Xatriel took her first good look at Hevid. He had a sharp, pointed nose very much like many of her people had. His long beard was mostly gray. He was barrel chested and broad shouldered. He had a rugged, masculine look about him which, at the moment, was comically in juxtaposition to the feminine task he engaged in. She almost laughed out loud at him for elves of her clan had a definite division of labor as far as work went, and no male elves she knew ever sewed, few of them cooked for that matter either. Yet, as she watched him, some thing about the act of him sewing struck a cord with her. Her amusement dissipated and Xatriel began to reminisce about Grom.
Grom, her first and only paramour, had died many hundreds of years ago. Indeed, when she met him she was but a maiden of one hundred and seven. She fell deeply in love with him, as did he for she.
Like Hevid with his current sewing, Grom too always engaged in undignified and feminine pursuits, whether it was writing poetry in his unique neat script, or arranging flowers in a vase. To Xatriel, Grom always looked ridiculous when he did so, especially since he, like Hevid, was a buff, physical speciman without pale. She teased him and tried to explain to him that male elves didn't do such womanly things. He, of course, responded that he wasn't an elf. When she asked him if male orcs wrote poetry or arranged flowers or the like, he answered, "No, we don't. Male orcs preoccupy themselves almost entirely with trying to chop people's heads off, and if you look at our attempts at conquest, we honestly aren't very good at that either."
Grom, if you didn't know, was actually only half-orcish, as he had a human mother. He, despite his claims against his kind, was one of the greatest swordsman to ever live and so, quite naturally, was superbly proficient at lopping off people's heads.
Once, when Xatriel tried to dissuade him from such inappropriate, womanly pursuits, he said, "There is nothing more masculine than a man doing what he wants, paying no heed to what his woman or others think. Now, if you'll excuse me, we have a load dirty dishes and tons of soiled laundry that needs washing. Don't wait on me for these 'unmanly' tasks may take me a while, especially since I plan on listening to, as well as sharing, lots of juicy gossip with the girls down by the creek as well."
And so as Xatriel was overcome by memories of Grom, Hevid, looking up from his needle work, was taken aback to see her crying. Luckily for him he managed to display none of his shock and he averted his eyes. He wondered if her sadness was because of something he had done, but he couldn't think of anything he had said or done to provoke such grief. He contemplated the best course of action to take. He immediately discarded asking her what was wrong, she would tell him if she wanted. He stopped sewing and refilled her glass. That was the best he could come with, maybe more wine would do the trick. Yet somehow the act of him refilling her glass only caused her to weep more. Completely at a loss as to how to help, Hevid left her to her tears and started in on fixing the next tear in her cloak.
Perhaps the wine did do the trick for soon enough Xatriel was herself again. She soaked in Hevid's tub for a while longer as he finished repairing her cloak. When he asked her if she wanted more food or wine she said no to the food, but said, "Well, maybe I'll have another glass of wine. Better make that a half-glass though, it's been ages since I had spirits and I don't know if I can handle more than that." Hevid filled her glass up half-way, just as she instructed, and then removed her dirty plate. She finished her wine, then said she was done with her bath. Hevid fetched her a towel.
Again she exited the tub in front of him without shame, and again Hevid became flustered. As she toweled herself off, Hevid scurried to fetch her cloak. He held it out to her, his eyes downward and his arm extended to its full length.
"Thank you for repairing this," she said. She held it up and admired it. "I can't see any of the seems were where you fixed it," she added genuinely impressed. "Yet I can't put this back on now; me being clean and all, while this is so filthy."
Hevid sheepishly began to say that he didn't know if he had anything else that would fit her. Xatriel waved her hand and said, "That won't be necessary. It's quite warm and cozy in here. I am perfectly comfortable right now without need for any attire."
Hevid didn't dare say anything to this and he wondered how in Moradin's Seven Heavens he was going to be able to think straight with her lovely, dark nippled breasts dancing about.
"Are you ready to discuss my business with you?" she asked.
"Yes," said Hevid. And with that Xatriel retrieved the small bag from her backpack
Sometime later Hevid and Xatriel stood at Hevid's table; upon it were pieces of a broken sword. Both were deep in thought.
"So what do you think?" asked Xatriel.
Hevid did not want to disappoint her, but it didn't look good. He collected his thoughts and said, "The problem is that many smiths in the past, far more knowableable and skilled than I, have tried to repair broken magic swords. None succeeded. I myself tried twice. I too failed."
"The swords were never the same. Once resmelted and reforged, they retained none of their memories, none of their powers. Not only that but they completely lost their taste for battle as well. In that regard, they were not even as capable as a simple, regular swords are."
"So, you won't even try?"
Hevid stared at the pieces of the sword upon his table. He knew it is was a lost cause. "Who was this sword?" he asked.
"The sword was Lance. He was a fiery sword, smithed by dark dwarves deep underground eons ago. He was broken seven hundred and fifty three years ago in battle."
Hevid nodded his head, he knew the story of Lance and the circumstances of his demise. "Why are you bringing him to me now? After all these years?"
Xatriel looked uncomfortable and shifted her gaze from the broken pieces of Lance to Hevid, and took measure of him. He was long legged and tall for a dwarf, and she wondered if perhaps he had a little human blood in him. He looked her in the eye and this was a something that Xatriel was not used to from males. Most male elves were taller than her. Male humans towered over her, as Grom did, yet male dwarves, gnomes and halflings never reached her height. Somehow Hevid's height struck a cord with her and comforted her. It subconsciously reinforced to her that she was conferring with an equal, which was another thing she was unused to from males. Most that came to her at her home were intimidated by her power and reputation and so dealt with her in a subservient manner. Occasionally, a chauvinistic male, who was not used to dealing with a women of authority and felt the need to put Xatriel in her place, would be arrogant or rude to her. Needless to say, Xatriel set them straight (usually in a very painful and sometimes permanently maiming way) that such behavior would not be tolerated in her home.
Hevid, on the other hand, seemed neither fearful or disdainful of Xatriel. He was, indeed, treating her very nicely with his warm hospitality. Xatriel had heard he was the best and everything she had seen confirmed this, and so, for the first time since Grom died, Xatriel felt like she was trouble shooting a problem not by herself, but with a cooperative, capable colleague. She decided to confide in him.
"Some weeks ago I had a dream. I would'nt call it a prophesy since I've never had any ability in that field, but something akin to a vision I suppose. It came to me in the form of a poem."
"Do you remember it?" asked Hevid.
"Aye, I do. For I have had the same poetic vision every night since then."
"Could I hear it, please?"
Xatriel repeated it for him;
"Lance, sword of fire, who was asunder torn,
shall be resurrected, renewed and reborn.
Joined together with an old familiar soul,
the two becoming even closer than before.
Together their feats will go down in lore,
surpassing even their legend of yore."
Hevid retrieved a quill and parchment. He asked Xatriel to repeat the verse, and he wrote it down as she spoke it. "That is why you are here. You wish me to remake Lance."
Xatriel said, "That was my hope. I have to admit, there is something that happens to me when I hear the poem. I feel compelled to try and fulfill it, as if it is a matter of great import to do this. A dreadful feeling comes over me when I think it may not come to pass, as if Lance is needed for an important task to come, or many great tasks to come."
Hevid took in her words and he looked at the parchment. He also looked at Lance, laying in so many pieces upon his table. "Assuming I could remake Lance, whom do you think Lance is supposed to be reunited with?"
"That I'm not certain of. Obviously, it would'nt be Grom, although he was Lance's favorite by far, but Grom has been dead for centuries. Any of the black dwarves who wielded him are long gone too, and even if they weren't I doubt Lance would serve them, as he despised and loathed them all. No offense meant to you, Hevid" ended Xatriel.
Hevid took no offense, and he only nodded in agreement. He recalled the stories of Lance he had heard as a young dwarf. Of how Lance was forged by the black dwarves, deep underground, and how he eventually found his way above ground. The only wielder he was known to have in the above ground world was Grom, and together they made up one of the most fighting formidable "teams" ever. The only pair that could have rivaled them were the paladin Gwynisson and his intelligent, singing sword Hymaytience, but they never came to blows. In fact, the four of them become companions and their adventures became the stuff of legends. The bards still sung of their incredible exploits to this day.
In time, Xatriel and her sister Janielle became the lovers of Grom and Gwynisson, and all six traveled together for some time. Eventually, Lance and Grom lost their lives in battle trying to keep Gwynisson and Hymaytience from death, although Gwynisson soon died from his wounds and they only succeeded in saving Hymaytience in the end. Hevid grew thoughtful.
"After Gwynnison's death your sister, Janielle, carried Hymaytience for many years. She was a sword maiden and she knew Lance too, no?" said Hevid.
Xatriel saw where he was going with this and said, "True, yet she is a sword maiden no longer, but a queen. I thought of her too, and while she was friendly with Lance, somehow I don't think the poem refers to her."
"Maybe, the poem refers to you?" asked Hevid.
Xatriel shook her head and said, "I was very fond Lance, but I know the poem isn't referring to me."
Hevid was at a loss as to who the poem could be referring to. Only an elf or a dragon would have lived long enough to have known Lance and still be alive, and since Janielle and Xatriel were the only elves he ever really knew well, the poem's reference to Lance's joining 'together with old familiar soul' part was stumping him.
Xatriel yawned and Hevid was reminded as to his duty as host. He offered Xatriel his bed...to herself. She refused at first, but Hevid was adamant that she take it.
He showed her into his bedroom and Xatriel was asleep within seconds of laying down upon his bed.
Hevid chuckled, drunk her in for a moment, then closed the door. He retrieved a straw mattress and some furs from a closet and brought them to his workshop. He didn't bother lying down for he knew he would not be able to sleep for some time. He thought of the poem and the problem of Lance.
He retrieved a large, dusty tome from off of one of his shelves. He flipped trough it until he found a sketch of Lance, flaming brightly as he always did in battle. Hevid looked at it for sometime, but nothing came to him.
He flipped to another page where there was a drawing of Hymaytience. It was very detailed. It had her length, weight (she was a big sword, he noted) and even depicted her black writing and rune work upon her blade. The writing meant nothing to him, indeed he knew that no one alive knew the meaning of her ancient inscriptions.
Again he recalled how Lance had given his life to save Hymaytience. The stories and songs of Hymaytience and Lance always mentioned that no two magic swords were ever closer than they were. Hmm, thought Hevid, he retrieved the poem from his table.
The line from the poem, "Joined together with an old familiar soul," stuck Hevid. Hevid remembered that Lance had admired Hymaytience from the moment he first heard her singing, and it was said Hymaytience never bonded with a sword like she had with Lance (indeed Hymaytience had never bonded with another sword at all). Hmm, thought Hevid, those two were old familiar souls. Perhaps it was Hymaytience, and not a wielder, that Lance was supposed to be reunited with.
Yet Hevid knew Lance would never be the sword he once was. Hevid felt like he was missing something. He read the poem again, this time he was struck by the line, "the two becoming even closer than before."
Hevid looked back at the sketch of Hymaytience. Once more he read the line, "the two becoming even closer than before." He slapped his forehead, what a dunce he'd been. A big, silly grin crossed his face.
Hevid had it. He knew what to do.
The next morning Hevid told Xatriel about his plans to remake Lance. Xatriel thoroughly approved of his plan. Cringing a little, Hevid told her that it would take him about two weeks to complete Lance. To this Xatriel simply nodded her head. He said she was welcome to stay with him while he worked. Xatriel thought about this for a moment and then nodded her head again. Hevid couldn't surpress a smile at her agreement to stay while he worked.
"I wish to have your help on this project too, since your powers of enchantment outstrip mine by far," he added.
Again Xatriel nodded her head and then it was her turn to fail to suppress a smile.
For the next two weeks Hevid worked on Lance. Xatriel helped with the enchantment aspects of Lance, but really this only took up a fraction of her time. At first she seemed uncomfortable staying at Hevid's place, but after a couple of days she seemed to settle in nicely. She enjoyed his tub and her soaks in it became daily. She enjoyed his cooking, but he seemed so busy that soon she took to cooking their meals herself. She delved into his library. She cleaned. She even experimented with his sundry tools.
After a time she began to become more talkative. Often as she was puttering around, she would chatter away. Sometimes her words were absentmindedly directed to Hevid, but she seemed as if she didn't need or expect any attentive answer from him. She was also fond of talking to, and cooing at, his unaffected, metal servants (whom she inexplicably named Binky, Ezra and Fuzzy Eddy) and they, to Hevid's utter amazement, started to whir or purr in response to her!? Yet at other times her prattle seemed to be directed to herself more than anyone else. Regardless to whom she was addressing, Hevid listened to her every word. He found it amusingly charming.
At her request Hevid began to teach her dwarvish. Soon enough she was babbling away in his language too.
Every night she slept in his bedroom and every night he slept in his workshop.
And before Hevid knew it, he was done with the physical aspects of remaking Lance. All that remained were the last finishing enchantments. He and Xatriel preformed these late one night. It took them hours and by the time they were done both were exhausted, but excited too.
Then Lance spoke. He spoke for the first time in centuries. He said, "Where am I? It's dark. I can't see. I'm scared."
Hevid and Xatriel held their breath and looked at each other. Xatriel said, "You're not in danger. You're in the workshop of the great smith Hevid."
"Who are you?" asked Lance.
"It's me, Xatriel. Do you not remember me?"
Lance was quiet for some time, then he said, "No, I don't. I don't remember anything. I don't even remember who I am."
And with that Lance began to weep.
Lance fell silent afterword. Xatriel and Hevid could not figure out if he was refusing to talk, or if he was incapable of speech. Xatriel thought that all of their efforts had been for naught. Hevid had confidence in her vision and he thought Lance would speak again, in time.
But for two days Lance uttered not a word. Xatriel and Hevid tried everything they could think of to get him to speak, including another half night of further enchantments. Everything they tried failed.
Both were at a loss as to what to do. Hevid believed there was something they were missing, but he couldn't figure out the answer to this new puzzle.
As he thought about the dilemma of Lance, Hevid noticed Xatriel in her distress had stopped her out loud prattling. His workshop became quiet again and he realized he missed her entertaining monologues. He missed the Xatriel he had come to know. He mused about the special bond that a male can have for a female, even if they aren't necessarily knocking boots together.
Then a big, silly grin crossed Hevid's face and he slapped his forehead at his own stupidity. He knew what they had to do.
The next morning Xatriel stuffed her backpack with her clothing and some food Hevid said she could have for her journey. As she was packing she noticed Hevid was doing likewise. She stared at him and her anger flared at his presumption. "Where in the Holy Glades of Arborea do you think you're going?" she asked.
Hevid was fearful for he knew Xatriel didn't want him to come with her, but he put on a brave face as he said, "I want to come too. Resmithing Lance was as much my work as yours. I want to see how this turns out. I think I deserve as much." This was indeed true, but he also wanted to escort Xatriel safety to their destination...not that he was foolish enough to actually say this to her, as he knew she thought she needed no escorting at all.
Needless to say Hevid was very smitten by Xatriel at this point, and that factored greatly into his desire to go too.
Xatriel, on the other hand, was not very smitten by Hevid at this point. She fumed as she watched him continue to pack.
Hevid, doing his utmost to casually avoid her glaring, girded a belt around his waist to which a hand axe and short sword were attached. To his massive backpack he strapped a heavy crossbow and three quivers of bolts. He pulled up his trouser leg and strapped a knife to his calf, before replacing his pant leg down over it.
Despite her anger Xatriel could not help but laugh. "Is that it?" she asked.
"Oh Moradin, no," said Hevid motioning to a double-bladed, battle axe in the corner. "I'll be carrying that too," He lifted the massive backpack with ease, donned it, and tested its weight.
Xatriel heard the leather straps of his backpack creek in protest to the load it held. "Is that heavy?" she asked in astonishment
Hevid thought about it and said, "No, not really. Dwarven Infantry regularly carry the like."
Xatriel lifted her own backpack (which was tiny by comparison to his) and it felt like it weighed a ton. "Grummish be damned. What is your food made up of, gold bricks?"
"You won't need it. I have enough food for both of us for two weeks," Hevid said. Nevertheless, he took her pack from off of her back. "But I can carry this too, if you want," he added and hung it from a hook from his pack.
He retrieved his battle axe from the corner of his workshop. He fetched her wooden staff and handed it to her. "Ready?" he asked her.
Xatriel looked at him for a moment. His unadorned, round, iron helmet (that all but covered his eyes) was secured by two leather ear straps which were long enough to be tied under his chin. He looked very much like a huge turtle, bearing a ridiculously oversized shell (albiet a huge turtle who was armed to the teeth). She couldn't help but think he looked funny and adorable and her anger melted. Then suddenly she was struck by the surprising realization she would indeed be relieved that the burdens of the trip, both figurative and literal, would be shared by him if he came too. Nevertheless, Xatriel hoped she sounded exasperatedly, disgusted when she answered (after some feigned, melodramatic deliberation), "Oh, all right, you may come along if you feel you must." Yet secretly she was happy he was coming along. She hoped it didn't show.
Hevid smiled broadly at her acquiescence, and Xatriel, despite her best efforts, couldn't help but smile back, which, of course, just made her angry again.
King Bjarnid of the Northmen sat upon his throne and was grateful the sword he wore at his hip, Hymaytience, was asleep, for it afforded him a rare break from her constant complaining. Hymaytience had been "his sword" for many years now and she thought him crude and barbaric. She did not like being his sword at all, and told him so every chance she got, which was pretty much anytime she wasn't aslumber.
Xatriel and Hevid, looking as small as children as they were escorted by two of his formidable guards, were ushered before him. King Bjarnid, they saw, was a fierce, giant-of-a-man with an untrimmed, red beard, and the furs he wore only made him seem more massive. He looked bored. Hevid bowed politely before him. Xatriel did not.
"Bow before King Bjarnid, elf wench," said the captain of the guard standing just to the king's right.
"It's OK, I don't honor any kings, so he shouldn't take it personally" said Xatriel.
The captain strode down from the dais and raised his hand to strike her a blow, but Hevid stepped between them. The captain instead let his blow fly at him, but Hevid caught his wrist and twisted it back until the surprised captain was upon his knees. The other guards went for their swords but faster than they could draw them, Hevid surprised them too when he retrieved his concealed knife and held it to the captain's throat. Xatriel smiled for this was the umpteenth time in their trip that Hevid had come in so very handy.
"Halt!" King Bjarnid commanded to his captain, the guards and to Hevid. "Sneaking a weapon past my guards is a dangerous thing to do in my hall, dwarf."
"If you think I'm dangerous, wait to you she her in action," said Hevid with a sideways tip of his head toward Xatriel.
Xatriel curtsied at Hevid's compliment and her smile grew bigger.
"See, Torin?" said King Bjarnid to his captain. "I got my bow, of sorts. Release my captain of the guard, dwarf, before you break his wrist."
Hevid did so.
"Who are you?" King Bjarnid asked.
"I am Xatriel. This dwarf is Hevid, hero extraordinaire in his youth and currently the greatest smith of our age." With this Hevid bowed again, even deeper, which made the king smile.
"What do you want?" asked King Bjarnid.
"We have business to discuss with you," said Xatriel. "In private."
King Bjarnid raised an eyebrow. "Why does the woman do the talking?" he asked Hevid.
"Because she's in charge," Hevid answered. The king looked at Hevid with disapproval.
"Leave us," King Bjarnid said to his guards.
"But sire...," started Torin as he stood up and rubbed his wrist.
"I do not fear these puny wee-folk. Leave us," repeated King Bjarnid.
The guards departed rapidly, followed by a grumbling Torin.
"Now we are alone, speak your need," said King Bjarnid.
"We wish to talk to Hymaytience," said Xatriel.
"Wake Hymaytience," commanded King Bjarnid. "We have visitors from afar who have come to see you."
Hymaytience yawned sleepily, then started to complain to King Bjarnid about rousing her.
"Hymaytience," interupted Xatriel. "It is I, Xatr..."
With this Hymaytience gave a squeal of glee and cried, "Xatriel! Oh, Xatriel I am so happy to see you! How have you been? It's been ages. Eww, who's your handsome friend? Is he your boyfriend?" Hymaytience continued without pause, "Oh, I hope you've come to take me from this dreary place. I've never had a more surly or inconsiderate wielder in my life, unless you count Slissishich. Yet he was a vile dragon, so I don't know if he really counts. Anyway, do you..."
"Silence, sword-wench!" commanded King Bjarnid.
Hymaytience whispered to Xatriel, "See what I mean?"
Xatriel smiled for she wasn't sure if Hymaytience was going remember her as it had been centuries since they had parted last. She said, "Hymaytience, my friend's name is Hevid. He is a great smith, and he has remade Lance. I have him here, with me. Do you wish to see him?"
Hymaytience was silent for a time. Xatriel and Hevid looked at each other. Finally Hymaytience said as if she couldn't comprehend it, "You've remade Lance?"
"Yes, do you wish to see him?" said Xatriel again.
"Yes, yes, yes! I course I do!" exclaimed Hymaytience
Xatriel took Lance from off of her back. She undid the cloth wrapped around him. Hymaytience viewed Lance for the first time in centuries and she gasped, for he looked nothing like he looked in ages gone by. He was no longer a sword, but a scabbard. Hymaytience, nevertheless, recognized him instantly and her heart leapt for joy.
"Lance, oh Lance. My beloved, Lance. It's me, Hymaytience," she said.
Lance said nothing.
"Lance, oh Lance," cried Hymaytience in anguish. "Why is he ignoring me? Why doesn't he speak to me?" Hymaytience began to weep.
Xatriel's heart broke at Hymaytience's pain and she tried to find the words to answer her but she could not, so Hevid spoke and said, "Lance has not regained his memories yet, or his tongue. We were hoping you could help him with that."
Hymaytience got a hold of herself. "Oh, I see," she said. She was quiet for some time. Then she said, "Would you bring him to me, please?"
Xatriel brought Lance to Hymaytience. Hymaytience saw that Lance now possessed identical black runes, hieroglyphics and the old writing that she bore upon her blade. She gasped. "He's so handsome! You did a masterful job with him Master-Smith Hevid."
Hevid smiled and bowed.
Hymaytience did not speak for a time. She did not cry and did not utter a sound of any kind.
Eventually Xatriel said, "Do you have any idea of how to wake him."
Hymaytience whispered breathlessly, "I think you should place me in him."
"Hold! " cried King Bjarnid. "Hymaytience is not going anywhere, much less in that scabbard," he said to Xatriel. Hevid saw Xatriel's eyes narrow, a sign he learned meant her anger was growing at the King's insolent behavior. Hevid winked at her, quickly stepped forward and told the King why they were there. He told King Bjarnid about Lance, including the prophesy of Lance and Hymaytience.
If any other person other than Hevid had done this to her, Xatriel would have been incensed. Yet over the last month, her confidence in Hevid had grown. He had been instrumental in getting them out of all of the dicey situations they encountered in traveling to King Bjarnid's Hall. He had used silver tongued diplomacy with some, while others, for whom civilized talk was not an option...well, they had gotten a nasty dose of his battle axe. Xatriel, thankfully, had not needed to tap into her draining magic at all. Indeed the journey for her had been, for the most part, a pleasurable and fun one, unlike the arduous, trying trip she had made to Hevid's home alone.
And so Xatriel had learned to afford Hevid some latitude in his decision making, even though she presently thought it naive of Hevid to share with King Bjarnid the purpose of their journey. Nevertheless, if Hevid believed divulging such information would further their cause, then so be it. All of his previous (and seemly dubious) decisions had turned out for the best, and so Xatriel held her tongue, stayed her anger, and let Hevid deal with arrogant, imperious, and sexiest King Bjarnid as he seemed fit.
Meanwhile, as he listened to Hevid, King Bjarnid contemplated the implications of the prophesy. If what this dwarf said was true then he would, within mere moments, be in possession of a most powerful weapon. A weapon more potent than Hymaytience, and she was very mighty on her own. King Bjarnid grew covetous with the thought of it, dreaming of how he could use this new weapon to expand his kingdom into the south. The green, warm southlands where these puny folk and their soft, wealthy brethren dwelt. It would be his.
"Give me the scabbard, elf-bitch, I will place Hymaytience in it myself."
Xatriel, furious, looked to Hevid. He simply nodded and motioned for her to do so. Fighting back her rage, Xatriel handed Lance to King Bjarnid.
Hymaytience started making a strange moaning sound. "Tarry no longer, put me in him," she gasped.
King Bjarnid paused only for a moment to crinkle his nose in disgust at her strange behavior before he placed her within Lance.
As King Bjarnid did so Hymaytience was overcome by the most wonderful sensation. A tingling, delicous, sensual warmth filled her. Lance was all around her and she could feel his magic about her and coursing through her. She tried to fight back her 'oh my' gasps of pleasure, but failed, and soon her excitement was audible to all. Hevid blushed and averted his eyes. Xatriel, on the other hand, smiled wickedly, perhaps a little wantonly, as she thought it was about time Hymaytience got some.
And that is what Hymaytience received, for although she had penetrated Lance, it was he who enveloped her. He was on top of her, and yet behind her at the same time. He was all around her, sending waves of delightful gratification through her so intensely she lost consciousness.
Ignoring her unseemly display, King Bjarnid raised the scabbard Lance and the sword Hymaytience above his head shouting, "Yes, dwarf, now I see that you were right, and if you think you're going to be leaving here with this weapon, you can think again. I can feel the new power, the increased might of this sword! Here let me show you! You and this impertinent, scrawny elf-wench will have the honor of being its first victims!"
King Bjarnid went to draw Hymaytience from Lance, but his face contorted in pain. He wrythed upon his throne, gurgled horribly and frothed at the mouth. Hevid and Xatriel watched in astonishment, each wondering if he was dying. Then King Bjarnid stopped convulsing and simply froze. A quiet fell over the throne room.
Then the silence was broken. "That's enough blustering nonsense out of the mouth of that uncouth despot, for the moment," said Lance.
Xatriel and Hevid looked at each other, too shocked to speak.
Lance had found his voice again. Placing him in Hymaytience had given him his power of speech back. It had another effect upon him too. For the first time, Lance felt stirrings for a female; powerful romantic feelings (remember, he was previously a flaming sword!). He had always been in love with her, but now he was attracted to her the way a man wants a woman he desires. Possessing Hymaytience around him was giving him as much pleasure as it was to her, if not more so.
Hymaytience came to, and just as Xatriel and Hevid were wondering if Lance's memories, like his voice, had been returned to him in this mystical union with Hymaytience, Lance said, "Hymaytience, you look absolutely fantastic and amazing, and you look...and feel...slimmer. Tell me, did you lose weight?"
With this said, Hevid and Xatriel had their answer, and Hymaytience upon hearing these words knew too that Lance, her beloved Lance, had returned. And what he said to her was just so perfect, and so Lance like, Hymaytience felt another wave of pleasure and excitement course through and she wept for joy. Yet she only cried for a bit, for soon she swooned and fainted straight away again.
When Hymaytience came to again she said with girlish admiration in her voice, "Lance, you're so strong. I was never able to take control of King Bjarnid like you did. He was so strong willed, probably do to his incredible stubbornness, no doubt. Gwynisson was the only other wielder I had that I could not control."
Lance replied, "I think we did it together. I think you are somehow lending me, adding to, my strength. I've never felt stronger. It took no effort from me whatsoever."
Indeed, King Bjarnid was still held fast by Lance, frozen in his throne.
"That solves one problem. But how are we going to get out of here?" asked Hevid.
"I have an idea," said Lance. "Wake King Bjarnid." King Bjarnid woke, but still seemed in some kind of haze. "Call your guards to us and have them escort us safely out," Lance ordered. "Now, hand us over to Xatriel."
For a moment the King seemed to awaken from his stupor, as if he were trying to resist Lance's commands and his eyes flashed with rage, but soon he lost this contest of wills and his eyes glazed dully over again. He did as Lance said.
As the four of them left King Bjarnid's throne room, Hymaytience said to Xatriel, "Oh Xatriel, I'm so happy. This is like the old days. When you and your sister, Lance and I, and Grom and Gwynisson were all together. Those were the happiest days of my life. We all had someone. In fact, we all got along. Everyone loved everyone. Do you think we'll be happy like that again?"
Xatriel was not sure, for that was the most wonderful time of her life and so she said, "I think we all have the potential to be happy again."
Hymaytience, perhaps picking up on the evasiveness in Xatriel's answer, was quiet for a time. The she said to Xatriel, "You never answered my question from earlier."
"What question?" said Xatriel.
"Is Hevid your boyfriend?" asked Hymaytience.
Hevid blushed deeply and he hung upon Xatriel's answer.
"No, no he isn't," said Xatriel and she noticed Hevid's chest fall a little in disappointment. Then she added, almost bashfully, "But he's working on it, and I'm considering it. If he does, do you know he'll be my first lover since Grom?"
Hymaytience said in astonishment, "No, no I didn't know that. I didn't know that at all."
Xatriel was quiet for a time. Hevid thought she was lost in thought about Grom, but he was wrong for the true recipient of Xatriel's musing became apparent when she eventually said, "But, I'm definitely considering it." She looked warmly at Hevid and added, "Definitely."
Lance laughed, Hymaytience sighed and Hevid smiled broadly, beaming with pleasure. Xatriel fought smiling in return, but failed and smiled, quite beautifully, despite her efforts not to.
But she did not get angry with herself for her outward display of emotion. Not in the least.
As they walked out of the King's Hall and into the sunny outdoors Hevid asked Xatriel, "Where to?"
Xatriel stopped. She thought, then laughed. "I hadn't given it any thought. I have no idea. You have any bright ideas?" she asked him back.
"Not a one," he answered.
Hymaytience said, "I know exactly where we have to go. I know where Lance and I are needed."
"Excellent, show us the way then," said Xatriel and Hymaytience did.
And as to where they went, well that is a story for another day.
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