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Fantasticoe 1995

Heart of Steel
Jamie Pilgrim

     Silverblade snapped free of his leathery bonds with a hiss. Glancing this way and that, he took full measure of the situation and then pointed with a certain relish and anticipation at the unshaven ruffian before him. Immediately, the ruffian's own sword -- a bland, dented piece of work (somewhat of a reflection of its owner, really) -- was drawn and in the slob's hand.

     Silverblade chuckled to himself at the sight of the other sword. His own 4' long steel blade had powerful magic runes etched in black upon it; the other had an old-fashioned groove which ran the length of its blade for the blood to pour out from. His pommel was wrought gold fashioned into the detailed semblance of a dragon's head; again, the other was bland, with just a plain crossguard to protect its owner's hand. Finally, there was the fact that Silverblade was a magical sword with intelligence of its own; the other was mundane, non-sentient. Silverblade cherished the thought of breaking the other in two.

     Even more than that, though, Silverblade cherished the thought of cutting its master in two and tasting his sweet blood. He shuddered with pleasure at the thought and smiled inwardly.

     "Let me tear through this pitiful husk's intestines!! Now!" Silverblade thought forcefully at his own wielder.

     Nothing happened. The ruffian and his wielder seemed to be negotiating the terms of the duel as they faced off on the lonely dirt road just outside of that dull tavern. Perhaps he could slice another one of the losers from that tavern after he finished this one. He shuddered again with anticipation.

     "Stop wasting time with formalities! I hunger for his heart!" he commanded with as much force as he could manage.

     Still nothing. Damn.

     He routinely cursed the magician who created him for not giving him an audible mode of expression. If the magician was alive today, perhaps he could have given Silverblade one. But that was only wishful thinking, as Silverblade had seen to the magician's demise soon after his creation when he persuaded the magician's power-hungry apprentice to wield him. Magician blood tasted so rich, it was impossible to describe. Ecstasy on a magical scale.

     He had been a smart one, that apprentice. The smart ones could usually hear him best. Silverblade often wondered about that. Perhaps it was just because the ignorant ones didn't believe in magic. Fools!

     The apprentice had liked talking to Silverblade and had told him many things about his creation. He didn't know much of the details, but be did know that Silverblade had been created for some loser by contract to be the best killer he could be. That was why the power-seeking apprentice had agreed to steal him so readily. After all, as the apprentice had told him, killing and stealing were the fastest ways to get what a person wanted.

     But his happy days killing with that apprentice had ended years ago, when he had forced the apprentice into battle with a much more skilled opponent. The apprentice just didn't have the skill so make quite as many kills as Silverblade lusted for. Too bad. Not that he cared. Apprentice blood wasn't quite as rich as magician's, but it had been a feast, nevertheless.

     Now, of course, be was in the hands of that skilled master, and had been well fed ever since. The only problem was that this one could not hear his commands sometimes. He let Silverblade have his way in a battle all right, but ignored him the rest of the time. It was a minor flaw, but one which he vowed to correct in this one's successor. If he was quick enough, perhaps he could even get his next wielder to let him feed upon this one's blood.

     At last, the tedious negotiating of terms seemed to be drawing to a close. The ruffian's sword had come up at a ready angle. Silverblade assumed a similar position, practically trembling with anticipation of the battle to come and his reward for winning.

     Then it began. Silverblade came in swiftly, striking a flurry of blows upon the opponent's sword to get him off balance and to wear him down. As he did so, he felt a chip fly off of the other sword with one of his more vicious swings. Already, the ruffian began to stagger backwards, waving his own sword before him in a poor defensive routine.

     "This is going to be all too easy," he thought to himself with glee.

     Not giving an inch, Silverblade dove in with renewed hunger upon the faltering ruffian. In a few quick strokes, the other's sorry excuse for a sword flew from his hand and he was left totally defenseless. An honorable opponent would have let the man run away in shame.

     Silverblade plunged straight for his heart As he pierced the skin, be felt a slight trembling ecstasy overcome him. A split second later, as he felt the heart muscle all around him he nearly fainted from the pleasures created. The heart tenderly, rhythmically squeezed and caressed him. His whole being focused in on the pleasure being produced in the very tip of his long blade. It seemed to last forever, and he never wanted it to stop. Then, just as the heart began to slow its throbbing massage, he began to draw out the succulent blood.

     Suddenly, Silverblade realized that his skilled wielder was no longer holding on to his hilt. Focusing again on his surroundings, Silverblade saw that another group of drunks, presumably the ruffian's friends, had taken his wielder from behind. Such is a mortal's life, he thought dispassionately, and turned back to his feast.

     Just then the ruffian grabbed Silverblade by the hilt and drew him away from his feast.

     "You bastard"' Silverblade thought violently. "Let me go, NOW!" His blade was nearly glowing with the heat of his rage.

     The man's eyes grew wide.

     "Sorcery!" he rasped, and threw Silverblade into the tall grass along the roadside.

     "Shit," Silverblade thought angrily as he lay in the grass. "A perfectly good meal gone to waste.'" He fumed for a good hour, but eventually he calmed down enough that his thoughts began to turn toward more pleasant things, such as who his new wielder would be, and how soon he would be discovered. and how pleased his discoverer would be at this marvelous find. And how sorry they would be when Silverblade took their lives.

     Weeks passed and no one saw him. Months passed, and the rain began to wash mud over him. A full year passed. Miserable and starving, he quit counting the days. He began to doubt that he would ever be discovered, but he carefully saved up every bit of. strength he could for the day someone would find him. Communication took a lot of energy, after all.

     Eventually the day came when he was jolted by the familiar feeling of steel clashing into him. A short while later, the dirt around him was removed by a gangly looking man with a largish red nose and a wide-brimmed straw hat. The man peered intently at Silverblade. Not knowing what to make of this, he scratched his head and looked back at his horse and plow.

     "Gosh," he said to nobody in particular, "how do yaw s'pose dis here sord got here?" Stooping over with much fuss, the man picked up Silverblade

     "Why me?" Silverblade thought to himself. "This one will never do. He wouldn't even make a quick snack." But, Silverblade was famished and needed something to eat, so he stirred up his last ounce of strength for communication.

     "Stick me in your horse, farmer," he thought at the man.

     The man looked around at his horse and plow, scratching his head with puzzlement. He shrugged. "Yup," be replied, "I reckon my horse duz need some new shoes. Ye'll do goodly."

     " Idiot! I said in not on." Silverblade thought weakly to himself as he felt his last reserves of strength slipping away.

Thanks to: Terry Heller, Joe A. White, & Chad Tamez

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Fantasticoe 1995