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The Weight of Her Own Legend

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If it were possible to ask, she would have said it wasn’t as simple as being called into existence. There was no sudden clarity of focus, a world snapping into shape in an instant. It was more like she had always been, as the river of time and space has always been, knowing everything and no single moment all at once, swirling like the tips of flames. And then her eye opened and she Became.

“You are Gonturan,” the voice said, as if from a distance but moving ever closer.

She wrapped her light around the source and sang, “And you are mine.”

 

***

The mountains called to her, as she was born as much from them as she was the magic of her mage-forger. She hummed as they traversed craggy paths and shone light across the snow-capped peaks. Her mage laughed, letting her blue light echo across the ridges, announcing the presence of Master Mage Eleki. Unafraid of the creatures of the heights, they pressed forth into new lands. Foes and friends alike learned to retreat from their harsh brightness, their presence almost too painful to bear for even their most beloved. They cut a hole in the world and routed the monsters out. Kings feasted them, peasants thanked them for protecting their crops and children. But Eleki sought knowledge more than acclaim and pushed them to the edge of the world. Until she fell off and Gonturan went quiet.

 

*** 

The boy found her as she was waking once more, her hilt having forgotten the curves of her last bearer’s palm. How many times had she woken? She reached out to him as he unwrapped her from the muffling cloth, his hand grazing the exposed pommel. He felt her laugh as his arm glowed with blue light.

“You should be quieter. I heard you from the other side of the world. It’s good for you that I’m not the most ambitious of my master’s students.” He grinned at her, a wry thing, “Though, I am not the least of them either.”

 

The blue glow pulsed and a low hum filled the chamber. She felt his bones shake and his grin deepen. “You don’t scare me, old girl. We may not know each other well enough yet, but I have Seen some of you, as you were and as you will be and some perhaps of things that will stay in dreams. Enough to know you are wasted wrapped in these cloths and almost forgotten.”

 

She felt him then, reaching to her with his golden warmth and she knew his name. And she knew he would carry her to the one whose hand she waited for. He winced then, as she drew a few drops of blood from his hand. “A hungry travel companion, I see. If I promise to keep you entertained will you leave off my poor hand? I’ll need it to get us back home.”

 

Satisfied with his measure, she retreated, the fire in the blue jewel banked.

 

***

Mages were loud. In power, in sound, in personality. While Luthe guarded her from the most of it, for he was not an idiot and already knew of the growing hunger of his fellow students, she could not help but feel the ebb and flow of the currents around her. The one called Master Goriolo was at once the most calming and the most terrifying, the depths of his power like the sea. She would not wake for him, did not seek to taste his blood, his magic, but he knew her regardless and withdrew.

“It is a risk, “ he told Luthe.

“I dreamed,” her golden friend responded, the casually shrugged shoulder at odds with the steel in his voice.

The Master nodded and folded her cloth wrapping back.

 

Later, a timid hand wrapped her in warmth, but didn’t lift her. Whispered words flowed over her blade and she exhaled, flashing blue. She knew her. Or one enough like her to hope. The grip tightened and then dropped away, leaving just the tips of fingers resting against her jewel. They sat there for a few minutes, perhaps years, waiting for the other to make the next move. Slowly the fingers dropped away and replaced the cloth, slipping away into the darkness.

And Gonturan waited.

 

***

Most of the bearers in the stone city weren’t worth waking for. From hand to hand she passed, waiting until they grew too large, too heavy. Then she would writhe and bite in their grip, striking out of her own volition in battle, drawing their blood, until they let her rest again. To a one they thought to rule her, overwrite her legacy with their own. They never believed in the stories, not truly. Not enough. So she rode with them until they no longer believed her to be more than a weapon.

Timor tried the hardest — fought against her, against himself, against the armies of the North. Until he too learned she was not a tool, but an ally. And allies cannot be trusted completely for they too have teeth. When he was buried, his widow would not touch her and beseeched the King to keep her shackled.

So she was pressed into the hands of youths, to test and train, and then set aside again. Except when she was raised by a hand equally deft in darning as swordplay, heart as furious as her own and steadfast in battle.

Then she sang.

Then she danced.

Then she rode victorious.

***

 

Rending limb from joint, odd angles shorn and parted, she blazed blue and shining across the battlefield. Her red-haired bearer crashed forward and Gontruan helped her part the waves of crushing foes, guiding her arm, biting deeper and more swift than even her kelar-filled limbs could alone. She and her rider and the horse that bore them both were as one, a trinity of skill and hunger and determination. Gonturan sang across the field, drinking in the weird screams of those who pressed against her, tried to drag them down. And when the enemies were nothing but stains in the dark, she kept her bearer, her Aerin-sol, upright through the thick malevolence of the Black Dragon and sent the head of Maur crashing across the plain.

 

They ruled in light and honor. She was ready at her hand when there was need, against foes or those who would test their prowess against the Queen and bearer of the Blue Sword. Sashes landed in the dust, enemies brought to heel, and their honor stayed strong and true. Over the years she initiated Queens Riders and waited until she was called to do battle once more.

 

“My dear friend,” Aerin said, stroking her hilt, “Long have I had the honor of you at my side and long have we fought for the good of Damar. But it is time to fulfill a promise I made long ago. Our son is a young King, but good hearted and beloved. He does not need to rule in my shadow. So I will go, but I am leaving you here to guide them. I hope they are as good of friends to you as you have been to me.”

 

Gripping the hilt one last time, Aerin pulled Gonturan free, and she burst into light, filling the corners of the hall with their joined joy. Gently, she placed a kiss on the flat of the blade. “I have a feeling I will see you again before too long has passed, my friend. And we shall share our stories. Or, if you are ill-used, find your way into the hills to us. You know the way. Be well.”

 

Gonturan quieted in her sheath as Aerin slid her bag over her shoulder and disappeared into the night.

 

*** 

The warm sand below them radiated heat even she could feel as she blazed into life again. It had been so long since one of such strength had called her forth. Harimad-sol. Damalur-sol, they named her.

Let us ride.