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Gonturan's Story

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Gonturan was no ordinary sword when she was forged; but she was not very much out of the common way, either. In that land at that time, it was common for mages to be swordsmiths, and swordsmiths to have at least a little kelar to sing into their work, and so being a magic sword was no distinction at all. Gonturan's maker was one of the best, and because of his paranoia many of his secrets died with him, and Gonturan was his greatest achievement. Thus, Gonturan was one of the finest swords of their people, but that was a matter of degree, not kind.

She had all the common magic worked in her: that she might always strike hard, even when her bearer grew weary; that she might always find her target, even in the hands of a novice. In the hands of a master, these magics were very powerful indeed, and so Gonturan was powerful.

She was commissioned by a king to give to his favorite warrior, a young man who had won great renown by fighting various demons and monsters and evil mages—or, at least, mages who were against his king, which was usually enough to be declared evil. The young warrior was very vain; and he had an enchantment put on the blade that it might glow blue in the presence of evil magic, or at least magic being used against him, so that he might know, and also so that all eyes would be drawn to him as he fought. Because he was not a fool, there was a shield worked into that enchantment to protect him from magic.

She was not, at this point, a "she" by anything other than tradition, for although there were many wonderful magics embedded in her blade and hilt, she had no awareness or consciousness any more than any other piece of metal might.

After her first master died in battle, Gonturan was given to his second, who added clear-sight to the spells embedded in her, so that his leaders fate—distracted by illusions while a mage killed him from behind—would not befall him. It did not save him; but he did not die in battle.

His daughter was the first woman to bear Gonturan, and her addition was a very powerful foresight spell to add to her own meager abilities as a seer. It worked; but when there are as many enchantments layered on an object as Gonturan then possessed, there are often unforeseen side effects; and the visions Gonturan gave were not confined to her bearer. Thus Gonturan was placed in a chest and forgotten about for a generation.

After that, she passed through many hands, few of whom appreciated the craftsmanship that had gone in to making her, nor all the things that she did. Eventually, her foresight drew a mage named Luthe to her, and although he appreciated her he had little use from a sword, and so she was again placed in a chest and forgotten about.

But there were many enchantments in Luthe's home, some of his own making, some of the waters of the lake, and some produced by his guests and friends. And Gonturan soaked it all up. There was not yet any true consciousness in her, but she was not far from it.

Then she was given to Aerin-sol, and they went to face Agsded.

Gonturan's bearers had faced mages before—had faced enchantments and illusions before—but none so strong and insidious as those Agsded threw at Aerin before they even met. Had Agsded taken the time to examine the sword Aerin bore, he would have been able to destroy the enchantments on it, even those that had been worked into the blade as it was forged, for he was a far greater mage than the master swordsmith had been. But Agsded had seen magic swords before and found them no great obstacle, and his attention was fixed on Aerin. And so he ignored the sword she bore.

They were a long time climbing. A long time, with Agsded's kelar pressing down on them. Gonturan carried spells to see through illusions, but these were not illusions. These were the victim's own fears, magnified back upon them, not figments of the caster's imagination. These pried at the mind, turning it in upon itself. And Gonturan had, as yet, no mind; but she was not far from it.

And the pressure, over all that long time climbing, pushed all the spells and enchantments layered in Gonturan closer together, melded them, and forged something new. Gonturan did not understand what it was to be conscious; and yet Gonturan was.

A fight to the death is not, perhaps, a good place to be born; but for a sword it is a fitting one. And though there was much that Gonturan did not understand (and much that she never would understand of any flesh and blood creature), she knew perfectly well how to fight, how to shield her bearer, and how to win. Agsded's kelar was directed against Aerin, but the Crown's magic was directed against Gonturan.

She felt relief when Agsded died, and no fear when they fell—after all, what can a fall do to a sword? She had been chipped, but what of it? Swords can be repaired.

The magic when they were pulled through time was … different. She recognized it, in an odd sort of way, from the time before she had consciousness. She was grateful when he fixed her, but she knew her bearer—the one who had held her and fought with her against Agsded—and he was not it.

She was not, then or ever, a "she" by anything other than tradition. What use has metal for gender? She was conscious, she knew the world around her and she remembered and she thought, but there was very little, then or ever, that she understood about the alien creatures who bore her.

Gonturan enjoyed the fight against the Northern army as she had not enjoyed the fight against Agsded; this was what she had been created for, and this was what she did best. She grew comfortable with her bearer, and learned the hand that swung her. She reached out to the other one like her—the crown that Agsded had used against her—and found that while it was not conscious, it was as close as she had been, before Agsded, and it was tied to the land. She lent it a little awareness, and it lent her strength and the ability to inspire; and after the battle, Gonturan found that she was now tied in some strange way to the land the crown was tied to.

After the battle, there was yet much for Gonturan to do in her bearer's hands. Guarding the border, training, many other things. And so Gonturan grew ever closer to her bearer, who had born her for centuries fighting Agsded and then a mortal lifetime after that. Gonturan never knew or understood why Aerin left her behind when she left, for Gonturan knew that she had not died.

Gonturan would have preferred to stay with Aerin, for she had come awake with her; but that choice was not given to her. Still, the person who bore her next was competent and treated her well, and so she learned to serve other masters.

Gonturan did not, then or ever, care what gender her bearer was; in fact, she could tell little of them besides the shape of their hand and the skill that the used her with. What knowledge has metal of gender? Of the traditions and superstitions that grew up around her she knew little. As long as she fought for Damar and was cared for, she was content.