Sword Called Kitten Serial

Gordon A. Long

Published by

Airborn Press


   Home      Issue #25 Bad Luck Part 5
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EPISODE 25

If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck…Part V

They had been walking for half a day, now, and no one had come after them. There were few people on the road, and it was easy to slip into the woods and let the other travellers go by. Finally, they began to relax.

“I don’t know your name.”

“Johannes. What’s yours?”

“Is that Lord Johannes?”

“No, it’s Johannes, Lord Skonric, as it happens. Second to the Name. Are you going to tell me yours?”

Skonric. How interesting. I wonder how old this lad is…

“Janel.”

“Hmm.” He regarded her for a moment. “I couldn’t help but notice…”

She frowned when he did not continue. “What?”

“Well…it seems to me that your dress is too short to hide that long sword.”

“You weren’t interested in my dress at the time. Don’t start now.”

He raised his hands in defense. “No, no, I didn’t mean that. Please, you have no worries from me.”

That’s good. We know how to deal with people like that.

“But where did the sword come from?”

“I…

You might as well tell him. What’s the harm? She gave the girl a gentle nudge.

I found it.”

“You found it? A sword like that? Where?” He looked over at her with his head aslant.

Her nose went up. “I did not steal it. I most certainly found it. Up in that pass above Knutburg.”

He laughed, but there was a note of respect. “What were you doing in Ghost Lake Pass? Nobody goes up there. It’s supposed to be haunted.”

“Exactly. That’s why I went there. Nobody was likely to think I would dare, nor would they want to come after me. Besides, it’s just Maridon superstition. I never saw any ghosts.”

“But there was a battle, just like in the story?”

“The former owner was a soldier, and he was certainly dead.”

“If he was still there after all those years, I suppose he was. So your bravery was rewarded.”

She patted the Sword. “Yes. With good luck. I call her Lucky.”

As good a Name as any, for the moment. I will soon achieve much greater. If I ever get the opportunity.

“The sword is female, is it?”

“I think so. She is certainly good luck.”

“Watching you kill that man, I’m inclined to agree.”

She shuddered, and her pace slowed.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have mentioned it.”

Yes, that was rather insensitive.

“Anyway, what are you going to do, now? We’re almost to Lord Ness’s manor.” He glanced at her, and the Cat could feel the calculation. “You can hardly waltz in there wearing a sword.”

“I didn’t really think about it. I was just trying to figure out how to take up a position with Lady Megana without getting in the way of Lord Jaun, when I heard you yelling at each other.”

He grinned. “I was doing most of the yelling. Hoping I’d attract some attention. Glad I did.”

“So now I don’t know what to do.”

“When you went up the pass over Knutburg, where were you going?”

“To Inderjorne, of course. I thought I’d fit in better, there.”

“That you would. You speak like a native. Were you born there?”

“Yes, but Dad’s luck turned bad, and he thought he’d try in Marida.”

“In other words, he got into trouble and had to run for the border.”

“Something like that. What’s that to you?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing.” He walked in silence for a while, and the Sword had some time to muse.

I’m beginning to figure this out. They keep talking about ghosts up in the pass where the battle was. There are plenty of old battle sites around, and nobody is afraid of them. The only thing different about that battle site was…me. And I’m not a ghost…wait a moment. I remember. The Maridon reinforcements. And when the Smith died. Oh, no! I scared everyone away. I scared all the people who came near, until they were all afraid to come through that pass.

Wonderful. I was pining for company and I scared everyone away. There’s got to be a lesson there somewhere. I might figure it out some day. Well, I’ve got company now. I’ll do the best I can with it. Hmm…

 They were out in open farmland, now, approaching a village. A large fortified manor, almost a castle, stood on an outcropping above the town.

He glanced down at her. “You’re not going to be able to hide that sword in your skirt, you know.”

“Maybe I should hide her before we get there.”

“I’ve got a better idea.”

“I’m sure. I give her to you. Then you take her and don’t give her back.”

“What do you mean? Of course I’ll give her back. If you want me to.”

She mimicked his tone. “What do you mean? Of course I’ll want her back. Why wouldn’t I?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just don’t see what a girl can do with a sword. You could sell her and use the money to set yourself up in some sort of trade, I suppose. It just sounds difficult for someone of your class. Chances are, you’d end up spending the money, or losing it, or having it stolen and you’d be back to nothing again.”

Her shoulders sagged. “That’s what I’ve been worrying about. For the moment, I think I have to keep the sword.”

Again, he calculated the exact amount of time to wait.

He is very clever. He knows how impossible it sounded, but she needs time to realize that.

“But what do you really want? What can you do for a trade?”

She sighed. “It’s really too bad, you know. I would have loved to work for Lady Megana. I’m a pretty good seamstress, and I think I could learn to be a lady’s maid.”

“All right. Here’s a deal. You give me the sword, and I’ll take you home and my mother will take you on.”

Hmm. We’ve heard that recently.

She frowned and put a hand on her hilt. “I don’t think so. The last offer like that didn’t work out so well.”

“But I really mean it. Once you’re in the service of my family, you’ll be safe. The maids usually marry one of the men of the castle, and your family would always be under our protection.”

The Cat read the yearning in the girl’s mind. He really means it.

She shook her head. “I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”

“All right. I’ll just walk ahead a bit, and leave you to your thoughts.”

They walked into the village, the girl trailing by a few paces. Several heads turned as they made their way towards the castle, but no one commented or stopped them.

The Cat read clearly the emotions in the girl’s mind.

By the Forge, she’s not going to do it. She just can’t let go of her Luck. This is my best chance to get back to Inderjorne, and the lad’s nobility and Sensitive as well. A glib talker, too. I can’t let this chance slip by. Here goes. She raised her “voice.”

Do it, Janel.

“What?” She looked around. “Who said that?”

I did. Lucky. The Sword.

Janel grasped the Sword’s scabbard in both hands and stared at her. “You really are a ghost!”

I am not a ghost. Keep walking. You’re drawing attention.

She looked around. Johannes was looking back at her with concern.

I would like to talk to you both.

She squared her shoulders and walked up to him.

“You’re not going to believe this.”

Find us a private spot.

“Come. We need privacy.” They were through the village, and she led him to a nearby grove of trees, out of sight of the road. Then she held the Sword in front of her.

“All right. Prove that I’m not crazy. Talk to him too.”

Don’t worry. You’re not crazy.

“What was that? Your lips weren’t moving. You’re putting words in my head!”

No she isn’t. I am. You are Sensitive to the Power of the Blood, so I can speak to you directly.

“It’s the sword, isn’t it?”

Give the man a prize.

He looked around, then up at the castle wall looming over the trees nearby. “Is this some kind of trick?”

This is not a trick, and it is not Maridon superstition. This is the Power of the Blood of Inderjorne. You must know about that.

“I have been taught about the Power of the Blood. A Magician came and tested me when I was young He said I was Sensitive, whatever that means.”

Right. So you know about the Power of the Blood. I am a Magic Sword, created many years ago by Hanflaed the Smith. I am a focus of that Power.

“I’ve heard of Hanflaed the Magician. He made magic Swords, or something. Years ago.”

Well, well, well. The boy’s got a brain after all. Now use it!

Janel stared at the Sword. “You mean Lucky isn’t just lucky? She’s really a magic Sword?” She shook the Cat. “Why didn’t you talk to me before this?”

The Sword is only supposed to talk to the Hand with whom she is Joined. I was stretching the rules to even let you practise with me.

“And a good thing you did, as it turned out.”

Yes, you did very well. But I’m sure you can see that you can’t be the Hand for a magic Sword. No, it’s not just because you’re a girl, although that does matter some. I have a mission to help the people of Inderjorne, and I can function better if I am Joined to someone of the Blood. Someone with political power. Do you understand?

Her shoulders slumped. “I suppose. But what about my luck? If I give you away, what will happen to me?”

It doesn’t work that way. You never owned me, so you can’t keep me or give me away.

“Oh.” The Cat could feel the familiar depression settle over the girl’s mind. The image of the hovel in the rocks above the village crashed down on her soul.

However…

“What?”

You have done me a great service by bringing me down from that pass. You have also done my new Hand a great service by bringing us together. Not to mention saving his life. We both repay our debts, don’t we, Lord Skonric?

“I’m to become the Hand that wields the Magic Sword?”

Yes, of course you are. How else am I going to get back to Inderjorne? You’re not the one with the problem right now. Look at this girl. She’s just lost every hope she had for getting out of a tough life. What are you going to do about it? Concentrate, lad.

“Yes…yes, of course. I’m sorry, Janel. I’m just a bit carried away by all of this.” He looked at her, and the Cat could feel him notice her for the first time as a real person.

“Janel, you have done me an even greater service than saving my life, for which I was already grateful. I had no right to ask you for your Sword, but it seems I am to get it anyway. I said already that I would find you a place with my mother, and that if you chose to stay with us, your family would become retainers for the Skonric line. I meant that, and I still do. If that’s enough.”

“Of course it’s enough. It’s all I ever dreamed of.”

Make the deal quick, before she dreams up something else.

“Lucky, that’s not fair. That’s what I asked for, and that’s all I want.”

Good for you, girl. The deal is concluded.

Johannes raised his eyebrows. “The deal is concluded?”

“I guess so.”

“I just said it.”

“Then…?” He put out his hands, hesitating.

She looked down at the Sword, and the doubt flowed from her.

The Cat filled her with determination. Don’t worry. I won’t forget you, either. You will still have your Luck

“Will I? All right then.” With sudden resolve, she thrust the Sword into his hands. “There’s probably supposed to be some sort of ceremony, but I can’t think of one. Here you are.”

I will take care of the ceremony. It is between the Sword and the Hand. You have done well, Janel, and we will not forget.

“No, we will not.” He met her eyes in honesty.

And if he does forget, don’t worry. I’ll remind him. I have a very good memory.

She laughed. “I suppose you have. Now, my Lord. Shall we complete your mission, so that we can go home?”

He turned towards the castle, running his belt through the loops on the scabbard. “I suppose we should.”

 

 

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