tagSci-Fi & FantasySpirit of the Sword Ch. 01

Spirit of the Sword Ch. 01

bykitancyrus©

Myself (smegger_29) and Kita would like to thank all our loyal readers for being so committed to our other stories. I would like to introduce you to our newest project and my baby, Spirit of the Sword. May it be as successful as its brethren.



The wind stirred in the dawn air as the workers in the pit before Professor Hartlen slaved in the hot sun. It was better on most counts to hire native Kapsion labour instead of bringing his own, the two most prominent reasons being that it pleased the local government and more importantly, was much cheaper. The only downside was that they weren't the most careful of people, while the rest of the world was building business empires and furthering the knowledge of science with particle colliders, these people were still picking rice out of flooded fields.

He smirked as one of the nearest workers collapsed from heat exhaustion. Such worthless pests. He turned to his assistant Kate and raised an eyebrow in question. She knew the look all too well. He was getting impatient. "The crypt will be excavated within the hour, sir. I have transport ready for its immediate removal and placement in the central museum of the high lord."

He nodded and looked back at his site, soon the item he had been search for so long would be in his possession, an ancient artifact of unfathomable value and beauty...

At the thought of beauty, his mind drifted to thoughts of his research assistant, back at the museum. Oh how he would enjoy bending her over his desk and....

He was cut short mid-fantasy as one of the workers shouted from the pit. The professor's eyes lit up. Finally, they had found it!

***6 weeks later -- Central Museum of the High Lord***

Professor Hartlen rubbed his hands together. He watched the truck containing his prize slowly back into the service entrance of the building. He couldn't wait for it to be on display. He had left his assistant Serafina in charge of its inventory processing and placement. It was always so nice to see those firm round buttocks bending over the delivery crates.

As if summoned by his thoughts, Serafina Carna appeared, dark brown hair pulled back in a bun, framing a face with high cheekbones and dark brown eyes. Her milk chocolate kissed skin distinguished her from the rest of the staff who had rather pale complexions. Nervously she pushed her too small glasses up her nose as she hurried over to Professor Hartlen. "Professor, sir, I finished inventory in the east wing. Where would you like me to go next?"

"You are just in time to take in the most important delivery of the night. It is the last, but most definitely the most valuable. It is what we have been looking forward to for some time, my dear." He slowly stood up, his arms trembling from the effort of rising alone before he grasped his cane.

He carefully walked over to the balcony, pointing to the floor below them at the crate that was being unloaded with slowness and extreme care. "I have instructed your colleagues to be extremely delicate with this item. If it is damaged in any way, my heart would be broken."

As would their legs, he thought to himself. "I want you to take the lead in not only processing this item, but placing it in our most prominent gallery, the Grand Arches." He carefully pulled the keys from his pocket and held them out for her to take. "I trust you are ready for such responsibility, my dear? I hope my faith in you taking care of such a prominent item in such a restricted gallery is not misplaced?"

She blushed and reverently accepted the keys. "No, sir, it's not misplaced. I will be careful," she squeaked in her excitement.

"Not only careful my dear, you will be explicitly delicate. Now off you run, and remember, I have my greatest faith in you." He turned away from her, heading back towards his desk, taking careful steps so he did not lose his balance.

Serafina bobbed her head up and down vigorously before scurrying from the room. Finally, she was being given a huge break. One that could make or break her career. Professor Hartlen was the leading expert in his field and many had fought hard for the chance to work with him. Out of thousands of applications, she and Danyell Rockson had been chosen. Danyell had quit two months ago to run away with her musician boyfriend, leaving Serafina behind to do twice the work. Not that she minded. It just gave her more opportunity to prove to Professor Hartlen her worth. "Quit daydreaming, Sera, keep your mind on the task at hand," she muttered as she rounded the corner and stopped to look as the crate was maneuvered into place on the dolly.

"You three please come this way with the crate. The Professor wants it in the Grand Arches Gallery. Do not touch anything in the room once we get there, do you understand?"

They smirked for a moment and nodded. "Of course Miss, this ain't our first time in there."

They began wheeling the crate with painfully slow progress across the floor. They knew better than to take any chances with this artifact.

Satisfied that they would be careful, she led the way, excitement still running through her at such a great honor. Finally they arrived, and with care she picked the correct key and unlocked the door, opening it wide so the men could wheel in the crate. She herself did not go in.

The crate was wheeled in a few feet before they stopped, looking back at her expectantly with sly grins on their faces. "Well? Just gonna have us leave it here in the hall where everyone can trip over it?"

"Oh! I don't know. He said to make sure you got it here." Nervously she chewed on her bottom lip. She scurried by the three men and started up the marble path that stretched out for at least 100 meters. It was a spacious path, fifteen feet wide with tall arches 40 feet tall and 15 feet wide that stretched the length of the hall. As she passed each arch, inside could be seen a pedestal with an artifact nestled inside, protected by invisible shielding.

Serafina was awed. Professor Hartlen only allowed royalty and fellow scholars inside. The gallery was named Grand Arches because of the way the light shone down onto the black gold marble (black marble with gold embedded in the veins of it) that each pillar was comprised of. It ran along the length of the huge glass dome high above them that protected the path. As far as she knew, no one had ever attempted to burglarize the gallery because the entire military would hunt the thief down and publicly execute them. Of course there were also the rumors that dark and terrible things would hunt you down and disembowel you if you stole from the gallery.

The crate slowly trundled after her, the workers focusing on nothing but the path in front of them and making sure the crate did not stray from it.

Serafina had begun to sweat. I'll have to get them to take a look at the air conditioning unit. It is supposed to be cool in here, not hot, she thought as she resisted the urge to fan herself. As they neared the end, a flash of orange to her left made her whip around and stare at a large vase. Frowning she glanced around for a moment but when she didn't see anything, she resumed walking. The vase didn't even have orange in it. Maybe I should lay off the sugar sweets, she thought.

"Here we are." She gestured at the only unused pedestal. "Please place it here."

"You sure you don't want us to balance it on the Wingtou Vase?" The sarcastic comment came from the closest man who was thumbing towards the large non-orange vase she had been looking at a moment ago.

The three men painstakingly opened the crate one nail at a time, gradually revealing the straw encased contents within.

From his office above the main entrance hall, Hartlen watched the scene through the security system. Slowly his hands petted the gnarled beast like face head of his cane. It appeared to wear a contented look while he stroked it. "That's right boy, slowly and carefully. One scratch and no one will know you were ever alive..."

The men paused a moment, shivers running down their spines. With extreme care they slowly lifted the artifact from its crate. To the untrained eye it simply looked like a long, very old sword in a highly decorated sheath. But to the eyes of an archaeologist, the weight of history burned out from it like a flame. Its hilt was 1237PD (Pre-Dynasty) woven steel wrapped around a core of solid Anthreal tusk. The blade itself was 1350PD folded steel. Its forging marks of sharp flowing flames were an indication that the number of folds in this blade exceeded over five thousand times. It had taken 13 years to craft this blade. Made by the finest sword smith for the greatest swordsman the world had ever seen.

This sword had seen countless battles and slain every enemy that stood in its path. If one were to look closely they would see that the very blade itself had a hint of deep red to it, the very life blood of it's enemies soaking into the steel.

The reason for this sword's worth, however, was not its age or its accomplishments. It was because of the materials it had been made from. The Anthreal tusk alone would be enough to buy every other artifact in the room. They had become extinct in 1025PD, and now the year being 3584AD (After Dynasty), this made it extremely rare to find. The steel itself was a marvel as well, selected from a vein of Korodine Iron from the mountains of Ghantoul. Such a quantity would have taken decades to mine and decades more to refine. This sword was beyond priceless. There was not enough wealth in the entire world to buy even half the materials that were involved in its construction.

The sheath too, was made from equally rare materials, leather from the backs of the extraordinary Yakul Mammoth, not extinct but impossible to kill by conventional means, even with today's technologies. It would have taken an entire army just to subdue it, never mind kill it. It was sought after by many during that age because of its ability to never deteriorate, only to harden more over time. So after nearly five thousand years passing, it was quite possibly the toughest material on the planet. Finally, embedded along the length were gems from all corners of the world, that leaders would have slain entire civilisations for. Berubian Diamonds, found only in the deepest seas. Arketoin Emeralds, found only in a small river on the highest peak of the Juntang region. And finally, Turillian Rubies, their origins shrouded in such mysteries that there existed only fifty in all of history, five set on this very sheath.

With extraordinary effort and with tensed muscles, the sword was finally on its pedestal, glittering in the bright light of day that shone from above. The Grand Arches Gallery was finally complete.

Serafina couldn't take her eyes off it. "Beautiful," she breathed, her eyes wide as she took in each and every detail. She might only be an undergraduate but she knew enough about artifacts from class and from working in the museum with Professor Hartlen, that this sword was truly, priceless. None of the other pieces even came close in value.

The men carefully packed up their tools and quietly rolled the dolly out of the gallery and back to the bay, leaving her alone in the huge warm room. As the sun's rays glinted off the sword and reflected to the other pieces, the gallery took on an enchanted look it lacked before. One that took the breath away and warmed the soul of those who viewed it. But there was something else as well...something hidden beneath the glamour cast by the jewels and polished stone. Something not even history dared to record.

Suddenly light-headed, she stepped away from the sword. Her head was aching and she decided that all the excitement had gotten to her. "I think I'll call it a day," she said to no one as she walked down the path toward the door.

As the doors closed behind her, the air stirred, there was new blood in the gallery and the other artifacts were eager to meet him....

***********

The professor watched his assistant from his balcony coming back from her task and her smile as he lightly rapped on the glass to get her attention, motioning her up to his office.

Free from the gallery, Serafina felt her cheerful personality return. The thrill of going in the gallery was replaced with a feeling of rightness. Maybe I should talk to grandmother later. She always knows how to cheer me up. Happy with her thoughts, she climbed the stairs and knocked on Professor Hartlen's door.

"Come in, my dear." His voice called from beyond the two large heavy wooden doors. It was a wonder he ever got these open on his own. He looked so frail after all.

When she entered he was sitting behind his desk looking at one his large books, the ones containing all the stories behind his acquisitions. In front of the book was a tea set with two cups waiting to be poured. "Do pour some tea Serafina."

"Sir?" Her confusion only lasted a moment as she moved to do his bidding. She went to the warming unit to retrieve the teapot. She had to bend over to reach the control temperature on the unit and turn it down so that it didn't burn her. A soft humming was heard as she bent over, her skirt sliding up the back of her thigh a little. Grabbing a towel, she removed it and poured two steaming cups of tea. Carefully she sat the pot on the warming plate on the tea tray.

"I trust everything went well placing the item?" His tone was jovial even though he was ogling her. His eyes flicked back to his book as she sat down.

"They did fine, sir. It is in the place of honor. Sir, if I may be so bold. How did you find something so priceless?"

"Excellent, excellent. It started out the same way the search for every other piece in that gallery began. From hearing a folk tale and a legend in a far off land. It was during my first solitary expedition into the deepest unexplored regions of Kapsia. I was stung by a Wrath Beetle. At the time they had not been discovered and its poison would have killed me had it not been for the guide I was with. He took me to his home, where his lovely young wife nursed me back to health. It was many weeks before I had the strength to walk again, and to pass the healing time she told me stories of the land, of the forests and of the empire that existed thousands of years ago. There was a particular tale of a sword that caught my attention, a sword they say was more than a sword, but an extension of the swordsman's will."

He looked down at the book and slowly closed it. "I was just reading over it again, maybe one day I will read it to you. It's written in a now defunct dialect of the region, almost lost when their village was wiped out by flooding. Only a few scholars left can read it."

"Oh!" She blushed when she realized how close she had leaned in to him to hear the tale. Her shirt was fitted and clung to her young body and enhanced her ample bosom (though some said overly so). Embarrassed she quickly sat up. "And you are one of those scholars able to read it?"

"Indeed I am, my dear. It is quite a thrilling read indeed. It does lose some of its thrill in translation due to contextual use of some words but most of it still remains." His eyes were glued to her breasts for a moment before they flicked back to her eyes and he smiled. "Best not let our tea get cold."

He leaned back in his chair and sipped from his cup and a serious tone took his voice. "Since you performed admirably today with the placement of the piece and the transportation of it. I have decided to let you lock up tonight. I have an appointment I must attend to tonight. Kate will be picking me up around eight so that will give you two whole hours to yourself. There are no tour appointments tonight so you should have peace to get your work done."

"Yes, sir. Are you sure, sir?"

"Well if you do not feel you are ready for it...?" He let the question hang in the air before her. He chuckled quietly after a moment, "I am perfectly sure Serafina. You are completely capable of doing this."

"I will not let you down sir! I promise!"

"Excellent then. The keys for the doors are on the same key ring as the Grand Arches Gallery keys. Feel free to take a look in the Grand Arches later on and perhaps take a guess at what the tale behind each item might be."

Serafina thought it an odd set of instructions but she didn't question it.

"Now, off you toddle, you still have your cleaning and inventory checking to do with the new stock, a few items have caught my eye that you might enjoy."

She stood, took her cup and placed it in the sink. She bowed low and left the Professor to his thoughts.

He looked down at the book before him, slowly sliding his fingers along the spine. It was the only copy of it left in the world. His colleagues had seen to it that no one else had known of it, and every single worker who had excavated the word had been executed to preserve the crypt. Now there was a storage facility built on top of it, hiding it from prying eyes. His collection of souls was complete, the greatest spirits the world had ever known, painters, craftsmen, cooks, fighters, sailors and now, the greatest swordsman the world had ever known. A smile came to his face as he remembered the feeling of power that surged over him when he first touched that cursed blade. The legend was true...the power of the swordsman, Sin'tal, was stored in that weapon.

The comm buzzed, signalling an incoming call from Kate.

He leaned forward and pushed a button on the intercom, "Yes, what is it Kate?"

"Sir, we have arrived earlier than anticipated. What would you like me to do?"

"Bring the car around to the service entrance, I will be down shortly. Perhaps we can catch an earlier showing." He clicked off the intercom and rose from his chair, walking quietly through the corridors down to the service entrance. Tonight should be an interesting visit.

***********

Serafina once again glanced at the time. The professor had left earlier than planned and without him there, the workers had snuck out early as well. She groaned to herself. What would Professor Harleton do when he discovered she wasn't as fierce and commanding as he had hoped? She pushed that thought away quickly. "Well, no use sulking. Better start my rounds." She took her time, not because she wanted to enjoy a stroll through the collections, but more from fear. The air hummed with tension and it, in turn, made her wary.

"I'm being silly," she muttered as she neared the Grand Arches Gallery.

From the gap beneath the door, small flashes of light could be seen, small soft cracks like electricity arcing from one point to another.

As she drew nearer to the door, the sounds and lights suddenly stopped, as if they had heard her approaching.

"That's odd." With shaky hands she managed to unlock the door and froze when the hairs on the back of her neck stood up. Something was wrong. She just couldn't put a finger on what exactly.

The room was deathly still, the moonlight twinkling back and forth from artifact to artifact. The air stirred, a chilling breeze flowed through the hall. Something that should have been impossible....

"Hello? Look if this is a joke, then it's not funny! The professor will kill us if any of his stuff gets broken. So please, come on out before you get us in trouble."

Silence was all that returned from her question, eerie, mysterious silence. Far down the path of the gallery, the sword glittered intriguingly.

The sword snagged Serafina's gaze. Some instinct propelled her forward and down the path. Oblivious to the sudden stiff breeze and the low moans filling the air, she walked with clear purpose to the pedestal that held the sword. "Beautiful," she whispered.

A soft whisper was heard in the air, "Release me..."

The voice sounded so close, so real, but at the same time it was as if no one had spoken at all, as if the voice had appeared in her head, speaking directly into her brain.

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