This scene takes place approximately 160 years before Sorcery and Stardust, while Fenris is still young. Enjoy!
The Weaver’s Armoury stretched on interminably, countless racks of weaponry sleeping in the shadowed belly of the castle.
“We’re going to be here all day, aren’t we?” Brianne raised the flickering torch above her head, the flames throwing the tattoo on her face into sudden, sharp focus.
Fenris turned subtly away from the fire, eyes narrowing. Unlike his Warden mentor, he had no need for extra light – not that he’d mention that to Brianne. He had manners. “I shall do my best not to keep us that long.”
“I’m not being serious,” Brianne said as they began to walk. “Choosing your Guardian weapon is a huge honour; we don’t need to rush.”
Her lips tilted up at the corners. “Have you sorted out your training schedule?”
“For now,” Fenris replied, linking his fingers at the small of his back. “I have requested mornings with the Guardians and afternoons with the Wardens, and I shall study theory during the night hours.”
Brianne’s fingers brushed gently against his arm. “I’ll never understand why you insist on pushing yourself so much.”
Because he’d never explained – and he wasn’t about to start now. Pausing beside a rack of maces, Fenris examined a double-handed weapon whose business end compromised mostly of spikes. “I need something versatile enough to be useful in a multitude of scenarios.”
“It’s a weapon,” Brianne responded, the ebony skin between her brows furrowing. “It’s for fighting.”
“A Warden’s response.”
She snorted a laugh. “I should’ve asked Riella along on this expedition; she’d know what you were talking about.”
“I can do this on my own,” Fenris said, aware his tone was frosty and not bothering to disguise it. Brianne had known him long enough now that he trusted her with the fringes of his emotional overflow – and she didn’t let him down, merely smiled and waited for him to compose himself before he continued. “A weapon is not only for fighting; it can be used to protect, to serve, to support.”
“Now that’s a Warden’s response.”
Knowing a compliment when he heard it, Fenris bowed in thanks. “I do not plan to leave my Wardenship behind.”
“I know.” Brianne motioned to the rack over his shoulder. “What about a bow?”
“No.” Not versatile enough, for all the soft feathers appealed to his tactile nature. Also… “I’ve not proven adept at ranged combat.”
Except for that one, terrifying instance when his glamour had broken free. Firmly closing the door on that particular failure – one he’d spend his life atoning for – Fenris turned from the bows and kept walking.
Brianne never complained, not even when their expedition drew out for several hours. Fenris hefted weapons, squinted at them, sniffed them… and still nothing spoke to him. Baring his teeth in the shadows of a rack of battle axes, safe in the knowledge that nobody could see his frustration, he forced himself to breathe slow and deep.
Leather. Iron. Steel, oil, smoke…
“What is that?”
Brianne jumped, her torch spitting as she spun in place. “What?”
“That scent.” Fenris strode into the darkness, skipping row upon row of racks that, for all their time exploring, they’d not yet reached. Tucked behind a stand of armour mannequins, he found an alcove lined with rickety shelves. Brianne paused in the entryway, coughing into her closed fist. “Weaver’s grace, Fenris – nobody’s been down this far for centuries.”
“Good.” Shoving aside a half-finished leather chestplate, he curled his fingers around something cool and smooth, and drew it out… and out… and out.
“Is that a sword?” Brianne gasped. “It’s enormous!”
“It is, indeed, a sword.” Fenris blew off a layer of dust, ran his fingers over a metal so smooth it felt like silk. The sword boasted a blade at least six feet long and a foot wide. One edge was wickedly sharp, curving in at the last moment to create a long, blunt-looking weapon with a deadly tip. The reverse edge of the blade was as thick as his finger, bar the three hook-like notches worked into the upper quarter. The sword glowed faintly in the darkness; a gentle silver sheen that would never dim with age or use. “Silversteel.”
Brianne pointed at the flat of the blade. “Can you read that?”
Fenris examined the characters engraved vertically alongside the hooked notches. “It is a derivative of Elvish… a less common tongue.” He hefted the sword in one hand – a feat that should have been impossible, given its size – and moved his lips in silent translation of the words. “Illuk’hir, Heart’s Blade.”
“It means starlight,” said a soft, feminine voice from the doorway, “And it has been waiting for you a long time.”
Fenris bowed deep as the Weaver flowed into the alcove, her elegant gown whispering as she moved. “My lady.”
“Up,” she said lightly, her touch gentle on the nape of his neck. “Illuk’hir speaks to you already – the enchantments on the blade would never have allowed you to lift it otherwise.”
“How so?” Fenris frowned at the weapon. “It is incredibly light.”
“For you.” The Weaver smiled, inclining her head in greeting to Brianne. “The greatsword has been on that shelf since an elvish craftsman laid it there, and no-one has been able to shift it in that time.”
“Heart’s blade,” Brianne murmured, her eyes wide as she looked over the greatsword with fresh appreciation. “Well suited to a man who will be both Warden and Guardian.”
Fenris hugged the blade to his chest. “It sings to me.”
“So it should.” The Weaver’s fingers played through his hair, and Fenris felt a frisson of power go down his spine. “The binding is complete; it is yours.”
“I have not taken the Guardian’s oath,” Fenris reminded her – though he didn’t startle away from her blessing.
“You will.” The Weaver smiled her mysterious smile. “Elvish weapons, however, have a mind of their own. Far be it from me to argue with a greatsword as unique as the man it has claimed.”
Gratitude burned in his veins. “I will not squander such a gift.”
There was no answer, the Weaver disappearing as suddenly as she’d arrived. Brianne grunted. “I hate it when she does that.”
“There are worse things.” Setting the blade point down on the floor, Fenris wrapped both hands around the hilt and leant on it. “According to both fey and elvish tradition, a blade’s name is sacred… secret.”
Brianne’s face softened. “I won’t tell anyone.”
Fenris nodded, running his fingers over the engravings. Starlight; heart’s blade. It felt right, deep in his battered soul. Redemption may be impossible, but he would do as the Guardian oath demanded and stand firm in the face of danger, fight for those who could not fight for themselves, spill his own blood without fear.