on Display

I was awoken by a bang on the door, and then assaulted by the light that poured in. The girl stared at me still, unblinking, gold eyes fixed on my own. Once my eyes had adjusted to the abundance of light, I found myself staring down a javelin once again.

“Up n’ out!” came the gruff command, a guttural growl.

Standing, I made my way out of the small hovel of a building. The girl was already outside with the centaurs, though I could see no weapons levelled at her.

The thought left me though as a sharp prod flared at my side, a blunt spear urging me forward.

“You,” one of the centaurs said, “what is it you do?”

“Do?” I asked, confused.

“Yes, man,” he spat the words. “What do you do? What is your purpose?”

I remained silent, though the look on my face conveyed the sentiments of uncertainty quite clearly.

“Watch her,” he demanded, directing my eyes to the strange girl. After a few pokes to her side with spears similar to the one corralling me, she sighed and stretched out her hands, one to each side of her body.

Closing her eyes, she turned her palms upwards. Her lips quivered, as if in silent speech. Smoky golden tendrils coalesced between her fingers before they rose into her palms, small shining flames in her hands. One leapt into the air, becoming a sphere of translucent gold, arcing over her head and landing in the other palm. Her eyes opened, brilliant gold like the orb in her hand. It sunk back into her palm, and then the fire was gone.

The centaur turned his face back to me. “See? That is what she does. Now, what is it that you do?”

I could sense the impatience in his voice. Obviously, to be an artifact one required a talent, or purpose. Hers was a magic of sorts, though it was unclear if the light she summoned was in fact harmful or merely ornamental. My purpose… what was my purpose? If I didn’t know yet, how could I be expected to tell them?

“I’m a fighter,” I blurted.

“A fighter?” the centaur asked, chuckling under his breath.

“Yes,” I said firmly. “A swordsman. And I cannot be expected to display my purpose without a sword.”

“I see,” came the slow reply. The other centaurs traded glances, though I couldn’t hope to fathom what they were thinking.

“Well, then,” he continued. “We shall retrieve you a sword, but I cannot promise it will be fitting to your expectations. We centaurs have no use for swords, though we might have a few of the Ixion’s broken blades about.”

Remembering the contents of the hut, I offered a suggestion: “Might you have a sword among your other artifacts? I assume that a weapon such as that would be all the more powerful in the hands on another artifact.” My mind was spinning with ways to persuade the centaurs, to somehow allow me a way in which to escape them. “And after all, if you have no use yourself for an artifact sword, why let it lie in waste?”

The centaur seemed to consider the idea for a few moments, but left the ring of spears and javelins without another word.

“So much for that,” I muttered to my own ears.

The End

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