It arrived at the house one fine evening, during summer break.
My uncle Frank had just passed on recently, and he’d left us a small pile of things. He had never been close to our family, but from what I’d heard of him, he didn’t have a wife or any kids of his own. That meant that he was solely survived by us.
“Sign here, sir,” grunted the delivery man, an unremarkable fellow in his mid-thirties.
While Dad handled the paperwork, I gave the inventory of items a cursory appraisal. A couple of armchairs, a small cot bed, some photo frames and kitchenware pretty much summed up everything my uncle had had to his name.
Uncle Frank, I noted dryly, didn’t seem to have owned much. Except for that small apartment he’d had, of course, but we’d already decided to put it up for sale anyway.
As Dad signed off on the prescribed form, my attention was drawn to a rather long parcel resting atop the cot. It was wrapped in brown paper, the cheap kind that you get at the neighborhood grocer’s. Curiosity piqued, I stepped closer and picked it up.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Shane?” called Dad, from beside the gate, prompting me to glance up at him.
Hank Davidson was a man of imposing stature. He was a tall, burly man, with auburn hair and chiseled features. Curly bangs hung over a pair of brilliant green eyes and a shapely nose. A square jaw line and wry mouth completed the picture. I looked a lot like him, and people sometimes mistook us for brothers instead of father and son. Except for the eyes and hair, though; I had Mom’s grey eyes and mousy brown curls.
Dad plodded over to me and took the package, weighing it in his hands. He frowned for a moment, and then uncovered the item with a swift jerk of his hands.
The paper wrapping shed to reveal a gladius of moderate length. It featured a finely crafted pommel with a small, multifaceted jewel inset – diamond, I thought. The scabbard was weathered and worn, colored a shade of black reminiscent of deepest night sky. Dad unsheathed the sword, unveiling a finely wrought blade that had probably been beautiful once; but it was now marred with scratches and dulled from repeated use and the passage of time.
“Well, this is a surprise,” commented Dad, sounding intrigued. “I had no idea that Frank was into display swords.”
“Looks like it could use some reconditioning,” I replied, running a finger over the flat of the blade idly.
At that point, Mom’s voice drifted out from the open doorway, “Boys! It’s time for dinner!”
Declaring that the jumble of furniture in the yard could wait, Dad sheathed the sword and headed in.
I was just about to follow suit, when I felt a prickling sensation on the nape of my neck – the kind that you get when you’re being watched. I turned around in time to see a dark-clothed figure slip around the corner of the street and out of sight.
The district I lived in wasn’t the roughest part of Anvil City – but it wasn’t exactly the safest place to live in, either. In recent months, there had been a spike in violent crime within the city, and my district was no exception. Even then, for some reason, that mysterious figure had scared me more than any ordinary thug should have.
A sense of foreboding descended upon me as I hastily stepped back into the house.
Suddenly, the weather didn’t seem quite as fine as it had before.