OK, this is my first draft entry for a competition I'm entering. I have to submit a story on any subject or theme as long as it's under 750 words. If there's any way I can improve this tale, please let me know.
If I win, you will be repaid.
Raymond Garth knew the story of the Revenant Glaive well. He had to – he had made the thing, after all.
Long ago, five trees wrapped themselves around each other – pine, ash, yew, willow and oak. From the centre of this impossibility, an arm’s-length of wood was born. And from this wood, a sword handle was made. It was an elegant looking thing, marbled with all the different shades of tree and casting a curious sheen. The blade itself was a long, slightly curved but beautifully proportioned thing of gleaming silver.
Almost poetic, to Garth’s mind. If people wrote a book about the Glaive (as undoubtedly they would), they’d phrase it in more or less those words. Born of an impossibility; five trees bound together... it sounded good. The glaive was relatively small but deadly – easily his finest sword. The magic contained within it would forever keep it as bitingly sharp and silvery as it was now. And hopefully, that wasn’t all the magic would do.
Garth rose from his bed. He had a few other projects he needed to have finished by the end of this week, and they weren’t going to complete themselves.
All the same, as he made his customary toast and tea, he allowed himself to run through the story in his head one more time. The magical properties of this magnificent weapon, properties that came from the unlikely combination of woods... the sword that Mother Nature herself had carved. Yes, that was even better.
After breakfast, the Armoury was waiting for him. Above all the usual daggers, rapiers and sabres, he saw his beloved Revenant Glaive, glistening in its display case. When midday came, the sunlight through a window in the ceiling would splash over the blade, making it look all the more splendid.
Garth checked the answering machine. A few people had left messages, orders, and requests. His skill as a sword-maker had earned the respect of many, but he had few friends. Perhaps it was his total and unwavering dedication to his work that put them off.
‘You never think about anything else but that bloody sword,’ his sister had told him once.
Where was she now, Michelle?
Garth shrugged, donned his gear and approached the workbench. Time for work.
His eyes flicked upwards every so often for another admiring look at his creation. Meanwhile, his tough, hairy hands were busy forming another sword. The Reticent Foil, this one would be called. Funny, Garth thought; he’d done this so often that the making of this weapon was largely taking care of itself.
The telephone in the corner began to ring. He ignored it.
Renowned for centuries for its amazing magical capabilities, and of course, its incontestable value as a deadly weapon... As the Reticent Foil ground itself into shape, Raymond Garth gazed dimly through his dark goggles.
Raymond Garth, creator of the only artefact of its kind in the world capable of summoning the dead. The magic would make some future mage the leader of a fantastic, slavishly devoted zombie army. Though he knew he would never see it, he glowed inside knowing that one day his talents would be truly-
The wheel of the machine screamed in complaint. Having no sword left to grind, it started on Garth’s arms.
Many years later. All that the Creator had dreamt of was about to come to pass. The Revenant Glaive was in the grip of Riasouder Flint, the sorceress. She strolled into a graveyard, where five very special trees had used to stand.
She thrust the blade down into the earth, and waited.
The first to appear was clawing its way up from the grave very quickly, despite having no arms. Flint raised an eyebrow, impressed.
‘Here comes the first,’ she smiled when it had surfaced.
The corpse looked at her, as if he had already come to accept her as his mistress and commandant. Then, this most spirited of the rotting relics glanced at the blade. Its sunken, dull eyes widened in what seemed to be recognition.
‘Well, you’re determined,’ the sorceress intoned calmly. Then she looked more closely, and her expression suddenly matched his. ‘Yes... you had determination...and soul.’
Flint examined the Glaive. ‘A valuable thing, the soul,’ she said. ‘You’d think placing your trust, your very life, with an object would be safer than with a human being. Yet here I am placing my trust in you. I can, you see. There’s a lesson in this somewhere... isn’t there?’