You are already nervous when the blade is first presented to you, wrapped in fine cloth. This is the moment you have prepared for and at this moment, you take a moment to breathe in the last seconds you will share with another. Soon, all eyes will be on you.
The page kneels before you, unwrapping the silken bundle as if the item within was made of fragile glass instead of aged steel. You catch first glimpse of the blade. Finally, the sword is revealed for all to see but they are not here to see this sword, as valuable as it may be.
At this moment, it finally hits you. This is the moment you have been preparing— no, prepared— for.
All eyes are on you and you catch the murmurings of a doubtful witness. Beside you, a senior offers you advice. “Don’t be afraid of what you might see,” They whisper reassuringly, “They won’t even know.” They shift forward, stepping into your space and pushing you forward without ever laying a hand on you.
With held breath, you accept the sword and pray that your hand doesn’t shake.
At first there is nothing but that isn’t what frightens you. This was expected. Everything begins as nothing before it becomes something and you know that something will happen soon. Next, there is a sharp feeling.
You are touching hot metal. You are being struck. You are hearing what you are feeling and you are feeling what you are hearing. You are finally shocked when you are removed from the flame, struck by the hammer, and feel something cold. Your first breath is so much cooler than the blessed flame you were born from.
Yes, this is what it feels like to be created and then born. Soon, you will live.
Your first memories are so vague. You can recall being held and feeling so honest when you are first presented. Once again, all eyes are on you as you are inspected and measured, and held up for all to see. You are still so new and without purpose and though you are unsure of your own untested strength, you think,
“I can be useful.”
Soon, you start to see the world. Your first world fits within four walls and the same faces that come and go. They are your family. Though you do not remember seeing it (for surely, you must have passed through it to arrive here), you have learned from your family that there is a world outside these walls.
Finally, you get to see it.
The first time you leave, you leave with a familiar face. By his side, you travel, and you see a little more of the world. It is so long ago and you are still young, you only remember pieces but at the very least, you remember what you have learned. You live on an island, you live near the sea, and the sea smells of something called salt.
Your memories are more clear and you know more about the world now. You can remember faces in greater detail and you understand what it means when you no longer see those faces. While you had once become confused when you found yourself by someone else’s side, you now no longer think of it. You know that you are important because when you are introduced to someone new, they smile. Though they are serious and mature at first, you have a way of bringing out a childish sort of excitement in them whenever they get to hold you.
You remember the two boys with messy hair who watch you when you are in the same room. You remember when the younger boy leaves for some time but returns with quiet and embarrassed tears. You watch as he is both comforted and scolded for his tears.
You remember when the boy leaves and returns again, this time, an accomplished young man. You also remember hearing him loudly through the walls, complaining of something you do not understand that is happening outside your home.
Something is happening now. You don’t understand, but you know that your family is concerned and impassioned. At first, you think that your home has been invaded and you wonder…
“Will I be used in war?”
You can’t really remember being used for such a purpose before but you aren’t afraid.
After all, you are a sword.
You are shocked when one of the sisters suddenly appears before you one night, sneaking into your room and taking you away in the dark. She holds you so close and so tightly, hiding you close to her body so that no one will see your shadow. You find yourself in the garden and then shoved into a new but familiar pair of hands.
“Take this so you won’t be alone.” She whispers, “And whatever you do, don’t get caught!”
You don’t understand what’s going on but you know that this is wrong. Naively, you are more concerned with things being thrown out of order. You are a family heirloom. You want to stay with your family and stay in your home. You want to be passed down from son to son as you have been and were meant to be.
That night, you are taken from your home, smuggled away in the night like some common, stolen good.
You are an accomplice. It seems like a fitting title for the sword of a outlaw. By his side, you come to learn of his goals and plans. As much as he complains about the state of affairs, you also complain that you deserve better than this. You think,
“Go back home!”
Because you innocently hope that he might be forgiven. As discontent as you are with your circumstances, you don’t wish for the man to die— after all, he is your family.
There is a time where, when he holds you, you wonder if you are going to be used to kill. Maybe you have but it’s been so long. You are not a warrior sword. You are the sword of a merchant. You’ve never killed before… at least, you don’t think you have. You’ve defended and protected, certainly, but… have you killed?
But something changes. The night you are drawn with murderous intent, your master is stopped and he and his would-be victim converse into the night. It is a curious conversation and his new friend says many things that put you at unease. There’s still so much that you don’t understand but… did he just say that you would be replaced?
You can feel your heart drop down into your stomach and you feel as cold as your metal vessel. For a moment you think,
“But I want to keep him safe!”
And you realize… you have a purpose.
Your world has grown so much. You travel the land, you travel the seas, you learn about a foreign land, and you meet strange people from those lands. You begin to sit in on long meetings, all arranged in secret, listening to fantastic philosophies. You are there when your master is presented with a piece of metal— a technology from a far away place.
Often, you find yourself on the run and you frequently run into danger. There are times when you are put to the test but there are many times when you see this curious piece of metal put to the test. You can see how easily it is to pull back on the switch and injure a man. You understand what they mean now.
They say this is a thing that will replace you and you begin to panic.
You don’t want to be discarded! You want to stay and you want to see the world with him. Your spirit begins to shake and you plead silently to remain.
He lets you stay. And you wonder,
“Did he hear me?”
You are with him when he meets a spirited young woman and you can’t help but roll your eyes when you see the way he looks at her but never acts. You’ve seen this dance before and you fear that that at this rate, she will leave him. She doesn’t seem like the type that likes to wait around but finally— finally— he proposes and your spirit swells with pride and joy. You see, you love her too, so it is easy to accept her as family.
After awhile, you wonder if this man is even human. He is able to accomplish things that seem miraculous. Is there nothing he can’t do? Others have begun to see what you first saw years ago and you can hear the way they speak of him. For a man with so many enemies, he is also so very well loved. You love him too.
They say that a new era will begin soon. Everyone is celebrating, even your master, whom not even a cold can bring down. Everyone tells him to rest because he is going to be an even busier man soon. Even more people tell him to still be careful because his fight isn’t over. You listen to him laugh and promise to rest and stay safe. You think,
Rest, I’ll watch over you.
In the glow of the lamp, two men speak and you rest contently by his side as you have become accustomed to. Outside, there is a crash that stirs you but you are put to ease by your master’s laugh. Naturally, he lifts you up and goes to open the door.
He begins to call out for his guards to stop playing around but is cut off when the door comes crashing down.
You never see what happens next.
The lamp is knocked over. Suddenly everything is dark. You try to see but your eyes have yet to adjust to the darkness.
You hear someone yell your master’s name.
You feel your master hold you tight and for the briefest of moments you realize… he chose you. Your master is at his most vulnerable and it isn’t his new weapon that he reaches for but you and you won’t let him down! You’ll—
You are struck before you are even drawn. Your master yells but holds on still.
It can't end like this. This isn't over yet.
Everything is happening so quickly, you can barely process what is going on but you know that it isn’t over. You yell that you can still fight and that you won’t let him down and you urge him to try again but you can feel yourself falling.
No, it isn’t just you. Your master is falling and you are falling with him.
I can protect you. I’ll protect you. I can keep you safe. I’m supposed to…
He holds on to you so tightly, with so much strength, it’s easy to will him to hold on. Hold on, hold on, help will come. Do you hear that? People are running up the stairs now and they’ll call a doctor soon.
Someone is screaming to find a lamp so that they can see. Someone else yells for everyone to be quiet because he is trying to speak.
You strain your ears to listen with the others. Everything is suddenly so quiet. You can hear him breathe. It dawns at you that these are his last breaths and his next words will be his last.
He’s so sorry, he laments, that he was caught off guard. He’s so sorry that he can’t be with his family.
And you cry by his side,
Your spirit hurts so much now. It hurts so much, you feel like you could die too. You cry when he dies and you cry when you’re taken away. You know that you will go back home now but that isn’t what you want anymore. You don’t want to go home because your home was by his side.
You begin to think about how unfair this is. He had been such a wonderful person and he had so much he still had to do. You think it’s ironic that you wish he was still alive because you know that his dreams would have eventually displaced you from him. You were always ready for him to leave you some day but not like this.
Everyone is trying to find the men who killed him now and you struggle to remember something from that night. You try to see in your memories the things you couldn’t see in the dark and you become angry with yourself for not knowing a thing. You search for someone to blame and you feel something that you have not felt in years— a murderous intent. This time, it is from within you and not the hand that guides you.
The person responsible for this deserves to die.
You return home but it isn’t the same. Now, you know there is a bigger world outside these walls and beyond this island. You also know that the world was once a great place but now, it seems so bleak. You mourn for a year and into another. When the sun goes down and the room becomes dark, you think of that night again and again.
The first time you feel joy again is when news from your allies arrives. They have captured the man responsible for robbing the world of such a great man and you cry from happiness. Of course, that man denies it all but you know that is what any guilty and evil person would do. It is a name you recognize and you think,
Finally, he’ll get what he deserves.
Days go by and you wonder if that man is still alive. Already, you know in your heart that he is guilty, and you know that he will die.
When he is finally executed, you feel nothing.
You have waited for this day for a year and a half and at last, you have your revenge, but you feel nothing.
Your family is still dead and you cry again until, this time, you fall asleep.
You sleep for so, so long. You don’t even know how long it has been when you feel that familiar feeling again.
You are being born from fire.
The blade begins to tremble in your hands and you take a breath simultaneously along with it. The sword becomes warmer and then hotter as if you’d just pulled it from the forge, and a voice speaks to you from within.
“I’m awake, I’m awake…!”
And you regain your focus, quickly pushing away those memories you had inconsiderately observed and those emotions you had experienced without permission. In a burst of light, a figure appears, confident and proud,