In the Darkness

Part 7

The dark haired man and blond boy squatted next to each other, eyes pouring over the details on the paper laid out before them. They didn’t need to converse as they checked and doubled checked the work in their head, logging the details away to memory. Errol’s eyes flashed to the side until he caught Terran’s young brown eyes with his own.

That brief eye contact being enough of a signal between them, the two rose as one, walking over to pick up a sword a little further back in the cave. Their eyes now studied this, criticizing the quirks as they compared it to the memorized details of the paper. Errol picked it up and turned it over in his hands, inspecting it with his young companion from every angle.

He performed a few minor changes, tightening a string that held a hose to the hilt only slightly, and experimentally spinning a piece of rock until a spark was produced. Terran’s eyes took all this in as well, silently agreeing to the man’s adjustments and feeling anticipation grow in him as the sword was gently placed in his hands.

Errol picked up a nearby staff, "Ready for a test run?" He asked, giving the eleven year old a conspiratorial grin.

Terran’s eyes lighted up with excitement and his grip tightened on the sword, moving it to a fighting stance. "Ready." He agreed.

This was it. This was his fire sword. It was over a year in the making as he and Errol had pounded out the details and solved the unexpected problems that had come up whenever they had been alone. They had not wanted to raise the other’s hopes until their project worked with no—or as little as possible—defect.

It was a very tricky weapon to master, as Terran had learned. First, it required skill with the sword, and then it required a whole new skill. The hose connected to the hilt of the sword was also connected to a treated leather pouch containing oil. This bag had been altered into a holster so the warrior could easily carry it under his left arm. The skill came in when squeezing the bag enough so that the blade became soaked in the oil and then spark the rock at such a time that the oil would be lit. The attack was then needed to be administered immediately before the flame diminished.

Terran had been elected to test the weapon by default as it had been found more dangerous to be holding the stick than the sword—Errol usually walked away from the tests with more than a few burns. Last time too much oil had flooded out and the flint had been too wet to spark. The string should restrict the flow so less would get through at a time, but not be cut off altogether.

Terran squeezed down on the pouch and spun the small stone, setting the blade ablaze at the same time as he swung at the wooden staff. He grinned as it sliced through, leaving the ends of the dismembered staff hot and charred. Errol grinned too, witnessing the flash of light as the sword lit and slashed, extinguishing almost immediately but not before the staff had been cut and burned.

It had looked perfect, but he had to be sure. "How did it work, Terran?" He asked.

"I think it’s ready for a field test." Terran responded excitably. He wouldn’t be the one to test it, he knew, but he was still anxious to see how his invention fared in battle.

Errol laughed, "Not so fast, we should repeat the test a few more times to be sure it’s behavior remains constant. After all, how often do you fight against only one shadow?"

"Alright, let’s do it again." Terran quickly agreed with a grin, lifting the sword again.

"Here they are. Eighty pounds of potatoes, I hope you’re happy, Far." Aiden groaned, quickly dumping his burden to the ground.

Next to him, Marcell rolled his eyes as he set his own burden to the ground, "Quit complaining, you only carried forty, I carried the other half."

"Well, it felt like eighty pounds." Aiden grumbled, not at all pleased with Marcell belittling his work.

"Next time you carry the water, then you can complain." Eamon stated as he and Farrell poured water from large carrying skins into the barrels.

"At least we came across no demons this time." Farrell added, "That must do something to lift your spirits. And we’ll have food for the next month."

"I guess that is something." Aiden muttered.

"And here’s something more," Errol started, having walked over while Aiden was complaining, followed by Terran, "If you’ll give us your attention, we have a weapon we’d like to display."

"Is that why you’ve been staying behind so often, Ro?" Eamon asked as he finished emptying the last skin with Farrell, "You’ve been up to more fiddling?"

Errol shrugged absent-mindedly, "You’ll see."

"Alright, we’re done." Farrell said, dropping the empty bag to the ground, "What is it you wish to show us?"

"Right this way," Errol invited, leading them to the other side of the cave with a mischievous glint in his eyes, "It was mostly Terran’s idea, anyway. You guys are going to love it."

The four men stood back, watching skeptically as Errol attached the holster to the boy, then picked up another wooden staff. He nodded to Terran to start, and the boy did so, well aware of the astonished looks the other men would be giving them as his sword went up in flames for an instant—just long enough to slice through the wooden staff.

"It’s the fire-sword." Terran explained, turning back to the dumbfounded onlookers, "This should give us a leg up on those shadows."

"How--?" Farrell started, staring at them wide eyed.

"When--?" Marcell tried, but found his tongue was equally dumb.

Aiden merely blinked owlishly, not even attempting to form a coherent sentence.

"You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Ro!" Eamon finally said, grinning even wider than his twin.

"And Terran." Errol added.

"And Terran," Eamon agreed, "Amazing."

"It’s ready for it’s field test." Terran announced proudly.

"You really think it’ll work?" Aiden asked Errol, "In battle?"

The man nodded, "After a little practice I’ll be ready to take it out. Terran’s mostly been testing it in here, there wasn’t anyone else to hold the stick."

Errol was suddenly flooded with volunteers, all of his friends wanting to ‘hold the stick.’

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