There were no witnesses of her arrival, but the old tree that stood atop the hill and thrust its roots deep into it. There was no one to hear the cacophony that surrounded her: the scrape of metal against the leather of scabbards, the clash of parrying blades, and the thunk of honed steel sinking into deserving flesh.

She did not tread lightly into the valley between the hill and its neighbors, but walked with confidence and ease, for she knew where she was going and what she intended to do.

Indeed, she strode directly up to the spot in the hill where the earth had been freshly packed some weeks before. It was a grave, and the only marker—the only marker worthy of one of her followers, was a well-made sword thrust into the ground before it.

A smile, as sharp and curved as a scimitar, graced her countenance. Someone had paid due respect and followed the correct tenets. She almost felt pity that she was there to make their work all for naught.


One dark hand grasped the sword’s hilt and extracted it from the ground. She held it before her and focused her power through it. Something beyond the physical elements, beyond anima or psi—beyond even the discarnate power of the Well of Souls gathered and she reached out into the nearly-fresh grave.

The dirt exploded out of the hole in a massive cloud, billowing in all directions as the great power dispersed it into the night. Yet, amid all of the buffeting and chaos, not a single mote of soil dared touch her. It was as if even the mindless earth knew better than to disobey.

From the hole came a glow where the true crux of her summoned power had gathered. It surrounded and raised up a body wrapped in linens according to the tenets of the Mother of Blades.

Once more, she was pleased, and directed her power to lay the body of the sainted dead at her feet. She loomed over him, holding the blade of the sword over the dead man’s heart.

“You have been laid to rest by those who cared for you. By those who took the time to learn the proper rites and respects due a Blade Disciple.” She spoke, looking upon the deceased with fondness. “And you have died a good and righteous death, wielding your sword in the defense of the helpless and the innocent. Taken together, this shows that you are among the best of my people. The most worthy.”

She raised the sword skyward. “And there is work to do.”

The light of Gracelia gleamed on the edges and planes of the weapon as it changed. The blade grew longer and a breath wider; the better to accommodate the seven tarnished seals that appeared along it.

“You will do it with this.” She said, lowering the sword. “Aba Issacor Trueddeles, awaken now and take up your new Seven Virtues Sword: Faith-Be-Rewarded.”

Within the linens, the dead man’s eyes opened.

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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  1. I thought there were only Five Virtues?

  2. My sarcasm detector is beeping…

    “…the scrape of metal against the leather of scabbards…”
    An intentional lampshade hanging on the silliness of stock foley? Since metal against leather, no matter how treated, doesn’t make a scraping sound no matter how much you try.

    And the seals on the new sword being tarnished to begin with sure does seem like a stab at young Earth creationists, as it’s very literally a case of a god creating something to be already aged and worn.

    • It still makes a scrape, just not the characteristic sh-ping. Run a butter knife across your wallet. It’s still a scraping sound.

      The Creationism thing isn’t intentional, the tarnish state is just how the seals look when inactive.

      The funny thing is, there is no Creationism on Ere because everyone knows the gods brought them to an already-populated planet from elsewhere.

      • Hmmh. I feel kind of stupid now. I never had actually thought of the term for ‘scraping sound’ as ‘sound caused by scraping’, rather taking it as a term for a particular kind of sound like a toot or a beep.

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