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Three Swords

By Sybille Sterk

Note: When I was a kid I devoured stories about King Arthur. He was probably my favourite hero. Here's a story that's not directly about him, but about the swords in his life. Click on the paws to see pictures of the sword(s).

Picture 1

Picture 2

Clang! The hammer smashes the red glowing iron on the anvil. Clang! Clang! The smith grips the iron with a pair of tongs and throws it into the hot coals. Limping to the bellows he pushes with long even strokes. The iron begins to glow and glow even brighter until it reaches the colour of new cherries.
The smith drops the iron on the anvil again to shape it. Slowly the blade of a sickle emerges from what, at the beginning, was only a lump of hot iron.
The smith feels a draught from the door but he does not turn. Carefully, he moves the iron one last time into the hot coal, and back onto the anvil. A few more strokes with a smaller hammer and the sickel blade is almost finished. He dips it into a barrel. It sizzles and steam rises up. He flings it aside onto the cooling rack. Finally, he turns round to see who has entered his smithy.
The dim light of the forge shows three hooded people.
The tallest of the three pushes his hood back, revealing long silver hair and a beard. Green eyes overshadowed by bushy dark brows look at the smith.
The smith breathes in heavily and gives a short bow, “Welcome Taliesin.”
The second of the three pushes back the hood of her cloak. A severe face framed by long dark hair streaked with grey gazes at the smith with eyes almost black in the sparse light.
This time the smith’s bow is deeper. “Welcome Lady of the Lake.”
The last person hides in the shadows behind the other two.
“How can I help you?”
“You are a smith, are you not?” Taliesin asks him.
The smith nods.
“And you are the best.”
The smith nods again, “So they say.”
“We want you to forge a sword for us.”
“I don’t make swords any more, nor axes, nor knives. I’ve vowed never to forge a weapon again,” the smith replies.
“We need your experience and skill. This sword is unlike any other and it is for a king unlike any that has been before.”
“I don’t forge weapons. A sword is a weapon,” the smith insists.
“Then Britain is doomed,” the Lady of the Lake tells him.
“What does this have to do with me?” He wipes his hands on his apron and smoothes it down. “There are many smiths and some of them are good, as good as I am.”
Taliesin shakes his head. “None is as good as you. We need you.”
The smith shrugs his shoulders. “I don’t do weapons.”
“A sickle is a weapon in the wrong hands,” Taliesin points at the sickle lying on the cooling rack. “Anything can be used as a weapon, no matter how harmless its intended purpose,” he insists.
“True, but a sword is different. A sword has no other purpose than to kill.”
“No. The main purpose of a sword is to defend. To help those that cannot do so themselves.” The Lady of the Lake steps forward and holds his eyes.
The smith shakes his head, “Find someone else. I want nothing to do with it.” He turns and picks up the sickle to check it for faults. With a sigh he drops it back on the cooling rack.
“How will this sword keep people safe?” he mumbles. “Swords never helped anyone.”
“This one will,” Taliesin answers his question.
“How?” the smith insists.
“It will give hope to the people and unite them against the Saxon hordes.” Taliesin waves his right hand towards the forge, “Push them back to where they came from.”
“A mere sword?” The smith laughs.
“Not the sword but the man who will hold it.”
The smith shrugs his shoulders. “Who is this sword for?”
“The new high king.”
“Uther? He has a sword.”
“Not Uther. His heir.”
“I still don’t want anything to do with it,” the smith argues.
The last and smallest of the three guests removes her hood. Reddish golden hair frames a young face.
“We need you,” she says with a smile.
“I swore I would never forge a weapon again,” the smith stammers.
“We need you,” the young girl insists. The glow of the forge reflects in her eyes and lights up sparks in her hair. good =)
The smith sighs.
“Please, help us do this.”
“Why would you want me to do this?” the smith asks the young girl.
“Because the new High King is my brother. I am Morgaine.”
The smith bows his head to her, “My lady.”
“Will you help us?”
The smith closes his eyes and nods. “I will.” [...]

Copyright, Sybille Sterk 2002 - 2004
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