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Random Fiction #3 – 113018

Carr drew the blade back and forth against the whetstone so fast and so smoothly, it hypnotized all those who cared to watch. He sat at the steel bench in the barracks on Tagart Bay, a stick of orange spice incense burning down to ash in an obsidian glass tray on the other side of the table. He held the gleaming blade in his left hand, slowly moving it back and forth in tiny circles, honing the edge to the epitome of sharpness.

His blades were legendary, not only in their ornate appearance with fancy hilts and delicate designs in the layer upon layer of carbon steel, forged from his hammer and utmost patience.

Carr was a master, one of the few left in the world, let alone the galaxy. Few gathered round to learn the skills necessary to carry on the tradition of the swordsmith, a dying art that would soon only be legend.

“What a waste of time,” Arondola said. He stood over Carr's right shoulder, peering down at the delicate dance of the blade. He pulled his Xk9rT7 blaster from his holster on his right hip, tossing the weapon from one hand to another, holding the barrel over his left arm, sighting imaginary aliens in the middle distance, picking them off one by one.

“You learn how to handle one of these, and you won't ever need one of them there ancient relics,” he said.

The next thing Arondala knew, a tiny blade pierced the edge of his boot. Carr's movements were so swift; he'd plucked the blade from his side and let it fly without ever taking his eyes off the whetstone. He looked up as Arondola leapt to the side, hopping on one foot as he examined the boot where the knife sliced through.

“A blaster does no good in close quarters,” Carr said. He turned his head slightly to the side to where Arondola stood. “But a blade will always come in handy.”

“You old fool, you better know damn straight that I won't forget that,” Arondola said. “You owe me 100 cubits for a new pair of boots.

“Our friend, Mr. Smith, is a fine cobbler and can fix those up for a mere five cubits,” Carr said. “No sense in throwing away a perfectly fine pair of boots when they can simply be repaired. Waste not, want not.”

“Enough with your fortune cookie mumbo jumbo,” Arondola said. He swung the empty chair on the opposite side around and sat in it backward. The heady aroma of the incense stung his eyes, and he shoved the glass tray as far as he could toward Carr.

Carr snatched the original blade from the floor, wiping the edge clean of Arondola's sole leather. In one smooth move, he had it in motion again, honing the edge back in place.

“You need a hobby, Arondola,” Carr said, breathing slowly to match the rhythm of the motion. “Something to take your mind off your preoccupation with fighting.”

“What are you talking about, I got plenty of hobbies,” Arondola said. “It ain't my fault if they all happen to involve dead aliens.”

“I see you are a man of many talents in the ways of the blaster,” Carr said. He stared deeper into the vision of the whetstone, and a vision rose from the table, plain as day. “This vision I bequeath to you, my gift to keep you from harm as you know nothing else.”

Arondola shoved his chair back from the table as the spectral vision joined with the whisps of smoke from the incense. It grew larger and drew in close to his face until he was eye to eye with it, trembling with fear. As his mouth hung open in fright, the vision disappeared down his throat.

He tried to cough, but it was only air, no form. In an instant it was gone, leaving nothing behind but the feeling of oneness with all living things.

“You're welcome, Arondola,” Carr said. He slid the chair back from the table and packed up his knife and whetstone.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

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