That damned weapon. I could still see it, in his hand. Not shining, no, not that one. The long, straight blade, that mottled grey color. The hilt, a two-handed hilt, hell, a three-handed hilt, with both of his hands on it. This rain is so cold, suddenly, and that injury doesn't seem to be normal. Oh, well.

We'd been fighting, he and I, over some silly little thing. Words, little bits of air with blades on them, flung back and forth, and then he drew it. For a sword so large, it seemed to move almost faster than I could see it. One moment, we were just exchanging wind, and then the grey sword was there, blurring the air around it. He said something, but I almost couldn't hear it. The sword drowned it out.

Oh, now I know I'm going mad. I'm actually believing that I could hear the sword. It whispered to me, sang to me, of cold earth, and of the worms that wait to eat you when you go down into it forever, and how it would send me there. Compared to that lilting, beautiful and horrific melody, who could listen to someone like him?

I was so distracted by its song that I almost didn't see him stab me with it. Again the blade moved with such hypnotic speed, blurring the air as it moved far faster than any blade that size should have. I'm getting quite tired now, so I think I'll stop writing, and go lie down for a bit…I hope this wound stops bleeding while I do so.

From the diary of Polir Gonen, artificier of Razis, discovered after his death. For further details, see National Information Ministry Report Two Twenty Seven.

The sun beat down with an almost malevolent heat on the high grass of the plains. The figure perched atop the roadside rock, however, appeared to have no particular problems with this. From a distance, one might almost have thought this to be some roadside shrine to a forgotten deity. However, as one drew closer, one could see the cloth waving in the strong winds, and closer still could make out the eyes and mouth of the figure. He was a man, approaching perhaps middle years, and he sat on the rock in the heat apparently untroubled by it.

His eyes watched the road, scanning the face of each of the few passerby. For nearly two hours he kept this up, though none were keeping track of the time. Apparently tiring of this, the man moved onto the road, and began strolling southward along the road, his eyes kept straight ahead of him. He was a reasonably handsome man, as such things went, though most of his figure was concealed beneath the dusty brown robes he wore. Around his belt was a rope, and tucked between the rope and belt was a single, rather full-looking waterskin. From this, he refreshed himself occasionally as he walked, his eyes not leaving the path as he did so. His bald head was covered by the hood of the robe, which he kept up, putting it back up with no hint of impatience when the frequent winds would knock it down.

He reached the town before nightfall. It was a small, dusty town – a nowhere town, one of those tiny places that spring up along the roads around a convenient water supply. The common room of the local tavern was small and quiet, and the tavern tender didn't even seem to have the spirit to try and gouge him on the price of the room, asking only a few coppers for the room, which were promptly handed over. The man, still without speaking, let himself in, and sat at the window, watching the shadows in the street below get long.

Immediately outside the nowhere town, there was considerable interest from the local crows in the new arrival. A figure, only recognizable as a person by the general outline, was dragging itself down the road by its fingers, digging them again and again into the dirt of the road. Judging by the injuries, this figure should have stopped even so much as twitching some time ago – stab marks puncturing nearly every major and minor organ in the body proper, slashes and cuts along the head, and little more than torn, bloodied rags covering the whole. All in all, quite the meal for the black scavengers, who were none too fat at the moment.

Unfortunately for the corvines so intimately interested in this individual, a farmhand going into town from his daily work caught sight of this figure, and with the help of a few others of his crew, they quickly got it into the common room of the pub, where they laid the figure out on the table. One of the men, walking in, was almost sure he had seen someone watching them move the figure in, but when he looked again to be sure, the window was empty.

The patrons of the pub crowded around the figure, and the town's only chirurgeon, a gentleman not too far gone in his cups, was called forward to attend to the wounds. The good doctor, however, was unable to render much assistance, as the figure had suffered wounds that should have rendered it immobile some time ago. He bandaged what he could, to keep what fluids he could inside the figure, and asked that the figure be given lodging, food and water until it was recovered. A collection was taken up, and many donations were received, for the interest of the locals was extremely piqued. The figure was installed, in great state, in the finest chambers in the building – a dubious distinction, to be sure, from the worst chambers, but as those participants with the full use of their voices agreed, it was the thought that mattered.

A few voices in the pub, most notably those of the older denizens of the nowhere town, were raised in dissent to these proceedings, explaining that anyone who was in that condition would certainly bring down trouble on the town, as injuries like that showed that someone fairly nasty was determined to bring them down. The populace, however, moved by the curiosity and novelty that was so rare in this isolated area, preferred to continue unabated, at least until the initial excitement wore down.

A few of those in the room with the injured person later said, after knocking back a few, that they thought they had almost seen something odd – a tall, fit man, in perhaps middle years, standing beside the door inside the room. But when they'd looked in that direction, he wasn't there at all.