Author's Note: Thanks and credit to Jax for drawing the cover for this story!
Individual Fragments of Certain Stories
The Third Fragment – The Legendary Blade
Lance dropped the large brown parcel on the table. It was secured tightly with string and was entirely nondescript. Nobody would have ever suspected that there was something unimaginably dangerous concealed within it just by looking at it.
The three youths stared at it.
"It's a good thing that nobody ever comes into this cafe, or there would undoubtedly be many suspicious looks directed at us right now," Lynne commented, regarding the package carefully. She was a serious young woman whose vocabulary made her sound much older than she actually was. She directed a glance at the owner of the cafe, but he was dozing off in his seat. It was hardly surprising that there was such a lack of customers when she thought about it now.
"It's too heavy for me to handle properly," said Lance as he began undoing the strings wrapped around the parcel.
The brown paper fell apart to reveal an exquisitely crafted scabbard emblazoned with shades of blue and gold. The gleaming hilt of the weapon had a similar colour scheme, with an elaborate handguard carved in the shape of a majestic bird.
It seemed just like the kind of weapon that a mythical hero would have used.
Leonard whistled as he ran his eyes over the ornate weapon. "Have you considered selling it? I'd bet anything that you'd get a truckload of cash for it," he said as he pushed his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. He was, as always, the first to consider the financial aspect of the situation.
"Well, I have thought of it before, but it's not something that I can do," replied Lance.
"Eh? Why not?"
"Here, it'll be faster to show you."
Lance opened the window next to the table the three of them were seated at. He picked up the sword with both hands and flung it out of the window with all his might. Lance dusted off his hands and the trio watched the weapon as it sailed out of the window. The next moment, it froze in mid-air, and its outline gradually faded away. It didn't take very long before it completely disappeared. Without a word, the trio looked back at the table.
The sword was in its original place, as though nothing ever happened.
"Hmm…" Lynne stroked her chin. "How do you think this happens? I still have my memories, so it can't be a pure reversal of time. A manipulation of cause and effect, perhaps?"
Leonard was similarly contemplative, but for an entirely different reason. His head was bent and he seemed to be mulling over something. There was a dangerous sparkle in his eyes when he finally raised his head.
"Look here, this is incredible, man. It's a real-life infinite money trick, the real-life Cotton Robes. All we have to do is keep selling this thing over and over again. We'll be richer than we could ever imagine!"
"I'd be arrested for fraud in an instant before that could ever happen," Lance retorted. "Besides, there'd be all kinds of unimaginable complications if the existence of something like a magic sword was made known to the rest of the world. That's something that I definitely have to avoid, since it looks like I can't get rid of it."
"Have you tried drawing it?" Lynne asked.
"No. You know how this type of legend goes, right? Way too many legendary swords can't be sheathed without drawing blood first," Lance said.
"Hmm. Yes, you're right. It'd be a problem if there was such a condition, since we don't know how severe the wound needs to be. In the worst case scenario, we'd have to come up with some kind of alibi trick..."
Lance rolled his eyes at the young woman who was seriously contemplating how to create a perfect alibi for murder and turned his attention back to the magic weapon before him.
"There isn't such a vulgar curse placed upon me. There is nothing to worry about."
Lance blinked and looked at his companions who stared back at him, the expressions on their faces just as blank as his. The deep, grating voice that he had just heard could not possibly belong to either Lynne, a female, or Leonard, who spoke in a high and slightly whiny tone. There was therefore only one possibility left.
"Yes, I am the one speaking – the Legendary Blade, Egeking."
There was no trace of movement from the sword on the table despite its speech.
Lance turned his head to the side with his arms crossed. "Do you think that's a mental link?" he asked his friends.
"The owner is still asleep, but that's not really conclusive..." Leonard said.
"Why is that the first thing that you think of when you hear me speak?" the sword demanded.
The three youths pondered this in silence for a considerable period of time.
"Well, it's something that's worth considering, isn't it?" Lynne asked, raising an eyebrow. Faced with such a point of view, the legendary sword had no answer. Lance took advantage of the lull in the conversation to change the topic.
"Why didn't you tell me that there was no curse?" he asked.
"What? You never asked."
"...You have a point there. But I didn't expect you to be sentient. Most swords in legend aren't!" Lance protested.
"Hah, don't underestimate me! I've been keeping up with the times. It seems that it is quite common for magical items to have a personality in this current age."
"How can you know something like that? You're a sword!"
"I have my ways; magic's on my side. Anyway, that's enough of this pointless small talk. Come, fated hero! Use me and fulfil your destiny!"
"So it really ended up in such a development, after all! Why didn't you declare something like that earlier?"
The Legendary Blade, Egeking, moved for the first time. It shook and rattled against the table, as though in protest.
"Usually I don't have to! My wielders have always had some great, urgent need for me! Perhaps they had to kill their most hated enemy, perhaps they had to protect an important lady, or perhaps they simply wanted to gain power and conquer the world! But instead, you simply tried to throw me away all the time, or otherwise left me untouched in a messy, dusty corner of your room whenever you went out! Do you even clean it?!"
The trio stared at the sword in stunned silence.
"So you don't bother cleaning your room now that you've moved out, huh?" Lynne and Leonard said simultaneously, breaking the awkward pause.
"Come now, let's not bring my personal habits into this discussion," Lance answered hastily. He readdressed the talking weapon. "Unfortunately, I have no such aims. Doesn't that mean that you've got the wrong person? Why did you suddenly appear in my room one day?"
The sword flipped around on the table. Perhaps this action was its equivalent of pacing about.?
"I have no idea myself. However, my wielders have, without exception, made their mark on history in one way or another. I'm sure that there are great things in store for you."
"Shouldn't you know more about your own purpose? Honestly speaking, I am disappointed of your capabilities as a magical weapon," Lynne said, shaking her head.
"How can I know something like that? I'm a sword!" Egeking protested.
"You just completely copied Lance's retort, didn't you? And what happened to magic? Honestly speaking, I am disappointed—"
"Ah, enough! It hurts my heart to hear a woman speak ill of me in such a way!"
"Your spirit is surprisingly weak. Are you really a legendary weapon?" asked Leonard as he rested his head against the table.
"All men are weak against women in some way," the sword answered sagely.
"...Aren't you a sword? How can you have a gender?"
"Isn't it clear that all swords are male, or at the very least male symbols?" the sword asked. It sounded quite puzzled.
"We live in a gender-equal society in the modern age. We don't use swords in actual combat any more, but either sex can use weapons, and fencing isn't an activity that's restricted to males only, either," replied Lynne briskly.
"No, no, no. That's not the point here, is it? Even if women do use swords, it's just not the same thing. They are, uh, fundamentally different in certain specific ways..."
"Hm? What do you mean?" The girl tilted her head sideways in confusion.
"It's nothing important, Lynne," Lance interrupted. Lynne could be surprisingly innocent when you least expected her to be. "Anyway," Lance continued, " all that is besides the point. I don't have any intention of using you in any way, Egeking. In fact, it'd great if you could tell me how to get rid of you as soon as possible."
Lance frowned. "What use would I have for a sword in today's world where tanks, guns, and airplanes are the prevalent weapons? The days where a magic blade and a strong arm could drive back an army are long over."
"Ah, didn't I tell you that I've been keeping up with the times? The power of a magic weapon comes from the magic, you know. I've easily adapted my capabilities to deal with the threats of the modern era!" Egeking declared confidently.
"And how have you done that?"
"Well, for starters, I can fire light-speed laser beams at a rate of three hundred per second with perfect accuracy up to a distance of 50 kilometers. I am a magical sword, after all."
"In what way is being able to fire laser beams an attribute of swords?!" Lynne yelled.
"...So this is what the President of the United States feels like when he boards Air Force One," Lance muttered under his breath.
Leonard grinned and rubbed his palms together with a frightening gleam in his eye. "Lance, if you feel like conquering the world, just let me know. I'll handle all of the monetary backing that you need to succeed in your campaign."
"No! I have no such intentions!"
"Unfortunately, I cannot control the magic that causes me to return back to your side, so you're stuck with me," Egeking said smugly.
"Fine," Lance said, sighing. "That's enough." He grabbed the string and brown paper and once more tied up the package.
"So what do you plan to do now, Lance? If what the sword says is true, you'll definitely need to do something. You're holding unimaginable power in your hands right now," Lynne said.
The young man dragged the parcel off the table with some effort and began walking towards the exit of the cafe. "Yes, I am well aware of that. That's why I'm going to bury this thing in my backyard right now, as deep as I can."
"What?! You can't do that!" Egeking's voice was muffled through the packaging, but it was clear that the weapon was absolutely horrified.
"Why not? That's the best way for me to avoid falling to any kind of temptation to use your power. I'm happy with my current life and I'm going to make sure you don't ruin it."
"Wait a moment! I'll just simply appear by your side again! There's no meaning in doing that!"
"That's not so. You mentioned it yourself earlier, didn't you? I left you in my room while I went out, but you didn't teleport next to me despite that. The magic probably doesn't activate if you're still located on my property. You also said that you can't control the magic yourself, so there shouldn't be any problems."
"That's even worse! I'll be buried under the earth for eternity!"
"You might have a new destined wielder when I die," Lance pointed out.
"Don't say that like it's a huge improvement! Well, in a way it is, but spending possibly eighty years in dirt is not good! Hear me out, first; I have a compromise!"
Lance paused in mid-stride. "...Well, what is it? If it's not good, then it's down into the earth for you."
"Hold on! Don't be so impulsive! It's my dangerous abilities that causing problems, right? I can't control the returning enchantment, but I can control my own abilities. I'll just return back to being a normal magic sword," Egeking explained.
"Even if you do do that, I have no intention of using you, you know?"
"That's fine! Anything is better than being buried underground. I have feelings too, you know! I'll be perfectly contented to just stay in your room!"
Lance closed one eye as he considered this proposition. A stealthy smile stole across his face.
"Alright, I'm fine with that. Deal."