1 – Is this Magic?

Clang, clang, clang. The slow soft rhythmic sound of metal hitting something off in the distance. The heat slowly rose and fell. Soft murmurs echoed in the background.

"How much longer?" a melodious voice asked.

A darkness that seemed impossible to penetrate.

"Almost there," a deep rough voice said, quietly.

I longed to open my eyes. To see where I was, experience new things, and to see the world finally.

"Now, the final touch."

It was the rough voice again. What did he mean by final touch? A searing pain shot through my body. I wanted to scream out in pain but my voice would not come. What was happening to me? I was suddenly plunged head first into some cold water. I realized now that they were trying to kill me. A desperate desire to escape somehow. Just when I thought that I was going to drown, I was pulled from the water. I tried to suck the air into my lungs, gasping at the cool air.

"Wow, it's beautiful. Your skills have not been exaggerated, Master Zen. I'll leave the payment here," the melodious voice chirped.

The sound of soft metal hitting some form of hard wood preceded by a soft hand grabbing me. I was dragged off before I could protest. After walking for what seemed like hours we finally stopped. Things started to become a little clearer for me. I was with a young woman. Vibrant purple hair curled graciously around her face. It was kept short, barely chin length. Wide golden eyes, which held a fierce passion behind them. A bright glow emitted her desires. A cute button nose and small mouth. A petite frame hidden beneath black leather armor. Consisted of a breastplate, arm guards, and leg guards. Beneath her armor she wore a simple white tunic, a pair of well worn brown pants, and supple tan leather boots adorned her feet. To the untrained eye, she was just another lad off to find glory and honor on the battlefield.

"Now, I have to find them," she whispered. Golden eyes narrowed, as she continued to think about whom she wanted to find.

"Who?" I was finally able to ask.

"AHHHHHH!" she screamed.

I was thrown high into the air. Once gravity took hold I crashed back down to the solid earth with a loud thud. "That hurt!" I complained.

"My sword..." she stuttered. "It talks." She collapsed into unconscious.

"Her sword talks?" What did she mean? "Did she just faint?" I questioned, out loud.

I sighed, heavily. Of all the things she could have done, she had to faint. I know I didn't look my best, but that was going overboard. I felt hurt to get that kind of reaction from the fair maiden. I didn't really look that bad, did I? The bushes rustled.

"Hey, wake up," I urged.

The young woman stirred.

"Do you really think the treasure is this way, boss?" a voice asked, annoyed.

"I'm sure," a gruff voice replied, confident. "Keep looking!" he barked.

"Hey, boss! I found something," a man shouted, happily.

The girl sat up and rubbed the back of her head. A group of men entered the clearing.

"A boy with a sword. How is that something?" the gruff man shouted.

Why do they keep saying something about a sword? She doesn't have a sword. How could they not see me? I was sitting right next the girl. They seemed to believe that she was a boy. I thought that it would be better keep it that way.

"Maybe, he knows where the treasure is?" came the lazy reply.

I was able to get a better look at the group and our surroundings. There was three men in total. We were out numbered and outmatched. What treasure were they talking about?

We were located in some kind of a forest. Massive trees surrounded the small clearing. You could not wrap your arms around the trunk of even the smallest tree. Each tree had luscious green leaves and deep brown trunk. Branches interlocked near the crowns of the trees. An assortment of fruits and berries adorned the branches. Yellow fruits, oranges fruits, red fruits, and berries galore. A vast canopy of wildlife scurried about the branches. Countless birds of blues, greens, oranges, red, purples, blacks, whites, and pinks. A strange brown mammal clung to a branch eating a strange elongated yellow fruit. The other animals hid quickly behind or within the massive trunks. Giant twisted roots offering the tiny creatures protection. Some of the trunks bore visible damage. Deep gashes from some kind weapon or another. Broken branches littered the ground outside of the clearing. The trees reached towards the sky. A small stream was located somewhere behind us. The sound of water was barely audible. The earth was hard beneath us. A rich dark brown in hue, fertile land.

The leader of the mysterious trio was intimidating. Looking like he could break us in two without breaking a sweat. Massive arms and ripped chest. A scowl on his sculpted features. Towering over the girl in height. Dark, brown hair which was long and shaggy covered his ears. Crimson eyes glaring daggers straight through us. A white military tank top, camo pants, and black combat boots.

The man on our right looked like a mouse. Must have been the one with the annoying voice. To me, it looked like he didn't want to be here. I determined that he was no immediate threat. Moss colored eyes lazily stared at the two of us. His forest green hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail. Lanky in appearance. Very average in all aspects of the word. Messy black shirt, wrinkled green vest, and dark green pants. Scruffy brown boots on his feet.

Finally, there was the who must have been the happy one. He looked like a pansy to me. The way his stupid face is grinning at us. Probably couldn't use a weapon to save his life. His entire purpose must be to annoy people. Vivid bright orange hair, kept short and spiked, slitted silver eyes. An ugly, bright yellow jacket, purple long sleeve shirt, dark red pants, and tan boots.

The girl was starting to panic. She rushed to my side. I would have to protect her. "What do you want?" she stuttered out.

"Isn't that cute, Mael? He's scared," the annoying one taunted.

"It's pathetic," he replied, grunting. His attention shifted to the happy one. "Ravi, clean up this mess. I'm going to look elsewhere."

"Go help the boss, Ramiel. I can handle this alone," he spake, grinning confidently. His persona took on a different feel. "Besides, you hate doing extra work," he teased, tormenting his green haired friend.

"Whatever," the one called Ramiel said.

Ramiel rushed off after their boss disappearing into the vast sea of trees. A huge grin spread on Ravi's face. His silver eyes now mocking us. "Shall we get acquainted, miss?"
He rushed towards the girl. Drawing a simple small dagger from his ugly, yellow jacket. The girl let out a piercing scream. Panic rose within me. This guy was serious. We couldn't just sit back and let him do as he pleased. We would have to stand and fight. Instead, the girl whisked me off in the other direction. Running as fast as her legs could carry the two of us. Tears formed in those golden eyes.

Our pursuer let out a mechanical laugh, menacing in nature. Eyes darkened with pleasure as he hunted his prey. "Now, the real fun begins," he cackled.

The girl pushed herself harder. Desperate to get away from our follower.

"We should fight him," I coaxed.

"You've got to be kidding me!" she said, hysterical.

"There is only one of them now. With the two of us, we can easily take him," I rationalized.

She glanced behind us to see that the man they called Ravi was gaining on us. Her large eyes widened in fear. Lungs desperately panted for air. "He's catching up," she wailed, out of breathe.

"Stop running and fight him," I commanded, my voice filled with authority.

"AHHH!" the girl cried out.

We tumbled headlong into the ground, crashing down hard. A stinging pain coursing through my body. Her right boot was trapped in a large twisted root. The morning sun tried to shine through the canopy of tree leaves. She finally wiggled her foot free of the root losing her boot in the process. Face covered in dirt and tears still streamed down, evidently in pain. She attempted to crawl away as her tormentor drew ever closer, rapidly. He laughed sadistically at her feeble escape attempt as he grabbed her right leg. He pulled her towards to him and tossed me dexterously aside in the process.

"NO!" she screamed. She tried to kick him away, but he effectively trapped her legs under his. All I could do was watch the horror unfold. Why couldn't I do anything to help? Why?

"Looks like the game of cat and mouse is over," he whispered, sadistically in her ear.

In desperation, she shoved him hoping to push him off. He easily pinned her arms above her head. Everything was futile against him. She screamed as everything went dark. The girl's screams echoed in my head.

A muffled sound in the dark. Where was it coming from? What was that sound? Why do I have this strong desire to find out what it was? My eyes felt so heavy. I couldn't open them. Darkness, all around me. Was it because my eyes were closed? Why was there only darkness? The only thing in the darkness was that sound. A single rain drop hit the ground in front of me. A light burst forth from the rain drop.

In the dark she cried. Her purple hair tried to cover her tear stained face. She was just sitting there as tears streamed freely down. Our mysterious attacker seemed to have vanished. He was nowhere in sight. We were left alone in the forest. Did she manage to drive him off? Or did he leave of his own accord after achieving whatever it is that he wanted?

"Are you alright? Where did he go?" I asked.

I received only silence.

"I asked if you are alright? What about that man?" I asserted, agitated.

Still only silence.

"Answer the questions!" I snapped.

She stared fiercely. Her eyes glared daggers at me.

"Do I look alright? As for that prick he already left. Something just caused him to up and leave, disappointed. I don't know why," she snapped, angrily.

She was covered in dirt but also blood. Was it her blood? Or his? Several cuts were scattered across her body. Clothes were torn in places almost falling off at times. Her black leather breastplate was gone or missing. She still only had the one boot. A complete mess. Her gaze turned away from me. Lips pressed tightly together.

"What really happened?" I questioned, quietly.

I felt guilty for not being able to help. She was only hurt because I couldn't do anything. All I could do was watch helplessly. Like a small child. I received only silence in return to my question. "Can you just answer my questions?"

"I don't want to talk about it," she yelled and stalked off into the woods with me in tow.

"Why not?" I asked, after we walked for several minutes in silence.

"I don't want to," she replied.

If looks could kill, I was certain that I would be dead right now. Her expression was one of pure rage and anger. Whatever happened to her was far from being a pleasant experience. Was she tortured? Or something else?

"You..." I started to say.

"JUST SHUT UP!"

The birds flew away in terror from the angry young maiden. I should have kept my mouth shut but I was never one for knowing when to hold my tongue. She threw me straight into a tree. I hit the massive trunk hard. Despite her condition, she still possessed a lot of energy. Her eyes had focused intensely on me.

"What do you know?" She yelled, pointing at me.

I held my tongue as she continued her tirade.

"You can't help me," she snarled.

She wouldn't let me help her.

"No one can. You're a sword, a useless sword," she cried.

Her mood completely shifted over the course of that rant. She just broke down crying.

"I'm a useless sword," I spat, seething.

Why does everyone think I'm sword? I'm not long and pointy. I'm not made of metal. I don't cut things. I was just like the rest of them.

"I'll show you," I threatened and attempted to chastise her. "Huh? This is strange. I can't move. Where are my hands? Or even my legs?" I panicked inside. What was going on? Nothing made any sense to me. Could I really be a sword?

"Take me to that stream over there," I demanded.

She merely shrugged her shoulders and complied with my wish. The only thing she had done since I met her was cry. I longed to know why she kept crying. Unable to figure out how to ask without bringing on the waterworks.

"AHHH!"

It was my turn to scream. The reflection was the image of a sword. A beautiful sword, but a sword nevertheless. A longsword, I concluded based on my length. The metal was a mysterious black in color. A decorative hilt graced my side. Two elaborate bat wings spreading out, with the blade representing the body of the bat. The pommel was two smaller bat wings interlocked in a tight grasp, each wing held the other. Was I always sword? I don't remember becoming a sword. My mind raced over the possible explanations.

"How is this possible?" I whispered, defeated.

"I don't know but you surprised me." She let out a small laugh. "I thought I was buying a normal sword. One that didn't talk." she explained.

"Is this magic?" I asked.

"Magic? What is that?" she questioned, curious.

"Magic is..."

She looked at me with her golden orbs filled to the brim with excitement. I didn't know how to explain what magic was. How did you define something that was suppose to be a legend? Something that was not meant to exist. A relic long forgotten or hidden.

"Magic is hard to describe. But, I am going to try and explain it to you." I affirmed, pausing to gather my thoughts. "Magic is an old method people use to use in the past. People used magic to make weapons, build things, and control the elements. Magic was widely used by all kinds of people. There was no single purpose that magic could be used for. Those people formed what we know as the Magic Guild. They used their magic to help people with every day needs. Whether it was fighting monsters, or fixing problems."

She hung onto my every word. Her eyes never left me. The idea of magic flowing through her mind. A small smile creeping onto her face.

"But, magic only existed in stories. No one knows anything about the old ways. Especially, anything about magic," I said.

The smile dropped off her face. "Then, what about you?"

"Me?" I was startled. "What about me?"

"You're a talking sword. Not exactly "normal". Maybe you were made with magic or something," she said, trailing off.

She did have a valid point. Perhaps, I was forged with magic. I knew how to describe magic even though I should have know nothing about it. I even communicated my thoughts out loud. My whole existence was thrown for a loop with the discovery that I was a sword. I never thought I was any different from the people I saw.

"First things first, though. Why did you run away and not fight?"

I received another glare from her. A rustling sound echoed near by.

"Just my luck," she whispered, worried.

A gangly man appeared out of a large red bush. Brown hair a disheveled mess. Wild green eyes shifting back and forth. Clothes, which were practically rags, a complete mess. In his hands a small steel dagger. His stance was odd, different.

"Give me all your money," he threatened, shakily.

The girl stared at the man, unsure of what to do. I could tell the man appeared desperate. The man sauntered up the girl.

"I said, your money. Give it to me," he threatened again.

"NO!" she shouted, swinging me wildly at the man.

The gangly man side stepped the blade with ease, a confident smirk on his face.

"That's not how you use me," I said, trying to scold her.

I don't know if she heard me or not. The girl screamed and fled once more from the encounter. Out of all the people that I could have gotten, I somehow ended up with a coward.

"You need to stop running away all the time," I reprimanded, after we put some distance between us.

"I can't help it," she responded, expression darkening.

"Why not?" I asked, annoyed.

"I don't want to talk about it," she refuted.

"You never want to talk about it," I growled.

She glared at me again. One of the few responses that she knew. All she ever did is glare, cry, and yell. Makes one curious about what had happened to her to make her this way.

"You don't know how to use me, do you?" I bluntly asked.

Her eyes widened as her mouth hung open. She was clearly surprised by the bluntness of my question. Or maybe it was astonishment at the question itself. I was beginning to think I was right.

"What makes you think that," she stuttered and fumbled over her words.

I would've smirked. If I wasn't correct, I doubt she would have stumbled over her words. She really doesn't know how to use a sword. Or maybe she doesn't even know how to fight. Why did she even buy me if she didn't know anything about swordplay? I sighed. "So, it's true then," I said, exasperated.

I thought she was going to yell at me, or tell me to shut up at least. Surprised by what actually happened. Her face gazing at some distant point in the future. "Yes, it's true" she whispered, quietly.

My worst fear was confirmed. I couldn't understand how things ended up this way. I would have shook my head, if I had one. Since we began, it has been one bad thing after another. I don't know which one of us had all this bad luck. I couldn't bring myself to chastise her, though. Something about her expression held my words in check. Her inner thoughts were reflected on her face. It just didn't make any sense to me.

"Why did you buy me if you didn't know how to use a sword? Or even know how to fight?" I questioned.

"So I could..." she said, as she trailed off. She just stood there. Her mouth refused to open. It didn't look like I would get my answer right now. I would have to wait until she was ready to tell me.

"We should find a teacher," I mumbled.

"A teacher?" she asked, looking at me.

"Someone to show you how to use me. We should be able to find one in a city," I said.

She was skeptical and looked like she was debating whether or not to trust me. At first, she didn't say anything. "Are you sure that will work?" she asked, finally.

"You'll never find "them" if you don't learn to use me properly," I stated.

This resonated within her. Her mind swirled with memories of the past. "I have to find them," she said, quietly. "Let's go," she finished.