The Wretched Kris

Under the light of a gibbous and waning moon, the hermit uttered blasphemies older than the written word as he worked the metal. In the cave by the coast of what foreigners would call the Pacific Ocean, he worked the white-hot ingot with the expertise that a calligrapher used a brush. The blade seemed to partially form itself from the folded steel, as though it was a venomous adder emerging from its burrow. As the curves formed, the hermit quenched the glowing metal in a trough of virgin's blood.

The hermit had once been a rajah's personal smith, a wealthy and respected man in one of the warring Malay kingdoms. A treacherous advisor's tongue had taken away his stature with false charges of treason, causing him to seek vengeance using forbidden and eldritch powers. His desire for revenge grew like a malignant tumor as he availed himself of lore from a mad poet's tome.

The hermit's sanity had waned as isolation whittled down the trappings of his former identity. Time lost all meaning, save as a way to observe when the stars were right. He worked at night, his ramshackle forge illuminated by the eerie light of long-dead stars. As his hammer struck the nubile iron, he ritually chanted a curse. He pledged the souls of himself and his intended victims as sacrifices to a dark, dreaming god beneath the unbounded ocean he beheld.

The hermit held a Platonic vision of the intended weapon, which came closer with each passing night. Meteoric iron became a passable blade, as each hammer strike iteratively brought the weapon along a Dho-Na curve from imagination to incarnation. If metalworking was magic, the hermit was a master sorcerer. He embellished the weapon and its sheath with the finest gemstones and carving, performing it at a fraction of the time of a master artisan. His dark gifts would leave the finished product an aesthetic masterpiece.

The hermit completed the kris under the light of a full moon. Using the weapon to slit the throat of an unfortunate traveler, he consecrated it as an instrument of his dreaming master's will. Disposing of the body in his cave, the hermit set about delivering the kris to its intended recipient. He held the weapon's point at the sky, and divined his master's whims through interpretation of scintillating reflections. He walked deep into the jungle along a muddy road, and he hid the weapon beside the gnarled roots of an ancient tree. He trusted in fate to achieve the rest.

The following morning, a traveling merchant stopped to rest beside the tree. His curiosity was aroused by a shape that protruded from a knotted and gnarled root, and he found the sheathed kris. Drawing it from its rattan sheath, he admired the glistening patterns on the finely sharpened blade. Recalling that cursed kris blades would often be disposed of in the woods, he was tempted to leave it.

The merchant's avarice held sway over his sound judgment that day, and he would take it with him to a nearby village. As he displayed his wares in the marketplace, an ornately dressed man spied the kris. His corpulent paunch rebounded with each step, yet the merchant's attention was drawn to the man's gaudy garb. The newcomer demanded the merchant surrender the ornate kris, on pain of death. The merchant acquiesced without a word, internally glad to be rid of the blade.

The same man that seized the kris was the same that exiled the hermit. He brought the kris before the rajah, intending to brandish his recent acquisition. His plans to flaunt his trophy quickly vanished from his mind as otherworldly influence crept into his mind.

The advisor came to the rajah's manor that day with his body ritually bound in ropes. Drawing the wretched kris from its sheath, he ran amok among the royal court. Moving faster than his girth would allow him, the possessed dagger-man slew his sovereign with the masterful stroke of a practiced assassin. As he carved through the panicked nobles and his own kin, he could not help but laugh.

A dozen of the best swordsmen in the village swarmed the madman, but received naught but mortal wounds for their trouble. The berserk rage that filled the former advisor made him shrug off the weapons deployed against him as though they were fragile toys. In the end, it was a volley of arrows that finally killed him, perforating him like a meaty pincushion as he futilely charged to close the distance with his killers.

The hermit smiled when he heard the news from a passing traveler. His travails and toils had not been for naught, as he had achieved revenge far greater than he had hoped for. When he had heard one of the soldiers that had killed the advisor had claimed the kris as a prize, he knew his efforts would outlive him. The weapon would be passed down the ages, it would leave a blood-soaked path of death and madness in his wake. He immediately returned to his cave, eager to forge more instruments of his master's will.