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Only choose

Black blades on every wall. The fading echo of footsteps. Short and long. Straight and curved. A dry, distant rustling. So soon? Too soon! Blades as plain as the truth. Blades as ornate as a bridal veil, crusted in enough gems to make a princess of the plainest bride. And the richest princess is a woman still, and every blade I find is, at last, only a blade, and in the passage comes the breathing of the beast, the beast that a white blade must kill.

Don’t think. Only choose. Fine words, old man. But there is the beast, and here is a sword of the eastern kind, familiar in my hand, a comfort though I know that I must fail.

The rush of the beast, and no space for thought, only for movements trained into the bone.

Ichor, burning like ice, and the snarl of the wounded at bay.

Ichor, burning the corrosion of ages from the blade of a silvered sword.

And the blade that slays the black beast shall be white.


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