Idiot, don’t just look, see. Those clothes are cut too finely for field-work. She’s even able to afford that fire-pattern embroidery at the neckline. She’s a highly-paid house servant, not a farmer, and this isn’t your home any more. Jaeziil had warned him to expect this, but it hurt nonetheless.
“Is it still a neckline if it exposes cleavage?” Tervud muttered to himself. He was reasonably certain he was a pervert, but had too little practical experience to be sure. He’d begun to suspect everyone was a pervert, and that some merely hid more acceptable perversions than others.
He meditated on his blades while he walked. This calmed him. They, at least, had not changed.
Rending Reckoner hung from his right hip. A flamboyant name, potent to a point, but overworked. He’d like it better as a teenager commissioning the pieces with the Cult’s pay. Like its twin, the sword’s blade was a mutant cousin to a scythe’s; slightly longer, built just as heavily, curved a little more, with a claw-cruel point. It was forged of brilliant sapphire-steel, aquatic blues laced with black and white streaks. Its guard was a hybrid, the first part a broad disk whose bladeward face was jet-black iron, rough-forged and somehow crystallized into rubies at the high-points of each hammer-mark. Its D-guard was offset to the inside, allowing him to grip it with the cutting edge facing up and inward toward him. Risky in blocking, but there were times–grappling, or binding the foe’s weapon with the other sword–when a swordsman might want to cut towards himself. Its grip was fine, tough maroon leather, with a pommel matching its guard.
Tervud continued up the path. Where had all these stately hedges come from? Where were the quaint fences, the wandering separs and laughing children chasing them? When had his birth-town becomes so stale? Pretty Malija and her fruit-cart, chilled by her own fledgling magic, were nowhere. He stopped dead on the final street before his home. The pitted Ansethi statue and its wind-worn names of the fallen, the fountains around it, the tidy little shops whose corners didn’t quite line up, and the butcher’s displays and the separ troughs and the tinker shop were all vanished!
You knew this was coming, he ordered himself. Stand up straight. Accept the loss. Use the longing.
Still, his hands crossed each other by reflex, brushing his blades’ hilts. In the childhood square’s place, he found a long clear pool surrounded by shock-white tiles, a hundred feet long. White trestles heavy with leafless black vines ran all along the pool on both sides, intermixed with pillars supporting a broad awning filled with clear glass. This last was the most ostentatious; some Murit families scraped for months to afford a glass pitcher. Until the Gravadans find a way to industrialize that too, Tervud mused.
He moved forward on the right side. If he was attacked, it would most likely be from outside, with the goal of pushing him into the pool and filling him with arrows. Or worse, a mage could just fire lightning bolts into the water and brag to the end of their days about cooking an Adherent. Regardless, he wanted his main hand toward the outside. For most purposes he was ambidextrous now, but he’d never quite got the hang of cutting from the draw with his left the way he could with his right. Even master swordsmen could die if they ignored the tiniest advantages.
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