“Welcome home.” stated Alma as I walked into the room. She was busily working on several computers via spells while texting on her phone with one hand and holding Caladfwlch with the other.
“Aren’t you supposed to be taking the day off, so you don’t appear to be in two places at once?” I asked.
“Mila’s routing this through my home network for me, and I’m being careful not to cross paths with my past self. I do remember what I’ve done, darling.” she replied. “Before you ask, no, I haven’t made any real progress determining what to get Portentia yet. I am looking.” The last was said while holding her phone for me to see.
“I don’t know if we’d be able to find clothing that Portentia actually likes. Her tastes are a bit unique.” I told her, remembering how she reacted to the dresses she had tried for my birthday party.
“Yes-yes, but I could could always make a variation of these designs to better fit her needs. I’m sure she won’t protest to looking less like a hermit as long as the clothing is comfortable, durable, and allows for movement.” she argued.
“I suppose. If we fail to provide something she likes, we can always do something else for her.” I suggested.
“I will find something. Just let me know if you come up with any good ideas.” she insisted. Then she suddenly thrust Caladfwlch toward me.
“Already tired of your family’s sword?” I asked.
“We were fine until you returned. As we’ve been speaking, the sword’s been growing heavier. I can also feel it wanting to go to you. I’ve tried communicating with it off and on, but all I ever receive are somewhat vague impressions from it.” she explained.
Taking hold of the sword, I sighed before telling her “And here I hoped we’d be able to get it to sing.”
Alma frowned, staring up at me.
“Sorry. I’m not the one who is disappointed that a sword won’t speak to me.” I teased. Seeing her cross her arms, I quickly told her “I am glad that you tried. At least we can guess that it can’t speak.”
“Right. Well, I have much to do. The others haven’t seen Caladfwlch yet. I’m leaving that to you.” she informed me, turning back to her computers.
I leaned down and kissed the top of her head. Then I said, “Let me know if you desire any company while you’re avoiding time off.”
“Thank you. I will.” she told me, sounding happier.
Instead of heading to the ballroom to see if anyone was gaming in there, I checked with Mila to see where Jarod was as soon as I was out of Alma’s wing.
“He’s in the lab, master.” she replied.
“Is Aurora with him?” I asked.
“Yes, master. He’s having her look over the design for his new power converter.” she explained.
“Ah. I can’t imagine her telling anyone about my new friend here, so I guess that doesn’t hurt.” I admitted.
“If she tried, very few are likely to guess what she means.” agreed Mila.
I jogged over to the lift and jumped down, since Mila already had it descending for me.
Jarod glanced up and then stared at me. “What is that he asked after a moment?” he asked, pointing to the sword.
“Caladfwlch.” I replied, pulling it out. The flame from the chimeras blazed forth, igniting the blade into its extraordinary glow.
“Master, Aurora knows.” stated Mila, sounding amused.
“Knows what precisely?” I asked.
“She brought up stories of Arthur and Excalibur when Jarod asked about the sword.” replied Mila.
“Is Aurora interested in myths?” I asked, looking over at Jarod.
“Myths!?” he exclaimed. “How can you hold that sword and call it a myth!?”
I shrugged and said, “Some myths were based on fact, but that doesn’t mean they get the details right.”
“Neither does the news, but people still quote it as fact.” he retorted wryly.
“Touché.” I replied. “Still, I wonder how she figured it out that fast.”
“She’s brilliant and has an incredible memory.” explained Jarod. “How did you get that? Can I hold it?” he inquired, shielding his eyes as he tried looking at the sword.
I nodded, handing the sword over to him. The light went out, and he dropped it immediately. For a fraction of a second, there had been a sort of pressure against my mind, like something trying to communicate telepathically, but the feeling was gone. I quickly caught the sword before it hit the ground.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, stepping back as Aurora ran up to him.
“I heard something like a growl in my head. Maybe not a growl, really, but the same sort of malice was there.
I found the idea that Caladfwlch didn’t like Jarod to be preposterous, but I wasn’t coming up with any other theories.
“Hello?” asked Jarod, answering his phone. “Really!?” he asked, absently patting Aurora’s head.
She was hugging him while periodically squinting at the sword in my hand.
I sheathed it. Having heard Mai telling Jarod that Muramasa was glowing, I wondered if Caladfwlch somehow knew that Jarod had Muramasa. “Interesting.” I commented.
“Yeah. We’ll come up.” stated Jarod before hanging up. Then he told me “I don’t think our swords like each other.”
“I’m inclined to agree with you.” I admitted.
“Aurora, go back to work. I’ll be back.” stated Jarod as he pointed to her station.
She stood there, staring at him.
“Oh, fine. I suppose it is time they meet you.” he told her.
“I seem to recall Alma needing something.” I teased, looking away from him.
“Ha ha.” he muttered. “You’ve gotta be interested in seeing what’s happening.”
“Yes. I do.” I replied, following him onto the lift with Aurora close behind.
As we rose, Aurora tentatively poked Caladfwlch. I moved the sword, positioning the hilt toward her and was surprised she actually drew it. A faint light emanated from the blade, so I guessed my sword liked her. I quickly snatched the sword, returning it to my sheath, when she moved to poke the ground. I didn’t really want a hole there. I shook my head when she looked up at me with a frown, but I didn’t have a clue how to explain to her how dangerous this blade could be. I was going off rumor, of course, but I had no doubt that the sword’s ability to cut would match Muramasa or Midnight. We jogged over to the East wing and headed inside.
Ai looked ready to say something when the door opened, but her mouth snapped shut as she stared at Aurora. When she glanced at me, she suddenly curtsied.
With a groan, I said, “Please don’t.”
“Lady Pendreigh would be displeased if I failed to meet basic propriety, your worship.” she insisted with a mischievous grin.
“Aurora, this is my wife, Ai.” stated Jarod, gesturing toward her. “Aurora’s my lab assistant.”
Aurora saluted, and I found myself wondering again what being inside her head was like.
Mai came running around the corner and grabbed Jarod, pulling him away.
Ai stepped closer to Aurora, took the hand that was pointing at Mai, and said, “You’re beautiful, aren’t you. I want to hear everything you do with my husband in the lab.”
“Aurora doesn’t talk.” I informed her.
“Oh? A lab assistant that doesn’t talk. Care to explain?” she told me, sounding like she was giving me an order.
I pulled out Caladfwlch and said, “I must be off. I’m on a mission.” When Ai looked away from the light, I grabbed Aurora, lifted her in one arm, and ran after Jarod.
“James!” called Ai as she chased us.
Muramasa was sitting on the table in the war room. I wouldn’t have said the sword was glowing precisely, but the area around it seemed untouched by Caladfwlch’s light. The distortion from Muramasa actually reminded me of Raine. Perhaps the Slayers weren’t far off when they called it The Demon Blade.
Jarod picked the blade up, and I could hear its song of battle. As always, Muramasa was ready to kill. Equally apparent was the calm of Caladfwlch, a sense of patience.
I wasn’t prepared to see Jarod toss Muramasa toward me. What was he doing? Should I dodge? No. Ai sounded too close. What if she touched the blade!? I quickly set Aurora to the side. Then I grabbed Muramasa’s handle, turned to Jarod, and asked “What are you doing!? This sword’s too dangerous.”
“Huh?” he asked looking at me like I was being crazy. “I knew you’d catch it, and it wouldn’t hurt you even if you stopped it with your palm. I wanted to see what would happen if you held them both. Seems like they’re both happy enough to me. Show off.”
He wasn’t wrong about how the swords were reacting in my hands, but I still felt that was reckless. I handed his sword back to him as I said, “Don’t offend the sword either. They obviously can be touchy.”
“Fair point.” he replied, nodding as he set Muramasa back on the table.
“Is that really safe?” I asked.
Jarod hugged Mai and said, “My wife likes keeping it close to hand.”
“The whispering can be a bit distracting at times, but I think the sword’s happier nearby.” explained Ai.
“Now tell me about Aurora.” stated Mai.
I turned to see Aurora looking back and forth between the twins.
“Pardon, but Cosette is asking if she and Raine may enter.” stated Mila.
“Whoa. You two reintegrated Mila?” I asked the twins.
“Jarod insisted.” stated Ai.
Then Mai said, “Please let them in.”
Guessing those two had noticed us running past the ballroom on our way, I felt there were quite a few questions about to be asked. I quietly apologized to Alma, thinking I’d be quite a while before stopping in to visit her.