The Red Blade
Part Fourteen – Blade
The city of Ardanium faded away in the distance as Carse stood at the prow of one of the many barges that plied the great river Shalahir. Ahead were the many cities that dotted the Swordlands before the river reached the distant one of Qaiqala, mightiest of them all. Behind, nothing existed for him any more in the city of his birth. Too many painful memories existed there, and too many questions that would be asked.
At his side he carried the Red Blade still, while his tattered finery had been replaced with his normally sombre clothes, at least until he could purchase new ones. He had the funds, at least, plundered from the bodies of Borovdan and his men. He had not touched his friends, nor Haqam, the assassin who had saved his life, and more than saved it.
It had been magic that had fed the beast in the sword and that had drawn it out and into Haqam in an attempt to use him. The Mysteries were too dangerous to dabble with, not if that was what it could unleash. If it were so, it were best that never more should he touch it.
The captain of the barge came up to join him, looking down the river. The man was not Akuvian, instead being of Cahadia, where Shalahir had its origins.
“You are welcome to stay with us as far as we go,” he said. “Where are you headed?”
“South, to Qaiqala,” Carse told him.
“We aren’t going all the way, but there will be other boats you can hire onto as a guard. I didn’t catch your name earlier.”
The captain raised a brow at that. “Just Carse? You won’t get far with a name like that in your line of work. You need a name that stands out, that people will remember.”
“Carse of the Red Blade,” he said automatically, without thinking. He did not know why he had used that name, but it had rolled of his lips before he could stop it. The captain showed no adverse reaction to it, simply nodding.
“That will do. Interesting name.”
“Interesting enough,” Carse replied, “But you can just call me Blade.”