Sunday, October 15, 2006

Circular Story part 1

A couple of notes: This is none of the stories I intended to put up here. I know how the story ends, but not how it gets there, so this stuff is likely to be gutted and rewritten when I've finished. That's also why it has a work-in-progress name. And this is just the introduction.



When the Great Boar came from the West, and all the weapons of the kingdom broke on it's flanks, Terisen went to Ardigan the steelsmith, and asked him to make a sword. Ardigan promised him a sword of such superlative strength that nothing, even the Great Boar, could withstand it.

Ardigan worked for 20 days and 20 nights, using 5 cartloads of charcoal. The steel was folded a hundred times, and the sword quenched in blood...

Ardigan couldn't control himself any more and the laughter escaped him. Putting down the book and lifting the hood of his gown, Mikis gazed back at him.

"What is so amusing, young sir?"

"Blood!" said Ardigan. "Noone uses blood to quench a blade. It would just boil away, and the steel might crack. The impurities would get into the metal. Oil is what you use to quench a blade. The steelsmiths would beat me if I suggested using blood to quench a sword!"

"Nevertheless" said Mikis, "that is what has been recorded. The records of other lives are written so we can know what has happened. This is what the Order of Records does."

"But blood..." said Ardigan.

"All of life is a wheel," said Mikis, "but the road it turns on changes. There are fashions in all things. The Book of Ardigan is written in prose as it was updated a century ago. But three hundred years ago it would have been in blank verse. And five hundred years it would have been written how?"

"In hexameter couplets" said Ardigan. "But that's writing! If you use a different form, it doesn't break the page."

Mikis snorted. "Have I taught you nothing? Hidesplitter, The sword Ardigan forged to kill the boar - what pattern was it?"

"A straight sword, a horseman's sword"

"Do we use them any more?"

"No..."

"Before Hidesplitter Ardigan, what pattern of swords were used?"

"Short swords"

"And why?"

"Men fought from chariots using spear and bow."

"And now?"

"Men fight from horseback with sabre and lance."

"Yet, men still fight. The fashions change, but the wars continue the same. Before the Great Boar, men would fight their wars by dueling against their enemies, but killed their rivals by stealth and ambush. Now we overcome our enemies by any means we can, but duel with our friends over trifles. The wheel turns, and we live our lives again. The seeming is different, but the meaning the same."

"Is that where your scars came from?" asked Ardigan "From dueling?"

The bell rang for the end of the study hour. Mikis sighed.

"Again, you miss my point. But that time is over, go now, down to the river to swim with the other students. Perhaps tomorrow we will learn something."


Ardigan couldn't remember a time before he knew who he was. The spring after Ardigan's first birthday the priests of identity had come to his village. They tested all the children who had been born since they last climbed the mountain. Ardigan showed that he had been reborn, his spirit knowing things from a previous life. The priests took him with them when they left.

Before he was three, his aptitude for metal, his quick growth, and other, subtler signs showed that he was Ardigan, swordsmith to kings and heroes. His entry to the Academy of the Reborn was assured.

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