“It’s a saber, but you’re just calling it a sword to spite me. You won’t get off that easily. Sorry, my dear. There isn’t anything that says you can’t be the bearer just because you aren’t a man. Although you are a lady, that doesn’t exempt you from completing the mission. It’s yours till death do you part.”
Hanna sat there pensively for a few seconds as she pondered his words thoughtfully. She was good at thinking before she spoke. Her mother constantly reminded her to weigh her words carefully, for she said something. That was probably just because Hanna had a sharp tongue. She often said things she later regretted. But her mother’s constant reminder had ingrained positive habits over the years.
She still felt the strange buzz of the saber thing vibrating deep in her bones. Hanna felt a strange sense of mental focus and physical strength greater than ever before. It wasn’t a bad feeling. She actually enjoyed it.
“So, let’s say I do leave and go on this adventure, as you call it, what happens when I reach the city of Akstrond.”
Ixa immediately leaped to his feet and clapped his hands excitedly. “Oh, I can’t tell you that. The mystery is part of the adventure. You will only be told that when you arrive at the city gates with the sword in your hands.”
Although, the word feet was used loosely as he jumped around, because Hanna noticed that the strange, ghostly man didn’t have any. She definitely wanted to run home and leave him behind as soon as possible.
“Well, I don’t want to throw a bucket of cold water on your plans, Ixa. But I’m too young to go off on my own. My parents will never let me leave.”
She shrugged and tried to look sad. Hoping he would accept her excuse and give up in defeat. Hanna felt the saber loosen in her hand. She could wiggle the tips of her fingers. Then she felt the middle of her fingers began to loosen. And finally, her fingers all wiggled freely.
The saber almost dropped to the ground, but she managed to hang on to it. She leaped excitedly to her feet as well. Only for a different reason. She lunged forward around the hopping, hooded Ixa and threw the saber through the rune cubes. It disappeared.
Hanna stood there for a few seconds in shock. She hadn’t actually expected it to fade away like that. She had half-expected it to bounce back onto the ground or worse yet, land back in her hand. The girl spun toward Ixa to see how he would react. He looked disappointed, almost sad even. But he didn’t yell at her or try to stop her as she backed away to run home.
Ixa sighed heavily. Then raised his hand to wave at her when she glanced back.
“It’s for the best,” Hanna yelled back at him. “If no one else survived the adventure before, I’m sure I wouldn’t either. It’s better you find someone else who has a higher chance of success.”
Hanna turned back to the woods as she shouted these last words. Still walking quickly to get away from Ixa before he changed his mind and chased her down. Somewhere between a step and a twist, her foot caught on a gnarled root. Hanna spun down, face first, into the leaves and twigs.
She came up gasping for air while spluttering dirt and foliage from her mouth with half a mushroom still stuck onto the bridge of her nose. She brushed it away and glanced back at Ixa. For a moment, she thought it might be his influence to keep her from fleeing.
The figure still stood there silently. She couldn’t see his face under the dark hood. Hanna also noticed that the rune cubes were no longer behind him. They must have slipped back down to where they came from.
Hanna kept walking. Still glancing over her shoulder every few steps. Then she looked back again, and he was gone. She paused for a moment. Disappointment flooded through her. For a brief instant, Hanna had almost hoped that he would come after her. Forcing her to head off on this adventure. She could have had an excuse for her parents if they chased her down.
She shook her head. Shocked at her own thoughts. Did she really want to go? Alone into the forbidden wilderness beyond the forest. Then she thought of the comfort of her home. Her soft bed. Hot food. Mother’s warm embrace.
Nah. Hanna knew she would be much better off here in Binklaustur.
“Hope you find a good man to bear your saber!” Hanna shouted back into the clearing. “You might want to try Steinn Asmundur. He would probably make a good Bearer for Swift Saber.”
Hanna blushed when she said it. He was strong and cute. She wouldn’t mind heading off on an adventure with him, though. Then she turned to run home and left the empty clearing behind.
“Goodbye, Ixa, and the best adventure I never had,” Hanna said with one last glance over her shoulder.