Two moons over, p.27
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       Two Moons Over, p.27

           Levi Shipley
you’re old enough, but I will have to ask ye for papers if a purchase is to be made.”

  Cecil replied, thinking it wasn’t much of a way to reply, “Are you Felix?”

  “Aye,” He said and pushed on his nose to the left, “My folks didn’t give me a traditional aemon name. Thought namin’ me after the novian rock star from their day would be fine. And it is, I suppose. Why do ye ask?”

  Cecil opened his mouth and drew a blank. He was so excited about what had been happening that his mind pushed the passphrase back into his mind. But it wasn’t so far back that he’d forgotten. “From the ashes of lies comes truth.” A pause then, “I’m a friend of Partheus.”

  The smile that had been on Felix’s dark red face shook into a frown then grew to be twice the size of the smile. He walked over to the front door, locked it, and spun the closed sign out. He turned to see Cecil’s eyes straight on as if to make sure it wasn’t a ruse then said in a low voice that was not quite a whisper, “I haven’t heard that in ages. And I mean that quite literally, young falla’.” He saw that Cecil wasn’t going to slap his knee over that and said, “Follow me. And don’t make too much noise. Not that we’re being watched or anythin’ of the sort, but ye can’t be too sure.”


  He led Cecil to the back next to the gun cases and to the middle of an isle with shelves full of ammunition. There was a drain cover here which Felix bent down and removed. Under this was a thick iron ring attached to a similarly thick chain. Felix looked at it and said, “When I was young, I laughed at the ease of this. But we must all grow old and wither someday, mustn’t we?” He looked at Cecil with a pleading frown, “Would you mind?”

  Cecil didn’t speak but reached down and grabbed the ring. He pulled it upward, and its chain followed. When it became taut, he began to pull and not just lift. There was a stiff scraping sound as concrete slid together, but the ease of lifting this trap door was displeasingly unchallenging to Cecil. It made him think that Felix may very well not be holding up as well in old age as his elven friend was. The block was round and might have weighed eighty or ninety pounds, or only a few ounces for all Cecil knew. He set it aside, being sure not to scratch the floor and make this isle suspicious. He looked down at where the fake drain had been and saw a ladder leading down into darkness. He felt quite sure Partheus said the arms were in the back, but Cecil guessed this is what he meant.

  Felix led the way. When he reached the bottom and turned a light on, Cecil followed. As Cecil climbed down, a horrible thought passed through his mind for a second, that he could just put the slab back in place and leave Felix to be trapped. Cecil climbed.

  The room at the bottom was empty save for a table and chair in the corner behind the ladder. All three of which were covered in dust. Felix walked ahead to a flat stone wall. There was an iron fixture with an old but very thick rope mounted to the wall. The rope was short and ran into a hole in the wall above his head. He looked at Cecil with that same embarrassed frown. It seemed to tell Cecil that he would know what it was like to be feeble someday, but for now he was strong and could help, and had to.

  Again Cecil said nothing but walked up to the hook. He grabbed onto the rope and tugged. At first he thought it would snap, but it held its ground and made a leathery stretching sound but did not give way. He pulled harder and found himself lifted off the ground. He let his feet come down again and jammed his right foot under the iron mount. Now he would have to take the wall with him if the rope decided to lift him again. At first he thought it would be like that or that the rope would break, but it finally came forward a few inches. Then it was a few feet, and before long the smooth wall under the hole revealed itself to not be true smooth. A heavy gray stone door slid up into the compartment above. When the gap from the floor to the bottom of the door was enough to walk through, Cecil stopped. He had another two feet of rise left to pull, but the rope coming out of the hole was frayed, and he feared it would break if he kept stressing it. He tied the rope to the mount, making sure he wasn’t pulled off the floor again, and waited for Felix to take the lead.


  “Good as it’s gonna get, I s’pose.” Felix remarked and then indeed took the lead. The next room was as large as the store above, but there was no iron here. Cecil saw most of the things he’d seen upstairs, but the versions here were all crystal, pure and true. Felix took a breath and sighed, “Anything you want and it’s yours.” He considered then said, “I’ll even sell it to you at its counterpart’s price up there.”

  Cecil walked around in astonishment of the crystal wears. These things would still be just as unmarred in a thousand years as they were now, no matter what hell they could be dragged through. The armors were breathtaking, but armor was useless to him. The weapons were of more interest, and Cecil took fast interest to a buster much like Dahzir’s had been. This sword, however, was a rich blue and had white crescent shaped moons suspended inside the blade. The handle was more than large enough for both of his hands and provided good balance even with the enormous blade. He lifted the sword a few times to gauge its weight, and to him it felt weightless, though he was sure it was quite heavy. There was a bit of a hand guard, but not much. This guard was a deep jet black from an embedded paint. The handle was made of swirling black colored crystal and gave a wonderful bit of grip. There were pores in the handle for further grip, and Cecil thought it reminded him of sand paper. It would never slip. The pommel was bulbous with a white crystal orb for balance held in place by four black claws.

  Under the sword’s resting place was a sheath made of small interlinking sheets of steel and leather binding. Cecil donned it and adjusted its buckles. It appeared to have been made for an ogre based on how much he had to adjust, but he brought it to fitting. He took the buster with its gaudy blade and well-made hilt and sheathed and unsheathed it several times. The sound of the crystal rubbing against the steel pleased Cecil, as it sounded like finality. Only the last foot and a half of the blade actually went into the sheath, about two feet on the bottom slope. It came out easily and was not hard in the slightest to guide back into the holster. Cecil liked it, and with a broad smile turned around and nodded to Felix.

  “Seems you are quite strong indeed.” The aemon laughed and shook his head, “The sword you’re holding is called Bane Edge. Buster swords made of steel have dulled edges, because they are hard to keep up with and don’t need to be sharp. Bane Edge was the choice sword of Trothos’s top general Titus. It is a fearsome thing in the hands of anyone strong enough to wield it, for the edge of the blade is sharper than razors. A good enough swing can rend anything in two.” He looked down at his feet as if to make sure they hadn’t been cut off just from talking about the sword. Then he raised his head with. “That is the only weapon down here with no copy up there.” He bent his right thumb and moved the hand up over his shoulder, “You see that is a unique one. One-of-a-kind, ye see. Were I to sell it under normal circumstances, it’d go for a fortune. Maybe a mil, maybe two.” Again he lowered his gaze, “But since I’ve none to pass my savings to, I’ll make a deal. All you have on ye, save the copper, for I’d lose that anyway.”

  “Well,” Cecil began, still with the giant’s sword on his back, “that would be a mere two thousand troths and some.” He saw the color run out of Felix’s face, making it almost pink. Then he added, “Of course, you’ll be doing the land a great favor. And I’d say a favor owed can be awfully valuable itself.” As Cecil uttered this, he heard a crunching noise. It was a snapping, one strand at a time. Before he could warn Felix, the door they had come through slid to the floor and blocked the passage. The ancient rope had held its last.

  Felix laughed cynically, “Never mind, you take that sword for free. For all the good it’ll do us now.” Felix walked over to a wooden crate next to where Bane Edge had been and sat upon it. He seemed as if he had expected this to happen. “I should’ve replaced that rope w
ith a cable years ago.” He sighed. “But I didn’t think I’d have much business down here after the Chrissenians fell.”

  Cecil looked at the slab of stone that sealed them underground. He had no intention of staying but humored the calm old man. “So how did you get your hands on this sword? Titus has only been retired a year now, and I would think he’d have kept this.”

  Felix was sitting with his head propped in his hands and staring dreamily at the dust on the floor. He said, “How does the bird get seed? It wakes up early and gets the prize before all the others flock to it.” His head raised off his hands, and he proceeded to knit the two with their gnarled old fingers together. “It also doesn’t hurt to have a good store of coin. That sword cost me two hundred, and I had to sign books of contracts tellin’ them I’d not reverse engineer the thing. Can’t say why Titus didn’t keep it.”

  “Well,” Cecil said, “If I can I’ll find a way to repay you someday. Maybe it won’t be in coin, but perhaps you’ll have an esteemed position. I will try.” But that day never came. Of course, Cecil couldn’t have known that then. He looked at the slab
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