Her Blade

She slid the stone along the blade in short, quick motions, shaping the edge and making the steel ring softly. The blade was single edged with a stiff, flat spine. Overall, a little longer than her hand and forearm, narrow near the grip but widening in a steady curve toward the tip to form a forward sweet spot for chopping, then narrowing again into a stabbing tip.

It was a common design, the kind made for farmers and wildmen to do everything from chopping wood and brush to gutting game or killing other men. This particular example had a brass grip with hardwood scales, a little better material than that on most machetes; the grip curved in and widened slightly toward the butt, giving better leverage for a chopping blow and keeping the whole from sliding out of the hand, while a guarded notch in the blade itself gave a place to hook the forefinger for better control. Thoughtful elements, pointing to a smith who knew his craft and took his time shaping his blades to the task. The deft balance of what could have been another clumsy chopper also supported this.

The sides were polished but showed the pitting and scarring of heavy rust, as if someone had left it out in the rain for a month once upon a time. This was in fact how she had found it, covered in red scales and discarded on a work table in a long abandoned shack by someone who had a better spare, or had died. She had taken it, polished it with sand, restored the edge with finer and finer stones, until finally she had a blade that she knew she never could have afforded new.

Not quite a sword, but better than a knife or a common machete. The pitting looked ugly, but she had restored the edge and all the roughness in the sides meant was she had to keep it oiled. A little fat from deer and wild boar did that nicely. The brass had polished up well too, pointing to the fact that the blade had once been beautiful, but that also didn’t matter. She didn’t need it to be beautiful, she only needed it to do what it did well, which was just about anything.

Finished with the edge, she turned it to the side to slide it back into its sheath and caught sight of herself in the polished parts of the flat steel. The pitting lined up with the scars on her face, hiding them at the same time it reminded her of them. She discarded the moment and snapped the steel into its leather case. Like the blade she had been beautiful once, but that time was gone, and she had important things to get done.

Like surviving.

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