It was dark and cold.
Tetsuko tried to expand her awareness, but nothing changed. I can’t sense much beyond this room, she thought.
For a moment, she thought she had died again and was floating between worlds. But she knew it wasn’t that. She hadn’t died again.
The soul in the sword knew the reason.
It was because of her new scabbard.
The blacksmith didn’t have to work much on her; there wasn’t a single scratch on her blade. After he cleaned and oiled her, he made a new sheath with that strange reddish wood.
Tetsuko waited anxiously for her new home.
When she was human, she only made the sheaths herself when she felt the blade was a masterpiece. The others she left for her apprentice. It was the same as her father.
When the blacksmith finished and closed his fingers around her, Tetsuko’s energy went out of control. It was only a little, but enough to make the large man drop her.
After staring with his bearded face full of suspicious, he placed the sword inside the scabbard.
She felt great. It was the first time she smiled out of joy since coming into this world.
It feels like a warm bath on a cold day all…
At the time, she was too happy to realize.
Even as the blacksmith put her on the shelf along with the other swords, all Tetsuko could think was how snuggly her new scabbard felt.
But after she closed her eyes and let her mind drift, she noticed her senses were dulled.
Before, the soul in the sword could hear and more importantly, sense much more than what was before her sight. But now, it was as limited as her vision.
She couldn’t even sense the blacksmith coming in the next morning.
It’s the scabbard, she knew, all her happiness about her new home gone as if it had never existed.
With great effort, despite her limited senses, she could feel the same twisted energy coming from the wood.
But can this be possible?
Tetsuko struggled but had no idea.
For now, I’ll focus on what I can control.
When the night came and she was alone, the soul in the sword closed the eyes she didn’t have.
Focus… I need to focus on myself… focus on my energy and ignore the twisted one embracing me…
It was faint, but she could sense her own energy. Then Tetsuko made it slow down until it almost stopped.
Despite not having lungs, she took deep breaths and separated just a fraction of her energy and made it move along the edge of her metal body.
The speck of cold blue energy went from the base of the handle to the tip of the blade and then came back on the other side.
This is the limit of my body…
This is the limit of my blade…
But I know I’m not limited to it…
Trapped in that twisted scabbard without knowing when or if Nicolas would ever use her again, Tetsuko could only focus on herself.
In order to train to control her powers, she went through what she had done so far.
When Alonso was fighting those three bandits, I made my energy flow faster. That made my edge sharper.
That’s how I sliced those armors and weapons that I couldn’t before.
But due to the frenzy of the battle, Tetsuko didn’t notice at the time. Only now that she relieved the battle she realized there was a thin layer of energy surrounding her edge.
That was the reaction of my energy… that made me sharper.
But back then I was only making my energy flow faster.
If I do this…
Using the same speckle of energy, she made it go from one side to the other, circling again and again.
Her metal body began to vibrate slightly.
It was almost nothing. It didn’t even rattle the metal. Much less made the scabbard tremble.
She separated another piece of her energy and did the same thing.
The energies moved in opposite sides, as if about to crash.
The metal vibrated faster.
Now she was making some noise, though nothing much.
The sword began to rattle.
Tetsuko managed to move her metal body.
The shaking became stronger.
Even shelf was shaking slightly on the hinges.
Tetsuko poured more energy into the whirlpool.
A few weapons fell from the shelf due to the rattling, the noise echoing in the silent forge.
Even so, the soul in the sword didn’t stop.
Her new scabbard began to crackle like fire tossed into flames.
The energy was burning inside her.
But she didn’t stop.
The reddish wood cracked. She could see her own blade.
The next moment, the scabbard shattered.
Tetsuko was free.
Her senses were flooded at once. She felt every soul in the bandits’ lair.
But she didn’t care.
So far, she couldn’t do much with her energy except become sharper, no matter how much she tried.
But now was different.
Tetsuko was controlling.
She trembled so much she fell on the ground with a loud metal sound.
Only then she stopped.
Yes, she thought wildly.
Despite not having a body, she felt tired. Tired but satisfied.
Tetsuko had no idea if shaking like that had any use. But she knew it was an important step to controlling her energy and herself.
In her head, she couldn’t stop smiling.
I can do much more!
“I knew… I knew… there was something… in there,” a low voice said.
Nicolas was standing at the door, staring at her with his eyes wild despite the pain in his face.
Shit! I was so focused on myself I didn’t notice him!
As she focused her senses, Tetsuko realized there was something strange her new wielder.
Then she realized. I can’t sense the twisted energy inside him.
The former Sword of the King picked her up by the little scabbard left and stared at the blade, looking into his own eyes reflected on the sword.
“Who are you?” the man asked in a strange voice.
The soul in the sword stared at him, checking again if the twisted energy was truly gone.
Despite being free for now… he seems… desperate…
I’m Tetsuko, a blacksmith in a faraway land whose soul ended in this sword, she thought, projecting her energy into his hand, hoping her new wielder could her hear.
“A human in a sword,” Nicolas said his eyes wild. “I’ve seen a lot, but this… I knew there was something in this sword when you ate that soldier’s soul… but to think it was a human…”
You sensed that?
The man nodded. Then his eyes lost the spark for an instant.
“Shit… he’ll wake up soon,” Nicolas said, pressing his temples with the free hand.
Dale, Tetsuko realized. Despite the pain, the man nodded. So it was him behind Alonso’s misfortune…
“Yes,” he said in a pained voice.
But why? What would he gain by manipulating all this? How come you’re under the control of that twisted energy?
“Because… he wanted more pawns… Especially high nobles…”
Nicolas closed his eyes, trying to withstand the pain.
At the same time, Tetsuko felt the twisted energy inside the man. It was like a drop in a lake, but it was trying to grow.
Despite suppressing it, Nicolas was losing.
“I don’t have much time… Dale has a plan… I have no idea…what it is… But ten years ago he put this twisted energy inside me… I lost everything because of him… and now he wants Alonso…”
Nicolas fell on his knees, panting.
Despite her wielder’s pain, Tetsuko felt nothing.
Why are you telling me this? I am but a sword.
“Because if you can eat souls, you can eat his energy… I can’t fight him… I’ve been losing to him over ten years. But if you can eat him… or at least part of him… I might… be free…”
Nicolas rested against the wall.
If I can truly devour that twisted energy, it’ll become part of me, Tetsuko thought, more to herself than to her wielder.
She knew it was risky. But if I learn how to use my energy… adding his…
The twisted energy was almost at its full strength, but the former Sword of the King’s eyes still had the fire of soul in them.
Cut yourself with me, Tetsuko projected the thought with her energy.
Nicolas didn’t hesitate.
He held out his arm and placed the edge against his skin.
Then he pulled Tetsuko by the handle.
As her edge slashed the flesh and the blood flowed, she felt the twisted energy racing inside her.
It was as if jumping into frozen waters.
Tetsuko felt her mind being dragged by a stream.
Damn… it’s more powerful than I thought…
She closed her eyes and focused on her the edge of her body, on her energy.
I’m Tetsuko… I’m Tetsuko… she said to herself, as if those words were an anchor to her consciousness.
Little by little, the energies settled inside her. But I’m not devouring the twisted energy… neither is it trying to control me…
Nicolas panted too much. “I felt it… you ate part of him… didn’t you…?”
Yes… it’s stronger than I thought…
“You have… no idea…” Nicolas closed his eyes, trying to fight the twisted energy. “Can you eat it all…?”
Tetsuko thought for a moment.
I can try.
Despite his pain, Nicolas opened one eye and smiled.