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A thin and pale Damsel had come ashore off a tiny boat.

She walked hurriedly eastward upon the highway through the forest like a crimson blur, following the map that Lily of Avalon had drawn for her. A shiny pendant in the form of an ouroboros dangled from a thin, silvery chain around her skinny neck.

Beneath her lush fur mantle and crimson cloak was a sheathed broad sword. The lash of cool steel was hexed with a powerful curse that promised misfortune to those possess it. Upon its surface was an inscription made by the most skilled blacksmiths scouted by Lily herself. To inscribe it, they drew the blade and burned the words into its surface using tiny quantities of a very strong acid. Then—to satiate the sword’s thirst—they slew ten men, cleaned off the cursed steel with a silken handkerchief, and returned it to its trick scabbard where it fumed at its new manmade scar.

The message was composed by Lily. It read that whoever could draw the sword would be granted great power, and had to fight for the individual who had bequeathed the sword to the new owner. She placed the magic sword in a scabbard that was also of her handiwork. The weapon would not become unstuck until a hidden switch is flipped. That way, the owner of the sword could choose exactly who would be able to draw the sword by flipping the switch right before the intended knight attempted to draw it. In reality, it was the Damsel of Dál Riata that was calling the shots.

She intended for King Arthur draw the sword. Thus, the king—and the crown—would then have to fight as her champion, and she would command him to kill her brother, Cade Ellison, for killing her lover.

She suddenly heard hooves clip-clopping up ahead on the highway. An old man riding a horse emerged around a bend.

She walked towards the old man.

“Kind sir, is Camelot that way?” the Damsel asked the old man.

“Not a Sir, young Lady,” he said as he lifted his hat and set it back down. “The Young King has no room at his table for a man as frail as me!”

He chuckled, wiped a small tear from the corner of his eye, then nodded as he pointed down the way he came.

“That it is, young Lady, Camelot is indeed just south along this here road,” he replied without stopping. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to be getting on. Don’t want to be late!”

She watched the mounted old messenger continue down the highway a short distance before she called out again.

“Dear old man, can you help me with a problem?”

“Oh, I’m mighty busy at the moment,” the messenger replied. “I have to get to Haverton within the hour, then it’s off to Sharpton before nightfall.”

“But it’s a small problem,” she said. “And it requires a man’s strong touch.”

The old man tugged lightly on the reins of his horse, and turned about.

She pulled away at her mantle, revealing a shoulder.

The old man, intrigued and aroused, approached slowly.

She peeled back the rest of her mantle and unhitched a catch, sending the heavy fur cloak falling to the ground with a light thud, and revealing a sheathed sword at her hip.

The messenger froze, and his horse backed up a little.

“Why do you have a sword, my Lady?” he asked nervously.

“It is my family’s, I’m delivering it to my rich uncle in Camelot. I wanted to make sure I could protect myself in these woods in case I ran into any bandits and, well, it seems like the sword’s stuck,”

“Stuck?” he asked, curious, staring at the scabbard, or perhaps at the soft, pale skin behind it.

“That’s right,” she said, nodding slowly.

“Well,” he said, smacking his gums a little. “Alright, fine. Here, let me take a look at it.”

He dismounted the horse and received the sword and scabbard from the Damsel.

He tugged the hilt, to no effect.

“You’re right,” he said. “It really is stuck in here.”

He gave another tug before raising an index finger.

“Hang on a second, I’ve got a little oil on my saddle. I’ll run it down the blade and see if it loosens it up. I’m sure it’ll do the trick.”

He walked to his saddle and perused the pouches.

With his back turned, the Damsel activated the hidden switch upon the scabbard and drew the weapon slowly.

“Oh, there it is,” she said softly. “Ah, but it’s thirsty. And not for oil…”

She ran the blade through the man with ease, then retracted it from his back.

He cried out, and reached down to his abdomen to find his hands covered in crimson. He turned about to find the Damsel with a wet blade.

“That’s… is that…?” the old man said. “Why do you have that, child?”

“Thank you,” she said. “For slaking its thirst. Your blood may be rancid, but blood is blood.”

She held the reins of the horse with one arm as she passed the blade through the front of the man’s throat with the other, then fought to calm the spooked horse. The old man gargled for a moment with his hands at his throat before slipping off the blade and collapsing onto the floor, convulsing in shock.

“Whoa, there, whoa,” she said as the horse pulled against the reins.

After she managed to calm the horse, she walked it back towards her fur mantle as the man bled out on the ground. She perused the pouches of the saddle for some cloth, wiped Tyrfing’s blade clean of blood, then replaced it into her trick scabbard. Then she mounted the horse and headed down the highway towards Camelot.

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