THE SENTIENT SWORD • by Hagan Maurer

They call me The Sentient Sword, but I prefer Bill. I was forged in the Fires of Timmy the Shimmy Smith. They call him that because his swords are always a little wobbly. I am no exception. However, I’m proud to say that I’m his only sentient creation. I’m less proud to say that the smell of blood makes me go limp. This makes it a little difficult for my master, Paul, since his job is to quest around the land and usually this involves heavy bloodshed. We realized this fact in my first ever battle.

He held me up and I have to admit I got caught up in the moment and a strange manic energy came over me. I screamed and yelled. The enemy stood transfixed. Paul held me up and charged, but as soon as I was plunged into the first goblin, there I was, limp as a dead flower. We barely made it out alive. He held me above the river shouting about how useless I was. Hardly even a sword! I remember him saying. I begged him to keep me around. I looked into his eyes and I could see him feel something. He begrudgingly agreed to not dump me in the river, but he had to get another sword.

So Paul went back to Timmy and demanded a sword as fierce and bloodthirsty as any sword ever put to flame. What came out was Bobble Head: a thick blade with a hard handle. Short, but filled with the mania of a giant (and the girth of one as well). I have to hide in my sheath every time he’s brought out. It’s a delicate balance between Paul, Bobble and me. Before every battle, Paul hides me in a safe place and Bobble and he go charging into battle. And I sit and wait, listening to the distant cries and clanking of metal. Eventually, Paul and Bobble will come back— Bobble slung over Paul’s shoulder, Paul laughing with hungry eyes and clothes matted with blood. Paul then washes Bobble in the river, lays him down in the sun to dry and plops down beside me with a groan.

I see his fatigue after every battle. I understand he’s got a job to do, but I can tell he wants out. Paul complains about how hard it is to make a living questing constantly. I’ve told him there are other options. He’s an incredible storyteller. I could listen to him for hours. But this is all he knows, so I just console him. I can make him laugh, not that hungry laugh, but one that lights up his face, his eyes shining like my blade in the sun. It fills my heart every time I see it. We have a real connection.

Then the night comes. Paul packs Bobble away and we stare at the stars, wondering if there’s any meaning in this life we share. Paul always falls asleep mid-conversation, mid-sentence most of the time. I watch his eyes meld together, his head sink back into the grass as he laughs at whatever unfinished thought he was trying to express. I’m the one he holds at night; his body, pressed against me, warms my cool blade. I focus on the weight of his arm, his breathing, slow and heavy, his face still speckled with blood. I wonder what it would be like to dream. I wonder what Paul dreams. I can feel Bobble’s case behind me. Paul’s fingers barely touch the sleek black lining. I sigh and look back at the stars, patiently waiting for another night to pass.

Hagan Maurer is an undergraduate at Drake University studying Writing, Philosophy and Psychology. His work has appeared in Agora Online Journal and Drake’s On-campus Journal, Periphery. Hagan currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa. He enjoys writing prose, poetry and music in all genres. When on a mountain you will see him looking up at the sky as if the universe is laughing at him.

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