Edran had always been fascinated with the blade. It had been in his family for generations and wielded by some of the bravest men to walk the world. At least that's what his uncle, Belak, told him. Their visits to Uncle Belak's town house near the market district were trips of wonder. If he wasn't out with a lady friend, of which he seemed to have several, then Belak would enchant Edran with tales of battles and family heroism. His uncle called the sword Agans, which in the old tongue meant Reaver, though Edran wasn't entirely sure if that was its actual name.
His grandfather, the last of the Doja men to carry the weapon into battle and on whose lap he currently sat, whilst the old man snored off the evening meal, would not talk about it. Ever. Why that was, had bothered the eight year old boy for their last few visits to grandma and grandfather's cabin in the mountains. His every attempt at a question about it rebuffed, until he was told off or gave up in sullen frustration.
When he'd proudly told his grandfather he knew the sword's name, his grandfather had gotten very serious. He'd leaned forward and looked right into Edran's eyes, "It's just a sword, lad."
Edran knew better. It couldn't be. Maybe grandfather had forgotten, he was getting old now and mother often joked with grandma about his forgetfulness.
What could be so terrible about it? Could he not just hold it once? It was hidden now, removed from its case on the mantelpiece after his failed attempt last visit to grasp it.
Surd Doja, the Bear of Berast, studied his rapt grandson through sleep-feigned eyes. He knew the look well. At Edran's age his father had told him the story of his paternal grandfather, Rosun, at Camdoon Pass.
In a moment of heroism
THE PASS RAN RED
Rosun had charged the Skorn tribesmen, slashing and slaying with Agans until his fellow warriors joined the fray. Together they threw back the invading force long enough for more swords to come to their aid. Rosun died of his injuries two days later and, in all, only six of the fifty defenders survived. He was heralded as the saviour of the village and the Doja family standing rose greatly as a result.
Surd's father had given the blade to him on the day of his majority and he had wielded it in several minor skirmishes before Berast. None of them had prepared him for that day.
As they left the valley to move onto the plain the tribesmen had swarmed, so many clans in a single place, who could have guessed. Running forward with a death song in his heart, he knew he would die there. But he hadn't. At day's end bodies covered the floor in all directions like a grotesque carpet. Women moved through a sea of limbs as he stood motionless, sword in hand, unable to remember what had happened, unsure whether he was living or dead.
BATHED IN THE SOUP.
After his senses returned and his wounds healed, Surd had sought out the veterans of Camdoon Pass. Only one still lived and he but barely. Their talk was brief, the details frightening. Rosun had charged the tribesmen from a hidden position above the pass, a place where the smaller numbers of the villagers would have wreaked terrible carnage before the tribesmen were able to organise.