The Era of the Iron Blade: Prologue(Fiction)

The world pretends to know nothing of war, but the conflict between man and creaturekin dates back to before the first sword.

Beasts occasionally drifted too far from their nests, and would terrorize settled lands with their mangled manes and magnificent maws. They came feathered and furred, small and sneaky, large and luminous. Some were peaceful, allowing peasant eyes to ingest the allure of their midnight wings, their flaming eyes. Others saw them as small, feeble snacks, and would scoop them up to feast upon.

Humans, weak as they were, used their minds to survive. They noticed that, of all the land surrounding their settlements, those filled with iron were quiet. No beasts took up residence in or around parts of the land ripe with the simple metal. The feeble ones, with their developing minds, sought to take the iron from its bed and surround their villages with it as best they could. It was not an easy task, as tools for this sort of work were yet to be perfected. Collecting iron was back breaking work, albeit profitable. Those that carried out the deed were rewarded with extra food, land, comfort from the cold–leading to competition, leading to growth.

This angered some of the beasts, for their hatred of iron burned like fire. Having the smell of iron closer to their hunting grounds caused them to associate that hatred with humans, who were then attacked when journeying out for supplies or contact with other settlements. Since lining strict pathways with the powerful metal proved too difficult, the feeble ones tried to wear it upon themselves. Charms, rings, belts–anything they could craft that held a bit of iron became essential. While it did not always keep the beasts at bay, it helped in some small way. Still, the blood of the feeble yet spilled because of claw and talon.

Eventually, the heat of anger flooded into the minds of mankind. No longer would they live in fear, lives dictated by the fright instilled by screeches and howls in the night. They took the heat of their hearts and created the hottest fire the heavens would allow, fusing their rage with the iron to create tools of protection. At first, only long rods were created. Thwacking large beasts with these surprised their furred countenance, sending some running in fear. Others took it as a challenge, fighting back. It was the first time man had truly fought back. The beasts now thought twice before challenging their once-feeble-game. Most, anyway.

One fiend, known as the Beast of Blackened Blood, tore life away from the wife of a once happy man. Her death lit within him the angriest fire of all, which he released into the world with dark intent. With it, he bent iron into the very shape of his soul, the simple pole becoming flattened, but carrying an edge as sharp as the cut of true loss. Holding it was impossible, as latching onto his pain made him all the more unable to continue living. He had loved his wife, and thought often of wrapping her up in her favorite blanket on nights with chill breezes and unrelenting darkness. Thus, he cut a length of the cloth from that blanket, wrapped it round a small rod, and meant to attach it to his blade, connecting his love to his pain, using the memory of her to help him cope with the stinging edge of the sharpest loss. To affix the handle, he needed a middle piece. While the beast had killed her, she was not felled without dealing out damage of her own–his wife had been strong. Stronger than he. With the iron she had at hand, a bone talon had she wrent from the beast’s lashing claw. The man took it and saw it behaved somewhat like iron when heated. Melting one side to the blade, and the other to the small, blanketed pole, he forged the hilt of the bone talon, to ever remind him what had caused his sweet swaddled flower to leave him with a wretched red scar in her place.

Such was the first blade to grace man’s hand.

The feeble man had used his mind and anger to grow the claw he had not been given as birthright. Many feared for him, as the Beast of Blackened Blood was known to be one of the fiercest of all beasts. The man did not fear. He merely wished to cut the beast from this world as it had cut his flower.

The man found the beast, and readied for battle. The fiend slashed madly, yet the man slashed madder yet. It’s claw tore at his cheek, but he then separated the claw from the creature’s arm entirely. Shrieking with pain and despair, the beast attempted to use its large, sharp beak to take the sword. However, it could not do as it had intended–the man drew back, then ducked forward to slice open the chest of the beast, it’s terribly dark blood oozing slowly from the gash, hissing from upon the blade’s edge.

The beast retreated some steps, gathering it’s bearings. Curiously, it did not retreat entirely. Behind it lay a smaller, scared version of the creature. A love.

The man, his eyes red with lust for vengeance, cut through the black blooded beast’s leg, leaving it on the ground, slow and nearly helpless. He ran beyond, closing in on the smaller beast, which appeared too scared to run.

“So stolen whence from me, I too purloin from you.”

With the beast watching, he cleaved free the head of the smaller beast, causing the large to roar in a fit of rage and panic. It tried to rise and fight, but could not. The man, his work finished, stabbed the blade into the head of the fallen lover of blackened blood, leaving it skewered into the ground for all beastkind to witness. It could not be moved by them, for the sword held the angriest iron, and as affected they were by the raw metal, this forged variety sent their senses sailing into oblivion.

The beast of blackened blood died with a hatred so foul in its heart, it was felt by all beastkind. Those once peaceful turned harsh, and those already harsh grew more ferocious still. The child of the beast ate his father’s heart for strength and purpose, promising to carry on a dying wish of delivering death upon the man who killed his progenitors. It was not known to the beasts why the man did as was done, only that it was.

The beasts swore distrust and hostility. The man began forging swords for all of his brethren, in hopes they not go without that which freed his soul from the fire that before caged it.

There is no war. Yet, this world cannot exist without conflict. The Era of the Iron Blade is the spark to the inferno we find ourselves in today. We must either quell it, or have it blaze through to satiation.

First and before all else, it must be believed that the iron burns brightly still.

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