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In the Eye of the Beholder  by Lindelea

“Beauty” my master calls me, and I am a thing of beauty indeed with my long polished haft and my gleaming head, sharper than razor, barbed and deadly.

My master cradles me tenderly after supper each night as the orcs of his company argue and boast, endlessly polishing, running his fingers over each tiny notch etched along my length, each a death I have won for him; a pile of skulls to fill a room that might once have stored dwarves’ treasure, but now keeps my trophies. When we added the last my master laughed and said we’d have to start another room, this one was so full.

I am enspelled, and so none dares touch me save my master; he whispers love-thoughts to me and I croon my death song in return. Too long has it been since last I drank deep. I am eager for battle.

Boom rumbles through the halls, the alarm, intruders! Doom, doom it rolls again, the great horn blows and my master snatches up his horn to blast an answer. Once more he takes me up, but not to fondle and polish—it is time for me to feast! There are shouts and joyful curses, and the troll is released from his deep hole. Aha! No wandering dwarf, this, but a company for our pleasure! I quiver in anticipation as I am carried through the dark corridors at a run.

Who comes hither to disturb the rest of Balin Lord of Moria? comes a loud cry. My master laughs harshly and I would chuckle if I could. Many things Balin could be called... dust, bones, shreds of corrupted flesh. I sigh at the remembered taste of the blood of dwarves.

Doom, boom, doom sing the drums in the deep.

The door is forced—trolls are handy for that—and battle is joined. I hear the sounds of slash and clash within and I wait, tense with expectation. My master will jump into the fray soon enough and I will drink deep. He has promised it in a rough whisper as his hands move in caress and then resume their grip.

Now and we leap into the hall. I am drawn back and thrust forward—Joy!—but with a shock I stop short. There is no blood for the drinking here, no flesh to chew and tear. My victim wears some sort of armour and I must chew my way through. My master laughs. Dwarf armour is no match for me. I bite, I chew, I claw. Deadly poison glistens upon my tip; I need only scratch to add another skull to my hoard. I bite, I thrust, I seek an opening in the finely crafted mesh. Always before I have found an opening and forced it wider, but this metal is unknown to me. Had I a voice I would howl in frustration, had I teeth I would grit them in grim determination, had I muscles I would take a deep breath and set myself for a deadly thrust. I have none of these, but my master does and so he thrusts and I press, I claw, I dig. I drive the mail-rings deep into flesh and seek to follow...

A cry beside me, a blow and I am shattered. My master throws me down and the spell that gives me life and thought begins to dissolve. My thoughts flutter even as a sword cleaves the helm of my master with a flash like flame, and my master joins me, together in death as we were in death-dealing. I suffer a last regret that I will drink no more of blood and then...



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