Colla held up the finished sword in his outstretched hands. It was a thing of true beauty, forgelight shining red along its polished edge.
At the point where guard met hilt, a small cylinder of pure white had been half-encased in the metal. King Utter’s finger bone, a reminder of how Arta had come to possess it. She reached out, but the blacksmith pulled the blade out of her reach.
“There are two more things which must be done before the weapon is ready.” he said.
“What?” Arta asked.
“It must be named, firstly. Do you have a name for it?”
“The sword was forged in your burg, your home. I will name it Colabur.”
“A good name!” he cried, matching her smile with his own bright grin. “I’m glad it pleases you, because what I say now will not. I’ve sent for Constantine.”
Arta cursed and tried to snatch the sword from him, but he lifted it over his head. She aimed a kick at his groin and Colla clamped his legs tight around her foot.
Before she could act further, a faint cough sounded behind her.
They looked towards the doorway and saw a young man with a shaven head standing on the threshold. He had a broad frame, but hardly any meat on his bones. Loose brown cloth hung in limp folds over his body and he wore a small wooden cross at his neck.
“Hello Arta.” he said, coming to stand beside her and then, appearing to think better of it, taking a step away. “I see you have not relinquished your pagan manners.”
“I see you haven’t relinquished your woman’s dress.” she spat back at him. Then she turned back to Colla. “Why is he here?”
“The sword must be blessed, or it will break.” the blacksmith said, avoiding her burning glare.
“I won’t let him touch it.”
“I will not bless a pagan’s sword.” Constantine said, sneering at her as he edged to safety behind the table.
“I’ll bless it in your blood, weakling.”
Whatever response the missionary had never left his lips. An insistent clanging sound broke through the hot air of Colla’s workshop, coming from the hilltop outside.
“What is that?” Constantine asked.
“It’s a bell, halfwit.”
“It’s an alarm!” Colla shouted, tossing Arta the new-forged sword and snatching up his hammer. “Some mongrels must be attacking Tor Avalon!”