The Curse of the Dagger
Beatrix liked weapons. Though the law that girls and women could become knights and guards had not passed yet, she still liked them. She had a vast collection, hung on walls, in chests, some in velvet-lined boxes and glass cases, some she polished every day. She had armor, too, carved and intricate, hung on a stand. She passed her time working in a local tavern, serving up mugs of ale and oversalted food, waiting for the news-yellers to yell that she could apply.
It was a day like that, serving the late shift at the Scroll and Scripture, when the merchant approached her. She checked her pocketwatch, still with an hour to go. He was seedy, tall and thin, wearing a bowler hat and a long black coat. He angled his head just so that she couldn't see his eyes. "Are you Beatrix Greene?" Beatrix nods. "Yeah. Who are you?" He laughs. "Oh, that's not important. I hear y'like weapons, eh?" Beatrix focused, then. "Yes, I do. Biggest collection second to the Army barracks." He grinned. She still couldn't see his eyes. "I have a remarkable offer for you on a rare dagger. Only one in the world 'n I got a great price." Beatrix nodded. "Go on." "I was thinkin' we'd set up a meet. Y'like?" Beatrix nodded, again. "I'd be good with that. When and where?" "Tomorrow mornin', around nine. Outside the Library. Meet you there." And then he was gone. Beatrix smiled to herself, and the next hour flew by.
The next morning, she briskly walked down the road leading to the Library. It was a big brick-and-birch building, and at the center of a small garden, full of oak trees and tulips. He was waiting by the door, with a small narrow chest in hand. She walked up to him. And she still couldn't see his eyes. "Glad you came. Alright, wanna see it?" Beatrix nods, eager. He clicked the latch of the box, and it pops open, revealing the most beautiful dagger of all. Its blade was a deep gray metal, probably iron, and had a beautiful ornately carved lapis lazuli and jet hilt. It was truly beautiful, and in the carvings Beatrix could spot a dove, a lion, a warhorse, and so much more. "Can I pick it up?" "Be my guest," She picked it up, gingerly, and studied the blade. Something was carved into the edge. "Hey, what do these carvings say?" "Oh, something in a dead language, I had it checked. Nobody knows it anymore." He hurriedly-almost too hurriedly-answered. She turned it around. "I love it. What's the price?" He grinned. "An' here's where y'think I'm crazy-I'll give it to you for free." "Not that I'm complaining, but this is an amazing dagger. why are you giving it away, like that?" She snapped her fingers. "I have my reasons. Take it or leave it?" "Well of course I'll take it!" "YESSS!" He throws away his bowler hat, revealing his eyes-all yellow. The yellow started to melt away, however, receding into his pupil until there was none left. He had plain brown eyes.
With that, he runs away.
Beatrix thought about running after him to ask what was going on, but she rethought it. Obviously he didn't want it, and now she had the most beautiful dagger of all.
She walked home happily, glossy hardwood chest in hand. When she arrived, she immediately decided where to put it; in the glass case, box open, but safe. She polished it with a cloth, and places it in. And though her reflection stared back at her in the glass, she failed to notice that her pupils were a little bit yellow.
The next day, a Sunday, Beatrix trudges downstairs, yawning and rubbing her eyes. She looked st the case, and gasps.
The dagger was out, lying on the glass of the case. The light of the oil lamp glistened on the blade, catching the inscriptions again. Wondering how it got there, Beatrix walks over, picking it up gently, and holding it to the light.
The crazy merchant had lied. It was in perfect English. The script was small, but with her spectacles, Beatrix could read it.
"All who hold this cursed blade
Anything. they would trade
For into insanity they slowly sink
And with yellowed eyes, they blink"
Beatrix gasped, placing the dagger on the case again quickly, backing away. "What have I done?" She whispered, nervous.
There was only one thing to do. Resell the dagger.
She downed a mug of tea to help her think, and got dressed, into a tunic and leggings, with a purple cloak. What would be open on a Sunday that would buy a dagger from her? There was the museum. Maybe they would value the dagger. There were scholars. She could donate it to the barracks.
She finally decided on scholars. After all, the House of the Arcane Lord was always looking for more things to study. She placed the dagger carefully into the chest, and exited the house. She decided to take her horse, Bunny, as the walk was long and she wanted to get rid of it-quick. Bunny seemed to sense something was amiss so she went at a brisk pace, snorting nervously at the other horses.
Beatrix took deep breaths; trying to calm herself and utterly failing. She ties up Bunny outside the House of the Arcane Lord, shaking.
The oak door was heavy. She leaned against it with all her weight and stumbled in, drawing an angry glare from many writing scribes and studying scholars.
The room was huge, and domed, with constellations painted on the roof. The walls were covered with bookshelves, which created a paperish smell. There were lapis and gold accents.
She walked up to the vast shiny desk, nervous. "Um, excuse me?" She raked her fingers through her hair nervously. The scholar behind the desk looked up from her papers, and smiled. "How may I help you, miss?" "Well, I, uh, was wondering if I could sell you this dagger. It looks old and it's made of iron and lapis and jet." The scholar got up from the desk, unlocked the latch and came out. She picked up the beautiful blade, "This is truly amazing. Just thinking about its untold stories...how much are you asking?" Beatrix hadn't thought of that. "Uh...I'm not sure...how much do you think it would go for on the mainstream market?" "Oh, easily an emerald." Beatrix was stunned. "Oh, uh, alright. I'll sell it to you for three ingots." "Let me get the Chief Scholar." The woman walked off quickly, into a back room, and after a minute she came back out with a short man following her. He seemed nice enough. "Let me see the object of talk," He said, and gasped. "Oh. Oh my, this is truly fantastical." He turned it over in his hand. "And your price?" Suddenly, something happened to Beatrix-something strange. Something came over her; she realized that no, she wanted the dagger, she needed it. She slowly reached out and took it, placing it back in the purple velvet of the box. "Actually, I'm sorry, I think I'm not ready to sell this just yet. I'm sorry." Not waiting for them to answer, she runs back outside, and jumps onto Bunny.
It was only after a couple minutes that she realized what she'd done. "NO! I need to get rid of this thing!" She rode along, raking her fingers through her hair again. She pulled a small mirror out of her pocket. The entirety of her iris and pupil was now yellow. What to do?
Later, she had a plan.
The box was bound with chains, and tied to a rock. She rode Bunny down the beach, hope inside of her.
She climbed up a rock to higher ground, heavy box in hands. "Here goes." She lobbed it off the side into the ocean, and pulled out her mirror. Sure enough, her eyes were no longer yellow.
~20 YEARS LATER~
April and Clove walk down the beach, laughing and talking and being friends. The tide rolls in, and with it comes a rusted bundle of chains. "What's this?" Clove says, running up to it and picking it up. "Oof, heavy." "Over here," April calls, patting a flat rock, and Clove places it down. With a simple spell the rusty chains were off, revealing a weathered wooden box, sealed. April undoes the latch. "Oh, cool!" She picks up the dagger and the two friends pass it back and forth, talking and wondering.
And not noticing that April's pupils turned yellow.