Author’s Note: Hello my friends, today’s tale takes place after the stunning events depicted in The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan, which is set to relaunch very soon. It was also inspired by a [fiction] Friday prompt from writeanything. which challenged writers to “Use a McGuffin” And now onto the the story!
Devon watched as the fat man struggled to climb the steep stairs. It seemed he had chosen the meeting location well and would certainly have the obese man at a disadvantage. He idly scratched his stubbly head as he waited for the man to make his ascent and wondered what it was that compelled him to have shaved himself bald.
“Couldn’t you… have picked… somewhere… with air conditioning… and… no stairs?” said the enormous man as he heaved the locked, metal case onto the table between them.
Fat man tried to wipe the sweat from his brow. Devon could see the man’s sleeve was already soaked through.
“Sorry, but I needed to know how far you were willing to go to bring me that sword.”
“’Pose you wanna… see it.” The overweight antiquities dealer reached his pudgy fingers into his breast pocket and retrieved the key to the case.
Devon licked his lips in anticipation as the hasps sprang up and the case was flipped open. The fat man looked up from the case and slowly turned it toward Devon.
“A most… amazing sword, this,” said the fat man taking a casual step back. “You… do know the story of how it was found?”
Devon shook his head. He had been hired to procure the sword for a rich collector. His job was merely to authenticate the sword, pay for it if necessary and abscond with it if possible. He took a jeweler’s loupe from his pocket and examined the sword in the case. It didn’t take long for Devon to see the blade was forged from Toledo steel. The cup over the hilt was intricately detailed, yet he could see faint traces of feathering on the edges indicating the design was hand hammered and not machine stamped. Finally, the grip; delicate brass cord wrapped around wood. His trained eye could tell the cord could almost be considered bronze, an indication of how the Spanish used to make their brass. The pommel was rather plain for such a well made and obviously expensive sword; a simple filigree with an ornate letter “J”. There was little doubt this sword was authentic and in this condition, exceedingly rare.
“It’s too well preserved, yet there is overwhelming proof that this sword is from the 1600’s”
“So you haven’t heard the stories then?”
“No, I prefer to work unattached to the objects I’m to validate. Professional detachment from the items keeps me honest. A trait, I’m sure you can understand.”
“Quite.” The fat man, no longer winded from his climb, continued to sweat profusely in the midday sun. “But aren’t you the least bit curious, from an academic stand point of course, how a relic so old, could look so new?”
“You have me there sir.”
The fat man smiled and nodded knowingly.
“I first happened upon the rumor of this sword ten years ago whist procuring a rather… unique early American pistol. The owner of said pistol had asked me if I knew of a sword recently discovered in the bowels of an old sailing vessel found on the coast of Spain. Of course, as you can imagine, I was most interested in learning more about a sword that would interest this, particular, client. Turns out that the ship in question was almost completely disintegrated, rotten through and through, save the captain’s quarters which were, and I assure you I do not embellish, miraculously undamaged. Not a smidgen of decay in the whole cabin. And there in the center of the room at his desk sat, who I can only assume was the captain of this un-named vessel. Now, if that weren’t enough, this is where the story gets interesting. While the cabin and the ship had been discovered several weeks prior to my arrival, not a single person had been able to set foot in the room. Everyone who tried was immediately overcome with some unknown illness; brought almost to the point of death. Yet something told me I would not be affected by such afflictions were I to try and enter the room. I was proved correct, of course; else you and I would not be here now.”
“I don’t believe a word of it,” said Devon.
“Oh, I know it’s a fantastical story, but I promise every word is true. I stepped into the room, a portal in time, perfectly preserved. The captain had the sword clutched in his hand which was resting across his mighty desk. And as I gently pried the mummified fingers loose everything but this sword turned to dust. Crumbled around me like a house of cards. I made off with the sword in the ensuing chaos. It wasn’t my intent when I began my archeological investigation of the room, but once the sword was in my hand I knew I had to flee.”
“So if this sword is what you say it is, a magically preserved relic of some unknown Spanish captain, why are you selling it to my employer? Wouldn’t you want to keep such a thing for yourself?”
“Oh, I want to keep it, no doubt, no doubt about that, m’boy. But I can’t, you see. The same force that drove me to take it now drives me to part with it.”
“And you think my employer-”
“No. I think the sword belongs to you. Don’t ask me how I know because I’m sure I have no answer.”
Devon wondered how the rotund man had managed to turn the tables so easily. He placed a trembling hand upon the sword and freed it from the case. The perfect balance felt natural in his untrained hand. He took a couple practice swings then sniffed several times confused by a sudden change of odor.
“Do you smell that?” He asked the fat man. “Do you smell the sea?”