I never thought my hobby and job would come together so completely. Who would have thought working for a small package handling service and a passion for ancient weapons would come together in one fantastic event?
I work for a small company that handles packages that can't be trusted to the major corporations. It's a small market and our customers are few, but very loyal. The boss likes to call us “Logistics and transportation specialists.” Really, we are just delivery boys and girls for the rich and elite. It is not unusual for me to have ancient paintings, some fancy device for the kitchen nobody really needs, and a case of first edition novels in the van while I cruise down one interstate or another. There are some days I spend my entire shift waiting around the office/warehouse for something to transport. Since I get paid the same either way, it doesn't matter to me if I actually have to work or not.
When I'm not on the road, I spend my free time sifting through legends and old tales looking for descriptions of weapons. I have a sketchbook full of notes and drawings of swords, bows, staves, hammers, and anything else that could be wielded. I don't bother with average weapons carried by every-day soldiers. Just specific items featured in legends or used by legendary heroes. I have three different variations of the flute used by the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Excalibur takes up nearly the back half of the book due to the varying accounts of its description, some more reliable than others.
One legend, because it is so rarely told, is the one of the hunter, Orion. Many people know of the constellation of the Hunter. Almost nobody knows why he is there. In the ancient days, he was a hero that traveled from village to village. Orion defended them from monsters and bandits and showed the villagers how to hunt large prey for their meals. He would then leave the village with no reward or prize of any kind. While the details of his description and actions vary, one thing is constant between all the stories. His sword. Every legend from every village spoke of the same sword. Because of the way the blade “blossomed” at the tip and Orion's efficiency in ending combat with it, it was frequently called the Omega Rose.
I was called to the back warehouse to get a custom container and take it for a special delivery. The customer was paying extra to have the run made immediately instead of waiting for other items headed in the same direction. I walked into the warehouse and heard a very loud bang. Around a corner I see a new hire standing over a black case similar to a guitar case but longer laying on the ground. A narrow crack ran from one side of the case's top to the other. Because of the average value of the items we transport, any incident of damage to the outside of a package requires a call to the owner and an inspection of the contents for damages.
The customer had just left the office's parking lot so he was fine with turning around and coming back to inspect his package. He used a complicated key to unlock a retaining rod and opened the case. Nestled in custom cut padding was the finest and darkest blade I had ever seen. The metal was black with deeper black highlights weaving back and forth across the width. While the blade seemed to absorb all the light that struck it, the hilt and handle shined more than a spotlight. My eyes ran up and down the length of the blade a couple of times before my brain finally realized what I was seeing.
I glanced at the owner as he held the case open. My mouth was numb and dry as I tried to speak. “Is that... Could that really be...?”
Without looking away from his careful inspection of the sword, he replied. “Forged in a pit of Hell from a stone out of the heavens. Bane of every foe of the wielder. Not a weapon of mass destruction, but certainly a weapon massive death. Carried by Orion himself. It is indeed the Omega Rose.”
I blinked repeatedly as he spoke. A blade I had dreamed about numerous times was sitting in front of me. I was lightheaded and couldn't believe what was right there. “This has to be a replica. There's no way it could be the real thing.”
The owner only smiled. “If it's a replica, it's a very good one. I've had it my whole life. Had it weighed and the balance checked so I could make a practice sword that matched it. If I ever need to wield it again, I would be ready.”
I reached out towards the sword so I could prove to myself I wasn't imagining it. Before touching the smooth blade, I glanced at the owner and he simply nodded. The blade felt like nothing more than solid air. I slid my finger up and down the flat of the blade. I could feel the pressure of fingers on the metal, but there was no friction. I pulled my hand away and looked at my fingertips to make sure they were still real.
The owner slowly closed the case and replaced the retaining rod and lock. As everything clicked into place, I felt as though a bright part of my life was being shut away. “Everything looks fine. Honestly, the case is more to hide what the sword is than actually protect it. Anything that would damage that blade would probably leave massive piles of rubble behind anyway. Now, do I need to carry this to the truck or would you like to load it?”
“I....I'll take it for you. The destination should already be programmed into the truck's automatic GPS. Thank you for letting me carry this for you.” With that said, I grabbed the case by the handle and carried it to the loading door. Even though the blade of my dreams would be in a case a few feet behind me and not in my hands, this would still be the best three days of my life.
Are there any constellations you have wondered why they are the type of figures they are?