Bryna walked along the cold, stone corridor. The sound of her footsteps scraping against the floor was almost deafening in the silence. She paused as she reached the entrance to the cave. All was dark, except for a soft glow emanating from a dais in the centre of the cave. On that dais was the Platinum Sword.
Her heart pounded as she gazed at the ancient talisman. It had belonged to many a hero, including Unwin Dragon-Killer. Everyone, from the smallest child to the oldest grandmother, knew the tale of his noble deeds. For years, an evil dragon had terrorized Bryna's Homeland. Unwin had decided to search for the Platinum Sword. He used its magic to defeat the dragon, thus saving many lives. He was praised by all, but being a hero had changed him. He abandoned the Homeland he had fought to save, and was never seen again. Meanwhile, he became a legend. Even a century after Unwin fought the dragon, children still dreamed of being a hero just like him. This was encouraged by the adults; after all, Unwin was a hero to them all.
Like the other children, Bryna had dreamed of becoming a hero. However, while the others grew up and started families of their own, Bryna did not outgrow her childhood dream. Since she wanted desperately to be a hero, she spent all her spare time practicing with her sword. She had become the best swordsman in the Homeland, winning every contest in recent years. Still, she wanted more than just the respect of her opponents. She wanted to become a legend like Unwin and have everyone look up to her.
Consequently, she had come in search of the Platinum Sword. It had not been easy; others had tried before to claim the Sword, but it was well protected. Many dangers lurked in the Platinum Forest, which surrounded the cave. There were demons, quicksand, and other horrors, but Bryna did not want to think about them. What mattered to her now was the fact that she had succeeded. All she had to do now was to take a few steps forward, grasp the Platinum Sword in her hand, and it would belong to her.
She walked across the cave, senses alert for any traps, but nothing happened. As she reached the dias, she hesitated. She wanted desperately to reach out and touch the Sword, but she had to make sure it was not a trap. Then, a voice said, "Take me. I am yours."
It startled Bryna. She looked around, but could see nothing. Then, she looked at the Sword. It was a magic sword, she reasoned, and therefore it could have talked to her.
"Do not worry, Bryna. This is not a trap. The dangers of the forest were only a test, so that only the bravest and strongest warrior could reach this cave. Because you have succeeded, you have the privilege of possessing me. Take me."
Bryna extended her arm towards the Sword. As she grasped it, she could feel the Sword quivering with the magic contained within. She lifted it from the dais easily. It was made of platinum, but it felt lighter than any sword she had ever used. As Bryna ran her hand along the polished blade, she had the overwhelming feeling that she could do anything. With the Platinum Sword in her possession, she could finally become a hero.
"We will make a great team, Bryna," the sword said. "Let us go forth."
With a firm grip on the Platinum Sword, Bryna walked out of the cave and into the tunnel, which wound its way through the mountain and opened into a small clearing. It was a beautiful spring day outside the tunnel, and the sun was shining just above the treetops. Bryna took a deep breath, inhaling the scents of the flowers and the earth. Butterflies and pollen sailed across the clearing. Just outside this island of serenity loomed the Platinum Forest.
Now that she was in the sunlight, Bryna could inspect the Sword. The hilt was carved like a dragon perched on an invisible hilltop, and was inlaid with a rainbow of precious gems. It was the finest weapon Bryna had ever laid eyes on.
It was also easier for Bryna to be seen in the sunlight. She was tall and slim, yet muscular. She had wavy, auburn hair that fell down to her shoulders. She was also about twenty years old.
Bryna had already decided what quest would make her a hero. She knew of an evil knight who lived in the Silent Hills. For years, he had been terrorizing travelers who passed through the Silent Hills. He would kill them and steal what possessions they had. Many people ventured into the Hills, but few ever returned, for the Knight was a skilled swordsman. The Knight had singlehandedly closed the main road through the Silent Hills. People were forced to take a much longer route to get through to the other side. Bryna knew that if she killed the Knight, the people would be grateful. They would call her a hero.
Bryna set off towards the edge of the clearing. She was confident in the Sword's magic and her skill as a swordsman. Killing the Knight of the Silent Hills would not be difficult for Bryna, Possessor of the Platinum Sword.
When Bryna stepped into the dark forest, she noticed there was a change from the way it had been before. When the creatures that lurked there saw the Platinum Sword, they shrunk away from it. They recognized the Sword as their master.
It was nearing midnight when Bryna was finally clear of the Platinum Forest. The moon was not out, so the world was shrouded in blackness. Bryna yawned, suddenly realizing how tired she was. With the exhilaration of finding the sword, she had not noticed it before. Now that the initial excitement had worn off, she responded to her body's needs.
Bryna laid down on the dry, sandy ground beneath an ancient willow. With her arm wrapped protectively around the sword, Bryna fell asleep.
Bryna woke with a start, tensing. Something was out there; even without the sword's warning, she could sense the presence of danger. Bryna rose cautiously, with her Sword ready, alert for any signs of movement. Then she saw the eyes. Two yellow orbs seemed to float in midair, just a few steps in front of Bryna. She recognized them as the eyes of a wildcat.
They stared at each other. Suddenly, the wildcat sprang towards Bryna, aiming for her throat. She dodged out of the way, swinging the Sword around for a counterattack. The Sword missed the cat's heart, but ripped a large gash on its left side. The wildcat circled and threw itself at Bryna again. This time, the Platinum Sword was on target, and it severed the cat's head. The cat fell to the ground, lifeless and limp.
Bryna leaned back against the tree, exhausted from the fight. She felt strange somehow, but she did not know why. This had not been her first kill, so what made it seem different from the rest? "The Sword," she said aloud. "There must be some sort of bond between us. The sword is becoming part of me, like another limb. It is strange . . . but good. We make a great team."
"We do," the Sword answered.
Bryna decided not to stay where she was. The blood of the wildcat would attract other animals, and those animals might like a taste of her, too. She wiped the blood from the Sword, brushed the sand off her clothes, and set off towards the Silent Hills.
It was now three days after Bryna had found the Platinum Sword. She had been traveling all this time without incident. As she rounded a bend in the road, the Silent Hills rose before her. They extended along the horizon as far as the eye could see. They were green from all of the trees and other types of vegetation that covered them.
Bryna had not traveled far that day, so she was rested enough to fight the Knight. She decided that a direct confrontation with the Knight of the Silent Hills would be appropriate, since she was a skilled swordsman; surprise would give her no advantage. With her strength and a weapon such as the Platinum Sword, Bryna knew she could defeat anything . . . including the Knight of the Silent Hills.
Bryna pulled the Platinum Sword from its scabbard. Sunlight gleamed on the polished blade, dazzling Bryna with its brilliance. Bryna took a deep breath and proceeded forward. As she approached the roadway, she could hear a masculine voice cursing in foreign languages. She crouched behind a tree to watch and listen.
A knight in black armour stood in the centre of the road. He was waving his arms around and yelling at . . . nothing.
"You call yourselves an army? You fight like my grandmother! And you made so much noise that those travelers heard you a mile away! When they turned tail and ran, it took you almost fifteen minutes to catch up with them! Idiots! You're just lucky that they had a lot of gold with them!"
Bryna tried to contain her laughter as she watched the man's antics. "This man is a nut!" she said under her breath. "I am not afraid of him!"
"Be careful, Bryna," the Sword advised. "Sometimes lunatics make the most dangerous adversaries."
Bryna gripped the Sword and strode forward until she was in full view. The knight stopped yelling at his "army" when he saw her.
"Halt! Who dares to tread on our road? Be warned, for ours is the greatest army in the land."
Bryna found it hard not to smile. Unless the Knight's army was invisible, there was nobody there but a madman. "No, you be warned, for I am Bryna, Possessor of the Platinum Sword. I will soon be known as Bryna Loony-Killer. Say your prayers, Knight; I fight to kill."
"Stand back, men," the Knight ordered the empty space behind him. "I will fight this . . . this blemish alone."
Bryna and the Knight walked forward until they were only a few paces apart. They circled each other, each alert to the other's actions. Then, the Knight swung his sword at Bryna. She blocked the swing, receiving only a scratch across her arm. She swung back at the Knight, but he stepped out of the way. They were more evenly matched than she had thought.
The fight lasted for what could have been hours or minutes, for all Bryna knew. Neither combatant could gain an advantage over the other. Each had their share of small wounds, but nothing serious. They were both beginning to tire.
"Come on," Bryna thought, "where is the Sword's magic when I need it?"
Suddenly, a burst of white fire exploded from the Sword, throwing itself at the Knight. He screamed as it made contact, and the sound echoed throughout the Silent Hills. The Knight's body fell to the ground, convulsed, and then lay still.
Bryna was just coming to terms with what had happened when she began feeling dizzy. She blacked out and fell to the ground.
Bryna awoke slowly, her mind eventually clearing enough for her to think. She felt trapped, as if she were in an enclosed area. Simultaneously, she felt as if she were floating free of her body. These conflicting sensations felt strange to her.
"I'm free!" a voice cried from somewhere outside . . . outside of . . . outside of the sword. Bryna realized in horror that she was trapped inside the sword.
A feeling of dread swept over her. How could this have happened? She finally had what she wanted: she had killed the Knight of the Silent Hills and had become a hero. Her whole life was ahead of her. Now, she was trapped.
"Let me out of here," Bryna pleaded to whoever was out there.
"You fell for it, Bryna. But not to worry, lady, for so did I, Unwin Dragon-Killer. This is the part of the legend neither of us was told: if the magic of the Sword is unleashed, the holder will be trapped inside, and the one trapped inside will be set free. Now, after so long, Unwin Dragon-Killer has returned to the world! However, I will possess your body and be known as Bryna Knight-Killer. No matter; I am happy just to be free. Free at last!"
"But what about me?" Bryna asked, her voice quivering. "What about me?"
"Farewell, fair lady. I return now to the Homeland. I wish you luck." Unwin Dragon-Killer, now Bryna Knight-Killer, walked away. He left the Platinum Sword lying on the ground.
Bryna used the Sword's magic to transport her soul and the Sword back to the cave in the Platinum Forest. She did not want just anyone to find the sword. She wanted a warrior's body, so she could continue her former way of life. As soon as someone strong and brave found her and used the sword's magic, she would be free, free to go adventuring again. Until then, all Bryna could do was to stay on the dais in the cave, possessing the Platinum Sword.