A Discussion On Swords

A One-Shot

By S.D.

Will sat on a coil of rope cleaning his cutlass and inspecting it's various nicks and defects.

He sighed heavily, knowing that the weapon was showing it's age and wear. It wouldn't be long before it shattered along one of those tiny fractures in the blade. It wasn't that he was terribly attached to the sword. It was a crude pirate weapon, probably wrought in Tortuga by a swordsmith who had too many orders and not enough time. Such weapons were cheap and plentiful. And they usually served their purpose well enough. When they were broken, they were easily replaced - if you could make port in a town with a blacksmith. For Will, procuring a new sword would be difficult.

Bootstrap had just finished his watch at the helm and ambled over to join his son. Will had just soaked a cloth in oil and was applying it liberally to the blade of the cutlass.

"The salt and the sea sure do wreak havoc on weapons, don't they?" Bootstrap said as he settled himself next to Will.

"Aye. I'm not sure how much longer this one will last." He pointed out he worst of the nicks, and a few spots of rust on the blade. Bootstrap eyed the weapon critically.

"You're a fine swordsman, Will. You deserve a better weapon than this."

"I pride myself on being able to fight with any weapon. But I have to admit, I've been thinking it would be nice to have a good blade." Will looked thoughtful. "If I could, I'd make my own. I've been thinking of a design I'd like to try. But damn it, there's no way to forge a sword on a ship."

Bootstrap looked at his son's stormy countenance. "I know you'd like to make your own. But maybe one can be found that would suffice until you're able."

"I'd be skeptical of any blade found on a shipwreck. If it's been exposed to the elements, it'll likely be in worse shape than this one."

"Nah, I mean one aboard the ship. There's a mighty fine sword… one better than any we'd find on a shipwreck…"

Will looked at his father suspiciously. "The one in my quarters?" He asked, his voice carrying a sharp edge.

"Don't look at me like that, William. I understand why you're not keen on the idea. But to me, it seems a waste to leave it collectin' dust under your bunk."

Will slid his cutlass into the sheath and stared at his hands.

The older man tried again. "You're a fine swordsman and it's a fine sword. I'd wager it's as good as or better than any you could make yourself."

Bootstrap was taken aback by the sudden change in Will's demeanor. His entire body seemed to have tensed up and there was an angry flame in his eyes as he looked up to face his father.

"I mean no insult, son." Bootstrap said, holding one hand up in a calming gesture. "I just meant it's as fine a blade as any I've ever seen, and better than any I've carried myself."

Will's voice was quiet and steady when he spoke, but it was also harsh. "It was made for the promotion ceremony of a naval officer. Specially ordered by the governor of Jamaica. It is perfectly balanced, and artfully designed. It has gold filigree laid into the hilt. Of course it's better than any hunk of steel you've carried."

Bootstrap looked at his son aghast. He opened his mouth, but words would not come.

Will's expression softened. "I apologize. That was uncalled for. It's just… that sword…" His voice trailed off.

"You made it?" The older man asked quietly.

Will nodded. "I spent weeks on it, designing it, forging it, perfecting it. The day I delivered it to Governor Swann, I first called Elizabeth by her first name. Later that day, Jack Sparrow arrived in Port Royal, and then Barbossa and the Black Pearl. And you know the rest of the story…"

"And the officer that received it?" Bootstrap questioned.

"James Norrington. He proposed to Elizabeth after his promotion ceremony. She accepted several days later in order to convince him to rescue me from Barbossa. He tried to hang Jack Sparrow, and I only narrowly escaped being arrested myself. It was Norrington who took Jones's heart to Cutler Beckett. Beckett made him an Admiral and returned the sword to him in exchange for Norrington's allegiance."

"Norrington? Norrington…" Bootstrap was deep in thought. "He came aboard the Dutchman to ensure that Jones would carry out Beckett's orders. I was in the brig… he released the prisoners… I… I think I killed him, Will. That's how Jones got the sword." The older man wished for the millionth time that he could somehow go back and undo all the damage he felt he had caused.

"And then Jones killed me with it." Will's words held a bitter edge. "The sword I made with my own hands."

Bootstrap wondered if he should change the subject. That fateful day was still a raw wound between them, a subject they generally avoided. "Will…"

But Will was lost in the memory, his face downcast and pained. "I recognized it. Of course I recognized it. It's one of the last things I remember seeing clearly. The sword, and Elizabeth…"

"I'm sorry William. I shouldn't have suggested you carry that sword. I should have pitched it overboard…"

Will looked up, his internal struggle evident in his features. "No. I worked very hard on that sword. I poured my heart and soul into it. The sword didn't ask to be put to evil use. I made it to be a thing of beauty, and a joy to handle." He paused thoughtfully. "Maybe the best thing would be to restore it to its original purpose."

Will picked up the cutlass and walked purposefully to his cabin. When he emerged, he was carrying the infamous sword.

"I'll need a scabbard for it. I don't want it to rust or be damaged." He held the weapon warily and looked over it carefully. "It's in remarkably good condition."

Will balanced the sword across his fingers, feeling a surge of satisfaction when he realized it was indeed as well-balanced as he remembered. He flipped it into the air and caught it easily.

"It really is a fine sword, William." Bootstrap said in admiration. "I'm sorry I underestimated your swordmaking ability."

"You weren't the first." Will said with a wry attempt a smile. "The governor was sure it was the master blacksmith who had made it."