the smuggler’s bible


His father’s sword, when he picks it up, feels light. Arden finds two hard river stones and binds them with twine against the flat of the blade near the hilt. Old Buteo watches from under the crooked beech by the water’s edge.

“That’ll fuck up the balance,” he says. “You’ll have to learn it all again.”

“Balance is a matter of proportions.” Arden takes a few experimental swings, holds the sword out straight and watches the tip sway. “Give and take, just like everything else.”

A few days later, he adds more stones and weighs down his shield to compensate.