There it was—the glistening blade of steel that reflected the drifting clouds of the afternoon sky, rivaling the picturesque valley in its perpetual Autumn hue—the Sword of Destiny. Plunged deep into a jagged boulder, it was often mistaken as the legendary Excalibur. For many had come to where it stood, bejeweled in grace and elegance, in hopes of a better future. Alas, this very sword in the stone had a different story—a tale of irony with no promise of magic, wealth, or even a royal crown. And should one succeed at freeing it from its home… therein lies a cruel fate.
Yet, there I was. I had heeded its relentless beck and call. After months of intruding my nights with bizarre dreams and my days with unending questions, I yielded to its desire. But more than submission to the unknown, I needed to know the truth—who was the girl with the haunting dark eyes and the blazing red hair? Why did she drive a blade into her lover without sparing a single tear? And how was I related to a narrative from a millennial ago?
I heard it again. The disembodied voice that spoke in the stillness—a whisper that only I could hear. It called me toward the sword, pulling me forward with an in-explainable force. And after months of travelling, having dealt with all my qualms, I confidently reached for the weapon. As I wrapped my hand around its embracing grip, a strange warmth filled my chest. What I thought would be an antagonistic creation by design was surprisingly welcoming. It was as if… I had held it before.
I knew what I had to do. Without hesitation, I pulled the sword with all my might. But in the expectation of the blade gliding from the stone, I was left befuddled. The Sword of Destiny remained in place. Didn’t it call for me to set it free? Wasn’t I the chosen one to inherit its strength and power? Confused and stubborn, I attempted once more… and then another, and another, until the sun bade goodnight. Alas, even with both hands and countless bouts of catching my breath, the blade had rooted itself unmovable.
“What destiny?” I exclaimed in exasperation. “Why have you brought me here? What do you want from me?”
“It doesn’t want anything from you,” a voice replied.
Had I not been alone the entire time? I spun around to find a woman in a long, hooded cloak. As the cloudy night shrouded the pale moon, I could barely see the stranger’s face. If only I had the Sword of Destiny in my hand, I wouldn’t have feared for my life—why hadn’t I come prepared?
“Who are you?” I asked, as I took a few steps back.
“The Sword of Destiny is not yours,” she replied, disregarding my seemingly unimportant question. “It never called for you either.”
“What do you mean?” I frowned. “It gave me dreams, and I can hear its voice.”
“You’re not the only one with dreams,” the stranger said. “And what you hear is not its voice… it’s yours.”
I chuckled in disbelief. Who was she to make a fool out of me? I knew what I had dreamt—those recurring dreams that made no sense. I knew what I had heard—the very reason for my quest.
“You want something that isn’t yours,” she added. “But the sword will never come free for you. The sword never comes free for anyone.”
The stranger took a step forward, revealing half her face in the faint light of the moon. And in that instant, my heart stopped. It was her. She was the girl who betrayed her lover at her father’s orders—the girl who couldn’t shed a tear despite the wretched pain that tore her soul apart.
“The sword cannot change the past,” she said. “The sword cannot change what you did or what you’ll do.”
“I don’t… understand,” I replied.
“Look.” She gestured to the blade, now basking in its own magical glow.
Shifting my gaze from the stranger, I turned to the object of my desire. And in its reflection of the starry sky, I saw myself—the hopeless creature, whose dark eyes remained haunted by the past. Once brave and fearless, as often attributed by my fiery hair, I had become a broken soul. She, or should I say I, was right all along.
“Destiny isn’t set in stone,” I said. “Destiny… is what you will make of it.”
Music Meets Story © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)