He goes to the ancient stones on the wild hilltop under the cold starlight and sits in silent contemplation over his sword, to ready his mind and prepare to travel into the other lands where the dragon hoards its power. The sword is long; long enough to pass through the thick body of the immense wyrm. The blade is wrought in the ancient way when smiths would weave the magic of serpent and blood and river into their patterned steel blades. No one knows the significance or meaning of the writhing pattern or why the light glints in ripples along the many-layered edge, but he can feel the ancient power in it as it rests on his hand. Sharp enough to slice the callused skin, it rings with a soft high note when he runs his palm along the blade and lifts it into the air.
The grip and hilt are marked with strange symbols and runes. He looks upon them as he thinks of the coming battle. The letters are strange -- like, yet unlike the runes he is familiar with. All travellers know the common rune letters; they write notes to one another on stones or wood when they are far away from their own lands and need to communicate to someone following days behind on the trail or current. But these letters are different, they have strange dots and some of them are unfamiliar, and they seem to be written backwards. This is the way the ancient ones, the old runeworkers, used to write warnings to the spirits and ancestors. He knows this -- some of the ward stones under the dark jagged mountains to the west are written with backwards runes, so that they have power in the other world, the world that can be glimpsed peering out from puddles and tarns in the deep woods sometimes.
These words written on the hilt, then, are not for him to read, but to protect him when he passes into the dragon's realm. The smith has looked deeply into the old stories, and found the names of the first things from before men walked the earth, when there was only a gap of nothing bordered by ice and fire. Sparks melted the ice and a yeasty rime yielded the first life, then the olden gods gave it breath and the world began. These first things are written in the ancient language on the guard of the sword - Ice, fire, yeast, breath - isa, brisingr, jouster, orindi.
The grip of the sword is carved of hard unyielding wood, black and smooth. It is whispered that the smith traded a great many fine things to acquire it from a forest stunted by dragon fire so that the wood grew black from the venom. The touch of this wood protects the warrior from the same venom and will give him a slim advantage when facing the beast.
Carved into the grip are the same symbols that adorn the guard and pommel, and which run over the scabbard. Looping under and over and twisting around into three lobes, the dragon slayer knows these well. They represent the sacred goal of every dragon slayer - the dragon's heart.
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