The stone floor was cold against the boy’s knee, pressing against the bone, reminding him of its presence. Lightning flashed through the cathedral’s stained glass windows, followed shortly by thunder’s throaty growl. He let loose a sob, hoping the rumble would drown his cry.
An aged priest, shriveled and grayed, loomed over the boy as the sobs shook him helm to boot. A wrinkled hand rested against the boy’s shoulder.
“Have your cry boy. Your father was a great man. His deeds are legend.”
The boy released a sharp, clipped wail then gathered his resolve. As he choked down the last of his pain he turned his eyes, moist above tear stained cheeks, toward the priest.
“I am ready”, the boy said with all the courage he could muster.
A house steward stepped forward, handing the boy a broadsword. His father’s sword. Candlelight danced from the freshly polished blade as the boy took the hilt in both hands, set the point into the soft mortar between floor stones, then bowed his head.
The priest spoke, his voice quiet but strong.
“Simmon of Atreus, first son of Donnan, on this day, the eighth of Tarasakh, following the untimely yet heroic death of your father as he battled a dragon, you are to inherit the title Cathatch.”
The priest’s voice grew louder until, booming with power, it filled the cathedral.
“Since before words first found paper, the Cathatch have been the King’s warriors. Theirs is a solitary life, imprisoned by the responsibility inherent in great power.”
The priest paused, then glanced at the boy.
“Do you accept your charge?”
Terror seized the boy’s heart. He grabbed ahold of the fear, embraced it, put it back in its place.
The boy focused his gaze on the sigil stamped into his father’s sword.
The priest started to chant. Words from before time, in a tongue understood by few.
The sigil glowed blue.
First was the steel. Cold as a winter storm, it bled from the blade. Ice gripped his bones, traveled from hands to trunk to legs. From the bones it spread to the muscle. As it reached the last of him the steel hardened.
The steward stepped forward, longsword in hand. He struck down against the boy’s shoulder. The clang of steel on steel echoed across the room as the blade bounced away.
The sigil glowed red.
Next was the flame. Hot as the mill’s furnace, it bled from the blade. It crawled across his skin, covering him from head to toe. When it covered the last of him it melted inward. Every fiber of his being glowed with power.
The steward stepped forward, holding a thick candle before him. The boy stretched out his hand. Flame leapt from his fingertips, stopping inches from the steward’s face, leaving the candle alight.
The priest’s voice boomed again, “Simmon, first son of Donnan, you are a boy no longer.”
“Arise anew, with steel in your veins and flame in your heart.”
The man stood. The priest clasped his shoulder.
“Simmon, Cathatch of Atreus. You have a dragon to kill.”
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