Some Great Gift

She looked out over the pit. It seemed to go down forever, girdled by a stairwell four broad men wide, and even so the stairs were miniscule to the eye even a third of the way around the circle of the pit.

The sword was cold in her hand. It wasn’t pretty, the edge nicked in a hundred places and the flat gouged with scratches. Grip tight, she looked up. Below her, oil lanterns lit the stairs, a futile effort to light the pit’s vast, empty darkness. Above, that light shone dully off the latticework gate that kept them all safe from the monsters above.

Up there, her father had died, and one of his partners had brought back his sword. As if it were some great gift and not a reminder of what the man had preferred over raising his daughter. And that he expected her to follow his footsteps up those unlit steps into ancient tombs and reanimated horrors.

She watched the sword tumble down into the pit. It vanished in moments, but she could feel it falling away from her, like chains. She would live her life, not her father’s. The lights of the stairwell warmed her.

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