The bolt of lightning struck the very tip of the sword’s blade and a raw current raced through Paul’s system. He was filled with a sort of intense energy and all around him was brilliant, blinding light. It felt like he was inside the lightning, as though he had become a part of it.
For a few fleeting seconds it seemed like he was floating and then with a hard thump, he hit the ground. Groaning in pain, he blinked his eyes several times to dispel the black dots obscuring his vision. He was lying face down on a rough, stone floor. It was little wonder why the fall had hurt so much.
Slowly and with a considerable amount of pain, Paul pulled himself up off the floor. Once he was standing he got his first real look around and was stunned by what he saw. He was in some sort of workshop and all around him where weapons, shields and armor, all made of beaten bronze. A massive fire blazed in front of him, contained in a large pit that had been hewn from the rock itself. In fact, the whole room such as it was, was like a cave that had been carved out of the side of a mountain. The ceiling arched high above him and on a second glance Paul realized that there weren’t any doors.
“Stand forth mortal and greet thy better.”
A voice boomed out of the darkness and echoed around the cavern. Half terrified, half awed Paul quickly raised the sword, ready to do battle. Starring all around him and trembling with anxiety, he failed to locate who it was that had spoken. The fire blazed higher and hotter before him and Paul stumbled backwards away from its incredible heat. Its illumination was the only source of light in the room.
The sword grew heavier in his hands, its weigh dragging down his arms. Finally, unable to support it further, he dropped it. For a moment, it lay still; then it twitched. Frightened, Paul scurried away from it. It twitched a second time and flipped over so that its blade now faced him.
The fire surged again and the sword skidded across the floor, stopping halfway between him and the pit. He could see the flames building before him. It was like the ocean tides; rolling forwards, it would then creep back only to return with more force the second time. Sweat poured down his face, stinging at his eyes. The fire was consuming all the oxygen in the cavern and Paul was panting, doubled over with his hands on his knees. It raged into an unholy inferno and its heat lashed out at him, searing his skin. The flames licked hungrily towards him; he saw them quickly engulf the sword.
On the verge of passing out and driven back against the wall he cowered from the conflagration in front of him. Again the bellowing voice called out to him.
“Have you mere creatures forgotten your gods? Do you not know He that standeth before you? You shall know me for I am Vulcan, God of the flame and creator of arms.”
From within the flames, a monstrous being emerged. His muscles bulged and his face was hideous. He limped towards Paul, one leg twisted and dragging uselessly behind him. In one massive hand he held the sword aloft and with his words the blade was sheathed in flame.
“You who called upon me, stand forth and prove thyself worthy of my blade.”
To be Continued in Part 3!
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