"Reflections of Eternity" is a fantasy short story that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. Since I’m generally turned off by photographic fantasy covers, it was the story description which persuaded me to download it – specifically the sword-in-the-stone fantasy trope.
I know lots of people are tired of standard fantasy tropes. The farm-boy-finds-magic-sword-saves-world and all the other familiar tropes are not only boring but an insult to the reading I.Q. of most people. However, whenever my mind is tired of complex stories, I like to take a break by returning to the comfortable fantasy tropes of my youth. And nothing gets me closer to that innocent and joyous time than a good sword-in-the-stone story.
In this particular tale, the world is hurtling toward its end. The soothing lullaby of the goddess Heljina having stopped, and the dark god Zarketh rousing toward wakefulness and destruction. All is in chaos. Civilization is crumbling. The naive and stupid people of the world are lining up to draw the magic blade dubbed Bedko from the holy stone. And all Rehman can do is laugh at the absurdity of it all, desperately trying to get so drunk he doesn’t care anymore.
But then something amazing happens: Rehman is forced to draws forth Bedko’s Blade. Immediately, he is anointed the savior of his people. Only problem being that our young, drunk hero doesn’t want anything to do with what his new destiny entails.
For, you see, the legends say that once there were two swords within the holy stone, but the last time Zarketh began to awake (five centuries in the past) a warrior-woman named Zella pulled forth the other blade, marched down into Zarketh’s tomb to fight the god, and triumphed. (Well, everyone assumes she triumphed because the world didn’t end.) Only problem being that no one ever saw Zella again!
Now Rehman finds himself forced toward the caves where Zella supposedly disappeared, and while all he really wants to do is run for his life, he tries to find bravery in knowing that Zella walked this same path years before. But soon, all his courage begins to fade, as he finds that in the dark depths time itself does not matter anymore!
Having read more than a few fantasy stories that used the sword-in-the-stone trope I can tell you honestly most authors really don’t add much to the classic Arthurian legend. Oh, they might package it differently, change the “why” or “how”, but ultimately, it is the same rehashed fantasy trope that we are all accustom to. But J.M.D. Reid has not done that with "Reflections on Eternity." Instead, he has crafted an interesting and entertaining story that twists the sword-in-the-stone mythos around until it has become something new. A feat that I personally never saw coming until the last sentence.
J.M.D. Reid is another fantasy author I was not familiar with until reading a fantasy short story. But unlike other shorts, this tale actually sold me on Mr. Reid’s story crafting skill, so I will definitely be checking out his novel "The Assassin’s Remorse" sometime in the future. And I would encourage you to as well.