Henry and Michael took a bus back to Henry’s parents’ house. Henry didn’t live there anymore, but he’d arranged to come and show them his inheritance from Great-Great-Uncle William over lunch. Michael was another beneficiary of the will who’d just had an intense confrontation with his childhood guardian, and Henry thought he needed some moral support. Together they got on the bus, each carrying a milk crate of things, and found seats together. Michael had to take off the long object slung over his back and hold it beside him.
“You’re sure your parents won’t mind me just turning up?” Michael sounded worried. “I mean, it’s not like any of you know me or anything.”
“You don’t know us either,” pointed out Henry. “But knowing my family, they’re going to want to know what you might know about Great-Great-Uncle William, seeing that it seems he was a major supervillain back in his day. Also, I want to see my mother’s face when she finds out that his ‘junk’ was work trophies. She and some of the aunts have been wanting to declutter his house for years.”
“I somehow think they’re not going to get to,” said Michael. “If the Masked Shadow took even half those things off heroes, villains, or universal antagonists, it’s going to need a professional curator with some sort of specialist disposal team.”
“Oh, my,” said Henry. “Do you think he had any of the Silver Blade’s equipment? He was part of that takedown, or so the movies say.”
“I don’t know if the movies are true,” replied Michael. “I mean look at what they do to Braveheat and Christobel every single time, but I’ve got his swordstaff right here. It’s beginning to wake up.”
The two of them looked at each other. “It is, is it?” Henry looked around and was relieved that no-one was sitting near them. “What’s it like?”
“Confused. Wondering what it’s doing on a bus. Telling me to stay away from the armour and the shield if I value my sanity.” He smiled. “It claims that it and the ring are safe to associate with. And it still wants to know what it’s doing on a bus.”
Henry suggested, “Tell it you’re going to my parents’ place for lunch?”
Michael was quiet for a moment and then replied, “It thinks that’s a good idea. It says I should have normalising relationships – I think that means I should have friends who expect me to act like a normal person and not some Chosen One. It seems to think that the Silver Blade was encouraged to be rather precious.”
“Well, there’s probably money in telling the story from the swordstaff’s point of view,” offered Henry. “It would have the advantage of not having to invent the point of view character; and here's our stop.”
Once they were off the bus, it took Henry and Michael only a few minutes to reach Henry’s childhood home.
The house itself was a Federation-style bungalow set on a corner block with a lichen-spotted roof, a verandah running full length along both frontages, and leadlight panels in both the doors and windows. The back garden was separated from the front by sun-tolerant azaleas planted on both sides of the house. As Henry opened the garden gate and stepped up onto the path, Michael said, “That’s odd.”
“What's odd?” Henry looked back at him as he asked the question.
“The swordstaff says that the ring is already here.”