The Callien Sword

 

Mr and Mrs Makantas were sitting quietly on multicoloured winged back armchairs by the roaring fire, Mr Makantas smoking a rather large U-shaped pipe and drinking Berry Beer, and Mrs Makantas carefully unpicking the seams of a coat.

Bo directed her question at Wade’s mum. “May I come in?” she asked nervously.

“Certainly, my dear! Come—sit by me and warm your bones.”

Mr Makantas didn’t look up from his beer. The tall, stern-looking man had silvery, slicked back hair that blended seamlessly into the full beard and handlebar moustache covering much of his face. He still, rather proudly, wore the officer’s uniform issued by the now redundant K.G.M.U—King Gregor’s Military Unit. Bo could see the iconic royal blue suit of the K.G.M.U hadn’t fared well since the unit had been disbanded, following King Megonat’s coup. The white fringed epaulettes on the jacket shoulders had frayed so badly they now resembled fluffy mops, and both the jacket and trousers had large areas of darned repairs, but he still looked impeccable. Mrs Makantas, on the other hand, was a complete contrast. Her corn-coloured hair, dull and straggly, was piled up on her head resembling a mini haystack and her clothes—more patched than Bo had ever seen up close—looked to be tearing at the seams in a desperate bid to keep her cuddly body contained.

Mrs Makantas put the sections of coat she was working on to one side and retrieved a large, bone coloured comb from an antique chest at the side of her chair. “Let’s set about those tangles!” she said.

Bo nodded her approval, and as she leant back against Mrs Makantas’s chunky knees, she wondered if she dared speak to the ex-military man. However stern he looked, she needed help with the purple box and without making eye contact, she began, “Mr Makantas—do you have a tin cutter?”

Wade’s Father, who’d been concentrating hard on smoking his pipe, looked over it to view Bo. “What do you need a tin cutter for?”

“Well,” she said, “I found something at home, that I think might be important, and I can’t get into it.”

“Where is this—something?”

Bo pushed herself up from the cushion, collected the pile of dirty clothes she’d left by the door frame, and dropped it near the fire. Wade’s parents sat forward in their chairs and watched Bo unravel the mangled clothing to retrieve the purple box nestled within.

Mr Makantas set his U-shaped pipe down on the hearth of the fire and took the box from Bo. “Let’s have a look,” he said, “Mmm.” Bo watched his manicured moustache swerve rhythmically, like handlebars, as if his face was steering a bicycle while he examined the box.

“Looks like a ‘charm’ chest,” he said eventually, “a very rare item if I’m not mistaken, and I’m afraid if it is, you’ll need its key.” Mr Makantas handed the box back to Bo. “Impossible to open without it.”

Bo sat back on her haunches and shook her head. “I don’t understand – there isn’t a hole anywhere on the box to insert a key,” she said, miserably.

“Top of the box, Bo,” said Mr Makantas. “If you run a finger over the very centre, you’ll feel it.”

Bo did as he suggested and there it was, a minuscule hole the size of a pinprick.

“Any idea where the key might be, Bo?” asked Mrs Makantas. “Must be very tiny to fit in a lock that small, easy to lose, I should imagine!” Mrs Makantas gathered up the pieces of the old coat and resumed her work, then added, “I’d have tied it to something bigger, or a chain perhaps—so it didn’t go missing.”

Bo sprang up from the cushion and sprinted to the door. “I’ll be right back! I know where the key is!”