1. The Sapphire Sword, its luster dimmed. In another world, you held the Sword aloft and it blazed blue in your hand. It made you feel a hero, even on the days you hacked and stabbed and felt anything but. Yet now you have saved that world, you have returned through the portal, you have come home. Modern battles are waged through words and tweets and press conferences, and you have no need of three feet of enchanted steel. Wrap the Sapphire Sword in several layers of blue tarp, smudge it with sage, and bury it in your backyard under a full moon.
2. Seven-League Boots, mended. Once, you used these to cross the country in a matter of minutes. You were ready and willing to be at the side of those who needed you. Without steady access to a supply of enchanted wax, the charms on these will soon fade. Keep them in a dark closet until you can wear them around your house without smashing through doors. After that, you can safely wear them when you attempt to return to your old life, the life you knew before you first stepped through the portal and found yourself in the midst of a battle. This old life will feel unfamiliar and strange, like a scratchy sweater. The Boots, once uncomfortable, now fit like a glove. Be careful, as the Boots, even without their charm, have a tendency to wander.
3. The Cape of Protective Armor, torn. Please note that the Threads of Life Energy sewn into the cloth are still active, and will continue to consume the wearer unless removed. You will need to pick them out with a seam ripper, and store the bits of Thread in a sealed mason jar. It is normal to weep over the Cape as you pick it apart. You may be surprised, as it seems as though it would be a joyous occasion to set down the Cape that once protected you as you fought. You may find yourself reaching for it for long after. Again, this is perfectly natural. With the Threads removed, it will lose its magical properties but it will also no longer draw on your own lifeforce. If it comforts you to continue wearing it, do. There is no wrong answer.
4. Missives from your Companions in the Heart of Enemy Territory, painful. We understand that many Heroes arrive home with these letters still in their pockets. The paper these are written on cannot go into mixed recycling, as it has a mystic coating. Yet leaving them where they may catch you unawares can make the healing process harder. Tear these letters of love and resistance into strips, and disperse them. One in the pocket of a warm jacket, offered to an acquaintance. Several more as cushioning for cut wildflowers, a gift for a new neighbor. There is no substitute for losing your chosen family. But some of the fragments will take root and grow.
5. The Glass Ring of Portal Transportation, broken. The stress of the final trip home invariably shatters the Ring beyond repair. Please consign the broken pieces to the fireplace. This door is closed, and will not reopen.
6. The Potion of Healing, full. Place this by your bedside and drink as necessary when the memories are too much to bear. You will wake at the slightest noise for a long time. A branch, tapping on the window, is an ogre, ready to spear you. A squirrel skittering is a burst of dragon fire, the second before it ignites. You will wake in the morning, jaw already clenched, eyes searching for the royal messenger, running to you with news of fresh horrors. There is silence in your bedroom and the silence will seem a trick.
7. The Handbook of Heroism, stained with your own heart’s blood. Once you consulted this guide for advice on everything; how to fletch an arrow, how to make an undetectable poison, how to fall and fall and yet get up again. You annotated notes of resistance in it. You wrote of your triumphs, and your despair. It has always had the knack of opening to the page you need. Pick it up and watch it open to a page very near the end. How to Safely Store Your Magical Artifacts After Saving the World. You read about the storage of the Sword, and the Missives, and the Boots, and you place the Ring in the fireplace and the Potion by your bed.
Drink from the Healing Potion, it says. Drink again, and you do.
Turn the page when you are ready.
What did you readily recycle? What was a challenge to set down?
The Sword, waiting at the bottom of the garden, is regenerating. It needs time for the blood to leach from its metal, for the protection of the earth to creep over it and heal.
The Book, with the memory of what you felt and saw and heard, is a touchstone to which you can return when you are met with lies in the future. I was here, it will say to you. These are the truths I saw, these are the horrors I tried to fight.
The Ring remains shattered. Portals are not always required to reach the battles. And the problem with worlds is that they never stay saved.
Rest now, instructs the Book. Let your body heal.
© 2022 Tina Connolly