by Conrad Gardner
EXHIBIT 101 – THE ARBITER
BEFORE TOUCHING, READ BELOW:
Forged in 1882, The Arbiter is the earliest Pistante in history. It was created by Abel Garcia (1860-1922), an Anjiladonian native who trained as a mage in this museum’s home at the age of ten. Upon leaving the Mantelios Institute, he moved to the developing settlement of Los Lojones in Mastaces, Babonia, working as a smith. Born to farmer parents, Garcia was used to labour, but not always well-behaved, stealing trinkets from his grandparents. Adopted by an aunt after his father’s death, he was enrolled in our institute, being taught humility and learning to help the less fortunate.
During the Third Invasion (1882 – 1885), Garcia attempted to defend the town, but his offensive spells needed a device to help channel their power. His hand-cast spells lacked accuracy, so he forged The Arbiter, inventing a new kind of weapon that would protect the entirety of Kantinia.
Modelling The Arbiter on a Ricosto Revolver, Garcia implemented the chant Spiritum Deus Guardia for several hours while under the forge’s heat. (This chant has been used on two other exhibits in this institution’s collection, Exhibits 84: The Disciplo and 96: Ramirez’s Lawgiver). His diary (housed in the Mantelios Library) notes that when removed from the forge, ‘The gun was too light, like a leaf.’ The weight of his chants squashed the barrel, increasing it four millimetres in length, proving beneficial to the weapon’s range capabilities. With the first Pistante in hand, Garcia learned to focus his beam casts on the weapon (which he termed ‘injecting’) and fire the energy bestowed, becoming the first gunmage. He waged war on the Chacibarae and Chupahomani that terrorised Los Lojones. Porofi was one of his most frequent casts against such beasts, powerful when injected into The Arbiter.
In 1883, Garcia returned to Anjilados, a focal point of the Third Invasion. Ignoring the torment of the surrounding towns, The Arbiter weighed his belt down until he agreed to return.
The gunmage rode through the country, shooting Fiestorre with stakati energy as he passed. With an army of New Babonites and Anjiladonians behind him, he helped reclaim his land. When not fighting, he shot his injured allies with consuviae projectiles, healing those that had rudimentary cuts and bruises. Though The Arbiter never refused him, he said his Pistante grew heavier during moments of anger, which led him to learn the meditative arts. He shared the knowledge of how to craft a Pistante with few people, though many imitations by criminals yielded failed results.
Due to the draining effects of injecting his magic into the Pistante, Garcia retired in 1905. An international discussion started about who would continue his legacy and become the next gunmage. Despite numerous attempts by the Anjiladonian and Babonian governments to claim the weapon, no politicians or military leaders could lift it with ease. Competitions were held without Garcia’s consent, attempting to find the best fighters and shootists, but no winners were selected by him.
Deciding to search for his new mentee himself before he grew too drained, Garcia came upon Rosa Macabe (1899-1966), a young thief in Mastaces City after she attempted to steal his wallet. Taking his belt, and The Arbiter with her by accident, Garcia saw the weapon did not drag her to the ground and sensed her benevolent spirit. Adopting Macabe, he tutored her in achieving inner balance and using her talents to help others.
Garcia’s choice was controversial. He permitted others to try using the weapon, but it was lifted by few, fired even less. The Saraphitos made vocal threats against Macabe’s life for not being a noble-born magician. Garcia taught her his method of weapon-smithing and had her study The Arbiter’s individual parts before he let her practice firing it. The weapon is notorious for being difficult to use unless the wielder understands its making. On his deathbed, Garcia said that Macabe was a better gunmage than him as she had mastered her hate.
During the Poronean Invasion on Kantinia, Macabe used The Arbiter to defend the continent. Preventing the needless slaughtering of thousands, she proposed a duel between herself and a Poronean champion, Cladstock the Brute. Injecting The Arbiter with combosti, she demolished his armour with a flurry of shots (Exhibit 198: Cladstock’s Helmet can be seen in the Invader Display, where the effects of combosti energy on veitor steel are visible). Following her predecessor’s practice, she never wore armour, making her grasp around The Arbiter’s ivory grip firmer, and her movements quicker.
In 1957, a Sariphoto invaded Macabe’s home and tried to execute her with The Arbiter. The Pistante detected the attacker’s dark soul, refusing to fire and scorching his palm. Taught by Garcia not to rely on The Arbiter for all spells, she killed the Sariphoto with a hand-cast combosti.
Drained by The Arbiter as Garcia had been, she searched for its next bearer, Guillermo Conti (1968- ). Losing his parents in the Poronean Invasion, he was taught at this institute until Madame Macabe selected him as her successor at the age of fifteen. Despite his aggression, he tempered this along with steel at Garcia’s forge as Macabe mentored him.
Serving in the Diavolos War (1986-1987), Conti helped close the Tiaria Tear, and was the leading gunmage of the Anjiladonian army. By the war’s end, he had greatly contributed to establishing an era of peace.
Conti attempted to use healing casts on it, but consuviae, was the only workable spell, due to its projectile nature. Unable to help others with The Arbiter beyond basic medical aid, he returned here to become a teacher. Introducing two new classes, Gunmaging and Gunsmithing, Conti crafted his own Pistante and gifted The Arbiter to this institute, saying that it had no use in a time of peace, as it needed conflict to be used well.
Here it lies, waiting for a day The Mantelios Institute prays will never come. If you wish to hold The Arbiter and see if you are worthy, please take hold of the grip.
WARNING: The Mantelios Institute and Museum does not claim responsibility for any injuries sustained when attempting to fire or remove The Arbiter from its Lashiana-enchanted glass. Hands are crumpled or burned at the visitor’s risk.
Conrad Gardner’s fiction has been published by Superlative, Martian, AEL Press, and Full Moon Chronicles. He writes to calm his mind and keep his hands busy.
Weapons, like beasts, may lay dormant for millennia. But they are always ready to be used again.