Legendary Swords of the Realm

The cwenemaker (queenmaker) is a fearsome cleaver and the largest single-handed blade of the Realm. “Heavy as a Heorthgeneat” as the Arkan saying goes. Though Arkans will often use it as a bastard sword, most warriors outside The House of Arko prefer to use two hands in hefting it and call it a broadsword.
 
The famed sword of the Arkans differs significantly from the broadswords originally brought to the Realm by the ghoddic mercenaries of Middangeard. At that time, ghodds were fighting with flat wide blades with sides nearly parallel. It wasn’t until the end of the 3rd C. of the Common Era that the blades of the Arkans started to develop a distinct triangular shape. Though swords were never favored by the Dwarves, the Arkan hooskjarls adopted something of the regular geometry of dwarven axes in their broadswords and the blunt fighting techniques of the Dwarves as well.
 
A cwenemaker persuades mainly by its heft and ability to cleave. Its shape and size makes it a startling blade to behold. All cwenemakers of the present day inherit their shape and style from Caledbolg, famed weapon of Aetrig First Queen of The House of Arko. It was later used by her nephew Eadric, Prince of Béorfort. Caledbolg had two chimera engraved upon its golden hilt and quillions so that when it was unsheathed in the light of the setting sun the engravings upon its iron blade burst into fire in such a dreadful way that is was never easy to look upon. In its generations of use, Caledbolg developed a storied tradition for hacking off limbs.
 
Here’s the story of the chase of Prince Eadric by treacherous Lord Aethelfrith. Eadric had been driven from his home and rightful benefice through the plots and machinations of a powerful lord who had killed his father and taken the name of Aethelfrith, meaning “Lord of Peace.” For months Eadric eluded plots for his assassination until Aethelfrith himself took after the prince. Eadric could find no quarter with any lord courageous enough to stand up to the Lord of Peace and in the end, Eadric was flushed out of a cartwright’s stable and up the forested hill of Knockamore with Aethelfrith and his eager warband at his heels. Near the summit, Eadric turned about to face the Lord of Peace and used Caledbolg to hack both his limbs from his torso. Eadric then thrust Caledbolg into a great cleft of exposed bedrock before he himself was hacked limb from limb by Aethelfrith’s eager warband which then fell upon the sword to a man trying to wrench it free. Caledbold stayed in Knockamore for nigh thirty years as a bloody war of succession raged in Béorfort.
 
In R.Y. 342 one of Aetrig’s descendents, Ishild Daughter of Ishelm, claimed it. She drew it from the stone as if unsheathing it from a scabbard, whereupon the flames of the chimera reflecting the setting sun could be seen blazing from Knockamore as far as Castlereigh. A Queen had once again returned to Béorfort. Caledbolg was dubbed The Cwenemaker... and every blade copied from it thereafter.
 
Caledbolg received its original name for an earlier incident in the hands of Aetrig Daughter of Aescer. Her father had become fast friends with a wyddic lord by the name of Turnik Leesh by the end of the Battle of Dagor Halwah who had an unfortunate associate by the name of Glaab Leesh. Glaab had been a skilled captain of the Bracelet of Knights but was also irregularly petty; an easily insulted man. By a ridiculous turn of fate he came to insult and theaten Aetrig over a some unintentional or imaginary impropriety between she and one of his lieutenants, the details being something only a Hartian would remember. With Glaab's hand on the pommel of his sword, Aetrig rolled her eyes and muttered before many of his knights "If only the Knights of the Bracelet were better at holding their swords than they are at holding promises..." As well as insulting his proweess, she was also referring to the Hartian rollback of promised lands the Arkans were seeing after helping the Elder Houses in the Siege of Khad Zhere. Glaab sued for a duel. Turnik attempted to resolve the situation with diplomacy, but Glaab would have none of it.
 
Aetrig and Glaab met on an appointed afternoon in The Great Hall of Éorforic. In attendance were many of the high lords of the Bracelet as well as the best of Aetrig’s kinspeople. When arms were presented, Glaab of course favored the swift glissknife after Hartian tradition. But to the astonishment of the lords in attendance, even when faced with such a ‘superior’ blade in the leesh’s right hand, Aetrig took hold of her faithful Caledbolg… with both hands.
 
Glaab measured his time in steady circles around the broad-shouldered Aetrig, delivering grievous injuries by deft dives and the practiced angles of his glissknife while retreating from her counterstrikes. Every quarter of the circle he paced about her, he struck at her, until by pain and injury Aetrig sank to her knees ready to receive the coup de grâce. But when Glaab brought his knife to her chin, Aetrig grasped it full handed by the blade and turned it flat side up spraining the leesh's wrist and wrenching it free. She sent it clattering brilliantly to the floor along with two of her fingers. Before Glaab could command an understanding of what had happened Caledbolg had been used to cleave both of his arms from frame, whereupon he himself sank to his knees and Aetrig, now standing, relieved him of his head as well.
 
Aetrig was known ever after as “Aetrig Hardcleft” and sometimes in more familiar circles, “Old Eight Fingers.” Her sword received the wyddic name Caled Bolg or “Hard Cleft” and kept that name until Íshild established peace in The Kingdom of Arko and claimed the sword at Knockamore.

The most recognized sword of The Realm was the preferred weapon of the noble families of The House of Hart for millennia. Althoug glys means “swift” in Iowyd (High Wyddic), it is not the true origin of the common name for the sword. “Glissknife” comes from translations from the wyddic languages; it was called the gwyderbás or ‘death-glass’ in Draechi (High Wyddic) or the cleygwydor or ‘glass-sword’ in the Low Wyddic of the Hartians. "Glass sword" lead to an absurd but lasting speculation that the first wyddans used swords of obsidian from their now-sunken homeland. But "glass sword" and "death glass" likely have their origin in the blade once having been known for being polished to an extreme and long lasting sheen in the style of elvish blades. The elves were known for using terrifying and gleaming blades, fast and difficult to see in battle. Stories from Age of Sorcery in Dumnonia (that are still told in the Mabon Valley today) recount ancient mythic battles where the high elves always vanquished their foes with the sun in zenith and with the warriors of Caer Sidi casting blinding reflections by using blades that were otherwise as invisible as polished glass. Byddic cyn e temlo cyn i cayweld! "Feel an elf's anger before you see it!" was a High Wyddic phrase warning against the mythical wrath of the elves.

The shape of the glissknife is clearly of high elvish influence though it is unknown if this influence came from associations between humans and elves in the time of Caer Sidi or if the shape was copied from the manuscripts of elves discovered by wyddans returning in The Realm after the fall of Caer Sidi.

The glissknife's use by Iowyd speakers is confirmed as far back as the 12th Century B.E. where the the sword makes an appearance in the Cleddig Tapestries of the City of Dumnonia. Here several glissknives appear sheathed in the hilts of warriors sailing back to The Realm from across the Western Sea. No matter how far back the wyddans' use of the glissknife goes, certainly further back than the formation of The House of Hart, probably further back than the founding of Dumnonia and maybe as far back as the Sylvan Age, the glissknife is easily the most ancient surviving blade design in Realmic history.

Known more by their shapes today than their iron, true glissknives in the time of Dumnonia were forged of The Silver of Glarseach: an alloy of Iron and Drachtite with various sources of carbon added to make the alloy lighter in the hand and capable of holding a long-lasting and glass-like sheen.

A glissknife is used with deadly accuracy by sword masters familiar with the ancient elvish style of combat. The subtle downcasting curve of the glissknife is its most elvish architecture allowing it to be used as a thrusting or cutting weapon when held in an elvish-style grip allowing the user to flip the blade up or down without changing the hand position from prone to supine. The subtle concavity of the cutting side is used by a trained fighter to easily disarm an opponent or even remove their entire offending hand. Some who still hold ancient grievances against the cruel elves of Caer Sidi say the concavity of the blade was a throat-cutting feature used to dispatch thousands of captive combatants without the elves having to overtire their gracile hands.

The wolftooth is a feared and coveted blade that came with the Hákarla, an Ikkerik people of The Old North. One of the finest crafted blades ever seen, swords like this first encountered in the Realm were thought to be magical. Made of an unfathomably high quality steel with a pattern welded core and welded-on hardened cutting edges, an Ikkerik vúlfbert was a technological marvel quite unlike anything ever crafted in the Realm. It was not known how the Ikkerik produced blooms of such high quality steel or where they acquired them for swords like this. Lightweight yet strong, a vúlfbert always kept its sharp edge and was almost magically supple. It could be used to stab or hack into a wooden shield, bend to an extreme angle in order wrench the shield out of an opponent’s hand and then snap back into perfect alignment for a killing strike.

These famous blades always bore the elaborate dragon knotwork of the Old North, a signature of the craftsperson who forged it and the history of the family it belonged to. Much has been learned about the lineages of the Old North from the engravings on the blades that came out of its provinces.

From Trollvordur traditionally came the largest swords, from Gyddjudal the most elaborately decorated. The swords of Tanggi always bore the fylgya of the Raven of Oddinri. Tigh Bru Hahn, Bridger of Lands, who first came to The Realm and founded the House of Hákkarl, carried a great wolftooth by the name of Ísbrjótur. The sword was rumored to be blessed by Freyggi himself, god of clan Vílisridda. The warrior who carried Ísbrjótur was deemed undefeatable. None now know where Tigh Bru Hahn's blade lies or who bears it but it was not consumed with the body of the Great Jarl in his sea-fire after his death.

Each wolftooth possesses a personal name and a bearing name. Ísbrjótur was the sword’s bearing name, though it is likely only Tigh Bru Hahn knew its personal name. A vúlfbert was considered far more than just an heirloom, it was considered an actual member of a family: a living, breathing, feeling entity of forged steel! Indeed, the carbon used to temper the blade’s iron was harvested from the ritually charred bones of a warrior in a family’s line. These swords were ‘rested’, ‘fed’, ‘healed’ and were even privileged to ‘drink’ before their jarl in certain celebrations. Insulting a warrior’s sword was akin to insulting her sister or her father and would be asking for death.

The vúlfbert was primarily a cutting sword often used in an Ikkerik shield wall. The blade was hacked or stabbed into an enemy line to pull down a shield or wrench the item out of the hand of a foe, while a sister or brother next to the wielder would stab into the undefended hole with a long spear called a höfuddspjót or head spear. In a duel however, the blade was known to be capable of shattering inferior weapons and even cutting through inferior armor. From the haunted barrow of an early Ikkerik Jarl by the title Sigurvegari, it was seen upon the exhumation and exorcism of his remains that he fell in battle just as the old stories told, by having been clove through both his calves in one great strike… and through greaves of Ikkerik steel! The goddis performing the ritual at his 300 year old grave knew this because the angle of this single strike carried through both the unfortunate Sigurvegari’s separated calves. “Old King Hobbletop” was an Ikkerik monster of the woods who hobbled around on bloody stumps. He was invented by parents to keep their young children from entering the woods alone, but the story was based on poor old Sigurvegari and a mortal encounter with a wolftooth sword!

The curved or bent angle of the zamshaar deals devastatingly long cutting wounds and is capable of drawing through several layers of heavy fabric and even mail. Beheading a target from full gallop with a single drawn-slash is a practiced Iztani feat. On foot the Iztani are skilled in disrupting the footwork and defensive capabilities of enemies by jumping into a fighting range of less than two feet or closer. The diraa, a small buckler, is kept close to the chest and thrust against an enemy's shield or face while the zamshaar is drawn across the opponent diagonally, and often up behind an enemy's shield. Iztani warriors were trained to draw strong, lighting-fast strokes utilizing their back muscles. There are stories of Iztani fighters who were capable of cutting the straps off plate armor with an alarming speed leaving an enemy wearing little more than a slashed hauberk, while simultaneously knocking him off his feat.

In the south of Iztan, infantry traded the zamshaar and diraa combination for two shorter, thicker zamshaars. These duel wielding fighters were known as il'khalidin or "un-killables".

The zamshaar is a beautifully designed sword with a graceful curve that either thins to a point or a thicker yelman at the tip. Swords of the southern regions have a more extreme and somewhat wicked-looking bend in the second half of the blade. All zamshaars have snaking quillions that curve down the posterior of the hilt to protect the wielder's hand and hook up along the anterior cutting edge to catch and break weapons caught between the quillion and blade. The hilts were glued and riveted affairs of decorative horn or ivory. The swords were such stunning works of art that, in the Elder Wars, as Haartian cavalry leaders acquired them, they kept them worn in parallel scabbardry as a sign of their status.

On the back of Kedteer, her armored lion, Ranraki favored a thin spear-like lance called a ramhkabir, but she was also a skilled Il'khalidJoghâd & Hashtpâh or "Owl & Tentacle" were the name of her pair of zamshaari and they were always at her sides.