The world of Halci is home to a variety of magics, each of which lend themselves differently to the practice of crafting magical weapons. While the most unusual might be the akarriden blade, the others bear mentioning if only for comparison.
In the interest of establishing a baseline, mention should first be made of ‘generic’ magical weapons. These come in two types.
Enchanted weapons are the most basic, consisting of prefabricated non-magical weapons which are then imbued with power by a mage–sometimes through painting or etching arcane symbols, the addition of enchanted gemstones or wrappings or whole hilts, or even a ritual without a visible physical anchor on the weapon itself. Easiest and cheapest, enchanted weapons are also the most prone to losing their magic; their enchantments can be drained or dispelled by a competent magic-user or simply disabled by the removal of magical parts such as the aforementioned gems.
Spell-forged weapons are more permanent versions, with their magic laid into the weapon’s material as it is being made. While enchanted weapons require only a generic magic-user for their creation, spell-forged weapons require an Artificer; the techniques for enchanting the various materials and constructing/assembling the weapons are only taught to Artificing students, and the knowledge is jealously guarded. Spell-forged weapons can not be dispelled–though their powers can be temporarily blocked–but can be drained by more powerful magic-users; however, unless the drain is enough to destroy the weapon, it will eventually regain its enchantment by absorbing ambient energy. Spell-forged weapons can be broken, which forces their powers into dormancy, but also reawakened by being reforged.
Most Halions–including mages–only know of these two types.
In comparison, akarriden blades are not enchanted at any stage of their existence. As a product of the haelhene wraith stronghold of Akarridi, they are the result of a series of experiments into weaponizing human pain, greed, hatred and other destructive emotions. Though their final form is that of a weapon–most commonly a sword–they are not crafted from standard materials and thus do not conform to the Laws of Metal (to be explained another time) or typical enchanting/dispelling procedures.
The creation of an akarriden blade begins in Akarridi’s gladiator pit. The haelhene wraiths have been attempting to breed or create their own monstrous shock-troops for millennia. and the wraiths assigned to Akarridi prowl the Imperial lands regularly, looking for humans they can kidnap to use as gladiators. These hapless individuals are forced to fight in the pits while under the influence of the wraiths’ experimental infusions, while the wraiths observe and collect data.
Most gladiators are disposed of once their bodies or minds can no longer handle the wraiths’ concoctions. However, certain combinations trigger changes within their host, causing the affected gladiator to go into an uncontrollable rage. Usually this overload fixates on a specific need–such as hunger or lust–or an unpleasant sensation such as being trapped or suffocated. At this point, the Akarriden haelhene feed other gladiators to the rampaging one so that the psychic overload can persist long enough for it to infuse the very soul of the main victim.
Then, once the gladiator has had its soul thoroughly steeped in its own malicious agony, it is set against a prospective ‘master’: a human or Imperial abomination selected to be the wielder of the akarriden blade that will result. It is the job of the ‘master’ to subdue the infused gladiator and sacrifice them on the pit’s central altar, which has been imbued with the power to bind the seething soul into the body’s materials even after the body has been slain. This act of dominance on the part of the ‘master’ is necessary for control of the akarriden blade, once it is complete; it will assault anyone else, but it will never harm its own master.
Once the gladiator has been sacrificed, the Akarriden necromancers descend upon the corpse to divine which body-part the twisted soul is most concentrated in, and drive the rest of the soul into there so that the body-part might be forged into a weapon–often grossly distorted from its original proportions. Every akarriden blade is made in that manner: cut from the flesh of its ‘parent’ and then shaped into a weapon-like form, to be wielded by the ‘master’ that murdered it. The soul remains trapped within the blade, and its eternal rage and emotional fixation gives the weapon its power.
Every akarriden blade can cut through any non-enchanted material without resistance (so long as the blade actually has a cutting edge, and is not an akarriden mallet or something similar). Additionally, touching or being struck by the blade causes a connection between the seething, psychotic blade-soul and the victim, which can be an overwhelming and traumatic experience even if no damage is involved. Specific akarriden blades have more specific effects, such as:
Serindas, Darilan Trevere’s akarriden dagger. An embodiment of hunger, Serindas drains blood from blood-having victims and energy from anything else, including magical constructs. It was forged from a jawbone.
Alandian, an akarriden rapier. Embodiment of imprisonment and contempt, Alandian freezes solid anything it touches, causing extensive tissue- or structural damage. It was forged from a wrist and hand.
Reivus, an akarriden longsword. Also called a Rotblade, it embodies despair and causes creeping necrosis on living victims, or black rot on nonliving objects. It was forged from a forearm and a long-nailed hand.
Most akarriden blades are entirely made up of the compressed black ash of their former selves, giving them a graphite-like appearance, though some have had special hilts or wrappings added to them for better grip, camouflage, et cetera. Each has a set of runes inscribed into the main face, whether that be the head of a hammer or the flat of a blade, which details the full name of the original human and the ‘mood’ of the blade written in haelhene script. These create thin spots where the roiling energy of the blade-soul seeps through, making them look as if they are written in colored energy.
Less-dramatic than akarriden blades, but even more difficult to create, are spirit blades. There is no method by which they can be purposefully crafted; their second name, ‘heirloom blades‘, reflects the only way they come into existence.
A spirit or heirloom blade comes into being after a normal weapon of any type has been passed down through several generations of warriors or shamans dedicated to the service of a particular beast-spirit. (This does not work with godfollowers; gods gift their faithful with other tactics.) Due to the constant dedication of its wielders, the blade becomes imbued with the essence of their lineage and, through them, an echo of their patron spirit.
The effect depends on the spirit and on the number of generations that have handled the blade. A faint spirit-presence can sometimes be detected in blades that have passed through the hands of three generations, but the longer the span, the stronger the influence. At their very basic, spirit blades grant their wielder some resistance to arcane influence–especially mentalism–and some access to the heightened senses or knowledge attributed to their patron spirit; at their strongest, spirit blades have been known to trigger skinchanging in otherwise-human wielders, including the associated regeneration, as well as direct contact with and manifestation of the patron spirit.
These, of course, are only effective if the patron spirit still lives. For spirit blades whose patron spirits have died, a piece of the spirit remains in the weapon and continues to imbue it, granting its wielder influence over the creatures the spirit used to rule, but its powers will never increase. Successive generations may strengthen other aspects of the blade but can not resurrect the patron spirit.
This is not an enchantment, so it can not be dispelled, and as a spirit-mark it can not be drained by any mage who is incapable of affecting the spirits. It also persists within the pieces of a broken blade–never going dormant–so that all the powers lent to it are active upon any piece of it, no matter how badly it has been shattered.
A minor but important trait is also an imprint of the lineage to which the blade belongs. Holding the blade reminds the wielder of his or her ancestors, and an especially old heirloom blade can even contain specific memories and messages from those ancestors. No one outside of the lineage gains any of its effects or influence, even if they worship the same spirit; conversely, a descendant of the lineage who does not follow the spirit will still gain its powers, but might not leave an imprint and could even break the heirloom chain.
An example of a heirloom blade is the Sarovingian sword carried by Firkad Sarovy. Dedicated to Senket the Eagle and having passed through fifteen generations of soldiers and shamans, it is a powerful heirloom sword–but in his hands it is less than it should be, because he does not follow Senket. Still, it can harm opponents that nonenchanted weapons can not, such as metal elementals, and it subtly imbues him with a few talents he would not otherwise have.
Speaking of metal elementals, a fairly common-in-existence but not-common-in-use type of weapon is a living metal blade. These are simply blade-shaped metal elementals which have deigned to be used by non-elemental folk. They have no enchantment but are sentient, malleable and capable of independent action–a dangerous combination for enemies who can not sense them.
Finally, and thus far unique in the realm, is what some have called a phylactery sword. Though its whereabouts are unknown, it is said to contain all or part of the soul of an evil entity, and to inflict that entity’s madness upon any who touch it. As the inspiration for the akarriden blades, it is highly sought-after by the haelhene wraiths, as well as by their enemies who want to block them from studying it. The exact nature of the captured entity and how it came to be locked to the sword is known only to the Trifold Goddess and her high devotees.
more things to draw!
Those Akarriden blades sound grim. I love the ideas behind them! Very inventive. I’m also quite interested in your map. Did someone draw it or did you make it with some kind of software? I’m interested because I want to have a map for my novel, but am shockingly bad when it comes to drawing.
For the map, I used the free GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) and this tutorial: http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/10655-award-winner-hand-drawn-mapping-artistically-challenged.html
The tutorial is for an earlier version of GIMP than is currently out, but with a bit of tinkering it’s possible to figure out where the different options are. I had a base map that I hand-drew and scanned, then followed this tutorial to trace and then do all the fancy stuff, and it turned out pretty well. All the non-hand-drawn maps on here are from using GIMP; you can check them out under The Maps tab for reference, or the maps tag on the sidebar.
Very nice blogg you have here