Far northwest of the hustle and bustle of the world of selfish men, politics and Gods lies The Olde Forest. Untouched, nay… undiscovered, by human hands for countless thousands of millennia, it spans a hundred continents; swallowing mountains, lakes, deserts and even artic bits. An untouched utopia for a million different plant types, a billion species of animals, and a trillion types of insect. It’s massive. Some say it is the last untamed place on the planet, but sadly as with all things, all things must come to an end…
In a meadow near the outskirts of the wood, butterflies play over gently billowing plants while birds cheep in the branches of green-leafed trees. A herd of deer-like creatures gamble and fish jump playfully out of the crystal clear pond. A young deerling raises its head from the water and spots a new creature coming out of the trees to the southeast. It is like a deer, but on its hind legs, and instead of lovely brown fur it’s got slightly olive skin and a short dark beard. Its shirt is open and you can see a hairy chest with a gold medallion nestled in there. “Great! A new species of animal to play with!” it thinks in its rudimentary deer-language, and gambles over to the other side of the meadow where the three men are. “Be careful son!” his mother bleats, “we’ve never seen that species before! They might be trouble!“, but the young deer is out of earshot. It sees the foremost man bring a toy up and pull a string back “oh great a new toy!” it thinks. It is it’s last thought. It’s brains are splattered all over the lovely green of the plant as a rusty iron arrow flies through its skull, bursting it into a million pieces, spilling it’s contents, its arteries pumping gallon after gallon of deep red crimson. It goes all over the butterflies, who get bogged down in the think red viscous liquid and they fall struggling to the ground, their wings snapping under the weight, suffocating and entombed forever in the thick, rapidly drying blood. The deer mother cries out a heart-breaking bellow and the other deerling run back to her, but it is too late. This new creature with its infernal technology doesn’t need to run to catch it. Arrows fly. The mother gets punctured deep in both her eyes, exploding viscera all over her children. It vomits blood and brain matter all over the youngest, nary a week old, who chokes on its mothers burning stomach juices. The mother collapses on top of it, crushing the last of the life out of the youngling. The last thing she sees is deep into the eyes of her baby as it looks up, betrayed and uncomprehending as they both painfully die. The other two kids turn and flee, but both get arrows up their backsides, digging deep into their guts, piercing and ripping through organs. They escape, only to die in horrible agony days later as the acids from their digestive systems plus shit slowly eat away at their vital organs.
The meadow is silent again. The three men walk to the scene of devastation, laughing. “We’ll eat well tonight boys!” cries the leader, “Then we’ll get to work chopping down these trees, filling the river with earth to build buildings, and hunting more animals, all for short-term profit”. The explorers laugh and pat each other on the back. But as they look back to where the dead mother lays (still gushing blood into her childs open, dead mouth), there stands a man. He is old, ancient, and wearing only a fur loincloth. He has a long whispy beard and one of those haircuts where he’s bald on top but it’s long at the sides. He is dead sinewy and has a tight little six-pack. You’d think the three poachers would laugh, and cock their bows at this new stranger. But no, they know this man, called “Al Daiblo di Nature” in their tongue, the Nature Devil. They thought the man a myth, but they can see he is real. For he carries the mythical Lord Natures Ward.
Al Daiblo wasn’t always called that of course. He was born Thon, only son to a wealthy merchant, Lord Falsindon Rikmyth, a wealthy slave owner. When his young wife died in suddenly and tragically, the evil pompous fat lord abandoned his only son at the forests edge as a 4 month old, determined that he would live forever and never give up his land and title to his son. For days the poor infant lay bewildered in his swaddling nest, until one night a vision appeared in the sky. An old man, all serious but a bit camp. Lord Nature himself. “Awake thine child, become mine champion. Save mine Forest. Make thee a sword”. The baby didn’t understand a word of course, he was four months old. But somehow… he knew.
Al Daiblo spent his whole life creating this blade, and in a way it tells the story of his life- each component a new chapter:
The Crossguard (right): This was the head of the first creature he killed. The the last of it’s kind Gull of Mantiiis, a majestic creature that once ruled the air. The young boy stalked the bird for three days, finally tiring it out. It fell to the ground exhausted. He rung its neck until the head snapped off. With no servants to cook for him, he just left the rest of the corpse there to rot. “I have a lot to learn!” he thought to himself.
The Crossguard (left): The second part of the blade was attained when the lad was seven. Now a seasoned scavenger, young Thon had been living off the fruits and berries of the forest floor. However he realised he was a little deficient in iron, and remembered a travelling physician telling him in his grand hall that meat was a great source of the mysterious nutrient. The majestic highstag was the king of the high lands of the forest, and often he heard its ecstatic bellowing through the night as it took yet another mate. He would look up to a see the majestic beast whinnying in sillouhette against the background of one of Shagina’s moons as its partner was on all fours getting drilled. He finally bested the beast by tying down a sexy young female highstag (which he lured by rubbing stag hormone all over himself). As the beast approached in a state of arousal, he leapt from overhead and yanked off it’s antlers. The once proud beast, shorn of it’s weapons, was soon set upon by jealous woodland creatures and it died a bloody death. Poor Thon wasn’t able to get a bite of meat as all the wolves etc got their first.
The Blade: There was but one unicorn left in the world at this point. Thon was fourteen when he slayed it. This meeting was actually an accident- Thon was a teenager, suffering all the homonal angst teenagers face. He succumbed to self-relief on an almost hourly basis. Right after one bout, he looked up in post-defilement shame and saw that the unicorn had trotted aimlessly into the clearing. In a fit of embarrasment and shame he threw a rock at the proud beast and hit it squarely in the skull. Killing it instantly. He immeadiately felt a pang of regret as sense restored itself, but he took the Horn anyway.
The Handle: also from the unicorn.
And so with that, Lord Nature’s champion was born. A lifetime dedicated to saving the forest awaited him. And he had his work cut out! By kiling the three legendary creatures of the forest, he set off a chain reaction which abosultely fucked the ecosystem. He spent most of his life trying to irrigate dried up river beds and planting seedlings. In fact he never really used the sword and just left it in his treetop lair most of the time as it got in the way.
And whatever happened to Thon’s father you ask? Well, he still lives. In fact, the whole of the forest is within the grounds of his castle! (Told you he was rich!). He often looks out from his balcony at breakfast and spots his son, playing with his sword, swinging in the trees and mucking about with his pet animals. He has mellowed in his later years and is known to sigh wistfully and consider calling Thon in for his tea. But then he looks around at his massive house, big banquet always set out, and all his sexy servants, and sighs again. “maybe tomorrow” he sighs.
Maybe tomorrow, father.
(A little post script on the nature of Lord Nature. The more astute reader will probably notice that He’s basically exactly the same as our own Mother Earth except male. I accept that a major problem within contemporary fantasy is a lack of well written “strong female characters”. A proper dicussion on the matter is long overdue. Personally, I think it we writers stuggle with them because there are none really in real life that we can look to for inspiration. I’m not saying they don’t exist. I just literally cant think of any.)
In an opulent command tent, the king sits with his head in his hands. His tall pale advisor, Abendiir, leans over him and sets a weak, long-fingered hand on the kings white furry collar, “my liege”, he rasped, “it must be done”, his mealy mouth clicking, and bald pate shining in the candlelight.
“Done?” the young King responds, looking up. To the old veteran guard at the front flap of the tent, the crown looks heavy upon his shoulder length blonde hair with a centre parting (that’s not a metaphor by the way, the crown was dead heavy – made of lead). “Done!?” he squeals, banging his strong hands against the old oak table, sending silver plates and golden goblets of red wine flying. “And how, dear Abendiir”, he says, turning to his advisor, “does one kill… A God?”.
Abendiir smiled (or was it a smirk, the old faithful guard thought), “mmm, my liege, leave that”, he brushed down his long black gown, “to me”. He straightens and walked out the tent, smirking still as he walked past the guard.
“What a mincer” the guard muttered.
“What was that?” demanded the king
“Nothing, your grace”.
Phewf! The stakes have been raised! We’re trying to kill a god now. Ah yes, the Greatgod KOK I mentioned before has become quite the annoyance ‘mongst the pantheon. You see, he’s started believeing in another god! At first, the lesser gods were tolerant of KOK’s new religion, thinking it a test of their own faith. But then he started posting leaflets through their doors, and wouldn’t shut up about it at dinner parties and in chance meeting on the cloud-streets. The lesser Gods had had enough, and so had our mysterious priest Abendiir. I’ll give that advisor credit, he’s got ambition. With his infernal blacksmisth Slurg, he came up with a design for a dagger which could surely kill any immortal. Let’s take a look at this unique, cursed blade:
The priceless gemstone in the pommel is the Aiye-of-Khandaar. This cursed diamond, in ancient times, was blamed for a great many deaths in the sub-eastern land of Ynndya: A filthy land home to ten billion people; almost all beggars, pickpockets or petty criminals. The ancient leader of that land, S’hlamm Ak’khander, ran a massive diamond mine. The health and safety was atrocious, and loads of the workers died. They all wore loincloths and it was dead hot. They had big blokes in turbans whipping them all the time it was mental. Anyway, a young lad, his name lost in the mists of time, had been underground for over a month due to an argument with his sadistic line-manager. As he wept for his simple village life he had been stolen from, something caught his eye in a fissure, glinting in the pitch black. He crawled towards it and picked it out of the rock. It was this gigantic ruby. He was carried to the surface a hero, but alas it was too late. The lad raised the gem and belted out “With my last breathe, I curse thee all, and thys gemstone! Death to thee emperor!” and died. All the workers were naturally upset with getting cursed by the lad. As far as they were concered they were in the same boat as him in terms of being enslaved, but cursed they were. The emperor went on to lead a long and happy life which made it even worse (but isn’t that always the way- the poor suffer while the rich get richer and better healthcare. Remind you of anywhere?? (Earth)).
The 7 gems inlaid in the quillion block signify the seven curses Abendir infused into it. These are (l-r): pain, murder, hex, poison, death, chornic pain, lack of life, and illness. Abendir reckoned that that lot should do the trick.
The actual blade’s design is very careful. The point, followed by the curve, and the serrated bit was perfect for piercing through a big muscly back which the scholars of the age assumed KOK had. But of course, a sharp bit of metal alone isn’t going to be enough to kill a god. So, imbibed in the blade are two pieces of the rarest mystical metal, known only as sharrash, or Death Metal in the old tongue. Rarer than gold, it has a mystical property that poisons blood incurably as soon as it makes contact with it.
The design phase over, Abendiir thought long and hard about how to actually strike the mortal blow on KOK the immortal. He knew he couldn’t do it on his own, so he enlisted two of the lesser Gods- the God of Betrayal, and the God of Good Hospitality. Did he succeed? Come closer, friend, as we peer down unto this night of epic portentions…
Slurg beat away in his dungeon smithy through the night, as Abendiir watched on, his bald pate reflecting in the furnaces flame, a sinister grin on his gaunt face. Cock’s fearful crowing informed them of dawn. Slurg lifted the blade to his master.
“’Tis done master, what ‘ee think?”
Abendiir touched the Black Metal. Red hot, yet cool to the touch. He gazed lustfully into it’s endless blackness “Slurg, dear servant, tonight we will be killed by a God”, he flicked his eyes to the blacksmith, “ or become gods ourselves”. He smiled a sinister grin, and the dagger disappeared into his large sleeves. He strode from the smithy.
Slurg put down his worn hammer, wiped his big green face and spat onto the hot floor. “What a mincer” he muttered.
Night. Abendiir stood at the altar of the Cathedral of KOK. His hands in his massive sleeves, the light from the myriad lanterns licking his bald head. He was bowed in silent prayers.
“ooh! He’ll be here any minute!” wailed the God of Hospitality. He was running up and down the centre aisle, straightening the pews and brushing imaginary dust from the cold slabs of stone. “How does the place look?! I hope he likes it! Oh no, look at that candle, its dribbled right down to the holder! Abendiir, help me, its-“
Abendiir slammed his fist down on the altar and turned to the minor god. “For the last time, the place looks great. You’ve done a lovely job. Now, fuck off and find a place to hide. If this shit doesn’t work I’ll need you in here with your massive fireballs”.
The God of Hospitality scurried off up the stairs with a whimper. Abendiir finished his silent prayer. And not a moment too soon, for from the massive oak doors came three booming bangs.
“Child. KOK has come”. At the sound of the name there came an enormous low rumble, as if the very foundations were shuddering.
A curtain to the priest’s right twitched, and The God of Betrayals impish face appeared, “Psst… that’s him arrived I think”, he said, and then disappeared back into the folds of heavy gold cloth.
Abendiir straightened up, and then did that thing where you clench your jaws a few times, then turned and strode to the door. Opening them, he saw KOK, naked muscly and massive. He was holding a leaflet.
“Ah almighty KOK, please, enter…” the priest bowed low and KOK strode in, each sandaled footstep causing a huge boom around the church. As KOK reached the altar, he turned to study the room, and then turned to his arch-priest. “Look at the state of that candle, but no matter… What summons thee of myself?”
The priest rubbed the back of his bald pate. “Well, ah, it’s just, uh… God of Betrayal! Now!” he cried, and the little scamp ran out from his curtain hideout with a hideous cackle and stabbed the Greatgod in the back. A momentous boom echoed round the whole chamber, and loads of blood and a bright light spurted out of his back. He staggered, and turned to the priest. His face a picture of shock. “Et, tu Brute?” he sighed, then fell to the floor and died.
Abendiir strode over to the rapidly cooling body of his former god. A single tear appeared on his bald face. “Sleep well thee, for thy has- ughnn!”. As he spoke, the little God of Betrayal jumped up and stabbed him right in the arse. Blood spurted everywhere as the infernal priest collapse and died. The God of Betrayal cackled like a mad man and ran out the door, carrying the sacred knife with him.
Echoing footsteps filled the cavernous space, as the God of Hospitality ran down the stairs. “Ooh! Abendiir what’s happening! I heard screams!”. He appeared at the base of the stairs and stared down at the two bodies, entwined as though lovers. “Oh. what a mess” he whimpered. Then vanished.
What a mess. Indeed
On a misty moor near dusk a lone-hooded wanderer walks, leading his weary old war horse. Out of the swirls of fog, he is suddenly surrounded. He looks over one shoulder sort of, but with only his hood visible so that it looks cool but he probably can’t see much. His weathered hand instinctively reaches under his rain-battered whaleskin cloak. He counts 8, 9, maybe more in the bushes.
“dint be silly now sonneh” grunts the leader; an old, ugly barbarian in tattered furs. “Dere’s furteen ov uz, and ainly wan of uuz”. The wanderer’s eyes narrow (but you can’t see it cos of his hood, but you can tell by his stubbly chin). “tak off yer sword and put it don on t’grund”.
The lonesome wanderer grunts, turns to his horse and whispers “easy girl” while it licks his hands a bit, looking for an apple. Then he unbuckles his belt. Some of the barbarians laugh gruffly and start whooping, scratching their bare chests and shifting their weight from one foot to the other. Rough clubs made of bones or wood are waved in the air. But suddenly: “Oh yeah? Check this out!” the man bellows, and lifts the sword high into the sky, handle up to the heavens. The Pommel! A bright light blinds the whole squad of barbarians. They are transfixed. Black swirls mesmerize them and all weapons drop to the ground. All of a sudden, they are hypnotized. “ha ha! unlucky you stupid idiots!” the wanderer bellows. Then, still holding the blade aloft, walks casually round and murders each of the transfixed barbarians with a knife except the birds who he feels up first then kills, then he lets his horse eat some of them and shit on the rest. He also shits and pisses on some of them (I didn’t say he wasn’t a dickhead). Yes, this wanderer’s sword is no normal blade. It is the mythic “Remesmo”. A blade forged (allegedly) before the dawn of time. It’s name a fearful whisper on the lips of travellers, adventurers and bar/kitchen-staff in taverns.
Key buzzwords I invented at the concept stage were “sleek”, “minimalist”, “futuristic” (that might spoil the twist actually). It is indeed minimalist (and futuristic), and I expect a few comments saying I’ve not really bothered my arse with this one, just scribbled a few lines and called it a day. Well, I would counter that all minimalism is half-arsed and lazy, so it’s perfectly justified in this here. Paradoxically, the blade is the least interesting part of this sword. Yes, it’s straight as an arrow, and has a classic 1-line fuller and typical “heroes-weapon” symmetrical tip, but in terms of overall import it’s merely a secondary weapon on this sword. Yep, look at the pommel, it’s a swirling infinite depth, all colours of the rainbow (and a few more ;-p) all swooshing and swirling around in front of your eyes. Just relax and take it all in. now take off your bra.
You’ve been hypnotised! That’s right, the pommel has the ability to hypnotise people (mentioned that already, now I think of it). The finest scholars, alchemists, chemists and necromancers of the age haven’t been able to work it out (and most of them got hypnotised by accident). The whole thing looks very… futuristic doesn’t it? …anyway….
What you can’t really tell from the picture (intentionally), is that the handle-wrap is a soft white suede material. Yet it never dirties, is waterproof and is dead good at gripping. The crossguard is a light, mysterious alloy, and is covered also in a brilliant white, mysterious, sort of, it’s hard to explain in the context of the world of Shagina (especially at this point in it’s history –ooh spoilers?), but it’s kind of plastic-cy. The sword is incredibly light to wield and nigh-on unbreakable.
There are many oft contradicting tales of how Remesmeo came into being. Some say it was crafted by the Greatgod KOK (it has to be all capitals. Like the God of our Christian faith, but KOK is even more all-powerful than That. It’s alleged he created all the other Gods, and insisted that if they get to capitalise their names then he gets all capitals. Sorry to just throw KOK in here, but you’ll be hearing more from him in the future let me tell you!). Other’s claim it fell from the sky in a flash of light on a specific night. However, let me tell you, this sword, Re:mesmo, is from the future.
Aha! It all makes sense now doesn’t it! All those clues throughout the text. The strange metal, the mysterious pommel with hypnotizing properties, the sleek white plastic aesthetic. Someone once wrote that all magic is just technology back in time or something, and here’s the proof. If the near-sighted thinkers of this age never even bothered to crack open the pommel, they would just find lots of wires and a few LED’s. I mustn’t speak much of the far future from the age of gods and kings and warriors we usually deal with for fear of spoiling some of the civilisation-defining event of the age (KOK dies though) but the sword was just a prank. The pommel is just a cheap novelty toy that some spoiled brat from the year 90,00000 glued onto his toy sword and sent it back in time for a laugh. But isn’t it interesting how much these simpler people value such a simple thing. Could it be that in our relentless pursuit of technological advancement, we are losing something? Our Humanity? Makes you think… Also makes you wonder if that little shit ever realised what he caused. That’s the other moral of this tale, don’t send shit back in time.
I cannot deny that swords are intrinsically very basic instruments. They’re sharp, you swing them at things and they cut. Sometimes you stab them into things but the result is the same. There’s no depth there (barring the depth of the wound ;-)), no buried ulterior motives (barring the buried blade in flesh ;-)). It does one thing and one thing only, a simple automaton. The human equivalent would be a secretary or a nurse.
But what if a sword was to be infused with something else…something unworldly… something that makes it able to do something else. Imagine if that secretary got an HNC in cake decorating or something. Of course she’d never make a career out of it, but it would give her something to talk about on the phone to her sister while she filed her nails with her feet up on the desk instead of making tea for her boss.
Now I’m not suggesting for one second that I’m the first person in the world to imagine a so-called “magic-sword”, but I feel safe saying that I’m the first person to draw a sword inspired by surrealists such as Dali, and other surrealists. I spent a good twenty minutes looking online at pictures of clocks all melted, mad long giraffes, stuff that looks a bit like things but might not be, and am pretty confident I have channelled the essence of that movement into this blade. The Surreal Blade.
Like all great surrealists, I have designed this piece to be more than a sum of its parts. You have to look at all the parts together to see what the sum of it truly is. Observe that the crossguard and the handle jut out in two different angles! Imagine the look of terror in an enemy’s eyes as he slices down the blade, expecting to skilfully dodge the ‘guard and slice into the un-gauntleted fingers (the wielder’s probably wearing oven mitts or something random like that). But! Clang! Counter and stab! The assailant goes down; his last sight the off-kilter coffin-shaped crossguard, implanting surreal, subconscious images of death in his head, which subtly helps him die.
Ah yes, the coffin design. An interesting choice you might think. But not so, for you see, the original owner of this blade was locally known to be what was known locally as a Bloodpire! Count Suckgard was a mysterious man; oft misunderstood by the villagers who lived in the town at the base of the path up to his castle, high in the hills to the East. Rumours spread that he would sneak down into the town when the moon was full (differing reports also suggest he did it when the moon was crescent, or half, or eclipsed or when it was cloudy) and stalk the lanes, hunting for an open window. Many’s a tale around the town of Fabhaven of wives, back from a long day’s labour, rubbing their sore backs walking into the bedroom to find mysterious count sucking from the groins of their moaning, be-witched spouses, draining them of their life-force. After chasing the count off with their brooms made of twigs and a branch, the men would have to be shaken awake, dazed, unable to remember that the strange man from the house at the top of the hill was in their bed. They also seemed to have lost all track of time, often asking why the wives were home so early.
Alas, poor Suckgard was tragically killed when the wives of the village finally forced their men to break down his gates and set his mansion ablaze. As the flames grew higher and high pitched squeals were heard from within, a lot of the men shifted uncomfortably and whistled while their wives looked on, tapping their rolling pins and huffing.
The sword was lost for generations, until a fearless warrior found it in a cave, thought to be hiding place for men exiled from their villages for unknown reasons (the men were always a little cagey when asked). The blade was hidden amongst a pile of old glittery shirts, garish jewellery and bright cushions. This adventurer’s cohorts mocked him for taking such a useless blade, but after doing the crossguard thing they changed their tune.
In his first skirmish afterwards, the warrior (Chungkka Youngka was his name –more on him in later posts 😉 he slashed a bandits throat- but instead of dying, the miscreant turned into a fence-post. Thus the magic of the blade was revealed. Every time it killed someone, the poor cadaver turned into something totally random!
For you see, the tragic part of this tale is that Count Suckgard was actually really into culture and the arts. A priceless collection of surrealist art was lost when the ignorant villagers burnt down his home. His trusty manservant, a muscular young brute of a blacksmith named Sin-Hen spent years crafting this blade for his master and imbibing within it surrealist magic, as a thank you for taking him under his wing; away from a child brothel in a decadent city far to the south which Suckgard had visited on a number of occasions before old age caught up with him.
I firmly don’t believe in all tales having a moral, sometimes life is just life, and things happen for no reason. However, if I was to seek some sort of meaning from this tale of a lonely old man and his hidden love for art, it is this: Sometimes people are more than they look on the outside. Here was an educated, lonely man, with a love for art and all the beautiful things in life, tragically shunned and then killed by his neighbours. Was it jealousy of his house and wealth? Or simply for being a randy old poof? Whatever the truth died in that fire so long ago.
Two swords for you this week. Which is fitting as both swords need two people to wield them!
There was once a proverb about the difference between heaven and hell. Where they both used chopsticks that were 200 metres long or something, and in heaven they fed each other and in hell they used their hands or some shit like that. I don’t remember, it didn’t make much sense anyway as chopsticks are Chinese and heaven is a product of the Christian faith and as we all know Christianity didn’t reach china until 675AD at the VERY earliest. But basically my point is that sometimes, having a friend by your side is better than being on your own.
“Me no need no friend” grunts a buff barbarian from the hills to the North, in his goatskin thong and massive broadsword. But, quick as a flash, and arrow pierces his neck and he goes down. That’s got nothing to do with friendship as it was just one guy with a bow but you see my point. Having a friend is ace.
The first one (to the right) is rustic in style, made with a double-goat-horn-crossguard. The doublegoat was initially born as a freakish mutation high up in the hills to the north. A passing “curator of curiosites”, S’ungfrall Rocnkkkg (more of him in future posts), spied this magnificent freak and after much too-ing and fro-ing with his manservants, managed to capture the beast. (the tooing and froing was between Rocnkkg and his servants, as opposed to the goat. The goat was actually quite a docile beast but his servants, much to Rocnkkgs regular chagrin, were anything but! We’ve all been there S’unggyt!). He then was able to breed the hellish freak with each other (it was two goats joined at the horn, I didn’t make that clear earlier) (oh and let’s not get into the ethics of interbreeding between siblings – If it’s ok for some oh-so-cool twins on some popular TV show it’s ok for a couple of freakish goats, besides, who else are gonna fuck two ugly goats?) and the breed survived, escaped and now roam the hills to the north as a free-herd. As you can see, the blade(s!) are (intentionally) a little warped, meaning that whoever made this/these sword(s) is not quite as adept as the other one. You can see some blood on the horns, as a clever little mirroring of my earlier Barbarians blade, but in fact this blood is from two wielders who couldn’t cooperate well, again enforcing the running theme of cooperation. Clever eh!
The other blade is even more intricate, with not two but THREE blades. It also has spikes in the middle, and as a result of the heft of such a blade you can see the crossguard bending a bit, which is sad (but also intentional). I admit, reader, that I may have got carried away with this one. A lot of people might tell me that the world of Shagina is quite cinematic, and a movie could easily be filmed based on the exploits of one or some of my many characters already revealed. I modestly admit now that I’m already picturing the climactic scene of one such movie. Here, two adventurers who have been on each other’s nerves the whole film, must put their differences to one side in order to take on a cycloptic giant demon. The beast can only be felled with this blade which must have two people holding it. They finally realise this and put their differences aside. Ducking under the demons huge club-swings, they roll, both holding hands with the blade and do loads of ace sword moves until the beast is dead. Whilst fighting her (it’s a she) loads of smaller cyclopi come out of slimy holes in the cavern and they have to deal with them too, either by kicking them (I picture one of the adventurers to be a feisty female with long flowing red hair, and she does high kicks in knee length boots and tight leather trousers, the other ones a swarthy bloke with his top off at this point. She might have her top off too actually, it depends on the films rating) or stabbing them with these mini-spikes. Eventually however they defeat the hellish female and her hell-spwaned brood and they can save the town or collect the gold or whatever. At this point, the crossguard finally gives up the ghost and snaps. Yet as the bond of the blade is broken, the bond of friendship is finally bonded between these two would-be adventurers. At this point in many films they’d start a romance, but here’s the modern twist, they’re both gay! You see the bird getting off with a buxom wench with massive tits in an earlier scene but you just have to take the guys word for it.
So there you go, I think we’ve all learned a lesson today about friendship. Newton once said something about standing on a Giants shoulderblades, and here, once the giant is dead, a friendship is made whilst standing on its shoulders. (Also the giant has one eye and dies- another metaphor like the barbarian from earlier)
Aah the high seas.
I’m sure, reader, that you’ll agree what a relief it is to escape the murky swamps of Slurridjj to the fresh air of the Sea of Cuntea. A vast, inland sea almost the size of a continent itself, itself wrapped in the mega-continent of Shagina, our home here on Swords Drawn. Of course, regular visitors will no doubt have a niggling sensation that we can never be safe in this land, but fear not the mer-men this day, we have a much more pressing enemy much closer to hand.
“Corsairs! off the starboard brow!” comes the call from the crow’s nest, and the crew run about cussing, pulling ropes and tying them over those wooden rolling-pin things stick to the side of the boats. One cheeky young crewmate throws a bucket of briny water of at the first mates head; drunk as usual on pissy grog. He awakes with a roar, wipes his face, then looks up… and sees the red flag. Then shits himself.
The Corsair, the scourge of Cuntea. Ruthless pirates intent on one thing: attacking boats and stealing their loot and killing everyone. They have a number of names amongst the peoples of the Inland sea. Corsair, Pirate, Privateer, boat-sharpy-dicks in the giants-tongue, the orklins name them skrilligigs. One thing all races can agree on is that they don’t like them much.
This sword is typical of the Corsair, and a majestic weapon it is too. Do not think for one second that just because these guys (they’re all blokes) are all poor, uneducated, dregs of society not worth the louse-infested shirts they sleep in, that they don’t value the value of a good quality blade. A lifetime at sea, your next skirmish just over the crest of the next wave, they depend on fine craftsmanship. Besides, the salty air rusts cheap metal quite quickly.
The blade is curved, this is for a reason lost in time but most sea-faring people have curved blades. I think it’s purely cos it looks ace but I’m not sure. The delicate indent into the base of the blade is a bottle opener; as when the corsair isn’t pillaging he’s usually boozing on bottles of grog. Soon after man first went to sea they found that corks were getting nicked to plug holes in the hulls of their ships, and this led to the invention of the modern bottletop (so I guess some good came from all that pillaging and raping). But anyway, I’m sure your eyes were drawn to neither the curve of the blade nor the curve of the bottle-opener. Yes yes, there is a much more interesting “set of curves” on the blade!
This beautiful mermaid inscription is the work not of the bladesmith, but of the owner of the blade himself. Intricately carved, it is a vision of sheer beauty. You can almost feel it flowing effortlessly through the water. It’s sleek body gyrating in the warm currents. The mermaids are both a blessing and a curse to those who traverse the blue expanses. Legend has it they swim up to boats in the dead of night, their gentle songs and massive wet tits seducing lonesome sailors to their deaths. No sightings of Mermaids have ever been confirmed, but ask anysea traveller and they’ll swear they’ve seen them and barely survived their watery seduction.
Many’s a corsair who lies alone in his hammock, gently inscribing his blade with these beautiful women. A life on the sea is a a lonely place for a hot-blooded man, and these exquisite drawings, passed from bunk to bunk on those long lonely nights, can often be the only thing stopping these men from bumming each other. For this reason alone new recruits are sent for a few months of inscribing lessons on the lonely isle of Inscivulo even before their swordfighting and grog swilling lessons begin. No one likes a bummer, even less to the fiercely “homophobic” corsairs of Cuntea (the lady doth protest too much perhaps ;-p).
The crossguard is circular in shape, and quite sharp around the rim. You can just make out the jagged points of metal down the centre. These are used for making regularly spaces small holes in cloth. Not sure why, possibly to make it easier to rip or something.
The handle is very important for a number of reasons. If you look at sword as a whole, you’ll see an almost mathematically wavy line from tip to toe. Ostensibly this is to make the blade look like a wave, but it’s also a perfect sine wave (measure it go on). This balances the blade perfectly, giving the corsair great advantage over their foes (“bleedin’ strait’edges” as they call them). Evidence of the sheer craftsmanship of the blade can also be seen in the technologically advanced twisting mechanism in the handle. This give the corsair extra tactical options when in battle. If at any time he (they’re all blokes) wants to switch to an underarm holding position, all he needs to do is quickly grab the blade, flick a small switch, put in a four digit code, then twist the blade 20 degrees clockwise then a full 180 degrees anti-clockwise and he can hold it upside down. Some experienced corsairs can do this in under 15 seconds, but most of them need to run around the ship for about a half a minute getting chased by their opponent whilst they do this. Its worth it though cos holding a blade looks cool and leads to some ace finishing moves.
There’s another sexy mermaid on the handle with her arms spread out wide like a real birds legs and she’s all like “come on let’s fuck”.
In the dense and murky, muddy swamps of Slurridjj, there lives a race of near-humans, the humish. They have been untouched by the technologies of their sister-race (man). Not for them is stainless steel, clothes, toys, getting pissed. To their decadent technology-dependant neighbours, they look to live a miserable life. Sweating, walking about in swamp water, living off the bitter-tasting bitterfern and stringy swamplizards and whatever tiny mudfish they can pull out of the water, they are indeed pretty bloody miserable. A lot of them suffer from severe depression, and with the lack of any qualified psychologists (or any medical professionals for that matter) there are sadly a lot of suicides.
To describe them would be to describe a slightly shorter, wiry-version of man (except green skinned). They have webbed feet and long fingers, partially webbed themselves which handily can act as rudimentary fishing nets. Now I know what you’re thinking right now- that the woman are squat, fat, snub-nosed hairy and fat. Well in fact you are dead wrong. They are amazing. They’re tall, long legged, and their webbing is much less prominent than that of the males. Massive of breast, but pert even in the absence of bra, they have for aeons been the desired trophy of the world of men. Much is risked to ensnare them, but when they do they can fetch a small fortune in the slave-markets of nearby Kearressh’h. When I first made up this tale, it brought a tear to my eye as I thought of these poor beautiful women being sold into slavery for some fat sweaty slave owner to paw and grunt over. But then I worked out it was ok because actually due to self-esteem issues based on their appearance, the male humish suffer from a remarkably low sex-drive and erectile dysfunction. As a result, the females are bang up for it. Of course, this leads to intense jealousy, as the under-performing men see these handsome adventurers invade their land and make off (and out ;-p) with their women. Something needed to be done. But what? Without steel or inventions, how could they stand up to these modern invaders? Luckily the answer presented it in the very swamps they worship/loathe.
The Plant-sword is a peculiar sword, in that it’s not really a sword at all. It is a plant. Coincidentally however it is almost the exact dimensions of a human sword. It has a long “blade”, two crossguard/leaves, and a grip-sized trunk. The trunk (handle) is a lightweight but sturdy wood. It narrows in the middle, making it a dawdle for the long-fingered humish males to wrap their hand around. You can see a little hole in the trunk: this is the nesting place of a sword-faeiery. Each Plantsword has one of these, and they cannot be uprooted until the faeiery has been removed. Intrinsically linked, both plant and faeiery thrive off each other, with the faeiery brining droplets of valuable clean water for the plant, and the plant giving off nectar which the faeiery sucks up. They squeak when they are popped.
The leaves are a lot tougher than normal leaves, easily capable of fending off blows from incoming steel swords (or magic sometimes), but alas they are not steel, and will eventually be chipped away to nothing. In winter they shed them, which makes this the ideal time for Man to invade.
The blade itself is where the real majestic beauty of this sword lives. I can almost hear the cynics snort into their frappuccino’s “look at it, it’s not even sharp!”. Well, idiots, it doesn’t NEED to be sharp. The blade itself is the plants anther! And it does something better than cut, it gives off a highly toxic poison. Wherever it touches living tissue, the poison pollens spray out and dig deep into the flesh, causing it so swell to 9 times its usual size, then burst, pouring foul smelling ooze out of all the pores. The ooze attracts faeiery-lings, which feed off the ooze, thus completing the circle. Nature at it’s very best. If the humans arrive armoured, then their luck is still out, as it can burn through armour which then implodes inwards causing severe internal injuries.
In a way it’s the biggest question of all isn’t it? Nature vs technology. Man V Fishman. shaggers vs sexually-repressed, depressive lesser men. Should we as Men question whether all these… things, these toys, gadgets, houses an just junk we gather around us, make us happy? Would we be genuinely upset if they all disappeared and we had to live in a swamp? Well, on this evidence, fuck no. Fuck that.
First off I’d like to apologise for my lack of publishing towards the end of last year. I had a few issues to sort out close to home. i don’t really want to go into them too much on such a public forum, but I’ll just say that I’ve managed to find a new supplier of paper (thanks Theo P – Rymans is the business!) plus pencils (again, Rymans) and am back better than ever. I’ll be updating this more often. But here’s a little taster to get your appetites whetted.
This sword doesn’t have a story, and in that way it is a story in and of itself. It is the Unnamed Solider of the sword world. Just another tool, a weapon to be used and discarded when the powers that be (the Gods? Leaders? who know who really pulls the strings of war- usually leaders though) deem it no longer useful. This sword was found half buried (both in the ground and in a person [so fully buried]) at the site of the battlefield of Arkerg Sk’arrrkarrag. A vicious brutal battle between two houses- House Velian; a valiant noble house of the lowlands, and House Bratulis, a brutal, war loving clan from the west. They met in the foothills of the mountains to the North, and over a million deaths were made. The houses have made up now, both realising the folly of their ways (it was long and complicated, but basically, Daiv Bratulis thought Jhonni Velian had stolen his favourite cloak, things escalated. <sighs> such is war friends) and teamed up to make a monument on the site. This sword, the Unnamed Sword, was hung in the middle of the monument by magic.
As you can see, it has been very carefully shaded to show that there is a light source to the left. A complicated technique achieved by drawing more lines on one side than other. I think a well known artist once said that drawing is nothing but darkness and light, which is something I definitely agree with. But it is also symbolic in this instance as it signifies that battle between darkness and light, so prevalent in many fantasy worlds. Ironically, not in mine however. In the realm of Shagina, there is no black and white “Good” versus “Evil”. there are loads of shade of grey (like the sword- heh!), and one’s persons opinion might be different from someone else s. Something for the more mature readers to get their heads around, and maybe get them thinking about wars closer to home.. (afghanistan)
Welcome to Centros, aka King Schmin’s Folly, capital city of the human realm. Home to over 90million people, its districts range from The Skank, a muddy grounded, disease ridden whore-, disfigured beggar- and unapologetic murderer-filled slum, up to the golden paved-, gem-studded spire-, palaces with loads of windows-filled gated community The Best Quarter.
Literally all life is here, and the divide between rich and poor is huge and increasing (remind you of anywhere? Who says fantasy can’t be topical ;-p). It is a place where a man can make a lot of money, if he is smart, quick and a thief. Allow me to introduce to you master thief, Cloaken Dh’aghir.
Cloaken was born an orphan, in the slum district of Brown (near The Skank, but not as quite minky). His orphan master, Skugnacious, soon put him to work as a pickpocket (as all orphan masters do). He showed great aptitude, making over 10,000 kings’eads (the slang name for currency) by the time he was 5. He was Assistant Orphan Master at the age 13. However, there was a falling out between him and “Skug” over certain administrative issues in their Orphan Gang and to cut a long story short Cloaken was let go.
We move on 15 years, and now Cloaken has a nice apartment in the merchant’s quarter of Sumgold. Charismatic, handsome, charming, with shoulder length golden hair, by day he woos the ladies and by night he robs them (and sometimes fucks them). He has moved on from cutting purses from stupid, foul-mouthed market traders, and now plans elaborate heists. It usually starts in a tavern with his trusty manservant Chutney (who’s fat) and goes something like this:
(sitting, placing two pints of mead on the worn wooden table)
Say, Chutney, what know thee of the Guldmillar Estate?
By ‘ek m’lord! Tis one of the securest of all the estate’s north o’ the Great River! Why, ‘tis said ol’ Guldmillar has more guards than thar citee watch demselves!
(stroking his stubbly chin thoughtfully)
Hmm, interesting. (to himself) I wonder what he could have in there which needs to be so closely guarded
Whit de ye think m’lord! Tis bound tae be lots and lots o kings’eads methinks by moi reckonin’!
(finishing his mead) Well, there’s only one way to find out..
How, m’lord? Are thee gonna gae unt ask aul’ Master Guldmillar hisself whit he’s gon’ n hoarded duwn in hiz cellar? (lifts mead to his mouth)
(stands) No, Chutney my good man. (puts on his hat) I intend to rob him. (winks)
(spits out his mead) Christ!
However, his good looks and sharp tongue have got him into trouble on more than one occasion-trouble which he isn’t able to escape with a witticism or by jumping up and grabbing a candelabra then swinging out of a window and landing in a hay cart. He has been challenged to duel with many of the nobles and middle classes of the city. Whether because he robbed them or shagged their daughters or wives or milkmaids. And on such occasions he uses this sword.
A fine duelling weapon, the blade is two centimetres thick, and straight as an arrow. It may look fragile, but is made from the finest steel by the craftsmen of the warmer climes to the South. It wouldn’t snap if you landed on it (which is lucky because Dh’aghir has done it on more than one occasion as he leaps out of windows after swinging on candelabras). Its handle has one of those finger guards, and an uppy-downy crossguard which is probably more for decoration than actual use. It’s a Fencing weapon, so a crossguard is pretty useless. The tip curves upwards, which isn’t ideal for fencing, but makes it easier for Cloaken to whip the sword up and cut his opponents cheek, which is usually followed by a witticism about the man (or woman) being too old, fat, or that his daughter’s a right goer in the sack, followed by a wink. The blade itself was the result of one of my self-imposed Drawing Challenges. As an artist, it is important to test myself frequently and with hard things. Some previous challenges include: draw as many swords as you can in 20 seconds, draw a sword blindfolded, draw a sword naked. These help an artist learn his weakness and as thus improve upon them. This one was, obviously, draw the thinnest blade possible. Something which I don’t think I, or anyone else, will ever improve on.
Chutney has brought up the appropriateness of a full length sword when climbing ivy, sneaking through sewers, crawling across creaky floorboards etc and it’s true it has gotten caught on things and knocked over pots that then smash on more than one occasion, leading to more daring escapes. Besides he’s got a dagger that he uses to slit guards throats, stab kitchen staff that have stumbled upon him, slice up maids that come running to the sound of his latest smashed pot. But, as Cloaken retorts –“Why Chutney my good man, tis’ my lucky charm ;-p. I t’aint dead yet am I ;-p” before grabbing a candelabra and jumping out of a window (he doesn’t say the emoticons I just added them in).
Is this a sword? That is open to debate. In my eyes, yes it is a sword.
This cleaver is a brutish weapon, designed for one thing: Chopping stuff. As you can see it lacks the refined details of most of my other works. The wrapped leather handle’s there, but apart from that this sword could almost have been created by anyone.
It was created by the vile blacksmiths of the Orklin race. Vicious, green skinned, with big fangs sticking upwards. These creatures hail from the lands to the West. A desolate place of no plants and gravel. Like the Giants to the North, the Orklins lack the intellectual refinement of the humans, and rely on brute strength in combat. They are slightly smaller than most men, and hunched, but they’re pretty solid too. The blade thickens to the top, making it top heavy, though the three holes at the back of the blade help balance the weapon. The orklins don’t realise this though and put heavy silver rings through the holes, completely unbalancing it again. The meaning of these rings is unknown, but there are hushed reports from scouts that some orklins have been seen to stick their dicks in them or rub them on their fannies.
That’s right, female orklin’s are just as vicious as the men, and sometimes better warriors. Their main attacks are to pull hair and scratch. But they’re also pretty mean with the cleaver. When not using it to cut up and prepare rats for cooking stew, they use them to chop whatever meagre wood the males can bring home, to use as cutlery. They also use them to scrape dust off their floors because they haven’t invented dust pans and brushes. As a result most orkling women are filthy, usually with at least one wailing orklinling suckling sour milk from their small, flat breasts.
Woe betide any human who set’s foot over an orkling dwelling’s threshold however. There’s an old Human saying “all women hath more fury than the hells”. Well if an orkling woman found so much as one boot-shaped dusty footprint on her floor, the human would almost welcome such a maids company! One early dignitary was lucky to escape with only two arms lost after he accidentally insulted the main wife (they can have more than one wife) of chieftain Mug’gurk’lurkiblurk by spitting his rat stew on the floor (he actually liked the taste but got his customs mixed up with that of the Gorks, a vicious, blue-skinned race from the Eastern lands).
Despite from this diplomatic incident, it is a time of unsteady peace between the humans and the orklins. Trade has been good -the orklins lands have an abundance of natural gas which the human alchemists use in their hellish experiments. The humans trade back with ladles, aprons, garlic crushers and other “essential” kitchen accessories.
Will this peace last? Only time will tell 😉
P.S As promised here’s my shortlist of names for my world:
The Fore Continents
The Early Places