September 2021

The tales they shared in Simnel, those who sheltered in its walls

They were taken down by others who had survived the city’s fall

Huddled in the armory, their nervous tales did ring

But once the battle ended, their tales began to sing

Repeated oft and spread throughout the land of Pexate fair

There soon were calls to honor them, the sword-tale spinners there

A book they made, a weighty tome, to preserve their reverie

But that, I think, is not what you have come all this way to see

The armory also commissioned a blade, ornately wrought and fair

And inscribed upon its metalwork, all the tales-tellers who were there

Never meant for battle, to this day it hangs upon a wall

Reminding us from most to least, there’s steel and sharpness in us all

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When presented with the prisoners
The general refused their pleas
Honorable deaths were not forthcoming
Cruel fates in word and deed

The general did offer up
The sharpest blade he knew
For prisoners to die by
Whilst perhaps sparing a bare few

They agreed to what he offered
Thinking it a noble thing
But then he led them to the wasteland
And the irony did sting

The wind’s blade is, the genral said,
The sharpest that I know
Without food or shelter I leave you
To feel its bitter blow

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The identity of the Tinker of Gizan is not wholly known. Some say that he was a halfling, one of the very last of his kind upon the world before their line failed. He may also have been a mule, perhaps a dwelf. Some even say his creations could only be explained by descent from the legendary gnomes, who are said to live fathoms below the sands of Naïx.

Perhaps he was just very clever.

In any case, the Crimson Empire had to contend with his inventions when they took Gizan. Automatic magazine-fed crossbows, Trebuchets with pinpoint accuracy. A foul mixture that burned even underwater. But the mechanical swords that armed the elite Gizan troops are his best-remembered.

Though none survive, Imperial sources claim they could be used as a shortsword or unfolded into a short spear, with some wilder stories of spring-loaded tips powerful enough to kill a man.

In any event, the Tinker died the day after his city fell. Brought before the Crimson General and ordered to serve the Empire, he refused and was summarily executed-a fate he eventually shared with the Crimson General, who had been ordered to take him alive.

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When the time came to face Muolih the Spreading Darkness in battle, the Creator girded Itself with raiments that were far beyond mortal ken. For armor, It wore mountains like scutes. For a cloak, the shining Inland Sea was drained. And for a sword, the Creator plunged Its hand into the sands of Naïx, drawing forth a blade of meteoric glass.

Against this cosmic arsenal, Muolih had arrayed himself in armor carved from the very moons themselves, with a cloak of the night sky. He bore into battle a great falchion, forged in rivers of iron by erupting volcanoes.

They fought their duel over Naïx even as their armies clashed below. Men and elves, orcs and goblins, ogres and dwarves, and even still others who have now passed from living memory. They all died together as Muolih and the Creator’s twin blows slew them both, and brought ruin to all that lay below.

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In a remote oasis in sandy Naïx, three lost travelers gathered: an itinerant dwarf, a nomadic desert elf, and an orc follower of the Hamurabash. While awaiting rescue, they took to comparing their philosophies to pass the time.

“Look at that stone there,” said the elf. “The Eternal Way of my people tells us that every stone can become a mountain if it improves itself.”

“Nonsense,” the orc said. “The Hamurabash is about what is, not what was or what might be. The rock only matters inasmuch as it is remembered, celebrated.”

They both turned to the dwarf, who had remained silent. “What say you, then, of this stone?” asked the elf.

“Surely your dwarvish dualism has some keen insight,” the orc added.

In response, the dwarf took up his sword and sundered the stone with a single blow.

“There is your dualism for you,” he growled. “The stone was there, and now it is not.”

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A bladesmith once did craft it
A sword made entirely of glass
T’would shatter after one hit
T’was not made to last
Some folk might wonder why it was
A blade so sharp and keen
Was made so delicate, because
Its use could not be seen
The smith did smile and shake his head
When asked about his blade
“Think carefully before someone’s dead
and your hand may yet be stayed.”

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Sanguinaire vampires supposedly roamed the land in the time of Eyon II and the Long Interregnum, using their wiles to drain the populace of both wealth and blood. It was said that the surest way to detect one was their inability to bear the touch of silver, and that beheading with a silver blade was the surest way of killing them.

It is said that their dominance was strongest in the barony of Exor, where the lord had fallen under their sway. The folk hero Nobudua Half-Naïx is often credited with their destruction, with the stories usually hinging on his cunning in the face of sanguinaire trickery.

Nobudua was supposedly the son of a father from the Seven Sisters of Naïx and a Pexate mother, carrying his father’s cutlass that he reforged to contain silver.

One of the most popular anecdotes is the Surrender at Serpeé, where a magistrate demanded Nobudua’s sword, little knowing that it was silver-imbued. The resulting furor resulted in the liberation of the town, and the beginning of Nobudua’s campaign in Exor.

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The Purposeful Blade was forged for King Eyon I in the days when magic was common in Pexate, long before it began to wane from the world. In the great battle at Moxtun Moor against the Layyians under Seraq II, every member of King Eyon’s personal retinue carried a magic weapon. The Layyians’ defeat was made clear to the House of Owls when Eyon cast upon its floor twenty-seven magicked weapons, taken from their slain owners.

Eyon had the blade enchanted so that it would glow when held by someone of his line; the closer to direct descent they were, the brighter the glow. It could also at one point cast a powerful beam of light, allowing the king’s men to find him in the dark or in a melee; this has not been seen since the death of Alaric II. As Alaric was murdered by False Eyon the Usurper, he never taught the command word to anyone and it was lost.

Needless to say, the Purposeful Blade’s current status as a coronation artifact, and the exalted position of Bladekeeper held by the barons in Aiov, are not ancient. Kings carried the blade into battle and even used it for executions until Veilsunder, the Black Blade of the Mountains, was destroyed at the Battle of Toan.

With the remaining magical weapons in Pexate falling into single digits, and the ability to create more long gone, the Purposeful Blade was relegated to its current use as a coronation tool and rough paternity test.

Though rumors that the blade was smeared with phosphor for the coronation of False Eyon the Usurper persist, especially once his true parentage became known.

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King Jean III of Layyia has been remembered as both Jean the Good and Jean the Mad, for in truth he was both. A dashing warrior and ladies’ man in his youth, he suffered a psychotic break about ten years after he took personal power from his regency council and spent the remaining twenty years of his life gradually descending into alternating bouts of frenzy and catatonia.

One of his most famous delusions is called the Talking Sword.

As is true of most kings, Jean III was gifted with a fine and ornate sword when he came of age, in this case a gift from his grandfather Jean II, held in trust for many years. A fine blade in the old Crimson Empire style, it featured an affectation common in Late Imperial blades, namely a man’s face on the hilt by way of decoration.

His courtiers found Jean III engaged in deep, if one-sided, conversation with this face one day. He insisted that the blade had told him it was alive, that its name was Horace, and that Horace was filled with incredible wisdom.

That was all well enough, and might have been dismissed as a mere eccentricity, if not for one other thing. Horace was thirsty, and he bade Jean III slake that thirst. Four courtiers were slain before the blade could be wrested from the king’s hands.

Afterwards, Jean had screamed and wailed for hours, demanding to see Horace. Fitted with a wooden blade, the sword was dutifully supplied to the king, who promptly used it to beat several of his ministers black and blue.

For the remainder of his reign, when he was coherent, Jean blamed his worst excesses on Horace. When the king finally died, ten years after a new regency had removed him from power, he was found with his throat cut. But, strangely, neither Horace nor his removed blade was ever recovered afterwards.

Some say, having tired of King Jean, it travels the world to this day, still alive and still thirsting.

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Puck Evereyes was the name the gob took for himself, and it is worth looking at why. For many years he worked as a nameless bodyguard, appearing in sellsword alleys every morning looking for work as a bodyguard.

When he found it, he would often help his clients gird themselves before going out. Invariably, they would hide a dagger or smallsword in among their things as a weapon of last (or first) resort. Though they were not always drawn, they were always girded.

Evereyes developed a keen sense of where these weapons were kept, the subtle methods used to disguise them, and the telltale signs of their presence. Soon, he was disarming foes before it was even clear that they bore swords at all.

That explains the name Evereyes, then. But what of Puck?

Not long before he took his name, Evereyes was acting as a bodyguard for a mercenary in Toan, and the man sought to swindle the gob out of his fee by murdering him. When he tried to draw a boot knife to do the dirty deed, he found that Evereyes, suspicious, had removed the blade already.

“You puckish little thing!” the man had cried, before beating a retreat.

In his latter days, Puck Evereyes operated a school for sellswords in Toan, accepting only gobs and refusing payment until they had completed his third lesson, to give the young, the poor, and the nameless a chance at the same success he had enjoyed.

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