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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