Replica by: Blade Culture International
Status: Prototype – made as a prize in the design a sword competition.
Designed by: SBG member and competition winner Joren Soreno
Panndae was a hardy man. As hardy men go, there were quite a few this deep into the woods of Batrion. He grew up here, amidst the foggy marshes of a small village. As far back as he could recall, his village had no name. No name for its drab and gray houses. No name for its rough and muddy streets. There was no joy in living there, for the sun in all its brilliance never quite touched the village with its light. Growing up, Panndae was always told that the dark magicks of the woodland creatures had cursed them all to live a dreary, sorrowful life. And that was what men called the place, the Village of Sorrows.
Despite its name, the village was quite busy for its size. It was due in no small part to its reputation for producing the finest weaponsmiths in the land, a reputation earned principally due to its proximity to the Mines of Avorak in the Badlands of Eletreus.
Avorak was a great chasm within the earth which had the last known deposits of the magical ore, Coronatite.. Over centuries, many had attempted to claim this bleak and forsaken land in the far north of Eletreus, battling against giant sized insects, the harsh elements, and the foul mutations that got worse and more intense the closer one came to that yawing chasm.
No one force could control it, though many tried – and a succession of small Kingdoms that grew up near the nearby coastline all fell to, first to infighting, then madness, murder, mutant incursions, raids by giant insect riders of all shapes and species – and even whole armies disappeared in the mist that came from the swamps of the nearby woods. Until finally, the stretch of coastal road was claimed and fortified by the Aelutian Empire, connecting it to Silverlead and manned with enough soldiers to hold it open, come what may – though they could never get close enough to the ore to claim it as their own..
And thus, the Village of Sorrows found itself in an unfamiliar role – an economic center for weaponsmiths to forge their wares to aid the kingdoms of the world in waging their wars.
Panndae, however, was a man apart. He lived beyond the walls of the great smithies, in a run-down house owned his family since time immemorial. He was also different from the rest, since he never made weapons to sell to monarchs, nobles, and their armies. Instead, he made individual pieces for those who needed them and charged depending on the person. For a poor farmer, he charged nothing to make him a scythe; for a soldier in the front lines, a few day’s wages; and for a prince, enough gold to last him a lifetime. He could do so not because he was a hardy man, but because he was the very best. The swords he made were harder than others, capable of chipping an opposing edge whilst retaining a frightening degree of sharpness. Yet they could withstand the mightiest blow from axes and maces with nary a scratch. They might bend, but also return true. His arrowheads could pierce maille with such easy that people often wondered if he was a wizard who enchanted his weapons. His spearhead could skewer a wild boar without much effort.
More importantly, his blades were dazzling in balance and quickness. The greatest swordsmen throughout the world often dropped by his small shop to talk him into making them a sword, for he rarely did that. It was said that Panndae could see into a man’s heart and discern whether he intended to use the sword for ill. It was quite ironic, but Panndae did not desire to make weapons that killed in anger or offense, but only weapons with which just men could defend those who needed defending. Kings begged on bended knee, but the stoic smith would not budge. Mercenaries threatened his life, but he merely raised an eyebrow and they would slink away into the shadows. Panndae, the greatest smith of his time, was larger than life.
And thus, our story begins.
Beside a small house in the Village of Sorrows stood a very ordinary looking shed that was no bigger than a manger. Its walls were lined with old, dry wood, hammered neatly into stacks that supported a gray thatch roof standing just a foot above an average man’s crown. Beneath the doorway was a sign hung loosely on braided strands of fiber: smithy inside. Within the humble structure was a mess of tools, some hung on nails on the wall, others lying on the floor, and at the center was a small block of iron on top of a wooden stump. Behind it was a simple clay forge, looking very much like a trough with walls of red and yellow clay, with three bellows attached to it through a wooden pipe on the far side. Right beside it was a long, empty wooden tub. Various iron tongs lay scattered about, as if a small tornado had run through the shed.
It was a place that was neither tidy nor disorganized, much like the mind of its inscrutable owner who was ambling up towards the shed carrying a pail of water from a nearby well.
The smith was a plain-faced man, with no prominent features save a long, unkempt white beard. His curly dark hair was not very long, barely reaching his nape save a few strands that remind one of a small waterfall. He had lived some fifty odd years in the small house, and more than half of that time was spent within this shed of iron and clay. He had family once, but they were taken from him in a plague long past. But he had lived, for he was a hardy man, and the grit he possessed would not let him die just yet. The scars of the past he bore inside, for outside was a body of muscle and fire-hardened skin, and that was all the world saw.
As he set about with his daily routine of refilling the wooden tub with water for quenching steel, he heard footsteps right outside his door. Without turning, he bellowed in his old and scratchy voice.
“What do you want?”
A youthful voice replied, “Good morning Lord Panndae.” A pronounced male elvish accent in the voice made the old smith wince, and slowly but deliberately, he turned his head towards the young elf.
“I’m no lord, pointy-ears.” He retorted. Without missing a beat, and never letting his eyes off his ivory-skinned visitor, he violently flung the water from his pail into the wooden tub. The water splashed and scattered onto the floor, and a few of the droplets made it as far as the doorway just shy of the elf.
“A thousand pardons sir. I was just wondering if you would have time for me.” The young elf’s cheeked flushed red.
Panndae smirked. He rarely had visitors as young as this one, much less an elf. Usually, he’d have battle-hardened men visiting him to ask for weapon repairs, or for a sword. He almost always said no.
“Wonder away. I’m busy.”
With that, he turned his back. Panndae was never the curious type, ever since he burned his hand at four years old in the forge. His world was small, and he never really wanted it to grow any larger. He lived his life in the familiar, in the quiet of his house, in the darkness of the smithy. He reached towards a shovel inside the charcoal basket, his powerful and calloused hands effortlessly lifting half a hundred pieces of charcoal and moving it towards the clay forge.
Again, he did not turn his head as he spoke. “Well, why don’t you get moving? You’re standing in my light.”
The young elf was still standing outside the doorway. He was quite tall by elvish standards, a good six feet including his hat – which as most elves were shorter than men, he was taller than most humans. He was garbed in an olive-green traveling cloak, and carried a soft linen bag slung over his left shoulder. The usual longbow of elves was missing from his right shoulder, and while he was built like a warrior, he was not armed nor armoured. Dust and mud caked his entire garment, and his black boots, tunic, and pants had turned almost ashen.
“Sir, I need your help.” He insisted.
Shaking his head, Panndae turned towards the young man. “You could start by leaving me be and moving aside. I can hardly see a thing in here with you just standing there.”
The elf stiffened and replied, “May I enter?”
The smith shrugged. “Suit yourself. Just don’t get in my way.”
The elf gracefully ducked his head and stepped inside the smithy, taking care to step onto the side so as not to block the faint light coming from outside the door. As he did so, he looked around quickly and unslung his linen bag from the shoulder.
“I was hoping, sir,” the elf began as he crouched and opened the bag, “that you could help make me a sword.” He held out his hands. It was some kind of metal, a block of dark black ore with bits and pieces of crystal gleaming from its corners when the light touched it. Panndae took a second to look at the ore, intrigued by its composition. He had never seen that dark an ore before, or one with corners that shone so brightly despite the dim midday light. Slowly, he reached for the ore.
He gathered himself abruptly, memories of the past flooding in and leaving sadness in its wake. He made a promise, a promise that must be kept.
“Look kid, I don’t make weapons anymore. Not in five years. Tools, maybe, but you don’t look like someone who really needs a tool or two to get by. Now, I’ll grant you that thing looks mighty interesting, but I’m not in that business anymore ok? Now do yourself a favor and walk maybe a hundred paces or two to the right when you go outside. You’ll find yourself in the village and there are dozens of people there who’d love to sell you swords and knives and whatever it is you want.”
The young elf did not budge, hands still holding the ore as if it were made of gold. His sea-blue eyes were bright and unblinking, imploring – almost begging for help. The expressiveness of the elf caught the old man off guard. For one, it was an innocent face. The past decades had made Panndae quite cynical, and a very good judge of character. He knew right away if the person in front of him was lying, or had intentions other than what was said. It was the twitch in the eye, the furtive glances, the tic, or the shaking hands. There was always something wrong, something evil whenever men asked for weapons. As if their bloodlust couldn’t be contained within the mind and had to physically manifest itself one way or another.
“But I need your help,” the elf said softly. “Not theirs, not anyone else’s: only yours.” His gaze seemed to pierce Panndae’s mind.
Panndae shook his head once more. “Sadly kid, I don’t know what trouble you’re in.” His reply was less rough this time, almost sad in tone. His voice quivered ever so slightly as if he was pained to speak. “I made a promise once, to someone, that I would never make another weapon again. And a man’s word is all that he has, by the end of the day. So you’ll have to find another.”
The young elf stood up, demonstrating how tall he was by lightly brushing the ceiling with his cap. He reached up and removed it, exposing a shock of long golden hair that fell smoothly down his chest and back.
“There is no other, sir. They told me only the best would do. Only the best could use the steel and make it into a sword.”
“Who’s they?” Panndae asked. “And why the hell should I care? Son, rivers of blood have been spilled by this hand through the weapons it forged.” He held up his fist. “There is no sense to give someone the ability to take a life.”
The elf did not back down, “it is not the blade that takes life, but the hand that wields it.”
The smith spat into the tub of water. “Semantics.”
“Be that as it may sir, the ‘they’ I referred to are our elders. You see, I live in a small village such as yours.” He continued. “I was raised to fight for my people, and I excelled at that.”
The elf dropped his hands slowly, glancing at the unlit forge as he spoke wistfully.
“Three years ago,though it brings me much shame to tell you this, a creature arose in our homelands the likes we have never encountered before. It was summoned – by those who we are loathe to speak of, for they were once our cousins, but now are far removed from all that is good and decent.. The Shadow Elves.. This creature they have brought to the world is unstoppable – not even our greatest magic can even slow it down and it has massacred massacred my people, rampaging through whole villages and sowing fear and terror upon us all. It is a huge creature, as tall as a tree and as long as three, with armoured scales which no steel can cut nor arrow penetrate, and strange rubbery skin that bends and cannot be pierced.. We have tried capturing it, but its jaws easily break through chains as thick as my arms. I lost many friends in the attempt. When confronted, whole battalions will fall against since no weapon, not even magic, can ever harm its black and scaly hide. Last I heard, it lived in the woodland just south of the village I grew up in. It is called the Jhir’kai, which in my language means Jaws of Hell. It is an apt name.”
Suddenly, the young elf went down on one knee, jarring the dust from the smithy’s floor which had so far remained undisturbed.
“Sir I beg of you, if you have made a pact you cannot break, then teach me instead. No matter how long it takes, I need the sword. I have traveled far and wide to search for something, for any weapon that can stand against the monster.” He stood up once more and raised the ore in his hands towards the direction of Panndae’s eyes.
“And I have found only this. Coronatite Elfsteel, the legends say. The greatest of all Quicksteel, as some ancient books call it. The written prophecies speak of its role in ending the ancient wars between Faerie and Demon. But only that. At great risk and pain, I have found a single block of it deep in the Mines of Avorak. I went through darkness and death, and there is no way forward but for me to test myself against the Jhir’kai. I can only do so with this.”
Panndae did not move. He had heard from his father about the legendary Coronatite Quicksteel before. In ages long past, there was the smallest deposit of this mineral it in liquid form from the Elven homelands that was used to gild the magic wand of Angren Ernil – but that it was all used up in the process. Like the more common Quicksteel it could be molded into weapons in that form, mostly for arrowheads and spears with elfborne magic.
The legends also spoke of its ability to cut through anything. No weapon can resist it, no armor can block it, for its properties are magic and ethereal. In blade form, Coronatite Quicksteel takes a life of its own and seeks the fastest end to the opponent – the neck – and guides the wielder to strike at the right moment. Due to this, his father told him that a sword made of Coronatite Quicksteel, like all other weapons of elfish origin, has a spirit that does not take innocent life. Any attempt to do so would render the weapon useless, and makes the blade vanish into mist or water.
But it was just that, legend. It was myth: the perfect steel, the perfect sword.
Time stood still for the two men inside the small shed, and the air smelled of desperation and hope. For the young elf, this was his last chance to save his people from a demonic threat.
For the old man, this was all about his silence. His vow. And his impending death. He could feel it in his bones. His clothes were as tattered as he, and soon enough, he would finally join his family in the life beyond. What would he leave behind, he wondered? The hundreds of weapons his hands had made took countless lives in futile conflict. His legacy was hostile, dark, and evil.
Except this… maybe this was his chance. To redeem hands stained with blood, and to leave behind a lifetime of skill and technique that made him the greatest swordsmith of his time. Yes, he could use an apprentice. If nothing else, someone had to man the bellows for a good and even heat.
“Here’s a hammer.” He said, throwing a 3 pound hammer towards the general direction of the young elf’s head. “What’s your name?”
Undying hope filled the sea-blue eyes as the elf skilfully caught the hammer mid-air. “I am called Erin-Galad, sir, it means Morning Light.”
“Did anyone tell you that’s pretty redundant?” the old smith struck his flint with a short knife. The tinder caught fire immediately, and the forge was lit. “I’ll just call you Lad.”
“And one rule about this arrangement Lad,” Panndae continued, pointing to the bellows. “You follow what I tell you to do. Everything. I tell you to jump. You jump while asking me how high. I tell you to put your hands in the coals, you pretend to do it while not really doing it because you’re not stupid. Okay?”
“And learn to shut up. Your monologue was so tiring I had to say yes to get you to stop.”
Grinning from ear to ear, Lad the Elf took off his cloak and reached for the bellows.
“Alright then Lad.” Panndae crossed his arms over his barrel-sized chest. The first thing you need to learn is how to play with fire, and get away with it.”
- Able to cut through anything. Will cut through all normal weapons and armor with ease and cannot be blocked by a non magical weapon.
- Slices off bits and pieces. A wound always results in the loss of fingers, toes, arms, legs, wherever it hits, comes off..
- Seeks the neck – the blade dances and has a life of its own, guiding the hand at precisely the right moment to snicker snack an opponents neck.
- The sword has a spirit inside it that is good and will NOT cut an innocent person, but will return to a liquid state and ‘splash’ through them harmlessly. This also means that the sword will not accidentally harm the wielder.
The Vorpal Sword was designed by Joren Soreno and the prototype made by the team at Blade Culture International.
The blade is made from fully tempered 5160 Spring Steel with steel fittings and includes a scabbard.