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By Solinox: On the Swordmasters of Valanthia and...

 
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 5:45 pm    Post subject: By Solinox: On the Swordmasters of Valanthia and... Reply with quote

On the Swordmasters of Valanthia and Fyrgen-Draca
by Andalaen of Fer'Alesia

The Tower of Blades in Valanthia is home to some of the most skilled swordsmen ever to wield a greatsword. For countless centuries this academy has stood inside the city of towers, beside the spires of powerful wizards and colleges of magic. Eleomyr, Loremaster of Fyrgen-Draca (also known as the Tower of Blades) founded this academy of master swordsmen. He is quite possibly one of the oldest of all the elves still living, and this is commonly believed as there are none who can claim to have seen more years.

The life of Eleomyr has been one of mastery, perfecting the art of swordsmanship to levels thought not achievable by mortals. The Swordmasters, his students, are a testimony of this, for all of the academy are trained for at least a few years by the master of swordsmen. According to legend, it was in one of the earliest ages of the world that the errant warrior Eleomyr befriended an elder dragon, Kragnyyr. The great wyrmme found the winds of destiny to blow strongly about this elf, and so forged for him the first two-handed blade, Certa-Rakka, which the Loremaster still wields to this day. Kragnyyr agreed to teach Eleomyr the finer arts of swordsmanship, on the condition that he swear an oath that neither he nor any of his future students would strike one of Kragnyyr’s kin. However, the elder dragons have since disappeared from this world. Yet the elves are not known to forget an oath, and so each new apprentice of the Tower must swear by on his life to never seek the death of an elder dragon. Even today, a Swordmaster will usually have second thoughts about raising arms against one of the lesser dragons that still inhabit this world. It was in this way that the Tower has received the name of Fyrgren-Draca, meaning ‘mountain of the dragon’ in an ancient tongue, where the first Swordmaster was first tutored by Kragnyyr.

The Swordmasters have always held close relations with the towers of mages, and even serve as escorts for some of the travelling archmagi. In return, they have the services of the students of magic, and it is not unlikely to see a Swordmaster wielding a heavily enchanted sword or clad in armour shimmering with arcane energy. Within the walls of the tower, the Swordmasters live a life of constant training, meditation, and study. Reading the works of legendary swordsmen is a daily task, and of such importance that these warriors could even be called scholars. They do, however, hone their fighting skills to amazing levels, and seek always to acheive perfection in every way in the art of the sword. Under the leadership of Eleomyr, the order has carved a reputation throughout the world, and the very mention of their name sends inspiring feelings through the minds of novice swordsmen.

The Swordmasters dedicate their lives to the study of the blade, and being an order consisting almost exclusively of high elves, they have much pride in their swordsmanship. The pride of the Swordmasters often carry them into battlefields, be they small or large. This is the challenge they seek the most enthusiastically, as outmaneuvering the blades of opponents is akin to the satisfaction a demon would receive by outmuscling surface-dwellers with their brute force. Despite this, they are a highly disciplined order, and are aligned eternally with the forces of good, for it is in outfighting the servants of darkness that the Swordmasters truly take pleasure in. The Warhost of the Tower, consisting a couple hundred of the Swordmasters, is one of the deadliest armies ever known, and has been instrumental in defending the seven kingdoms against more than a few hordes of evil creatures that occasionally launch an invasion from the northern plains.

The life of a Swordmaster is dedicated to training. Most Swordmasters spend between two and four hours each day (or night) studying the tomes of great swordsmen, practicing and sparring, and meditating on their skills. For apprentices, this period is almost tripled, as they all (almost without exception) live in the Tower of Blades. There are seven schools of swordsmanship studied by the Swordmasters, and the High Loremaster Eleomyr has mastered six of them. A Swordmaster will study more than one school, combining the techniques and arts learned from each. In this way, an individual Swordmaster’s fighting techniques are as distinctive as a signature.

The seven schools of Swordmastery are:

Way of the Striking Eagle - This art is mainly offensive, and uses several expertly-aimed slashes and thrusts to efficiently slay an enemy. No openings in an opponent’s defense are wasted, and where there are none, they are made.

Way of the Steel Globe - This art is highly defensive; it takes its name from the philosophy that, wherever an opponent strikes, the student of this form can use his greatsword to solidly parry, as if he was surrounded by a sphere of steel.

Way of the Dancing Whirlwind - A student of this art is, in most cases, either blind or overzealous. A blindfold is placed over the eyes, and with years of training, an opponent can be heard, smelt, and even predicted. The warrior leaps, twists, and spirals wildly, scoring powerful blows as he dances around his prey.

Way of the Fell Scorpion - A specialized style, a warrior of the scorpion carefully notes the stance, footwork, and style of an opponent. Defending against the attacks of his opponent while they do this, the instantly switch to the offensive when a mistake or imperfection is made on the opponent’s behalf. Warriors of this are extremely quick; the Bladelord Ilarythiel once beheaded the ogre lord Zabtua’ar the Stone-Fisted during ‘diplomatic negotiations’. That head is now displayed in the Grand Library of Fyrgen-Draca, preserved by magical means, and still locked in a casual glare. It is commonly believed that the ogre never registered the sword leaving the scabbard.

The Way of Lore - This form is different from the others; in fact, some consider it to not be one of the 'true' forms of Swordmastery. The Bladelords disagree, saying that the Way of Lore is but another extension of the being, just as the other forms are. The thing that seperates this from the other forms is that the way of Lore doesn't focus on using the Greatsword; rather, it is the art of magic. The only Swordmaster to have mastered this form is the Loremaster Eleomyr, as it is quite difficult to learn. The union of blade with arcane is a powerful combination, however, and to those willing to spend a lifetime studying in this art are seldom left disappointed.

In total, there are approximately three-hundred Swordmasters. Half of this number are apprentices, having trained in the Tower up to seventy years. Another fifty have completed their apprenticeship, but remain at Fyrgen-Draca to study and practice their skills. About eighty are errant or journeyman Swordmasters, travelling across the seven kingdoms to perform errands and tasks for the Loremaster, often searching for ancient scrolls of martial lore, adding it to the immense collection back at Fyrgen-Draca. Bladelords, the elites of the Tower of Blades, form the rest of the numbers. They are a highly disciplined order, and to enter their ranks requires the greatest of skill; Firstly, the Swordmaster must have mastered at least one school of Swordmastery. Secondly, they must be at least a hundred and fifty years of age, and lastly, they must have slain a 'Beast of Fearsome Power and Great Evil'. This title is given on only the rarest of occasions, and excluding the recent addition of Solinox Avelhar to this group, it has been fifty-eight years since the last Bladelord has been recognized.
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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