“They say it was a gift from King Rurik the Maker’s own hand. A testimony to his friendship with the first Lord of Elsest.”
“Makes one wonder how many battles this blade has seen just in the defence of Elsest’s walls alone.”
“Hundreds? If it weren’t for this fortress, I doubt we’d even be here today discussing it.”
-- Rhys and Klaus
Although it has seen better days, this blade is something of a relic with a very long history. Originally forged on the Isle of Wolves, it was made for the hand of Raleigh King Reiner III, who with a sound military mind and wife of Estherian blood, took to leading an allied naval offensive against the barbarian hordes of Ereuk the Mauled, who in those days had invaded the Isle of Eresiryr and with it conquered the homelands of Reiner’s wife. Reiner was close friends with the Esther King, Avren the Watcher, his wife’s older brother, and it was this friendship that brought Raleigh’s armies into the ensuing chaos, albeit at a terrible price. For while Reiner clashed with Ereuk’s host at Eresiryr, Ereuk had made a secret pact with the the Folk of the Marshes, who with the aid of one of Ereuk’s finest generals and his host of seasoned veterans, organised a massive incursion of the mainland in the northlands. Raleigh's soil.
This incursion was Reiner’s greatest regret, as it lead to the deaths and slavery of his people in their homelands by the thousands. Ereuk played Reiner for a fool, and before the Raleigh King had a chance to reorganise his priorities back home, he was murdered by Ereuk’s own hand after confronting the bloodthirsty warlord in desperate melee. How he fell, bards tell that when Reiner learnt of what was happening to his innocent people, the Curse of Draejyr in his blood clouded his mind and enraged him against Ereuk so blindly that it is said the barbarian king feared for his life for the first time when Reiner fell upon him and slew countless men to reach him on the battlefield. Somehow, Reiner was mortally wounded in the chaos, yet he truly left his mark on Ereuk after dismembering him from his left arm. This feat, scholars proclaim, was the beginning of the end of Ereuk’s reign.
By the time Reiner’s son, then Prince Raenarn, received grim word of his father’s death, most of Raleigh’s lands were at the mercy of Ereuk’s allies. He received his father’s blade, the same that left Ereuk one arm less from its edge, as part of his rise to becoming king, and gladly took it into battle with him as he began a war of attrition that lead him to reclaiming all of his father’s former reign in the north. Yet spiteful and bloodthirsty was Raenarn by that age. With his heart darkened by countless years of bloodshed, the Raleigh King became his own enemy and travelled down a horrific path of bloody vengeance, using the bulk of his remaining armies in a counter-invasion that lead them away from the natural protection of the Arystonaai Mountains and into the heart of the marshes where their retreating enemies hid. Raenarn slew thousands there, and while he brought the marshland folk to heel and extended his kingdom’s reign in their lands for close to three decades, with the building of a massive fortress there he used to stage his southern campaigns from, Raenarn too fell in battle, defending it from a terrible menace the war-weary people of Raleigh were unprepared for: the undead remnants of the Kyrathi Empire in Western Elshanae.
With Raenarn’s death and the fall of Wolven’s Reach, his great fortress situated in the heart of the marshlands he spent the remainder of his life subjugating, Raleigh’s crown was passed onto his son, Rurik the Maker. Rurik was a man grown by then and the proud father of five children. He spent a great deal of his life fulfilling what his father seemingly forgot for sake of his ambitions in the south, and was well-loved by the Raleigh people for restoring a sense of peace and security to their ravaged homelands. Fortunately, he was also a wise strategist and slow to anger, for when he learnt word of his father’s death, he ignored seeking vengeance for it and instead rallied those close to him in arms to bolster the defence of a invaluable location that had until then been a mere fantasy to kings of old: Elsest Fortress. Ultimately, Rurik and his followers were able to starve off the destruction of their people’s way of life against overwhelming odds there, and it was only until several years later that Rurik finally organised an army to go south with him beyond the safety of Elsest's walls, for the sole purpose of finding the remains of his father and those that honourably died for him at Wolven’s Reach. Much was revealed upon finding them, and when Rurik made his return to his homelands after burying his father, he gave this retrieved sword as a gift to the first Lord of Elsest.
Why Rurik did not take the blade for himself, some believe he did so out of gratitude for the lord’s servitude to him during their darkest days, believing it was worthy to be in the hands of one whose heart belonged with protecting the innocent of their kingdom. Others say he gave it to him as a gift to be handed down to his own descendants, as the wife of the lord’s heir was Rurik’s third daughter. And while both of these theories are likely true, there is the thought that Rurik personally wanted nothing to do with a blade that was wielded by two dead kings inspired by vengeance and remorse. For although Rurik was a fine warrior, he only became one to protect those he loved.
Whether or not the blade was cursed because of said fact, it is now wielded by Rhys of Raleigh, the first king to use it since it was found in Raenarn’s dead hands. Only time will tell if Rhys’ reign will not suffer a similar fate...
... I just wonder if anyone who has been studying my lore from artworks of old will be able to pick up on some stuff revisited here... hehe. More of it should be revealed at the forums, too!
Anyhoo, much of the above was written in the last few hours while I was drawing the blade. So let’s just say I got a little carried away... and bloody loved every minute writing it.
Artwork // Lore, Etc - © Kristopher P. Love