The Sword, a long piece of metal with one or two sharp edges, is virtually synonymous with the word ‘weapon’. As the most commonly depicted of any weapon in the world, the sword has taken on an almost religious significance to many cultures. It is sometimes known as "Highborn Steel" (due to its prevalence among knights and nobles) and the "Hand of Armeros". Despite most weapons, like the mace or axe, being in significantly more use (and oftentimes more combat effective), the Sword remains the most popular weapon in all of Caelereth.
Picture description: A Knight of the Flame presenting his Long Sword. Pic drawn by Quellion.
Description. Swords are generally made up of two parts: the blade, and the hilt. The most common depictions of Swords show a cross shape, with a long blade topped with a horizontal cross-guard, followed by the grip. Despite this, however, swords can come in all shapes and sizes, and, in fact, some are even made solely for decorative purposes.
The blade is the cutting surface of the Sword. It can come in many shapes, from long and straight, to short and curved. Either one or both sides can be sharpened, or neither for a training variant. The tip can be sharp and pointed, or blunt and curved.
A Sword blade is often divided in two halves down the length of the blade by an inward-curving arc known as the fuller, or temper line. Though the fuller is sometimes erroneously believed to be used to allow blood to flow from a fresh wound and allow for an easier cut, giving it the nickname “blood-groove”, its actual purpose is far more benign. Fullers are built into the sword blade so as to lighten the metal, as the only necessary parts of the weapon are the edges and the point. The fuller decreases the weight of the sword by limiting the amount of metal necessary to fill the center. In addition, the bending of the metal near the center stresses and strengthens the outer edges.
Fullers are sometimes carved in a variety of patterns, especially in elven or noble blades, adding to the beauty of the Sword. Depending on the shape of the fuller, or even quantity (some Swords have two), the cross-section of the blade seen from straight ahead can take a variety of shapes.
The fuller only comes up to about just short of three fourths of the blade, after which the blade halves meet in what is known as the central ridge. The central ridge is merely the point where the inner part of the flat of the Sword crests, as the metal on each side dips downwards to form the sharp edges.
Somewhere shortly after the fuller and before the point is the end, or weak. The end is the halfway point between the key of the blade (also known as the sweet spot, where the blade is most effective at cutting) and the tip. The end, along with the middle and the front (or strong), categorically separate the blade into four sections.
The tip of the blade is known as the point, or the thrusting edge. Most Swords have some point, even single-edged Swords, which often have a deceiver’s edge, a section of the Sword near the point that is sharpened on both sides. Other Swords, particularly curved ones, lack the centralized point in favour of a sloping curve on a single edge, better for slashing and cutting, while others, such as the rapier, are designed almost solely around thrusting attacks.
Sword blades are generally balanced around two locations. These are the key, or sweet spot, and the root, or center. The key is the portion of the blade where a cut is most effective, hence its nickname. Sword strikes are often critiqued based on whether they land above the key or below the key, with ‘right on key’ being when an attack is perfect. It is near the point of the blade, in between the end and the middle. The root is near the rear of the blade, and is the place where the Sword is perfectly balanced. Despite being sometimes called the center, the root isn’t right in the center of the Sword, but rather the point where both sides of the length of the Sword can be suspended without falling to either side.
Just before the hilt is the sharp-grip and the rain-guard. The sharp-grip is the section of Sword directly in front of the hilt, which often goes unsharpened so as to allow the wielder to extend his grip slightly belong the cross-guard. This is most apparent in the flamberge, where the sharp-grip is often covered in a leather wrap, just like the grip. The rain-guard is a small piece of metal that extends slightly outwards in every direction at the base of the cross-guard, used to lock the Sword blade into its scabbard and prevent water from leaking in.
A small portion of the blade extends into the hilt, known as the tail. The tail is used to steady the rest of the blade and prevent it from snapping off of the hilt, as well as to provide counter-balance in the hilt. The tail is generally the length of the hilt, with the grip wrapping around the tail.
The hilt is the other ‘half’ of a Sword, made up of the cross-guard, grip and pommel. It is frequently the most decorated part of the Sword, as most of it is not necessary for functional Sword use.
The cross-guard in particular tends to be highly detailed in most noble Swords, especially rapiers. In many Swords, particularly Erpheronian “Cross Swords”, the cross-guard is a strip of iron or steel running perpendicular to the blade. It is sometimes ‘wrapped’ with vine-shaped designs of gold or aurium, or occasionally sports family crests on the outward edges. In some Swords, particularly rapiers, the cross-guard comes in the shape of a bucket, known as the hand-guard. The hand-guard, like the cross-guard but to an even better degree, essentially protects the fingers and hand of the Sword-user from incoming strikes. The hand-guard can be decorated in a variety of studs, shapes, or marks, covered with leather or velvet, or be mostly hollow with the metal weaving patterns and shapes around the hand but not actually fully covering it.
Some designs of the cross-guard are designed to capture an opponent’s Sword, allowing the wielder to pull it from their grasp and leave them weaponless.
Not all Swords have cross-guards. The Kasumarii moonblade, for instance, only has a small disk in-between the hilt and the blade, while some northern Swords might have no cross-guard at all to save metal resources.
After the cross-guard is the grip, or handle. The grip is generally comprised of the tail end of the Sword’s blade, sometimes wrapped in an extra coating of metal to give it more volume. The grip is then generally wrapped in leather or sheepskin, sometimes with a variety of textures such as a vine-shaped metal wire wrapping around the length of the grip to provide traction to the Swordwielder and prevent the Sword from slipping.
Occasionally, a Sword grip will be built into a metal gauntlet. These ‘sword-hands’, designed by Erpheronian Swordsmiths in the early 1300s, are made to completely null the chance of a knight dropping his weapon in battle. Sword-hands are, obviously, not worn continuously, being instead pulled on to an unarmoured hand once unsheathed.
At the end of the hilt is a heavy metal slug of a variety of spheroid or similar shapes, known as the pommel. Often incrusted with gems or family crests, the pommel, like the cross-guard, is a frequent location for decorations. Despite its flair for art, the pommel serves an essential role in the Sword - it provides most of the counter-weight in the hilt, balancing the hilt with the heavy metal of the blade. Occasionally, pommels are crowned with sharp spikes for thrusting backwards into an opponent (indeed, even non-spiked pommels are frequently used as a blunt weapon in close-quarters combat), or with further applications of art such as long tassels.
Weapon Types. The following Sword types represent the basic broad categories that Swords fall under, separated into one-handed Swords, hand’n’half Swords, and two-handed Swords.
Swords are primarily designed for combat against unarmoured or lightly armoured
enemies. Perhaps more importantly, however, Swords are a symbol. Due to being
explicitly designed for war (unlike axes and maces, which
have their origin in tools), Swords are seen as the pre-eminent
weapon of any military-minded individual, despite the
fact that other weapons are often just as, if not more effective. Swords are
frequently used to represent strength and pride, or culture and religion. The
Sword is seen as the symbol of Armeros, God
of War, and on many coats of arms, such as the
Forsaken Blade of the Remusians,
or even the cloth-wrapped Sword of the
Caltharians, signifying their
turn away from war.
In addition, Swords are seen as symbols of nobility, as a Sword is not only more expensive in and of itself, but it is frequently decorated with a variety of designs and flourishes. In fact, many nobles, who have never otherwise touched a weapon in their life, let alone know how to wield one, wear Swords as a symbol of wealth and status. With the invention of rapiers, they have even become a sport, where individuals train in fencing not for the prospect of going to war, but simply for fun and exercise.
There are many divergent fighting styles among Sword users, and just as many
Sword variations built for these specific styles. Rapiers and scimitars are
smooth, elegant weapons, with their wielders almost
dancing around the field as they look for opportune moments to strike, while at
the same time parrying in a manner that causes the opponent to lose their
footing and give them the upper hand, rather than just to block the blow.
Other Sword styles, such as Erpheronian Fencing, concentrate on forming a stable defense through offense, maintaining strong footwork as they slowly but surely press their advantage against their opponent. The energy of a blocked blow is forced back against the attacker, then immediately followed up with a strong counterattack while the enemy’s defense is open.
Swords are generally swung from the hip, rather than the arms. The legs are often seen as the most important limb for close quarters combat, rather than the arms, and Kasumarii warriors often say that one draws energy up from the earth with each step. They always start each strike with a stomp against the ground to generate energy into their blows, and step backwards with each parry to force the enemy to slide down and away from their blade.
The blade is also not the only important weaponry of the Sword. The pommel is often used as a mace, following up a Sword strike with a quick turn of the wrists and a redirection of energy into a blunt thrust. The point can be turned into a spear, as the wielder grabs the sharp-grip and thrusts their weapon forwards as if they were wielding a polearm. Both of these techniques are often used to defeat plate-wearers, who are virtually impervious to the actual edge of the Sword.
Origin/History. It is believed that Swords originated among the ancient Kyranians during the years of the Kingdom of Towers, based on early edged weapons used by the elves near the end of the empire of Fá’áv’cál'âr, and spread from there to all other cultures across Santharia. Other theories believe that the Kyranians did not invent Swords, but were pivotal in spreading their popularity to other kingdoms. Other lands, such as Nybelmar, also eventually developed their own versions of the Sword.
The early Swords were simple sidearms, used mainly to support polearms or axes and maces. With the advance of forging techniques, allowing for the creation of much more combat-worthy Swords, they become much more widespread. Being excellent against light armour, Swords were continually improved through the ages. Only recently has the popularity of the Sword began diminishing, due to the advent of platemail, which is all but impervious to edged Sword strikes. As platemail remains rare, however, Swords continue to remain popular weapons throughout Caelereth.