The Tale of the Swords of the Ancients And Other Blades of Power
Toukol was a young Elven farrier and blacksmith and who forged farming tools and horse shoes in the late years of the Fourth Age of Ammon, a the time when the Great Realms were still young, long before the time of Vaelen. Toukol lived in the North Kingdom of Deylindor in the city of Ammoria, abode of both Men and Elves. He was an exceptional blacksmith who was also schooled in the art of sword combat, for he had hopes to one day be the weapons master for the King’s army like his father. Upon a day Toukol was laboring over his father’s ancient anvil, working an iron bar into the shape of a scythe, an old man dressed in gray robes wandered into the shop. The man looked about the place at the various tools Toukol had forged and then smiled. He hobbled over to Toukol, reached into his robe and removed a chunk of molten ore, about the size of a fist, and set it upon Toukol’s anvil. Without a word the man turned and walked from the shop. Bewildered, Toukol rushed out into the street after the man, but he was nowhere to be seen.
The ensuing years leading up to the end of the Fourth Age were filled with many wars and bitterness among the three mortal races, Men, Elves, and Uldurin. The Dark One, who stirred much malcontent amongst mortals, had caused great turmoil in these times. Toukol, now an adult Elf, had become one of the greatest of Elven smiths, forging stunning works of swords and amour, and he lived in the underground realm of Barkonia with the Dark Elves, experts in the mining of ores and their crafting. Toukol was also a very capable fighter who had fought and won in many sword tournaments using weapons of his own making. He could have served in the Elven army, but Toukol chose to study with the Dark Elven smiths. He had even adopted the Dark Elves practice of tattooing ones body upon completion of a special work that surpassed anything made before, as a sign of accomplishment. Much had he learned from the Dark Elves in the working of steels, and much in the ways of forging had he invented himself. The Ancient Ones walked freely these days in the caverns of Barkonia, sometimes in the guise of mortal Elves so that they would go unnoticed, and it was their wisdom that had taught the Elves much in the knowledge of steel. In this time the Ancient Ones devised a plan to bring peace and harmony back to the Great Realms and the mortals they had created to populate those lands, and thus they commanded the Dark Elves to forge for them ten great swords; and the Ancients would imbue these with special powers, and through the use of these swords would balance and order be brought to the land once again.
There came a day when the Ancient One known as Atnal walked into Toukol’s shop and examined his work. Toukol bowed and a smile strangely familiar to him crossed Atnal’s face. Atnal then turned to Toukol and commanded that he forge for the Ancients a great sword, one which would be the grandest and most powerful of the Ten Swords, and it was to be called Anathar. Only the finest blacksmiths in Ammon were asked to forge these ten special swords and Toukol was honored by this request. At once he ran to the back of his shop and brought out the fist of special ore that had been given to him by the strange old man when he was but a boy in Ammoria. He showed the special ore to Atnal, for he had plans to forge Anathar’s blade from this steel. He had stored it away since childhood for a special purpose, for he knew in his heart that it was enchanted; but Atnal told him to save the steel and use the Elvish ores of Barkonia to craft Anathar’s blade. Atnal then reached into his robe and brought forth a reddish bone-like stone, which he called Thorcan, and he said it must be used in the hilts of the sword. Thus Toukol began his work, forging Anathar for nine moons. When complete it was indeed the finest of the Swords of the Ancients; and when it came into the world it brought with it the dawn of the Fifth Age of Ammon, the Age of Order.
In the one hundred and twenty-eighth year of the Fifth Age, the Battle of the Ancients had been fought against the Dark One. Six of the Ancient Ones had perished in that war, but the Dark One’s body had been destroyed and his spirit now stayed imprisoned in the Neverworld. His malicious deeds could no longer be wrought upon the land. The newly forged Swords of the Ancients were in use throughout the Great Realms, and the Ancient Ones gave the most powerful, Anathar, to King Aghelm of Ammoria; but order had yet to come to the land. In this time the Uldurin made frequent attacks upon the Northlands of Deylindor, coming down from the frozen Isle of Ulioc. They were jealous and desired those swords that the Ancients had bestowed with special powers, a desire fueled by the malcontent stirred by the Dark One prior to the war, and it infected their entire race.
Toukol had since returned to Ammoria a master smith and was made the King’s armorer, and he forged many great swords for the King, his sons, and the military captains and generals. A day came when word was sent of an Uldurin attack upon the Eastern Kingdom of Volcemis. The Volcemites called for aid from Ammoria, and King Aghelm did respond, sending the better part of his army East; for he feared that if Volcemis fell, his kingdom would be assaulted next. This decision would prove to be a fateful one for Ammoria. On the day the King’s army marched East, a familiar old man in gray robes hobbled into Toukol’s smithy, admiring the great swords, spears, and armor that lined the walls. He smiled at Toukol, a familiar smile, and spoke that Toukol had grown to be a fine weapon smith, the finest in all of Ammon. Thus he told that now was the time for Toukol to forge his greatest sword, one of perfect design and balance, one to befit each of the numerous styles of sword combat, for the day would soon come when this new sword style would be in need. Toukol was puzzled and asked who would need such a sword, and the old man replied “Mithrodin”, which means sword-mother in the Ancient’s language of Aerlundtal, or literally, “sword protector”. He told that Toukol must forge this sword in twenty-nine days, and that Toukol himself would be the first to spill blood on its blade, but that the weapon was meant for one other than him, this Mithrodin. He asked if Toukol possessed a good ore with which to forge the blade, and smiled again. At this Toukol rushed to the back of his smithy and retrieved the fist of ore from his old storage chest.
When he returned he discovered the old man was again nowhere to be found, but on his anvil lay a new iron hammer of the blackest steel. Toukol hefted it and found it had good weight and balance, but was amazed that it required little effort to wield. Thus he began to think on the shape this sword would take, and that required long thought. Finally Toukol decided on a curved form and thence he heated the fist of steel until it glowed the yellow of a late day sun, and began to hammer and shape it; and he folded it over upon itself for strength many, many times, until after twenty days he had folded it over one hundred and fifty times. On its blade he engraved his maker mark and “Honor ruled by steel” in the Anglecal runes, and “By blood I am the protector of the sacred steel” in Annundtal, the language of old Annundos. He stayed from tempering the blade until he had completed the hilts, which would require much work. He labored over these many long hours, for they were crafted with wood scaled in black whale hide, hardened in resin, and bound in leather, with cast and chiseled metal fittings. Now twenty-eight days had passed, but neither the old man nor the “Mithrodin” had come to check on his progress. Toukol was work worn and questioned to himself why he labored so hard on this sword when he had not settled on a fee, and he did not even know for whom he was working. He decided to rest for one day before tempering the blade and attaching the hilts and fittings, and he hid the unfinished sword in his basement. He thought that since he had neither seen nor heard from the old man that a few extra days to complete the sword would be of little matter.
In the night Toukol dreamed of a warrior fighting in a massive battle with his sword, but when the warrior turned to him he saw the face of a woman. He was stirred from this hard slumber by the sound of bells and when he rose to investigate he found the people were running through the streets in a panic, the call to arms bells were ringing throughout the city, and the glow of fire was in the sky. Ammoria was under attack from the North by the Uldurin, but most of the King’s army was far away in the East. The gates had been broken and the enemy now ravaged the city, and some rode in on terrible Snow Drakes from the North. Those white lizards were reaping great destruction and death, for they exhaled a deadly gas that could be ignited. Most of the men captured by the Uldurin had been killed and the women, unless elderly, were taken captive. Toukol knew there was no hope to resist this horde without an army and that by morning the city would be lost. He determined that he must flee Ammoria while he was able, and thus quickly packed his enchanted hammer, forging tongs, and a few other precious tools into a sack, unsheathed a light thrusting sword and headed into the streets. He made his way toward the South gates, near to the King’s palace. After a frightful encounter with a group of Uldurin foot soldiers, whom Toukol slew, he made his way into the courtyard of the King’s palace; but the way was crowded with a terrible host of Uldurin massing toward it, and one rode a Snow Drake across the yard, spewing blue flame at the elf guards who protected the palace. There air was filled with smoke and the screams of the unfortunate ones unable to escape the slaughter. Toukol was shaken and retreated back into the narrow city streets in search of a clearer way to the gates, and thence he spied a young girl and two old men with swords, of royalty by their attire, and the girl beckoned him to follow. She led them hastily through narrow, winding passages to the South gate wall, but once there they were surprised by a band of Uldurin blocking the way, corralling prisoners into a cart. The young girl was captured, and when Toukol and the old men tried to intervene they were overwhelmed and Toukol was beaten into unconsciousness…
When Toukol awoke he found himself jailed in a cell with a group of men, mostly young city workers, but the girl and the old men were gone. The Uldurin had discovered that he was the famed blacksmith of Ammoria by the tools in his pack and had let him live, for they would need his services. Thus he was later jailed in his own smithy, always with a guard, and iron doors of his own making were set to bar the exits. Toukol was at his spirits end in seeing what had become of this great city, now overrun, blackened, and crumbling. The glory of Ammoria was now gone and it was home to him no more, only but a prison. Over time he discovered that the King and every one of his guard and family had been slain, and the great sword Anathar had been found and taken by the filthy Uldurin lords.
Toukol was forced to forge weapons for an Uldurin war master, and this he did, but he only forged inferior blades that either bent or chipped and shattered upon hard use. For many months Toukol slaved for the Uldurin, until one day he told his captors he could do no more unless he was brought ore to work with, for his stores were now empty. Now the Uldurin were no masters of steel, and few of their kind were miners, so his master let Toukol leave the city with ten guards and travel to the Ammorian mines in the mountains, where he would fill his cart once a month with the precious ores needed to forge steel. Now four long years had passed with Toukol slaving for his captors in this way. He had hopes that the Elves of the East would one day come to reclaim Ammoria, but that day never came, and Toukol feared that they too had been slain. He often thought of the young girl who had helped him that night and wondered what had become of her, and in his mind he imagined that she had escaped her captors and fled the city, and this helped to pass the days.
Over time Toukol devised a plan of escaping Ammoria by eluding his guards on one of his trips to the ore mines, and thus he prepared his escape for weeks in advance. On the night before the mining trip Toukol was brought his evening meal by an Elven slave girl. The Uldurin had kept many young women alive to work in the kitchens, and he found this night there was a new girl that he had not seen before in all of his time as a captive. To his astonishment he recognized her as the same one who had tried to help him leave the city that fateful night, though she was now no longer a girl but a beautiful young woman, and Toukol was instantly smitten with her. She was joyous to see him again, for she thought he had been slain. Her name was Estea, and Toukol decided that he could not leave the city without her, for he had already fallen in love. Thus he whispered his plan to her, and Estea told thence that she was once a member of the King’s royal house, a caretaker of the King’s possessions, and doorkeeper of the sword chamber where Anathar was kept. She had tried to protect the sword when the King Aghelm was slain, but she was no fighter and had to flee the palace. The Uldurin lords had captured the sword, and Estea had since learned from palace slaves that it was still kept there in the basement catacombs, though now guarded by many Uldurin. She told Toukol that she would never leave the city without the sword, for she took an oath to the King to protect it, and Toukol revealed to her that he was one who forged Anathar for the Ancients. Astonished at this, Estea thence begged Toukol to help her, and told that before the Uldurin had taken the city King Aghelm had made a secret underground passage which connected the sewer ducts under his palace to a winding cave that lead outside the city walls to the West, where it opened to the mountain side, near to the ore mines. It was to be used as a way of escape in case of attack, but the King fought to the bitter end when the Uldurin attacked, as was the Elven way, and the passage was never used. Toukol knew of many ways into the sewer duct system and he formulated a new plan with Estea. He pledged that he would train her in the ways of sword combat, for he was a very capable swordsman himself, and when she was prepared they would recover Anathar from the Uldurin together.
In the night after his return from the mines, Toukol climbed to the top of his smithy, and using a rope and hook he had forged, made his way by rooftop to the slave quarters where Estea awaited him as planned, and Toukol smuggled her out of an upper window and down into a nearby sewer duct, undetected. They made their way through those dark and dank tunnels by torchlight until they came to a main intersection chamber near the palace where fresh water flowed through, then Estea lead the way to the cave passage. Whence they reached the caves exit in the mountain side Toukol left Estea with his store of food and a sturdy knife. He promised to return, then swiftly made his way back to the smithy before the morning guard changed. For two weeks Toukol worked by night digging a tunnel from his smithy basement into the main sewer duct that ran in the street beside his shop. Twice a week he would travel at night to Estea and bring her provisions, and he trained her with wood swords by firelight, as he had been trained as a young Elf. When he was able, Toukol smuggled other female slaves out of the city into the caverns, and he trained and armed those women as well. Over time Estea became very proficient in sword combat and within a year she could best Toukol himself in practice, thus Toukol taught her other forms of combat, and he forged for her a great bladed spear, and it was called Allaxdrow. After mastering each level of combat, Estea would tattoo herself as the smiths of Toukol’s trade would, and soon she had many tattoos displaying her great skills.
When two years had passed Toukol’s host of warriors living in the caves then numbered twenty-three and Estea was confident they were now ready for real combat, thus she told Toukol of her plan to enter the palace from the sewer tunnels and steal Anathar back from the Uldurin. Though it was difficult to hide it from his captors, Toukol had resumed working on the special sword he had begun to craft so many years before at the urging of the mysterious old man. Now its blade was tempered and quenched and its hilts complete. He greatly desired to wield it against the Uldurin, who so deserved to be slain by its blade, thus Toukol agreed to the plan. One week following he lead his host into the winding tunnels until they came upon four iron gates blocking the passage into the catacombs beneath the palace, and Toukol broke each with his enchanted hammer. Thereupon the women entered the catacombs swiftly and silently killed the host of Uldurin that made their abode in the lower levels of the palace, as Toukol and Estea hunted for the sword chamber wherein the Uldurin masters kept Anathar. After a time they ascended many floors and came to a passage with heavy guard. The door wardens fought fiercely but were no match for Toukol’s deadly new sword and Estea’s bladed spear; and breaking the iron door they found Anathar on a bloody sacrificial throne. Unspeakable horrors must have occurred at the hands of the Uldurin for there were bones of Elves and rotting bits of flesh littering the chamber, and the place stank of death. The alert bells now rang through the palace and Toukol knew they could not linger. The warrior women had escaped fast to the cave passage upon hearing the alert but as luck would have it, Toukol and Estea were late and found the sewer intersection discovered and blocked by the Uldurin. Thus they were forced to go by another way and return to his smithy with Anathar.
Toukol hid Estea and in his basement tunnel. The Mithrodin sword and Anathar he hid in the box of mining tools stored in the back of his horse cart, for if she were found with either she would surely be slain, and Toukol lover her more than anything and could not have this. When morning came the Uldurin soldiers searched every building in the city, but they discovered neither Estea nor the swords. Toukol knew he must take them from the city soon, thus he told his master that he needed travel to the mines once again for supply, and Toukol was granted permission without question for he was a long trusted servant. That night Toukol secretly packed his forging implements and great anvil into the box of mining tools in the back of his horse cart and Estea hid in the empty ore crates. Her spear Toukol fastened to the cart’s underside. In the morning the guards came to escort Toukol, and he was surprised to find their number was not the usual ten, but twenty, but only two were on horseback. Perhaps he was not now as trusted as he thought. Though the guards rarely searched his cart, Toukol made to distract them by offering bread and mead, and to his relief they made no inspection before departing. Once they were far from the city and the guards had eaten all of the bread they began to drink. Soon they became sick, for Toukol had poisoned the mead with metal powder from his forge. With surprise Toukol and Estea leapt from the back of the cart. Toukol challenged the foot soldiers as Estea retrieved Allaxdrow from under the cart. Short work was made of four soldiers by Toukol, but he was hindered when his calf and chest were cut, and the others closed in. The two horsemen rode away fast but Estea made a skillful throw and speared both, for they rode single file. Thence she took up Toukol’s Mithrodin sword and with amazing skill and speed that far surpassed his, she cut each Uldurin down to the last, and that one she beheaded with a quick stroke. Estea was amazed at the ease and fluidity with which she could wield this sword and marveled at how it felt in her hands. Thence she retrieved the horses and they rode fast with Anathar to the entrance of the secret cave in the mountain side. Estea’s warriors were there in waiting and they tended to Toukol’s wounds, but he found two of them missing, for they had been slain in the palace battle, and he mourned for them.
Before the morning light shone an approaching horseman discovered them and entered the cave entrance with such stealth that none heard until he was upon them. Estea prepared to spear the rider and Toukol drew the Mithrodin sword from its scabbard, thence he spied this was no Uldurin scout, but an old man who he recognized. When the man approached his form changed from that of a mortal to an Ancient One, tall and majestic, and Toukol recognized him as Atnal, the Ancient who commanded him to forge Anathar years before, and then later the Mithrodin sword in the guise of the old man. Toukol bowed and presented the sword to him, but Atnal refused. Instead, to Estea he handed the sword, and he spoke it was forged for her and her companions, for they were to be the “sword mothers”, the Mithrodin protectors of the Ten Swords of the Ancients. An he also spoke that they were also to be protectors and servants of the remaining of his own kind, the Ancient Ones, for there were now only but three left in Ammon. Atnal told that the time of the Ancient Ones was soon coming to an end and mortals must take charge of the talismans if order was ever to come. They must protect Anathar and each of the other Ten from falling into the hands of the enemy, but they must also learn to harness the swords powers and use them wisely when in need; and that knowledge Atnal promised to teach them. This trust Estea accepted, and she bowed and kissed the hand of Atnal, thus he gave blessings to her and her sword. To Toukol he charged to make like blades to the Mithrodin sword, one for each of Estea’s warriors, but Toukol refused, saying he could never make such a sword of its kind again without the special ore Atnal had provided. At this Atnal laughed and said the ore was but common, the same as any Toukol used in forging a blade. It was only special because Toukol had made it such with his great skill and craft. Toukol marveled at this, for he had always thought the steel enchanted, and he thus accepted his charge as sword smith for the Order of the Mithrodin.
Atnal once again took the form of the old man and remounted his horse. He turned to leave, but spoke one last time and told that the Elven host from Volcemis was even now planning an attack on two fronts to reclaim Ammoria from the Uldurin. The foot soldiers would arrive from the South, and the great ships of the Volcemite mariners from the North. He warned that Toukol had but twenty-nine days to prepare, for they would make their assault at first light on that day, and they would need the aid of the Mithrodin. At this he kicked his horse and rode away fast. Thus Toukol set himself to work, for he had many swords to forge with his enchanted hammer and time was passing quickly!
The Tale of the Swords of the Ancients and Other Blades of Power and its previous versions, The Swords of the Ancients and its abridged excerpts, and other forms, are ©1997 and ©2005 by Kit Rae. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any other form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, computer networking, or otherwise without prior permission in writing by the copyright holder(s).