The Tale of the Swords of the Ancients
and Other Blades of Power
A Mythology By Kit Rae
Of the Ancient Ones
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In the beginning of things in ages past there were the Anath, masters of flesh, fire, and steel, who forged the elements of which the land of Ammon was made. It became the world in the First Age, the age of creation. The Anath desired to create beings like unto themselves to dwell upon Ammon, thus they created the Ancient Ones, and this was the Second Age of Ammon, the age of the immortals. They were made in likeness to the Anath, and each was granted a special power of creation so that they may rework Ammon in their own fashion. Being immortal the Ancient Ones would not die or age naturally, though they could be harmed or killed by misfortune or misdeed. Thus their number, which was only but fourteen in the beginning, would ever be thus unless fate would diminish them.
The ancient Ones were joyous and learned to harness the elements. They were experts in all crafts and the arts, but soon became saddened because they were alone in the world. The Anath beheld their sadness and thus resolved to give the Ancient Ones the power to create mortal beings and so charged them to rule over and protect those creations. Thereupon the Ancients filled Ammon with many strange creatures of different form, and this was the Third Age of Ammon, the age of mortals. The firstborn to Ammon were the higher beings, the elves, and later there were Uldurin, followed by men, and finally the lower beasts. The Ancient Ones purposed to have dominion over every creature and for many ages they kept order and balance in Ammon. They built the great Temple of the Anath, hidden in the frozen realm of Ulaine, and from its immense halls they watched over their creations.
Mortals multiplied and explored the lands of Ammon, discovering the many great places of beauty the Ancients had created for them. Though mortals were wise and with much strength, they were also unstable through the weakness of the flesh. Through greed, the lust for power, and jealousy, they were tempted to war amongst each other and there was much bloodshed in the beginning. Thus the Ancient Ones created the first enchanted talismans to temper mortals and restore order and balance. They took the form of steel bladed devices, for blades were among the first tools to be used by mortals in Ammon. Each was bestowed with powers of many forms, but the mortals misused them and were corrupted by the new power, and much blood was spilled with them and by reason of them. The Uldurin waged war upon men. The elves moved underground to escape the chaos above, and they became the Dark Elves of the Underworld, Barkonia. In this chaos the first Ancient One came to be slain by a mortal one of the Uldurin race. This was the first slaying of immortal by mortal and Ammon was forever changed. Thus Ammon entered the Fourth Age, the age of chaos. Thenceforward the talismans became known as the Blades of Chaos, for that is what they had created.
Evruc, one of the Ancients now known only as the Dark One, perceived how easily mortals were corrupted, and how vulnerable his own kind were to them. In his mind he had dark thoughts over how best to rule them, and he opposed the other Ancients, causing much turmoil. He forsook them and left to dwell in the Underworld, and there he became dark and twisted. He took many men as his slaves and many women as his concubines. The elves, who also dwelled in the vast Underworld, eschewed Evruc, and named him the Dark One, but some were corrupted by his power and joined him as subjects. They became the Black Elves. In this time the Orwenoch, mysterious dark beasts, appeared out of the depths of the Underworld, and it was said that they were a creation of the Dark One.
The twelve Ancient Ones, seeing the grave mistake they had made, set forth to create the Umethar , a talisman to restore order to the chaos. It was given the shape of many blades within blades, for it held powers within powers. The hilt was carved from bone of the Ancient One who was slain, known as Thorcan, and the pommel was fashioned in the image of the Anath. The blade was quenched with the blood of every immortal Ancient One, save Evruc, and within it was held their greatest power. The Ancients commanded mortals use the blade to heal the hurts they had caused, lest ere long they destroy themselves by their own hand; and they took the Umethar and by its power they brought life back to the dead mortals who had been slain in wrath over the Blades of Chaos. Order and harmony were restored between mortals, for a time.
Of the Avaquar Dagger
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The Avaquar Dagger was a blade of power, a precursor to the great Swords of the Ancients, forged late in the Fourth Age of Ammon. Its lore has been kept secret for many ages and few mortals know the full tale of this sacred blade. After the creation by the Ancient Ones of the disastrous Blades of Chaos in the Fourth Age, the Ancients desired to create new and far superior blades of power for the mortals under their charge. These new blades would hold greater powers than the Blades of Chaos. Atnal, a chief among the Ancient Ones who was known to travel amongst his mortal subjects in the guise of an old man or elf, commissioned the famed weapon smith Mahgnim to forge a double bladed knife for him, the Avaquar Dagger.
Atnal gave the design of this unusual weapon to Mahgnim in a dream, and from that image Mahgnim began his work forging the two blades of the Avaquar from his own special steel, created from a blend of ores mined from the caverns of Barkonia and the Tellorien Mountains. The blades he engraved with Annundtal runes, a language of old Annundos, and the words written there came in a vision sent to him by Atnal. The runes told of the Avaquar's will over the waters of the world, with the power to create drought or flood by its command. Water creatures of many types were also held under its influence. Its hilt was fashioned with a clawed metal guard and a grip carved of red thorcan. When Mahgnim completed this knife, he proclaimed it his greatest work, and presented it to Atnal. Atnal and the other Ancient Ones thence embodied the blade with the powers spoken of in its runes, and they created a great blade of power.
As a test of a mortal's wisdom and endurance to use such a blade and not fall into corruption by the influence of its power, Atnal sought to give it to the wisest of the Dark Elves, the warrior Agnemmel. He was an Elf of the Evesfael family, a clan of wise warrior-rulers making their abode in the underground caverns of Barkonia. The elves had fought in many bloody wars against mortal men, but the Evesfael were instrumental in ending the wars and leading the Elves underground to create their own kingdom, away from the world of men. Agnemmel was the grandson of the elven king who led his people into Barkonia, and he was blessed with much of his forefather's wisdom and strength. Atnal presented the Avaquar to this one as a gift and instructed him in its use and of the dangers of its powers if misused.
For many years Agnemmel wielded the blade wisely, using it to make the waters of the underground lakes plentiful with fish for harvest, and emptying the deep flooded caverns of Barkonia of water to allow the elves to expand their kingdom deeper into the earth, but rarely was it used for violence. Then came a day when Evruc, one of the Ancient Ones who had become twisted and dark, snaked into the elven kingdom and spread his evil and malice amongst the Dark Elves. Most of the elves shunned Evruc, for they know him to be the king of lies and one who lusted for power, and they called him the Dark One. Some Dark Elves, however, succumbed to his lies, believing the Ancients had forsaken them to the bowels of the earth for they were not as favored as Men, or those of the Uldurin race that still live upon the surface of Ammon. Those elves that followed Evruc were the Black Elves, and they caused much turmoil in Barkonia, but they were a minority and held no real strength. There came a time when Agnemmel was called to lead a charge of Elves to repel a score of men that had invaded their caverns in the Tellorien Mountains of the West. That battle was a hard one, with many elves having perished including some of Agnemmel's own clan, and worst of all his beloved wife, who was a great warrior in her own right and always fought by his side. His great blade, the Avaquar, could not defeat the mortal men or save her life.
Evruc had heard tale of Agnemmel's enchanted blade and he perceived it was of the Ancient's design, and when he was told of the battle and Agnemmel's loss, he designed to take advantage of the elf's grief. When Agnemmel was at his weakest, Evruc approached him, feigning concern, and he made to sew deep seeds of hate for men in his mind; and Agnemmel did succumb to this willingly, for the Avaquar's enchantments allowed his mind to sway and focus more easily, and therefore he followed Evruc's lead down the dark path. Over time Agnemmel became more and more bitter and desired revenge against men, and he was now the blackest of the Black Elves. He abandoned his clan and left his young son and daughter, who were not yet old enough to fight by his side. He learned to use the Avaquar as a terrible weapon, and with it he would stab men and suck their bodies dry of fluid, leaving only dead husks. With the Avaquar's power he called forth a hoard of dark and vicious water creatures out of the deep underground seas of Barkonia to be his companions and guardians.
Agnemmel led a host of Evruc's Black Elves under his command and waged war upon men for many years. He was known as the Blood Sucker among mortals, and more than two thousand men had been killed by his hand with the Avaquar. Thence came a day when a great legion of mortals, both men and elves, united to destroy his forces and rid them from their lair in the North mines of Barkonia, but Agnemmel's Dark Elves and his sea beasts were of greater strength and turned back the invaders, slaughtering many. In the rage of battle Agnemmel sucked the blood from many men and elves with the Avaquar, and his beasts did feed on their corpses; but in the face of one elf Agnemmel brought down, he recognized someone familiar and once dear to him. As the Avaquar sucked her body dry, Agnemmel saw the face of his beloved wife dying. Now he saw this was not the face of his wife, but the grown face of his daughter who had come to be a warrior over the years since he had left his clan and joined the Black Elves. In seeing her dead body Agnemmel realized what his hatred had brought him; not revenge and justice for his slain wife, but death and misery for all, and he hated himself for what he had become, but most of all he hated the Dark One for leading him to this end. As his dark beasts began to feed on her body he went mad and slaughtered the creatures with the Avaquar.
Thence Agnemmel ran for many long days deep into the caverns and away from other mortals. Eventually he came upon the great underground sea of Tolesthia, a great endless cavern with deep waters and gigantic columns of stone in its midst, seen by precious few in Ammon. There he threw the Avaquar into its waters, and the enchanted blade was lost from the world, though some say it came back to the sword smith Mahgnim in a dream, and when he awoke from that dream the sword was once again in his possession. In that great cavern Agnemmel lived, becoming an insane and dangerous creature, living off blind fish and any elves that happened to stray too deep into the caverns below Barkonia. And there he remained for many years until the Dark One came to call upon him once again...
In the ensuing years came the Fifth Age of Ammon and the Ancient Ones called for the greatest of enchanted weapons to be created, the Ten Swords of the Ancients. The sword smith Mahgnim re-made Avaquar as one of the Ten Swords for Atnal, this time in greater stature as a sword, and blessed with greater powers by the Ancient Ones; and there are those who say the blade of the powerful Avaquar, sword of the deep, was actually forged from the same steel as the original dagger, though none can claim this to be true for the knowledge has since been lost.
Of the Mithrodin Sword
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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, at 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 ventured 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!
Of the Swords of the Ancients and the Fifth Age of Ammon
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The Ancient Ones were born to the world of Ammon with the enchanted powers of creation and destruction bestowed upon them by the Anath. Those powers prevented the world from decaying into desolation and ruin. Knowing that their time would eventually come to an end, the Ancient Ones did not trust their powers to be passed on to those of mortal flesh. Flesh could be tempted and corrupted and the great powers left by the Anath could be twisted and altered for ill use, destroying the delicate balance of the world. The Ancients trusted in steel, steel mined from the very earth forged by the creators, the Anath. The Ancients had instilled within mortals the knowledge to work steel into blades, and mortals learned to use those blades with great care, for havoc could be brought with but a quick stroke, or calm by staying a blade in its scabbard. A balance was learned, and the threat of unsheathing a blade was more often than not what kept the peace; but there were times when steel was drawn by greed or corruption.
The steel of the Ancients was stronger than flesh, stronger than the will, even stronger than time. Only in this steel could the powers of the Ancients be trusted, for steel could not be destroyed, only reshaped. Steel would not betray its power for good or ill. The wielder alone, moral or evil, held that choice; but the Ancient Ones knew that if steel were possessed of the perfect balance of powers, that under wise use, order and harmony would remain in Ammon for eternity. The fashioning of steel into weapons and tools became a high art among mortals, and there were many greatly skilled elven smiths in Ammon. Thus the Ancient Ones directed the creation of the Ten Swords of the Ancients and Ammon entered the Fifth Age, the age of order.
The Dark Elves, dwellers of the underworld, were the mortals so commanded to create those Ten Swords. They were the finest smiths in all of Ammon and were masters in the workings of steel, for they had uncovered its mystery of in their time under the earth. The blades of those great swords were forged of secret alloys mined from the depths of Ammon, and they were tempered in the methods taught by the Ancients. Each of the Ten Swords were bequeathed their own special powers by the Ancient Ones, and they granted those powers to the wielder, but the wielder alone decided if that power was to be used for good or evil. Each blade was given a name for its power, and those names were thus:
Kilgorin, the Sword of Darkness. It gave the wielder power to bring darkness and enchantment over ones enemies. It derived its strength from the Neverworld and was possessed of a great evil by many years of use by the Dark One.
Elexorien, the Sword of War. It gave the wielder strategic power and command to unify great multitudes for a single cause. Forged by Mahgnim, it was used in the Black War by Queen Vaelen.
Morthoseth, the Sword of the Shadows. It influenced mortals by its power over the shadow world of thoughts and dreams. It was wielded by Vardor and Borloth in the War of the Shadows.
Luciendar, the Sword of Light. It revealed to the user that which was hidden and showed the true nature of creatures, both natural and enchanted. It was wielded by Barlodir in the War of the Shadows.
Anathros, the Sword of the Earth. It gave the user power to reshape the earth and its elements and was wielded by the king of the Uldurin and later by Aluen in the Shadow War.
Valermos, the Sword of Fire. It gave the user the ability to command creatures in spirit form and created and controlled the flames of Ammon. It was wielded by Vardor in the Shadow War.
Cinthorc, the Sword of Justice. Cinthorc had the power to deal just punishment to wrongdoers, seen through the eyes of the wielder as being wrongful. It was wielded by the sorceress Morgolien in the extermination of the Mithrodin, and later by Vaelen.
Molotoch, the Slayer Sword. The user received boundless skill and speed from the sacred blade, as well as great focused rage to beat down an enemy. Mere mortals could not even lift this enchanted weapon. It was wielded by Naegolus in the slaying of the Mithrodin.
Avaquar, the Sword of the Deep. Avaquar held power over the waters and seas. It was forged by Mahgnim and was the mate of Anathar. Vaelen wielded it in the Last Battle.
Anathar, the Sword of Power. The last of the Ten Swords to be forged, Anathar held within it a part of each of the powers of the other nine. It was forged by the elf Toukol and wielded by Naegolus in the Last Battle.
Anathar was the strongest of the Ten Swords and held a link to each of the others. When together, the Ten Swords allowed the Ancients to have the power of dominion over the lands and all living things in Ammon, to create harmony and order in the world; and the Ancient Ones taught only the wisest of mortals in their use.
Thence there was a time of peace when mortals founded the Great Realms. Men created the North realm of Deylund, the East realm of Deylindor, and the South realm of Amunach, and the Dark Elves created the realm of Lokonia in the Underworld. The Uldurin, always prone to war, had been defeated by men and were driven across the sea to the Northlands where they founded the kingdom of Ulaine. Men built great sailing ships and explored all of the lands across the seas: Loringel in the South, Dagorlund in the East, and Ulioc of the frozen North. In this time the Blades of Chaos, bane to mortals, were gathered by the Ancient Ones and hidden in the Temple of the Anath to prevent their use; but some of those blades were lost to them and remained hidden until later days of the Fifth Age.
For many years the twelve immortal Ancient Ones reigned until their outcast, the Dark One, arose from the Underworld with the Orwenoch and stole Kilgorin, the sword of darkness, from the Temple of the Anath. With that enchanted sword he attempted to enslave men, but the Ancients intervened and a great conflict ensued, The Battle of the Ancients. Six of the remaining twelve Ancient Ones perished by the hand of Dark One and his Orwenoch beasts. Men and elves rallied to the Ancient's cause and helped to defeat the Orwenoch, but many of those horrid beasts escaped and hid themselves. The Ancients hunted for the Dark One many years thereafter, but he was cunning and eluded their gaze.
In the eighty-second year of the Fifth Age the Ancients came to discover the hiding place of the Dark One in the frozen Northern realm of Ulioc, where he had built a dark kingdom and commanded an army of Uldurin bent to his cause. There he was at last defeated with the sword of power, Anathar, and his army decimated, but his own sword of power, Kilgorin, was not recovered. To save himself, the Dark One betrayed the secret abode of the Orwenoch to the Ancients, but he would not tell of whence they came into the world or who had created them. To protect Ammon lest the Dark One gain influence yet again, the Ancients opened the Neverworld, a place half in and half out of the world, where one can be seen as if in a mist but never to be heard or touched; and there he was imprisoned. The Blade of Chaos, Umethar, was made the key to the door of the Neverworld, and it was hidden away in the frozen lands of the North.
The secret hiding place of the Orwenoch the Dark One had revealed was high in the Tellorien Mountains, East of Deylund, and it was there that the forces of the Ancient Ones, allied with men and elves, assailed them. The numbers of those beasts had increased greatly in the years that they had remained hidden, and they numbered near two thousand. Thus the forces of the Ancient Ones were not prepared for the battle and three of the six remaining Ancients were slain; and thousands of mortal lives were lost. The conflict was long and bloody, but in the end the Ancients were triumphant and succeeded in driving the Orwenoch that survived, but ten score, underground into the caverns of Lokonia.
Fearing for the three remaining Ancient Ones, men and elves, at the urging of the Ancient One Atnal, thence created the order of the Mithrodin in the one hundred and thirty-third year of the Fifth Age. The Mithrodin were charged to watch over the Ancient Ones and care for the Ten Swords whence the time came that the Ancients would perish into the shadows, leaving the mortal world forever. The Mithrodin, or Mith as they were called in later days, were a highly secretive cadre of man and elf warriors, protectors in service to the Great Realms. They were made to guard the sacred swords and were given full knowledge by the Ancients of the swords' lore and how to harness the power with which each blade was bestowed; and thus they were granted complete understanding of the mystery of enchanted steel. It was the duty of the Mithrodin to keep order and balance in Ammon by directing their use. Each sword required counterbalance by it's opposite. When a sword of power was used to shift the balance in Ammon, the Mith, through careful counsel and deliberation, would release the opposing sword into the world to counter it. They alone were responsible for recovering and protecting any sword that would fall into misuse, but Kilgorin, the sword of Evruc the Dark One, they never found. The Mithrodin made their homeland in Deylindor, and it was there the nine known swords were kept, but they later created many other grand temples and halls throughout the Great Realm with which the swords were dispersed.
Over the two hundred years that followed, the Orwenoch beasts once again became a threat to mortals, for their numbers had grown in the Underworld and they had spread to the surface. The Southern ranges of Deylund were assailed by those horrid beasts and they devoured many men and destroyed many towns. Thus the Ancients decreed that the Orwenoch must be utterly destroyed and rid from Ammon completely or there would be no peace. Thence there was another great battle fought by men and elves, and the Mithrodin came wielding the Swords of Power and other sacred blades alongside the Ancient Ones, and they used all of their might to defeat the Orwenoch. As before, many thousands of mortals perished in that battle, and two of the three remaining Ancient Ones did die at the fangs of those dark beasts, but the last surviving Ancient One, Atnal, harnessed the power of Umethar to open the gates of the Neverworld in the depths of Lokonia. When the Orwenoch retreated once again into their deep caverns they unwittingly entered the Neverworld, for Atnal had made its opening at the entrance to those caves, and the bulk of that hoard became entrapped there. The Ancient One sealed the door, and thus those abominations were at last rid from Ammon.
Unbeknownst to the Ancient One, a dark spirit had escaped from the Neverworld when that gate was opened, and it was the diminished form of the Dark One. Soon that evil soul made himself whole again and he recovered his sword, Kilgorin, from its hiding place. Thence he hid himself West, across the sea in the dark lands of Dagorlund, fearing the wrath of the Ancients should he be discovered. There he recruited a new army of evil men to do his bidding.
In the deserts to the East the Dark One came upon the hidden city of Nasnandos, and living there were many immortals possessed of strange powers; and these were the first sorcerers known to Ammon. None knew of whence they came or how they became immortal, but it was rumored that these were the lost daughters and sons of the Dark One when he was known as Evruc, and they were spawned from his union with many mortal women in the early ages of Ammon. One of these sorcerers was Methuscia, once one of the most beautiful and wisest women in all of Ammon; and she was the first to discover she possessed strange oracular sight and powers likened to those of the Ancients. She had been thought to be an abomination by mortal men and was ousted from their lands, as were others of her kind. She appealed to the Ancients for help, but they spat on her and cast her out, for they knew who had spawned her brood. Thus she attempted to change her form to that of an acolyte of the Ancients, to live amongst them, but they soon saw through her guise and a curse was put upon her by the Ancients for using this sorcery and trickery. Thenceforward she was to bear a horrid form that was deathly for men to gaze upon. Over time her wisdom turned bitter and she learned to hate all mortals and Ancient Ones, for she blamed them for her plight. The Dark One befriended this one in later days and he conjured up tales of how the Ancient Ones had abandoned her kind, creating great kingdoms elsewhere in Ammon for the favored mortals. He corrupted the minds of the sorcerers with evil thoughts until all were under his influence; and from that time they harbored a great hatred for those of mortal kind and they worshipped the Dark One, though they never knew that the Dark One was indeed Evruc, their true father and creator.
Thence, in the four hundred and second year of the Fifth Age, the Dark One assailed the Temple of the Anath in Ulaine with the help of these sorcerers, and there he did slay with Kilgorin the last of the Ancient Ones, Atnal; and the Dark One found there were no more of his kind upon Ammon, except he. In the temple he found many sacred blades, including the Nasek and the nameless dagger, later known as the Sorcerer's Dagger. Now the Dark One had great courage and feared nothing, surmising that he had no equal to oppose him in all of Ammon. With a host of men and sorcerers he journeyed West across the sea to the Eastern shores of Deylindor and landed at the Bay of Volcemis. From there his forces made a sneak attack upon the city of Ammoria to the West and it was overtaken. It was in that place that he learned of the Mithrodin and their great temples that housed the Swords of Power, and he purposed to possess them. Thus all of his dark thought was bent to that goal, even to the end of his days.
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