“The Unquenchable Torch of Kelera”

23:49 Sun 30 Sep 2012. Updated: 00:53 01 Oct 2012
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This longsword is the same blade referred to in older Issilanth texts as “The Firedemon’s Tooth”, as can be seen by comparing descriptions from historical sources.

This is a description from private letters during its possession by the Kelera family:

My visit to Yeemn’s chambers did not go as well; his response to the absence of my maid was to play a trick upon me wherein he took his family’s sword (a prized possession, apparently) directly from the fire, where it had been since before my entrance, and against my will pressed it to my fist—there is no injury, for the sword was somehow cool to the touch. He laughed and told me that it “likes the fire”, and that its sheen was whiter than that of a normal sword, and showed me the glow from letters near the hilt. I could not make them out, but thought they spelled a name beginning with “W”. I did not care for his trick, which frightened me badly and made it ever clearer that unlike his brother Yeemn remains a boy, but conceded that the blade was an excellent one and remarkably sharp—particularly if it was, as he claimed, hundreds of years old.

—Private letters of Seev Denina, 1082 IY.

There is little doubt that the following describes the same blade:

This longsword, thought to have been given at the Emperor’s 40th birthday celebration, is almost white in color and bears the name “Wisefear” in the script of Khodanth. The hilt and guard are plain and unadorned, but the blade is exceedingly fine and well-wrought in the classical style. The record of who gave it has unfortunately been lost, although the likelihood is that it was some Khodanthene mage-armorer. It has clearly been enchanted, feeling extremely comfortable in the hand, but if it has any powers beyond that is unknown. [My translation from Issilanth.]

—“Catalog of Gifts to the Emperor Merykh”, 381 IY.

The palace clerk who wrote that passage is unlikely to have had much knowledge of Khodanthene script, and “Wisefear” is likely a guess at best—but Khodanthene and Issilanth scripts both have characters close in shape to “W”.

It was later used by the warrior-general Sthern Gaft during Issilath’s war against the Gzdreni orcs:

Gaft himself led the charge up the ridge, first clearing the way with The Firedemon’s Tooth by sending a sheet of flame through the orcish forces, then charging their vanguard and cutting them down with the blade, its white steel obscured by raging flame. His bodyguard tried to pull close to him but were themselves slowed by the fires the blade set. Gaft was heedless, yet broke the orcish line alone, and met his own troops soon after with nary a scratch on his armor. … Gaft entertained his staff with tales of the orcs’ fear of the fiery blade, often taking it out of the campfire to wave at his audience for effect. [My translation from Issilanth, my emphasis.]

—“Annals of the Frostflower War”, Karin Tuslum, 471 IY.

I have found no clear reference to the sword after that, but it’s likely to have passed to some offshoot of the Gafts after their decline, and out of Issilath later in its history. Sthern Gaft was the last Gaft to be a true fighting commander, with later Gafts content to remain above the fray[1], making it unsurprising that no further tales of The Firedemon’s Tooth emerge from the Issilanth war histories.

The history of the sword is thus unknown from 471 IY to approximately 830 IY, when the sword is first seen in Kelera family histories—these accounts make the claim that the sword has been in the family for generations, yet earlier histories make no mention of it, so it seems that after they acquired it its primary use was to attempt to raise their status as established aristocrats at around the same time they were fighting to rise in the provincial court[2]. It is first given a name in 845 IY, “Palefire”, but this was soon amended to “The Unquenchable Torch of Kelera”[3].

The most likely explanation for its emergence as a Kelera totem is that it was somehow acquired by Ustar Kelera (780–822 IY), a notorious adventurer and gambler[4], on his travels. Note that legal squabbles over Ustar’s estate were not settled until 830 IY[5], just before the Kelera histories mention the blade.

The Kelera continued their rise in court by aligning themselves first with the cause of independence, and later with the warmongering forces dedicated to “reclaiming” large parts of Nalend. The blade was a prominent symbol for the family for four hundred years, but frequently its wielders grew reckless and died violent deaths—though the family managed to retain the sword despite this. Their fortunes were in decline by the early 1200s, and hopes for a revival rested on the shoulders of the only two male scions of the main family line, Theorn (1197–1215 IY) and Karrel (1199–1219 IY). Theorn died in an inn fire after a brawl near his posting in the Grimteeth[6]—a fire it’s not unreasonable to suspect was caused by the sword. Karrel inherited it, and it presumably was with him when he died during the Battle of Crag Pass in 1219 IY. Nalendish looting after that battle was unchecked, and I have found no mention of the sword since then.

What of the other end of its history, its origin? Khodanthene mages were not known as weaponsmiths, nor was fire a hallmark of their work. While it is not impossible that some inspired Khodanthene artificer made it, the descriptions hint at another possibility.

Why does the sword “like the fire”? Why would Sthern Gaft and Yeemn Keler both put such a valuable item into a fire? The sword is clearly linked to that element, but no other fire-inflected weapons that I know of are treated in such a way. Save one—the famed “Dread Fire Staff” of Delvor. There are several references in Wemther’s Chronicles of Delvor to the staff being “replenished by flame” after use. Further, those Chronicles reveal that the staff was not created in Delvor, but was a gift to that kingdom from Gracheff—Gracheff the legendary artificer and fire-mage. Because of the importance of the staff to Delvor’s history, there is a copy of an illustration of it in the original manuscript for Wemther’s Chronicles. That illustration includes what can only be Gracheff’s mark on the side of the staff—a mark in an unknown script, with a first letter bearing a close resemblance to a Khodanthene (or Issilanth) “W”.

“The Unquenchable Torch of Kelera”, like Delvor’s “Dread Fire Staff”, can be replenished by fire. Gracheff is the only mage known to have made artifacts with this ability, making it unlikely in the extreme that some Khodanthene would have come up with it by chance. With the staff’s famous destruction, the sword is likely the only extant artifact made by Gracheff, and the only remaining clue to the workings of his technique of harnessing fire in this way.

—Morodin Kalard, Concerning Certain Weapons of Legend, 1231 IY.

[1] Later Issilanth war histories mention them as commanders but without referring to any exploits in combat.

[2] Kelera Family Tome Vol. 7, 836–846 IY.

[3] Kelera Family Tome Vol. 7, 836–846 IY and Vol. 8, 847–863 IY.

[4] Kelera Family Tome Vol. 5, 813–824 IY.

[5] Kelera Family Tome Vol. 6, 825–835 IY.

[6] Kelera Family Tome Vol. 34, 1202–1215 IY.

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