Terrouge E-zine Archives
Ulaid Blades: A Guide to Extraordinary Swords
If you read Ulaid: Chapter Two last month, you may have noticed a lot of familiar names. Since we were set in the Badger mountain for this chapter, I thought that militant names would be apt and decided to name the many characters - one main and several bit-parts - after swords of legend.
The Kusanagi (Freja Kusanagi)
The Kusanagi or Snakeblade is as significant to the Japanese culture as Excalibur is to the English. Originally known as the Ame no Murakamo no Tsurugi or Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven, it is most likely to have been a double-edged, medieval style sword and as such, an oddity in Japan where most swords are now made with a single cutting edge. The god Susanoo is said to have discovered the sword inside the body of the eight-headed serpent of Koshi.
The Claiomh Solais (Claiomh)
The Claiomh Solais (Sword Of Light; or, as it was otherwise known, the Fragarach) is one of the four Treasures of Ireland, and belonged to Nuada Silverhand, King of Ireland. He was the leader of the Tuatha de Danann and has his arm or wrist (translation is unclear) cut off by a defending Firbolg warrior during the Tuatha de Danann's conquest of Ireland.
The Balmung (Day Patrol Captain Rodrick Estherlest Cadermann Balmung)
The Gram (Nightmassan Lieutenant Gram Nagha)
Balmung and Gram are in fact different names for the same sword. Drawn from Odin's log by Sigmund and wielded by his son Sigurd to slay the dragon Fafnir, destroyed and reforged at least once, Gram is believed to be its original name. It is called the Balmung in the Nibelungenlied.
Another weapon featured in Chapter Two, and it is the customisable weapon shown to Freja by Gram. Known as a Nagamaki, it is a sword which has a very long handle - about the same length as the blade, which is 24-36 inches. The design of the nagamaki is such that even in the heat of battle, it is a quick operation to punch out the small bamboo peg which keeps the blade slotted into the hilt* and switch the blade over to a new type of hilt. It can be slotted into a five-foot softwood pole to form the Naginata, a whippy polearm designed for slashing damage or into any other hilt designed by the wielder.
Watch for future references to other legendary or exotic weapons!