Other Characters – Weapon of Change

The characters in these pastiches are made up as single-use characters. While it’s possible I might re-use any of them at some point, I rather doubt it.

When dreaming up this one I could not fit any of my existing characters into the framework I needed to explain how a Weapon of Change works. I needed someone bright and someone with no knowledge, but none fitted. So Irminric and Gislhere were invented. I don’t expect to use Irminric again … but if I need a sage, Gislhere will reappear.



Wisl of Coomb drummed his fingers on the table, visibly irritated and obviously expecting faster results. Gislhere sighed quietly. Illiterate nobles showed impatience while others searched for information they were intrinsically incapable of finding. But men like Wisl paid the fees that supported research and purchased yet more books and scrolls.

The sixth volume checked had the reference the scholar sought. He looked up brightly at his temporary employer.

“You found the information I need?”

“Yes, my lord. Your battle axe is indeed an important weapon with a long history prior to your grandfather winning it in battle.”

Kneeling with head bowed, the soldier waited while the senior priest completed the first part of the ceremony. The incense burned his sinuses and eyes, but the soldier’s patience and acceptance of suffering, lessons learned through hard experience, kept him in place.

The priest completed his chanting in the old tongue, “Rise, Irminric, soldier of Donblas!” The soldier surged smoothly to his feet, no hint of cramping caused by thirty minutes of kneeling visible on his face or in his actions.

Lifting the axe from the pillow the priest presented it to Irminric. Head bowed the soldier accepted the weapon, its weight nothing in his strong hands. “Do you swear to use this weapon for justice, to use it bravely and with good intent in your duties as a protector of the People?”

“I do swear!” The young man’s face flushed with a rush of emotion kept barely in check.

In an anteroom Irminric questioned the priest, “Oswald, you said that Donblas blessed this axe. What does that mean?”

“This axe is imbued with powerful magics, different from what wizards place on weapons, but powerful none the less. Unlike wizard-built weapons this one does not bear a single level of power. Instead, its power varies with the ability of its wielder.”

“When a wizard enspells a weapon he casts one or more spells upon the weapon and then binds the spells permanently to it. Priests do not wield such magics.” Oswald mentally debated a few moments on how to proceed. “We use the magics granted us by our god to perform a similar, but very different, thing.”

Irminric frowned but before he could utter a word the priest drew a breath and continued, “This weapon began when I commissioned a weapon of the highest quality. It is constructed of a star iron and Mithril alloy – rust-proof, harder yet more flexible, and more accepting of spells than mere steel. We senior priests consecrated it and cast spells upon it, setting its direction and preparing it for blessing by Donblas himself!”

Noting that Irminric listened intently as if spellbound, he continued, “Then we prayed to Donblas to bless the weapon. He did so, and the result is the weapon you now hold in your hands.”

“This axe has an edge no non-magical weapon could have, and it will maintain that edge against most targets. It will strike creatures whose skin or hide are proof against mundane weapons, and will even pierce the skin of demons and other unnatural creatures! Its powers are greatest against undead monsters. Beyond that I don’t know for sure.”

The priest spoke in a more heated tone, “Donblas’ blessing is a powerful thing, more powerful than all but a few other gods that might approach his strength. Until you use it, we don’t know all it may do.” In a softer tone the priest continued, “But just as important is the wielder. The more skilled the pious one who wields it, the more powerful the blade becomes.”

Irminric’s knees buckled when the heavy sword slammed into his shield, but he kept on his feet. The necromancer’s human guards were without exception big, strong, and skilled in sword play. This one battering his shield was enough to nearly unman him.

Shunting the guard’s follow-up strike aside with the shield, Irminric struck in return, his magically sharp axe splitting the guard’s shield down the middle and shattering his arm. Controlling but not slowing the motion of the axe Irminric spun it in a figure eight and decapitated his opponent.

He staggered to help his men who were losing to the necromancer’s other guards. Two of Donblas’ soldiers were dead or dying, two were badly wounded, and the remaining two bleeding from minor wounds. Irminric hit the first guard from behind, dropping him instantly and carrying the motion into the second. The remaining two guards lost focus, turning to deal with a greater danger. The lapse in focus proved fatal as the soldiers used the distraction to bloodily end the fight.

Irminric checked his downed men – both were dead. Pulling strips of clean cloth from a pouch on his belt, he quickly bound the wounds of the living. “Shock and loss of blood often kill when the wounds won’t.

“We’re outnumbered and badly damaged. Pick up Regenhere and Samlis – we’ll not leave their bodies for the necromancer to desecrate!” The least wounded men shouldered the dead and moved to follow their leader.

Leading the way out of the building into the courtyard, Irminric stopped cold. In the moonlight stood the necromancer’s reinforcements – a dozen zombies – mindless animated bodies capable of using weapons and following simple directions such as “kill” – led by the stinking form of a wight.

Zombies reacted relatively slowly so in the open the fast moving, well trained soldiers could defeat greater numbers. But the wight changed the odds badly – its touch burned with cold and sucked life from its victims. Worse than death was the fate of one drained of life by the abomination!

Irminric lunged forward and hacked downward on the closest zombie, striking the joint between neck and shoulder. The super-sharp blade sliced through the leather armor cladding the undead thing, hacking through undead flesh and bone. Light flashed from the axe blade, bright to the human soldiers, blinding to the undead. The stink of the rotting bodies mixed with the stench of burned flesh – the flash burned the undead and staggered them.

“AT THEM!” Irminric stepped past the nearest two zombies and hacked at the third. Its sword arm now gone at the elbow the zombie tried to hug the young soldier. Gagging at the stench Irminric stepped under the lunge and swung back to sever a leg at mid-thigh.

Moving on, he battered the next in line with his shield, ducked a slash, spun, and decapitated the fifth that moved in on his left. Another burst of light illuminated the area and burned the zombies. Eight of the dozen were down and the remaining four reeled from the damage. The three surviving soldiers didn’t hesitate to attack while chance favored them.

The second flash left the wight staggering in circles, stunned to insensibility. The magical axe’s third flash scorched the remaining zombies.

“Your axe was handed down from father to son for twelve generations in the Willic family, until Irminric V lost it, along with his life, in battle against your grandfather.”

“I know that, I know that!” howled the nobleman, hammering on the small table with both hands. “Why did it work so well for my father but not for me!”

“Yes, I’m getting to that. This axe is very potent against the living dead, capable of slashing and hacking through their flesh, such as it is, with more facility than against the living. On a killing stroke it emits a burst of pure light that burns all nearby undead while any undead possessing a mind may be stunned.”

“That is the powers of this weapon. Why it worked better for your father than for you? This weapon is blessed by Donblas. Devout followers of Donblas, as well as followers of Osiris and Heironeous his allies, are granted use of its powers. If you don’t follow Donblas, Osiris, or Heironeous the powers against undead won’t work.”

The Baron of Coomb was uncharacteristically silent as he digested that information.

Eyeing the nobleman, Gislhere continued, “Just as importantly, weapons of this nature gain a portion of their power from the wielder. The more powerful and skillful the wielder, the greater the powers of the axe. Your father was both a great axeman and a faithful follower of Osiris. My understanding is that you are neither, so until both conditions change you will never master this weapon.”

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