The Imiriaran Cycle (Old)
Scholar of the Sword
A tall man with dark hair, bright blue eyes, a short-cropped goatee that comes to a fine point, and a lean-muscled frame.
Name: Ceallach Ebencrose
Human, Auspice of Indomitable Will
Height: 6’5"; Weight: 180 lb.
Class: Weaponsmaster Fighter
Order: The Sword of God
Blazon: Sable, a cross over a circle argent
linen smocks with sleeve garters
linen and angora wool breeches
well-crafted leather boots
dagged houppelande tunic
decorated overcoat with flared sleeves
arming doublet and cap
black surcoat and hooded cloak bazoned with coat of arms
High Concept: Scholar of the Sword
Phase Aspect (Background): Antiquated
Phase Aspect (Rising Conflict): Braggart with Baggage
Phase Aspect (The Story): I’m a Cad Because I Care
Phase Aspect (Guest Star): A Man Without Brothers is Defenseless
Phase Aspect (Guest Star Redux): Do Something, Even if it’s Wrong
Ceallach was named after a warrior from folklore, who was known for his long black hair. Stories usually describe him as a monk or druid with beautiful hair, long and black, an unusual color among his people. He turned away from a life of introspection when the clans united to drive off an invading army of foreigners, becoming a great warrior to his king.
The name Ebencrose was given to a clan that had long-lived near an ancient stone monument carved into a cross and circle. The reason the monument was constructed is no longer known, but it is covered in many symbols and words in an old alphabet. Many consider it a relic of some dead pagan religion. Ceallach’s family is all that is left of the clan that used this name.
Ceallach took an arrow in the lower back during battle, an injury that should have left him crippled, if not dead. During his time recovering, he began writing a codex, a journal of everything he had learned about the sword and war. While the codex was meant for posterity, his commanders at Fortress saw it as his new calling. Ceallach pushes himself when instructing others on sword techniques, hoping one day to fully recover from his injury, and seems to have limitless grizzly tales when questioned on what he teaches.
Afer overhearing two soldiers in Fortress arguing over which of their favored fighting styles was superior, Ceallach thought to put something he had read once to the test. He spent three months teaching the two soldiers everything there was to know about their respective styles, but never had them practice. He took a third student, and had him practice everyday, but taught the student nothing on the art of war. After the three months were over, Ceallach put all three of them in their own Prize Playing to see who turned out the best. The old saying he had read was, “Exercize does well without the Art, but the Art without exercize is meaningless.”
Blodau o Frwydr
I call this work the Flowers of Battle. With it I take the roses from the thorns, so that Youth will not prick it’s finger in learning the science of warfare. For unguided hands may stray to detriment of the art, juggling with their misunderstandings and brought to an untimely season. So young knights, be chivalrous and practice the art that dignifies you. Learn to wrestle well, and wield the sword, spear, and dagger with such skill that they become worthless in the hands of lesser men. Trust in God, and courage will bring you honour on the battlefield.
I write now on the longsword, which is celebrated above all other weapons for its artfulness and manlyness. Should poverty ever show me its face, physically or spiritually, no sooner will it be driven away, for there has never been a source of wealth more true. Before all things it should be noted that the sword is but one art among the science of warfare, devised and refined over hundreds of years. It is not the sole origin or wellspring from which all other martial arts take root, but with it comes understanding to make quick progress in any discipline among the science of warfare. It is good to remember that excersize is useful without the art, but the art is meaningless without the excersize. To make use of this art, one must practice regularly, and as your wisdom grows, what seems confusing in words is soon revealed.
One cannot know this art without knowing it’s killing tool, and in knowing it make good war. So note well its parts: Point, Blade, Cross, Handle, Pommel. The blade has two underlying divisions. First is the true edge and false edge, those being the foreward and trailing edges. The true edge is used to fence with strength, and the false edge strikes well in Reversals and the Changer. The second division is the Strong (Cryf) and Weak (Gwan). Strong is the name for the part of the blade from the Cross to the middle of the blade, and the Weak goes from the middle to the point. Hilt is the name for all the parts of the sword from Cross to Pommel, and is used for Wrenching, Grappling, Throwing, charging through, and to disarm. The hilt can also cause grievious wounds when fencing an opponent in full harness, such as when striking with the Mortal Blow. The Pommel gives balance, for the sword is like a scale; if the blade is large and heavy, the pommel must be likewise. A sword balanced further from the hilt can make strong hews, but is slow in the thrust. If the sword is balanced near the hilt, the hews have less bite, but is quick in the thrust. An ill-balanced sword will shame a fencer in Twitching and Reversals. Twitching I give high praise, and is explained later. Also note that a blade made for strong hews is wide broadwise and thin edgewise, but a blade meant for thrusting is tapered with a thick spine. A fencer should be able to grip the handle well with both hands, between the Cross and the Pommel, for it is safer than gripping the pommel with one hand. The blade also strikes hard and true when gripped properly, but gripping the pommel removes the sword’s balance. It is best if the longsword is sized for the man, standing upright one hand below the armpit.
The begining I call the pre-fence, where two opponents are standing, one against the other, ready to fight. The pre-fence begins in one of the Agweddau (Attitudes/Stances), and from there one attempts to strike the other first, to the closest opening. There are four main openings, as if drawing a line down the center and another across the waist. Having the measure and his Attitude in mind, step and strike to the closest quarter, in the quickest and most direct way possible, as if a string was tied from the edge of the blade to the opening. Note well this is the first strike (streic gyntaf), and it is always well to achieve streic gyntaf if the attack is good and meant to kill. It is meant for streic gyntaf to be hidden until it is delievered, as if one suddenly declared, “This is what I intend!” Hit or miss, one quickly moves to the next opening, thus gaining the second strike (ail streic). Making a good streic gyntaf, the opponent must defend, or forfeit his life. Remember well that old teaching, one cannot defend without danger. Fear not if he covers, and brings swords to the Bind (rhwymo), but delight in it. From here one uses teimlad (Feeling), and know if the opponent is either Cryf (Strong) or Gwan (Weak) against the blade, and thus win the ail streic (second strike).
Here I speak on the Agweddau (Attitudes/Stances), for all good fencing begins and ends from one of the Agweddau. Understanding the Agweddau are the keys to becoming one with the sword, how to defend the four quarters and which opening is wise to strike, and with forethought know what the enemy intends. First of the four Primary Stances or Attitudes is Wybr Atalv (Sky Thwarter), sometimes called y To (The Roof). From the sky quickly come all the dros streic (overstrikes), and so is the most offensive Attitude. Stand with the sword held above the head, with the true edge aimed at the sky, and you will find yourself in wybr atal. Second comes Tarw (The Bull), with the sword held to the side of the head and the point aimed at the opponent’s face or breast, and the true edge aimed at the sky. It is found naturally when drawing the sword from the belt, and after a displacement it becomes a crog pwynt (hanging point). Held to the right or left, it protects the right or left upper quarters, and drop it quickly to ddrws haearn (Iron Door) to cover the lower openings. Next is yr Aradr (The Plow), with the sword held at the side of the waist with the point aimed to the opponent’s face or breast. It is also held to the right or left, to cover those quarters. Let the point fall to the Iron Door or come to it with a Displacement, and thus protect the lower quarters. With a step it can quickly change from right to left, and in reverse, to cover the opposite quarter. Last is Ffwl (The Fool), which protects the lower openings, and can shame any dros streic by displacing, thus brings quick defense to the upper quarters. After displacing, the sword is now in The Roof, make a quick dros streic (overstrike) to win the day. See how strikes, displacements, and covers move the blade from one Stance to the next, and the proper way of the art now comes to light.
On the Ffon Dafl (the Sling)
During my time in Fortress, before having been in actual battle, I took careful note of one swordsman who made great progress in the Barriers. He made great use of an attack called the Sling. This is a strike to the knee or ankle made at great reach by gripping only the pommel with one hand, taken from an older techique with the side sword sometimes used to put more strength in a single strike. He had good timing, and won many bouts using the Sling when his opponent attempted to close. Many of the younger students began using the Sling, to the point I would see it sometimes two or three times used in a single bout. Only when the older men took to the Barriers could I count on it being a rare sight.
I stood beside this swordsman in my first battle. As the enemy’s line drew close, he attempted to strike the knee of his foe. The enemy closed in quickly, in the low attitude of ddrws haearn (Iron Door), an easy cover against the Sling. Had my friend made a quick dros streic, his enemy would have been struck dead, but since he was gripping only the pommel, his sword was unbalanced and slow to recover for the second strike. As it was, the enemy wound his blade and took his throat.
Should someone strike with Ffon Dafl, cover the attack with a low attitude, such as ddrws haearn. Drive in and attack quick, the opponent’s blade will be slow to recover.
On Fel Paun Gynffon (As a Peacock Tail)
During my second battle I found myself fencing a young man. It was as if I looked into a mirror darkly. Seeing only myself, trust in God waivered, and with it my courage. We danced about each other in the pre-fence, each of us looking for an opening. Fear seized my heart as I realized this fight would be won in the streic gyntaf. I thought my life over, when no sooner came to me a teaching of old. My point twirled before the eyes of this foe, be him Cythraul or Changeling or simply a frightened young man, confusing him until I found the opening. Then I struck hard, and opened his breast.
Should a fencer linger in the pre-fence, remember this old teaching to find the opening. Go with the point around the opponent’s sword, in front of his eyes, moving in a circle like wheel, always changing which quarter is open thereby confusing him until the point finds an opening and thus the opponent is defeated.
On the Ergyd o Tafod Sarff (Shot of a Serpent’s Tongue)
Thinking I had gained some skill in the longsword, I thought to shame an older student during his Prize Playing. It was the first Prize I had partook in since coming to Fortress, and I thought my longsword would quickly take the student’s cut-and-thrust side sword in reach and speed. No matter how I pressed, the older student quickly covered and gained the advantage of the blade. My Winding was still clumsy and I was always beaten to the ail streic. Instead of shaming the older student, it was I who was humbled.
A grizzled soldier came to me the next day, one who often taught the sword and buckler but I never saw in the Barriers. He had seen the Prize Playing, and so I tried to shy away from him at first. I thought my winding too unskilled, and doubted my study of the old masters of longsword, who speak little of such things considered of absolute importance in modern fencing, such as the advantage of the blade. The grizzled soldier took no such gruff from me, and soon I had a waster and buckler in hand. We practiced at length, for some weeks, at the basics of sword and buckler, and changing through. He then taught me Ergyd o Tafod Sarff, very useful with a cut and thrust, with buckler and without. I thanked him for the lessons, but he could see my disappointment in still having no answer for my failure with the longsword. I no sooner found myself in the Barriers, longsword in hand, and up against the same older student who had humbled me at his Prize Playing some weeks before. I looked at the grizzled soldier, but he shooed me into the Barriers.
Putting my trust in God, my courage grew. We went for many bouts, and whenever the student sought to gain the advantage of the blade, I changed through, and struck with Ergyd o Tafod Sarff. This time the student was shamed, but my victory was not in his shame, but the new wisdom I had gained. I could then see how one art of warfare imparted knowledge of another, what is important in Winding, and what is needed to Wind with skill. Not only did Ergyd o Tafod Sarff work with the longsword, it also taught me something about Winding.
This technique comes from the point and when changing through. Stand with the point forward, as if it meant to change through. Then go over his hilt with the point and thrust quick. Change through and do so again, so that the point is always thrusting and changing through, constantly changing so he cannot tell what you intend. When an opening is found, lunge hard with a full thrust, quickly so he does not have a chance to defend.
On Chwynnu i Ffwrdd (Weeding Away) and Fighting Several At Once
It was during my fifth battle that I sent with a unit of archers to set up an ambush against an armed caravan meant to supply the enemy. We set up an L-shaped ambush along the road they were traveling. My duty was to step into the backdoor, to prevent them from escaping the kill zone. I waited in silence as the caravan passed along the road. Several cries rang out in the night before the enemy realised they were under attack. I stepped into the road to block escape, when no sooner was I pressed upon by four men. I took to the low guard Ffwl (The Fool), and struck at the nearest one using Chwynnu i Ffwrdd (Weeding Away), step and thrust, step and thrust. When another of them tried to flank me, I changed to him and did the same, constantly changing to attack the one on the outside, keeping them from attacking me in force. I took one in the throat, but the next opponent won me to streic gyntaf (first strike). However, I was in the low guard, and displaced it easily to Wybr Atal (Sky Thwarter) and struck him down with a strong dros streic (over strike). Next I bought myself more time in the pre-fence with Fel Paun Gynffon (As a Peacock Tail), then drove over the third’s hilt with the Ergyd o Tafod Sarff (Shot of a Serpent’s Tongue), and took him in the heart. The last made a brave play and rushed in to win the first strike (streic gyntaf), but his measure was off as he seemed to have little understanding of broken timing or how to work from the Scales, and he lost his hand and then throat when I Twitched.
From Ffwl or ddrws haearn (Iron Door), thrust straight up from the ground at the opponent, and then down again. This is Weeding Away, and is a strong technique when it is done correctly, with a step straight foward. Each time the point is thrust up, a step is taken forward.
Should a knight be set upon by four to six peasants, place either foot forward and create a barrier by placing the point toward the ground, in the Attitude of the Fool or Iron Door. Do this so that the closest foe is right in front, and none can get behind. When they strike, displace their blade with strength, stepping to the side at the same time and cut with the false edge to the face and into Wybr Atal. Hit or miss, make the ail streic (second strike), such as a strong overhead cut and finish them surely. Then do As the Peacock Tail while making good footwork, to remain right in front of the closest. Should they try to press from more than one side, always attack to the outside of their line, to keep the one closest in the way of the others attacking. Use Weeding Away to drive him where is needed, always threatening his life with the point, so that he must withdraw or die. Just make sure they can not come all at once, and there is little danger. Quickly attack the ones on the outer ends, before the others can attack in concert, and by this teaching it is the one who leads and the many who follow.