Chandler Jarrell:What’s this knife?Kala:The Crossed Dagger of Ajanti. They brought it to this world to kill the second Golden Child, the bearer of Justice. His death was a great loss.
— “The Golden Child” (1986)
Tag: magical items
One of the standard devices in the magical toolkit since early times, the magical sword is used to command, banish, and defeat spirits, especially in the practice of magical evocation. The Key of Solomon, the most famous of medieval grimoires, provides detailed instructions for preparing and consecrating no less than four magical swords, as well as a scimitar, a lance, a dagger, a poniard, and a collection of knives—the Solomonic magician entered the magical circle as heavily armed as a knight going to war…. Most other grimoires suggest a somewhat less topheavy collection of magical armament, but at least one sword was normally in evidence….
The use of the magical sword is at least partly a function of natural magic. Many occult traditions claim that iron, especially when sharpened, is inimical to many types of spiritual entity. The most common understandings of the etheric realm suggest that iron, like other conductive metals, can short-circuit etheric bodies that lack the protection of a physical form….
For the Japanese, all things have a spiritual essence. And the power and beauty of swords make them a locus of strange energy. Folktales tell of swords that hum to warn their masters of danger, that leap of their own accord to battle. Of swords that can make a warrior great or that can drive the bearer mad.
He swung his fist at my head.
It seemed the wild thrash of a desperate man, but it was not impulsive. I had fought, and been schooled in fighting, enough to read the blow, and the fact that it was not telegraphed. There was no micro expression of warning, of prior tension or bracing. It just came, expert and fluid. Just as fast, I dipped down to avoid it. But even as I did so, I was puzzled, for it was not a blow that anyone would strike with the hand, especially not a man who was clearly proficient. The move was more a sword-stroke, aimed at the side of my neck. Why strike so, with a fist?
All this I relate now in a hundred, perhaps a thousand, times the instant it took for the blow to come. It was fast, and I barely avoided it.
And in avoiding it, I found my answer.
A sword’s blade missed my head and buried itself in the side of the old clavier. It buried itself deep. The impact shook the instrument, and knocked over the glasses of amasec standing along its top.
There had not been a sword in his hand a half-second before. There had not been a place for him to conceal a sword. It had just appeared in his grip….
…His sword, which had come from nowhere as if by magic, was a blinkblade. I had never seen one, but I had read of them…. They were blades held in scabbards of what I now know is called extimate space. Bidden by their masters, they appear in corporeal reality, conjured from pocket-space….
— Penitent, Chapter 16
8. “Race you can’t win rule.” The game’s monster difficulty should increase slightly faster than the advancement of the [character], given average stats and default equipment, so as to force him to rely upon items and tactics.
The reasoning here is that if the player doesn’t have to rely on randomly-found stuff then [that stuff becomes] unimportant to play. However, if it’s required to have specific items to be successful then many games will be outright unwinnable. The balance between these two poles is what makes random dungeon generation difficult, but it’s also part of what makes random dungeon gameplay interesting….
The old timers tell stories of swords that were finely wrought and yet cruel: setsuninto, killing swords. They were weapons whose inmost essence drove their owners mad. Other blades were as cruelly beautiful, but imbued with a spirit that inclined to do good. They sang in their scabbards to warn of danger; they were bright and clear and miraculous things and, in the right hands, could be katsujinken, life-giving swords.
To accomplish his mysterious purposes, a wizard would arm himself with an understanding of all the interwoven occult disciplines. But before he could put this knowledge into practice, he also required an arsenal of implements to enhance his powers and protect him in his dealings with spirits and demons. Robe and headdress, sword, dagger, and wand were the foremost tools of his trade. With these and the arcane knowledge enshrined in his library of manuscripts, charts, and books, the priest of the night could span the abyss between the seen and unseen worlds.
White, not the black of fairy tales, was the proper color for a wizard’s robe. Cornelius Agrippa, the German scholar whose celebrated Occult Philosophy became a textbook for 16th-century [C.E.] mages, said the wizard should dress in a gown of the finest linen, covering the whole body from head to foot, close-fitting and tied only with a girdle. Buckles and buttons would obstruct the free flow of supernatural energy. The headdress, whether tall or flat, pointed or round, should also be white, with YHVH, the Hebrew name of God, embroidered on the front. Both robe and headdress should be adorned with sacred emblems—stars, pentacles, and circles.
Once equipped with headdress and robe, the wizard’s most vital task was to forge a sword and dagger. This operation was best conducted when the moon was rising in the sphere of Jupiter, planet of good fortune and success. The mage would then burn incense of ambergris and peacocks’ feathers, saffron, aloe wood, cedar, and lapis lazuli—the scents associated with Jupiter—and chant in the name of God, heaven, and the stars to infuse his weapons with mystic strength.
Only then could the wizard prepare his wand, the most precious of all the magic implements. A slim wooden rod, some twenty inches long, the wand was ideally cut from a solitary bush that had never fruited. On the first night of the new moon, in the hour before dawn, the magician should dip his knife in blood. Facing the eastern horizon, he should cut the shoot with a single stroke of his dagger then peel its soft green bark in the first rays of the reborn sun. The three sacred instruments—sword, knife, and wand—should then be wrapped in a silken cloth until they were required.
Delicate though it seemed, the slender wand was by far the most formidable weapon in the sorcerer’s arsenal. With it he could summon spirits, cast spells, or wreak destruction; he could make objects disappear, or reveal to the naked eye things that were otherwise invisible. If he were a beneficient practitioner, he might use the wand to liberate the victims of dark forces from the curses laid upon them….
— The Secret Arts, pp. 114-16