The Johanniter Messer

∴ A Knightly Vantage ∴

“How did I get here?” you wonder, and not for the first time.

You never were much of a joiner. Your father once told you, back in the Black Forest, that there was no honour in swinging a sword for a country. For an ideal. For a god, even. When you fought, you were to fight for your own skin, and that of your fellow man.

“Do you understand?” he pressed, and waited for your sullen nod.

Then with twinkling eyes he passed you his messer. Heavy and reassuring, like the man himself. It was a simple tool for a simple purpose: protecting your family.

That was before. Before your fellow men rose up for their ideals and brought down the wrath of the aristocracy. And how you fought then – tooth and nail for what little you had to lay claim to. But in the end it was gone. Your trade, your home, your kin.

The Knights found you in Gengenbach, half mad from horror and haplessly seeking trade. They sized you up and offered you a new one. And with it bed, board, discipline. Literacy. The chance to start again. Would your father have blamed you for taking it?

A clamour of vespers bells rouses you from reminiscence. With a bittersweet smile, you take in your vista. A band of indigo marks the horizon, stark above gleaming blocks of golden sandstone. Little boats scud about the wide harbour, bringing their catches home. A flock of white doves rises over Birgu, startled by the sudden bells. The sunset gilds their underbellies as they wheel on the warm sea air.

Shaking your head, you unsheathe the sword from your belt. It is a thing of beauty, to be sure. The rich, dark ebony of its grip gleams with studs in the shape of the cross of your order. The stern hawk head pommel and sturdy crossguard are the satiny dark of a stormy sky. And yet, beneath the knightly renovations, the core remains the same: your father’s sword.

You allow yourself a sigh, and it sounds something like contentment. Continue reading

The Fibula Messer


∴ An Unfortunate Rogue ∴

It’s not often that you pass through this part of town, and the smell hasn’t got any sweeter. Normally you’d send a boy on any errands requiring passage through the East quarter, but today’s is a matter of absolute urgency.

You keep your eyes on your shoes, all too aware of their incongruous finery. You do this for two reasons: to avoid treading in human muck, and to keep from making eye contact with anyone who might take offence at it. You press on with a pace a little faster than walking, wishing neither to linger nor draw attention.

You are grateful for the reassuring sway of your knife at your side. Short-bladed and devoid of decoration, it is an honest companion in this renowned pit of thieves. You should not like to use it, but you hope the look is enough to deter any would-be assailants.

Even as you think the words, your steady progress is stalled by a sharp shout before you. Wincing, you raise your head to see a burly fellow blocking your way.

“I beg your pardon?” you inquire of him, mentally sizing him up.

“I said you’re not from around here,” he drawls. “If fancy folk like you are gonna be using our roads, I reckon I might have to start start taking a toll.” He laughs at his own joke, tugging a crude knife from his belt.

You grit your teeth, your hand moving over the bone-shaped pommel at your hip. You see your would-be robber’s eyes widen as you draw it with an elegant sweep and fall effortlessly into stance.

Once, just once, you think, you’d like to complete a simple errand without it descending into a scrap. Still, if it’s a fight the fellow wants, you’d best make it a good one.

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The Castilia Scabbard

∴ A Complete Set ∴

The Castilia rapier is an enduring favourite with our followers, and exhibits a subtle 17th Century Spanish aesthetic. Our client liked the look of our basic frog and belt sets, but wanted to add something of the same Spanish to the design. Between us we discussed a variety of traditional Spanish designs, highlighting in particular the vine patterns in extant leather and woodwork.

I based the final tooling pattern on a rough sketch provided by the client, and created variations on the theme for the belt, the frog, and the scabbard itself. The dark brown of the leather is set off by hammered brass fittings and copper rivets, while the scabbard benefits from a thick leather chape and mouth for added durability.

Due to the simple and versatile style of the frog and belt, the scabbard can easily be worn on either hip, ideal for an ambidextrous fencer.

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The Accipiter Scabbard

∴ A Heraldic Fantasy ∴

I’ve been fortunate to create leather goods based on fantasy realms before, taking cues from Middle Earth and beyond. This challenge, however, was all the greater – making a scabbard based on a world of our client’s own creation.

A published writer, our client chose to celebrate the success of her novels by commissioning a sword and scabbard straight out of them. The resulting weapon was the acclaimed Accipiter Kriegmesser, and my task was to create a matching scabbard. Continue reading

The Accipiter Kriegmesser

∴ A Soaring High ∴

You close your eyes and focus on the threads of thought that are the goshawk’s. A momentary vertigo washes over you, as you accustom yourself to being in two places at once – standing on the solid stone of the balcony, and soaring thousands of metres above the earth.

The raptor’s nature tugs at your mind, and for just a moment you allow the rush of air and the lust for prey to take over entirely. Wingtips tingle with information from the air, and you answer automatically with a flap of your wings. You sense movement, some miles to the South, and hasten toward it, keening to plunge into the dense canopy that hides your quarry.

With regret you draw back in your mind, tugging the hawk’s attention away from its distant prey and toward the sand-strewn riverbanks. Irritated, the bird wheels round and begins to follow the meandering waterway West. A glimmer arrests its eye. Not the glint of sunlight on water, but something still. Something solid.

Folding your wings you drop from the high soar, your human side feeling a gut-deep lurch, and circle the sand-strewn bank. There, still half immersed in the river that bore it West, is the unmistakable curve of the sword, the copper eyes of its goshawk pommel meeting those of your avian host.

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