The Last Kladenets

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Kladenets is the name of a magical sword described in several Russian fairy tales. It was carried by Ivan Tsarevich, one of the recurring heroes of Russian folklore. [Сказ о Иван - Царевиче и Мече-Кладенце]

The weapon’s name appears to derive from the old Slavic word for treasure. Its pronunciation also sounds like “klast,” Russian for “to put down.” In Bulgarian, a related language, kladenets means "well" (for water), potentially evocative of torrents of blood. Any of these interpretations would apply, matching the purpose, function, and appearance of the weapon.

The six Kladentsi (plural form) of Clan Crescent Moon were named in deference to this weapon from legend. They were forged in the late 12th Century, using the ancient metallurgical techniques of the Silver Fang tribal klaive smiths. They were made for the five princes (and one princess) of a prominent Silver Fang dynasty, the Tvarivich (Lophukina/Lazarevich) family. They were built to honor the Silver Fangs’ Right of Kingship, not to aid them in battle.

The six klaives each earned storied histories over the last millennium. But now, only one of the Kladentsi remains. This weapon’s original name is no longer in popular use. It was lost along with the other five blades. The klaive is now known only as the Kladenets or the Last Kladenets.

HISTORY

The Last Kladenets has a history longer than its brothers, the other five Kladentsi. It begins with its maker, the prominent smith, Vasili Sukosin.

The Makers

Vasili Sukosin was the same “Vassili” who accompanied Yuri and Sophia Tvarivich on their quest to destroy Sharkala the Cruel in 1240. The dragon’s corpse must have proved a great prize, its reagents useful in the crafting of klaives and other fetishes.

The Sukosin dynasty, though minor in relation to such dynasties as the Tvarivichs, had a long history of weapon smithing for the Tribe since that era, chiefly among its kinfolk. Most master klaive smiths are kinfolk. Werewolves cannot normally abide the intense proximity to silver required to smelt and forge a weapon of pure silver, even in breed form. But Vasili Sukosin was born with an unusual resistance to the ill resonance of that metal. He was one of the few werewolves of his day to forge the physical instruments, not just perform the rites necessary to make the klaives.

Foma, a lupus Theurge of the Moon Lodge, was also a companion to Yuri and Sophia Tvarivich. She also assisted the Tvarivichs in destroying the dragon Sharkala the Cruel. Foma undertook the honorable task of finding and nurturing the six falcon spirits used in making the Kladentsi. She also assisted Sukosin with the rites to create the klaives.

The six Kladentsi were Sukosin’s greatest works. Together, they were the magnum opus of his distinguished career. They were built to honor his dead friends, Yuri and Sophia, by investing his craft in the next generation of Clan Crescent Moon’s rulers. Sukosin retired from smithing immediately following their completion and presentation to their bearers.

The Theurge, Foma, put no other marks on history. Her ends are unknown.

Original Bearers

The six Kladentsi were made for six young Silver Fangs. They were called the “Princes” in their time (despite one of them being a “princess”), because of their distinguished lineages and particularly pure blood. The Princes were all cousins and second cousins of the Tvarivich dynasty, about the same age. Of course each would have to challenge to lead their protectorates as they came of age, but they were revered for their potential and were expected to be the rulers of Clan Crescent Moon’s coming generation.

The Princes were named Vladey Mirom “Rules by Peace”, Voislav Lophukina “Glorious Warrior”, Germ Mstislav, Slawomir Lazarevich, Zvezdan Lazarevich “the High Star” and Kalina Lophukina “Runs in Water.” All were homid-born. All were from the Russian royal bloodlines of Lophukina and Lazarevich, those kinfolk who comprise the Tvarivich Silver Fang dynasty.

The Last Kladenets was originally gifted to Vladey Mirom “Rules by Peace”. At that time, Vladey had achieved the rank of Adren. At the rank of Athro, he died in battle, fighting minions of the Circle of Red. These messianic wizards of the dark ages believed they served Satan (in actuality, an unknown Umbrood) and built armies of fomori to conquer non-Christian lands before missionaries could take them.

Later Generations

In the seven hundred years since its creation, the Last Kladenets has had eleven other (known) bearers, some with no history to speak of, others with great tales of renown. They are, in sequence, Vasili Sukosin, Vladey Mirom, Great Walker North, Alyona Tvarivich, Thunder’s End, Tasha Sukosin, Seraphinus Dragunov, Pasha Dragunov, Raisa Dragunov, Zhanna Kedrov “Lights the Last Fire”, and Ivan Sukosin.

CONSTRUCTION

Hilt

The hilt of the Kladenets (the guard, pommel, and the handle underlying its grip), is forged of low-carbon cold iron (primitive steel). Each of the Kladentsi hilts was stamped from the same mold. Klaive-crafting tradition requires that such a mold be destroyed after its task. Though it is presumed destroyed, the mold’s fate cannot be verified.

The weapon’s handle, joining pommel and guard, is large enough for two-handed use, despite its size. This allows it to be used comfortably in homid form, but still fit the hand of even a large werewolf in Crinos form.

The pommel’s face shows the distinctive house symbol of Clan Crescent Moon, overlaid with the old-form glyph of the house’s name. According to standard blade typology, the pommel of the Kladenets is H-Type in shape; it is a heavy disk an inch and a half across and about a half-inch thick, with lightly chamfered edging. The pommel’s weight noticeably improves its balance.

The guard takes the form of a bird of prey, the feathers of its wings forming the cross-guard. These wing-shaped quillons curve dramatically toward the blade at their ends. This is a 4-Type cross-guard, according to standard blade typology. The hook shape at the end of the quillons helps catch and bind enemy blades. On one side of the weapon, a half-disk fencing guard extends out from the handle, parallel to the quillons.

From one look at the hilt, a skilled weapon maker can tell that the Kladenets was built for flashy dueling maneuvers, for catching, pinning, and turning aside enemy blades. A glance at the hilt will also reveal to any experienced werewolf that this is a very prestigious, majestic weapon, one with historical significance to the Silver Fangs.

Grip

The Kladenets’ grip was crafted from a Zmei’s tooth. Zmei are true dragons, said to be the most powerful servants of the Wyrm. The Tvarivich Silver Fangs are famed for defeating four of them. Given the timing of the weapons’ creation, and those involved in its forging, the teeth used for the six Kladentsi could only have come from Sharkala the Cruel, the dragon killed by Yuri and Sophia Tvarivich in 1240.

The handle is intricately carved to depict the opening scenes of a famous Russian folktale, “Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Gray Wolf.” In the depicted scenes, guards report that a firebird stole a golden apple from the king’s magical apple tree. The king’s older sons each in turn volunteered to guard the tree at night, and each fell asleep, allowing another apple to be stolen. When Ivan Tsarevich, the youngest son, was allowed to guard the tree, he stayed awake. He tried to catch the firebird by the tail but only managed to grasp one feather.

This depiction, particularly ending with the scene of a firebird feather, is further evidence that the Zmei’s tooth came from Sharkala the Cruel. According to reliable accounts, Yuri and Sophia Tvarivich used a powerful fetish called the Firebird Feather to bring down that ancient dragon. Few scholars doubt that this depiction is a reference to that fetish of antiquity.

The dragon tooth grip was applied to the underlying handle using a bored-through method. This allowed for the intricate carvings to be uninterrupted by separation lines that would appear with a sandwich, wrap, or other application method. The carvings were expertly fashioned and distributed to provide friction for the grip’s surface (to improve hand traction). Despite centuries of use, the Kladenets’ handle shows no signs of wear. The material is incredibly durable; even the most delicately etched portions remain unworn.

Sheath

The Kladenets’ supple sheath is made from rose-tanned leather, engraved with symbols of kingship. It was crafted from some sort of lizard’s hide. The dark cherry coloration is natural, confirming that it does not come from a mundane animal. If it is true that the grip came from a dragon’s tooth, it is equally probable that the ancient sheath was sewn from the same dragon’s hide.

Blade

The blade of the Kladenets is unmarked. It has no runes or glyphs because it is not a war fetish; the weapon’s focus is its hilt. The blade is smooth with a single channel down its length. The half of the blade nearest the handle is blunt—an extended ricasso. This constrains the weapon to thrusts and precise slashes, but allows for more versatility in blocking and pinning an opponent’s blade.

The blade is forged from a type of rose silver, an ancient alloy that includes copper and gold. Rose silver is related to rose gold, an alloy of gold and copper used widely in jewelry. Rose gold became very popular in Russia in the following centuries, so much so that it was known as Russian gold. The rose color comes from impurities in ancient smelting techniques, a side-effect so frequent that Greco-Roman texts of the time frequently described gold as a “red” metal.

Though rose silver is mostly silver in composition, enough gold imperfections persist to color the Kladenets crimson. The blade must have originally been a duller red but its smith used depletion gilding to brighten the metal. A post-production acid treatment burned away the outer copper elements, leaving a shinier surface over the harder alloy interior. What remained on the blade’s surface was a swirled pattern reminiscent of bloodstains.

The type of rose silver the Kladentsi were made from requires metallurgical techniques rarely used by the Silver Fangs. Klaive-makers use mystic rites, not alloys, to build durability into what is otherwise a very soft metal. The use of rose silver is purely for decorative purposes. Despite the rarity of the forging, the prestige of the Last Kladenets is less than it could be because Silver Fangs prefer pure silver coloration in klaives. This klaive is considered an icon or a badge of office instead of a functional weapon.

Spirit

The last ingredient of any klaive is its bound spirit, coaxed into the weapon by a Theurge. Unlike other klaives, an alpha klaive does not contain a war spirit. Instead, the Theurge calls and binds a falcon spirit to aid the user in battle. The spirit is remarkably active and in tune with the weapon’s bearer, lending its grace, sharp sight, and tactical expertise.

The Last Kladenets is occupied by a spirit called “Sokolin” (formally “Sokolinyy Glaz,” Russian for Falcon’s Eye). The original Kladentsi were individually named for a portion or a virtue of the falcon, this one for its piercing gaze. Sokolin uses his exceptional foresight to warn his bearer of potential ambushes and political pitfalls.

Sokolin was associated with a clutch of similar spirits, something quite rare considering how spirits form. Sokolin and his five “brothers” were individually bound into the Kladentsi, and the weapons remained in close proximity to each other until the princes (and princess) bearing them went their separate ways in life. Sokolin feels the sting of loneliness in the absence of the other fetishes, but carries on his duty with stoicism.

Another tribe might have long ago released Sokolin from service, but the Silver Fangs make solemn, long-lasting pacts and oaths in the binding of their fetishes. More than any other tribe, the Silver Fangs regularly bequeath fetishes to their successors and expect long service from those spirits.

MECHANICS

From Tribebook: Silver Fangs, page 83

Alpha Klaive

Level Four, Gnosis 8

This is a variation on the klaive unique to the Silver Fangs. This weapon acknowledges that sometimes good leadership is a better quality in an alpha than pure destructive power. Instead of binding a war-spirit into the blade, the blade forger uses a falcon spirit. Instead of doing aggravated damage against all opponents, the weapon now aids the alpha in making crucial tactical and battlefield decisions, boosting his effective Leadership by two dots.

The difficulty to attack with an alpha klaive is 7, as there is no war-spirit to aid the wielder, but it still inflicts Strength +2 lethal damage. Werewolves cannot soak damage from the weapon and still treat the klaive’s wounds as aggravated, because it is made of silver. The bearer loses one point of his Gnosis raring while carrying the weapon.

MET: Bearers of an Alpha Klaive receive a free retest on all Leadership challenges made while carrying or wielding the klaive. Otherwise, it is considered an ordinary klaive for purposes of damage, Bonus Traits, Gnosis loss, etc.