History and Lore of the Blade Dancerby T.A. Saunders revision v2.5, Originally published 7.7.05, updated 10.25.13
Of the weapon-swinging individuals of Imarel, few are more deadly than the Blade Dancer. Originally a class solely for the Shei of Imarel, the teachings and philosophy have found audience amongst all races, save the Voraath and Dracothar, neither which are graceful enough to employ Blade Dancing styles and the Kaal`Kor who think Blade Dancing is ‘damned sissy.'
The Blade Dance is a celebration of Life and Death; an expression if you will, of the struggle to survive. Ergo, to the Blade Dancer, to commit to battle with another individual brandishing a weapon is a moment of celebration. This, a moment that their skills and fitness are tested against another, the victor making the whole of those who wield a weapon stronger.
Given the deep belief in the proverbial laws of the Wild the Shei have (and as a result, anybody who chooses to become a Blade Dancer), there are stringent codes of personal honor followed, as well as highly spiritual practices that must be adhered to. Those who wander away from this path, lose their touch with this spiritual vigor and fall into dark lust for blood and death.Top
The Blade Dancer's code is a stringent set of personal laws that the Blade Dancer is expected to keep under all circumstances that they can be applied without self-incrimination. Those who seek to turn this code onto the Blade Dancer will find if and when a confrontation takes place, such an individual will find no quarter, for there is few things less honorable.
The Code itself is surprisingly simple in word, though much more difficult to maintain in action, many find…which lends to many Blade Dancers retiring to becoming simply mercenaries, bodyguards or duelists, though many faithful Blade Dancers also often seek such lines of work.
The Code is as follows:
1. Never draw your weapon unless you plan on bringing death with it. Your sword is your life, your will and your perseverance. Without it, you are defenseless in a world of enemies.
2. Take care of your weapon; its edge is your salvation, its point is your vindication. To draw a weapon any less than the whole of its potential is unending shame.
3. Fight as you are fought. If you are given quarter, so too should you give quarter. If you are fought with deception, so too should you employ deception. One's own honor is not besmirched by such tactics, less you are the one who engages them.
4. Above all things remember Honor. You gain honor from what you do with your weapon, and those you face. A good fight is an honorable one. A fight you win by letting a clearly lesser opponent flee is as honored as one you fight with an equal to the last.
5. The Dance is a celebration of Life and Death; one that cannot be shared unless it is to celebrate that most sacred of moments. Relish Life by fighting with the whole of yourself; honor Death by bringing a clean, swift end to your adversary.
6. Do not desecrate those who you have defeated. It is enough that you live and they do not. Anything more lacks in honor (this rule is largely not followed by Fallen Blade Dancers).
By and large, Blade Dancers honor Zorah, the Wild Huntress (though most tend towards being a bit neutral in mindset), but all honor the Code to the best of their ability. Evil Blade Dancers can exist and may ‘bend' the Code to their benefit, but even they do not stray far. These Blade Dancers are referred to as Tal-Jirahr in the tongue of Elves, or Fallen Dancer. These Fallen Blade Dancers give themselves fully to the death aspect of the dance and lose respect for life and the so doing, find themselves under the sway of Khazaar, Lord of the Dead, one of the Nine Lords of Chaos.Top
The Dance is the term used to refer to the spiritual transcendence one experiences when engaging into a sword fight as a Blade Dancer. It doesn't matter what sort or how many swords you use (single or dual wield) or if you employ a shield. Entering one's self into this fighting awareness increases one's speed, strength, agility and endurance to up to thrice their normal ability. This only lasts for the duration of the Dance, and will cease the moment the Blade Dancer stops dancing.Top
Blade Dancer Weapons
Art by T.A. Saunders
This dance differs from Blade Dancer to Blade Dancer, though there are eight different forms that are instructed; all but one of which can be traced back to the twilight of the Tallis-Shei of Ishaela. There are variations on these styles of course, and it is possible for a Blade Dancer to know more than one, though it is quite rare to know more than two. These Grand Masters are both rare and do not openly reveal their knowledge to those who would seek it.
The Dance, regardless to which style the Dancer learns is more an expression of one's self and how they see themselves in the Natural Order, rather than a means to gain a tactical advantage of some kind. Blade Dancing is a form of religious expression, rather than a combat form.Top
Rajsho: The Rajsho is a two sword or two long knife fighting form that involves dizzying the enemy with a multitude of feints, dodges and fast maneuvers to keep them off balance. This is the favored Blade Dance amongst the Wood Elves of Tallis-Kah and considered one of the oldest styles. Rajsho is very hard to counter for slow moving opponents, as it does not rely on the weight of the strike, but the swarm of the whole. Those who dance the Rajsho form are also usually very nimble and hard to strike with a solid blow.
Noj-Vrah: The Blade Dance known as the Noj-Vrah relies on using a light, hand and a half sword called the Talii, a weapon of straight double-edged blade, save for the weightier, spaded tip to allow for devastating thrusts. While not as fast as Rajsho, a master of Noj-Vrah is quite capable of defending his or herself against the faster form, by using the length of the weapon to counter both blades. There is quite a bit of spinning involved in Noj-Vrah, to build momentum for many of the spaded point-related maneuvers. Noj-Vrah is known for its many ‘one shot, one kill' types of strikes. While one of the simpler forms to learn, it requires a great deal of skill to master.
Vesah: The Vesah Blade Dance isn't so much about what weapon is used, but how the weapon is used. Vesah is considered one of the most adaptable, hence most deadly of the Blade Dances, as it relies on using the attacker's own momentum, strength and footwork against them. This is a very defensive Dance, which can be a pro and a con, depending on the situation. Often, this is chosen as a second dance learned. Very little maneuvering or footwork is involved, but foot placement is crucial for this form. Any manner of weapon can be used in this form, giving it an adaptability that makes it difficult to defend against.
Kahrah: Kahrah is the only Blade Dance that specifically works in a shield or buckler into its form. Often a blade-ringed small shield, called a Koisu in Elvish, or scythe-shield to more human tongues, is employed to allow for extra attacks, in more advanced versions of this dance. The shield is often used as a distraction, or a means to either dazzle (with reflective surfaces on the outside of the shield) or stun with bash-type moves. Kahrah is considered one of the most adaptable Blade Dances, given both a blend of offensive and defensive capabilities.
Misurah: This is known also as the Dance of Death and the most difficult to learn of all the Blade Dances. Misurah places the Blade Dancer into a whirling frenzy that does not employ any measure of defensive parry or riposte, but rather seeks to devastate its opponent with an onslaught of unpredictable attacks. Vesah is considered the best counter for this dance, though one had best be a master of Vesah to hope to keep pace. The Misurah form is a favorite amongst Fallen Blade Dancers who have given themselves to the lust for death and Khazaar's will.
Amirysir: The Amirysir form is more recent Blade Dance form, developed by the Asyn-Shei Blade Dancer Ami Kir-Lynris. Formally a Nahara, Ami lost her standing when she took the life of a client using metallic fans she performed many of her exotic dances with. The idea of using fans as weapons appealed to her insomuch that she privately commissioned a new sort of weapon to be crafted for this unique Blade Dance. These weapons, called Najiro, resemble normal fans but have been drastically weaponized to suit the individual dancer. This is a fast and dazzling Blade Dance filled with both quick offensive strikes and powerful defensive blocks.
Matarys: This Blade Dance involves the use of two metal rods with long, thin blades meeting in an inverted V at the ends, connected by a long chain, called a Tura. The Matarys Blade Dance is very versatile, but also very difficult to learn in that the weapon can be as lethal to the attacker as it is to the opponent. Mastering this form gives the attacker the ability to spear their opponent with one end of the Tura, then dragging them in for a finishing shot with the other. This form involves a great deal of spinning with the Tura and can be quite beautiful to watch, but not recommended for an inexperienced Blade Dancer to even attempt.
Xifa: The Xifa Blade Dance is performed with an S-shaped weapon, called a Kiju, that consists of shaped wooden center, with two sweeping sickle blades on either end, facing opposite directions. While the weapon initially seems cumbersome, in the hands of a skilled Blade Dancer, the size and weight of the weapon become an asset rather than a burden. Made to mimic a whirlwind, the Xifa dance involves a great deal of spinning, weaving and turning with the large weapon, making it very hard to mount an offense against. Because the attacker is often put at a distance a bit longer than most swords can reach, the dancer of Xifa can often strike a fierce blow and never be touched. The hallmark move of the Xifa dance is most often decapitation.Top
One can only learn to be a Blade Dancer from a Master of at least one of the eight known forms. It is expected that most students will dedicate at least twenty to twenty five years of their life, perhaps more to simply become proficient in one form alone. Few humans ever learn more than one for this reason but there are exceptions.
A potential Blade Dancer must also be in good standing with Zorah, whom grants the spiritual vigor needed to achieve the Blade Dance. As the goddess of the Wild, she is the ultimate surveyor of Natural Law; of Life and Death. Ergo, those who do not at least have a healthy respect for nature will likely not get far as a Blade Dancer. In the case of Fallen Blade Dancers, who give themselves entirely to Khazaar and the lust for death, they are granted a similar spiritual vigor from him that fills their hearts with anger and fury.
Blade Dancers in and of themselves are not considered with any particular hostility or friendliness anywhere in Imarel, though due to the spiritual affiliation with Zorah, most Blade Dancers (save for those who have fallen) are welcomed in the Tallis-Kah Territories.
In truth, Blade Dancers have more to worry about from other Blade Dancers, in matters of loss of Honor, than they do from anybody else. A Fallen Blade Dancer is looked upon with both disgrace and shame by their fellows for the warping and twisting of the true purpose and intent of the Dance. When a Blade Dancer faces a fallen one, a duel to the death is inevitable.
Blade Dancers take their personal honor very seriously and affronts to that honor are taken with utmost gravity. Should it be deemed that a Blade Dancer has acted dishonorably themselves, most, even fallen ones will make an effort to correct the slight to maintain personal honor and credibility. Most slights to a Blade Dancer involve speaking ill of their skill or insulting their beliefs as they pertain to Blade Dancing. To steal, break or desecrate a Blade Dancer's chosen weapon is an insult without reproach, and often ends poorly for the violator.