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The Runeblades

I received a request to break down some more information about the runeblades (q.v. Runeblade Saga), magical swords existing during the Ragnarok Era.


The Second Age of the Ragnarok Era, called by some the Age of the Vanir, saw the rise of what later men called the Old Kingdoms. The nine heirs of Halfdan the Old founded nine kingdoms, each led by a prince of that powerful blood.

As the Old Kingdoms increased in power, the dverg kingdom of Nidavellir saw their doom in the ascendency of men. To both bribe and curse the kingdoms of men, the dverg princes crafted nine blades of orichalcum, gifting one to each of the Old Kingdoms. As with all workings of the Art, the blades are given power by infusing souls into the orichalcum, damning the victims to eternal torment they are all too eager to share.

Among later men, the curses of the runeblades became more prevalent, as the blades drive the wielders to bloodlust modern men have even less resistance to.

All runeblades share certain traits, namely being nearly indestructible, never losing their edge, and having the power to cut through most natural substances, even metal or stone.

Dainsleif

The dvergar gave Dainsleif to the Bragnings, through whom it eventually passed down to Prince Alf. The Niflungar took Dainsleif from Prince Alf of the Bragnings after his fall, and the sword is held by Gjuki.

Dainsleif’s bite stings like acid and the wounds it deals cannot be healed under normal circumstances.

Mythologically, Dainsleif was the sword of King Högni.

Gramr

Gramr was gifted to the Niflungar and eventually came to Guthorm’s hand. With it, he became the most feared assassin in the North Realms. It later became wrapped up in the destiny of the Volsung clan. Unlike many of the runeblades, Gramr’s hilt is carved from bone—specifically the bone of a linnorm.

Wounds dealt by Gramr cause numbing chills and render the limb almost unusable.

Mythologically, Gramr is the sword Sigmund takes from Barnstokkr and his son later uses to kill Fafnir.

Hrotti

The dvergar gave Hrotti to the Budlungar. At some point, they lost the blade and it wound up in the hoard of the linnorm Fafnir.

No special properties were revealed about the blade.

In myth, Sigurd claims the sword from Fafnir’s hoard (sound familiar?).

Hrunting

Hrunting was given to the Hildings. Eventually it came to be entombed on an island of Reidgotaland. This runeblade was an heirloom of the Hildings, from whom the Reidgotalanders are descended. It was recovered by princess Kelda, daughter of Frothi (with help from Slagfid of Kvenland—q.v. Darkness Forged). Kelda later gave Hrunting to her brother, Healfdene, who used the blade to conquer much of that land.

During The Radiance of Alfheim, Sigurd comments he doesn’t know what happened to the sword after Healfdene died.

Mythologically, Ulfrich gives the sword to Beowulf, though it eventually fails him (this is also why Odin does not have access to it, later).

Laevateinn

The dvergar gave Laevateinn to the Lofdar. Among them, Prince Audr last held the blade. After his fall, his general Loridi gave the runeblade to the Vanr Frey, in exchange for his help in saving the remaining Lofdar.

Laevateinn bursts into flame when drawn. Its flames deal wounds not easily healed even by immortals.

Mythologically, Laevateinn is implied to have been made by Loki (as Lopt), but left at the gates of Hel.

Mistilteinn

Mistilteinn became the legacy of the Odlingar. It eventually came into the hands of a Patriarch of Miklagard and there remained for long years (q.v. Days of Broken Oaths).

The runeblade has the unique property of dealing wounds immortals treat as though they were mortals. Thus any wound so dealt heals no quicker (if at all) for the immortal than it would for a mortal. The sword seems thus capable of killing any corporeal being.

In myth, Mistilteinn (“Mistletoe”) is a sword held by the draug prince, Thrainn. King Olafr recovers it from his barrow, but later loses it in the sea. More importantly, in the Gesta Danorum, which inspires my version of the Baldr myth, it’s the sword Hödr uses against Baldr.

Naegling

Naegling was given to the Döglinar. It was eventually lost in Nordri in Thule, but recovered by Ecgtheow (q.v. Days of Endless Night). Ecgtheow later leaves the sword with Hrethel, in keeping for his young son Beowulf.

The blade gleams faintly when drawn.

In myth, Beowulf receives the sword from Hygelac (a son of Hrethel).

Skofnung

The dvergar gave Skofnung to the Skjöldungar. It is held by Prince Seskef, which he carries with him when he leads his people into Jotunheim seeking refuge from the Niflungar (q.v. Days of Frozen Hearts).

Skofnung deals wounds that continue to tear at the seams even after the fact, eventually ripping a victim apart from even a small cut. This can be stopped only by touching the gem in the pommel.

Mythologically, Skofnung belonged to Hrolf Kraki, a legendary king, and there are numerous stories around it.

Tyrfing

Tyrfing was the prize of the Siklingar. It was carried into Holmgard by Sigrlami, Gylfi’s son in law. Arngrim killed Sigrlami and claimed the blade, later giving it to his son Angantyr, with whom it was entombed by the Arrow’s Point (q.v. Days of Endless Night).

Tyrfing has a fell gleam that looks almost like blue flames when drawn. The wounds it deals are poisonous and will kill any mortal being even scratched by the blade. Once drawn, it cannot be sheathed without claiming a life, and will even turn on the wielder if not sated, thus seeming to hold the worst of the curses. It has a hilt of plated gold.

In myth, Tyrfing has its own cycle of legends, largely retold in the Runeblade Saga.

Mimung

During the Age of Vingethor, the smith Volund—trained by dvergar—forged a tenth runeblade at the behest of King Nidud (q.v. Darkness Forged). Nidud gave the blade to his son Otwin, who used it during the Njarar War in Aujum.

Mythologically, Mimung is the sword of Wudga (Volund’s son), forged by his father.

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1 Comment

  1. Jan Wouters says:

    This is very helpful. Thank you for making this.

    I just finished part 3 of the Runeblade Saga. Every part is different, I am at this point not able to say which one I like best. There are all excellent in their own way. I almost dread the time when I will have finished part 5. Your writing is exceptional and I would urge you to continue. I don’t know what some books reach “Harry Potter-status” and why some, who are equally entertaining, don’t. I can only hope that you will be discovered by the “larger public”. I certainly wish that for you. I think you deserve it.

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