Shuhoken Lore

Relics of the Shuhōken

Kakusei's Needles

When the Primordial War ended, the gods sealed their accord through the marriage between Senkō, the Shining Lord of Steel, and Kagayaki, the Radiant Lady of the Sun. Though each of the gods bore arms and armour as befit their divine birthrights, to celebrate his wedding, the Lord of Steel forged eight blades for his fellow gods.

All were pleased by the gifts and accepted with honour— except Kakusei. Taking up the sword offered him following the wedding, he turned and immediately broke the blade over a nearby rock. Seeing his elder brother's dismay, he spoke thus as he gathered the shards of divine metal: "Though the steel is strong, the sword broke because it acknowledged its destiny. Your gifts are priceless beyond compare, but none of us will wield these swords, for their fate lies elsewhere." Knowing of his brother's prophetic gifts, Senkō was pacified, though the pronouncement disturbed him.

Sure enough, though the swords were indeed fine, the gods did not wield them, preferring instead the divine weapons that they had always carried, each tied to its bearer’s domain and power. Instead, as followers began to flock to the gods’ banners, each sword was in turn given to the closest among the god's companions, as an affirmation of their bond. Swords were given to Yagarō, Fujizuru, Hakato, Shinjugawa, Itsumaru, and Tōyama. Some, like Yagarō, kept the blade in their family line, while others, like Itsumaru, returned it to their patrons' heirs, when they came of age, but all became relics of their Clans.

All except Kakusei's broken blade, for he had foreseen his own most martial follower, Hirin, and knew that to offer one sword to such a man would be not a gift but an insult. Instead, Kakusei shaped each shard of the broken blade into a needle so fine that it could scarcely be felt, and to affirm his bond with his followers granted no gift, but instead chose to give each a tattoo, inked with pigments drawn from the World Beyond the World and applied with divine steel. Such was his skill, that the tattoos seemed almost to move as they would in life, and each was an indelible connection to the Void and to the power of the World Beyond the World.

Kakusei's Needles are still relics of the clan to this day, and initiates into his Illuminated Order recieve tattoos by his hand just as his followers did at the dawn of the Empire

Twin Peak Swords

The Midokaji smiths are responsible for forging the sacred weapons of the Shuhōken, calling on their influence over the kami of earth and fire to create the Twin Peak Swords. The process begins with iron mined from a small, deep mine high in the mountains around the Seven Star Observatory, nearly in the World Beyond the World. This otherworldly ore is brought to a secluded mountain forge, where the smith builds a fire fed on a combination of coal and wood from the twisted trees that grow on the lower slopes. The flames of these forges burn green, for copper dust is thick in the earth there, finding its way into the clay that forms the forge, and being absorbed by the trees' roots as they grow, suffusing the wood.

The smith heats the iron in this green flame and works it into steel with charcoal and the fragrant resin of the same twisted trees, folding it extensively to eliminate impurities. This resin, along with the copper dust, give the steel a dark blue-green tint. During the folding process, the smith is in constant communion with the earth kami present in the metal, invoking them to strengthen the metal and bind it together. At the height of this process, with the kami focused on the metal as a whole, the smith divides the steel into two pieces that never the less remain one in the eyes of the spirits.

Once separated, the smith begins shaping the two swords, hammering them out on an anvil that is a living spur of rock, veined with iron and copper and still rooted deep in the mountain. When the blades are ready, they're quenched simultaneously in a carefully preserved block of ice hewn from a glacier further up the mountain, and painstakingly sharpened on a series of stone surfaces that are also still-living parts of the mountain. Two saya and handles are carved from a single block of soft wood stained with a blue-grey dye; the saya are then given a thick, clear lacquer, while the handles are carved with the coiling shape of a single earth dragon, descending one handle and continuing up the other. Tsuba and fittings are polished, moulded bronze, and one over-long sageo is attached to both saya before being cut in the middle, separating them, with the severed ends each being capped with a tiny, polished stone taken from the mountain.

The result is a daisho that in a spiritual sense is but one weapon, and which resists all effort to be separated, the blades performing in concert with one another effortlessly. When one blade moves to attack, the other seems almost to guide the hand into a paired defense, and when one is stymied, the other eagerly moves forward to strike again.

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