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The History of the Elanthian Katana and the Order of the Watchful Eye

Compiled by an unknown Erithian historian.

Legends written in ancient journals bespeak of the katana within Erithian civilization. A powerful weapon forged by the Elojun Iritin, a name that means “the wise or the seeing,” that was used solely as a tool to swiftly bring peace in times of great strife. The Erithi were a peaceful race, striving to avoid conflict with those they encountered, but when conflict could not be avoided, the Elojun Iritin were dispatched to bring calm to the fields of battle.

Some revered the Elojun Iritin as powerful entities, though they were mortal like any man. Their use of the katana was graceful, yet deadly, a combination that often caused their enemies to underestimate them. The katana was said to be an extension of the Elojun Iritin's body and soul, and it took centuries before the two were bonded to form a perfect wholeness.

Yet those who were on the opposite end of the katana would swear to the heavens that the weapon was more than just metal. They say it held a sentience that gave mystical abilities to the Elojun Iritin, allowing them to perform impossible feats of physical prowess and unstoppable katas. A gentle force, when combined with the extensive training of the wielders, could bring a halt to any battle with but a few motions of their blades.

When the Erithi found themselves in Atan Irith, it became quickly apparent that none of the Elojun Iritin came with them. An outcry of fear quickly spread among the people as they no longer had their protectors, and a growing concern rose that the knowledge of the katana was lost to the Erithi. However, a single elder by the name of Dalathi, a master blacksmith, calmed the masses as he spoke of what he knew of the katana and of the ancient journals he preserved. The Erithi placed their faith in Dalathi, who confidently accepted his people’s charge to restore the katana and their protectors.

Dalathi’s talent exceeded even that of the most capable master blacksmith, and for this knowledge of the ancestral weapon he was honored. Dalathi's time was short, however, for he was old and had spent decades already trying to replicate the ancestral weapon.

The ancient journals detail a specific process though which the metal of the weapon must be forged; the flattening of the metal, the great folding, and the honing of the edge. It also spoke of an additional process that brought the katana its great strength, a secret only known to the Elojun Iritin. However, Dalathi made many attempts using various components and different ways to finish his katana but they all ended the same. Some claim the weapons were exceedingly fragile, and broke when they struck anything – even something as delicate as a leaf.

The years continued on and in the year 3724, Dalathi resigned to the fate that had befallen him. He knew the answer to the puzzle would not be found in his lifetime, and in order to preserve the knowledge of the ancestral weapon he would have to take on a protégé to take his place in the quest. Dalathi searched most of Eloth-Ra for a young blacksmith who was capable of learning the knowledge. It was in this search that Dalathi found Elatho, and took him up as his Shioni-Ro, meaning "disciple or student.”

Dalathi spent twenty years teaching Elatho the forging process of the katana, and he also spent any extra time teaching Elatho the way of using a katana, should he ever succeed in forging one. The studies the master put the disciple through were both physical and spiritual, as in order for a katana to be wielded properly, one must hone their spiritual prowess as well as their physical knowledge of weaponry. Dalathi spent many nights telling stories of the Elojun Iritin to Elatho, entertaining the young student with tales about how they were revered in ancient times as protectors and peacekeepers of the cities.

The Order of the Watchful Eye

The Order of the Watchful Eye has a basic structure like any monastic Order. There is a tiered hierarchy in which the members rise in rank, starting with Shioni-Ro (disciples) up to Elojun Iritin (master forgers/katana wielders). Above the Elojun Iritin is the Headmaster, or Eloun Irin, who oversees the daily welfare of the members.

The Order teaches its members the way of using the katana to its full potential, as well as providing a balance of spiritual necessity to their physical prowess. Often times, meditation is performed multiple times a day, if not for extensive periods of time, to find one's inner tranquility. There are also styles of Erithi kata the members perform, both with a katana and without.

The katana is a sacred status symbol among the Elojun Iritin. Once a member has forged their first katana, they no longer forge for a period of time while they bond and learn how to use the weapon effectively. The first katana always belongs to the Elojun Iritin, any katanas they forge afterwards can be given away as gifts, or sold.

The symbol of the Order of the Watchful Eye is a slit-pupiled eye overlaying five conjoined circles, each colored to represent a different aspect of knowledge.

Dalathi passed away in the year 3744, and he never saw a forged katana. Elatho continued his master's teaching and spent forty more years trying to find the correct formula by which a katana could be crafted. Through trials and study of arcane lore, Elatho determined that the secret process the Elojun Iritin kept had to do with the element of earth, the giver of life. But he, too, knew his time was limited.

In order to assure that the knowledge would stay alive to the Erithi, in 3784 Elatho turned his path to preserving the lore. Elatho searched for master blacksmiths who wished to help him in the quest of forging the katana. Acquiring a fair number of willing adherents, Elatho and the initial members spent many years building a structure of teaching, as well as foundation in which to share their knowledge. It was then that the Order of the Watchful Eye was formed in 3814; thirty years after Elatho started his path of preservation. The blacksmiths who joined the Order of the Watchful Eye swore an oath to give up forging common tools of war. They would focus, instead, on honing their spiritual and physical prowess and dedicate their lives to studying the way of the katana.

Elatho never did live to see the creation of a katana. In the year 3864 he, too, passed away like his master, sad that he never found the end of the quest, but comforted in knowing that the quest would carry on. The Order of the Watchful Eye survived Elatho, the master blacksmiths striving for their goal of forging the ancestral weapon, but also focusing on the forging of their bodies and spirits for the day when it would be made. Time continued to pass and decades became centuries. New master blacksmiths were invited to join the Order, and older members passed on.

On a seemingly uneventful day in the year 4000, a man by the name of Dachitai, a middle-ranking member of the Order who joined in 3964, returned from his recent travels to remote caves. There, he saw various rock formations striated with numerous fascinating crystals that brought inspiration and intriguing concepts to his mind, and he was eager to begin a new attempt at forging the ancestral weapon. Dachitai spent most of the day in meditation while holding the fine steel bar that he chose for the project, and that evening he began his task. The forging process started like many others before. He heated the bar and worked rigorously at flattening it, then continued by folding the metal down. But instead of stopping there, he continued these steps throughout the night and into the following three days.

Dachitai continued working the glowing hot steel of the blade against his anvil. His meditation and discipline strengthened his resolve, and he fought off the need for sleep or nourishment as he continued to work, though the fatigue was beginning to set in. When the last of the metal had been folded a dozen times, creating thousands of layers within the blade, he returned the sword to the fires of the forge. After a waiting for some time, he withdrew the blade and strived to carry on on.

As the sword swiftly cooled, Dachitai crafted a sharp edge into the softened metal, making a distinctive slope along the length of the blade. It was now ready for the final stages of work. Dachitai took the blade to the fires of the forge once more, and then a moment later quenched it in a trough of oil. However, the exhaustion of the past several days caught up with him that night, and the sword slipped from his tongs as he carried it from the trough. Dachitai vainly tried to catch the blade in the darkness, but it tumbled away and fell into the soft clay on the stream bank alongside the trough.

Frustration welled up inside Dachitai as he grabbed the unfinished clay-covered sword and stared at it. Soft earth coated his creation before its completion, a clear sign of an omen overshadowing the forging process. Dachitai turned towards the flames and hurled his creation into the forge. The momentary frustration passed and sadness began to creep over him as he gazed at the blade, most of it covered in clay as it tempered in the flames. Dachitai sighed to himself, his patience having snapped and caused him to react violently against his teaching, and now the forge baked the clay around the metal. Believing his hard work now ruined and worn out from the trials, he moved into a meditative pose and succumbed to its restful arms.

When Dachitai broke meditation a couple hours later, he retrieved the clay-tempered blade and cleaned off the hardened soil. He spent the rest of the night finishing honing the blade and attaching his personalized hilt. Disappointed in himself, Dachitai left the forging glade and returned to the inner sanctum of the Order's monastery where he placed the weapon upon a shelf, and then went to bed.

Dachitai woke the following morning to great commotion in the sanctum of the building. When he arrived in the room, he was assaulted by numerous members of the Order talking all at once, some cheering and others congratulating him. In the grogginess of sleep, Dachitai questioned what the ruckus was for. The Headmaster of the Order approached Dachitai with the very katana he had just spent several nights forging. The Headmaster handed it to him, asking him to test it for them. The members moved to the sides of the sanctum, and Dachitai moved towards a testing pole near the center of the room, focusing himself. In a swift move, Dachitai swung the katana with two hands at the pole and the blade passed cleanly through. Hours passed within a moment, and the top half of the pole slid off the base to hit the floor.

Dachitai gazed in disbelief at the katana in his hands, and the room roared with cheering. The Headmaster approached Dachitai and asked him to tell all how this blade came to be. The members of the Order formed a circle around Dachitai and sat as he began to recount to them his travel, of the caves where inspiration for intensifying the folding of the metal came to him, and how he believed his work ruined when he stumbled along the stream bank. When the story was finished, the Headmaster stood up and nodded. It was in this story that the Order of the Watchful Eye's motto was born, "Chaos forms Order through Discipline."

From there on out, other members of the Order journeyed to visit the caves in Dachitai's story. When they returned, they, too, would meditate for most of the day and begin the process Dachitai began. It took some time before the brothers realized that the clay was an important part of the tempering process, and how it should be used, thus there were many failures among the first attempting to duplicate Dachitai's work. Even with this knowledge, the members needed to master the art of folding a blade many times without rest and ruining the metal. Finding a metal bar of sufficiently high quality for the forging of a katana was also no easy feat.

In time, the members of the Order began consistently to succeed in crafting the ancestral weapon, and it was then that they discovered that no two were similar. Each was unique and each sang a different song when wielded. As the secrets of the katana have spread with the members’ travels, others have tried forging the katana without spending time in meditation with their selected metal. While some have had success with the forging, the songs of the katana crafted through this inferior process have been comparatively weak. To the Erithi, and especially the members of the Order, these blades are considered travesties, dead shells that are but a mockery of the finest singing blades.

It is in the meditative state that a bonding connection is formed between the blacksmith and the raw metal. In this connection, a small spark of life is imparted into the blade, and in this spark is what gives the katana its song. Each blade resonates with a different vibration of life, a small piece of the blacksmith that forged it into existence. The owner need but learn the song of the katana to effectively master the weapon.

 



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