Vicious barbed spears, the Bloodsteel Barb is patterned after a fishing spear, with wicked protrusions designed to tear flesh and scrape bone, or to hook clothing or skin and allow a sharp twist to snap or fracture a limb. At its most effective it easily penetrates light leather or padded cloth and inflicts catastrophic damage on the soft meat beneath.
While the orichalcum alloy head of a Bloodsteel Barb is often reddish-gold in colour, the weapon takes its name more from the traditional method of forging and tempering the metal. Once the metal has been purified in a bath of beggar's lye, living blood is mixed into the alloy. In certain darker times, the final quenching of the spear would be in the body of a living orc to give the weapon a taste for orcish blood. If the orc prisoner was not killed in a single thrust the weapon would be melted down and the crafting process begun again. This cruel practice has fallen out of favour in these more civilised times; perhaps more importantly, there is evidence that it gave rise to hateful, twisted weapons whose bloodthirsty hunger tainted the wielder and tempted them into barbarism and ultimately drove them to madness. In some cases the weapon failed to strike at a vital moment, dragging the wielder to their death at the hands of the orcs.
Today, it is much more likely that an artisan will allow several drops of their own blood to run into the metal. Anyone who actually committed a murder while creating a Bloodsteel Barb would face the full fury of Imperial Law.
- Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a one-handed spear. You must be wielding this weapon to use its magical properties.
- Requirement: You must have the weapon master skill to bond to this item.
- Effect: Twice per day, you may call CLEAVE with this one-handed spear.
- Materials: Crafting a Bloodsteel Barb requires ten ingots of orichalcum, three measures of beggar's lye, and three measures of ambergelt. It takes one month to make one of these items.
The League merchant's affable grin had frozen into a rictus that didn't dare so much as twitch. Tammat took the barbed spear in one hand, felt its weight – light, but with enough heft to strike hard and fast if she put her weight behind a jab.
She did so, testing the motion, and grunted with satisfaction. The merchant actually jumped as she did so, flinching back, and Tammat had to stifle a snort of disgusted amusement. What did he think was going to happen – did he really believe she'd impale him on his own wares in a fit of rage, like some sort of savage?
The orc cast her gaze along the weapon rack, eyeing the other fine spears that the armoury had produced, but none of them called to her like this old weapon. It hadn't been cared for much, just left propped against the wall at the back – as if the armourers were ashamed of its provenance in this enlightened modern age but still loathe to simply toss away a weapon that had been infused with ilium.
But the barbed head was still sharp enough, and Tammat figured she'd just need to add a twist to the end of a jab to let the vicious little hooks do their job in the guts of a skewered foe. Under her fingers the residual energy of the spear, that lingering sense of battle-hunger, tingled gently and alluringly.
“Well?” she demanded, rounding on the hapless man.
“Er, yes,” he admitted, taking sanctuary in the truth.
“A slave taken fresh from the barbarians, or one who'd laboured for the Empire?” she pressed, watching his brow furrow as he desperately tried to think.
“Er, a, er, a mining slave. It was how it was done, back then. They took old slaves who were worn out and, er...” The merchant tailed off, looking genuinely upset at the notion. Not upset enough to get rid of the weapon and give up the profit, though, Tammat thought to herself.
“Good. I'll take it, then. What's the price?”
Relief dawned like sunrise on the little man's face. “Really? You're sure? It's quite expensive ...”
“Of course I'm damn sure. Why else do you think I'd say what I did? The price, man?”
And as he hurried to flip open the trade-ledger with ink-stained fingertips, and as Tammat counted out the coins from her pouch, she watched the spear with wary respect. You died in service to an empire that's embraced us now. I'll give your sacrifice meaning, even if you'd never have seen this outcome. We need you now – we need the help of those who have come before us. If you're across the Howling Abyss, I'll make you proud with the victories I'll win with this spear born of your blood.
The deal done, she took firm grip of the spear, looking closely at the runes etched down its head – runes once doused and cooled in an orc's seared innards.And if you're not proud of that, well, then I'll have to blaze my own path across the Abyss and knock some sense into you.