by Jose Ramos
In Safelster you can find weapon masters in all the cities and most towns. Although all kind of weapons are taught, the sword is still the dominant one.
However the last fifty years have seen a more comfortable weapon take its place between the urban knight caste and some other caste show offs. I am talking about the rapier. Light, elegant and requiring more skill than strength, it has quickly become the weapon of choice for the fashion-conscious. And quickly, several schools have appeared to teach its proper use and abuse.
The first in chronological order is the Azilos style, although similar styles are practised all around the Felster region. This technique uses another object (usually a dagger, but other masters propose a heavy cloak, a small shield or even a lantern) in the left hand to parry blows and sometimes for a surprise strike. It is starting to be old fashioned and it is quite hard to learn, requiring mastery in two weapons.
Then came the Tinaros style. Tinarians have always favored long swords, so they developed long rapiers (some more than four feet long) to use a devastating lunge out of reach of the enemy. They use their extra long weapons to keep the enemy away while they wait for an opening. It is mostly a reflexive technique, and if it fails you are lost, so it is not very popular. Masters of it, however, are highly feared, although less agressive than other fencing fans.
The last innovation is the Kustrian style, so called because it appeared in Kustria, although its first teacher was a converted Orlanthi from Otkorion. It uses movement and "deviating the enemy blade to where we want it to be," and it feints and dodges a lot. With much space it is very successful, but it fails in close quarters. It uses a shortened version of the Tinarian lunge, much less risky with better recovery.
There are some other obscure styles, as the Colian Crouch (where you crouch to expose the minimum of the body), but they do not survive their creator.
Nowadays duels are becoming a spectator sport in the Lake Felster region, with bystanders commenting on moves, styles and footwork. The presence of some skilled healers make most arranged duels deathless, but many people are killed in impromptu duels.
Some Lunar nobles have recently imported Ralian fencing masters, and some young fops begin to use expressions as the Agrippa Defense or Esteva Secret Unescapable Lunge.
Only iron and specially treated bronze (a trade secret of the weaponsmith guilds) have enough tensile strength to make rapiers, and those of the dwarfs (Nida) and Three Eye Blue are considered the best ones. Rural knights and most mercenaries mock the urbanites "toothpicks" but more than one has been killed with one of this through the heart.
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