At the time of writing, we're nearly at the end of 2018 and nearly half-way through Toaru Majutsu no Index III. We're in the middle of the British Royal Family Arc, with Carissa having launched her coup d'état attempt, later known in-universe as the British Halloween. At the same time, on the wiki, we've been somewhat delayed and are trying to catch up with the planned overhaul. Given the circumstances (and as it is Christmas), I'd thought I could work on a new entry for this little side-project which coincides with some of the existing work which I'm already doing as part of STOP (the Series Three Overhaul Project) - on the backgrounds of some of the stuff involved in the British Halloween. As there are still a fair number of tools and techniques left to be shown, for this entry I'll be just focusing on the backgrounds and abilities of the three main swords which are in play during this arc's events, all of which have been shown; Curtana, Ascalon and Hrunting.
NOTE: Bear in mind that a number of the subjects which might be involved have differing interpretations and disagreements concerning them. Also, I'm just a casual reader in these areas, so there may be some mistakes at times, though I try to avoid them as much as possible. If there are any points for improvement, correction or discussion, please feel free to discuss them in a constructive manner in the comments section below.
First off, the Curtana, the sword (or technically swords) at the heart of the conflict. Said to be the greatest spiritual item of the United Kingdom and the British Royal Family, it is wielded by the country's ruler and is at the core of a powerful spell which spans the whole of the kingdom. The one in Queen Elizard's hands being the Curtana Second, created after the first sword was lost, the unearthing of the Curtana Original and its delivery to Second Princess Carissa signalled the beginning of her coup d'état.
Known as the Sword of Mercy due to its blunt end, the real-life ceremonial sword is one of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom and is used in the coronations of British monarchs. Just like in the Toaru series, the current one is not the original, being a copy made in the 17th century.[TBR 1] The Toaru sword differs in appearance from the real-life Curtana, which is also more gilded.[TBR 1]
There are several different stories concerning the Curtana's origins. There have been claims of the original sword belonging to a number of historical or legendary figures, such as Tristan, Edward the Confessor or Ogier the Dane, with different variations and translations of the sword's name depending on the tale (such as Curtein, Cortein and Kurt).[TBR 1] The earliest written records of the name Curtana apparently come from the accounts of the coronation of Queen Eleanor of Provence and her marriage to Henry III in 1236.[TBR 1]
In the Karlamagnús saga, a Norse adaptation of tales from the Matter of France, Kurt (Curtana), Durendal (or Durandal) and Almace were three swords forged by Wayland the Smith and given to Charlemagne, who tested them on a steel mound. Kurt penetrated "a hand's breadth" but was notched in the process, Almace did the same without damage and Durendal managed "half the length of a man's foot". Charlemagne subsequently gave Kurt to Ogier, Almace to Bishop Turpin and initially kept Durendel before giving it to Roland.[TBR 1] Another tale apparently has Curtana, Durendal and Charlemagne's sword Joyeuse (more on these two later) as a set of three, rather than Almace.[TBR 1]
The Curtana's immense power is rooted in a nationwide spell and special rule woven into the structure and history of the United Kingdom, referred to as the 'All-English/British Continent'.
The spell's origins are based in the English Reformation, where Henry VIII broke away from the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church and established the Church of England (aka the Anglican Church). The reason for this schism was political rather than theological - Henry VIII wished to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to produce a male heir, and the Catholic Church's rulings prevented him from doing so.[TBR 1]
In the Toaru series, Henry VIII equated the position of head of the church (Supreme Head of the Church of England, later Supreme Governor of the Church of England) to Archangel Michael (Supreme Commander of the Heavenly Hosts), a position higher than the Pope. In addition to the monarch symbolizing Michael, the Knights of England symbolized the army of angels led by Michael. Through this symbolism, the monarch and the knights are supplied with Telesma to grant them power simulating their equivalents. The Curtana, being the sword symbolizing the monarch, acts as the 'conductor's baton' directing the spell.[TBR 2]
In order to construct the spell's mechanism, Henry VIII intended to use four cultures of the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) as part of one greater country (the United Kingdom). There are a fair number of things associated with the number four (e.g. four cardinal directions, four seasons, four classical elements, four archangels associated with some of these in certain traditions, etc) - in this case, the number four signifies the earth, the 'land' aspect of the spell's foundation.
Henry VIII oversaw the legal union of England and Wales from 1535 to 1542 onwards, and became the first English monarch to rule as King of Ireland from 1542.[TBR 1] As is mentioned in the series, Scotland was an independent nation at the time this rule was set up and the series gives it as the reason for the subsequent wars between England and Scotland in that time, with Scotland proving tougher than Henry VIII anticipated. In real life, the eight/nine-year war later referred to as the "Rough Wooing" (December 1942 - March 1951, with Henry's death in 1947) was also partially influenced by Scotland's alliance with France.[TBR 1]
A union between England and Scotland wouldn't be achieved until the end of the Tudor dynasty and the crowning of James VI of Scotland as James I of England (from the House of Stuart - more on that later in the series) in 1603 and the sovereign states were only united into one kingdom (initially the Kingdom of Great Britain) in 1707 during the reign of Queen Anne. It would later become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927 (five years after most of Ireland seceded from the Union).[TBR 1] In the series, Northern Ireland remained in the union in order to maintain the four-state structure necessary for the spell, with the rest of Ireland not being used.
A prominently displayed ability of the Curtana is its ability to slice through dimensions and the dimensional wreckage which is produced when it does so. The Curtana's ability to cut through dimensions is the result of applying its immense power with its quality and symbolic meaning of being a sword meant to separate the UK from the rest of the world and control what goes on within the kingdom.
The debris which appears when the Curtana Original severs a point through all dimensions simultaneously (white in the novels and golden in the anime), is stated by Carissa to be the result of cutting through objects of higher dimensions than the three which can normally be perceived (comparing it to how cutting a three-dimensional object produces a two-dimensional cross-section, two to one etc).
As shown within the series, the Curtana's wielder has to take care when using the sword due to its immense power, as they'd be the first one at risk if that power went out of control. Safety devices were made to mitigate the danger and the Anglicans would later exploit them in order to artificially induce an overload in the Curtana Original, causing a considerable loss of power and Telesma in the process (though not enough to eliminate the Curtana's threat).
It was noted within the novels (but not the anime), that such an event had happened before - during the English Civil War (sometimes referred to (in-series and out) as the 'Puritan Revolution', though this isn't too accurate), which ultimately resulted in the loss of the Curtana Original. This was a conflict (or series of conflicts) which took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 to 1651, resulting from dissatisfaction with the reign of Charles I. The Parliamentarians were ultimately victorious and the monarchy was deposed, with Charles I being beheaded in 1649 and his son Charles II exiled. During the period which followed the king's execution, known as the Interregnum, the Commonwealth of England was governed by the 'Rump Parliament' (1649-1653, 1659-1660) and then by the Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector (1653-1658). The monarchy was later reinstated in the Restoration of 1660, with Charles II taking the throne.[TBR 1]
In the Toaru series, the revolution's success is attributed to the loss of first control and then the sword, as the Curtana's immense power would have resulted in the opposition being slaughtered.
The second sword is Ascalon, the weapon which Acqua of the Back (aka William Orwell) brought with him to make up for his decreased capabilities in the wake of his defeat in Academy City at the hands of the Amakusas.
The sword is derived from the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and based on the weapon with St. George (a figure whom William Orwell is compared to in the narrative[TBR 2]) used to slay the dragon (either a sword, spear or lance depending on the version of the tale in question).[TBR 2][TBR 1] The name Ascalon came to be associated with the weapon in certain medieval romances, derived from the Levantine city of Ashkelon.[TBR 1]
The sword featured in the Toaru series was created at the end of the 16th century by an artist who tried to work out what exactly would be need to slay the dragon from the legend if it actually existed, with the sword's giant form and multiple implements being the result.[TBR 2] The sword would eventually end up in the hands of a group who had been saved by William Orwell in Russia and subsequently gave it to him prior to his return to England, having already placed his escutcheon onto it.[TBR 2]
Ascalon is certainly not the only aspect of St. George to be featured in the Toaru series. His symbol, a red cross on white, is used for the flag of England and as a component of the Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. Tatemiya Saiji wears a shirt with a slanted St. George's cross on it - originally signifying his and the Amakusas' desire to follow their then-former Priestess, Kanzaki Kaori, to the Anglican Church.
In the very first volume and arc of the series, Index made use of spells based on the legend of St. George while in John's Pen Mode, such as 'St. George's Sanctuary', a high-level defensive spell that distorts space (basis not yet verified), and the 'Dragon's Breath' - based on the dragon St. George fought, a spell which produces a beam at the upper limits of Imagine Breaker's negation threshold and was accidentally responsible for destroying Tree Diagram in orbit.
There was also a spiritual item derived from St. George's fate, which was involved in the events surrounding the Amakusas' admission to Necessarius, detailed in a sidestory. Based on how the Roman priests who urged St. George to renounce his faith had their temples destroyed by something falling from the heavens and answering his prayers, it was meant to destroy every temple, spiritual item and other magical device within 20km.
William Orwell's escutcheon, designed during his mercenary days when he was being considered as a prospective knight and later emblazoned on Ascalon, is noted to be an unusual one. The shield is divided in four parts, all blue but with differing patterns, with three green charges on top of it; a dragon, unicorn, and selkie, all mythical creatures.
It has been interpreted in different ways; Sherry Cromwell thought it represented his unhappiness at being chosen as a knight and expressing it through the escutcheon in a mocking way, while the Knight Leader interpreted it as representing the harmony of the United Kingdom, with the four quarters representing the four nations making up the country and the charges representing the three great factions (the Royal Family, the Knights and the Anglican Church) protecting it.
There have been plenty of references to dragons in the series, aside from the dragon from St. George's legend as well as Codename DRAGON and the one emerging when the Imagine Breaker was severed.[TBR 2][TBR 2] The other two haven't been referenced as often, though they have been mentioned elsewhere in the series:
- Selkies, seal-like creatures who can also take the form of a woman, are also referenced in this arc - the name of a submarine Mobile Fortress series, the Selkie Aquarium, is derived from them.
- Unicorns, equestrian creatures with a single pointy horn protruding from their foreheads, were referenced in the previous arc (in Volume 16 but not the anime) - specifically a piece of folklore about Elizabeth I receiving a unicorn horn (which, according to Sherry, was just an ordinary animal bone). With regards to their tendency to only grow attached to pure maidens and to only allow them to ride them, Carissa's horse Alex was compared to one in that manner (which, it was noted, has certain implications).
The last of the three is the sword wielded by the Knight Leader, Hrunting, which he made full use of during his duel with his old friend William Orwell (now Acqua of the Back).
Its namesake, from which it is derived, comes from the Old English poem Beowulf, perhaps the oldest surviving long story in Old English and considered one of the most important works in Old English literature.[TBR 1] A Nordic story set in Scandinavia, it focuses on Beowulf, hero of the Geats, who goes to the aid of Hrothgar, King of the Danes, whose hall was being terrorized by the monster Grendel. Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel by tearing off his arm, causing Grendel's mother to seek vengeance.[TBR 1]
Given to Beowulf by Unferth (who had previously doubted/disliked him, mocked him while drunk, and apparently wished to make up for it), the sword was said to be tempered in blood and had never failed anyone who wielded it in battle, having apparently been used for heroic feats before.[Ext 1] However it proved ineffective against Grendel's mother and Beowulf had to discard it.[Ext 2]
After killing her, Beowulf returned the sword to Unferth, with "no ill word" for it despite its failure,[Ext 3] and subsequently returned to his homeland, where he would become king of the Geats. He would live for 50 more years before being mortally wounded while slaying a dragon.[Ext 4]
In the original tale, Hrunting was said to become stronger and sharpener with blood. In the Toaru series, the Knight Leader used Telesma, provided in a large quantity by the Curtana and the All-English Continent, in place of blood to temper his blade. He also makes use of the combined symbols of the two swords connected to the United Kingdom, Curtana and Hrunting, in order to strengthen his ability to control different types of power within the country and control this large amount of Telesma, said to be greater than the power held by the average Saint.
Aside from the attributes associated with Hrunting from Beowulf, the Knight Leader also makes use of Pattern Magic, derived from the tales and traditions of various knight and warrior cultures across Europe (e.g. Celtic, Norse, Germanic, Charlemagnic etc), the laws and patterns of which he has studied, analyzed, refined, combined and incorporated into his own attack patterns. The tales and attributes of legendary weapons from these cultures and mythologies were included in this process.
The seven patterns mentioned were Attack Range (allows ranged strikes from any direction), Slicing Power (self-explanatory), Weapon Weight (increases weight and destructive power), Movement Speed (enhances wielder speed), Enduring Solidity (indestructibility), Special Use (for slaying certain monsters) and Precise Accuracy (guides strikes towards vital points).
The Knight Leader is only able to use one attack pattern at a time as they follow their respective path and direction to their limit. This approach is slightly similar (though somewhat different) to another method which appears later on in the series. Referred to as an imitation divine technique, it makes up for humans lacking the capacity to fully recreate a god's legends or weapons by instead extracting a single point and honing that aspect into an independent technique, going narrow and deep rather than broad and shallow.
In constructing his Pattern Magic, the Knight Leader analyzed and processed various knight and warrior cultures, and this included the laws and patterns for the legendary weapons found within them. Four specific weapons were named, the Norse Gungnir and Mjölnir, and the Celtic Fragarach and Brionac, and another specific one was referenced, though not by name. There were likely more, but these five were the ones which were confirmed.
The first of the four named ones, Gungnir, would also play a very important role in Kanzaki's sidestory and the first half of Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index.[TBR 2] In Norse Mythology, Gungnir is the spear of Odin, Allfather and king of the Aesir.[TBR 1] Fashioned by the dvergr (specifically the Sons of Ivaldi) and given to Odin after Loki visited them to obtain a replacement for Sif's hair (which he had cut off), the spear was said to never miss its mark when thrown.[Ext 5] It was said to have runes carved onto it,[Ext 6][Ext 7] and in some works, its shaft was made from the wood of the world tree Yggdrasil.[Ext 7] In Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, derived from the Völsunga saga, the spear was the weapon used by Odin to shatter Sigmund's sword Gram (rather than a bill).[Ext 7][Ext 8] Odin would carry the spear into the final battle of Ragnarök, where he was swallowed by Fenrir.[Ext 9]
The second of the four and the two Norse weapons, is Mjölnir, hammer of the thunder god Thor.[TBR 1] It was referred to earlier during the arc's events during Itsuwa's battle with Bayloupe, with regards to New Light's weapons, the Steel Gloves, which are derived from some of the other tools that Thor used, overshadowed by the famous hammer.[TBR 2] Mjölnir would also play a major role in the events of the first half of Shinyaku Toaru Majutsu no Index.
Thor acquired Mjölnir during the same incident in which Odin acquired Gungnir. After obtaining Sif's replacement hair, the ship Skíðblaðnir (which the suitcases are based on) and Gungnir, and boasting about them, Loki made a bet with the proud Brokkr that he and his brother Eitri could not craft works on the same level as the Sons of Ivaldi, wagering their respective heads. The brothers subsequently made the golden boar Gullinbursti, the ring Draupnir (more on that later) and Mjölnir, though the hammer's handle was shortened because a fly (commonly believed to be or sent by Loki) bit Brokkr on the bellows. As such, Thor had to use the gauntlets Járngreipr to wield the hammer. Loki lost the bet but kept his head by claiming that the removal would damage his neck, which wasn't in the wager, and Brokkr compromised by sewing Loki's lips shut.[Ext 5]
The hammer has been given a variety of attributes in various Norse tales and traditions.[TBR 1][TBR 2] Most often, it symbolizes the power of Thor as the thunder god, pursues and hits its target when thrown and then returns to Thor's hands, and its weight is such that only certain people can wield it (on top of the handle issue).[TBR 1][TBR 2] However, Mjölnir also had other functions - for example, after his goats were eaten and only bones were left, Thor could restore them with a wave of the hammer (in good health providing the bones were intact).[Ext 9] Mjölnir's weight appears to fit the 'Weapon Weight' pattern, and there seems like a bit of a possibility that it might also fit into the same pattern as Gungnir due to being able to pursue and strike a target in a similar way (though in terms of targeting vital points...).[Ext 10]
Mjölnir was featured in many tales involving Thor. One notable story involves the theft of the hammer by jötunn king Thrymr, who demanded the goddess Freyja in exchange. Following a scheme devised by Loki, Thor was brought to Thrymr disguised as Freyja and when the hammer was produced, he reclaimed it and slaughtered all giants present at the wedding reception (this particular tale crops up a bit later on in the story).[Ext 11] After Thor's death during Ragnarök, his sons Magni and Móði inherit the hammer.[Ext 12]
The third of the four and first of the two Celtic weapons, is Fragarach (or Freagarthach, also known by the names 'The Answerer' or 'The Retaliator'), the sword of the sea god Manannán mac Lir.[TBR 1][Ext 10] Its two epithets are derived from some of its special powers; 'The Answerer' comes from its ability to make an adversary answer a question truthfully and prevent them from lying when pointed at their throat, and 'The Retaliator' from being able to slice through any armor or shield and deliver wounds which couldn't be recovered from.[TBR 1][Ext 10] Aside from Manannán mac Lir, several other figures have held the sword in various tales, such as Lugh in a modern version of Odiheadh Chloinne Tuireann ("The Fate of the Children of Tuireann").[Ext 10]
The last of the four, Brionac, also played a small role in the British Halloween itself,[TBR 2] one which was not animated. A spiritual item based on and named after the weapon was used by a member of the knights, and when its wielder fell, a stray shot from the broken spear severed power lines for the train tracks, slightly complicating Kamijou Touma's plans to get to Folkestone. In recent times, the name Brionac has been associated with the spear (sleg) of Lugh, king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, which is considered one of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann.[TBR 1] It has cropped up in many works in Japanese media, though the name apparently doesn't appear in surviving Irish or Welsh texts.[Ext 13]
The specific weapon which wasn't named but referenced was Joyeuse, the sword wielded by Charlemagne, which supposedly had a shard of the Spear of Longinus inserted into its hilt. The Knight Leader referred to this as an example of fragments of powerful weapons holding power on their own (this will come up again a little later), with fragments of his own weapon being used in his 'Attack Range' pattern to attack from directions other than from the main sword (with Acqua noting how he was using the legend of one of France's kings when he was intending to go along with Carissa against them). As noted before, Joyeuse is sometimes included in with the Curtana (Kurt) and Durendal as a trio, though Almace takes its place in other versions.[TBR 1]
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 To be referenced (External)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 To be referenced (Internal)