What does a Forge-guard do when he or she has lost their favourite axe, and a good punch just won’t do the job? Well, there are a couple of options.
Guard’s Knife – It is what it is. This favoured side arm can be up to half a meter in length. Typically, with Guards who favour the use of the double-axe, the knife is purely a reserve weapon, but it is often used as an off-hand weapon by those equipped with a hand-axe. Again, its shorter length means that it is well suited to being used in confined spaces.
All Guard’s knives have heavy, single edged blades, usually with a ten to twenty centimetre convex clip point, but there are some variations in the knife’s design. Some include a serrated rear blade. This adaptation can be used offensively, and comes in useful when dealing with enemies with thick or armoured hide. Effectively, and wound can be extended by the act of sawing the knife through the skin. Usually, though, the serrated blade is employed for a more practical purpose, and is used for sawing through wood or rope. This effectively turns the weapon into a more versatile tool. The knife’s weight also adds to its versatility, making it capable of chopping through softer undergrowth. It is a popular weapon among Forge-guard and Exploring Engineers given duties in places such as the Cusp Jungle. Weapons carried in these environments often have other augmentations, such as a more rounded point and sometimes a rear mounted guthook, making them more effective for skinning animals. The removal of animal hide for the manufacture of makeshift shelters or equipment is sometimes essential for survival in certain situations.
The idea of the knife being as much a tool as a weapon has been expanded in the last twenty or thirty years. Many recently manufactured weapons have been designed with a hidden chamber in the handle, which can hold a variety of objects. Small screwdrivers and adjustable wrenches are often found in blade handles, and needles and thread for sewing up wounds are also quite common. It is not unknown for other items to be concealed; miniature hand-lights are becoming popular, and one enterprising Guard was known to keep a small boom-stick in the handle of her weapon (more on boom-sticks in a later post)
It has become something of a craze among younger Forge-guard to have these knives, and it is not unknown for there to be competitions among the lower ranks to see who can have a blade with the most number of useful things in the handle. Needless to say, such practices are frowned upon by the senior members of the Guard.
Hurling-knife – A ranged weapon favoured by some Forge Guard. Hurling-knives have wide, leaf shaped blades, are much smaller and lighter than the standard Guard’s knife, and are commonly worn in a bandolier carrying three or four such weapons. They can be used in hand to hand combat, as demonstrated by Junior Engineer Warvitch in the story ‘Escape from Ryazan’, but they are designed to be well balanced enough to be thrown. Although their effective range is short, they do provide a Forge Guard with added flexibility in the field.
Many Forge Guard eschew the use of hurling-knives, preferring to get up close and personal with their enemy, though it is also the case that many do not achieve the requisite skill to use them. There are many instances of their use in ‘Tales of Engines & Demons’. In the story ‘Rourke’, Forge Guard Warvitch uses one to good effect when dispatching an attacking pihratis, and again, in the final tale ‘The Next Generation of Trouble-makers’, his daughter is equally adept with her own blades. Rather than wearing them in a bandolier, though, she has hers concealed in custom made sheathes on her wrists, which grants her a means of very swift deployment.
So, as each variety of axe has its own function and possible versatility so does the Forge Guard’s humble knife. In my next post, I’ll talk about some other ranged weapons, and will be introducing the technological marvel that is the Engineer comp-bow, along with all the wonderfully devastating ammunition types that come with it.