Mystery surrounds the enigmatic Warforged known as The Lord of Blades. Very little is known about his past, and yet fewer details can be discerned concerning his future plans. There are theories and conspiracies abound, but few answers have ever surfaced – and some even hold fast that this “Lord of Blades” does not exist at all. Most authorities in the surrounding regions believe that this dangerous prophet does indeed exist, but no one, not even the elves of House Phiarlan, has been able to gather much intelligence concerning the figure himself or his activities.
What is for certain though, is that somewhere within the border of dead-gray mist, the enclave of the Lord of Blades has risen above the broken, ashen ground of the Mournland, and stands as a beacon that gathers Warforged from all over Khorvaire to his cause.
Some speak of him as a scholar and philosopher, dedicated to the liberation of the Warforged race, while a majority of others perceive him to be a power-mad tyrant, hell-bent on the destruction of the “fleshborn” and the conquest of all of Khorvaire. While a relatively small fraction of Warforged are attracted to his teachings, and not all of the zealots who have been charmed by his words have been able to yet reach his side, many fear that the sole reason the Lord of Blades hasn't acted on his apocalyptic campaign of conquest is because his army is still too small.
For the inhabitants of the Five Nations, one thing is clear though: his mere existence spells certain doom. In battle, the Lord of Blades has few equals, yet adventurers must first contend with his followers and lieutenants, before facing the Lord of Blades directly. However, doing so is to invite death. His body is covered in blades, which forms a whirlwind of steel and blood as he charges into battle.
Rumors persist among both his followers and enemies, that the Lord of Blades either seeks to recover a creation forge and rediscover the secrets of Warforged construction, or that he is already in possession of one. While it doesn't appear that he is yet to master the ability to churn out new Warforged on a regular basis, some claim that he, slowly and carefully, is able to create new Warforged who, despite his care, emerge misshapen in body, mind, or both.
History & Possible Identities
There are many theories and conspiracies circulating regarding the history of the Lord of Blades, yet it remains unknown to all but himself. The fact that the Lord of Blades didn't appear in the world until after the Day of Mourning has only gone on to stoke the fires of mystery around this almost legendary figure, and the most prevalent theories regarding his past concerns his identity and his role during the Last War.
Some claim that he was once the leader of the Warforged armies of Cyre, while others theories, rather contradictory, proclaim him to be a newer warforged, perhaps even the last to emerge from the creation forges of House Cannith before they were dismantled as required by the Thronehold Accords. It has even been claimed that the Lord of Blades was the one responsible for the Day of Mourning, and that his ultimate goal is to repeat that event to conquer all of Khorvaire, and maybe even the rest of Eberron.
Scholars sometimes propose the names of actual Warforged, known to have served and gained renown during the Last War, as the true identity of the Lord of Blades. Such names include; Rampart, one of the commanders of the Cyran army; the hero Bastion, who presumably died in the Field of Ruins; and finally, Bulwark, the personal bodyguard to king Boranel of Breland – believed by some to be the most likely candidate.
A more rational theory dismisses the task of finding the origin of the Lord of Blades, instead proposing that there is no one Lord of Blades, but many. Perhaps “The Lord of Blades” is nothing more than a title, carried by whichever leader claims it at the time. Thus, any squad of warforged encountered in the Mournland could contain the Lord of Blades, even though none of them actually do. This theory certainly accounts for the mystery and elusiveness of the Lord far better than any other.
Whatever the truth, the Lord of Blades has emerged as a messiah to parts of the Warforged population that seeks to embrace their construct heritage over their living heritage. The vast majority of Warforged, however, consider the Lord of Blades to be a false and deluded prophet, or even an abomination that must be destroyed.
Bulwark the Liberator
The theory that the Lord of Blades and the royal bodyguard Bulwark are one and the same carries some weight among theorists. Bulwark advocated for the freedom of the Warforged people, but then disappeared soon after the Treaty of Thronehold was signed. The treaty gave the Warforged the freedom to choose as they would, including on matters of religion, meaning that the Last War actually could have given birth to the Lord of Blades directly.
Some rumors claim Bulwark took a new name and personality to gain complete freedom from his old life, while others hold fast that did indeed travel into the Mournland to become the Lord of Blades, but no one knows for certain. Furthermore, any and all attempts to use divination magic to learn about Bulwark's fate fails, giving further credence to the rumors.
There are those Warforged that revere Bulwark as a liberator and hero of their people, providing him with the sort of respect normally reserved for gods. This has led to the creation of several cults, with many Warforged pledging their lives in service of Bulwark. As he departed for the east soon after they were freed, these loyalists were left to choose between remaining in their old lands and following their savior. Those who stayed behind have cultivated small areas of worship and have readied the Warforged populace for his return, an event that would see many unify behind him.
These believers call themselves the Preparers of the Way, and peacefully integrate themselves into whatever larger society exists around them. Others, known as the Converts, abandoned their former homes and try to retrace Bulwark's steps to join him in whatever great destiny awaits. Both such groups claim to be followers of Bulwark the Liberator, and have no interest in joining with the Lord of Blades. By contrast, the followers of the Lord of Blades pay homage to their leader in the Mournland, denying that he has anything in common with the subservient Bulwark.
This theory is one King Boranel of Breland is obsessed with, although he doesn't give credence to the rumors by openly pursuing the truth. Instead, he compulsively collects information about the Lord of Blades, as his intelligence agents seek out independent investigators to bring the latest news. He is tormented by the thought that he might have unleashed such a threat upon Khorvaire, while also wanting the best for his old companion. He wonders whether Bulwark, if he and the Lord of Blades are indeed the same person, would even listen to his former patron if he could get word to the Mournland stronghold.
The leaders of the nations of Khorvaire fear that unifying the Warforged might result in a desire for a sovereign state. Thrane and Karrnath are particularly interested in proof of Bulwark's death to nullify the threat to their indentured labor force.
Perhaps the most outlandish idea is that the Lord of Blades is not a true warforged at all. The first warforged were created by an artificer named Merrix d'Cannith, but it was his son, Aaren d'Cannith, that advanced the Warforged by providing them with sentience. Aaren was a dreamer, both a philosopher as well as an artificer, who sought to unravel the mysteries of life. While his father worked on weapons, Aaren studied the nature of life itself, and it was his incorporation of organic material that set his creations apart from his father's. Aaren's creations were capable of independent, creative thought, and even emotional behavior. These were the first true warforged.
During the war, Aaren's father developed plans for his son's inventions. Here were the tireless soldier the house had been seeking. Merrix adapted his creation forges to use Aaren's designs, and soon the house was producing platoons of armored constructs, which were indoctrinated into service as soon as they emerged from the forges. Aaren protested what he saw when the house used his invention to create weapons of war. He argued this to be abuse and enslavement of his creations, but his pleas were ignored, turning him furious. In 970 YK, Aaren was excoriated - formally disinherited from House Cannith.
Following his expulsion, Aaren disappeared, with his fate remaining a mystery, as diviners and inquisitives have found no traces of him. Most believe that Aaren is long dead, but a number of conflicting stories present other possibilities.
Some say that Aaren still wanders the world, and that he is dong what he can to help Warforged adjust to a life of peace. Others say that he went mad, and that he has entered the service of the sinister Lord of Blades, using his knowledge to produce strange new warforged. It's from these tales that the notion of the Lord of Blades salvaging a creation forge has arisen.
One final theory persists, though - one that is equally outlandish, horrid, and plausible: Perhaps, it claims, Aaren is the Lord of Blades - that he has crafted a suit of armor that makes him appear to be a warforged, or that he has found a way to transfer his consciousness into a warforged body so that he could personally seek vengeance for the wrongs done to him and his children.
When it comes to the Lord of Blades, it is virtually impossible to separate the person from the cult of personality that's sprung up around him. Most believe him to be a fanatical prophet, surrounding himself with zealots, preaching the superiority of the constructed living and promising the death of the fleshborn. Even among many of the Warforged the Lord's words are met with disdain, himself being viewed as an abomination and detrimental to the cause he proclaims to champion.
Regardless, in the years since he first appeared, the Lord of Blades has gathered followers from among the Warforged of Khorvaire, and sought to build an empire upon the ruins of Cyre, deep within the desolate Mournland. These followers call themselves "The Blades" and has joined his nation, centered in a great, hidden fortress where Warforged from all over Khorvaire can come and feel a sense of belonging. Today his Warforged roam the Mournland, patrolling the devastated terrain and salvaging resources from the ashes of Cyre.
While the Lord's call to action is appealing to many Warforged few actually join the movement, whether this is due to them finding the proposed actions abhorrent, regardless of the legitimacy of their grievances, or a simple fear of the rigors of membership is unclear. Compared to the sheer amount of Warforged created during the war, the followers of the Lord of Blades are not especially numerous, even if no one knows how many Warforged have joined forces with the Lord of Blades. However, every month or so, another Warforged enters the Mournland in search of this supposed haven for living constructs..
Within his domain his will is absolute, and he runs his society like a military dictatorship with theocratic ideals, with the Lord of Blades serving as both god and king to his people. As the words of the Lord of Blades are law and canon, few dare challenge him, and those who do fail to recognize these indisputable facts are to be destroyed. Likewise, the Lord of Blades allows no one to leave his movement.
Many outside the Mournland fear that he seeks to spread his autocratic ways and influence to the rest of the continent, building a legion of Warforged zealots, primed to march from the Mournland to unleash destruction on their former masters – challenging the weaker, fleshborn races for the supremacy of Khorvaire.
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