Online:Crafting Motif 87: Ancestral Nord Style
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Twas the year one hundred and forty-three of the First Era when Harald, thirteenth in the line of Ysgramor, did relinquish all claims to the holdings of his storied line in the land of his birth and, by birth and by conquest, did assume the mantle of high king to found his own kingdom in Tamriel: the Kingdom of Skyrim. To commemorate the vanquishing of the Elves and the unification of Men under his banner, Harald commissioned every craftsworker in his new land to outfit his warriors and forge the first army of Nords.
Though the first Nords wished to distinguish themselves from the their forebears, they were still fiercely proud of their Atmoran heritage, and there is no more revered weapon in our storied history than the battle axe. Though uniformity would mean not every warrior could wield their own Wuuthrad, the high standards of Harald would ensure that each would receive a sturdy, steel weapon of war.
While a sturdy leather cinch would suffice for most, Harald's warriors were equipped with fur-lined and studded belts as a sign of distinction from common rabble. Soldiers were permitted to bear any insignia upon the buckle and many proudly displayed their family crests as such.
Concessions were made during the initial outfitting of Harald's army to avoid a surplus of ill-fitting boots, so rigid armor of hardened leather, steel, and brass was designed to be strapped around the shins and knees over a warrior's own footwear. Korm No-Toes famously wore them over his bare legs.
With Skyrim seeing its first domestic peace for some time, many palisades and other temporary fortifications were torn down and repurposed. Much of that tough, native ash was rendered into recurve bows and arrows.
Harald's steel supply was limited in the early days of his reign, so hardened leather, chain link, and bronze plate or scale mail made up the bulk of the army's cuirasses. Despite this, the royal insignia medallion emblazoned on the chest was always minted in steel.
Most Nords kept their own knives for utilitarian purposes, so the short blades borne by the army were more akin to swords than their diminutive cousins. Wide of blade, stout of heft, and better suited to chopping than thrusting.
Despite claims that freezing sweat from a bare-hand grip would keep a weapon firmly in hand, Harald's army elected to provide insulated gloves for his warriors, as well as bracers of reinforced leather or metal to fend off more than the cold.
While not all Nord helms bear horns, nor was Harald the first to suggest adding them, it was his army's uniform that codified the tradition and fixed the image in the mind's eye as solidly as stone. Though what size and shape of horns caused the least impediment in battle had yet to be determined.
Full greaves were not in common use among early Nord warriors until Harald's decree declared them a fundamental part of the kit. Though his soldiers might have complained of the bulkiness, they were surely appreciative of the thick, bear fur undergarments during bitter, winter campaigning.
Harald did have a clever answer for outfitting an army far beyond the numbers of those that came before: fittings would be made that could be shared among armaments. While the broad, square faces of Nord warhammers bear little resemblance to the crescent blades of their axes, nigh on everything else between them is identical in make.
Though most Atmoran longboats had long since been turned to longhouses, their influence lived on in the heavy, Nord shields carried by thick-armed warriors no longer shackled by concerns of drowning. Where once sturdy timber was braced in bands of iron, now only steel-clad bulwarks remained.
While the size of these large, fur-lined plates did supplement the protection of a cuirass, their bulk was exaggerated to present a stockier, more imposing frame.
Though not as rare as they seem today, clever men and women were an uncommon sight in Skyrim's army. Battlemages were distinguished by their great, steel staves bearing the Dragon masthead that Harald claimed as his sigil.
The long blades of Harald's army sprouted like towering oaks from hilts the shape of troll horns, ready to come down on the heads of his enemies with all the force of a felled tree. And so they did, as his armies continued to expand the boundaries of Skyrim's holds.