One of the specifications I've put into my vampire lore is the use of silver weapons to harm Vamsyrians (see my post on “Vampire” Through History to learn why I don't use the word “vampire” in my series).
I didn't like the idea of the wooden stake through the heart because, honestly, I couldn't find any real reason for why that would work against an immortal being. And based on the “laws” I established for holy relics and whatnot, it wasn't going to work.
Since my vampire lore is rooted in Christian theology – that old war between Satan and God and why holy items harm vampires – I decided to put my hard-earned study time to use. “Write what you know,” goes the mantra for writers.
Life led me down a very interesting journey (which I won't detail here) and I ended up spending about 6800 hours studying the Bible over an eight-year period. Why let that time go to waste, eh? For the record, I'm agnostic in my religious beliefs, but favor the Wicca/Pagan theology. However, considering I was a hard-core, fundamentalist Christian for about ten years, I have definitely been on both sides of the fence and sympathize with the Christian and Pagan faiths alike. Using the Christian theology as the foundation for my vampire world is only for world-building purposes and, as my readers know, my main character Broderick MacDougal definitely has his opinions of organized religions across the board…so my books are not trying to spread the “good news” in any way, shape or form. To each his or her own, I say.
With all that said, I decided to go with silver as the substance that would harm Vamsyrians in a stake form, which has a Biblical foundation:
“The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in the furnace of earth, purified seven times.”–Psalms 12:6
My reasoning goes, then, that if pure silver represents God's word and the Word of God is referenced as a sword (Ephesians 6:17 – “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:”), then if silver is fashioned into a weapon, it would harm anything that was created by Satan…my Vamsyrians included.
Woo hoo! Problem solved about what could harm my vampire. I could make a silver stake and use silver swords! Well…not really. I know from my own personal experience that silver is a pretty soft metal. By itself, it couldn't be forged and used for fighting. Broderick MacDougal is a Scotsman that fought through many Clan wars, and most of them against Angus's particular branch of Clan Campbell. As such, his trusted weapon would be a sword – whether he was immortal or not. I needed to know how to incorporate silver in his weapons if he were to fight successfully against Angus.
My research led me to a website – Ron Reil's Home Page – which detailed how to forge swords. Though the site was very informative, I still didn't find my answers about using silver in weapon making. Luckily, Ron has his contact information on his site and was kind enough to talk with me on the phone for an interview. After I explained who I was, the information I was looking for, and how I would be incorporating them into my books, we narrowed in on the specifics…
Arial Burnz (AB): I was wondering if it was possible to forge a blade, such as a sword or a pair of stilettos, purely out of silver, or if silver is too soft of a metal to do such a thing.
Ron: (laughing) Actually, yes, silver is way too soft to make a weapon. It's so soft, you could actually bend it around your arm.
Ron: Yes, that is very possible. You could do it with about 180-250 layers of bronze and silver combined. It's with a technique called Mokume Gane (pronounced mah-coo-may gayne), which is the same thing as Damascus laminated blades. Bronze is a very strong metal and works well with the silver, but I wouldn't recommend doing any sword fighting with it against a steel blade. The steel blade would surely break the bronze and silver blade because it's so much more brittle than the steel.
AB: Well, that won't work. I need something that's going to stand up to a fight against a steel weapon. Is it possible to forge a steel and silver blade?
Ron: No, I don't think so. The silver and steel don't mix very well. I've never heard of it being done. However, there is a metal, a magical metal (Arial's ears perk up at the word “magical”!), that is thousands of years old. It's what Damascus steel is made of and there are beautiful weapons that will take your breath away. The technique to forge these weapons is done at a lower temperature and it requires multiple layers and folding of the metal as it's forged. (Ron went on to tell me about Wootz metal and how several centuries ago it was lost and only recently rediscovered.)
AB: How fascinating! This sounds like it might work. Would it be possible to forge a weapon out of this Wootz metal and have it plated with silver, yet still be able to fight with it? I realize the silver may be chipped or scratched during the use of it, but–
Ron: Actually, you wouldn't have to cover the edge of the blade with the silver. You could just coat the blade with a thick layer of silver – even up to one-eighth of an inch thick – and have the silver only cover the main part of the blade, leaving the cutting edges open and that's what you'd use to fight. You could come up with all kinds of beautiful designs like that and have the silver on the blades, like you're hoping.
That's my two pence…