An Incomplete History of the
Blade of Laertes

This handsome sword, also known as the Vampire Slayer, is the second most interesting artifact in the Subspecies/Vampire Journals universe (after the Bloodstone, of course). Like the Bloodstone, everyone wants it, and it's changed hands more often than the throne of Wallachia. Its form is fairly simple for an item of such fame: a plain, unengraved broad blade, its heavy golden hilt in the form of an angel or goddess figure whose opened wings form the blade's guard. (The hilt is said as well to be marked with magickal symbols, though we never see these.) Its name suggests it is of great age: King Laertes was the father of Odysseus, or Ulysses, the far-travelled hero of ancient Greece.

An episode in The Odyssey (the chronicle of his adventures) may well give us the key to the importance of this magical blade. Odysseus, it's recorded, needed information which could only be acquired from the long-dead sage Teiresias. To summon the seer's ghost, Odysseus was advised by the sorceress Circe to dig a pit and fill it with the blood of sheep. Ghosts of all kinds would gather, vampirically, to drink the blood and gain a few minutes of renewed life, but Odysseus must stand guard over the pit with his sword - which had been his father's - and keep all ghosts from reaching the blood until the one he awaited arrived. Odysseus did so, allowing only the shade of Teiresias to drink, and thus gained the information he needed. -- If this sword had the power to hold blood-thirsty spirits at bay, surely it's no great stretch to imagine it having a similar power against corporeal bloodsuckers as well. I think it's a safe guess that this sword of a legendary hero is the same one that has traveled through the ages to land in vampiric hands.

When we first see the Blade of Laertes, it's in the possession of Zachary, VJ's revenant avenger. Zachary has been traveling the world for centuries destroying vampires, presumably with the help of the Blade. It makes its screen debut when he draws it from a shoulder sheath to defend Sofia from Ash. When they meet in Ash's stronghold, Ash claims the blade from Zachary, saying it was once his, and was "stolen from me seven hundred years ago." In the film's final battle, Zachary retrieves it from Ash's room and promptly leaves it wedged in Ash. Ash pursues him and Sofia through the stronghold with the sword but loses it once more to Zachary. Zachary apparently defeats Ash, and still has the Blade in his hands when he and Sofia settle down to sleep at the end of VJ.

Ash with the Blade of Laertes However, when we next see Ash in Subspecies IV, he looks perfectly undamaged and is once again in possession of the Blade. (We can probably assume that the details of Ash's return and re-acquisition of the sword will be seen when Full Moon gets around to making VJ II.) This is where things get confusing. Radu, no surprise, claims rightful ownership of the Blade; Ash protests that "the Vampire Slayer is mine!" [...he'd better not let Angel hear him say that. Or Spike, for that matter.], but Radu retorts that Ash stole it from him "during the Black Plague." (Note, Ash is quite the opportunist: Radu had earlier told Serena that Ash seized the stronghold from him "in the turmoil of the Great War.")

Now: assuming that VJ happens in 1997, and that Ash is speaking precisely, the Blade was stolen from him in 1297. The Black Plague, however, raged during the 1340s. This suggests that Ash had the Blade originally, that Radu was the one who took it from him in 1297, and that he then took it back from Radu a half-century (or so) later. However, this leaves the question of when Zachary got hold of it. If it had been re-stolen from Ash more recently than seven centuries ago, would Ash not have mentioned that theft to Zachary rather than the earlier one (thus implicitly accusing him)? Suggesting, though, that Zachary was the 1297 thief lays out an even more convoluted path - Ash to Zachary to Radu to Ash - and we would still not know how it is that Zachary has the Blade again at the opening of VJ.

I think, therefore, that we must assume Ash's statement is off base timewise - FAR off, by a factor of a few hundred years. Radu would then have had the Blade originally; Ash stole it from him during the 14th Century; and at some point thereafter it was stolen from Ash, either by Zachary himself or by whoever Zachary acquired it from. Zachary would thus have had it in his possession from that time to the present, which ties in neatly with his description of his adventures as a wandering vampire-slayer.

Assuming this is all correct, and the Blade of Laertes has been a hotly-contested prize among the undead for centuries, we're left with an unlkely closing note: at present this priceless item lies homeless and abandoned in the Vladislas family crypt in Bucharest. Radu, as noted above, claims it from Ash in S-IV, and uses it to slay the vampiric Dr. Niculescu when he tracks Radu to the crypt. Radu, probably fully intending to go back for it, leaves it there while he goes in pursuit of Ana, but Ana and Michelle turn on him and destroy him, taking with them only his head and the Bloodstone. Ash and Serena, though they do join the battle in the crypt, are not seen reclaiming the Blade and may not even know that Radu brought it there. And outside of Zachary and Sofia - whose whereabouts are completely unknown - no one else we've been introduced to even knows the thing exists.

So there it lies, a loose plot thread, just waiting to be picked up in some future edition of VJ, Subspecies, or even a third Full Moon vampire epic yet to be invented…

...return to Blood of Saints.