Crafting Motif 82: Icereach Coven Style

Author: Svarrid Snow-Seer

By Svarrid Snow-Seer, Guard of Windhelm

When the Icereach Coven returned to Skyrim, they did so in force. They bolstered their numbers with Reachmen, lured innocents to their cause and plunged this land into chaos. Little is known about the witches that make up this sinister faction, and even less is known about the kind of weapons and armor they adorn themselves with. It is my duty to report on these aspects of the Icereach Coven as best I can so that we may learn more about our enemy.

I have seen too many of the Icereach Coven's gnarled axes for one lifetime. They truly are a sight to behold, each like a mangled hand, with blood dripping from pointed fingernails. At first glance, the craftsmanship looks slipshod, but the design is quite clever. The splayed, knotted blades cleave through bone and tear near everything to pieces.

The coven's belts are made of animal hide and have several small pouches hanging from them on either side. From corpses, we have been able to determine that the contents of these pouches varies and often depends on the witch. For the sturdier support, more tightly woven belts and reinforced leather serve to clasp about the waist and provide stability.

I dislike the Icereach Coven's boots most of all. My fellow soldiers despise the freakish masks well enough, but there is something truly unsettling about the sight of the three-pointed toes on the battlefield. Our foe becomes something unnatural and primal rather than an enemy we can understand and fight. It is a small thing, but with people turning into monsters and raging storms collecting in the sky, even the tiny details can inspire terror.

The coven's bows are made of twisted, hard branches that make them light as air. Strange woven heads made from hay and twine decorate above and below the grip, as if their twin beaks might swallow the wielder's hand.

Like most of the coven's armor, there is no structural metal to be found across the chests of their fighters. The heathens are probably incapable. The witchmen cover their torsos with a blend of boiled leather, animal hide and furs. It is not uncommon, however, for them to decorate their chests with small bird skulls and talons.

I have too many friends who met their ends with a witch's dagger in their heart. The Icereach Coven uses daggers made of jagged, split metal. The guard is wrapped in fur and the grip roughly covered in uneven leather. It is a fearsome weapon, and often unsuspecting. The colors blend into the coven's armor, so that you might not ever see it coming.

Almost every member of the Icereach Coven we've encountered thus far has hand, or forearm protection. The material is much like the rest of their armor, insulated with thick furs and bound with either leather or sinew. Occasionally, the Reach-scum adorn their fingertips with sharp metal, not unlike a hagraven claw. And certainly just as deadly.

It seems odd to call the Icereach Coven's head pieces helmets, since I, for one, believe they are more for show than protection. The headwear seems to have a common theme in that they are all horrible, twisted masks, styled like birds. Hooked beaks protrude over mouths guarded with wicker and string. Some masks sport horns and dark, soot-colored feathers. Others are merely chaotic heaps of twigs and bark. Each face seems more sinister than the last.

From what I have been able to discern, the Icereach Coven's armorers fashion their greaves from hardy fabric that is reinforced with patchwork leather. The material seems stiff and heavy, which one would think would slow their movement. Perhaps the lack of metal grants them agility.

The witches wield horrifying maces. The damage is twofold, with one side splayed out with bones and bark that have been sharpened into hard points for piercing through thick armor. The other side of the head looks like maces we're used to, though made from a stone-hard wood. Not many who encounter these weapons survive the experience.

Just as unsavory as the rest of their implements, the Icereach Coven's shields are no exception to the rule. Outfitted with a jagged piece of flat bone at the front, the rest of the shield is made of curved wood, sharpened into points. The shape gives the illusion of a crow's plumage, fashioned from wooden daggers.

The shoulder armor of the coven is simple, but effective. Though the level of protection varies, Reach armorers reinforce these leather cops with either tough bark or a collection of bones. I have witnessed some that look truly like bird skulls from a distance. Upon closer inspection, they are wrought from twigs and hay instead, but it does not make them any less terrifying.

The coven's staves are deceptively simple. The witches carve and bind gnarled lengths of wood into eerie shapes like lurking crows and twisted fingers. Menacing spikes unfurl from the neck before twisting down into a staff fashioned from merely bone and string. Do not let the simplicity of the materials fool you. These are as deadly as any other, and the coven uses them with exacting, terrible proficiency.

Jagged pieces of bone adorn the hilt of the Icereach Coven's greatswords, formed into sharp beaks that seem to eat the blade itself. The metal is mottled and uneven, as if the weapon were forged in a storm. There is something barbaric and wicked about them.

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