The Hrkje Whip, also known as the "Double Whip" or simply the "Hrkje" after its alleged inventor, Hrkje Kjarskan, is an Avennorian weapon and more or less confined to that area - which is to say, the Province of Manthria. It comprises two pieces of rope, tied together at one end. It can cause concussion, unconsciousness and even broken bones in the hands of a skilled user. It is a more forgiving weapon than the bane whip, and is easier to use, though it is less deadly as a consequence. However, it can still neatly disable an enemy, disarm him, trip him or even throw him. It can also hold an enemy's weapon without taking it, and attack at the same time.
The Hrkje Whip, unlike most whips, has no handle, and this has led to dispute
about whether it is even a whip at all. It is formed simply by attaching
together two pieces of stout rope, approximately two peds each, with a strong
knot. This knot is traditionally the same knot used by
sailors on board ship to secure items and sails, and is designed not to slip
even under the overpowering force of a gale. The ropes are about two
nailsbreadths in diameter, with an even girth all the way down, and the free end
has a knot tied in it about five
nailsbreadths down to prevent fraying, to add to momentum and to act as a
pommel for the wielder, if he chooses to swing the main knot at maximum range.
The unusual thickness means that it is very hard to crack a Hrkje, and it is
used in quite a different way from most other whips. The fact that it has two
knot-ended strands and a large knot, all of which can be moving quite fast, can
be quite confusing and even un-nerving for an opponent.
A less common weapon, but one which should be mentioned here, is the Triple Whip, or Triple Hrkje, a cousin of the common Hrkje designed to be even more confusing and difficult to keep track of. However, despite its added effectiveness, which includes the added weight in the knot, it is far harder to master than the Hrkje Whip, and so most regard the improvement in performance not worth the added difficulty. Hrkjes with more than three strands have been heard of, but are very rare and this compendiumist has never encountered one. An Avennorian saying explains that each extra strand makes the weapon "twice as difficult but only one strand more effective". As is obvious, this is a rapid increase in difficulty which soon pulls away from the performance, and shows why the two-strand version is the preferred.
The Hrkje Whip is mainly used by the
classes - that is, those who have the need to defend themselves but not the
money to buy a cutlass, such as sailors. It has even been used by pirates who
desire to entangle enemies and hit them from outside cutlass range, although
there have been only a few reports of this happening. However, this does not
mean it is not more widespread than is thought, as many pirate crews rarely
leave people alive to report what weapons they use. It
is not much used outside the area that was once
Due to its relative non-lethality, the Hrkje is sometimes used in a form of almost gladiatorial combat among lower-class Avennorians. Two combatants, usually men, although sometimes teenage boys take part, enter a ring marked on the ground with Hrkjes and the first to step out of the area, either by accident or as a surrender, or to lose consciousness, is declared the loser. These events are a wonderful diversion for ordinary Avennorians, and the winner is treated with great respect for the rest of the day, although some stirring fights are talked about for weeks.
Non Combat Use. As a piece of rope is almost infinitely useful, ever-practical people such as sailors will never pigeonhole a certain piece as a weapon. Most sailors will, in day-to-day life, wear their whip as a sash, tied in such a way as to be instantly and easily accessible in a moment of need. On board ship, it can be used just as any piece of rope would be, such as lashing oneself to the wheel or the rigging. The one exception is that it would never be used for mundane permanent or semi-permanent tasks where the owner cannot get hold of it quickly, for obvious reasons. However, it can be used for almost anything else that rope could be, such as throwing to a man overboard or as a belt.
Fighting Style. There are two main ways to use the Hrkje Whip, although there are of course many variations. One way involves using the knot that ties the two ropes together to strike things or to increase the force of a grab; the other uses the strands of rope themselves. However, it is possible to switch very quickly between these methods, and an enemy tripped with one of the strands can easily find the knot with the side of his head very quickly. The weight of the knot, and the force with which it can be swung, is sufficient to knock people out and even break bones or, in exceptional cases, cutlass blades.
The weapon can also be used in quite a different way, seizing it by the end of one of the strands and sweeping the full length of the rope around. While it is advisable to build up momentum in the moving end with a smaller swing at first, to prevent unbalancing that can occur when trying to accelerate the end of a four ped rope, this is a very effective method for the extra range, and also for combating multiple enemies, as described below.
The main strength of the Hrkje Whip, however, over and above other whips, lies in its ability to neutralise an enemy weapon and attack at the same time. With a weapon such as the bane whip, one must either disarm one's enemy or risk being hit by his weapon before attacking. However, with the Hrkje an enemy weapon can be entangled and the enemy struck without needing to be disarmed.
It is also an excellent weapon for fighting two enemies, as a skilful user can fight one with each strand, or one with the strand and one with the knot, or just swing the knot around his head and bring it crashing down on each in turn. The method of swinging the entire rope by one end, as detailed in the paragraph before last, is also useful on these occasions, as it both allows the wielder to drive the enemy back to a distance of four peds, gaining some breathing space, but can also wrap around the legs or torsos of more than one enemy at once. While this is slightly lacking in finesse, it gets the job done.
An expert fighting with this weapon could be described as poetry in motion. The rope flows around him and every now and again flicks out to grasp an opponent's leg, arm or weapon, or simply to administer a stinging slap of the strand across the face or body. After each strike, no matter how devastating, the rope returns to its easy swing, as though the motion had never been broken.
Then, from the same easy rhythm the knot will flash out and the man who dared challenge the expert will find himself lying on the ground, either unconscious or nearly so, and maybe even thrown by his ankle a full ped from the circle. It is no chore for the expert to whip the man as he flies through the air, maybe even smashing him into the ground with a jolt. But these true masters are few indeed, and this researcher was privileged to watch one in action.
Origin/History. The true origin of the Hrkje Whip is uncertain, but a legend recorded in the area around White Fish Cove, near Marduran on the eastern coast of Manthria claims that it was invented by a sailor on a merchant vessel ca. 1550 a.S. when his ship was attacked by pirates.
As was usual the rigging was slashed to prevent the vessel getting away, and as the sailor, who according to the storyteller was named Hrkje Kjarskan, was fleeing a pirate - not for want of courage but of a weapon - he tripped over and found not half a fore from his nose a piece of the rigging. He seized it and stood up, turning as he did so. Taken by surprise, the pirate found his poor quality cutlass snapped in half by a quick swing of the knot, and then the sailor's powerful fist grabbed his shirt and threw him into the sea. The rest of the pirates were equally surprised, and the old man who recounted this, pausing for a draught of ale, went on to describe how Hrkje's fellow sailors, when they had recovered from the shock of seeing him bear down on their captors "loike Arme'os 'isself", willingly snatched up cutlasses and joined the fray. Afterwards, Hrkje realised what a formidable weapon he had discovered by accident, and on his return to port he bought a coil of rope and set about making the very first genuine Double Whip. He discovered that a length of about two peds on each side was ideal, and no knot was better than the original sailors' one that was used on the rigging. However, he did discover that the grabbing power and ease of use of the two strands was vastly increased when a single knot was tied about four or five nailsbreadths from the end. The weapon became well-known among sailors, and was even named after Hrkje. The old man then slumped on the table and began snoring, so no further tales could be elicited from him. This legend would seem to be credible, both due to the undeniable fact that the weapon is called the Hrkje Whip and also because it is recent enough that the morsels of truth, which lurk inside any legend, have not had time to be overly embellished by enthusiastic relators of the tale.