Lord Intra, also known as the King of Swords or the Sword-Saint, is a legendary swordsman mentioned several times in the Song of Maybe. He is noted for being Royalty and possibly the only known mortal swordsman to be more powerful than Meti.
Intra was born into a minor noble family in the realm of the High King Aurochs. After taking up the sword, he starved himself and meditated under a plum tree for one week and one day to mentally prepare.
Intra first became notable after defeating the prized gladiator of King Aurochs, a Ya-at slave-monk, in a single strike. His sword-stroke was so artless and unskilled that the monk dropped its defences in confusion and was decapitated by the blow. He would go on to an illustrious career of swordsmanship which lasted well into the Universal War, by which time he was widely feared and respected. Notably, he was present during Yemmod's siege of Lam, the Blue City, and was sought out by its king as the only thing that could save it. However, he was very drunk at the time, and presumably let the city fall to ruin.
At some point in time, Intra attained Royalty, which he futilely tried to explain to his retainers. He said that Royalty is "a continous cutting motion", possibly relating to the statement in Meti's Sword Manual that "the sanctioned act is to Cut".
Sayings attributed to Intra
“What trickery did you use to defeat my warrior?” demanded the king, at this point sputtering with disbelief himself. “No trickery,” said the young man, who was absentmindedly toeing the ya-at’s corpse.
“Then what technique? What sword art did you learn to make such a blow?” said the king.
“My technique is no technique,” said the young man. “My art is no art. It was an idiot’s blow.”
“Ten thousand warriors have failed to defeat my gladiator,” said the king, gaping. “Trained in ten thousand fighting arts from across the Wheel. How could an artless fool have defeated my prize slave?” The young man scratched his chin. “Well, not anyone can use my lack of technique. No ordinary fool could make that blow,” he replied “only one extremely dedicated to foolishness.”
It was immediately apparent to the king that this young man was extraordinarily powerful.
He mentioned as much.
“Powerful men, my lord, must by nature be exceptionally good fools,” said the young man.
“What do you want?” said the king, breaking out in a sweat.
“A drink will suffice,” said the young man.
“What is your name?” said the High King Aurochs, of the Southern Realms.
“My name is Intra,” said Intra, “I am the king of swords.”
( The Complete story is at Seeker of Thrones 10-144 )
“Lord Intra,” said Intra’s sparring partner one day, “You are called Lord of Swords. Yet you are a man, and men make poor swordsmen.”
“It is true,” said Intra, for nearly all of the famous sword masters of the day were women and the ya-at, who were three sexed. This tradition was rather long in the bones, and rumored to have been started by a famous vagrant who rarely cut her hair and lived in a barrel. There was popular theater about it, in those days.
“Men are too preoccupied with their swords,” said Lord Intra, “They get distracted.”
“You mistake my meaning,” said Intra’s sparring partner, “What I mean is this: you are a mere man. What can you do to the new gods of the Red City, with their whips of fire and their heavy chariot wheels?”
“I am not concerned with enmity,” said Intra, “I am very skilled in Pankrash Circle Fighting”
“It is true you are very fierce,” conceded his partner, “But my son’s fighting beetle is also very fierce. Could his beetle fell a lion?”
“That depends,” said Intra, “How skilled is the beetle in Pankrash Circle Fighting?”
“Beetles cannot learn Pankrash Circle Fighting, Lord Intra,” said Intra’s attendant, and made a bitter motion.
“Don’t tell the beetle that,” said Intra, who was very skilled at smiling. “If you don’t tell him he will learn it anyway and cut the lion in half with a single blow.”
-The Song of Maybe
Lord Intra gathered his retainers, who were hungry for tutelage. “Lord Intra!” said his sandal bearer, “What is the first step on the path to Royalty?”
“There are no steps,” replied Intra, “It is zero-sum with your reality. It is not measured in finger-lengths.”
“Lord Intra,” said his bodyguard, “Is the path to Royalty the path of struggle, then?”
“No,” said Intra, “One may attain it without any effort at all. It is, in fact, the antithesis of struggle.”
Intra’s steward was very discontent with his master’s evasiveness. “Lord,” he said, “Allow us lowly men some small measure of understanding. For sympathy’s sake, and the sake of we good and loyal servants, please tell us in plain language the nature of Royalty.”
“I will tell you precisely what Royalty is,” said Intra, “It is a continuous cutting motion.”
-The Song of Maybe
“Here is my sword,” said Intra. “Your semiotics cannot contain it. Its blade is made of gloaming steel, look how it whispers!”
“But Lord Intra,” said the assembled, “You have no sword!”
“So it is,” said Intra.
“A true king of swords knows not only how to cut, but the value of each cut.
Without weighing his blade carefully, he will soon find it carving away his own flesh.”
Intra, sword god
- Seeker of Thrones 6-72
- Intra is probably named after Indra, a chief Hindu deity.