Dec 11, 2012

Some Things to Steal in the Dawnlands

The Crimson Pyx

Said to contain the heart of an ancient hero, the Crimson Pyx is one of the high treasures of the blood-drinking cultists of Basilion, one of the vampire-martyrs of the Orthocracy. It is constantly full of a rich red blood highly sought after by vampire and mortal alike for its restorative properties. The pyx itself is made of priceless onyx and white jade, and rests in the vampire caverns of the northern mountains, guarded by fanatical cultists whose family members were saved by its power. From there, the blood is transported in great casks to the city proper, staying fresh and liquid until consumed. The Basilion cult anoints the sick with it, their families giving up a single child to the cult to serve it in exchange.

The Dreamsilk of Zagara

The finest silks, finer than even the Salt Men bring, are bartered for at high cost from the Forest People. They demand precious steel weapons and often, living sacrifice, but bring a silk so rarefied that optimates of Dwer Tor gladly pay whatever they demand. No one has ever found the source of this silk, but when tortured, prisoners claim that it is harvested from a great and massive silkworm - the size of a hundred oxen - that feeds on the Forest Dream itself. Only the Zagara ("Silkworm" in the southern Forest dialect) tribe can propitiate it, but no one knows where they can be found.

The Rune-Eyes of the Cyclopean Prophets

There are twelve great seers who belong to a secretive order known only as the Cyclopean Prophets. Each one is ritually blinded and their eye replaced with a rune-eye, a powerful tool of divination. Rune-eyes look like small steel balls, marvelously engraved with runes picked out in jet that change as one rotates the eye. It is said that replacing one's own eye with a rune-eye will allow one to see the future, to weep fine ink instead of tears, to smite one's enemies with a gaze, and to exert a powerful control over the minds of anyone who looks into the eye. The Cyclopean Prophets are believed to be hobgoblins, gnolls, and other monsters - they are often credited with inventing the Sarxian branch of gnosticism - but their whereabouts are unknown.

Greenswords

Bronze is the holy metal of the Dawnmen, composed as it is of the metals of sunborn men (copper) and moonborn elves (tin). Their armaments were composed of many clever alloys of bronze, into which they forged mighty enchantments. The passage of time has turned these bronze weapons a brilliant, distinctive green that holds even when scrubbed with sand. These weapons rust steel and crack stone with the slightest strike (to better aid the Dawnmen in subduing the hobgoblins and dwarves, for whom these are sacred materials respectively) and they are highly prized as the secret of their enchantment was lost with the Dawnmen.

Even today, the Orthocracy forbids green patinas and lacquers on armour and weapons. The greatest accomplishment a Kaddish smith can earn is to be known not as a "Blacksmith" but as a "Greensmith", and this is reserved for the rare few artisans who are capable of ensorcelling metal.

The Spider's Fangs

In the far south are two sharp-edged mountains between which stretches a great web of stone nearly two miles across, in the centre of which is a colossal statue of a spider rearing back to strike. It can be seen miles away, and is famous for the fact that the unknown builders carved the spider's fangs from what appears to be solid silver - a fantastic, unimaginable sum of the stuff, more than the slaves of Dwer Tor could pull out of the mines in a year. The scale humiliates the imagination, and if only one could get up onto the web, overcome whatever guardians keep it safe, and wrench them from the statue, one would be first amongst the merchant princes of the Dawnlands.

The Puissant Ravens

Carved from aquamarine beryl and then painted by a deep black ink, the Puissant Ravens are in the possession of the hobgoblin lord Kartak-Who-Blinds, god-emperor of the unknown hyperborean domains beyond the northern mountains. They grant him the powers of the Lord of Winter: To freeze his foes dead, to shape primordial ice like clay, to command the ancient spirits of winter. By his possession of the statues, he is the one who sends the winter flocks of ravens south, where they torment the Dawnlands until summer returns once more and his power diminishes.

The Hoard of the Red and Blue Snake Cult

Stored in the Cobra Tower, this is the personal bankroll of Cassius, high priest of the Red and Blue Snake Cult. It is hundreds of thousands of coins of real gold and real silver, not cheap Kaddish scrip. After the city granary, it is the greatest hoard of wealth in the city. Hundreds of fanatical dragonmen guard the Cobra Tower at all hours, and the tower itself is hundreds of feet high with few windows or handholds. Many magical items may be found there as well, prizes Cassius has taken off his many foes.

The Tongue of Basdrubal

Basdrubal was a revolutionary orator chosen to make the announcement that launched the first riots of the revolution. He was caught, killed and mutilated, but as his body parts were flung into the roaring crowd, a fellow-traveler made off with his tongue. It continues, even to this day, to move and waggle as if it were still alive. Anyone who holds the tongue gains the power to enchant those who hear his speech, but it gradually works its magic on the bearer too, until he becomes its slave. The tongue, driven mad by Basdrubal's death, now wants only madness and horror, endless atrocity. It would make the world a charnel house. The tongue reappears from time to time, always in the hands of an unknown but suddenly charismatic orator.

Daimonpin

A sword of unknown origin, this is the only weapon known that can slay a daimon. To do so is to deprive a shaman of their connection to the divine power, and it is a terrible crime against the laws of the universe itself. It is rumoured that the same process that allows it to kill daimons will work even on the gods themselves. It is currently in the possession of the vampire-cult of Herunaxos, borne by their vampiric champion Heron the Spiritdrinker, who is ascending towards godhood himself. He intends to use the blade to destroy the other gods and take the sky and earth as his personal possessions.

The Cursed Fingers

Giant, ancient, rotting fingers of flesh, the colossal hands of a dead giant, jut out of the stone of Cursegrave Mountain in the Stormbreakers. They extend hundreds of feet out from the side of the mountain, are as thick around as the hull of the largest ships, and are stiff with centuries of death. Eight fingers remain, two others having been destroyed or consumed, or missing for some unknown reason. The rotten flesh of the fingers no longer draws scavengers, but once it did, and these first intrusions have been extended by foul undead things into tunnels through the fingers in which they hide, hunting explorers, treasure hunters and other fools.

What draws explorers and treasure hunters is that the fingers themselves bear rings, giant rings of gold and silver, with gems as large as a wagon. There are only six rings remaining, but any one would be enough to establish one in a life of luxury for eternity.

The undead protect the fingers though, and they are led by a powerful lich who has taken up residence in a great web spun between the fingers for unknown reasons. He has not touched the rings, instead setting his numberless legions of zombies, skeletons and ghouls to dig into the earth and free more of the great dead creature, whatever it may be.

Red Glass

Red glass in the Dawnlands is the solidified blood of Eternal Night. As it comes from before time began, it is an eternal substance not worn down by the ages, and was used by the Children of Night (the precursors to the Hill People) to build many things after Eternal Night was killed by the Dawnmen. The Bloody Star in which the First Murderer was imprisoned was built of red glass, as were the binding stones of Thranisphane, and the altars to Moon in every one of the Cities of Night were built of it. Few pieces of the stuff still remain, often intermixed with steel to produce the weapons of Hill People champions. It is worth more than its weight in gold, though it is almost impossible to quarry or chisel out of known sources. Where the people in the southern gate of Thranisphane's tomb found enough to build a city of the stuff is unknown, though it excites rumours that there are massive quantities of red glass still to be found somewhere.

Jarek the Snake, to fulfill the rites of kingship and crown himself the king of the Hill People, requires eight blocks taller and thicker than he is for the ritual. This will make him the first Lord of Night since Moon was slain, suzerain of all the tribes of the Children of Night, and possibly a demigod. He has two already, at a hidden location, and is searching for the other six. There are rumours that the hobgoblins at Balwan are searching for that city's altar on his behalf, which would give him a third pillar.