Thursday, 9 February 2017

Fifty Word Fiction: Artifacts of The Gift

Greeting once again visitors to the Vault.

This installment of Fifty Word Fiction concerns artifacts, constructs and creations of wondrous power that have been made, found or traded within The Gift. I hope something you find something to your liking.

The Crystal Naiad

The Crystal Naiad
One of the more popular tales in Borderlands folklore is the legend of the Crystal Naiad. This sad story tells of a beautiful but narcissistic Water Spirit who became so enamoured of her reflection in the lake where she dwelt that she did not notice the fall of leaves as summer left and autumn called. She continued to admire her flawless face as the falling temperatures heralded winters arrival. And when the lake froze to ice, so did she. And so she remained for all times, a beautiful perpetually frozen statue that others could gaze upon.

The myth of the Crystal Naiad is said to be the inspiration for the eponymous Figurines of Wondrous Power. These shimmering blue green quartz-like statuettes are several inches in height and all superbly carved representations of a fey woman. If a figurines owner speaks the words of command then the form will change from crystal to that of water spirit and she will serve her master to the best of her ability. 

Pellor’s Radiance
The holy symbol known as Pellor’s Radiance is a vision of the Sun Father simply crafted in precious metal. The Radiance is a flat gold disk approximately eighteen inches in diameter. The central six inch circle is simply decorated with a man’s face; he seems to be of middle years with an kindly demeanour.  The outer edge is more highly decorated in a series of sinuous curves radiating from the centre to the outside, representing the rays of the sun. A hole pierced at the top of the disk allows a loop to the attached and the symbol to be carried more easily.

Pellor’s Radiance is rumoured to be magical in power; one of the Sun Father’s followers carrying the disk will never want for a source of light and in the hands of a priest the relic will burn bright like the sun, capable of destroying creatures of the night.

Scroll Stone
One of the most valuable forms of goods that used to be traded by the dwarves of Moradin’s Crest is a form of mineral known as Scroll Stone. This quartz like crystal has been found veined with different colours within; hues of red, blue and green have been seen. Scroll Stone’s intrinsic value as a gem is minimal; its real worth comes from an unexpected property. Scroll Stone has the ability to absorb, retain and then at some point in the future release magical energy.

Two forms of the crystal have been found; lesser Scroll Stones which crack and crumble once magical energy has been released from within them, and greater Scroll Stones which may be reused. Lesser Scroll Stones are rare; for a greater Scroll Stone to be offered in trade would be a most unusual event.  Since the Dwarves retreated into the Crest fresh supplies of Scroll Stones have not been seen for many years; to many in the Shield Lands they are simply objects of folklore and legend.

Uncut Scroll Stone

The Dark Fire Blades
This wicked looking pair of brutal cleaver like short swords was wielded by Azarek, a notorious half-orc champion of Elemental Evil during the war that wracked the Borderlands. Cunningly designed and forged, these black iron blades incorporated sturdy weights within their guards so that in the hurly burly of a chaotic brawl the wielder could punch as well as stab and chop into his hapless opponents.

However, a dread enchantment laid across the blades made them even more fearsome; they would burst into black flame at their owner’s command so that the weapons would inflict terrible burns as well as gaping cuts.

It seems this magical power would only work when the swords were wielded as a pair. After the death of Azarek the blades have passed hands many times. One of the swords is kept by the mage Burne in Hommlett among his collection of trophies and curios; the location of the other unknown. The single blade has never burst into flame since the mage acquired it, and without its twin is unlikely to do so.

Carnagie’s Cauldron
The Inn of the Welcome Wench is renowned throughout The Gift as a locale of great hospitality and cheer. The Inn offers a variety of tasty and seasonal dishes and one of the most popular is an “off menu” choice known as Sleepwell Stew. This hearty dish comprising of well-seasoned meat and vegetables has a reputation for refreshing all who eat it; indeed many claim to have had the best night’s sleep in a long while after eating the dish and continue their travels feeling alert and well rested.

This is not just folklore and tall tales; Sleepwell Stew is prepared in a magical cast iron cooking pot called Carnegie’s Cauldron. The incantation that must be uttered as the stew is stirred in the pot is known only to the Gundigoots who own the Inn and they treat these words as a family secret, more precious than gold.

Crows are a nuisance to crop growing farmers all over the world. In the Borderlands the proper is much more serious; here the avian pests called Crebain plague the farmers. These large omnivorous birds will devour crops and attack smaller livestock as well. Traditional scarecrows are no deterrence Crebain but several of the farming families resident in The Gift know the Hedge Magic ritual to create the much more effective Crowscares. Looking much like scarecrows, but draped in a cloak of bird feathers and adorned with a mask made from a large Crebain beak, Crowscares radiate an aura that will keep the avian menaces and other natural pests at bay.

Crowscare by night

The Mask of Black and White
Masks have long been used as props by Bards, thespians and other actors. These masks represent the faces of heroes and villains whilst the actor behind provides the voice and action. The Mask of Black and White is a magical example of such a device. One side is matt black with a man’s face contorted into an evil grimace, the other gloss white; the same face smiling benevolently.

When an actor dons the white mask he blesses his allies and friends, when he dons the black he does so to curse his enemies.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool Bryan. I'll have to try dropping some of those into my campaign!