Monday, January 25, 2010

Cinder & Ash

During the Age of Wonders, a young man named Gregor set out from his home village of Tolas View in Syr on a quest to find himself. The fourth son of a cobbler, Gregor had larger plans than sweeping up shavings from his father’s store or tending to his younger two sisters while his older brothers were apprenticed off to various trade crafts. So one night Gregor devised a plan to sneak away from home and join a caravan of traveling gypsies and performers as they made their way through Tolas View and on to Illyic in the north. His plan worked and before the following sunrise, he was miles from home, free as a bird and part of the traveling troupe known as the Silver Hearts.

For years Gregor worked as a stagehand, an acrobat, a juggler, a dish washer, a runner and a magician’s assistant in the traveling fair. He became fast friends with his fellow performers and even fell in love once or twice with the girls in the towns he passed through. Life was good, until the day the Silver Hearts settled in the village of Thavel.

It was a day like any other. The tents and stages were being erected. People were bustling to and fro, putting on makeup and practicing their lines. The villages of Thavel were eager for their evening entertainment and many young boys and girls danced around the performer’s camp just outside of town, eager to spy a peek at what majesty was sure to come.

Gregor had grown into a fine young man and was finishing his juggling practice with Cerese, his partner, when a man dashed into his tent holding his side. Blood seeped from between his fingers and he spilled into Gregor’s arms, his eyes wild with fright. His lips moved in a fervor and Cerese screamed as Gregor and the man went crashing to the ground. Gregor disentangled himself from the man and rolled him over to examine the stranger’s wounds. He didn’t need to be one of the faithful to realize the man was dying.

In a sudden burst of strength, the man grabbed hold of Gregor’s tunic and pulled him close. He whispered the phrase, “Protect them boy. Don’t let them get the blades! Find the moor and end it!” With that, he pushed a rolled up lump of oilskin into Gregor’s hand that he had been clutching to his side.

Gregor yelled for Cerese to get help and she fled, calling for aid. Almost immediately, the man’s eyes widened in fright and he struggled to rise, moving as if to flee. Gregor tried to restrain him, but the man’s strength was born of fear and he pushed Gregor away roughly as he stumbled towards the tent opening. A sudden darkness overtook the tent and all went black. Gregor heard the man scream in muffled agony. Then the lights returned and the man was gone.

People flocked into the tent and stared at the bloody stains on Gregor’s hands. He tried to explain what happened, but few believed his tale. Only Cerese stood by him as the day’s light faded and people returned to their tasks, for the evening performance was soon to begin. Distraught at what he had seen and the lack of faith in his fellow troupe mates, Gregor skipped the show that night, taking comfort alone by a nearby village campfire. It was then that he unrolled the oilskin the crazed man had given him and found two daggers wrapped inside: one had a blade of glimmering red steel and the other a black obsidian shard strapped to a handle of wood. The daggers were both slightly curved and bore strange insignias on their blades.

Curious, Gregor lifted one of the blades in his hand, the red one, and felt a name whisper into his mind: “Cinder”. Fingering the other, he heard the same voice whisper “Ash”. His mind reeled for a moment as he saw a vision of a staircase descending into a lake on an isolated moor filled with scrub brush and the sounds of water wildlife. A compulsion overcame him and he felt certain that he needed to find that place, to set foot on those stairs and to uncover what lie underneath.

As if waking from a dream, Gregor looked upon the distant sight of the Silver Hearts performing and realized that his true calling lay elsewhere. He must take Cinder and Ash to the moor in his vision and find the stairs that led under the lake.

Without another word, Gregor disappeared that night, never to be seen again. A chill wind blew on the village of Tolas View as Gregor set out.

Since that time, the twin daggers known as Cinder and Ash have appeared in various hands, from kings to thieves to sorcerers, sometimes as a set and other times as single blades. Always they guide the hand that holds them towards the other in the set and finally to the lonely moor and the stairway under the lake. If any have found the key to what lies underneath, none have come forward with that information yet. Many who have carried Cinder and Ash have disappeared without a trace. The daggers have become legend in certain circles and obsession in others, for rumors exist that whatever lies underneath the lonely lake in the vision has the power to grant unspeakable power to the bearer of the blades.

Type: Lesser arcane weapon

Description: steel dagger with a curious red tinge and a curving cross guard

Damage: 1D6+2

Powers: grants its wielder +2 to Battle

Type: Lesser arcane weapon

Description: obsidian dagger with a wooden hilt bearing three horns

Damage: 1D6+2

Powers: grants its wielder +2 to Agility skill checks to hide and sneak

Set bonus: possessing both daggers gives the following bonuses: +4 to Initiative and half damage from fire or frost.

Compulsion: while the dagger(s) are in your possession, you must make a Spirit skill check (SR 3) each day not to quest for the lost moor and the stairs that lead under its lake.

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