A Brief History
In the time of Hagartha, follower of Ahkti, three sacred items were unearthed from three ancient temples. Each temple, originally of simple stone and wood design, had been buried beneath vine and rubble for many, many years. But the rebels against the Empire took refuge in the forgotten places and discovered these lost treasures.
The relics were brought to Hagartha and used in the sacred rites. In time, Hagartha sent each to a trusted lieutenant as a symbol of Ahkti's blessing. Each of the three relics are oversized, made of heavy iron blackened with age, and formed in once-fine detail that has become roughened with time and treatment.
After the destruction of the Empire and the subsequent fragmentation of Ahkti's faithful, the three items have been spread far and wide.
The Key, The Quill, and The Seal
The Key has a loop at one end and two large teeth at the other. Easily twice the length of a large man's palm, it is unlikely to have ever been designed for use in an actual lock.
The Key is a symbol of unlocking one's place in Ahkti's realm through good works and a life of humble piety. It is through this understanding that we must shape ourselves, mold ourselves into the enlightened beings which Ahkti desires us to be, that we begin to understand what it means to hold the Key and Be the Key.
In a setting where magic is real, the Key will open any barrier at a touch (it does not need to fit in a lock), but only as long as the bearer is a devotee of Ahkti/Aktagarti. Of each item, the Key has passed through the most hands and could appear anywhere.
Like the Key, the Quill is quite large and does not appear to be made for use. It is a full foot in length and shaped like an elongated raven. The wings are held tightly against the body and molded to it, forming a grip. The beak forms the tip, held slightly open as though ink could be drawn within.
The Quill is the divine instrument through which Ahkti communicates His will to the faithful. It was not until the Quill came into my possession that I finally understood what Ahkti wished of me. By the Quill may we know Ahkti's true will.
The Quill is functional but it is not an easy tool to use. Only an ink made with a special formula can be drawn within it. It is heavy but its use requires a steady hand. If the tip is too close to the paper, it will spill all of its stored ink ruining any existing writing in the process. Held too far away it will not write.
Its accuracy as a function of Ahkti's will is left up to the needs of the campaign. In a campaign with true divine forces, one held in high esteem by Ahkti and trained in the use of the Quill will become a conduit of the sacred word and can use this tool to write the pure word of Ahkti; albeit only when so inspired.
This relic has spent the majority of its existence in a monastery but few amongst them have been found worthy to use the sacred Quill. In the modern era it has been moved to a museum.
The Seal is made of two interlocking halves, each a part of a simple maze-like spiral. It is capable of being separated into the two parts but no one yet alive has figured out the puzzle. It is a perfect likeness of Ahkti's symbol, the bisected spiral.
The Seal is the most sacred of all. It is as close to the face of Ahkti as we will ever get. It represents divinity. The truth of Ahkti can be seen within, but His visage can only be discerned through much meditation and devotion.
Even after Hagartha and his direct teachings were lost, the Seal remained the most recognized symbol of Aktagarti. Throughout the ages, the temple which housed the Seal became the defacto center of the religion. Even when man spread to the stars this seal remained in the possession of the most powerful sect.
In a world of true divinity, the Seal is the ultimate holy symbol. It provides enormous power to a truly dedicated believer and burns all others to ash.
- A warlord is trying to legitimize himself by acquiring all three items, believing that many will flock to him with such tangible symbols of Aktagarti. He is correct.
- It has been said that separating the halves of the Seal will bring about the end of the world. A fanatical sect of Aktagarti are seeking to make that happen. They have managed to steal it; there is a healthy bounty for its return before the apocalypse happens. The nature of this apocalypse is uncertain. Maybe the world will split in twain, or reality will unravel as the spiral in the Seal unravels.
- The Quill was stolen for a few years before mysteriously appearing once again in its original resting place. There are now new scriptures being circulated which claim to be the word of Aktagarti. A religious war is looming as the faithful argue over authenticity.
- A macguffin desperately sought after by the PCs has been secured behind locks which the PCs cannot open. Word of the Key has made it to them. Are the old legends of its ability to open any door true? And are any of the PCs sufficiently devoted to Ahkti?
Notes on Campaign Usage
These items hold a great deal of power over the faithful. They are unimaginably old; so much so that even Hagartha, whose name was slowly forgotten when the name Ahkti became Aktagarti, never figured out who made them or when. He conjectured that there may have been other, similar items still lost in as-yet-undiscovered ruins.
In a non-magic campaign, the sole power of these items lies with the faithful and as such makes a great plot device. In a campaign with magic, these are very powerful, one-of-a-kind items. They contain a direct link to the divine. A real god would care very much for these symbols and would not willingly allow an unbeliever to violate them.
Additional Ideas (1)
The Riddle of the Seal
That the seal may be split in twain is a legend known to a relative few. It has been said that splitting the seal will split the world. Some believe it to be a literal sundering of the world while others believe it would mirror a division of the faith. Others have conjectured that the two halves represent the division between this world and the world of spirit; they hypothesize that a split of the Seal would cause a rift between those two realities and bring chaos to the world.
The Seal itself appears to be rather simple in nature when viewed from afar. When one attempts to follow the details it appears complex. The simple spiral is actually made up of a number of thicker lines intersected by a number of smaller ones. Hagartha used it as a focus for spiritual meditation and believed that he came to know something of the nature of Ahkti by pondering these lines.
Following the lines with ones fingers reveals that the lines are not solidly connected but are rather pieces of wire threaded around each other. Pressure on various parts causes other parts to shift. To Hagartha, this symbolized the interconnectedness of all. Accordin to Hagartha's teachings, this shows how we cannot affect the smallest thing in life without touching a web larger than ourselves. He used this as the basis for a philosophy of peace and respect toward others.
The two halves are connected by a bisecting line which is made up of a great multitude of these variously sized threads. Putting pressure on a point of one half of the Seal will cause a shift in the threads of this bisecting line which will then be reflected in a change in the other half of the Seal.
The legend of the puzzle is this: if the bearer of the Seal were to place pressure upon an intricate series of points on the Seal, in a specific order with specific differences in pressure, the lines in the middle would slowly unwind and cause the Seal to split into two mirrored halves.
Most bearers of the Seal have been vehemently opposed to solving the puzzle, feeling it would undo the divine power of Ahkti. A few have tried, however, but with no luck. In the modern age it is often a source of speculation, especially in the argument between mechanical and animistic world views.
It is made of iron and weighs as much as you would expect a large chunk of iron to weigh.