Full Item Description
A master’s work is the Blade of Kessen, forged of shadowy blue steel. When held the right way, one can discern white lights in its depths, as if hosts of stars were sleeping within. Shaped like an obelisk, it consists of a triangular point that sits atop a progressively widening blade. Two guards, the second - wider by far – located in the midst of the hilt, allow for a very effective defense, while the long hilt with a heavy pommel are well-suited for wielding such a heavy weapon. A single ornament adorns the hilt, an eight-pointed star of chaos with a misty blue stone set into it.
Curiously, the blade does not glisten in the sun, only in the moonlight or magical shine, never makes any sound as it cuts the air, and is always cold to the touch.
Of all the knights dedicated to the protection of the Reborn Kingdom, Sir Waldheinar von Kessen was perhaps most dedicated to the welfare and safety of commoners entrusted into his care.
For many a shining figurehead, a paragon of virtue and skill, he was a man of tender word and strong arm, of martial prowess yet cultivated and well-versed in many areas of learning, as classical literature, natural sciences or white magic.
A healthy life, skill and wit, and not last of all, Lady Fortune’s favour allowed him to stay at the battlefront even in his sixties.
While he waged wars and journeyed on quests in the name of the king, his young wife Branwen and son Theoderich, barely past the age of diapers, awaited his return in safety of Kessen Hall, confident in his eventual return. What joy it was to set aside blade and shield, to let the loyal warhorse enjoy a few precious moments of ennui, to see his son reach out with those little chubby hands, still unsure on his feet!
How difficult it was when the hour of their parting neared, every one time. Into the cold night he strode, the army standard bearer solemn by his side, knowing that each campaign could be his last, every foe the one who scores the dark glory of taking his valor-heavy head from his shoulders. The lights of his home fading behind him, Waldheinar cursed every invader, raider, pillager and warlord for drawing him away from the one place where he found solace and peace.
Dragging on and on, the war with the Dread-Lords of Nifalhar cost thousands of soldiers life and limb, assault and counterassault stained the snows of the harshest winter the kingdom remembered a vivid red, the dead lay in graves of ice, or frozen where they fell.
Sir Waldheinar led the charge during the crucial battle at Stormspring Ford, shining knights in white and gold clashing with the black-clad shock troopers of the Lords of the Night – stout nobles on mighty horses against heavily armored footmen with maces and tall shields, drunk on vile concoctions that took fear and pain away from them; both trudging though deep snow and freezing water, regardless of blizzard and frost. There the knight met Malikar, a tyrant who passed for a noble in the north, eldritch runes blazing on his black volcano-forged armor, a terrifying zweihander in his hands, a chill blade rumored to devour the souls of the slain and put them at the wielder’s command.
Undaunted, the knight clashed with his adversary, trading blow for blow, strike for parry, blood for blood.
Unheeding of the countless fallen piling up around them, the two men fought on, silent but for gritting of teeth and heavy breath.
Feeling his strength waning, the old knight thrust against his foe with all strength in one lunge, and pierced his breastplate. Falling, his enemy slashed a final time, gifting his slayer with a grievous wound across his chest.
Whether the battle was won or lost none knew, the fierce blizzard restricting vision to a measly five feet. Frantically searching through the snow, an acolyte of the Sun Lord finally discovered the aged knight, leaning against a huge blood-stained blade.
“Father” spoke Sir Waldheinar “is this the vile blade known as the Slaver Tombstone, the one that forced so many of our men to divulge their secrets even after death?” Carefully, the priest examined the ominous sword, and then nodded, solemnly. “Do you want it destroyed, once for all, sir?” the priest asked. “Not so, I wish that it is taken to my son, he will need my guidance, and my strength is failing” replied the knight. Flabbergasted the holy man watched as the legendary knight turned the blade with the tip towards his belly and impaled himself upon it. “Give it… to my … son” were the last words of the hero.
Not daring to defy the old man’s last will, the priest packed up the dreaded sword in a bundle of furs, and left.
Increasingly heavy the sword seemed to the holy man, it haunted his dreams, marred his sleep and waking hour, until he could bear it no more. Above a chasm he stood, ready to plunge the dreaded blade into the foaming waters deep beneath. Booming like thunder filling the skies of his mind, sir Waldheinar spoke: “Dare you not, and heed my will I say!” Trembling, the priest packed up the sword again and brought it to Kessen. Bearing but a dark sword and dire news he stepped before lady Branwen, and left soon, tears and wails behind his back.
When the sword first spoke to Branwen in words of love, she recoiled, appalled, shocked, and refused to touch it ever again, yet dared not to cast it away. Not so Theoderich, who sought out its presence again and again, and when his strength was sufficient, he picked it up, making it his weapon of choice.
The youngster grew to a man, and picked up where his father left off, joining the ranks of the knights, soon commander, soon general; sincere and earnest was he, serious and wise for his age. Under the blades, hooves and lances of his army Nifalhar fell, dark sorcerers executed and the blighted castles burned along with the evil contained in their walls.
Long and successful was his career, his name well-spoken of in all lands of the kingdom. Yet, when the plague spread like a ravenous flock of ravens across the known world, it took all of his sons, save the youngest one, and soon thereafter, it sought to take his life as well. Too weak to stand, the knight begged his loyal squire to end his suffering with the chill blade.
With Leongard von Kessen, the noble tradition of his family continued - he was a solemn youth, well-versed in the arts of healing, warding, and offensive sorcery.
Yet none are without fault, and this was true for Lengard also. His keen spirit could not stomach the waste of knowledge that were the sorcerers locked within the misty depths of his sword. Despite the advice of his father and grandfather he spoke to them, discussing the principles of life and death, light and darkness. “Know thy foe” he claimed, while becoming more obsessed with the dark thoughts of his captives, seating the sword in a chair opposite to him at the table, even placing a cup of tea before it.
Seheth was the worst of the lot, a former dark queen of abundant guile and sweet tongue, no little flattery and false repentance. Foolish was he to craft an edifice of porcellain for her, a polished statue draped in ladie’s cloth for her spirit to reside in. Even more foolish was he to trust her fake desire for redemption, overconfident in his ability to right wrong.
On a winter eve freezing and dark like his blade, Seheth struck, taking the body of his wife, and the lives of several of his children to fuel her rotten sorcery.
The knight stood on the ramparts, watching the stars in the chill sky, when his beloved came by, dagger held behind her back. Beatiful as ever she was, skin gleaming alabaster, eyes two azure pools reflecting the stars, raven mane a midnight cloud. All that marred her beauty was the smell of blood on her lips closing in to kiss Leonhard a final time. Alerted, he sensed the sorcerous power his bride never possessed, and shoved her away, only to see her gather vile energies to smite him. Fast as lightning he struck, his blade drinking the blood of his beloved and Seheth’s soul.
That day, amongst tears he learnt the lessons he etched into the family blade before impaling himself upon it:
Pride comes before the fall. Be wary of becoming what you despise most.
His sole son, Randwar, held true to these words, known as Randwar the Humble later.
Three more were the knights of Kessen to the present day - Helmgar the Wayfarer, todays patron of roads and those who travel; Nathan the Scholar, founder of several monasteries, Raelar the Valliant, the King’s champion in war and peace, true to the wisdom of Kessen and the glory of the crown.
The Family Blade of Kessen, not called by its original name anymore, is a rather large weapon, requiring a strong man to swing it efficiently. Made of a strong steel alloy, it holds and edge well, and is quite unlikely to break.
Frosty to the touch, it chills anyone it strikes, causing fear in weak hearts, also slowing and weakening foes. It cannot be heated by any means – if it was cast into lava for example, it would just chill the surrounding molten stone to make it solid again. This makes it quite difficult to re-forge if it is broken though: the cold enchantment would have to be suspended, the blade remade and the enchantment allowed working again. Of course, great care would have to be taken as not to allow the soul-keeping enchantment to be affected, lest the current successor of the Kessen line be rather upset.
This brings us to the chief property of the blade: any sentient being slain by it will have its soul trapped inside, becoming a pale spark of light visible within its depths from the right angle. Such a soul is unable to pass on to reincarnation or an afterlife, and the individual cannot be resurrected. The holder of the blade can communicate with any trapped soul – either it may speak freely, or it can resist; if it chooses the latter, it enters a battle of wills with the holder, having to answer truthfully if it fails, being able to lie or remain silent if it succeeds. None-the-less, every such attempt erodes the soul, weak ones being gone after one or two attempts to resist, strong spirits being able to withstand this questioning significantly longer. Questioning uncooperative souls is quite fatiguing.
The holder can release any trapped soul at will, the spirit passing on to wherever it belongs. Normally, only the holder can initiate contact with trapped souls; the strongest souls can speak to a person holding the sword on their own volition.
The sword takes a few hours to get familiar with a new owner, not responding to his wishes in that time.
Currently, the sword holds the souls of seven knights of the Kessen line, and a broad assortment of dark wizards, brigands and other bad guys.
*There is someone I need speak to: PCs require information from a bad guy trapped in the sword. What will they do to persuade the knight to allow them to contact someone Whose Name Is Not Spoken?
*The Kessen are not what they used to be: Instead of his ancestors, a descendant of the Kessen line finds the musings of some dark wizard far more interesting, becoming a nemesis well-versed in the darkest magic, tutored by the some of the most twisted minds in existence.
*Most prized and lost: The blade was taken! The PCs have but half a day until the thief sends all the knights residing within on to the afterlife, losing thus more than three centuries of accumulated knowledge!
*Please, die: What if a knight is loath to commit suicide with his prized family blade?
*Please, kill me: A bad guy just begs to be killed. Well, don’t they all? This one has a reason though: after death, he’s going to a place most unpleasant. Can a noble knight be persuaded to save evil? Alternately, a PC in such a situation could provoke a knight of Kessen to take his life! How bad must a PC be to be beset by a legendary knight?