The Church of the Sacred Flame in Deepmir is one facing many perils - the land lies on the nirthern fringes of civilization, frequently assaulted by ravening hordes, the land itself untamed, wild and home to many a peril.
Ten are the holy sites of Deepmir, ten cathedrals standing atop nodes of fire energies, where the life-giving warmth of the Lord transcends into this world. Every year, bands of pilgrims will gather and wander from one sacred site to another, some trekking but from one cathedral to another, while some complete the full circle, and those are allowed to place the prefix ‘Hal’ before their name.
Now, the trek is dangerous, and thus an order of knights came into being, the Knights of the Shining Path, who wandered with the pilgrims, guarding them with sword, shield and faith.
The years passed…
In the year of the Dimmed Flame, during the reign of King Hal Derre of the house of Ingrimm, a priest of great renown and power, the archprelate Bechterew, keeper of one of the cathedrals. turned to madness and worshipped powers infernal and vile. Through is misdeed, the sacred flame was fouled, and burned black as his sin. Soot and ash spew forth to the skies, and the sacred flames everywhere were dimmed, the pilgrimage trail broke as none dared to pass by the fouled temple, and the Winter of Ice Daggers was upon the land. Thousands froze as the worst chill ever to visit Deepmir descended upon them, rocks burst and houses crumbled benneath the weight of the snow.
The archprelate threatened to bury thewhole kingdom in an icy tomb, unless they surrendered to him one and all. Yet the folk of Deepmir are hardy and stubborn,and did not yield.
Thus called out Hal Derre to the Knights of the Shining Path: “The pilgrimage must continue! Only so can we appease our Lord and bring back his warmth. I call out to you, brothers, guide the faithful as you used to, and complete the circle!”
In the fircest blizzards they set out into a freezing night that took no end, determined faithful with knights who guarded them, yet none managed to pass the tainted temple, and only a few pilgrims returned, bearing the shards of the leader’s sword.
Again and again they set out to pass this challende, yet all knights fell, and all the survivors brought back was the shards of their blades.
When ten expeditions had failed, no more knights were willing attempt the seemingly impossible task, but one novice, Kerrawin. At first the elder knights laughed, yet he stood firm. All he asked for was the sword shards and one sacred relic, and so they gave in to his demands, prepared to see the young knight never more.
Kerrawin had the shards made into a single blade, criss-crossed with cracks, with patches ofdifferent hue as the blades were made of different iron. Then, he set out, accompanied by but one pilgrim, his young wife Melian, and the darkness closed behind him.
Long he wandered through the unnatural dusk that was filled with unearthly shrieks, howling of half-starved wolves and the chimes of ice crystals. At last he stood before the gate of the fallen cathedral, the snow around him black as the sky, and fiendish laughter sounding all around him, from just beyond the circle of light shed by the blessed torch his wife bore.
With an ominous creak, the iron gate opened and Bechterew stepped forth, a giant of a man, his size and strength bolstered by the forces of Chaos, an armor of black plates covering him from head to toe. Upon his breast plate, Kerrawin saw scratches where the blades of his comrades hat hit and shattered.
The archprelate laughed hideously, the very sound of it shaking the glaciers around and sending cracks across their surface. “No blade can harm me, fool!” And with these words he raised a mace as black as the Abyss, and stepped forth to strike.
Yet Kerrawin lunged forward, and replied: “Perhaps a blade cannot harm you… can ten of them do so? If ten cannot, can a hundred? Can the faith of thousands end our life, heretic, that faith which you cast away?”
And the blade became pure light and pierced the breastplate as if it was but a shadow.
And Kerrawin stood there, feeling the divine fire consume his body, yet he held on, and twisted the blade inside the wound, searing the tainted priest’s body, until but ash was left of both.
Weeping, Melian took the torch she had carried here, and thurust it into the bowels of the corrupted node, and the flames shone bright once more. The spring returned to the land.
She returned with the blade, and gave it to Kerrawin’s peers, filled with anger: “May the Lord decide whether any of you is worthy of bering his sword.”
Those were the last words before Melian entered a cloister and remianed silent forever more.
The blade has become a symbol of the faith in Deepmir, carried by a knight chosen for the task with the first procession of pilgrims. If he completes the full circle, he will be known as the Faithbearer, and carry it every year until he resigns or dies. If the circle is not completed, it is considered a bad omen, and another knight will try to continue the pilgrimage.
If the blade should be lost, or no pilgrim manage to visit all ten cathedrals, the future of Deepmir looks dire.
*The highest honor: a PC is chosen to bear the blade.
*The highest honor2: a PC is chosen, yet a rival knight envies him, and intends to make the trek fail.
*The greatest of foes: what if Bechterew returned? Can there be another Kerrawin? Does one PC volunteer? Or will they try to find an equally faithful successor? Perhaps they could plead the old hero to rise and take up the sword once more?
*The greatest of foes2: a great evil outside Deepmir is threatening . All the PCs have to do is become knights of the Shining Path, complete a pilgrimage, persuade the church to lend them the blade, kill the baddie and return before the next spring. Easy, eh?
*The greatest of lies: the blade is discovered to be fake. Can the PCs hush it up and return the right sword before the next pilgrimage?
*The greatest fool: Hal Karre, a valliant knight, has been granted the right to bear the sword. Meanwhile, a hostile nation prepares to have it stolen as to break the spirit of the Deepmir faith.
Upon hearing this, Karre refuses aid, considering it to be an accusation of weakness, for he deems himself able to complete the pilgrimage, enemy army or not.
The PCs must make sure the blade is not lost while staying out of Karre’s sight.
On its own, its just a plain sword, humble and obviously forged of scraps. Despite this fact, it is supernaturally durable.
Upon having passed the trek between the first two cathedrals, it will seem to sharpen, and will acquire small magical bonuses.
As the knight continues the trek, he will find it able to heal, shed light, ward him from cold, become sharper and more balanced, much like Kerrawin became more determined along his trek. As he nears the end of his journey, it becomes able to keep him safe from fire as well, to be highly unpleasant to demons and, finally, as he approaches the last cathedral, he can transform it into a blade of pure light, yet this is very draining: every few rounds, his heealth/constitution/toughness will decrease by 1, permanently.
The bonuses stay in place until another knight takes up the blade, upon which he must complete a pilgrimage first before being able to use them again.