An innocent square of delicate material - barely larger than a handkerchief in size. However, those who's skin come into contact with this cloth, may find themselves wishing they never handled it.
Splayed across the table in the center of the mourning room, lay the corpse of Alarimis - the great mage of Mulgar's tower. For seventy-three years the man had worked in the tower, revolutionising the use of magic for things never dreamed of before. With his untimely death due to heart failure, the sect of Mulgar could not bare to see him leave. And so the magi decided to practice a lost magic art. One which had been left where it lay three thousand years ago.
The legend is that the Sand-Dwellers of northern Ultrilla often made use of the darker side of magic. Using complex spells weaved from the off-beats of magic, they infused a dead body with artificial life. The revived person could once again think with the same mind and function with the same body.
The chantings began. A ring of six magi had circled the body, muttering the arcane language for the spell. After a good ten minutes of the low, rythmic words, a finger twitched. At the sight of this finger movement, the fourth mage in the circle nearly gasped - but managed to save herself with just the slightest of higher toning to her voice, which she corrected.
Seven more minutes counted out, before suddenly, the corpse rattled violently on the table. The completely unexpected muscle spasms caused the party to cease chanting and fearfully back away, watching as the throes became more and more violent. The latent blood of Alaramis began seeping through the pores of his skin, and with that came a sickly looking, amber haze of smoke. It was not until the corpse was bled dry, that the twitching stopped. Blood soaked the tables and the floors, and the room was filled with the amber gas.
Two of the six magi were weeping at the sight of their great mentors corpse bieng desecrated so. The rest had vacant stares at the body. Finally, the mage who had uttered the incorrect tone and cause the fault in the spell finally walked forward, pulling a handkerchief from her pocket and wiping the excess blood away from the revered mages face.
Two weeks later, the six magi were dead.
Their very skin had ceased to live, and literally began rotting off their bones. The deadly, gaseous bi-product of the faulted spell was toxic to human flesh, causing it to cease functioning and die away. Within a few days, their skin blackened, and a week later, they were bed-ridden, their muscles having been eaten away. Death came slowly, and painfully.
As a safety measure, the corpses of the magi and all of their belongings were Consecrated - fired into ashes. But one thing survived the terrible scenario. That blood-soaked handkerchief which was used to wipe the mages face. The female mage had discarded the silken cloth after leaving the room, and prior to knowing she was inflicted with any illness. It was not found.
The handkerchief has been cleaned thoroughly, but the taint of the curse of death has been clearly placed within the threads, and cannot be removed.
Only magic users are effected by the disease of this silk.
If this material directly touches the skin of anyone with the ability to use magic, that section which is touched will cease to live. The skin will begin to blacken and rot away. If left untended, the skin will rot all the way to the bone.
If the rotting area is removed - usually by cutting out the flesh and muscle around it - the infection will cease, otherwise, it will begin to spread slowly. If someone touches the handkerchief with one finger, their arm will be blackened and dead within 6 months (It is a fairly slow disease). In this case, amputation would be the only feasible option.
This handkerchief can be torn apart, and individual threads would cause the same effect. If someone swiped a thread along someones face, a line effect of death would appear, first looking like somewhat of a scar.
- This item can be easily brought out of hand, causing a pandemic which only mages seem to get inflicted by. Finally, something that makes magi seem INFERIOR to the non-magic users.
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? Responses (17)-18
Inspired partly, by reading about 'Necrotising Arachnidism'. This thread contains information about it: http://www.strolen.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2235
The symptoms and the death of the mages would have been big news through the magic community. The great Mage of Mulgar's tower dead and then the falling of six more powerful mages practicing the dark arts would be big news in the world.
When another plague-like death of a wizard crops up an enterprising person may take that opportunity to explore the reasons. Not being a mage, he has some safety. Over time investigating a few things he finally figures out the cause, it is an item that got transferred from one mage to another.
A robbery, pickpocket, or murder later and the inspired 'bad guy' has the possible makings of a dangerous weapon, something that will open doors for him.
Now, how to use it. All he needs to do is test the items on a few lesser known mages so he can figure out which is 'The One.' Once he has the plague causing item identified he can put his plans into action. A simple handshake is all he needs.....
Could be political intrique, struggle for power, working as an assassin for hire, or any number of things.
Pretty darn interesting item!
I am impressed by the subtlety displayed in such as item. So much destructive power created by a display of remorse and perhaps a gesture of atonement.
Very good. 5/5 I really like this nasty item, and the fact that it only harms magic users.
Nasty - very insidious - my evil little GM mind is already working overtime
Love the back-story, particularly the ritual nature of the magic (very atmospheric) and the mistake in the chant
One thing I don't quite understand - Why does it only affect mages? Is it a disease or a magical curse? Or is it something entirely different?
Anyway - excellent post - 5/5
The answer to that, Dragon lord, is in the first sentence:
'Splayed across the table in the center of the mourning room, lay the corpse of Alarimis - the great mage of Mulgar's tower.'
This plague was exhumed from the corpse of a mage, and as such, it only effects magi.
Thanks for the comments, all :)
OK - makes it a magical curse (sort of) rather than a normal disease - on that basis it seem logical enough
Thanks for the clarification
It could be used as a torture device.
what a great sub i just love it, keep em comin man...
Heh, those evil threads could be VERY handy for assassins specializing in hunting mages.
It would be worth well above it's weight in gold as it sound like even segments of threads could be deadly.
Take an arrow and wrap one thread behind the arrowhead....
Or contimaninate food or a glass of wine with a single thread ;) They don't even have to swallow it, just get it in their mouth and swill it around.
Wow, this is such a dangerous unsuspecting item, I really like the story and the sadness that is connected to it. But to take it apart would be such a waste, I could just imagine a great mage surrounding himself with items of interest, even those deadly to himself out of sheer bravado.
This a really great back story for an item
Oh this is a good one, we get a cursed item, we get a dangerous spell, we get a gory little story, we get some NPC ideas and we get them all tied together is nice neat little bundle.
It could see this as a plot device,
Mages are dying all over the court, some think a magical attack, others a curse of the gods (or their judgement) but it is really the pocket silk has somehow found its way to magic academy. I picture a final fight scene on a windy tower with the silk blowing in the wind, the PCs trying to grab it safely, the vengeful mage hater trying to let it go or maybe an ancestor Mulgar.
Kudos! Very well done.
A good one - dark and deadly.