The king is a good and just man. Some have thought him him a little detached. How else could he stay to the spirit of the law if his sense of judgement was impaired by sentimentality or blind emotion? For a time everything was good, but not without problems and concerns. These concerns weighed heavily upon the king and he sought some way to lessen the burden.
The Call of Antiquity
By a mischance of fate, or a darker design, the king found something whilst on hunt. There in his hunting woods he found a temple much overgrown by choking weeds and the heavy hand of time. He had hunted these woods since he was a boy and thought that he knew then front to back and side to side. THe thought of a ruin unexplored was a thrill that made him forget his duties if only for a little while. He draw his sword and hacked a path into the temple and was amazed.
The ground was littered with shards of ancient pottery, and half rotten tapestries lined the walls. The place seemed to smell of antiquity, and the very stone was permeated by a sense of greatness that not even being abandoned and lost to time could erase. He found the altar and there was a treasure upon it, sitting in a haphazard way.
The sword was elaborate and obviously made in the fashion of the Old World. Such a weapon, regardless of enchantment would be worth a great deal of money. If the enchantments of the Old World held it could be a potent weapon and even symbol of greater prosperity. He held the blade and thought of his woes. He thought of the orcs who raided along the border, and of the peasants who protested the taxes and flocked to rebellious lords.
This was the answer. They would submit to the will of the king, they would make obeisance before him and beg forgiveness for opposing his mandate of heaven. Surely Heaven would not allow an unjust and unworthy ruler to attain the greatest throne in the world.
A New Vitality
With these thoughts the king returned to his court and there he entered into deep planning. He was darkly inspired by his new find and felt like a younger man restored to the vitality of his life. He would hold the sword as he paced, giving orders and instructions, all would be made better, by his will and the sword of the Old World.
Calling up the knights and levees, the king rode against the orcs, slaughtering them left and right with the gleaming edge of the sword. The was rejoicing as the orcs fled in terror, the king’s cavalry hot on their flanks. Festivals were held and laurels were given to the king and roses were draped across his horse.
Many of the rebellious subjects submitted to judgement, now fearing the vim and vigor of the king. These were punished, some were imprisoned in deep gaols, while others were branded with hot irons. Those who had been leaders were executed. The sword was raised bloody into the fading light of the sun, and the coming of night.
Now the king musters his strength, calling to him all of his loyal retainers and men of war. Mercenaries are being drawn to the kingdom in greater and greater numbers and there is a feeling of destiny strong upon the kingdom. Already many dissidents and spies have been dealt with, harshly. Soon, the King will unleash his armies and smash through neighboring countries. There will be a war the likes of which has never been seen. Every kingdom will war with every kingdom, and out of the carnage one will rise to dominate the rest. That man will become the King of Kings, and will rule the greatest empire since the fall of the Old World.
The Sword of Ruin
This blade is quite old, dating back to the final days of the Old World when it was fashioned by one of those elder kings. The blade is a hand and a half, or bastard sword. The crossguard and quillions are ornate having been crafted by a master.
The sword is evil and has been influencing the mind of the king, giving him lucid dreams of the Old World, and recreating that time of unity, prosperity and peace. It inspires those who wield it to commit atrocity in the name of their vision. Dissidents and critics are to be slaughtered, while those who do not fit into the vision (Other races, certain classes, etc) are to be exterminated in a bloody and systematic fashion.
The sword offers moderate combat bonuses, being a masterwork weapon of the Old World. It’s true power lies in the ambition it plants in the mind of its owner and the more subtle power that the blade will protect the owner’s life from any mundane form of death, and some arcane sources as well. No poison can touch the blade’s master, no arrow or steel can take his life. He is not impossible to wound, but the power of the sword is that he will not die. The longer he lives with the sword the more mad with power and unattainable dreams he will become.
Apt Pupil - The PCs have been drawn into the power structure of the king. The pay is good, rules are loose. A blind eye is turned to any crime they commit so long as they are serving the Kingdom, and harming the enemy. Soon, the Kingdom will begin to encourage horrific behavior. Prices being offered for the heads of enemies, bonus pay for savage missions of extermination against a single race, or location. (other humanoids, tolerant temples, magic users would make good targets). How far into barbarity will the heroes wade before realizing the consequences of their actions?
Loyal Opposition - The King has become mad with power, spouting a propaganda of warmongering and hate. Those also in power have gravitated to his rhetoric for their own gain, and it seems that a madness has enveloped the Kingdom. Normally calm people are pounded tables and shouting for retribution against their heretofore unknown foes. Can any reason be made, or do the PCs have to go underground lest they become the next victims of the King’s secret police?
Good Walls - The PCs are residents of a neighboring country and there is great concern that the Kingdom will soon be at war. The King has called up the levies and has begun to stock the border forts but the might of the other kingdom is growing faster and faster. Any defense made would be nothing more than a delaying action. Tales of horror and atrocity come across the border carried by refugees and escapees.
Enemies Within - The PCs are higher ranking, and are close to the warmongering King. Thy have seen him becoming more and more unstable, especially after war breaks out and begins giving contradicting orders that will inevitably lead to great loss of life and destruction of life and property. The PCs instigate, or are drawn into a plot to assassinate the King before the Kingdom is destroyed by her united enemies.
The Real Story
From whence the Sword of Ruin comes is unknown. It is known that the blade is an avatar of chaos and its appearance is a herald of coming warfare and conflict. given the immorality of it’s wielders most consider the weapon to be of evil alignment. It is not, the weapon is a reminder that evil and chaos are as much a part of the human soul as good and order.