Full Item Description
It is a large cloth, more than enough to cover a man. It is thick and heavy, with fine embroidery, of a strange texture and a weak herbal smell. There is no warmth to be found beneath it.
Odolan was an Elven healer of some repute. When his people left their brethren, he followed, through woods and hills, far away from their native lands. They settled in a deep valley, where the weather seemed warm enough, and the few humans not hostile. There should be their new home.
He remembers the first winter, when the snow came soon. Then came the frost, and ever colder nights and days. Never again have so many Elves died in such a short period. They learned, and adapted. It is rare to mention the First Winter now.
But Odolan hasn't forgotten. When the settlement was built, and he had less work, he traveled the valley, and learned from the beasts and plants, how they survived, and how they resisted the deep winters. One of his first creations was the Winter Shroud.
The Shroud needs the cold of winter. Exposed to freezing temperatures, the liquid inside starts to harden. Placing the Shroud on a person or creature will slow down his metabolism until a genuine winter sleep is achieved. The process takes up to a few hours, to some discontent of its creator. He hoped to save lives of those, who are seriously ill, or wounded. But even at this rate it is useful:
A sleeper can last through the winter with nary a sign of life, as long as the Shroud is on him. The hard, cold body seems dead, but is very receptive for surgery and other other normally invasive techniques.
Once the sleeper awakes from a long sleep, it is imperative to assist him with regaining consciousness, and control. Spring is also an ideal time for the more standard ways of Elven healing. Thus one can many survive wounds and illnesses a winter usually makes terminal.
The Shroud itself is made of finest linen, impregnated with the resin of several trees, and with water of a winter's first icicles. Herbs are employed as well, and what its creator is ashamed to mention, the bodily fat of a large animal able to hibernate.
It can preserve a large man through all winter, maybe even longer, if it is cold. More sleep or too much warmth could lead to waking up, expiring in sleep, or even freezing to death. Fire will damage or completely destroy it.
The friendly hand - a local hunter, a human, helped the newcomers, when they badly needed it. They don't forget. Now that he is old and sickly, they let him 'spend the winter' with them - sleeping under the Shroud. He wouldn't survive a winter here, but now is he the oldest in the cruel valley, his life prolonged beyond mortal norms. You search for something, you may want to speak him first.
The snatcher - in the right conditions, the Shroud can be an effective kidnapping tool. There are surely better ways, but someone's got his hands on one, and has to try it.
The wrong care - even worse, the secret of the Shroud has gotten out, and is advertised as the best way to prolong youth, and dial back old age. First there will be adventurous sorts trying to get their hands on one, then will someone important try it out... what if the wife of the neighboring king dies from this 'guaranteed elven cure'?
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? Responses (10)-10
I have linked this one to the "New Take on Classic Magic Items" codex. There are all sorts of magical widgets, that put a person into stasis to be cured or imprisoned.
The Shroud is more of an Old Take: it freezes literally, and it is bound to very specific conditions.
No, it is not that cold, it is actually very comforting. Just don't fall asleep under it, when it IS cold.
I was intrigued by the science story which I assume inspired this one. It is a nice treatment and use of that idea!
"The process takes up to a few hours, to some discontent of its creator. He hoped to save lives of those, who are seriously ill, or wounded. But even at this rate it is useful"
love that little detail ^
Also, "....impregnated with the resin of several trees, and with water of a winter's first icicles"
Very nice! ^
A nice, romantic, clan-of-the-cave-bear type of opening, and wonderfully subtle item!
Healing hibernation. I like it. The "Bear-Lord's Favor" could be another colloquial name for this shroud.
Finally, I cant help but put forth the idea, that perhaps another legend exists out there somewhere amidst the tundra and arboreal forests. A semi-mythic Winter Shroud of giant proportions! One that could gently envelop entire tribes and communities, and protect them from the harshest winters. It could have the added power of cloaking villages in snowy camouflage. One could pass by an entire tribe hidden beneath the Winter Shroud and never know it.
Bear-Lord's Favor... now that sounds good.
There may indeed be such a legend (and who knows, it might have inspired Odolan in the first place!). If there is, it could be the cape of the Winter Lord, or another personification of winter. He or she came upon a village hit hard by the cold season... and showing mercy, he would cover it with the Shroud. And so they were saved for the winter, without even noticing that it has passed.
Also, I might add, this captures the spirit of the Quest wonderfully.
Very nice, and I must concur with what Muro said, this item really gets the idea of the Winter Quest. Kudos.
Thanks a lot! I wanted to create some 'classical' winter item, and it didn't work until I connected it to the Elves in all their old-fashioned glory. Now, you could detach them from the item and it would stay usable.
So I have to thank the elves (and random scientific articles) for the inspiration.