The Black Vault

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The Black Vault
Name:
Author: Barinellos
Classification: Legendary Artifact
Creator:
Notable Wielder(s):
Availability
Open Available
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The Black Vault is a subsection of Maral's workshop where items of particular significance and potency are kept. These artifacts are either too precious, or too dangerous to leave unguarded, and Maral has taken it upon herself to keep these items secluded where no harm can be done. Each of the relics she has collected that warrant inclusion in the vault are kept secluded from the others, and powerful barriers and enchantments lock the items away. Many of them are alive, or at least partly, and the dangers they represent are incredible, a fact which has caused Maral to regularly strengthen the wards and locks on the items. Each item is housed on a pedestal under a single light, at the center of an immense working, usually tailored specifically for that item, a combination of enchantments carved into the floor meant to block the influence the items can exert upon the outside world.

While most of the gathered antiquities in the Black Vault are outright dangerous, and have caused havoc across multiple planes in one fashion or another, there are a handful of items which do not pose a threat at all. These items are kept to be safeguarded until the enchantress can best discern the steps necessary to ensure their safekeeping.

The immense value of the vault is in no question, but it is located deep inside her domain and the location is known to less than a handful of people. These same people know that if something were ever to happen to her, the items would have to be dealt with, and she has specific instructions for what would become of them and to whom she would trust such things if the worst were to come to pass.

Contents of the Vault

An accounting of the relics

Among the many scrolls and tomes that I have browsed from the Infinite Library, there are likely near countless artifacts which are spoken of in those innumerable volumes, but among the collection there are several which seem to appear more often than one would find natural, and more importantly, in locations that seemingly have nothing to do with each other. This stirred an interest in the matter and I began to unearth as many accounts of the relics as I could. Having little in the way of success of tracking some of them down, I turned to an expert that I had some acquaintanceship with, a treasure hunter and smith known as Maral.

My own curiosity has caused her to become more determined to search these out and assess the potency and possible influence these artiacts may have had. In preparation for her journey, I have collected notes on the list put together which she feels both are of the highest priority to search out, cross referenced with the ones most likely to be found.

-From the journals of Raleris, dated (page damaged)

The Hands of Light and Shadow

Also referenced as: The Peacebringer, The Scales of Destiny

While not the oldest of the relics in this collection, estimated at 4000 years of age, it is by far one of the most active, having dozens and dozens of hosts throughout the ages. It has appeared in the histories well over 50 times across a myriad of planes, each time appearing during a time of great strife and being wielded by the greatest hero of its age. At some point during the conflict, usually at its height, a hero would rally against whatever forces threatened them and drive their enemy back, and once the threat had passed, regardless of the champion's fate, the artifact would fade once more into history, but rarely for long. Its ability to travel from one bearer to another is astounding, traversing the breadth of a world in decades in the shadows and flames of glorious war. My interest was truly piqued when I found references to a similar artifact on another world entirely, and since that discovery, I have found tomes scattered across a half dozen worlds that bear some likeness to this artifact. Despite how often it has appeared, what abilities it actually possesses are left mysteriously absent, usually lapsing into the figures of history rather than their seemingly supernatural weapon.

The Hand of Light and Shadow is a deceptive name, as it is actually a pair of bangles, one said to be a brilliant silver and the other a dark iron. Upon each are a deep red gem (Marquee Cut -M) set at the back of the bands. While their appearance has seemingly changed over the ages, those details have remained a constant, which poses further questions about the band's abilities.

The one thing that has seemed tragically apparent is that one must possess both of the bands, and those that bear only half of its power will be drawn to the other, which will inevitably lead to the death of both. There are a handful of tales where the artifact was split, and it always ended in tragedy, usually on a grand scale.

(Addendum: the bangles are without doubt mystic in origin, and further, obviously aware. Aside from those facts though, I can't truly fathom what the relic is capable of, the description of their abilities are perplexing. I believe that the bangles enhance the wielder's natural abilities, pushing them to a state that they would not achieve without its assistance. Furthermore, and more importantly, I'd hazard the relic contains the accumulated experience of every bearer that has held it. While most of its hosts have been warriors, there have been a number of magic users who have carried the relic. I think that their knowledge, and more importantly the mana bonds that belonged to them, remain with the bands.

I've chosen to keep the knowledge from Raleris. His curiosity would likely be dangerous until we know what motives the artifact may have. At the end of the day, I cannot help but question what the artifact gets from its activities. Even more, though, I have to ask: Is the relic truly drawn to heroes, or does it craft them itself? -Maral)

The Coin of Eirene

This item is quite different from the others that we have gathered. It has not uprooted history or broken nations. Despite that, it is one of the most significant finds that I have run across. I originally found the story about it from a personal journal retrieved from the [Rabiah|Library of Alexandria], but how it had gotten there is as much a mystery as anything else. At first, it seemed to be fiction, but the more I read of it, the more convinced I became that these were words penned by truth and tragedy.

In the city of Spiros, there was an artificer named Tyson who was known for his unlimited skill, but severely limited wealth. While he was an accomplished academic, he had nothing to show for it aside from the esteem of his peers, not even a position that would fund his work. This changed when the matriarch of a major family saw his potential and chose to offer him patronage, under the arrangement that anything he produced belonged to her, a treasury to display just how much status she had and influence she could command. It was an acceptable arrangement for some time, but as he grew older, he began to feel the keen edge of solitude creeping upon him.

With nothing to his name, despite his new status, and nothing to truly call his own, he could think of only one thing he desired. He regretted that he had never had a child… and he knew of only one way that he could fill that hole in his life. He constructed a clockwork girl, a young lady that he could have as his own. In secret, he assembled her, and the final touch was the mystic coin that would make her so much more than a doll. Once the coin clicked into place, she was very nearly indistinguishable from a living child.

In months, she learned what children would in years, her maturity vastly outstripping her apparent age. She began to have dreams of her own, desires to see the world beyond her walls, but her father kept her close to him, his precious child, so that she could never be taken from him by the family whose wealth had paid for her construction.

But it didn’t matter. The matriarch learned of her and was delighted, ignoring the breach of his agreement. Tyson fought desperately against her claim, and for a time it seemed that the courts were split upon to whom she belonged. That alone was part of the problem though. To the matriarch she was an object, a trophy to sit prettily for visitors among an empty hall of like objects. To the artificer, she was his child, but she could never be anything more than a child. Her shape would forever taint the way that he could see her despite the yearning young woman she had actually become.

So she ran, but no matter the wisdom she possessed that gave lie to her age, she was still a fragile girl, a child in form and all too vulnerable. She was a delicate thing of clockwork and care, and when they finally found her… she had been broken. The matriarch got her doll, but none could repair her enough to live again. The only man with the skill enough to do so had crawled into a bottle and never left it.

The coin was displayed next to her body and its meaning was lost to the family that claimed ownership of her. And that is the end of the journal.

I don’t know how the story ends, but I feel we have to locate Spiros and take charge of such a precious life, if it still exists.

(The coin is made of some golden metal that I can’t identify, which bothers me more than it should, but the entire affair bothers me to begin with. Getting the coin was easy enough, but it really is a masterful work, the magics that make up Eirene’s mind and soul are still are strong as they must have been the day they were first placed into her shell. Sometimes, when I touch the coin I can still feel her in there, dreaming. It is… tragic beyond words that a life so unique and precious was cut off by the world's capricious whims.

I wish I could do something to help her. -Maral)

The Darkmantle

Also referenced as: The Wings of the Damned, the Daemoncloak, The Abyssal Cape

One of the oldest and most storied of the artifacts that has sprung from my research, it has carved a path through history in blood and darkness. I believe it very likely had a small part in the corruption of Dark Rabiah, though other forces that came later surely had a larger hand <or claw> in what it finally became. That is not the only scourge that it unleashed, as there is evidence, circumstantial though it may be, that its influence might very well have spawned a lineage of vampires upon the plane of Mireva.

Unlike the other relics, virtually every bearer of the darkmantle has been identified and the stories seen in its passing are horrific to consider. It has been in the hands of killers and despots, pirates, thieves, and warlords alike. It most often appears upon the shoulders of lords, surrounded by a seemingly limitless army of devils and horrors, but the tales do not specify if the mantle attracts evil creatures such as these, or if they spring from the relic itself.

Almost none that bore the darkmantle found a peaceful death, and it was often at covetous hands that they were unmade. There is only a single tale of a man willingly giving up the mantle, but what became of him is lost to the nebulous fog of history. <See attached notes>

The darkmantle is described as a cloak held together with a silver collar and pauldrons filigreed with the bones of demons. The pauldrons are decorated with gems made from the eyes of the same and the cloak itself is leather flayed from demons' living flesh. The darkness within the cape is near absolute. It is a primordially malevolent artifact, the darkest impulses of the horrid beings it was made from stitched together. It drives its bearer to indulge in any act that they desire, removing all inhibition and replacing it with an insatiable hunger for more.

The only thing we can say, is that though crafted from long dead demons, it has inherited their drives and desires. The host will inevitably become a slave to the power they bear.

(Addendum: The darkmantle is unbelievably old and even I can't be certain how ancient. There are notes Raleris found which stretch back over ten-thousand years, but even those suggest that it was created before that. Whatever hand made it obviously didn't use it immediately, which has disturbing implications for what they'd been doing with it before it escaped. Not to mention how disturbing it is that it probably planned its own liberation.

The darkmantle's abilities are drawn from the depths of its wielder's psyche, the devils that haunt them, the fears and malevolence that lurk in the shadows of a sane person's mind given flesh. This ability seems to be very similar to phenomenon we can observe in demons from across a number of worlds, however the effect it has on a mortal is disturbingly different than that of a demon. Bereft of their fears and darkest desires, it creates a void within its bearer that drives them to greater and greater depravity.

The increasing emptiness seems to make the wielder more susceptible to the cloak's whispers until they cede all control to the foul thing. This observation comes from both the study of the artifact itself as well as the firsthand observation of its previous owner. I still can't get near the damned thing without smelling his blood. -Maral)

The Archangel's Horns

Also referenced as: The Crown of Light, the Coronet of Victory, the Horned Halo

In its earliest recorded appearance, the helm seemed to be nothing more than a symbol of authority, a ceremonial item that marked the leader of the angelic hosts of its homeworld. Some unknown cataclysm occurred and when next it appeared, it was in the possession of a church on a world where angels had become nothing more than myth. How it got there is an utter mystery, as is the final fate of its makers. It is on this new world that the true depth of its power began to show. It remained in the church's collection for centuries, an oddity that inspired legends and belief, but it was poorly understood. The ones who held it had no idea what it truly meant, and what they thought they learned from it was very misunderstood.

What comes next is a confused mess of incomplete records. Some threat arose, it is unclear of its nature, but in desperation the church turned to the artifact. The woman chosen for the task had no clue what she was being asked to do, as none in the church knew what power it may hold, but they were in terrible danger and their options were dwindling so swiftly that a desperate act was all that was left to them. Their martyr was transformed when they placed the item on her head, proving that the helmet was more than merely ceremonial, and she underwent apotheosis, reborn in fire and became an angel herself. She wiped out the threat and gave rise to a new angelic army to keep the kingdom secure.

However, the story does not end there. While peace reigned, discontent began to grow in the angelic ranks. The crime in the nation was seen as a sign of corruption in the leadership, and before long, a violent revolution tore the country apart. The archangel seized power and turned the kingdom into a totalitarian state. Under the blade of the angels, oppression ran rampant until revolution came again, toppling the angelic powers and tearing the kingdom apart for good. The Archangel's Horns vanish then, only to appear once more elsewhere. We can only be thankful that the helmet seems to spend most of its time in dormancy.

(Raleris's account of the history above is extremely dire, but in my travels, I encountered stories that paint a totally different picture. Most histories in which the Horns appear ends with an angelic coup, but several of those were peaceful and led to prosperity in the subsequent years. I believe it is tied to under what circumstances the Horns are donned. If worn for peace, they lead to peace. If worn for War, then a harsher fate is bound to follow.

The results of the apotheosis may also be drawn to the bearer's disposition, the alignment of their magic and their identity which influences what ultimately becomes of the helmet's bearer. There are a lot of answers I don't have about the relic and until I can work out more about it, I'm placing it in the secure vault.

I... am very pensive at the similarities of this relic's abilities and the Rapture of Elysium. -Maral)

The Nocturne Wheel

Also reference as: Time Breaker, the Night Disk

What has passed cannot be undone. It is a law of nature, but to those with great power, even the laws of time and space seem mutable and desperation drives those with that kind of power to terrifying ends.

The Nocturne Wheel found its genesis at the hands of a fallen angel. She had been cast from her host centuries before, and in all that time, one simple thing had driven her to obsession. She wished for nothing more than to restore the grace she had lost. Not much is spoken of angelic artificers or their capacity as scholars, but she had once been one of the brightest. She spent the time following her fall searching for some way to undo the horrible mistakes she’d made. In the darkest corners of the Pit she’d been cast into, she worked, scrawling numbers and figures upon every surface of the cavern she dwelt in. Using divine equations and hellish geometry, she crafted a device that would offer her salvation at last. Centuries of work upon her arcane calculations finally bore results, and those took the shape of the Nocturne Wheel.

The device, according to every reckoning she could answer, offered her a chance to literally undo her time, to restore herself to an earlier state from before she was corrupted. With trembling hands, she lifted the machine and used it. Her dream was finally realized and the centuries melted from her… and the very artifact that allowed this corrupted her all over again. Aghast, she used it again, rewinding further, but the act itself was a perversion of all that is sacred, a profane act that no divine being would take. As the realization came upon her, her mind snapped and she drove herself further and further back, sure that if she could only restore herself just a little further back, she could attain her purity once more.

And she ceased to exist.

The Wheel fell where she had stood and there it rested undisturbed for an unknown time. No other resident of hell would touch it, somehow being too profane for even their depravity. But where there is great power, there will always be those foolish enough to wield it. It appears a necromancer gained possession of it, I don’t know how, and used the artifact to try to cheat death of its rightful possession as he grew older. There is some irony since the very thing that fuels the terrible energies of the Wheel is the force of life itself. It restored his youth, certainly, but at the cost of nearly everything that remained of his life. The device had been meant only for the hands of an immortal, someone with unlimited life to give.

There are sparse notes following its path across the cosmos, but whatever mysteries the machine might possess, I am not sure if they even should be unraveled.

(I hate this thing. I can hear it clicking somewhere deep in my soul any time I touch it. I’ve taken to wearing thick gloves when I have to move it, otherwise I try to have nothing to do with it. The worst part is that it is far more aware than other relics I have encountered. It seems… for lack of a better word, curious. There are times when I feel like it’s staring at me and others when I think it is actually a shadowy figure dotted with pinpoints of light. When I turn to look, it’s never there. In times like these, I wonder what actually becomes of the life it drinks to fuel its mechanisms.

I have no idea what the internal mechanisms of the device look like, but considering the insane geometry that must have gone into it, I doubt I could possibly understand it. The outer casing is cast in silver, and the interior is filled with what I can only call shards of the night sky in the shadows of the twisting gears. It reminds me, vaguely, of Nyx, but there is something subtly different about it.

The one thing I have learned that was not in Raleris’s notes was that it does not just restore youth. It is capable of completely manipulating the time of an object. It can accelerate an object’s age as well as reverse it, reduce a living being into a skeleton in the span of a breath. -Maral)

The Divinity

There are many relics under the many skies of Dominia, but this might very well be one of the most precious, if the stories about it are true. I genuinely don’t know what to make of the rumors that orbit the object simply known as Divinity and I fret to dwell upon them.

The Divinity is a small three-sided bar of platinum, pressed and etched with delicate patterns, a topaz set at each end of the bar’s faces. It is the apex of a crafter’s art, divinity itself conjured from base metal and the bearer of it is capable of ignoring the forces of time, entropy, and even death itself. What’s more, and what causes me to pause, are the rumors surrounding it suggest that it might very well be capable of resurrection, the capacity to bring someone back to true life. The consequences of such a possibility being accurate are staggering, but despite the tales that whisper of that power, I cannot find any evidence that it is true aside from the first tale told of it. The other abilities have many instances of corroboration, but if anyone else has used it to free someone from the grips of death, I cannot find that knowledge. It may very well be that the Divinity’s origins are nothing more than an apocryphal story.

The Divinity’s creation seems… oddly contradictory if all is told. There is much spoken of a tainted angel’s passions and wants, but there is virtually nothing spoken of a demon’s sentimentality. The story goes that a young lady went to war, leaving behind her husband. Many years passed by and she never returned, but still, the young man did not give up hope to see his beloved again. As happens all too often in stories such as these, tragedy seemed inevitable and news reached him that his dear wife laid dead on some distant and blasted battlefield.

His heart seemed to shatter and nothing anyone did was capable of consoling him, but even amidst those darkest moments, he still had hope. He set out on a journey of his own, to search the heavens and everything underneath them for some way to restore his lady love. At the gates of the greatest schools of mystics, he was turned away, in the contrite presence of angels, he was told there was nothing that could be done, but at the mouth of hell itself, he finally found a sympathetic ear. The lord of hell listened to his story, oddly silent, and then told him that his lost wife could be returned to him. It would simply cost him his soul. For his wife, he would pay any price and the demon lord and young man struck a bargain.

From the man, he took hope, that pure emotion that never wavered, and crafted it into the Divinity. He told him that if he could find his wife, she could live again and once more the man set out. It did not take him long for as he returned home, he found his wife’s shade waiting. Reunited, she breathed once more and it is said that they lived the rest of their lives in peace.

Though it would seem that would be the end, it is said that the demon lord who had crafted the item never collected his price, for a love so pure could never be allowed in his kingdom, a fact he knew that even when he named his price. Yet, he did it anyways.

It is… a wonderful tale, but I genuinely do not know if it is true. The rest of the stories of the Divinity’s power are far more mundane, and more than once it has passed through the gates of the Eternities to show up on other worlds in the hands of conquerors and guardians alike.

(Many of the capabilities of the Divinity have been well tested. Its bearer becomes indestructible, nigh unstoppable. I have subjected myself to an increasing battery of tests and have found no upper limits, but I am wary of doing much more than what I have. I strongly dislike the idea of becoming reliant on such a relic, especially when it might fail when it is needed the most.

I… cannot bring myself to believe the rest of what it is said to do. I have found no indication that it can bring another back to life, but I do have theories about what it may be capable of. I believe the Divinity may, in fact, summon a perfect replica of a being and bring it life, but… I don’t know if even that much is true. The implications it may have are simply too great. I think the Divinity’s power may be tied to hope, and only the desperate know hope strong enough to accomplish such an impossible thing. -Maral)

The Inferno Amulet

Also referenced as: The Dragon’s Soul, The Burning Gem, Incarnate Sin

The Inferno Amulet is a potent artifact and is perhaps one of the most subtly influential over those who bear it. Whatever motivations it may possess, it seems to care little for the lives that need be trampled so long as its goals are realized. However, a search of history provides little coherent evidence to what long term goal it may possess. Perhaps it simply does not have any.

The talisman grants extraordinary dominion over fire, power to rival the walkers at the height of our abilities, enough to set an entire world ablaze. It is awe-inspiring and more than a little terrifying to consider the unfettered capacity of such massive and unrelenting power. That alone would be enough reason to collect such a relic, but there is still more to it than that. The Inferno Amulet is obviously tied in some way to dragons, for the bearer gains not only their mastery of flame, but also the armor of their flesh. Thick scales can sprout from the bearer’s body, stronger than metal, and the more control relinquished, the more gifts it offers. If one gave in completely to the amulet’s temptations, they might very well become one of the great serpents themselves. Such an act might be tied to several disastrous events that I have unearthed from in the library.

It is not just a dragon’s power that is bestowed on the bearer of the Inferno Amulet, it is also a dragon’s vices. Wrath and Pride, but more prevalently Envy and Greed. No matter the reason the bearer dons the Amulet, be it in noble defense or baleful conquest, the dragon’s desires will color the host’s if worn long enough.

Despite the ruinous history trailing in its wake, there are numerous examples of the Inferno Amulet being used in righteous endeavors and breaking the iron rule of tyrants. For all the good it may have done though, I cannot help but think of the amulet as too violent to be beneficial to the world it finds itself on.

The most interesting piece of information relevant to our search, is the fact that the Inferno Amulet seems to be the only artifact to have crossed paths with another relic found in these notes.

(The amulet is a shard of sangrite, possibly the purest I have ever seen, magically fused to a dragon’s scale. Gold etching, or something very much like gold, holds the stone in place in a series of complicated and intertwined symmetrical runes. Its resemblance to a dragon’s eye is… fairly unmistakable. Whatever spell crafted this, it has changed the nature of the sangrite, imbued it with something very akin to life. Sangrite would normally be altered by the unfettered aether of the Blind Eternities, but what was done to the amulet has made it something unique. I’m not sure if it is even right to call it a stone anymore at all.

The blood of dragons is obviously the source of the artifact’s awareness and abilities, but the power lacks the spark of cunning I would expect from something channeling a dragon’s essence. I think it comes from the nature of the source, it is nothing but a dragon’s instinct, guided by the bearer’s own thoughts. It would make an ironic sort of sense given the nature of a relic born of a dragon’s heart rather than mind. -Maral)

<Addendum: After having looked over Maral’s notes and further research, I believe the artifact is both newer and older than my first approximations. The actual construction of the amulet is not as aged as I first suspected, but the core of it may be veritably ancient. I think it may well be older than most planes I have encountered. The “Sangrite” that dominates it, if my research can be corroborated, might very well belong to the lost race known as the Elder Dragons.

If that is true, I desperately wish to trace its path through history in more depth, but Maral has been insistent that I leave well enough alone.>

The Chaos Ring

Also referenced as: Pandemonium, the God of War

There are very few things that appear so inconsequential that have caused such massive havoc as the Chaos Ring. A simple black mobius worn as a ring, it is deceptively small and unassuming. Despite that trait, it is impossible to see it and not understand that it does not fit in such a limited thing as the physical world. It is painful to look at, the contours illogical to any sane person. The most distressing sight comes from the way it shifts when you look away from it. Its form flickers and seems to grow larger, sometimes doubling into twin loops, at others losing all logical coherence.

Despite how easy it would be to miss the artifact itself, the effect it has on its bearer is not so easy to ignore. Their eyes are filled with chaos that I can only assume is comparable to the tumult of the Blind Eternities. The eyes are said to be a window into the soul, and the change brought on by the ring’s influence are horrific to consider. The bearer of the ring is driven mad, I do not know how quickly, but it must be shockingly fast. The worst of it, from the reports collected, is the cold and calm insanity of the bearer. They do not become a cackling beast, some maniac that is easy to identify, but instead simply lose their mind in the most chilling and quiet way possible.

It is, however, only a prelude to the ring’s purpose. When unleashed, the ring removes all inhibitions and conscience from the people around them, freeing the evils that morality and sanity keep locked away. It spreads, the more people under its influence, the greater the number it can reach. It is said that battlegrounds have turned to unspeakable slaughter in its wake, cities devastated by its own population, all while the chaos ring walks unhurriedly through its streets. The bearers of the Chaos Ring have been a varied sort. I’ve only been able to unearth a handful, but the ring has graced the hands of soldiers, cultists, thieves, and others I can only speculate to. It doesn’t matter who wears the ring, because ultimately they all become the same avatar of havoc. The only change is in the location.

(Someone managed to beat us to locking the ring away, but with something as dangerous as this, I’m not leaving it to chance. The vessel for the ring blocks its effect, but the defenses are terrible. I’ve strengthened the security with a pair of mana locks that will only respond to very specific keys, but even that may not be sufficient.

The ring’s power is building inside the vessel and I worry about what will happen when it is finally freed. -Maral)

Winter's Heart

Also referenced as: the Titan's Legacy, the Glacial Crown, the Cold Chain, the Frost Shard

Upon the frozen world of Kokkinos, eons before its legendary ziggurat was raised, a race of giants once ruled. The Frost Titans dominated the world, but they were solitary beings and as the plane itself shook off their icy grasp, their numbers dwindled until they vanished utterly into the mists of history.

Their end, however, was only the start of this. Millenia later, Kokkinos was torn apart by bloodshed and barbarism. Rival clans clashed endlessly, spilling blood until the mountains ran red with them. Swords and flags were the only grave markers left for thousands and countless clans were left to fade into obscurity. Upon one of those littered front lines, the bedraggled victors of some nameless battle happened upon something that would change history forever. They discovered the long forgotten grave of one of those mighty titans of epochs past. The barbarians worshiped the precursors and thought to properly enshrine its remains as a sign of their victory and right to rule. When they started to dig, they unearthed the creature’s fossilized heart. Cracking its mummified chest open, almost by accident, they found a flawless azure stone of unparalleled beauty, dancing with its own inner light. With numb fingers they touched the stone and found it shockingly cold even after all these years.

Prying it from the mineral tomb, all thoughts of the body fled. They took the stone to their chieftain. He was equally enchanted and sent the stone to be worked, the heart made into a medallion for the great chieftain king. With the titan’s legacy upon his breast, he led his clan to conquer and unify the world. The stone granted him the powers of the giants before him, armored in ice and calling storms as his herald, he built a great glacial fortress, and from there he bound the tribes under his rule. With it came a period of peace unknown to the world since the dawn of time.

But though the mighty king had gathered his people, strife still lay in their hearts. As his health began to fail, the winters grew worse and conflict began once more. When his shamans discovered the cause of his sickness was a curse that came from the heart he wore, he attempted to get rid of it, only to discover its magic was the only thing that kept him alive. Once removed, he rapidly worsened and in his death throes, the stone conjured a raging storm that tore apart everything they had worked for, throwing Kokkinos into a winter that would last for centuries.

Few artifacts on our list have changed form as often since their creation, but the Winter’s Heart has been transformed countless times and used by beings as diverse as the form it has taken. Demons, Saints, Criminals, and Heroes, have born the stone that is the Winter’s Heart, but few have ever escaped the curse of misfortune and death that comes with it. It does not matter why the stone is used, it will always bring misery to those who claim its power.

(The gem has complete control over ice and makes its bearer immune to the cold. The upper limits of what the gem can accomplish aren’t something I am eager to test, so I am forced to speculate based on historical evidence. It is a chilling thing to consider, no pun intended.

The dire prophecy which Raleris has related is… somewhat exaggerated. The relic is cursed, that much is true, but it does not always bring death to its bearer. Misfortune is certainly an accurate term, but there are a number of stories describing only the unfortunate defeat of the one who thought to master the Heart. The form the curse takes is as varied as its own appearance.

Its current form is disturbingly similar to another of the artifacts that we have collected, so much so that it is clear one was inspired by the other, though which came first is impossible to tell. The Inferno Amulet has clashed with the Winter’s Heart several times through history, which at first glance seems nigh impossible but I believe the artifacts might be bound to each other, even over the reaches of the Blind Eternities themselves. The fact that they have both found their way to my vault speaks volumes of that bond. -Maral)

The Soulstone

Also referenced as: The Truthseeker, The Enchanter’s Gem

If you were to see this relic at a bazaar on any number of worlds, it would seem an innocuous bauble. A simple rose heart cut gem, not especially brilliant, whose only remarkable feature is the size. It would seem easy to miss, except to those who know the touch of magic. Amid the flotsam and jetsam of countless trinkets, the soulstone draws those with power to it.

The stone allows its bearer to see to the soul of a thing and manipulate that soul, to draw forth its true potential... or snuff it out. It claims dominion over life and death, truth and lie. One could live forever with the stone's power, but it cannot stop one’s aging. It can command the dead to rise, but never offer true life. It can shield others from harm and end their lives with the same thought. The most subtle of all its power is to realize the absolute truth, to strip away falsehood and touch the soul of all things. It is this reason why it can draw forth the true potential of a soul, to remove that which stops one from achieving their highest potential. It is for that reason that beings of power have sought the stone for as far back as anyone can remember.

The exact origin of the soulstone is lost to the ages. The first mention I can find of the stone speaks of it as an item with considerable history, but of those events, I can find no trace. The tale was about the rise of a demonlord, already potent in his own right. However, bearing the stone gave him command of an undead army that made him nearly unstoppable.

Nearly.

One of his own acolytes turned against him just on the cusp of his victory. Using the stone, she bound their souls together and sealed him within herself. Without their patron, the cult was broken, the acolytes and priests fleeing before the assembled might meant to repel the undead army that fell useless upon the battlefield. The army of machines meant to defend the nation laid waste to the lesser demons that attempted to finish the demonlord's work.

One would think that would be the end of the story, but it doesn't truly end there. The gem’s power awakened something inside the young woman, a nascent spark flared to life because of its power. The next chapter of the journey takes something of an unexpected turn. The gem ended up in the hands of an accomplished healer on another world, presumably gifted stewardship of the stone by the young woman, though no mention of the exchange can be found. He began a grimoire studying the stone's capabilities, but as time wore on, the tome became his personal journal and when he died, it was passed to his daughter along with the stone. So it went for generations, until I arrived.

Only 2 of his descendents remained, a mother and daughter. The younger had inherited the burden, and though she was an accomplished healer like her ancestor, she did not wish to bear the responsibility given to her. She gave me both the stone and grimoire and seemed happy to be rid of the relic that had burnt out the potential of a once proud lineage.

The Last of All

Also referenced as: Nothing There is something chilling about learning of a dead world. To find some mention of a world that is no longer there, or to happen across one in our travels. It is bad enough to stand on a world such as that, one that has passed away, but it is so much worse to know that it died a violent death. Imagine holding a world like that in your hand and feel the horrible malignance and hatred of a murdered world. That is what the Last of All is. It is the remnant, the final fragment of a world that died horribly, overwhelmed by evil.

And all that evil, the distilled malevolence that destroyed an entire plane, is contained within that shard. To look at it, you would never believe the horror it was capable of. It is small, small enough to hold between thumb and forefingers, but holding it would be an unspeakable mistake. The terrible presence of it is indescribable and words fail me to tell you of the dread it holds.

I have had little luck of learning what plane it might have once been. I can only tell you of the abattoir it had turned the temple I discovered it in into. On Kamigawa, in the most secluded reaches of the Jukai Forest, there stood a temple that had weathered the ravages of ages and war. When I was drawn to investigate the rumors of its reported silence, I found nothing more than a strange miasma and hundreds dead inside. The stone sat serenely under the wooden visage of the temple’s patron, the only thing out of place besides the poor men and women slaughtered by it. I have no clue what happened, but the desolation was palpable and the Last of All was obviously its epicenter.

I’ve given it to Maral hoping she can unlock some of the secrets it might have and find some way to stop it.

(I have no intention of trying to unlock the "mysteries" of this damned thing! All attempts to destroy it have failed. I suppose if something survives the death of the world, there’s nothing I can do that could harm it. I’ve buried the damned thing as deeply as I can under enough wards to keep anything from getting in or out. -Maral)