Long ago, when the First Emperor still sat upon the Golden Throne, there lived a master smith named Zaakon. He was, without doubt, the finest smith ever born. In an age of iron, Zaakon forged steel. It was said that Zaakon spoke to the metal he was crafting and told it what to form, and the metal, out of respect, did as he asked. Many impossible things came from his forge. He forged a shield of mirrored glass, a robe of ruby crystal, and an axe with an ivory blade. However, it is not these marvels that he is known for, but for the blades of Zaakon.
One of Zaakon's many quirks was that he did not work on commission. Zaakon tended to forge what people needed, but never what people asked for. This did not stop them from asking. Always his workshops, no matter how often he moved them, would be swamped by messengers of nobles who had to have a Zaakon blade, or by would-be heroes certain their mission was one worthy of Zaakon's help. His workshop became more and more removed from civilization, and the traps outside more and more lethal, and he still could not stop them. So Zaakon invited the ambassadors of the many rulers who begged for a sword, and made a deal. He would make one weapon for each of their leaders, in exchange for guarding his privacy forever more. They agreed.
Five years later, Zaakon appeared in the home city of each of the leaders and asked them to gather their people together so that he could present the weapon in front of everybody. At each place, he explained the deal that had been made and extolled the virtues of their ruler. He then unveiled the weapon and told the story of its creation while the crowds stood in awe and the ruler waited impatiently. Zaakon then presented the weapon to the ruler, and spoke these words.
'Citizens, see your ruler. He holds a weapon of destiny in his hands, as do rulers around the world. Watch closely the bearers of all such weapons. They have the capacity to influence this world and its peoples. Watch them closely.'
Zaakon grabbed an amulet around his neck and he started to glow bright white. As the crowds shielded their eyes, Zaakon spoke his final words.
'For if all the Blades of Zaakon are present at one time, the world as you know it will forever change. And it is the wielders of those blades who will decide if it is for good or for ill.'
With that, the light flashed, and Zaakon was gone. Without exception each ruler looked at the weapon in his hand and thought, 'What have I done?'
The Blades of Zaakon have passed into legend. Many claim to have found them, many races and cultures claim that Zaakon made a weapon for their leader. None are verifiable, and the truth has been lost in time. Two of the most well-known are those supposedly made for the Empire of Splendour and the salsham'ai.
Dorilar- The Sword of Unity
Zaakon described it thus: 'As befitting the glory of the Sun Emperor I started with a shaft of purest gold and I tempered it and forged and toughened it until finally,' Zaakon swung the sword into the stone of the castle balcony and the balcony cracked, 'it became as lasting as the Empire you hope to forge.'
The blade is said to be solid gold, straight as a shaft of sunlight and just as bright. The hilt is a simple ivory crossbar inscribed with roiling clouds, such that when drawn it gives the impression of suns breaking through clouds. Diplomats know it as the Ambassador's Blade; it soon became obvious that disagreeing with the bearer of this blade was near impossible. However, those that did knew Dorilar as the Sword of Binding on the battlefield. Many a commander found his own troops rallying to the side of the Emperor compelled to serve the wielder of Dorilar. Many credit the ease of the Empire's early expansion to this blade. Many others blame it for many a blunder throughout the Empire's history. Nothing is more dangerous than a fool for an Emperor that no one can disagree with. It currently lies in the sunken city of Tifur clutched in the hand of a nameless Emperor.
Equinox - The Axe of Balance
To the Great Trunk Mother of the salsham'ai Zaakon presented a double bladed axe. The twin-moon blades were of finest steel. One blade wore the face of the salsham'ai sun god Shroma, fiery and wild. The other wore the face of the moon goddess Themnass, cool and wise. The top of the axe was topped by a large gemstone, but its color could not be determined. It swirled through the rainbow as Zaakon twirled it around.
'You of the salsham'ai seek balance it all things. By learning and communing with the powers around you, you know when the forest must be cut,' Zaakon swung the axe into the heart of the Great Tree at the center of Thalsa. The crowd gasped as sap poured from the wound like blood. The Great Trunk Mother leapt to her feet and stood there, too shocked for words. Then Zaakon placed the gem of the axe over the wound. Rainbow light shone on the wound, and as the crowd watched, it sealed itself like it had never been. 'And when it must be healed. Equinox will aid you when things are out of proportion.'
Equinox's greatest victory was during the war with the Empire. Whenever the Empire would launch firebombs, Equinox would bring rain, and whenever Imperial troops would attack, Equinox would turn the forest against them. However, every time the salsham'ai attacked the Empire, Equinox did nothing. The salsham'ai soon learned that Equinox was attuned to the world in exactly the way they yearned to be. It knew the balance of the world, and they accepted that Order must balance Chaos elsewhere. Equinox is said to still be in the salsham'ai capital, Thalsa, where the wisest of the Lorewardens commune with it, hoping to learn its secrets of balance.
Using the Blades of Zaakon
The legend of the Blades of Zaakon is a perfect excuse to introduce powerful weapons into the game. We have avoided giving game statistics but such powerful, artifact-like items would be well served by a system allowing the weapon to grow with the user, such as Legacy or Legendary weapons. The gamesmaster is at liberty to come up with other ideas for Blades of Zaakon: feel free to discuss any ideas on the forum.
The truth of whether Dorilar, Equinox or any of the other Blades exist is a matter for each campaign. One long-term campaign can be built around Zaakon's prophecy that the Blades will one day be bought together and a change wrought to the world. This is exactly the kind of thing that the bad guys like to try to exploit, or perhaps thwart. As a twist, the emergence of one supposed Zaakon Blade could cause a panic as people believe the time of change is at hand, perhaps even precipitating the prophesied upheaval.
(c) 2010 The Creative Conclave.