There was a sound from the cityward path and Rachnivere turned to see one of the caravan guard. He stood, eyes wide, without his sword. His hands hung by his sides.
“You may call me friend,” Rachnivere called, “pray tell what happened here?”
“The Weapon. It was the Weapon.”
Suddenly afraid, Rachnivere glanced about in every direction. The shadows in the grass seemed to move. The dead breathed slowly out. Still he saw no enemy until he turned back to the guard. The man’s arms were spread wide and from behind him the severed head of another of the guards rose in the air, flickering with a grey tongues like eels.
“What is one more death?” the guard asked, crying.
Sianlocke was a scholar, sorceror and revolutionary who sought to overthrow the Parliament of Prime and destroy the Walled Stone. He failed and was executed for his crimes, but as his last act he released a powerful secret into the world. This secret - known within Monde simply as “The Weapon” - was created by Sianlocke himself over many years. According to the scholars of Llaewar this might represent the single greatest feat of sorcery ever undertaken by a mortal. However, since no contemporary written records of Monde survive it is not clear that Sianlocke was as human as he was later portrayed. Certainly it seems likely he had some image blood.
Some accounts of the story of Monde suggest that The Encirclement was created to prevent Sianlocke’s Weapon from escaping into the wider world. It seems unlikely that this is wholly true, since it is accepted that Monde’s true purpose was to imprison the images. Still, fears of The Weapon may well have been a more pressing concern for many who lived at that time.
The Weapon is intelligent in a sense, although it is not possible to converse with it. It can be called with certain phrases and, once called, can be set to various tasks. In order to manipulate the Weapon at all, the would-be wielder must first open their own mind to the Weapon. Although the Weapon does not directly harm its wielders, this is to some extent a self-sacrificing act. Use of the Weapon creates a kind of purposeful focus upon the task at hand which is difficult to set aside. So, for example, a general who uses the Weapon to win a war might thereafter struggle to live in peace. A thief who uses the Weapon to steal might never again be satisfied with any amount of wealth or possessions. Also, Weapon wielders tend over time towards amorality.
The primary means of employing the Weapon - and certainly the safest - is to channel it into an object. A blade imbued with the Weapon will be swifter, lighter, sharper, strike harder and the wounds from it will be slow to heal. A key which holds the Weapon may unlock doors it was never meant to fit, although in doing so it will leave a mark upon them. A cloak suffused with the Weapon might hide the wearer perfectly in the darkness, but they may come to dislike light. Defensive uses of the Weapon tend to leave a mark upon the attacker. Sometimes this is a physical mark, but sometimes it is more like a presence, with flickers of the Weapon haunting them.
Also possible is to unleash the energy of the Weapon directly. The Weapon is chaotic in nature and tends to disrupt structure. Its energies linger in the areas where they are used and similarly can infect people who come into contact with them. They may experience visions or strange moods or in extreme cases even become sick.
Finally and most terribly the Weapon may be used to create monsters. Called “Weapon zombies” by the Lords of Tointier, these mindless creatures are not formed from nothingness. Rather, they represent complete enslavement of a living being by the Weapon. These creatures are very hard to hurt and anything they touch is to some degree afflicted by the Weapon. When created intentionally the zombies are under the command of whoever made them, provided they remain nearby.
Before axes could be set to the great gate, it was hauled open and a company of horse sallied forth, followed by two lines of pike to hold the gate until their return. They charged the enemy ranks with spirit, knowing that the day would be as good as won if the enemy could be made to fear approaching the gate again.
It was an ill-fated charge. Behind the enemy axemen stood a hulking statue of oiled metal. It had the horns of a bull and wide skull face with staring eyes the size of a man’s head. From within came a bellowing that brought at once pain and dizziness. The muddy plain before the gate folded itself into sickening spirals and the horses and riders fell about in disarray. There was nothing to be seen but whirling motion, the ground soon slick with blood and the air filled with shouts and roaring. The statue moved, then, though none could set eyes clearly upon it. It was amongst the cavalry, then it was amongst the pikes, then it stood in the castle courtyard as smoke and bricks tumbled about its hooves.
The formation of the Gymondan Empire was a long drawn out process that was to begin with primarily by way of military expansion and later by a sequence of treaties designed to dispense with the need for conflicts whose conclusion could never be in doubt. The critical battles of the early wars were in many cases won at a high cost both in human life and in terms of the sorcerous pacts signed by the Dukes of Guenkhan. One such resulted in the creation of the Brass Gorgon War Machine, a fearsome alchemical construct designed to render the Duke’s army unstoppable even in the face of superior foes.
The Brass Gorgon War Machine was used on only three battles before the Duke was temporarily forced to withdraw by civil unrest in his own lands. It was then stolen and taken to the far South. The thieves were allied to no faction in the war, but recognised the priceless nature of the artefact. They hid it in a ruin to the East of the independent city of Relgen Tower, but were themselves killed before finding a buyer.
To lift the Brass Gorgon War Machine would take ten strong people as well as strong ropes and poles. However, it is able to move itself when activated and it can be activated without any need to harm those nearby. First a fire must be lit inside and then a sequence of verbal commands issued in Gymondan. Some arts may allow the command of the Machine without a need to know the commands. For example, an alchemist of the Lossanbrandt might be able to devise a way to do so. Also, various other magical means could be used, such as Image sorcery.
The military capacity of the Machine cannot usefully be quantified. An opponent who flees swiftly upon its activation might escape. An opponent who hides might also survive, although the experience would stay with them ever after. A well prepared sorceror standing against the Machine might have some chance of quenching the fire and thereby deactivating it, but this would be a terrible risk and only to be undertaken if there was clearly no alternative. To stand against the Machine whilst it remains activated would be a feat beyond even the mightiest of champions. A few great powers might do so, but such beings do not involve themselves in the wars of mortals.
All old entries which were previously public have now been friend locked. In the unlikely event that there was anyone who regularly read my LJ who I haven't already friended, drop me an email and if I know who you are I'll add you.
Whilst LJ is no longer any use to me for keeping in touch with people - which is what I mainly used it for - I still like it as a platform and may repurpose this LJ for something slightly different in future.
For anyone who's not already aware, my games-related stuff now gets posted mostly to my G+ and personal stuff to FaceBook (although not much of it). Work stuff goes on Twitter. This doesn't imply endorsement of any of these platforms - they're all inadequate in various ways - but they're where other people choose to pay attention, so that's where things end up.