Nobless Sceptre

Smoke and boisterous laughter was heavy in the air while Azin sat and had a pint at a small tavern in Lentonm, a small fishing town in Venyshir. Azin was a medium sized man with long shaggy hair wielding a long sword that he kept sheathed on his back and a buckler on his left hand. Sitting there, he heard something interesting; in the seat behind him a man was talking to a band of mercenaries. "Have you heard of the legend," he asked what seemed to be the leader, "The legend of the Nobless Sceptre over in the Anyadne dungeon?"

"That's ridiculous," the band leader said mockingly. "Everyone knows that legend is just a story that isn't true, and even if it was, there's no way anyone would be able to come back alive, even us." The band of mercenaries began laughing at the old man.

"But it's true, I know it." He felt insulted at the words and laughter of the mercenaries, so he got up and left the tavern in despair. Intrigued by the old man's words, Azin decided to follow and learn more about the legend. He managed to catch up to the old man outside the tavern."Excuse me, sir, can you tell me more about this legend?"

The old man sighed and turned around, "I suppose so, but it's going to be a long story, so follow me and I'll have my wife treat you to a drink while I tell you this story."

"Thank you very much, but…. May I ask your name?"

"Of course, my name is Ogin, yours?"

"Well it's a pleasure to meet you Ogin; my name is Azin." Azin followed the elderly man to his house; it was resting on the outskirts of Lentonm. The yard was beautiful, filled with lush flowers and a perfectly cut lawn and what looked like a slate sidewalk leading to his house from the road. The house itself seemed out of place in comparison to the yard; it was a dingy brown, mud brick house only one story high with a flat roof and a small, smokeless chimney. The old man led Azin into the house, "Please have a seat; I'll have my wife get you something to drink. Kei, get our guest a beer!"

"Thank you," Azin said softly looking at the decor of Ogin's house. It was very spacious, with only the bare necessities and some old relics hanging from the walls or setting on the mantle of a lone fireplace in the far corner. The fireplace caught his eye the most, fore it looked as though it hasn't been touched in decades, especially considering it was early in the fall and the weather was rather cold. Ogin's wife emerged from the kitchen and handed Azin a tall glass of beer signaling her husband to start the tail.

"There is a legend that foretells of a great battle in the west between two great kingdoms, Tr'elah and Ni'ar. Unfortunately Ni'ar had a very powerful wizard who was gifted in creating powerful magical weapons. Ni'ar decimated Tr'elah's army in a matter of seconds forcing them to retreat, winning the war for Ni'ar. Mad with power, Ni'ar didn't stop until he chased down and completely annihilated Tr'elah's entire kingdom. Fearing the power of the weapons he created the wizard set out to destroy all of his creations so they wouldn't corrupt anymore. He succeeded in destroying all but one, the scepter the king of Ni'ar used to crush Tr'elah. Afraid the wizard would one day take away his power, the king hid himself away in the Anyadne dungeon behind a magical barrier and a myriad of traps and monsters. To this very day there have been many attempts but not a single survivor." He sounded solemn, "There is treasure enough to rival our greatest king in that dungeon as well as the overwhelming power of the scepter."

"And let me guess," Azin said, "You would like me to venture into this dungeon and retrieve this scepter for you and in exchange I get to keep the treasure, right?"

"You catch on quickly, Azin. But I don't desire the scepter for myself but only for it to be destroyed," Ogin looked to the floor in despair.

"Don't worry, Ogin. I'll find this scepter for you, just you wait," Azin set down a now empty glass and began for the door.

"Be careful adventurer."

Azin nodded and continued out the door and followed the sidewalk to the road, but when he got to the end of the sidewalk he felt a strange breeze blow past him. Curious, he turned around and saw that the house he had just left completely disappeared; all that was left was the same beautiful yard he had been admiring earlier. Knowing now what Ogin is, he set off towards Anyadne to destroy the scepter he could not.

Azin knew it was going to be a long trip to Anyadne and it was already very late into the evening so he decided to rest at the Inn for the night and set out in the morning, and so he did. It took quite some time to reach Anyadne, even by horseback, but that only made the place look even more marvelous. It was hidden within the forest but in a spacious meadow, like the area had been replaced. It was full of beautiful wild flowers and all types of animals with a beaten down path through the middle. The entrance to the dungeon was a large marble staircase with an ivory arch leading into a black void that was the entrance, all of it being covered in vines. From the base of the stairs Azin peered into the entrance and saw only darkness as if the ivory from the arch was drawing in all of the light, not allowing any of it passage into the dungeon. Walking closer to the arch the darkness became even more eerie; it didn't get brighter no matter how close he got, even standing mere inches from the entrance, this darkness was like an impregnable wall. Curious he extended his hand into the void, "By the ancients!" The darkness swallowed his hand whole, making it look like his hand had disappeared from this world completely. He pulled his hand back immediately and let out a sigh of relief, as he saw his hand was still attached to his body. "Nothing ventured nothing gained, I suppose," he said to himself walking through the void.

The scenery quickly changed from a bright, pleasant meadow to a dim, grey dungeon that stunk of mildew. Taken aback from the abrupt change, it took Azin a few moments to realize he wasn't in Anyadne anymore. He turned around to verify this feeling and sure enough the entrance was gone. "Guess there's no turning back now." He began down the only hall in the room he was in.

After several minutes Azin began to worry, fore he hasn't spotted a single enemy since he entered the dungeon. He continued down the hall ignoring this feeling for some time, or at least until he came across a very large circular room. This room was littered with mounds of gold and treasure; in the very center of the room sat a white scepter with a black gem embedded in the top of it. Ignoring the treasure, for the most part, Azin walked towards the scepter, but as he reached out his hand to grab it, a large blast of energy burst from it knocking him on his back. He sat up to see a faceless apparition with a blood red crown hovering in front of him, surrounded by an evil black aura. "You may only choose one," its voice was dark and raspy, sounding as if many were talking at once, "choose either the treasure or the scepter. But be warned, there are consequences for every choice you make."

Azin got to his feet and pondered for a brief moment on a decision, but also on the story the old man told him; the fact that there had been many attempts for the scepter and yet not a single body, monster or blood stain could be found in the room. "What is your decision, mortal?"

"I choose both!" Azin bellowed shoving a fist full of gold in his pocket, running at the ghost sword drawn.

"Fool!" The apparition raised both of his arms over his head and summoned a great ball of dark energy, throwing it at Azin. He dodged it and retaliated with his sword, slicing through the ghost, dispersing it. It reappeared behind him and attacked with a burst of energy, knocking Azin towards the scepter. "Nooooo!"

"Now who's the fool," Azin said grabbing the scepter from its resting place. The moment it was dislodged he felt a strange force come over him and a picture of Ogin appeared in his head, and he began chanting strange words. Words he had never heard before. The scepter shattered with a bright flash echoed by the tortured wails of the spirit. When he finally regained his sight he found himself in a den of sleeping ogres and golden statues; he managed to get out without waking any of them. He completed his quest and escaped the inescapable.

Animism

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