A little bit of lore from the Pathfinder campaign I’m a player in. My character is Cain Ahora, lawful servant of Asmodeus. I’ll probably post a bio of him later. But this post isn’t about him. It’s about his sword.
In the last years of his life, renowned halfling magus and adventurer Macher Kishef turned his talents towards the construction of magical weapons, projects that would contribute in a physical and long-lasting way to his legacy. One of his lesser known works was a certain greatsword made of pure adamantine. It was commissioned by a young man who, despite the loss of several fingers and a violent youth, had found the path of law and had recently been inducted into the Hellknights, an organization devoted to maintaining order and fighting chaos.
The young Hellknight wanted the sword to be enchanted with flame, and asked for it to be called Uris, which meant “My fire” in Thassilonian and “Scorch” in Azlanti (perhaps by coincidence). Macher forged the sword as requested, and inscribed the word Uris in ornate Thassilonian runes on one side, and in flowing Azlanti script on the other side, and studded the hilt with rubies.
Shortly before the sword was completed, however, the Hellknight in question was cursed by a witch, and shortly thereafter slain in an unrelated battle with a demon, and his body torn to shreds. As this was in the days before resurrection was commonplace the young Hellknight was mourned by his colleagues as a goodly man with a very sad life.
There was now no buyer for the almost-finished sword, but Macher chose to complete it anyway, changing its name from Uris to Tsurris, the Halfling for “Misfortune” or “Woe”. He added to the Thassilonian runes and Azlanti script so that they sounded out the Halfling word, and finished by emblazoning the bottom of the hilt with his own arcane mark. As there was no longer a buyer, and it no longer seemed a particularly glorious project if no one would notice it, Macher did not bother enchanting it further, selling it to a collector.
The sword swapped hands for a few decades. Most of its possessors regarded it as more of an art item or curiosity than a weapon to be used, including the Lord of Ahora Manor in 245 A.R.A., who purchased Tsurris from a traveling dealer and put it on his wall. That lord’s grandson, Lord Mitt Ahora, sold the sword to a collector in Absalom in order to pay off a part of his household debt.
Sixty years later, Mitt’s son Cain used his prize money from the free-for-all dungeon competition to purchase back the adamantine greatsword his father had sold many years ago. Cain Ahora, he would bring the law of Asmodeus to those who would have it, and Tsurris to those who would not.
Ironically, it ended up being a worshiper of Desna (the foe of Asmodeus) named Ausk who finally laid powerful enchantments on Tsurris, making it the fearsome tool it is today. The first enchantment makes the blade’s cutting edge become impossibly sharp as it swings through the air. The second allows the hilt to act as an electrical battery, capable of storing a great charge and then releasing it all at once through the blade in a single devastating strike. But the third enchantment is the most fearsome of all.
Many weapons have entered the annals of legend, but only a few can truly be called vorpal. Tsurris is such a blade. Ausk’s third enchantment affects the sword’s very core. When the wielder’s arm is strong and his aim is true, the keen edge of the vorpal blade is drawn inexorably towards the neck of its target, and an overriding inertial force takes over. The result is instant decapitation. An encyclopedic tome on magical arms from Gwyn’s library has this to say on vorpal weapons:
Some creatures, such as oozes, have no heads. Others, such as golems and skeletons, are not affected by the loss of their heads. Most other creatures, however, die when their heads are cut off…
The vorpal enchantment is incredibly complex. Although Cain promised a favor (to be named later) in exchange for Ausk’s labor in empowering the sword, he was uncertain whether the weapon could really chop off heads so easily. But his fears were soon put to rest. For it was on an unnamed world in the far reaches of space that Cain, Ausk, and Gwyn entered an ancient complex, only to be confronted with a terrible balor demon, guardian of that place.
Before it could act, Cain called down the judgment of Asmodeus against this beast of chaos, and charged. The demon lashed out with his flaming whip as Cain leapt up into the air. He brought Tsurris down upon the balor. The Thassilonian runes and Azlanti script glittered in the light of an alien sun as the blade found the demon’s neck. And suddenly, in one quick cut, the demon’s head was on the floor, and unholy fire burst forth like an explosion from where its neck used to be.
The explosion knocked him clear across the room, but Cain Ahora, he survived. Tsurris’ point was stuck into the wall, and the rubied hilt of Tsurris glittered in the fire light. Cain got up. He put his hand on the hilt, his thumb on Macher’s maker’s mark. “It works!” Cain informed his scorched colleagues, pulling the sword out of the wall.
A few minutes later, he’d have Tsurris swinging back into the wall, several times; but that’s another story.