The Order had fought hard to keep the Assanitatem Ligaturam Cucurreris out of the hands of the Guild of the Black Sky, despite the Guild insisting that the artifact be kept by a neutral party. Though when it was assembled, whether by fate or irony, Brennen Farno was the only one present able to attune to the amulet.
As Brennen purged the blight from the infected, he saw the awe in their eyes. Inspired by the power of the amulet he knew that others would want to take the power from him. So upon the conclusion of the healings, he absconded to the City of Confluence and hid himself away in his tent. For days he attempted to augur the inner workings of the amulet from the wisdom of Pecune, but his efforts were in vain.
A week later, Brennen was still attempting to commune with Pecune. His candles had run out, and the scraps of meals brought by worried guild mates were strewn about his tent. In the darkness, he was tossing assorted coins at a map of the cosmos. In his frustration, he threw them too hard, and they scattered throughout the tent. Then the door to his tent was opened.
There stood Artorias, with a disconcerted look on his face. The hunter was concerned for Brennen. Not only as a guildmate, but as a friend. He was used to seeing him pour over work like this, but it was clearly taking a toll on him both physically and mentally.
"You've been in here for a week. Figuring out the amulet’s import, but you haven't had any luck and are on the verge of burning yourself out. As the head of the Research Branch, I decided we needed some experts in the different fields of magic. I've gone ahead and invited them, they're in the guest tent."
Brennen tried to object, but Artorius shot him a dirty look. They headed out together to the guest tent.
Artorias had invited two scholars. Pacing near the entrance was Leya from the Temple of Tharros. She was a prominent mage who drew her magic from both leylines and the moon. She had long studied the arcane arts, and she had even had a chance to decipher the Grimoire. At the far end of the guest tent was Meryn of the Longren, one of the foremost Healers of the realm and Brennen’s mentor.
Meryn gave him a long look and said, “You look like a dragon ate you and spit you back out ‘cause it didn’t like the taste. When was the last time you took a bath?”
She wrinkled her nose none to delicately.
“Had I more warning, I certainly would have had one before this meeting.” Brennen said while trying to keep his composure. “So I assume Artorias invited you all to study the amulet? I guess it would be rude to send you away after you have traveled so far. And how do you intend to be of help?”
Meryn rolled her eyes. “Right now you are working with one Being of Power, Pecune. One who isn’t of this realm and has how many acolytes? You...so...one. Meaning He isn’t nearly as powerful here as He is in your world. Let us help. Leya calls upon this moon, a moon that has seen centuries go by on THIS world. I have befriended several elementals...also part of this world. If nothing else, we can help boost your power.”
“The ancient power of the moon must have waned, for I have not seen any great feat from her, and you and your elementals pale in comparison to the other forces of nature on this plane. How do you expect them to help us when they can barely help you? Pecune, through his power, has attuned me to the amulet. He is all I need to discern the powers of the amulet.”
“Have you learned nothing from me?! Insolent child. I thought better of you. He is NOT all you need. You need us, those who care for you and want you to succeed. You need friends to support you when your own power fails. That is how I heal, how I gather power, and how I have lived my very long life. You can not even begin to understand how you insult me with your accusations.”
The snapping anger left Meryn’s eyes as she looked closer at her pupil.
“Beings of Power...your god, all gods, elementals too...are capricious at best. They help when it suits them, if they can help at all. You know that. Spurning us and our abilities is not like you.”
Meryn approached him with worry evident on her face and her hand extended to him.
Brennen jerked away from Meryn’s touch.
Artorias then grabbed Brennen by the shirt and jostled him. “People are dying. There is too much at stake for you to act like a child. When it comes to all matters that involve research, my orders are absolute. I don’t want any lip from you, I want your help.”
Reluctantly, veeeery reluctantly, Brennen finally agreed to their help. He could not argue Artorias’ reasoning. Nor could he ignore his mentor’s obvious concern. Clutching the amulet close, he led them to his work room and showed them his notes. Leaving them to read and catch up, he moved away from them and made sure to keep a wary eye on their every move.
And so, Brennen, Leya and Meryn began their research. At first things progressed as expected...poorly. It took time for the three to attune themselves to each other and find trust.
Meryn, having worked with both of them individually before, stood as the keystone in the joining and could mesh with either Brennen or Leya. But whenever they tried to add the last person, the balance broke as Arcane Magic collided with Divine Energy and distrust echoed across the fluctuating energy. This caused their bond to shatter leaving them to deal with some very real and unpleasant physical reactions.
Then there was Brennen’s increasing obsession with the amulet. It caused him to lose his temper at odd moments delaying their work even more. Meryn began pulling her hair out at the roots as the other two strained her skills at diplomacy. And everyone knew she was never any good at diplomacy.
By the end of a long week full of explosions, noxious smells and migraines, the trio finally saw some advancement in their work.
The three sat in a circle all looking like the losers in a bad bar fight, but finally calm and in sync with each other. A Mage Circle inscribed with arcane symbols of the moon and Tharros surrounded them. Candles flickered at the four quarters and a braiser rested in the center with wisps of incense rising from it, burned by a baby salamander sitting in the center of the coals.
Brennen placed a coin from his bag to his left between him and Leya, and instructed the others to place a coin of their own in a similar fashion. This was to symbolize how prosperity flows between people, and to strengthen Pecune’s presence.
Leya called upon the power of the moon for remembrance.
Once she added her power, Meryn began the delicate task of calling an elemental as old as the world, as old as time, to show them what it remembered and what they need to know. The Slyph, Nera, giggled as it appeared dancing through the incense. It touched each of them on the forehead and they found themselves falling into a vision, a memory of the past; Nera’s memory, the moon’s memory, Ostarra’s memory.
The vision began with the cries of war. One healer stood above the battlefield frantically searching for a way to save his people. The Mage War raged below him and his sorrow was a tangible thing.
The scene shifted blowing away with the smoke of the incense and a disembodied giggle.
They found themselves watching as the healer, Malkor, labored over a piece of jewelry. It was an amulet that they instinctively knew belonged to a loved one lost in the senseless Mage War. In it, he imbued all of his sorrow, his longing, and his need to heal so that others would not feel the pain he did. His obsession fixed the power of Divine Healing in place.
Once again the scene shifted with the passage of time. The healer changed. The once kind and sorrowful face was now hard and mask-like. Thin lips pull back from an emaciated face, and he held TWO amulets, not just one. Malkor was no longer human, but a liche. The second amulet was as filled with necromantic power as the other amulet was filled with healing. As he descended into the madness created by his obsession with the Healing Amulet Malkor felt an undeniable drive to create a second amulet to balance the first. Not to heal, but to raise the dead.
The making of it drove Malkor to perform unspeakable acts and lose sight of his humanity and his god. He turned to the dark arts and became a dead man walking, a liche.
Smoke filled the eyes of the watchers and time jumped forward again.
Malkor faced off against the Mage overlords with both amulets...and failed. While Malkor severely damaged the Mage Overlords, his bid to replace them came at a price too high to pay and his undead life was finally ended. For once in agreement, the amulets were broken apart by the Overlords and scattered to the four corners of the world.
However, in this final battle the three observers learned a great deal about both amulets. They observed the Healing Amulet completely cure any disease received after a 30 second ritual with Malkor holding the amulet high. Those cured were instanously and miraculously affected. Even groups of people could be healed so long as they touched each other and participated in the ritual adding their belief and energy to Malkor’s.
In particular, Brennen noticed that it granted Malkor a full extra life. If killed, he was healed by the amulet’s power, and was brought back to full strength. This power could only be used once a day, but it was a powerful aid in Malkor’s battle against the Mage Overlords.
With as much compassion as Malkor used the Healing Amulet, he used Amulet of Necromancy with no regard for the souls of his fallen warriors. Once they were beyond healing he called upon them using the foul artifact so that they could serve him once again. He did this at times when he couldn’t be interrupted by enemies with on one to witness him. The Necromantic Amulet returned his warriors to him in full health and under his complete control. It worked much like the Healing Amulet, only perverted in nature’s eye. Meryn shuddered as she watched, glad that that particular abomination had not been found along with the Healing Amulet.
As the visions progressed Meryn and Leya shared speaking glances. They watched the growing obsession in Malkor and the battles that followed and came to a silent agreement. They prepared for the spell to be broken as Nera let the visions fade away.
Meanwhile, Pecune offered Brennen one last private vision of warning behind his closed his eyes. In return the healer, not completely corrupted yet, opened up his mind and soul to Pecune. He started to see something he never saw before: many golden streams like veins flowing all around him. He was able to see a flowing river between himself and the scholars. The streams seemed to flow back and forth, ebbing and cresting like breath. The amulet, however, seemed to be a pool of black and gold. All of the gold flowed into the amulet in one direction, becoming trapped within the black. While seeming to grant prosperity and healing, Pecune showed Brennen all his wealth and Pecune’s favor being devoured by the amulet as the black of doom devoured the gold of prosperity. This private vision granted to Brennen by Pecune rocked his soul, but the obsession had already taken root and Brennen made his choice.
As the shared vision faded away with the tinkling laugh of the Slyph, Brennen, still in his god’s good graces, asked Pecune for one last surge of power. Using his Divine Healing still boosted by Leya and Meryn, he caught their retreating minds and saw their intentions to strip him of the Healing Amulet. Their intention to find a way to destroy the blasted artifact was laid bare to him. In that instant, he made another choice and wiped the knowledge of the obsession and eventual descent into madness from their memory.
At that moment, he felt something break within him. His bond to his god shattered, but it didn’t matter. He had his Healing Amulet, and soon he might have another.