Hey all- Notebook GM here. This week we will be covering our first magic item in Murrad. The gods can grant magic to their followers in return for fealty, worship, or favors; however the lore of wizards and the creation of magic items has long been lost to the world. As we saw earlier whilst discussing the political structure of Old Erevor this has lent magic artifacts a special place in the various cultures around the world. To the Gray Elves they represent a means of ascension in society; for Orcs they are curiosities to be examined, clues in their quest to re-establish the ways of the Nueran Magocracy and recreate the magic items forged there; for the Dwarves, however, magic items are valued much less, their value, like most things in dwarven society, hinge on their usefulness. Magic is as any other tool, powerful when used correctly and otherwise either trivial or destructive. This dismissal comes with one exception, The Scepter of One Voice….
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The old Satyr held the copper scepter in his hand. Despite its great age it was without the green patina most copper would hold. He turned it over and examined the sigil at the head, the three marks of the great townships of the dwarves brought together onto one sign. This was the Scepter of One Voice, the famed artifact used at the Great Meeting Hall in Genjuenū . The dwarves had an interesting take on democracy, each town, no matter its size, functioned on a system of true democracy. Any citizen could come to the local meeting hall and make their voice heard. The Great Meeting Hall was no exception except that it held thousands, each voice louder than the next representing the interests of her kin.
“IT IS MAGNIFICENT,” he went to mumble, but the words came out as thunder, loud and deep.
The Copper Keeper, the dwarf charged with the storage and administration of the powerful scepter, beamed as Falkur gave a start. “Ay sir, Mr. Bard, sir. ‘Tis ensorcelled to keep the marks of age from it, and to give the dwarf what has the floor the ability to be heard. As I’m suren ye know, the Hall can hold quite a din as we get to our cups.”
Falkur, too, smiled. “I haven’t yet had the pleasure, but I would be delighted to see the famed Hall in all of its glory.” Falkur had spent decades studying argument, debate, rhetoric, and political ideology. He’d sat in on meetings of the Grand Senate in Abronia, witnessed the coronation of the Marchion of Zennithraille, and even taken part in a meeting of Gnomish elders on the largest of the Western Fringe Islands; but never had he held the Scepter itself. Sure, every dwarven township had a Meeting Hall, but only in Genjuenū did dwarves from all of the major townships in The Northern Trunks meet to discuss issues concerning the realm as a whole and only here did the talking stick hold such powerful dweomers.
“Oh I’ll be taking yerself there this evening, Voice Rinelle had sent word preceding ye that ye were to be taken on your arrival, luck would have it they are meeting this very night.”
It was only a couple of hours hence that the elderly dwarf shuffled a few paces ahead of Falkur, across a rope bridge and around one of the great trunks that hold Genjuenū aloft. The Satyr never grew tired of the canopy city, relishing the simple logic of a race of people that rarely grew over five foot and had a persistent problem with the giants to the west of them. Even as they walked the Satyr could see the traps set for their neighbors, large trunks suspended by woven vines, loaded crossbows set along rope bridges, flasks of oil set with rags kept near lit torches. It had been decades since the giants had struck at the city, but dwarves always preferred to be prepared.
He heard the hall before he saw it, a dull roar of dwarven voices ebbing and flowing around the dense canopy, surely this is how the Giants would find the city if they did decide to strike again. The large circular chamber was built between three of the oldest trees in this part of the forest, the largest of which had been carved out and now housed the lectern where the dwarf that held the Scepter would stand and address the collected citizens. A loud, deep voice broke above the din, “The Collected Voices of The Northern Trunks recognize Falkur Surefoot, Bard of the Northern Pass, Scholar of Discourse at the Grand Academy of Letters in Vosta-Sil-Vorreros, and wandering sage of political rhetoric. He is here to witness the way the Dwarves of The Northern Trunks administer our home, and all of the voices gathered expect that he be treated with civility.” The clunk of wooden chalices and the gentle splatter of spilled berrymeade resounded as Falkur was led into the warm chamber. The dwarf that had introduced him moved from the lectern and was quickly replaced by another. This dwarf, a female by the looks of her “beard” of braided hair worn tied under her chin, took the scepter and held it aloft, her voice magically enhanced as she brought the meeting to “order”. Order, as was so often the case in dwarven politics, actually represented only a slightly duller roar than had filled the room previously.
The meeting progressed slowly, as any interaction involving thousands of people shouting will, and Falkur sat in rapt attention. As different subjects were broached the holder of the scepter struggled to keep hold of the crowd, always with differing results. After several hours the Copper Keeper shuffled to the stage and relieved the speaker of the heavy copper staff. The citizens stumbled out, several hours of drinking and arguing having sapped most of their energy. Falkur stayed after and asked the Copper Keeper about this history of the scepter. As he watched to precedings the bard noticed that the holder of the scepter seemed to sober up instantly, even the most inebriated of citizens spoke eloquently (by dwarven standards) when brought before the collected dwarves.
“It has always been that the dwarves settled their disagreements in this way, we’ve never seen the use of the gilded ways of the other races, a waste of valuable gold if yer askin’ meself, but some questions need the input of all in the Trunks. The first Great Stag War needed every beard available here, holding off the encroaching giants, but the libertarian nature of my people made actual unity difficult. Ausein Settun had the answer- he’d been traveling among the humans, attempting to find one that might teach him the ways of enchantment.” The dwarf paused as he took a deep draft of an overly sweet blueberry berrymeade. “Mind, this was before the Magocracy cracked down on non-humans creating magic items,” he continued. “Anyhow, Ausein wanted to preserve the ways dwarves had always kept but needed a way to be heard above the collected shouting that he might lead the defense of the city. He set to work, smelting a bar of the purest copper he had won in a game of dice during his travels and setting it with what few incantations the enchanters would teach him. He had a natural gift for magic and something he did set to the scepter but the effort killed him. His creation did save the Trunks in the end, though. Prettor Vale, his best friend and adventuring partner, marshalled the disparate clans of dwarves and they were able to hold back the Giants. That was the first time they tried to move out of the Great Stag Forest and into our own. Since then, in his honor, the Great Meeting Hall has always recognized, in its own way, the primacy of whomever holds the scepter.”
Falkur leaned back in his chair, taking a deep pull from his own berrymeade, a tart raspberry concoction given to him by a very patient and likely deaf dwarven page. “That,” he said, “is a terrible, terrible way to run a country.”
The Copper Keeper guffawed and took another swig from his mug. “Aye, it is indeed.”
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