Moving into July, the RPG Blog Carnival journeyed onwards to a fresh blog. The new host is Scot over at Of Dice and Dragons. The topic for July is Weapons of Legend. Scot describes the topic as follows:
When someone speaks of a legendary weapon most folks immediately go to those that have been called out in stories for centuries or popularized in the novels and movies of today. Some examples would include:
- Excalibur, King Arthur’s war sword
- Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer
- Grayswandir, Corwin of Amber’s sword
- Glamdring or Foe-hammer from J. R. R. Tolkien’s work
Weapon of Summerland
As a nod back to my own topic, I shall combine Scott’s theme with my own. This essay therefore describes the Golden Zenith, a legendary weapon of the Seelie Court in Summerland.
The Golden Zenith is an ornate fey long bow. It is a graceful recurve bow made from polished blue mithril. The surface is beautifully etched with delicate, entwined foliage.
Whenever it is strung, the bow ripples with yellow flames, radiating light and heat. These flames ensure the bow can only be wielded in the service of Summerland. Should an enemy of Summerland seek to use the bow, then they suffer severe burns. The Golden Zenith can even be used as a melee weapon, inflicting burns and blindness. Yet, the true strength of this legendary weapon lies in the arrows it looses.
History of the Golden Zenith
This magnificent bow is one of the five great fey weapons. As such, it was forged at the Convocation of Arborea, when the duties and lands of the fey Kingdoms were agreed. The Golden Zenith is the embodiment of summer, and is thus the ceremonial weapon of the Queen of Summerland.
When not being used for various ceremonial duties, the Golden Zenith is carried by the Queen’s Champion. Depending upon the season, and the will of the Queen, the Champion may guard the borders of Summerland or escort the Queen on her travels through the Kingdom of Eternal Summer.
A Mighty Bow
Many songs and stories surround the Golden Zenith, and the myriad adventures of the Queen’s Champion. Through these tales, scholars have pieced together the most common powers of this legendary bow. Such great artefacts always have many uses, but the noted abilities of the Golden Zenith include:
- Ray of Sunshine
- Flight of the Sun
Ray of Sunshine
The most common power displayed by the Golden Zenith is to spontaneously form glowing arrows. These appear on command when the bow is drawn, then streak through the air leaving a trail of bright light. The arrows vanish once they hit a target.
These sunshine arrows are especially potent against creatures of darkness or cold. In the Lay of Valthalion the Bright, sunshine arrows kill soldiers with a single strike. However, the Dark Troll took multiple strikes before fleeing back into the night, so a hit is not an automatic kill.
Flight of the Sun
While the sunshine arrows are created spontaneously by the Golden Zenith, the more powerful abilities of the bow require a special projectile. The power known as the flight of the sun requires an orb arrow to function.
An orb arrow is similar to a standard arrow, except the arrowhead is replaced with a large orb of gold. Scholars are certain that this is merely a clay, or perhaps bronze, sphere covered in a layer of gold leaf. The feathers were described as “flame red, steaming in the cool air” in The Hunting Song of the Queen. This is generally agreed to mean the feathers fletching the arrow were from a phoenix, or similar bird of the sun.
When an orb arrow is loosed from the Golden Zenith it arcs gracefully through the air, almost drifting through the sky after its initial launch. The orb shines like a small sun, shedding warmth and illumination over the surrounding area. When Valthalion the Bright pursued the Dark Troll underground, an orb arrow lit a vast cavern as bright as a summer’s day.
The final ability of the Golden Zenith which appears in every tale is the sunflare, a powerful discharge of sunshine. This too requires an enchanted arrow, but seemingly any arrow “from the mage-fletcher’s art.”
The combination of enchanted arrow and the power of the Golden Zenith combine to create a mighty bolt of “purest golden fire.” A bolt strong enough to severely injure the dragon Izhtizelu, Purity of Thought, which must be mighty indeed.
However, the use of a sunflare will drain the Golden Zenith of all power, so is only used as a last resort. Once drained, the bow reverts to its blue state, and cannot produce sunlight again until it has spent “a silent month in the sacred glades of Summerland.”
Doubtless, there are more powers hidden within this fey artefact. The songs of Summerland hint at other abilities, but only a true Champion of the Queen will learn the truth from the trickery.
What other powers do you think the Golden Zenith should possess? Have you ever presented your Players with a magical bow? Share your thoughts with your fellow GMs in the comments below.