- Andrew M. Trauger
The Sword of the Coast
Surrounded by towering mountains to the west, an ocean to the east, frozen tundra to the north, and the swift and frigid Rae Lotus to the south, the tiny Duchy of Carolan lies in quiet isolation from most of Arelatha. Over a century ago, they disavowed their fealty to the Kingdom of Lothania. Though the Duke of Carolan had hoped for peaceful negotiations for the terms of independence, he fully expected the war that followed.
The battle for Carolan's independence, to many people's surprise, was short-lived. Barely six months into the conflict, with only a few hundred lives lost, Lothania suddenly lost interest and let the province go. And thus the free nation of Carolan was born.
Pivotal to this quick and decisive victory was the Sword of the Coast, a finely-crafted longsword of minor historical significance. It was wielded by several valiant warriors of Carolan during the six-month war. But in the month of Capra, with the harsh Carolene winter bearing down from the Skymounts, the Sword of the Coast fell from Carolan's hands and was claimed as spoils by the Lothanians. A week later, under cover of night and a howling blizzard, a young maiden named Althea deRankin, a lass filled with devotion to her country and beloved by many for her golden voice, sneaked into the Lothanian encampment and stole the sword.
Unfortunately, she was captured and dragged before Gilbreth Lockhart, the Prince of Lothania, who wrongly believed he could sway the young Althea to commit treason in exchange for her life. He promised her riches, station, even marriage. He wooed her, seduced her, and then when all else had failed, he threatened her. But Althea would not forswear allegiance to Carolan. Knowing that her life was forfeit, she attempted to seduce him with a beguiling song and re-steal the sword.
Althea was close to escaping, but the Prince saw through her ruse. He called for the guards and then threw Althea to the ground. The Sword of the Coast rattled from her hand, and Gilbreth Lockhart scooped it up, evil churning in his heart. Guards came swarming into the tent, confused by what they were seeing--the young maiden lying on the ground as their Prince ran her through.
As she lay dying, Althea began to sing, calling down imprecations in her song. With her final breath, she cried out, "May the men who bear that sword be forever cursed!"
Moments later, Gilbreth Lockhart began to convulse. His right hand holding the Sword began to sizzle, burn, and bleed, and the Prince tossed the blade aside. The disease rapidly swept up his arm and consumed him, leaving a disfigured husk lying at the foot of the bed. One of the horrified guards thoughtlessly picked up the sword, and he met a similar fate. For days the Sword lay in the Prince's tent as fear gripped the Lothanian army.
Word quickly spread of the cursed blade that had slain the Prince. Lothania mourned their son and all desire to conquer the remote Duchy lapsed into apathy. Within three weeks, the Lothanian soldiers had returned home and a letter granting independence arrived by royal courier from King Lockhart himself.
The Sword of the Coast was wrapped in multiple layers of cloth and returned to the Carolene capital city of Lochwynne. Years later, through very careful study, it was discovered that the sword only harmed men, that Althea's curse only killed "the men who bear that sword." Over the following eighty years, various women have wielded the sword, and they have discovered that the blade emits an eerie doleful tune, reminiscent of Althea's golden voice. Hauntingly beautiful, the mournful melody frequently unnerves those who hear it. Some speculate that the young maiden herself is within the Sword.
The latest known owner of the Sword of the Coast was Cora O'Banion, the Elder. She died nearly fifteen years ago, and no one has seen the Sword since. Her son, Lord Bain of Lorenvale, has tried many times without success to find the weapon, but it seems lost to legend.