Palladium: Reason and Existence
The Crown of Forever
During the Elf-Dwarf wars, the dwarves were besieged by the magic of the elves and the otherworldly creatures at their command. The runic magic at their disposal had served them well, but in the years since Amrohse Krelzinias summoned and enslaved Shah Dallan the Hollows had begun to fall.
The dwarf kings of old had called council with their rune masters and charged them with the creation of an artifact great enough to halt the progress of the elves. After a decade in which the unremitting onslaught of the elves had nearly broken the dwarves (reducing them to just 5 hollows), the rune masters marked runes of the forbidden alphabet upon a circlet of white gold.
Legend linked the poorly understood and long unwritten runes with the explosion used by the Old Ones near the end of their war with the gods. It was said the great god Thoth himself (an Old One that attempted to transform his nature so completely as to escape retribution, that he succeeded in forgetting what he had been) had named the runes responsible and charged his faithful amongst the dwarves with burying the magic forever.
But the myopic dwarves had foreseen a day when they would need the power of the runes again. Rather than destroy the power left in the wake of the Old Ones, they had secreted it away in their vaults.
Until the coming of Shah Dallan they had dared only small runic ventures, and in effect most of the great magic was indeed lost to the world. But with the assault of the dragon, the dwarves of RuneScar had broken the seals upon their vaults and spent years forging the artifact that would one day be called “the Crown of Forever”.
RuneScar had intended to create a magic that would make their greatest heroes untouchable in battle. Thinking reality itself the greatest of foundations, RuneScar forged the crown as a reality tether, such that the strength of reality would sustain the wearer in the face of assaults against which they would otherwise perish. But RuneScar failed to realise that what they created bound the wearer to reality in a symbiotic relationship such that the crown exposed reality to the frailty of a single mortal life.
In effect the Crown of Forever is a matrix nexus. Largely dormant it only interferes with the matrix threads when the symbiotic balance between crown and wearer is threatened. In these instances, the threads throughout the world redirect to converge on the crown to restore the wearer.
In the ensuing years the Dwarves of Runescar had produced heroes that history describes as unkillable. The same era is littered with references to “the fainting world”, a phenomena where reality became as transparent as glass and all things within its radius lost a part or all of their mind, soul or body.
Throughout the dwarven riposte there were rune masters that had begun to understand what he Crown was. They had taken the news to the council of kings and failed to convince them that the risk posed by the Crown was greater than the risk posed by the Elves and Shah Dallan. So RuneScar persisted with a campaign centered around the Crowns power.
Then at last the wearer of the crown confronted and halted the dragon in RuneScar Hollow, and when Shah Dallan struck, all of creation shuddered. The legend says that in a world made of glass, the crown wearer’s second had taken the crown from his head in the moments before he died, supposedly saving all things.
Countless died to “the faint world” on that occasion, so many that RuneScar and most of their hollow was erased from the world. Even the ancient nature of Shah Dallan had been reminded of its mortality (but the very power that was great enough to concern the dragon was the one that set him free of the Elves’ control).
After Shah Dallan had fled the site, the dwarves of the four remaining hollows had retrieved the crown and pledged to remember what Thoth had told their ancestors. They formed the Covenant of the Forge and sealed the crown in the element of void, collapsed their tunnels to the outside world, and in so doing placed the void, earth and themselves between the world and the crown.
The Crown was recorded as resting in Hammerfall Hollow, but in truth it rested with Anvil Hollow. In the ensuing millennia Shah Dallan unearthed and destroyed each of the communities of the forge until he came upon the temple in Anvil Hollow, where he tried in vain to gain the thing he so wanted.
Shah Dallan had taken the caverns of Anvil Hollow as his lair to be near the artifact that had become his obsession, and was convinced the item he had never touched was his. Then Andrakasis had stolen the crown, and after years of pursuing the elf that the witch had left as scapegoat, Shah Dallan had been frustrated by the King as he fled his throne.
Andrakasis took the crown into hiding from his former master and it was the crowns power that lent the curse on Peril its far reaching effects.