Not In This Issue: Squid Mating Rituals, Ham And Ireland

…sorry about no ham


The Doclopedia #1,191

Bad Swords: Rotseeker, The Sword That Infects

“That there sword, it calls out to you, don’t it? It wants somebody to pick it up and to use it. But that’s just the start of the curse, ya know? After you touch it and feel that cold steel warming to your touch, your time in Hell begins.

Now, the legend will tell you that it was originally enchanted and owned by Father Hendrik, the legendary slayer of undead things. Truth is, even the folks in the Church are not sure that’s true, but since Hendrik did use Rotseeker…yeah, that’s the name he gave it…to pretty damned great effect against the hordes of the undead, they let the legend stand as truth.

So old Hendrik, he takes up this sword at age 21…nobody knows where he actually got it…and he goes out and starts cutting through the First Rising like he’s a dragon and they’re kobolds. You know, they say that in one day, he finished off 300 creatures from the walking dead to a master vampire, then finished off with the destruction of a lich! A gods damned LICH!

See, that’s the power of Rotseeker. One hit, even a nick, and the undead start to just fall apart. That’s why you’ll find no intelligent undead anywhere near where the sword might be. Hendrik killed their lot for fifty years and by the time he was done, the corporeal dead were as scarce as hen’s teeth.

And that’s where the curse comes in. See, old Hendrik, now in his seventies, didn’t have much to do. Oh, he’d preach some, but with no undead around to actually fear, folks listened to him mostly out of courtesy. It must have really put a burr under his saddle, ya know? Then one day, he hears about an evil ghost that’s driving folks mad, so he goes and deals with it pretty quick. That sets him on the path that doomed him, ghost hunter.

A couple of years and several dozen evil ghosts later, he goes to this abandoned hamlet that he’s heard is just full of ghosts. Sure enough, it is and Hendrik just starts slaying them, no questions asked. Problem is, these ghosts weren’t evil. They were innocents slaughtered by some mad baron 200 years earlier. Hendrik should have been helping them cross over, but he was on a killing spree.

So he comes to the final ghost, see, and it’s the spirit of the town priest. Just before the sword gets him, the ghost, who you can figure is pretty well pissed off, curses Hendrik and the sword. For a thousand years, Hendrik’s soul will be trapped in Rotseeker, aware of his sins, but crazed to slay the undead.

Meanwhile, the poor overconfident bastard that seeks to follow in Hendrik’s footsteps will slowly become infected with undeath from using. Takes years, maybe decades, for the effects to really show, but once they do, the cursed person changes into a ghoul, compelled to feed on dead flesh. The sword lays where the drop it, which is always on sacred ground. Then somebody finds it and the process repeats.

Or it did repeat, until Friar Albertus figured things out 30 years ago. Now, after 375 years of cursing, the sword is right there, in that heavily blessed case in this cathedral. You and I are as close as anyone can get without being blasted by holy enchantments, high level magic and maybe a dozen traps set by a dozen master thieves. You cross that there line on the floor and your dead before you know it.

Will anybody ever pick it up again? Hell, your guess is as good as mine. That curse will be active for another 595 years! A lot can happen in that amount of time and sooner or later, the intelligent undead are going to hear that Rotseeker is locked away. What do you want to bet that if things get really dark, some cleric figures out a way to take it up?”