A Family of Evil Swords
The Eight Remain are wicked spirits of devious inclination. They were a family of people once, but ghosts do not retain a human ipseity for very long. They collapse into other, stranger things. Sometimes a person is like a tool of murder, and a family is like an armory.
Each will serve you for a night and a day, in exchange for proper propitiation. You wield their manifest form as a weapon, in your off-hand. There are no penalties for fighting with two weapons this way. Once one of the Eight has left you, it is prohibitively rude to call on it again until you have called on another of its family first.
You call on them at their secret place, in an empty house on a high hill in the dark dark wood. Fireflies dance by night. Leave their offering in a place special to them– in the hearth ash, down the well, in the back of the big dark closet (don't look). Turn around, close your eyes, hold your breath. Count to three. You're armed.
Butcher-Bird– a kama made of bloody bone, with a bird-skull head. It sings. Gluttonous and self-indulgent and motherly. Heals you equal to the damage dealt. If you’re already at full health, it burrows into the victim’s body to savor them, and can’t be withdrawn until you're hurt, and therefore in need. Serves in exchange for offerings of food and treasure– enough to bribe a greedy court official. Heap it in the rotten sheets of the master bed.
Heartless Mister Me– a katana made of pure-cut obsidian. Highborn, haughty, and cruel. Two-handed. Add your DEX bonus to critical range. On a critical hit, severs limbs. On a miss, shatters, and is gone. Serves in exchange for the nasty humiliation of someone lower in social class than you. Tell the story in the empty parlor, and expect applause.
Bash You To Bits– a jade club with a big ogre face on the front of it, tied to your wrist with a rope. Jovial and raunchy, an uneducated boor who hates everything it doesn’t understand. Counts as a shield +1, but smashes every art object within arm’s reach. Serves in exchange for a party that gets you kicked out of town: crash in the guest room that night.
Akephalos– a dark purple-brown blood clot in the rough shape of a greatsword, the size and weight of your whole body. Convinced it is a countercultural radical and a terrible pervert, but is really rather jejeune. Two-handed. Decapitates everything it kills– each head will answer a single question. Must make a strength check to swing it at all. Serves in exchange for a severed human head with styled hair and a full face of post-mortem makeup, dropped into the bathtub.
New Emperor's Immaculate Tongue– a long white knitting needle, like a stiletto knife, more or less. Impossibly pretentious, much concerned with destiny and fate– twists to stab you whenever you show weakness or ignorance. Can be pressed into someone’s brain through their ear to harmlessly remove a single memory, over the course of one exploration round. Serves in exchange for one of your finest memories of triumph- write it into one of the ruined books in the library, and forget it.
Heartrender the Vulgarian– a massive tangle of black and jagged blades worn like knuckle rings. Melodramatic emo loser. Writes horrible poetry, will scream everything you think and feel if you try to hold it back. Everyone you kill with it clings to you as a fawning, lovelorn ghost until you tire of them, doing you little favors like woebegone mage hands. Serves in exchange for an expression of love– burn a love letter without replying, drop your wedding ring down the well.
Wicked Sister Shii– a knife made of molars and steel wire. Hates him hates him hates him for what he did. Screams bloody recriminations because it hurts too much to cry. Knows you feel the same, trusts you more than life itself. Never misses, and always returns when thrown, but hurts you just as much as it hurts them. Serves in exchange for the brutal punishment of a man of high status. Whisper the story to the bathroom mirror.
The House Looks Different In The Dark– a switchblade with a warm fur handle. Purrs when cuddled. Whimpers when afraid. Paranoid of betrayal, but naïvely trusting of strangers. Wants you to be brave, and safe. 3x backstab damage against people who consider you friend or family. Silences dying screams. Must save against magic to speak to anyone but children or inanimate objects. Will serve in exchange for something that comforts you. A teddy bear, or a pack of cigarettes. Leave it in the closet (don't look).
If there is an assassin cult or secret society of murderers in your setting, they know about the Eight Remain.
|by Trevor Henderson|