Caeric Blackhammer and the Quest for the Sword
Ignobly born yet blessed with a heart and soul as pure as any Angel’s, Caeric was born the son of Goerin, a humble blacksmith, and spent his childhood days working in his father’s smithy, forging weapons for the endless wars that plagued his people. In the summer of his seventh year the boy‘s life changed forever when he saw Cambruin and his Champions riding through his village on the way to battle. Thinking the shining warriors were angels, Caeric was overjoyed to learn that they were but men, and vowed to join them when he came of age. Five years later Caeric left home to seek the King, wearing armour forged by his own hand and carrying only his hammer for a weapon. He met the haughty Knight Sir Rovennor upon the road, and the Champion told him, jesting, that fifty victories in battle were required before a squire could be dubbed a Knight. Prompted by Sir Rovennor’s jest, Caeric bested a full fifty Knights and Warlords, armed in every battle only with his hammer and his unyielding Virtue. Caeric bound each Knight with an oath, demanding that they go to the court of the King Cambruin and pledge their featly to him. After sending the fifty vanquished foes to Cambruin, Caeric finally came to the King at Caledorn. Cambruin knighted Caeric on the spot, naming him one of his Champions. So knighted, Caeric took up a sword and served his King with much honor and glory. “Blackhammer,” the name Rovennor had given Caeric in jest, became a title of great honor, and many of Cambruin’s bravest Knights strove to follow the boy’s worthy example.
Caeric Blackhammer stood proudly at Cambruin’s side when he was crowned High King, and served as his most trusted Champion for nearly twenty winters. Caeric was renowned through the entire High Kingdom for his valour and skill at arms, and his name quickly became legend. Never did he lose in battle or joust, no matter how great the foe, for his Virtue gave him the strength and fortitude of an Angel, without limits. But the High King had not reigned long before fortune turned against him. In the tenth year of the High King’s reign (which was also the one thousand and seventy-sixth year of the Age of Kings) the War of Tears, which had ebbed in recent times, began anew with redoubled fury. For a score of years Valdimanthor the Elfking had waited, brooding on his cold throne and gathering his strength. His Magi spent months working the mighty spells that restored the ancient bindings the Elves had held over their darkest creations, the bestial Minotaurs of the Utter North. Armed and equipped with the finest creations of Elvish smiths, Valdimanthor’s host was nigh invincible. Without warning the Elfking unleashed his hosts upon the High Kingdom, and all the realms of Men shook before that terrible onslaught. Even the strength of Cambruin’s Champions was for naught against the fell might of the Elfking, and all of Cambruin’s power was blunted by fey trickery. Sorcery and treachery were the weapons of the Elves, and defeat followed fast upon defeat. Cambruin began to fear the worst, and grew rash and quick to anger. Sickened to the soul by the suffering of the people and the land, a great despair fell upon the High King. Even the magic and wisdom of Zeristan the Wise could not turn the evil tide. Many Knights turned grim and spiteful, but Caeric remained ever hopeful. In the fifteenth year of the High King’s reign, Cambruin made his winter court at the city of Melissar, his Knights wearied from long months of march and battle. All seemed hopeless, until the Feast of St. Lorne on Midwinter’s Day, when a great wonder was visited upon the court.
The High King and all his Champions sat at table on the eve of the Martyrdom of Saint Lorne, and a great gloom hung over all the hall. The feast had barely begun when all the doors and windows of the hall slammed shut of their own accord, and the coals in the great fire pit were quenched, plunging all the company into darkness. The Knights rose to their feet and drew their swords, fearing ambush or treachery. Then legend has it that the sound of a great music came to their ears, like unto the singing of the Angels. A light sprang forth in the darkness, so that the King and all his Champions were bedazzled thereby. As they blinked in wonder, they saw that the light streamed from the image of a great sword, hanging in the air. The mighty blade’s hilt was wrought of gold and platinum, and its darkened edge was terrible. The spectral sword appeared above the seat of Cambruin, so that the King was most bathed in its light, and then a voice, high and clear, rang through above the music.