Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where's Your Head?

One of the strangest artifacts of the Ancients is the so-called Spectral-Head Harness. The device is a heavy, wide-shouldered pectoral of some reinforced leather-like material attached to a thick, rune-inscribed collar of black ceramic. The device is strapped to a wearer by a harness that seems composed of what seem like industrial hoses that follow lines of the wearer's ribcage. Once the device is strapped into place, it activates.

Jarus Shanck, adventurer and assassin, who gave his name to the City barony of Shancks, is the only recorded bearer of the artifact. What we know of its operation comes from accounts by Shanck’s associates. When Shanck was secured in the device, it began to emit a low hum. The sound lasted a few minutes. During this time, the flesh and hair on Shanck’s skull seemed to sublimate as a cloud of roiling mist formed around his head. Soon, only his skull was left, seemingly floating in the mist. Given that Shanck had never been considered a handsome man (He was extensively scarred, it was said, from too many narrow victories as a boy fighting giant rats in the gaming pits), this wasn’t an especially great loss. Interestingly though, the flesh of his skull was not actually gone. Close observation suggested it had merely been transformed--become hazy and indistinct--and mostly hidden by the mists it seemed to diffuse into.

Jarus Shanck always explained that his head had gone "elsewhere." Whatever that meant, the device seemed to grant the powers of True Seeing, Arcane Sight, and at least at sometimes, Precognition. Some claim it was futuresight that led Shanck to kill the sea creature, Thraug--but no one knows for certain. Shanck also ceased to need sleep, though his body still needed rest through inactivity. Attacks against his head would pass harmlessly through the mist and suffocation or drowning had no effect. It has been theorized that attacks that could effect the astral could have harmed his head, but this remains unproven.

Besides the obvious cosmetic effects, the harness had other disadvantages. The longer Shanck’s head spent wherever it went, the more he became distracted from things on the material plane. Increasingly concerned about this problem, Shanck finally sought to have the harness removed--and discovered another downside.

After Shanck’s death, the harness is said to have unlatched on its own. None of his lieutenants claimed it, and it disappeared from history. If the rumors about Shanck’s hidden treasure trove behind the cliffs along the Eldritch are true, it maybe that that is where the harness can be found--awaiting another head.

11 comments:

Simon Forster said...

Nice and flavoursome item. A Weird Adventures Ghost Rider :)

Johnathan Bingham said...

Very evocative, I love it! And the Mignola pic is cool too ;).

The Angry Lurker said...

The last downside being ..death.

garrisonjames said...

Gives a whole new meaning to 'Don't lose your head.' Nice magic item. You can just bet that someone is out looking for it, or looking to hire-on some adventurers to go retrieve it...it's too useful to the right people to let it jut lie around, and it would be bad if it were to 'fall into the wrong hands...'

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

My first thought was Ghost Rider as well, and then Nicolas Cage, but I think that kind of costume change would actually be an improvement for him.

Trey said...

Thanks guys.

@Angry Lurker - As we all find out one day. ;)

@Garrisonjames - Yeah, I be there are a lot of attempts to find it, if only (as you suggest) to deny it to someone else.

@Sub-Radar-Mike - I think it might be a good look for Nicholas Cage.

Brutorz Bill said...

Pure Awesome!

Tim Shorts said...

As always Trey, good stuff. I wonder what else is in the treasure trove? Time to get the map out and find those Eldritch cliffs.

Trey said...

Thanks guys. @Tim check on page 136 of Weird Adventures for a little more on that section of the Eldritch bank.

PatrickW said...

It is...The Black Flame!

(See BPRD comic for details.)

And death is a much preferrable downside than what actually befell the Black Flame.

Trey said...

It is indeed the Black Flame. That was a great BPRD limited. :)