Description

This staff is usually bleached white, then bound from head to toe in strips of black leather secured with iron fixtures. The iron is often allowed to become rusted, giving the item and even more threatening appearance. It takes its name from the idea that it opens the door of death - readying the target to be pushed through it. Some wielders claim that when they invoke its magic they hear a distant creak; as of a great iron-bound portal slowly opening. In Temeschwar it is sometimes called a Black Wedge implying that the door is held open for a waiting victim.

Some wielders report a peculiar phenomenon - in some cases the staff marks the palms of the wielder's hands with a sooty black mark that resists attempts to remove it with water and soap but fades naturally in a day or so. Those who make extensive use of the staff, especially those who supplement its power with their own performance of the venom spell find that the marks take longer and longer to fade and are a little larger each time. Apocryphal tales speak of a Volhov named Mstislav the White whose arms were said to be permanently stained black to the elbow thanks to his extensive use of The White Gate, an artefact version of this staff bound in pale leather and secured with polished steel.

Rules

  • Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a staff. You must be wielding this implement to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: You must have both the magician and battle mage skills to bond to this item.
  • Effect: Twice per day you can cast the venom spell as if you knew it without expending any mana.
  • Materials: Crafting a Death's Door requires six measures of beggar's lye and three measures of iridescent gloaming. It takes one month to make one of these items.
Step in. Strike. Release. Shudder. Step back.

The drill was as old as the Viper Company itself. Polonius had developed it when the enemy's numbers became clear; a means of terrifying the foe in the first seconds of the battle, knocking the wind out of their first charge. It was a stroke of genius, and since then, the High Gate Spire's artisans had begun producing the White Gates en masse.

Step in. Strike. Release. Shudder. Step back.

The shudder was an inevitability, the one moment in all the world that the men and women of the Spire were allowed, however tacitly, to lose their Poise. Endless training, envenoming one another to grow accustomed to the terrible, wracking nausea of the spell, reduced it to a second or two, but it was always there.

Breathe deeply. Focus. Accept. Begin casting. Deliver.

At the cry of 'Sting', the front-line Sentinels hefted their shields and took up defensive postures, allowing the staff-wielding second line their room to strike. Their precision was unearthly, their discipline formidable, and they moved with mechanical perfection. They could afford nothing less if they were to face a foe twice their number and win.

Step in. Strike. Release. Shudder. Step back.

The argument was logical, its premises sound and its conclusion inevitable. Sentinels did not feel fear in battle. The only thing the Vipers had to fear was their own spell-casting, the venom that poured both ways through the staff, the inevitable moment when they lost their Poise. So they would train, and train, and train, until their frail mortal bodies learned what their souls knew already: that they would win, that they must win, and that the soul-rending sickness was not a symptom of defeat but of victory.

Breathe deeply. Focus. Accept. Begin casting. Deliver.

There was no difference between the training-field and the battlefield. The First Fang would deliver the spell. They would step back, where others might stagger. They would turn to their partners, who would restore them within seconds. And then they would prepare the purgative spell themselves, while the Second Fang, their saviours, heeded the call to sting. Then they would heal the Second Fang, and set about the true business of battle.

Step in. Strike. Release. Shudder. Step back. Breathe deeply. Focus. Accept. Begin casting. Deliver.

Through practice, discipline. Through discipline, arete. Through arete, victory. Through victory, conquest.

There could be no other way.