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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Lamp of a Thousand Steps

This item was inspired by the short story Babylon: 70 M by Donald A. Wollheim. The story in turn, was based upon the Mother Goose rhyme: How many miles to Babylon?

How many miles to Babylon?

Three-score and ten.

Can I get there by candle-light?

Yes, there and back again.

If your heels are nimble and light,

You will get there by candle-light.

This small clay lamp appears to be nothing more than a mundane object found in many homes. It is bowl-shaped with a sturdy handle attached to the base and a stubby spout for a wick protruding from one side. The rim of the bowl is worked with a simple pattern featuring an image of the sun and the moon in pursuit of each other. One side of the bowl bear the image of a man with winged shoes walking beneath a starry sky holding a lamp before him. The other bears the image of a horned, winged serpent. The item radiates Great alteration magic, and appropriate divination will reveal the process required to unlock the item's power.

The lamp allows travel over great distance at a rapid pace. To invoke the item's power it must be filled with fine lamp oil and lit at sunset. With the lamp in hand the bearer must envision a destination within 100 miles and begin walking. They must walk the entire time the lamp is lit without pause, insuring the flame continues to burn as they travel. The lamp bearer may bring along up to four companions, who must remain within the lamp's illumination (a scant 10' radius). Those traveling via the lamp's power will be surrounded by darkness full of shifting shadows and faint noises. After four hours walking all travelers will reach the chose destination, always arriving at sunrise of the day following their departure.

Should the flame go out or a traveler falter or step outside the lamp's illumination, the guardian of the lamp will appear from the darkness, attacking anyone who has violated the item's rules of use.

The guardian is a horned, winged serpent, 20 feet long. It's black and green scales provide it with Superb physical protection and its magical nature grants it Epic magical resistance. It has Great attack capability with piercing horns and a lashing whip-like tail, while it's wings raise great clouds of blinding dust. Anyone slain by the guardian will be permanently lost in the plane of twisted shadows traversed by the lamp's magic.
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