The Dragonward Shield, commonly also often simply referred to as the "Shield of Ximax", is an ancient artifact, said to have been forged already before the time when Ximax was first established and the founding of the Academy of Magic, probably sometime in the third millenium before Santhros. It undoubtedly is a powerful artifact, which is now however lost in antiquity; its enchantments are said to have been potent, perhaps made by the founder of Ximax, Ximan Xuran, himself. The item's exact history and destiny is shrouded in myth, however, what is known, is that the shield had a harmonizing effect on the chaotic powers of the famous Orb of Ximax, which could be encaged with the assistance of the shield. Additionally the Dragonward had a high auratic component, enabling it to rally supporters from all kind of races to its wielder's cause.
|Image description. The Dragonward Shield in the center of a golden ceremonial ring bearing the Styrásh words "ín'eaá cár'áll" (permanent protective aura) and "ó'chón'cár á avelthá" (spirit through thoughts). Picture for Mystical Empire™, used with friendly permission, drawn by Quellion.
Appearance. The Dragonward, is a shield with a width of about a half ped across at its widest, and 3 quarters of a ped in length. The frame around this shield appears to be partly constructed of dragon or drake bones, the lower part looks as if a dragon's wings are stretching around the border.
A common belief about the shield is that the scale-like front is actually made of dragonscales of an adamant dragon, only adjusted with the help of a potent smith to a mage's needs, but this theory seems very unlikely and is therefore doubted by many. Were it so the shield would probably be stronger than any known metal in existence. By most proficient scholars it is therefore actually believed that the shield is made of metal, most likely of a magically permanently strengthened steel, overlaid in bits of mithril, made to look like dragonscales. Should this be so, it would be quite difficult to break. Whatever its metal, the colour of most of this shield is gnastheen green, with a frame of Korweyn gold. The dragon's head, at the top of the artifact, is gifted with eyes as red as the fireweed's dye, which are most likely rubies.
Abilities. The Shield of Ximax, despite its appearance, is not an implement of war. Though its impressive appearance does suit an object of its powers. Said to have been originally designed when the mystical Orb of Ximax was discovered, it is well documented that it was used to dampen the power of magical spells, reducing their effects to a certain harmonized level, so that they could be cast within range of the Orb without causing the Orb to produce a dangerous magical backlash. The theory behind it is that the shield could recognize the strength of its magical oppenent and act in opposition to the force of the Orb itself, balancing the magical counterweights. The Dragonward weakened the Orb and regulated the spells meant to keep the Orb at bay. The necessary spells to encage the Orb then could be cast with relative safety.
There's another different power associated with the Dragonward artifact: It has an enchantment of great potency in the magical field of Xeuá upon it, some call the Dragonward an "auratic beacon" of unparalleled power, a spiritual guide to focus different wills on one purpose. As already mentioned the shield is said to have been used in the original binding of the Orb, not only to dampen the Orb's power, but also to gather those who aided in the constructions of the bonds of the Orb to the side of Ximan The mighty archmage may have received it from another, or have enchanted it himself. But it is said to have been able to rally men, elves, dwarves, halflings, Brownies and beasts alike to its wielder's cause.
To give a good example of the artifact's auratic powers: The shield appears in records just before the downfall of Ximax in 733 b.S., when it was also lost, as told by the following account:
"And lo, just when the siege amounted to its greatest point, the Archmage of Xeuá, came out onto one of the towers, and even without the high staff, was still a great menace to the dark elven forces. He bore a great shield, gold and green, and its metal appeared like the scales of a dragon. And the defenders of Ximax, elves, humans, Volkek-Oshra, dwarves, even Ximaxian cats and rats fought back against the besiegers with new found vigour."
There may be quite a large amount of this leaning to points of exaggeration, the point of the Ximaxian cats, and Ximaxian rats, as well as dwarves, is very sparsely thought of, as it is very improbable that there were enough of them, but the general idea is captured. The power of the shield apparently managed to rally the defenders to the side of the Archmage, though the dark elves were not affected by it. - However, later on, the story continues:
"A dark elf, with a bow, attacked the Xeuatán, and struck him; the great defending shield fell from his hand, down from the tower he was standing at, and landed in the mud below. - Nothing is known of what happened to the shield after this; however it is safe to surmise that one of the dark elves carried it home as a war trophy."
History/Origin. Mentionings of the Shield of Ximax appear every now and then in various ancient recordings. Three of the most well known accounts are recorded here. The elven Mène'téka, the "Books of Heroes", for example, mentions the Dragonward in the following passage:
"In the ages before the formation of the City of Magic, a Tear escaped the Dreamer of the World, Avá the Beautiful, and was lost in the fabric of the Dream, and from this tear, arose a wonder, the Uarná'ésh-dél, an orb of immense power, which was found on a peninsula in Southern Sarvonia. A force which enhanced magic, to the potency of a hundred thousand fold, as if it was light, projected through a pane of curved glass. Its force was chaotic, though. The simplest spell, even those used for lighting small fires, cast in the vicinity of the Orb, would destroy the mages casting within a distance of at least a quarter of a dash. The simple fire lighting spell would become a torrential firestorm, like the fury of the Hèckra unleashed in a small alleyway. Then came the great mage, Ximan Xuran, discovered this force, and began to comprehend its power. Using an artifact of great power, a shield of a great aura, and the help of many others, he constructed the Eleven Wards, bonds to contain the Orb and tame its powers permanently. The used artifact could dampen the magic force emanating from the Orb for a brief time span, and even could rally forces to the aid of the wielder. As it is said that ancient dragon magic was used in this shield, it should be known as the 'Dragonward' from henceforth."
The next account we find in pre-Santharian history mentioning the Dragonward goes as so: It was discovered as part of a charred mold infested journal while the catacombs built during the Dragonstorm were being refiled.
"Xuran utilized the aid of the great Orb itself in building the shield. His simple spell caused the metals to grow hot enough to turn even mithril to putty, even while at the periphery of its effects.
The final account, again rather ruined by time and ill keeping, was found in an old walled off part of the academy.
"Today an artifact was brought forth by one of the elders, a shield, which could be the fabeled one. It was found deep down in the catacombs, hidden in a secret chamber - who knows how many. When it was discovered it hung in the center of a golden ceremonial ring bearing the Styrásh words "ín'eaá cár'áll" (permanent protective aura) and "ó'chón'cár á avelthá" (spirit through thoughts), most likely hints to help identifying the shield as the one of the great Ximan Xuran.
The chronicler notes that most of this is speculation, and extrapolation from these texts. However the notes kept at Ximax were precise in their nature, and most of the accounts are most likely quite close to the truth. The chronicler regards none of this as history, though, as it is in many way too close to the mythical to be placed as such.
Information provided by Takashi Logan and Artimidor Federkiel