The Harp of Virtue

Do you ever wonder why we're fighting? I did, once - then the glory of battle swelled behind us, and songs of rage again claimed my heart.
  The Harp of Virtue is a legendary Iskaldhan artifact that repeatedly finds itself the centre of ancient ballad and legend. It is one of many Iskaldhan musical instruments with similar theme, leading some scholars to suspect a greater link - perhaps even hailing back to rumours of a draconic cry.   It is said that only the greatest warriors are capable of reaching the Harp, located as it is behind truly mythical layers of defence. Great wyrms seek to hoard its dulcet tones to themselves as adventurers of darker heart wish to harness its powers of encouragement and inspiration for their own use - but for someone to succeed in laying hand on the Harp is exceedingly rare. The last recorded case of a group achieving their goal was in the early 5400s, when a Naarim-based adventuring party known as the Unchained retrieved the Harp from the demon Kurthoxar, only to then be wrenched into the Abyss by traps laid around it. The "Ballad of Freedom's Fate" was composed around their story, and reveals that the only surviving members of the Unchained resolved to secure the Harp in a deep location where none could find it, as the only way to protect it from further demonic attack.   This has not stopped numerous adventuring groups from seeking it out, nor has it deterred forces of evil that equally desire it. Iskaldhal's draconic guardians listen closely for rumours of adventuring parties seeking the Harp and watch their progress with caution, with very few risking involvement. The Witch-Tribes, similarly, take interest in those openly going after the Harp - though their reasons are, as with all things, unknown to the general populace.  

Powers

In truth, the specific powers held by the Harp are unknown. Many ballads sing of its great powers of restoration and repair. One such tale details how a humble swordsman retrieved the Harp at great cost to himself in order to play it for his dying lord. His lord was restored, as was he, only for the swordsman to perish shortly after at the hands of a jealous lover who fled with the Harp before the shocked lord could react.   Other tales focus instead on its bewitching songs that inspire virtuous courage and trust in all that hear. The "Song of Aekir" serves as a reminder to all of the Harp's danger in this regard, as it sings of a powerful enchantress of the depths who had obtained it and used it to build an army loyal to solely her. Thankfully, an elderly dwarf whose hearing had left him many years ago had been able to stop her with the aid of a golden dragon; even so, only playing the Harp again had broken its spell over the enchantress's armies.  
If the suggestion that the Harp is one of the Shards is true, its powers are potentially far more insidious than those listed here. Whispers from the current adventuring groups after the Harp suggest that even its presence in mythology is part of its power: that it may draw in the strongest figures it can to then steal their lives away upon their deaths.

If there is a limit to this power, it is not currently known.

Significance

Extreme cultural significance as the star of numerous ballads and legends; potentially a Shard. Gildón records suggest the first appearance of the Harp and related instruments was shortly after the Worldrend, granting it a history extending back over five millennia.
Item type
Musical Instrument
Current Location
Subtype / Model
Rarity
Unique
Weight
Varies - likely around 38kg
Dimensions
Varies - harp is estimated around 1.8m tall.


Cover image: Harp by fsHH

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