The Summer Heroes
The Hyperion Cube
The Hyperion Cube is an unusual, fabled magical artifact thought to be responsible for the bizarre state and destruction of the city of Hyperion during the War of Three Thrones. The Cube was discovered during the construction of the Black and White Keep in the new city of Hyperion under the direction of the Empress Hyperia in 635 BR. Though Hyperion was not the first city on its site (and was in fact being built directly over ruins of the previous city), the Cube was apparently unknown, and was discovered during the removal of earth for the construction of the extensive Imperial Crypt beneath the complex.
The Hyperion cube is a 1×1×1 foot cube with a solid, flawless, white exterior. When touched by naked flesh, the cube appears to ripple outward from the touch (as throwing a stone in a pond), but the Cube’s surface is cold and feels like solid, unmoving stone. After its discovery, the Cube was turned over to a cadre of Imperial alchemists and wizards for study, who immediately noticed that spells cast in a 20’ radius around the Cube were far, far stronger than usual. After about a year of study, the committee determined that the Cube was essentially a “multiplier” or “magnifier” for magic. It was installed into a specially-constructed underground room in the middle of the twin keeps.
The Imperial spell-casters also noticed that the Cube’s flawless white color slowly alters if a large amount of magic is used within the 20’ radius, and that the effect of intensification/amplification was far more potent if the magic-user was in physical contact with the Cube itself. The wizards speculated that the Cube was being drained of power when its color changed, but also noted that numerous very high level spells were required to make even a minimally-noticeable difference.
The Cube was put to devastatingly effective use in defense of Hyperion during the War of Three Thrones, as the magic-using defenders of the city were able to fling powerful spells great distances (and so reach enemy troops beyond the city walls). When the orc tribes from the north began to take advantage of the Imperial civil war, the Cube was used more and more frequently. The Siege of Hyperion that began in 836 BR saw almost constant utilization of the Cube, as the scores of orcs besieging the city seemed to be never-ending. In the Year of Conflagration, 837 BR, the situation became increasingly desperate for the city, and the inevitability of a final assault by the orcs loomed larger and larger.
By this point, the Cube’s white color had taken on a practically ashen hue, and black spots were beginning to form on its surface. Despite this, and in an effort to stave off defeat (and the sacking of the city), three wizards, Archus, Nerun, and Tivera, came together and cast a massively powerful spell to encase the entire city in a protective shield. The spell surrounded the city walls and put a blue-green bubble around the whole city, and citizens watched in amazement as spells flung by orc shamans and arrows dispatched by orc archers simply stopped in mid-air when they “hit” the shield.
The shield stood for about a month, and the Cube’s color grew darker and darker, while the spots of pure black on it—once only pinpricks—grew as well. The orcs, frustrated and unable to penetrate the shield, finally began to time and coordinate their magical assaults, and one morning their entire array of magic-users loosed a devastating volley. The shield flickered and shattered, killing Archus, Nerun, and two other mages that were assisting in the shield’s sustainment. Tivera managed to restore the shield several hours later, but by then the orcs had overrun the city, and the shield she erected encompassed only the complex of the Black and White Keep itself.
The orcs burned the city, but still refused to leave, instead laying siege to the Keep itself. Horrified that the orcs still had not given up, a group of knights asked Tivera to instead divert her power to shielding the survivors of the Keep while they attempted to break through the enemy lines and flee. Tivera was unresponsive, and the knights were horrified to discover that, though she still appeared to be alive, her body was crumbling away. Unable to leave, the knights prepared for the end.
After a week, the orcs renewed their assault and loosed another barrage of magic upon the shield. This time, the shield buckled entirely and collapsed, consuming Tivera’s body completely, while the Cube rippled and the black coloration shot out, restoring its white exterior. The massive orcish army was knocked over, as if by a shockwave: the majority of them were killed and the few remaining buildings in the city—like some of the standing city walls—were shattered. The Black and White Keep, however, was largely unaffected—as the shield had exploded outward—though the magic of the explosion killed most of its current inhabitants.
The remaining orcs fled, and the few Imperial survivors scattered, making their way back to Soren or other cities like Darrova. These handfuls of survivors reported the story, and also noted that the shield had re-appeared around the keep, a faint blue-green outline of a bubble surrounding the two castles and the walls of the complex. The shield appeared to be flickering in and out of existence, though, and it was speculated that it was a sort of magical residue or remainder leftover from Tivera’s final efforts. Expeditions out to the city—first in 842 BR and sporadically after that—reported, however, that the shield was still there, though the flickering seemed to have stabilized, and the shield would blink in and out of existence every few hours.
The immediate area surrounding the keep, however, was dangerous, and an area of wild magic, where spells functioned unpredictably and those that ventured near the shield would be the subject of bizarre and terrible effects. Few who ventured near the shield returned alive, and the area was eventually avoided by all except the most fool-hardy (or, at most, observed from afar by those interested in the spectacle). Those that got close enough—and lived to tell the tale—reported that the entire complex looked entirely unusual while the shield was up: namely, they reported seeing moving figures around the grounds and the twin castles, and the walls and the keeps themselves looked as if no time had passed at all. This effect was said to go away when the shield disappeared, whereupon the keeps appeared in a far greater state of disrepair. Efforts were made by a few to take advantage of the fact that the shield would sometimes stay down for several hours at a time, but every time someone crossed over where the shield used to stand, it would blink back into existence and they would vanish.