I have given up all for this moment. Two winters have gone by and I have sat, hovelled and dirty, with the old mystic. He stripped me of my pride and anger. Robbers on the way the Aberystwyth, and the demands of the search part y, stripped me of my copper. And the all the while I was on this quest, the Vampire himself preyed and my kingdom.

I have given up all, for this. But it has all been worth it. No soul could soar so close to God as mine does, as I open the doors to the Neglected Halls of Belief, and bask in the glow of... the Holy Grail.

And now will the Vampire truly know what it is to have a kingdom taken away.

Artifacts

While magical items are always lost at the New Year HouseKeeping, within the Three Kingdoms are also hidden a more powerful king of magic: Artifacts. Rare and potent, the Artifacts are sought after by all and garnered only a by a few. Each artifact is unique, and while they confer magics to their possessors, they often bring the attention of those who covet them.

At the dawn of an Age, the Artifacts are all hidden in secret locations. There is one Artifact hidden in each city, but beyond that no one knows where they hide. To determine the location of an Artifact you must be in the city wherein that Artifact can be found, and visit the Mystic. This sage old man will generally regale you with stories of Ages lost to time, however, if you are lucky he will enter a strange trance, and tell you the location of an Artifact. A location might be, the "Kennels of StarMom" or the "Garden of Belief". In fact, it could be anywhere in the Three Kingdoms.

Once you have this location you must search <location>, for 10 move and 20,000 copper. If the Artifact is still there, it will be yours. But there is always the possibility that someone has beat you to it. Possession of Artifacts is revealed with any successful spying attempt. And, like items if you utterly defeat your opponent, taking his last castle, you will also take his Artifact from him. The Artifacts discovered so far in the Three Kingdoms are:

The Aegis

A shield with the head of the Dreaded Gorgon mounted onto it, the terrible powers of the Aegis far precede it into the Three Realms... so much so that no army will ever attack the holder of the Aegis under any circumstances. As such the wielder of the Aegis is protected from all physical attacks while he holds it. It's presence is, however, repulsive, and by decree of the Emperor it can only be held until the next New Year Housekeeping, at which point it will be returned to it's hidden location.

Anshar's Chest

Created by a magus who tired of the need for worldly possession, but ironically most famous for it's use by the Old Merchant Houses, Anshar's Chest is an ornate oak chest, gilded with gold, platinum and various gems. No matter how much is taken out, the Chest always has some copper inside of it, and as such will give its owner a random amount of copper each HouseKeeping.

The Crazy Alchemist is well known for his affection for Anshar's Chest, as he can use it to create the coveted Philosopher's Stone. When both are held by the same Lord, the Alchemist will create 2-7 items every HouseKeeping, rather than his usual 1-6.

The Boots of Speed

Originally intended for the Elven Courier, these simple peasant's boots, green and brown, bestow incredible speed on their wearer. The wearer gains an extra 10mp every HouseKeeping, while her army receives an extra four attacks and every troop type gains +x1.

The Bow of Accuracy

Finest of the Elven-made Bows, The Bow of Accuracy is said to be as fine a work of art as it is a weapon. The elegant curves of it's True-Wood bough have been known to occupy a person's eyes for hours, and the string is made from one golden strand of the Elf Queen's hair. When wielded in combat, the Bow of Accuracy gives all units with first strike +1/+1, and Rangers who wield the bow will gain an additional +1/+1 for their MasterArchers.

The Elven Highlord was trained on this bow, and all troops in a Ranger's army employing both gain an additional +1/+0.

Crown of Leadership

This Crown was given as a gift to the Emperor Romulus' first and most loyal knight, but it was lost when that wise and strong man was poisoned by an as-yet unknown assassin. The wielder of the Crown is known, far and wide, and for each level you have attained, the word of the Crown attracts 100 troops each HK.

The Crown of Leadership has no effect for the honour less Barbarians or the evil Vampires. Bloodguard, who believe that they should wield the Crown, do not hearken to the Crown's wearer.

Crusader's Lance

Rich with the blood of heathens, this Lance was blessed during constant use by the personal body guard to St. Silvia in her expeditions to the East. Now, having found it's way to the Three Continents, it is a perpetual symbol of Faith and Power, second only to the Holy Grail itself. All of the troops in an army who uses the Lance as it's banner, wi ll gain +1/+0. If wielded by a Cleric or a Mage, the battle will be joined by a Band of Crusaders on both attack and defense. If wielded by a Cleric this band will always be mighty.

The Dagger of Venom

Rumored to be the weapon which killed Emperor Romulus' first knight, a spy armed with the Dagger of Venom will never be caught, as all of those suspicious of him will mysteriously disappear. Therefore, all spying attempts will be successful.

The Ninja is suspiciously adept with the Dagger. He has an added 10% chance of robbing the city at the next Housekeeping when he is armed with it's inky blade.

The Holy Grail

The personal chalice of Our Savior, this simple ceramic goblet is the Holy of Holies, and bathes all who look upon it in a Divine Glow. The army of the holder of the Grail will be graced by divine presence, and will all gain regenerate. The bloodgaurd in service to a cleric holding the Grail will gain +1/+1.

The Dark Priestess, in her search for salvation, is greatly comforted by the presence of the Grail. A cleric who employs the Priestess and holds the Grail will gain an additional +1/+0 to all of her troops.

The Mirror of Protection

A children's rhyme in the three kingdoms proclaims: "A riddle! A riddle! A mirror look't into/See your own shadow so's no other can see you.". The Mirror of Protection was a gift from the Dryads to the first rangers. With it in your kingdom, no s pying or scrying attempt will ever succeed. Your kingdom will be obscured by a powerful cloak of obscurity.

The Nightblade of Lifestealing

The Nightblade's appearance, golden hilt with a blade of the most gossamyr black, is often enough to strike fear into any opponent. Made from the ichor of a lichdragon, the Nightblade is anathema to all life. In the hands of a true conqueror, the Nightb lade is used to drain life and limb from any and all opponents.

After each battle the person with the Nightblade wins, they take 20% of the loser's movement points.

Orb of Negation

A thin glass sphere, looking very much like and Orb of Protection... the Orb of Negation is filled with an impenetrable darkness, and where the Orb of Protection is fragile indeed, there has yet to be found a force to destroy the Orb of Negation. Stemming the forces of chaos about it, a kingdom that holds the Orb of Negation cannot be the target of any spell. Neither, however, will any magical items within the kingdom work, nor will the wielder of the Orb be able to cast spells himself.

The Plow of Bountiful Harvest

An enormous and ingenious contraption invented by the Master Farmer, The Plow is easily half the height of a castle, but is pulled, easily, by two or three oxen. Churning as it goes, entire fields can be ploughed in mere days. The plow helps your peasan ts produce extra food on all continents each housekeeping.

When the Master Farmer himself is at the helm, the Plough will also halve food spoilage.

The Rod of Necromancy

A rather unassuming onyx rod, capped with an ivory skull, the Rod of Necromancy is the very essence of a Vampire Lord, trapped into a phylactery. The mad, genius, magi who created this evil device was himself consumed by its powers. It is said that the R od itself feeds on those who wield it, and then when they die their souls do not go to Heaven, or even Hell, but into the Rod with the original Vampire Lord and the Rod's creator.

Whatever the case, The Rod of Necromancy causes the holder to promote to the next level at every HK without the needing to fulfill the promotion requirements. All good things have a price however, the rod may NOT be dropped and once its owner attains the rank of King (or Hunt-master, etc.) he will be consumed by its dark powers...

The Shield of the Defender

Once used by Emperor Romulus' personal bodyguard, the Shield of the Defender is a large body shield, gilded with silver and diamonds. As the herald and device of all bloodgaurd, if the wielder of the Shield is ever attacked, that wielder's army will be joined by 100 bloodguards per the attackers level. Also, spurred on by the fame of the Shield, all of the troops in the army of the its wielder gain a +0/+1.

The Staff of the Magi

A potent artifact whose origins are lost in the annals of time, the Staff is of no use except to a Mage. Instilled with the wisdom of Seven Sages, the Staff of the Magi allows a Mage to cast spells one level higher than his current level. So, a first le vel Mage can cast second level spells, a fourth level mage can cast fifth level spells, and so forth. In addition the Necromancers of the Staff-holder receive +1/+1.

The Warlock wants nothing more than to become the Eighth Sage of the Staff, and therefore will aid the holder of the Staff, allowing such a Mage to cast two levels above his own! All of this powerful magi's troops will also gain +1/+0

The Sword of Power

Once held by a fabled Gaelic King, who, legend tells, gained the Sword from the Queen of the Elves who lived in a Lake -- the Sword's sharpness is paralleled only by it's fame. The mere sight of the sword, gleaming at the front of a battlefield, will urg e soldiers on to greater and greater vigor. When wielded in battle, all of the following troops in your army will gain +2/+1: Battlemagi, Crusaders, Grunts, Centaurs and Skeletons. Soldiers gain +3/+2.

When the White Knight wields the Sword of Power, he battles like no other in the Realms. If in service to a Fighter he will confer all troops on his side with +1/+0.

Thor's Hammer

A remnant artifact from the days before word of Christianity arrived in the Three Empires, Thor's Hammer is a holy item to the heathen Barbarians. Its wielder will bring a barbarian horde to every battle, mighty warriors who flock to follow their pagan idol. If the wielder is herself a Barbarian, the horde to come will always be a Mighty one. Moreover, in the hands of a Barbarian, all peons will gain be instilled with religious fervor, and gain +1/+1. Moreover if a Barbarian employs the Viking Leader, and holds Th or's Hammer, all of her troops will gain an additional +1/+0

The Wings of Flying

Invented by one of the brilliant Classical Scholars, the Wings of Flying allow the wielder to travel far above the clouds. As such he can travel for half move, and ignore locked cities and highway robbers both.