The Teeth of Gwahlur

Contributed by: Thulsa ()

"Lowering the altar back into place, he set the chest on it, and threw back the lid. To the eager watchers on the high gallery it seemed as if the action had released a blaze of living fire which throbbed and quivered about the opened chest. Conan's heart leaped and his hand caught at his hilt. The Teeth of Gwahlur at last!" -- Robert E. Howard: "Jewels of Gwahlur"

The Teeth of Gwahlur revealed

History: Ages ago, a small group of Shemites were driven from their homeland. They traveled beyond Stygia to a valley in eastern Kush, bringing with them a mysterious collection of glowing gems, known as the Teeth of Gwahlur.

Enslaving the surrounding Kushite peoples with the malign power of the gems, the Shemites built an enormous stone city named Alkmeenon. As the generations passed, these Shemites lost their civilized ways, although they kept themselves separate from their Kushite servants. Thus, they slowly died away (although it is well known that the wise men of the Pelishtim know the secrets of extending their lifespans for up to hundreds of years).

One of the last pureblood Shemites in Alkmeenon was a princess named Yelaya, who was born with prophetic powers. She became revered as the Oracle of Alkmeenon. According to the priests, the gods spoke through princess Yelaya, and she was consulted upon all matters essential to the kingdom of Keshan.

Upon the oracle's death, her body, which miraculously did not age, was enshrined in the royal palace. Alkmeenon was abandoned, and the remaining priests founded the new city of Keshia. The Teeth of Gwahlur were hidden within dark vaults beneath the city.

The brass chest containing the Teeth of Gwahlur

The priests and shamans returned to Alkmeenon, of course, to consult princess Yelaya, who still spoke words of prophecy, and to make sure the Teeth were safe and undisturbed. Originally, their visits were frequent, and announced by pomp and ceremony, but as the generations passed and Alkmeenon became less familiar, the visits grew rarer. Eventually, the priests sealed up all but a few secret ways into the "city of the gods," and declared it taboo.

Appearance: The Teeth of Gwahlur are strange, curiously shapen stones that burn with an icy, non-terrestrial fire. They are kept in a small brass chest which used to be hidden beneath an altar to the dark god. The Teeth are fabled even outside Keshan, and are said to "outshine the hoard of the Turanian kings".

Note: Hearing of the Teeth of Gwahlur, Conan sold his services to its irascible king to train the Keshani army. Thutmekri, the Stygian emissary of the twin kings of Zembabwei, also had designs on the jewels. The Cimmerian, outmatched in intrigue, made tracks for the valley where the ruins of Alkmeenon and its treasure lay hidden. In a wild adventure with the undead goddess Yelaya, the Corinthian girl Muriela, the black priests headed by Gorulga, and the grim gray servants of the long-dead Bit-Yakin, Conan kept his head but lost his loot.

Thus, the current location of the Teeth is unknown. The cult of Gwahlur would use all its available resources to retrieve them if they were brought news of their possible location.

The Teeth of Gwahlur is a relic of the cult of the dark god Gwahlur. The gems are usable by any character class.

A set of nine glowing gems, each jewel each gem radiates a strange green light (equivalent to an always-active Continual Flame spell) and grants its possessor a spell-like ability, each usable 1/day (gem type listed in parenthesis):

  • Animate Dead (black opal)
  • Death Knell (green emerald)
  • Speak With Dead (blue opal)
  • Poison (purple amethyst)
  • True Seeing (yellow diamond)
  • Fear (black sapphire)
  • Telekinesis (orange jacinth)
  • Summon Monster V (yellow topaz)
  • Ghoul Touch (green jade)

All spell-like abilities have an effective caster level equal to the possessor's character level. Each use of an ability inflicts 1 point of temporary Constitution damage to the user. Whether this simply fuels the magic, or in some way feeds or empowers the dark god Gwahlur (hence the name "teeth of Gwahlur"), is a matter of speculation.

Some black priests of Anshan insist that a tenth gem exists, a fist-sized crimson ruby, which allows the abilities of the other gems to be used at will, instead of once per day (ability damage would still apply to each use, however).

Even disregarding their magical qualities, the size of the gems and the exquisite craftmanship evident in their cut and polished surfaces easily make the stones worth 10,000 gp apiece. As a set, they would be even more worth than the individual pieces.