Aeterian's breath froze and broke in the air in front of him. His palms were slippery with blood, gashed open by the dagger-sharp rocks on that lined the pass; too slippery to hold a sword, even if he hadn't lost his blade fording the swollen Fenflow river two days ago.
A vulture's squawk resounded through the winter-clear sky above him, and Aeterian flinched involuntarily. He knew that every beast might be the bearer of his death, or worse; already he had been forced to kill his beloved, plains-born steed Faroe and his familiar, precious Maelkin. Add to that the scores of starlings that had assaulted him under the urging of the astirax that pursued him, and the snake that had bitten his ankle while he snatched a few hours of troubled sleep, and the Caransil knew he was in trouble.
His companions were long gone, and Aeterian was tired. The sniffer-demon was relentless and formless; he was more afraid of it than of anything else he had seen in his short (by elven standards) life. His leg was crippled with pain; every muscle was laced with fatigue. On the verge of defeat, Aeterian slumped to his knees, trembling. Death was close and he could no longer muster the energy to resist. He scarcely even felt the vulture's beak lacerate his brow, stealing the last dregs of his magical essence. It was only when a strange, cold light washed over his downcast face that he opened his eyes.
Hanging in the air before Aeterian was a vision of immaculate, awful majesty. It was a statue come to life, all cold angles and stony hate, flawless and terrible. At its feet were the broken remains of the possessed vulture.
Hail Aeterian, the Dread Angel greeted him. I Am Your Salvation. Through Me You Will Find Victory, And Be Damned.
"What.... what are you, spirit? What do you mean?" quailed the young Caransil.
”Your Foes Are Beyond You,” quoth the Dread Angel, its visage taking on a cruel, sharp aspect. “You Must Match Them In Savagery And Power To Emerge Victorious. Have You The Courage To Do So?”
Aeterian heard a sound behind him, and turned to meet the snarling muzzle of a great mountain bear scarce some thirty feet away, shambling out of the woods with the deadly intent of a possessed beast. It's paws scratched at the stone as it advanced, huge and hungry, on the elf.
”Choose, Aeterian,” said the Dread Angel. “Your Life, Or Your Death. The Price Is In Your Hand.” And the Dread Angel was no more; only a blade of surpassing sharpness and hardness, made of a grey metal that gave no gleam or reflection. The astirax-bear drew closer, fangs crackling with spell-eating power and eyes red with madness
Aeterian lifted his sword and struck, renewed vitality flowing through his arm. Blood gouted from the animal; both beast and demon screamed as they died. Never again would the astirax take on flesh form, for it had been sent back to its dark master. But as he struck, the veils of perception opened for Aeterian.
He saw a queen robed in a mantle of white.
He saw a light so bright and cold and terrible that it set the world afire and quenched it in ice.
He saw the people of Eredane liberated from the tyranny of Shadow. He saw them liberated, and despair.
He saw beasts that were once men, turned into what they fought. Made hollow vessels by rage, they were filled only with the Shadow.
Letting the sword drop from his hand, Aeterian collapsed to the rock and wept. "Oh Dread Angel," he implored the blade. "Must it be so? Must the eminence that will save us from the Shadow be our doom?"
”Yes,” exulted the Dread Angel from all around and nowhere at once. “For The Light Will Be So Glorious That It Needs Must be Nameless.”
Nameless Light is a thinblade (elven exotic, d8 damage, 18-20/x2, finessable) made of some resilient grey metal that seems to drink the light. It is very light but not at all flexible. The blade is innately tuned to prefer ruthless, brutal solutions, and loves to use the Shadow's tactics and weapons against it.
1st level: Any time the PC performs an act of treachery or brutality in line with the sword's inclination, he or she gains a +1 moral bonus to attacks, saves or skill checks (as appropriate) for one minute.
3rd level: Bonus increases to +2.
5th level: Nameless Light gains the Ghost Touch property.
7th level: Nameless Light gains an enhancement bonus of +1.
9th level: On a critical hit, the victim must make a Fort 16 save or be struck blind for 1 hour.
12th level: Whenever the PC performs an act in keeping with Nameless Light's taint, she is healed of d6 HP of damage. Note that, in this case, an entire combat or act of treachery or callousness would count as one action, not one action per round.