[clothing—head]

Bloody Mantis

Lost Treasures
Price: 52,500 gp
Body Slot: Head
Caster Level: 11th
Weight: 1 lb.
Aura: Moderate divination, enchantment, and illusion

Alignment: Lawful evil
Senses: 30 ft.
Intelligence: 12 , Wisdom: 15 , Charisma: 10 , Ego: 12
Language: Speech (Common, Infernal)

This crimson mask has two enormous insectile eyes, a mouth with short mandibles, and two thick, shorn-off antennae.

The antennae on this mask of the mantis have been truncated. Bloody Mantis has three charges per day, which replenish automatically every 24 hours. Each charge grants the wearer two of the following abilities for 30 minutes: darkvision to a range of 60 feet, the effects of see invisibility, the effects of deathwatch, or a +5 competence bonus on Perception checks. Additionally, three times per day the wearer can also use disguise self, although he always retains the mask's nublike antennae and must cover them with her hair or a hood to conceal them. Finally, if the wearer strikes a target with a melee attack during a surprise round, the target can't speak or cast spells with verbal components for 1 round.

Bloody Mantis contains the spirit of a haughty assassin lord, and has the special purpose of slaying insurrectionists, traitors, and other challengers to rightful monarchs. Bloody Mantis can use geas/quest once per day, but it rarely does so at the behest of its wearer. Instead, the mask targets its wearer with the effect whenever it dominates the wearer in a personality conflict, tasking the wearer to assassinate a target appropriate for its special purpose. So long as the wearer pursues this goal, Bloody Mantis uses its abilities to aid the wearer. The mask can spend its charges to improve its own senses rather than the wearer's, and is likely to waste charges in this way if its wearer resists its will.

Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, darkvision,deathwatch, disguise self, geas/quest, see invisibility
Cost to Create: 26,250 gp

History

In 4333 ar, the pious half-elf Akemi Nektekit became one of the Vernai, or high masters, of the Red Mantis assassins. Although the identities of the Vernai are secret, Akemi was distinguishable among the Vernai because of her gaunt frame and the dark nubs atop her mantis mask, the mask's antennae having been shorn off during a sword fight with a stubbornly resilient target in the city of Absalom.

Akemi served as an effective and ruthless leader for several decades, organizing a sect within the Red Mantis called Sedition's Foil. Akemi's sect specialized in eliminating demagogues, insurrectionists, and other threats to legitimate rulers. Akemi considered this work to be the highest possible calling within Achaekek's clergy, although her focused fervor sometimes put her at odds with other Vernai.

By 4400 ar, Akemi's reflexes and eyesight had started to degrade. Although she should have had decades of vitality remaining, her physical body began failing her at an alarming rate. Opponents whispered that her debilitation was a manifestation of Achaekek's displeasure with her sect. Deaf to these rumors, Akemi grasped at any solution to arrest her physical decline. When divine magic failed her, the desperate Akemi paid a Vudrani mystic to perform a ritual the man promised could extend her youth.

The duplicitous mystic planned to steal Akemi's spirit rather than save her body, but the ritual failed, instead depositing Akemi's spirit into her mask. Although desperate, Akemi was no fool; she had left orders to have the mystic executed if the ritual failed, and the man didn't survive the hour. The Red Mantis assassins weren't aware that Akemi's spirit had survived in her mask, and the item was enshrined in a chapel in Ilizmagorti. In 4466 ar, a pirate captain named Gharzelk Manyfingers looted the shrine and carried away Akemi's mask along with the chapel's other valuable and exotic treasures.

Legacy

Although Bloody Mantis provides an array of abilities useful for surprise attacks, it has its own agenda and uses the wearer as a pawn toward those violent ends.

The Indolent Ghast: Although it's not clear how Bloody Mantis ended up discarded in a mausoleum in western Isger, a prowling ghast named Rotbreath (NE male ghast rogue 11) discovered the mask a year ago and donned it. Akemi found Rotbreath wholly immune to her compulsions. Rotbreath's preferred pastime of ambushing easy targets (such as lone farmers or straggling travelers) frustrates Akemi's spirit to no end, and she's anxious to find another owner.

Sedition's Foil as Allies: The sect Akemi founded several centuries ago is still active within the Red Mantis assassins. If the sect's members learn that the spirit of their founder lives on, they ambush Bloody Mantis's current owner. Rather than simply assassinate the owner, the assassins attempt to communicate with the mask to learn Akemi's desires. If necessary, the assassins will subdue and sequester the wearer until the mask is able to successfully impose its will.