It’s Travel Week, a week celebrated to going places. While some of this week’s articles are focused on the journey, and some focus on the destination, this article focuses on the return trip and just what you might be bringing with you as we count down 10 fantastic foreign treasures. Prepare to take a look at the most interesting and exotic pieces of treasures!
1. Golden harp. Resting in an abandoned temple to an obscure snake goddess on a remote island, this harp is made entirely from pure gold, including the very strings, and makes thundering sounds when played. The location of the archipelago it is from is so remote that normal sea travel from any civilized port is impossible, but recently a mysterious emissary by the name of Hamlet has begun appearing in major cities throughout the world, spreading word of the harp and proclaiming its role in a dread prophesy. He explains that the wondrous harp cannot be allowed to remain on the island, and he is looking for adventurers capable of extradimensional travel to retrieve the golden harp.
2. A glass cone. Hailing from the vast desert, this simple piece of glass was discovered beneath a stone obelisk far older than the other local architecture. The cone is about 5 inches long and made from crystal-clear glass, which is never soiled by dirt or sand. At various times of day, the glass fills with pale lights in various colors. While it is presumed that these lights have some significance in shape or color, neither pattern nor meaning is readily discerned.
3. An obsidian idol of Joku. The greatest treasure of the Jokori people, found in the jungle citadel of Jekki Jokun, this 4-foot tall pure obsidian idol of the warrior priest Joku is considered both a cultural treasure and an object of pure artistic beauty. The idol is a wonder of the steamy jungles, drawing travelers from around the world to see the statuette. The Jokori, for their part, are more than happy to let visitors into the citadel to see the idol, provided they are accompanied by a local, and that the visitor doesn’t seem too interested in the idol.
4. A silk banner of the house of Neshi. This huge white banner of gleaming silk is painted with the symbols of the fallen noble house of Neshi. The Neshi were among the greatest nobles of a league of city-states. About 300 years ago, the Neshi tried to conquer their neighbors with what they believed to be an invincible army of samurai; however, their army was defeated with the aid of foreign mercenaries. Today, few artifacts survive of the Neshi, but they are popular pieces of art in the city-states and are often sold to wealthy foreigners as a sign of prestige.
5. A porcelain elephant with ruby eyes. While these elephants aren’t unique pieces, they are very exclusive gifts given to the guests of the Raja of Undihati. Made from white porcelain, the elephants are each designed after one of those exotic war beasts in the Raja’s personal guard. Though trading one of these elephants is a capital offense within Undihati, a black market has sprung up in surrounding kingdoms among the elite who wish to own such a status symbol.
6. A ruby fire drop. This lustrous gem is found only on the Plane of Fire. Mined by salamanders, these gleaming rubies dance with inner fire. While the gems are exceedingly precious outside the Plane of Fire., having one in your possession while on that plane is considered to be incredibly dangerous, as it can be seen as a sign of sympathy for one of the rebellious “slave races” of that plane.
7. A granite spider with amethyst eyes. Though a dread symbol on the surface world, the spider is a revered creature in many subterranean cultures. The origin of these idols is as much a mystery to the underground peoples as they are above ground, though many believe them to be creations of the dark elves, though most dark elves vehemently deny this claim. Ill fortune seems to follow those who bring such items to the surface, but a few collectors find them such valuable artifacts as to desire them in spite of the danger.
8. A coral ring. This ring was once the wedding gift of a triton queen to a merfolk prince, designed to cement a lasting alliance. With the alliance long over and the lovers long since dead, the ring still remains a potent diplomatic device and is highly sought after as a symbol of peace by both the merfolk and the tritons. At any given time, one group or the other will likely be willing to pay handsomely for the return of the ring.
9. The Witch Mask of Lost Souls. A revered artifact of the Harmbu witches, this beautiful mask was handmade and is sized for a giant. Once the property of a famous giantess, this wooden mask was used in her greatest works of black magic. Now the mask is given to those who prove themselves friends of the tribe. Whispers tell of a time when the mask will again be needed to work great spells on behalf of the tribespeople, and it always seems to find its way back into their hands eventually.
10. A pearl-handled scepter. This unusual rod is known as the traveler’s staff, and according to legend was the walking staff of a long-dead god king. Now the rod always seems to find itself in the hands of the most well-traveled individuals. Though rumored to have vast powers, the rod seems mundane, if beautiful and valuable.