Anathema-Binding Shackles (First-Age Artifact)
by OnyxMirror

The Anathema are mighty foes of the heroes of the Realm, largely due to their superior Essence reserves and the devastating effectiveness with which that Essence can be employed. This artifact, if it can be employed, can eliminate this advantage.

The Shackles are a pair of heavy green jade cuffs joined by five links of jade – one of each color. Like many similarly themed artifacts the Shackles were conceived at the start of the Solar Usurpation, when stealthy Terrestrials would steal into the bedchambers of their masters, binding both their limbs and their Essence as they slept. In the Second Age, working the different colours of Jade together is more difficult, and Shackles are no longer produced. There are enough of them in existence that they are commonly provided to Wyld Hunts and sometimes to allies of the Realm.

When both cuffs are closed around a subject they seal themselves and drain their captive of his Essence. The drain is rapid and complete, emptying both the personal and peripheral Essence pools of the captive within a turn. This usually produces an impressive and appropriate cosmetic effect as the Essence is channelled away – a blazing corona around a Solar, for example, or a bitter chill around an Abyssal. The display settles down after the initial flood of Essence, but the Shackles do not impede the normal respiration of Exalts. Instead, they continue to drain regenerated Essence from the victim, bleeding it off in a harmless low-level effect (they may glow softly or be chill to the touch).

When closed the cuffs of the Shackles become a single piece of jade, without seam or opening. The cuffs will only open when all five links between them are attuned to a single aura, though such an attunement last only a moment before being torn apart by the Shackles’ Essence-dampening function. Attuning the links is a trivial task for the Dragon-Blooded and, as long as they know how the Shackles operate, any Terrestrial Exalt may open them for a cost of 2 motes. Should a Dragon-Blooded be locked in the Shackles the initial flood of Essence will saturate them in their anima, achieving the attunement automatically – only 2 motes are lost as the cuffs immediately fall open. Should a Terrestrial have less than 2 motes available when bound, however, she will be unable to attune the Shackles and will be as helpless as any Anathema.

For other Exalts opening the Shackles requires the mystical equivalent of lock picking, as they attempt to harmonise each link with their anima. Unfortunately, the construction of each link from a separate type of jade is sufficient to require an attunement roll for each one, five in total. These need not all be made in a single round, the Exalt may make an attempt for each remaining link each round and as long as one additional link is attuned he does not suffer harmonic backlash for any failures. If he fails to attune any links in a round, however, he will not only suffer the backlash but also lose his attunement to all the links. Just as for the Dragon-Blooded, the initial flood of Essence as a captive is drained provides an opportunity for attunement. Any Exalt capable of making the five necessary rolls in the first round may escape with the loss of only 4 motes, and would rightfully be considered a serious threat to the Realm.

Although it has not yet come to the attention of the Realm, the ability of the Jade Caste of Alchemical Exalted to attune jade means that the Shackles are no more effective on them than they are on the Dragon Blooded.

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