Hello Fellow Adventurers,
I recently joined these boards and wanted to contribute to some of the excitement and history around unconditional weapons. The game was kind enough to grant me a 15% unconditional r8 hammer while running around the Crystal Desert in the first weeks after launch. I have treasured this weapon since 2005, and thought I would share it with you all. I did not realize there was such a vibrant collector community until only recently. Thank you for all you do to preserve our shared history! I do not have any other significant artifacts from this great game, but upon request, I included the skill bar that I can best remember from those early days along with what is used now.
To share this in a way I felt was proper, I spent some time writing about the lore of both the hammer and the character who found it. I hope you enjoy!
// The Lay of the Fiery Foehammer // ***********************************************************************
As waves from the great sea washed gently against the shore, she stood quietly at the water’s edge, peering across that great expanse. With her many trips here, Sanctum Cay was now just as familiar as the ever-curious voices in her mind, calling her to find the evil that had destroyed her homeland.
Tired from her intense, three day adventure, she gently lay down on the white sands with her bow and beast beside her. Awash with the glow of the moon, she let her mind wonder what lay in wait for her beyond that emerald sea.
As she felt the wane of her time in this short-term incarnation, her tired mind was suddenly filled with visions of serpents, great wyrms, horrific dragons and a terrifying confrontation with her own inner darkness. But rising above all those things, looming in shadow taller than a mountain, from across the southern ocean she faintly heard the frigid cackle of a laughter that made her blood run cold.
Filled with inescapable panic as the familiar, dark mists rolled mercilessly over the hills of Riverside to claim her, a final thought took command of her senses. With all the unbridled fury of her sadness and anger at the loss of her homeland she shuddered as she whispered:
“I will search the ends of Tyria to find you. You took everything from...”
But before she could finish giving full reign to her defiant pledge, the darkened mists claimed her.
After an unknown time had past she awoke again, reborn in the beauty of Ascalon in all its splendor. Rousing herself from what felt like the sleep of ages, she was filled with a radiant hope. This was now the time to seek out what lay beyond Sanctum Cay and to strike out in permanence.
As she entered Ascalon, she blissfully ran her fingers along the cool bricks of the inner wall, not yet warmed by the morning sun. The city was abuzz with excitement and activity. Almost as if in a dream, she was quick to rejoin the companions she met during previous incarnations. Gathering in the castle courtyard, they greeted one another with all the joy and warmth of a close family. After all had gathered who would come, they wasted no further time and raced outside the city to choose their vocations of war. Each one carefully selected their path and made oaths to their gods as they made final preparations for their great expedition.
As they gathered gear, skills and newly found courage, they plotted to find what lay beyond the great sea. Vowing never to be separated, they pledged an oath of honor to one another, and to their cause of vengeance.
However, as she watched her friends choose their vocations with conviction and decisiveness, she could not decide which one suited her best. In her previous incarnations she had tried many but none had felt quite right.
Elemental magic burned her fingers beyond feeling. Mesmer attire felt too constricting and offered no protection at all. Not to mention all that twirling in combat made her dizzy. The smell of necromancy was too much for her to endure, and she could not bring herself to trust anything undead, tethered to her or no. As a Ranger she felt herself a coward and was overcome with jealousy standing behind her pet, being so far separated from battle. And as a Monk, she could not bear healing people who did not seem to have either the wits or constitution for combat, nor could she stop quietly judging as she preserved them with holy magic.
And so, as a last resort, with her party already at the gates of Ascalon ready to venture forth, she chose her vocation to be Warrior.
Unsure of herself in bulky armor, she quickly raced through the forests of Ascalon, awkwardly learning the ways of bravado and steel. As she progressed, she became acutely aware of how her body responded to the thrill of looking her enemies in the eye, knowing that life hung in the balance with each swing of her blade. She did not enjoy the messy ichor that came to cover her weapons and armor, but she grew to bear it as a sign of victory and of her preserved life.
As she finished running errands in the valley, with Ascalon ever-watching in the distance, she rejoined the company of her friends who had long formed their adventure parties and were eager to depart.
As they stood together performing a final examination of one another, they again pledged to stand beside each other in their pursuit of Ascalon’s retribution. Curiously though, a few of their band chose to stay behind and defend Ascalon, seeking some fable of a legendary nature.
Trudging onward, her party’s leader spoke with Sir Tydus to gain approval to enlist. As they stood there, she felt her legs shaking with exhaustion. They were only just beginning to learn the bridle of plated metal and the day had already been long. Stiffening up in a momentary attempt to hide her fatigue, she nodded in affirmation to Sir Tydus as he looked her up and down to assess her battle readiness.
After observing a solemn moment of silence, they were finally ready to depart the peaceful valley of their homeland.
As her party excitedly passed through the gates together knowing they would never return to this beautiful place, she trailed behind her friends, lingering to savor the sweet smell of iris flowers and the warm kiss of the golden sun as it made her lightly sweat under her armor. Just as her mind embraced the beauty of Ascalon and all her memories there, a thought suddenly gripped her that would haunt and torment her mind for days to come:
“What great evil truly lies in wait beyond these walls? And are we the ones to overcome it?”
As they ventured forth, subjected one final time to the horrifying vision of Ascalon’s passing, they once again found themselves in the wake of The Searing.
Now, with the permanent ashes of not only the city but also of her friends and family still hanging in the air, all illusions of adventure and excitement quickly faded from her. This was not a noble war that was thrust upon them, nor was it a glorious call to protect the ones they loved. No, this was a great horror. One that had already devoured everything they cared for, having claimed all except their scant few lives.
Sadly, there was nothing left to protect or uphold, only memories to be honored in the wake of their retribution.
Faced with the weight of this new and permanent reality, she stood at the edge of what was formally Ascalon. Tears slowly began running down her face, forming rivulets in the ashes as they gently fell at her feet. As she quietly wept at the thought of all she had lost, she once again remembered that violent, icy laughter from across the sea. In an instant, the same soul-terrifying panic that seized her on the evening shores of Sanctum Cay stretched its icy fingers around her heart. In that moment she looked at her party walking down the hill, obliviously chattering to one another with excitement about the journey ahead and thought:
“Will our courage be able to carry us beyond the limit of our feeble strength? Will we be able to overcome such a great evil if we can even find it?”
In her heart, she truly did not know, but as she stood there, embers of rage were quietly kindled within her. Through eyes that stung with tears and ashes, she looked at the scorched earth and the blighted skies, tightening her grip on the sword at her side. As she felt the hard steel in her hand, an anger arose that was so intense it offered to drown out her fears. Blinding her to all else, she surrendered to it, and the quiet ambition it gave her.
In that moment of newfound purpose and identity, she vowed to shed all attachment to her life, and to separate herself from every desire outside of vengeance she had ever known. As she surrendered her very existence to the fury and lust for battle that smothered the pain of her anguish, she heard what she came to know as “his” voice.
“Lift thy weapons, Mrs Dash...”
Startled, Mrs Dash froze in disbelief. Then suddenly she grew wide-eyed with joy as a power-laden rage began to surge through her even as the echo of his voice faded from her hearing. As she stumbled forward over the shock of it, liquid fire poured through her veins, emanating waves of adrenaline and a searing, unquenchable thirst for bloodshed.
Falling to her knees in the ruins of the dusty city, overcome with what felt like electricity running through her body, Mrs Dash doubled over and let the experience envelop every aspect of her senses as it reshaped her reality: her doubts were gone.
After what felt like a blissful eternity, she was finally able to regain control of her body. As she slowly regained her composure, she looked around and saw that her companions were unaware of her inner transformation as they had long descended into the city center.
On wobbly legs, she slowly followed to join them, unsure of what to say. Upon arriving at the heart of the once proud city, she assessed the ragtag collection of adventurers and misfit merchants gathered there. Among the tents there was much trading and commerce, with a haggling among the weapon and armor merchants that she found especially appalling.
“Why are these prices so high? Do they not know we seek blood on behalf of their lost loved ones as well?”
Disgusted, she reached for her sword, intending to run Sedgwick, the armor merchant through to set an example to the rest of them. But, upon seeing some of Ascalon’s orphans standing near the armory tents, she chose to stand back from the clamor of the bartering crowd and waited for her companions.
After much discussion and disappointment at the high cost of armaments, her party stood at the ready to venture outside the city walls. Their group being almost entirely equipped with the training gear they had left Ascalon in. Forming a guild as their final commitment to one another, they set out from the city as one.
Much to her delight, they made great progress that first day as her sword drank deeply of Charr and Mergoyle blood. With Mrs Dash on the frontline, her party thwarted further Charr attacks and struck down several of their Captains. They even managed to break a seemingly insurmountable siege through a combination of stealth and steel.
Covered in a grisly mix of blood, Charr fur and red ash, they agreed to rest for the night at the old courthouse. As the guild sat quietly by the fire and plotted the days ahead, the snow covered Shiverpeaks towered in the distance above them. With the thrill of so many victories that advanced their march, she was eager to scale those familiar mountains. They were a pathway not only to Lion’s Arch and Maguuma, but eventually to Sanctum Cay and what lay beyond the great sea.
As Mrs Dash sighed and quietly pondered the journey ahead, her band of adventurers began speaking of plans to stay behind in the ruins of Ascalon in order to explore and conquer it fully.
Puzzled, and with a sinking feeling in her stomach over the idea of any delay, the power she felt earlier that day began burning inside of her, not letting her body surrender to the haze of exhaustion that settled around her.
“What are they talking about? What could possibly wait for us here in this dead land?”
Stifling her frustration for the sake of loyalty to the guild, she asked why they were not eager to press on. Some responded with indifference as they were curious to explore the ruined land, while others said they preferred to strengthen themselves further before passing through the mountains.
Sensing both her ambition and her agitation, the guild reminded her that she was under an oath of loyalty. They cited her obligation to both their friendship and to the direction jointly agreed upon by their council. “Democracy”, they said.
Furious and unable to formulate a response that would have even remotely resembled kindness, Mrs Dash quietly withdrew. Exasperated, she sat at the edge of the communal campfire considering what to do. As she contemplated her path to Lion’s Arch, she overheard a band of adventurers planning to push on through the night so they could arrive at Lion’s Arch by morning.
But suddenly, as her heart yearned for conquest, she felt a small tug of guilt over the betrayal she so eagerly pondered. Searching for a way to justify moving onward without her guild, she thought:
“I will only go far enough ahead so that I can buy better weapons and armor. Then I can return and help the others so they can move forward quickly.”
Without even checking to see if she agreed with her own logic, she quickly fell in with this new band of adventurers as they set out into the evening.
The going proved much more challenging than she anticipated, as for their faults, the family she had sworn an oath to were actually quite good at their vocations. This new group of travelers seemed more suited to Bard and Barkeep vocations than for war. One even said they were a child under all their leather armor. How their battle pet did not turn and eat them she did not know.
After Mrs Dash’s party repeatedly fell to the bludgeoning of the Stone Summit’s steel and magic, and with patience strained beyond the limits of her politeness, they finally made it through Borlis Pass and arrived at the Frost Gate.
As quickly as her party entered the small enclave before the gates, she quietly slipped away and rejoined her party at the courthouse. Exhausted, she lay down on the charred earth to sleep, her armor still wet from the snow as it glistened in the soft light of the hazy dawn.
Early the next morning, the guild opted to explore and to even re-conquer the same missions they had run the day before. No doubt due to the physical strain of adventuring through the night, she found herself outside the boundaries of her loyalty to the guild but chose to say nothing. As everyone prepared to venture out for the day, she opted to stay behind, citing fatigue and vague busyness with other tasks. Her guild was upset, saying that she was not helpful but they promised to soon return.
As soon as the last of them had meandered out of the gates, Mrs Dash steeled herself for whatever lay ahead as she thought:
“By this time tomorrow I have to be in Lion’s Arch. I cannot wait.”
On her own, the parties she fell in with were so frustrating it was difficult to believe Sir Tydus had agreed to let them pass as soldiers. But, after shuffling through numerous groups and pushing well into the night, she finally set foot in Lion’s Arch.
At long last, new weapons, armor and much needed rest were finally hers. That night as she returned to the courthouse, it was all too obvious that she had not only gone ahead on her own, but that she had spent a considerable amount on equipment and had grown by many seasons along the journey.
In the morning, she awoke with her body sore and still tired from the previous day’s efforts but prepared for battle all the same. Surprisingly, none of her party had left or had tasks planned for the day. Instead, after speaking in whispers amongst themselves, they came to her and asked where she had been the day before. More pointedly, they accused her of not being the same person they had befriended in their previous incarnations, and even questioned if she should be a part of their guild any longer.
Enraged, she felt her fists tightening into wound steel as she bristled at their condemnation and thought:
“Why are they not burning to seek revenge? What else must they lose? How dare they question me for seeking power and revenge!?”
With the threat of expulsion, she now realized these “friends” did not understand her, nor did their hearts ache with the same unmitigated fury that drove her. Rather than honor the promise of vengeance that had originally brought them together, they instead chose to meander as cowards in Ascalon, dallying with every vagabond’s task and useless errand they could find. All while shaming her, questioning both her character and her loyalty.
As she gathered her things in silence, she was too infuriated to contain her anger and hoped no one dared speak to her.
As Mrs Dash stepped into the ashen, rocky wasteland outside the courthouse, she embraced every painful word she was chastised with, every harsh and condemning judgment meant to shame, and vowed to silence them forever. In that moment she walked away from the guild and never looked back.
While standing in silence and surveying the ashen landscape, she heard his voice again as her vision went white and that same overwhelming power flowed through her, nearly robbing her sanity with its intensity.
“You are alone in this fight, but you are not without help.”
Gasping for breath as it released her, she found herself on all fours, profusely dripping sweat from underneath her helmet as heavy droplets fell from her quivering chin. Slowly, she stood to her feet, alone, feeling more free than she ever had. As she began ceremoniously tightening the straps of her armor, she gently smiled as she gave way to every dark feeling of rage and anger that offered even the smallest hint of power in battle.
Now, she was ready.
Mrs Dash's adventures from that day forward were many as she battled through the Maguuma jungles and the rolling hills of Riverside that separated her from the Crystal Desert and the destiny that awaited her there.
And, upon finally crossing the ocean and battling for many days through the scorching sands, it happened.
We will never know if they gods had seen her burning anger to fight injustice even when it cost her everything, or whether they had simply taken pity on her as she toiled in the desert alone and exhausted. What only matters is the moment that Balthazar himself stretched down his spectered hand to grant Mrs Dash the weapon that forever changed and defined her: the moment he pulled the Fiery Foehammer from a deep corner of the mists to bestow it upon her.
And so, we find Mrs Dash, in the desert unaware of what was about to happen...
In that moment, while facing a large group of Losaru just outside Destiny's Gorge, she focused her sword’s fury on a Shaman that was healing his companions through her party’s damage. As her blade sung its familiar blood song and the Shaman fell, a golden hammer dropped with a heavy, soft thud into the sands. Stooping low with the battle still raging, Mrs Dash grabbed the handle of the weapon, its leather grip caked with blood and grit. Quickly throwing the weapon into her bag, she noted that it only required eight ranks of Hammer Mastery and yet its head was skillfully fashioned for maximum damage.
She thought, as all of her weapons required their bearer to be much more astute in the ways of weapon mastery. Not to mention, she did not use hammers in preference for the satisfying slicing and hacking of steel that swords and axes afforded her.
As the last of the Losaru pack fell, she reached into her bag to identify the curious hammer that had dropped. As she did so, Mrs Dash was blinded by a brilliant light as everything around her turned a dazzling white as he spoke to her.
“Mrs Dash, your spirit has neither hesitated nor stumbled in your pursuit of vengeance and glory. All of your deeds will be remembered as you now wield this, the Fiery Foehammer. This, one of the proudest of my weapons, was carried into the great battle with Abaddon so long ago. Unfettered by any mortal limitations, my unconditional power will be with you always for you have fully given yourself to the pursuit of conquest.”
As she stood there, with both hands grasping the shaft of that great hammer, she noticed that it felt lighter than air. In fact, it was so perfectly balanced and elegant, it felt like wielding light and fire itself as she gently swung it back and forth in disbelief.
As the white light around her began to fade, Mrs Dash found herself standing in place, looking down at the timeless relic of war in her hands. As her eyes readjusted to the desert sun, she noticed the intricate detailing of the hammer’s craftsmanship. The leather on the hammer’s shaft was made from the skin of some great dragon, no doubt from a bygone age before men walked the earth. Embedded in the leather was a meticulously woven pattern that looked like ocean waves, with a large sun rising in the middle. The metal of the hammer’s head was a dull grey, but was untarnished or scratched despite its many battles and the ferocity of Balthazar’s own force in wielding it. Peering carefully at the head, she also saw that it had the faint outline of a flaming lion etched into the metal on both sides. Some long lost arcane inscription technique must have been used as no metal working of this age could have even scratched the hammer’s surface.
After a few moments of standing bewildered, a childlike but murderous excitement to test the Fiery Foehammer’s might welled up within her. Quickly, Mrs Dash tore headlong, alone into the desert. With the blood curdling scream of a wild animal, she lept upon a pack of Losaru camped near the oasis of Destiny's Gorge. As she effortlessly raised the hammer to strike its first blow, she heard the thunderous fluttering of great flames as the Fiery Foehammer sung through the air. And, that is when she first felt its true gift: an unrelenting wave of giddying power that surged through her as she fully committed herself to blind passion and fury with every mighty blow.
For Balthazar had not simply bestowed a weapon of great magnitude upon her, but permanently gave her access to the power she had only known as fleeting encouragement as she fought her way here.
Renewed with every swing of the Fiery Foehammer, this was the tireless joy of battle that came to define her: the maddening rush of power, a never-fading lust for conquest and the unquenchable desire to be perpetually filled with the gift of Balthazar, reminding her moment-to-moment of his great blessing and of her place beside him in legend.
Throughout the years to come, Mrs Dash would wield the Fiery Foehammer in campaigns against the foes of Tyria, Cantha, and Elona. Ignominiously, crushing her enemies under the inescapable weight of the Fiery Foehammer’s wrath. She also traveled to the Domain of Anguish, Fissure of Woe and into the Underworld itself, smashing down demons and foul creatures alike, scattering all like kindling as her hammer fell upon them with the weight of a mountain.
With her time in this place showing no threat of waning, Mrs Dash continues to stalk these familiar lands, relentlessly pursuing those who seek to oppress and rule for the sake of evil.
Occasionally, in her soul’s quieter moments, Mrs Dash ventures alone into the deepest part of The Falls to find respite, and to remember her fallen loved ones. In those rare and special times, to honor the memory of her homeland, she closes her eyes and smells the lone Red Iris Flower she carried with her from the beautiful valley she left so long ago. Remembering the gentle peace she knew, when life was simpler and her hands had shed no blood. When she could still remember what it felt like to be loved.