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Claw of Aelkhünd

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The Claw of Aelkhünd is a mystical artifact whose history dates as far back as the ice age, but whose origin is actually steeped in the modern era.

History

The Claw of Aelkhünd is a mystical artifact whose history dates as far back as the ice age, but whose origin is actually steeped in the modern era.

During the alien invasion of Earth, the Dominators sought to subjugate the world using plant-based weaponry. They realized that Earth's plant elemental, the Swamp Thing, posed a threat to them so they used a device called a Matrix Disruptor to dissipate the Swamp Thing's corporeal form and cast his essence backwards through the timestream. The soul of the Swamp Thing hopscotched its way through several key points in history, ultimately arriving at the dawn of the ice age and the beginnings of modern man. During this primordial point in Earth's past, he encountered a tribe of Neanderthal man living in the jungles of what might later become the continent of South America. A Neanderthal shaman named Rheelai was one of the first craftsman to master the art of metallurgy. He polished a piece of quartz amber and offered it up to the Swamp Thing as a gift. Rheelai explained that through the amber, he could commune with Sarga, the earth-god. Before the Swamp Thing could readily accept such a gift, a warrior tribe of Cro-Magnon raided Rheelai's village and the amber rock was lost to time.[1]

The Swamp Thing's essence interacted with the amber and his spirit was trapped within it for untold millennia. The amber rock eventually took root in a canyon bed of quartz in what would later become the Midwestern United States. By the mid-late 18th century, this canyon territory became known as Echo Valley.[2]

A tribe of Apache Native Americans discovered the columns of amber within a steep canyon and tribal elder Grey Elk learned that the disembodied spirit of the Swamp Thing was trapped inside. Grey Elk spent years studying the amber and psychically communed with the Swamp Thing. The Swamp Thing, hoping to find his way back home by establishing a foundation in history, told Grey Elk of events that would take place in the distant future. Grey Elk and the rest of his tribe began to regard these psychic impressions as prophetic visions.

Understanding the part he was to play in shaping the future, Grey Elk carved away a fragment of amber, which likewise contained a sliver of the Swamp Thing's essence. He bequethed it to his son Wise Owl who studied it at length over the span of twenty years.

In 1800, Wise Owl and his sister Moon Fawn traveled to the Eastern port city of Gotham Town in search of a down and out frontiersman named Tomahawk. In keeping with the prophecy they gave the amber fragment to Tomahawk for safe-keeping. At this time, Tomahawk ran afoul of his old nemesis, the British spy known as Lord Gerald Shilling. Shilling had been collaborating with an occultist named Jason Blood, and understood the power of the amber fragment. Disguising himself as Tomahawk's colleague Stovepipe, he tried to assassinate him on the Gotham River. The power of the Swamp Thing emerged at this point, producing wooden tendrils from the sides of the boat, capsizing it, forcing both men to ground. Tomahawk and Shilling continued fighting one another on the shore, and they fell into a deep chasm that took them into the underground caverns of an immense, bat-filled cave. During the struggle, Tomahawk lost the amber fragment and it fell into a pool of molten liquid. Shilling reached his hand into the liquid to retrieve it, but upon doing so, the amber was fused to his hand, mummifying the entirety of his arm. Tomahawk tore the desiccated limb free from its socket and left Lord Shilling for dead. Shilling survived the debacle, but his severed arm and its amber accoutrement were now regarded as a mystical artifact called the Claw of Aelkhünd (or Claw of Elk Hound).[2]

Tomahawk returned with Wise Owl and Moon Fawn to their tribe and settled down in Echo Valley. Moon Fawn knew from the prophecy that she was destined to marry Tomahawk and raise his children. A short time later, the two gave birth to their son, Hawk. Tomahawk kept the Claw of Aelkhünd in his possession, saving it for the day that he would give it to his son.

When Hawk grew to adulthood, he did indeed inherit the Claw of Aelkhünd. He kept it on his person for many years, but always with the knowledge that the power within the item was but a sliver of that which still existed in Echo Valley.

By the time he was seventy-two, Hawk still possessed the Claw. He met an occultist named Jason Blood as well as his colleague Otto von Hammer, both of whom expressed great interest in the artifact. They teamed up with several other famed outlaw adventurers to fight up against his uncle Wise Owl, whom had long since been corrupted by the power of the Swamp Thing and sought to control all of it, including that which still resided within the claw. Along with Johnny Thunder, Bat Lash, Madame .44 and Super-Chief, they were able to defeat Wise Owl and Hawk used the power of the Claw to set the Swamp Thing's spirit free. Afterward, he gave the Claw of Aelkhünd to Otto von Hammer.[3]

Otto von Hammer brought the relic to his family estate in Austria where it remained within a special museum inside the castle. By the early 20th century, the master of the castle was Otto's son, the famed German fighter pilot Hans von Hammer.

On July 12th, 1914, all of Europe was embroiled in the so-called "War to End All Wars". Von Hammer's cousins from Transylvania, Anaïs, Aniela and Gregori Arcane fled their war-torn lands and sought refuge at Baron von Hammer's castle. Anaïs also brought along her oldest son, Anton. Anton recognized the Claw as an item of great value and hoped to purloin all of the mystic treasures housed within the castle keep. Arcane's plan failed however and he nearly died after a violent encounter with Hans von Hammer.[4]

The Claw of Aelkhünd remained in the cellar of the castle for more than thirty years. It was discovered again in May of 1945, when a Nazi corporal scoured the keep in search of various mystic relics. Along with several other important artifacts including the Spear of Destiny and the Necronomicon, the corporal brought the Claw to his superior officer – Anton Arcane. On May 1st, Allied forces under the command of Sgt. Rock and Easy Company raided a Nazi slaughterhouse, which was in fact, a laboratory through which Arcane had begun creating a race of creatures known as the Un-Men. Anton suffered another seemingly fatal injury, and the Claw was once again lost to history.[5]


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