A throwing axe made from cold-forged iron. The process of smithing the axe involves the blood of an animal as a quenching agent. The same blood and iron are used to make the ink used to write the contract that binds the axe to the owner. This “contract” is written in magical symbols and ancient runes on a vellum made from the animal’s hide. The contract must be signed by any new owner, and the old signature crossed out, using the iron and blood ink. The axe’s power is only operative while the wielder has the contract in his possession and in good condition, his name signed thereon.
A single contract axe is the only ranged weapon a gnome needs. When the axe is thrown, it returns to the its owner’s outstretched hand instantly upon coming to rest. Usually, this is the hand of the one who threw it, but if thrown by someone other than the owner, it will return to the owner, so long as they are living and still possess the contract bearing their signature. Failure to maintain the contract velum will result first in the axe responding more slowly to the owner’s outstretched hand, but eventually it will cease to return at all.
I owe this lovely idea to my lovely and brilliant wife. It was part of a brainstorming session about items that require maintenance, like the Blanket of Mercy and Potenwax. The idea of having to keep a piece of vellum safe while adventuring sounds like a nightmare.