- "The Summoning Key is one of the oldest artifacts in all creation. It was used by the first one to mix all the dimensions with life, giving each one its unique balance. Under certain circumstances, it has the ability to form bridges between dimensions allowing the transfer of life forces back and forth. It resides in the 63rd dimensions of creation."
- — Kronorium Excerpt 349561223
The Summoning Key, also known as the Astoth Arbzorark (Lit. All Key in Apothicon) was a mysterious artifact featured in the Aether storyline of Zombies mode. In Call of Duty: Black Ops III, it is featured in the map Shadows of Evil as a quest item and as part of the easter eggs in Der Eisendrache and Revelations. It also makes several cinematic appearances in future intro and outro cutscenes after The Giant. It also appears in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 map Blood of the Dead and the cutscenes of Alpha Omega and Tag der Toten. According to the Shadowman, Richtofen, and Doctor Monty, it is the most powerful artifact in all of existence.
The Summoning Key was crafted by the keepers, a device that allows them to manipulate the Aether. With that power, the Keepers were able to create Agartha, as well as other different dimensions, each with its own unique trait, as well as the ability to create a bridge between dimensions in order to transfer life forces between dimensions under certain circumstances. It resided in the 63rd dimension of creation. The Summoning Key was used by the "First One" to mix all of the dimensions with life.
During his two-year hiatus following the events of Origins, Primis Richtofen managed to convince Victis to secure an ancient book known as the Kronorium for him, which described many different major events all across history and time. It also described the location of the Summoning Key. Seeing its potential for his plans, Richtofen set out to secure the Summoning Key by any means necessary.
Within Morg City, a city residing within the 63rd dimension, the Summoning Key was acquired from the South Pacific by a reporter who worked for a man named Mr. Rapt (which was an alias used by the Shadowman), with the artifact originally supposed to be delivered to him at Easy Street within the city. Primis Richtofen arrived in Morg city to secure the summoning key, however the reporter was babbling and acting weirdly while waving a letter from Monty, then the crate was sealed with "some ancient magic", storing the key. Richtofen was forced to act in self-defense and killed the reporter after the reporter attempted to kill him. Richtofen, knowing that the seal will eventually be broken, waited until the Shadowman cursed four individuals into a warped version of Morg City before setting his plan in motion.
During gameplay in Shadows of Evil, the Summoning Key can be found in a crate in the back of a truck in the spawn alley in Shadows of Evil. In order to obtain it, the player must enter beast mode and smash the crate, revealing the Summoning Key, which can be picked up by the player in their human form.
The Summoning Key is used by the player to complete rituals around the map. Everytime a ritual is completed, the soul of the person sacrificed in the ritual will be trapped within the Key. During the events of the map, the Shadowman is ultimately trapped within the Summoning Key by the crew in an effort to remove the Mark of the Beast from their hands.
After defeating the Apothicons, a Keeper will hand the players the Summoning Key in order to remove their curse, but before they could grab it, Primis Richtofen appears from nowhere and snatches the Key, saying he doesn't have time to explain and that he has a universe to set right before thanking the crew and leaving through a portal, dooming the Shadows of Evil cast.
With the Summoning Key, Primis Richtofen traveled to Dimension 2210, where he managed to collect the soul of an innocent Richtofen, delivering it to The House. Knowing that he needed to save the other souls of Primis, Richtofen set out to find them, eventually ending up at Der Riese in another dimension, where he reunited with the others. In the map The Giant, Richtofen mentions to Nikolai that he has an artifact that could be useful to them later on, which is in fact the Summoning Key.
In the map The Giant, several pieces of blue scrap paper can be found scattered around the map, with each piece being a part of a blueprint. When put together, they will reveal a blueprint involving the Summoning Key, as well as the blueprints' creator, Dr. Monty.
In the map Der Eisendrache, Richtofen will mention the Summoning Key several times throughout the map, including during one of his conversations with Dempsey. The Summoning Key physically appears in the map after defeating the corrupted Giant Keeper, where the players must use the MPD to charge up the key. Once charged, it can be picked up by anyone. Placing it at the computer terminal by the bell tower will cause the Summoning Key to override the facility's defense systems, launching several rockets towards the Moon, destroying it and killing Groph and any Group 935 members at Griffin Station. In the end cutscene, Richtofen explains that he plans to preserve the souls of the Ultimis versions of themselves after they are killed, stating the Summoning Key can only preserve their souls after the moment of their death. After the Ultimis Dempsey was solemnly put down by his Primis counterpart, Richtofen uses it to capture his soul. With Ultimis Dempsey dead, Richtofen only had the Ultimis Nikolai and Takeo left to preserve their souls after they have been killed.
In the intro for Zetsubou No Shima, the Summoning Key was taken from Richtofen by a Japanese Officer on board a ship in the Pacific Ocean before a wave gives the four a chance to fight back. After Takeo kills the officer with a Katana, the Summoning Key rolls out of his hand and begins to roll around the deck of the ship before almost falling overboard before it is caught by Takeo. After Ultimis Takeo commits seppuku while his Primis version commits kaishaku on his older self, Richtofen uses the Summoning Key to preserve the Ultimis Takeo's soul.
In Gorod Krovi, the crew set out to kill the Ultimis Nikolai to preserve his soul. Richtofen also mentions the Summoning Key more frequently to the others than in the previous maps. When the Primis Nikolai Belinski attempted to show remorse toward the original Nikolai, his original self pulls out an MR6 and shoots the Primis Nikolai. However, his bulletproof vest deflects the shot, forcing the Primis Nikolai to retaliate and shoot the Ultimis Nikolai in the head with his KRM-262, killing him instantly. Richtofen then preserves his soul and releases the Ultimis Dempsey, Takeo and Nikolai's souls into the sky to Maxis.
By sending the souls to Maxis, three children representing Dempsey, Nikolai and Takeo were created in The House, with the Ultimis souls inhabiting the children, allowing their souls to live on within The House alongside Samantha, Eddy (who holds a version Richtofen's soul from Dimension 2210), Fluffy and Maxis.
In the intro for Revelations, the crew teleports to the House, where they are greeted by Maxis. Richtofen shows him the Summoning Key before leaving it in the basement after dismantling the MTD with Maxis. During the night however, Maxis begins to hear voices as the Summoning Key's glowing symbols intensifies as the voice of the Shadowman can be heard. Maxis then accidentally releases the Shadowman, who in turn captures Maxis within the Summoning Key before releasing the Apothicons into the dimension.
During gameplay of the map, the characters mention the Summoning Key, with Monty berating them for leaving the most powerful artifact ever alone on a table. He also explains that Maxis is within the Summoning Key as well. After the crew teleport to the Shadowman's arena, the Summoning Key can be seen floating near the ceiling. After using the Kronorium to break the seal which is keeping the Summoning Key up, the four manage to take the key back to the map after defeating several Margwas.
Once the player returns to the map, the Summoning Key now acts in a fashion similar to the Uplink Drone. It can be used to melee kill zombies, killing them in one hit. It can also be thrown at the zombies, causing an effect similar to Blast Furnace when a zombie is hit by the Summoning Key. Around the map are different items regarding previous easter eggs from the previous maps. Using the Summoning Key, the player must throw the artifact at each of the different items, causing them to be absorbed by the key. Once all of the items are collected, the Summoning Key will disappear back to the Shadowman's arena. After using the teleporter in the Kino der Toten section of the map, the four encounter both S.O.P.H.I.A. and the Shadowman. By placing the Summoning Key on one of the green altars, the player must kill several enemies near the artifact, which will collect their souls. After enough souls are collected, the player can grab the Summoning Key and throw it into a transparent S.O.P.H.I.A., who then sends a beam at the Shadowman's shield. The Shadowman then becomes vulnerable and must be shot at in order to get him into position in front of the Apothicon statue. Once in position, the player must interact with the Kronorium, sending a beam towards the Shadowman, killing him.
After the Shadowman's defeat, Maxis can be seen using the Summoning Key as a vessel before leaving the artifact and merging with S.O.P.H.I.A. in Samantha's room. S.O.P.H.I.A. and Maxis then zips into the Apothicon sun along with the Summoning Key, using it to preserve the entire area, ultimately restoring everything back to normal, leaving the Summoning Key to float around in space.
Breaking the Cycle
After stopping at Alcatraz Island in Purgatory to recover the blood vials for his insurance policy, Richtofen discovers that the course of events written in the Kronorium have been changed, resulting in the Primis cycle being derailed. Before Primis can leave to return to the Division 9 island, Brutus appears and destroys their exit portal, trapping them on Alcatraz. After a series of events, Primis attempts to use the Summoning Key on the deceased corpse of the Warden, although Brutus is able to capture them, explaining that he plans to use their blood to open a gateway to unleash the Apothicons. However, Primis are able to escape thanks to the ghost of Albert "Weasel" Arlington, and they confront Brutus at the Dark Mechanism. After a hectic battle, Richtofen sacrifices himself and enters the Dark Mechanism, which begins to siphon all of the blood from his body. While the rest of Primis fought Brutus, the post-Revelations Richtofen awoke from a cryopod in Richtofen's lab, using an orange crystal to cleanse the island, killing Brutus and freeing the trapped souls from Purgatory.
As Richtofen begins to painfully die from blood loss, the post-Revelations Richtofen reveals that the cycle is broken, and that the blood vials are no longer needed. After the post-Revelations Richtofen takes the Summoning Key and his blood vials from him, a distraught Richtofen begs to be saved, although his former comrades ignore him as they carry out their new mission to defeat Doctor Monty under the leadership of Nikolai, leaving behind their blood vials and leaving Richtofen to die in the Dark Mechanism.
Once Victis acquires the Agarthan Device and helps complete it with the Elemental Shard, they teleport it to Nikolai, who soon uses it to destroy the Summoning Key and begin the purging of the multiverse into the Dark Aether.
Throughout the story of Call of Duty: Black Ops III Zombies, the Summoning Key has been able to demonstrate several different powers and abilities. It was first used the by the Keepers to create Agartha, a physical manifestation of the Aether. According to a cipher from the map Gorod Krovi, at some point within Aether Story, the Summoning Key was used by the "First One" to seed the other dimensions with life, making each universe unique. Under certain circumstances, it has the ability to form bridges between dimensions.
In Shadows of Evil, the Summoning Key was shown to be mainly used to preserve the souls of those sacrificed during a ritual, destroying their physical bodies and replacing them with a Gateworm. Once the Shadowman was able to acquire the Summoning Key from the four survivors, he was able to use it to summon a massive Apothicon tentacle monster above Morg City. The Shadowman also uses the Summoning Key to try to stop the survivors from charging up the Keeper Flag by using the artifact to send a beam of energy towards the flag. During the battle with the Shadowman, the four are able to sacrifice the Shadowman into the Summoning Key, causing his physical body to be replaced with a massive Gateworm. After destroying the massive Gateworm with the train, as well as the massive tentacle monster above the city, a Keeper was about to give the four the Summoning Key in order to remove their curse, but Primis Richtofen swipes the Summoning Key before escaping via portal, where he would come to collect the soul of an innocent Richtofen from Dimension 2210.
Richtofen then further demonstrates the Summoning Key's power in Der Eisendrache, where he is able to use it to launch several rockets towards the Moon, as well as cause the other three to levitate and freeze in the air. Once the Ultimis Dempsey was put down by his Primis counterpart, Richtofen was able to capture Ultimis Dempsey's soul.
When Dempsey, Takeo, and Nikolai observed the Summoning key in Der Eisendrache, they already recognize it somehow, saying it is a dangerous device, fearing out its of abilities when fully powered.
When captured by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the intro of Zetsubou No Shima, the Summoning Key's six Apothicon symbols can be seen pulsating and glowing unlike in previous maps. Once Ultimis Takeo commits seppuku, Richtofen captures his soul with the Summoning Key.
Following the death of the Ultimis Nikolai, Richtofen captures his soul before using the Summoning Key to open a portal to Maxis above them. He then releases the souls of the Ultimis Nikolai, Takeo and Dempsey from the Summoning Key into the portal.
Despite being captured within the Summoning Key, the Shadowman was still able to trick Maxis into freeing him from within the Summoning Key, causing Maxis to be preserved as the Shadowman then begins to carve a path of destruction for the new Apothicon invasion.
Being left within his arena, the characters are able to retrieve it and use it to collect several items from around the area before returning to the arena. Using the Summoning Key to collect the souls of several zombies, the four throw the Summoning Key into S.O.P.H.I.A and destroy the Shadowman's shield, ultimately killing him after using the Kronorium to send another beam at him. Maxis is then able to communicate with the others as he merges with S.O.P.H.I.A in her A.I. body before leading the Summoning Key into the Apothicon Sun, ultimately restoring everything.
After the cycle is broken, it is discovered that the Summoning Key is able to interact with the Agarthan Device in order to open and close new worlds. This is demonstrated when Primis Nikolai uses the Agarthan Device to destroy the Summoning Key in order to both close off the Multiverse, banishing it into the Dark Aether, and to create "The Way Through", a path leading to a new universe outside of the Aether's influence.
The Summoning Key is a golden sphere with six Apothicon symbols on it. During a ritual, the six symbols fly out from the key, displaying blades and surround the person being sacrificed. After the ritual has ended, the symbols return onto the Summoning Key.
- Strangely, there appears to be an outline of the KN-44 on the Summoning Key blueprint. This stands out due to the light blue coloration in the center.
- In Revelations, the Summoning Key is called Astoth Arbzorark (All-Key in Apothicon) when held by a player.
- The Summoning Key shares the same console codename as Uplink's Satellite Drone, which is simply known as "ball".
- The Summoning Key when held by a player is also seen in a much bigger size than normal, matching the Satelline Drone.
- Despite being created by the Keepers, the runes present on the Summoning Key are very clearly of Apothicon origin.