Sitting on a wooden shelf, one of many in the shop called Herdenstone's Discounted Potions and Half Priced Alchemic Supplies, Kittywampus's tail swayed back and forth like a pendulum. His left paw hovered near a teardrop shaped bottle sitting in front of him, gently tapping at it, and nudging it ever so closer towards a most perilous doom.
Kittywampus immediately froze and looked up. With squinted gray eyes and a face very similar in appearance to a wrinkled leather rag, Old Apothecary Herdenstone was glaring at Kittywampus as he stood slightly hunched over, crushing herds in a wooden mortar.
"Don't you dare knock that bottle over." Herdenstone warned. Caught in the act, Kittywampus resorted to his only defense -- flopping down on his side and looking as cute as he possibly could. "Oh don't give me that. You know good and well that those bottles aren't to be messed with. You've already broken four this week alone!" Kittywampus rubbed his cheek against the shelf, rolling onto his back with the medallion resting on his belly. "And watch where you drag that thing. It alone has broken two of my good crystal bottles. I don't need anymore of those broken."
Kittywampus blinked slowly, looking at the old apothecary from upside down. Old Apothecary Herdenstone rolled his eyes then went back to crushing herbs. Earlier in the week, he attempted to remove the dangling new piece of jewelry from around Kittywampus's neck which Kittywampus responded in kind by biting and clawing the old man's hands. The old man, in his kind response, let out a swarm of colorful words that would make even the filthiest of pirates turn scarlet. He almost ran Kittywampus out of the shop but Kittywampus did keep the rats away. A fairly decent trade off for being bitten and scratched.
As Kittywampus continued to rub his cheek against the shelf, the door to the shop flung open and two dwarves with faces that looked like horribly gone wrong sculpting jobs, barged in.
"Where's the rest of the coin, old man?" Demanded one of the dwarves with a crooked nose.
"Coin? But I've already given Raftmay my dues for this month." Herdenstone responded in a shaky voice.
"And you came up short. Now where's the rest?"
"Look, I don't have anymore. I gave him all that I had!"
The second dwarf, who looked more like a scarecrow than a dwarf, snatched Herdenstone by the front of his shirt and jerked him forward over the counter. Kittywampus jumped to his feet in fright.
"Listen, old man. Raftmay is doin' you a favor by sendin' only us. You see, he likes you but he demands the rest of his money."
"I told you. I don't have anymore money. If I did, I would give it to you."
"Aw, that's a right shame because you see, my buddy and I, we came here specifically for --"
"Concentrated brumblefin fish oil, please."
The two dwarves and the slightly irked old man looked at one another, not knowing who had just spoken but Kittywampus saw the one who did. Standing beside the counter, the gnome was teeny in size compared to the others but that's normally how gnomes are. He had dark blue hair flowing loosely with streaks of white and eyes that was the bluest shade of blue that was ever blue. He wore a mixture of boiled leather and fabric dyed in a rich purple hue with two tiny scabbards hanging from his belt.
"And preferably the batragophogus kind because let's just say you don't want the non-batragophogus. Ha ha! Hilariously violent reactions but very tedious to clean up." The tiny man laughed.
"What do you think you're doing, gnome?" The crooked nosed dwarf asked. The blue haired man glanced up. His eyes twinkling.
"Buying concentrated brumblefin fish oil. What else do you think I'm doing?"
"We're in the middle of a conversation."
"Conversation? I don't recall having a conversation with you." The crooked nosed dwarf blinked in response. "Oh you dear thing. You look so lost. But it'll be okay. All minds go at a certain age." The dwarf didn't know what to say. "But back to what I came here for." The gnome turned for Herdenstone. "Concentrated bumblefin fish oil, please."
Kittywampus saw rage grow on both of the dwarves as their faces screwed.
"Listen here, toadstool. You don't know who you're messing with. We're--" But like a clap of thunder, the gnome turned quickly on the second dwarf. Eyes cracking like lightning.
"My name is Frin Krakerspatch. And I would greatly appreciate it if you would use it if you wish to intimidate me." He snapped. Both dwarves blinked in their disbelief.
At this moment, it should be noted that anyone standing in the shop would pay heed to the disagreement going on at the front of the store. Listening intentively if should a fight break out but not for Kittywampus, for obvious reasons. He is a cat and arguments are not something a cat cared to trouble himself over, unless it's over dinner.
Turning his attention toward the teardrop shaped bottle, Kittywampus lifted a paw and batted at it. The brownish-green liquid sloshed inside as the bottle neared the edge with a scoot.
"You should probably leave before you get hurt." The scarecrow growled. Scoot.
Frin laughed. "Oh you don't have to worry about my safety. Though I'm no alchemist, I know the difference between nortuwaf tusks and nortuwaf husks. You wouldn't believe the number of people who don't!" Scoot scoot.
"We won't tell you again, gnome. LEAVE!" The crooked nose shouted when the most interesting thing occurred. The tear-drop shaped bottle leapt from the shelf's edge, swan diving beautifully in the air before shattering majestically into hundreds of shimmering pieces on the floor. If a cat could be impressed, Kittywampus would surely be.
Kittywampus immediately froze and looked up. Old Apothecary Herdenstone was giving him such a glare but instead of just one pair of eyes, three others were now locked on. Kittywampus resorted to the only defense that he knew of-- flopping down on his side and looking as cute as he possibly could. But cuteness alone could not defeat the hungry eyes now staring at the medallion around his neck. Lusting for it which made Kittywampus second guess knocking over the teardrop shaped bottle.
A strange creature enters into the halls of the Lore Library. His appearance is not completely unknown to the patrons of The Athenaeum, but his presence is. With a mischievous snicker, he checks his supplies and begins his search for just the right place to suit his plans. Staying hidden amongst the multitude of shelving proves none too difficult for the gangly monster. Turning a corner, he sees just for what he has been searching. This wing appears newer than the others...almost like a blank canvas ready to be made into a masterpiece. With a snarly laugh, he begins to unpack his supplies as he is more than happy to oblige the needs of the canvas.
Dear Seekers of Lore,
I have come across rumors of an artifact that most intrigues one such as myself. It is a small tome that contains children's bedtime stories. Though not typically the type of writings I would be so anxious to gain access to, this particular one may be more than it appears. Companions have been sent to seek out the truth about the mysteries concerning this tome of tiny tales. Perhaps one day it shall sit upon our newly created shelves. Until then, I must get some rest for my party has a long and dangerous journey ahead.
With Hopes of Seeing You Soon,
Tome of Solonos
The purest of innocent laughter. The tiny shrieks of anticipated terror. The tears of sadness soon comforted. The sleepy voices of drifting minds. These are the sounds I am accustomed to hearing. These are the sounds for which I was created. But these are not the only sounds absorbed into my well worn pages.
The day came when I was being held in the grasp of two small but strong hands. There were tears and cries such that I had never heard before. So full of pain and heartache. Those small hands hesitantly laid me into larger, stronger hands that held me gently night after night. Hands that turned my pages and lovingly read my stories. I soon found myself pressed between two hearts that once beat together -one a mother reluctant to depart but loyal to her duty; the other a daughter distraught at bidding farewell but proud of her mother's role she must play.
Day after day was wrought with sounds of battle. Metal clashed against metal and thudded into flesh with sickening finality. I became displaced while the war cries of drakes rained down on an unsuspected harbor city. I felt a presence, not unlike my own, wrought with the taint of Myraxys and ghoulish sounds of the newly risen undead.
And yet night after night I once again became that which I was created to be. Battle worn hands caressed me, gathering comfort and strength for the uncertain road ahead. In those moments I was useful, needed, and happy to fulfill my purpose.
The months dredged on until the day I heard those familiar voices again. Even though they were older, and perhaps a bit sorrowful, they were MY precious voices.
This joyful reunion turned somber with urgency as the saddened remainder of the family stole away under darkness. Long days over rough terrain brought on sweet nights spent lost in my pages and in memories of better times. Despite still missing the writer of my pages, the spirits of this small group rose gradually during these times. But such times were fleeting.
My soft leather cover was touched over and over by fingers of four small hands trying to find comfort after another separation. As time passed, two of those frequented my pages less often. Little boy hands became stronger and manly. I could feel disdain and bitterness growing in them. In the other hands grew tenderness encasing strength with a core built of sorrow.
The gentle hands belonged to my keeper for the continuing of this journey. Her hands were the next of many to etch their stories on my pages. One day I may have a chance to tell tales of exploring eerie ruins in The Wastes or of being shipwrecked by leviathans in the treacherous Bloodflow. Or perhaps you will hear of my walk through the Blackwoods. Until then I will lie here cradled in slender hands under the branches of the majestic Tree while it stands in silent vigil. As the wind rustles the leaves, I will hear new voices read my adventures and listen once again to the sound of innocent laughter, anticipated terrors, sadness comforted, and sleepy voices.
Vhalen's Intro to the Ballad of Aema and Karda
For so long I had been chasing what I thought was one relic of the heroine's past. What a fool I have been. She was a great warrior of Marata, a member of the Divine Guard. As is the common protocol of her warrior race, she enveloped all martial training and this included the art of dual wielding.
Aema and Karda.
I have found you within song: quite a pleasant coincidence for one being called "Maestro." Now that twins are revealed, our quest must be divided. Should our cadence be slowed, all will be lost. Upon first rise I shall set forth in search of the ancient forge. The Maiden's Woe cannot slice through ice so over land I shall go. The others must sail to the Plank where this ballad is often sung. Through the grace of the Pantheons, we shall meet again and secure the twin blades. Should we fail let this scroll stay safe within the vaults of the Athenaeum to await those greater than our little band of ragtag heroes. Go with heart and honor. Till Yonder.
-Vhalen the Crimson One
(Click Scroll for Full Version)
To My Fellow Seekers ~
My hope is this parchment finds its way safely to you. The ties binding this world to Athenaeum are unstable at best. Though I cannot yet explain why, I am not able to personally deliver this story. It is a common tale told in tavern and home alike, but I feel it is somehow important. I am grateful for Pup's abilities and send this tale with him for your study and debate. Maybe you can begin to help solve this puzzle we call "Terminus."
If rats could laugh, they would surely be laughing at the sight of him. Kittywampus, as the locals in Archway had come to fancy him by, had his own particularity to him. No larger than the average bootwear that the sailors trotted around in, no rounder than the pies found at Kingsreach Bakery, his appearance was more akin to a poorly drawn sketch of a cat than to reality. Each paw was mismatched as though daintily dipped in an assortment of inks. Whiskers twisted like the many stylings of mustaches on the city gentlemen. Ragged fur striped with janky patterns of color. And part of his left ear was missing due to an unfortunate meeting with a very lovely pair of sharp teeth owned by a vicious yak rat, the most bipolar creature to arrive in Archway by way of Icehammer Steppes.
Sitting on top a stack of organized crates that someone spent too much time straightening, his green eyes with flecks of amber blinked casually as night smothered the day on the horizon. Carefully watching as the rats played on the docks: each coming in an assortment of sizes. There were small ones, average sized ones, mildly in between ones that were neither too big nor too small but not quite average. Some were stowaways from distant lands while others made a comfortable living roosting in the abandoned houses nearby. Never a dreadful place, because the dockworkers had a namby-pamby handling of the rat problems, that didn't bother the rats any. They joyfully went about their business, nibbling and sampling the latest delights that arrived by ship. Growing so fat that some resembled the pies at Kingsreach Bakery.
With a flick of his long, scraggly tail, Kittywampus tilted his head in a cockeyed manner. Trying to figure out which rat would make the best meal. They all appeared simply delectable but he wasn't the best hunter. Having broken four out of his ten front claws from his last hunting escapade, which ended with a cold dip in the Bay of Tears, he spent his time meowing at the foot of the old baker's wife or the fishmonger that sat at the edge of the pier for scraps. But tonight his belly growled for something fresh, something with a little more meat on their bones. He was determined to catch a rat if, of course, all went well and he didn't land in the frigid water yet again.
Swishing his tail back and forth, Kittywampus listened as the rats talked amongst themselves in their high-pitched squeaks. They were more concerned over what hid inside the Strontian crates than the mangy cat sitting to himself. Some went over to investigate while Kittywampus lazily scratched his chin with his back foot then licked his front paw to smooth out the fur on top of his head. A few of the rats climbed onto the crates, sniffing about when a gray yak rat appeared. Three times the size of any of the surrounding rats, the yak rat looked like a giant amongst them. And he was fat, fatter than the fattest rat on the dock though, compared to the tiny size of the average rat, any weight would be considered fat.
Noticing the yak rat, Kittywampus left his tongue hanging from his mouth. His eyes locked on. Too drawn by the prospects of a delicious meal to put it back in as he lowered his paw. The yak rat paid him no mind as it muscled its way in between the clutter of rats. Sniffling around the top when Kittywampus decided to act. He rose from his perch, leaping from crate to crate down to the dock. He had the swagger of a not yet sober pirate and the dexterity of a completely intoxicated one. Often stumbling over himself, only remaining standing as he brushed passed the corner of a crate as though he meant to do it. The yak rat took no notice as Kittywampus made his way towards the crate in a slow yet awkward stroll. Keeping his ears flat to his head, he lowered himself to his belly, eyes growing wide. He crept to the bottom of the crate watching the yak rat move slightly out his sight. Kittywampus's tail moved to the pace of his anticipation with a twitch, flick, twitch, flick. He shimmied his butt then sprang for the top of the crate with claws fully out. Rats leapt from the crate in fight. He chased them only briefly but he was looking for the main prize, the yak rat.
Spinning counterclockwise on top of the crate, he searched for where the yak rat had gone but it was nowhere to be seen. His brows furrowed in his confused state when he saw the yak rat fleeing across the dock in an odd hobble. Kittywampus immediately sprang from the crate and landed nimbly on the dock, or as nimbly as he could muster while making a partial face plant. He chased the yak rat through several stacks of crates, up a wooden bridge onto a tall masted ship named, "The Maiden's Woe." The yak rat ran for its life as it wedged in between a small hole in the wall. Kittywampus came to a slide before slamming face first into the wall with a thud. He stuck his paw into the hole, feeling around for the yak rat with outstretched claws but nothing hooked. He removed it and peered inside, catching sight as the yak rat bounded away. Not to be left without a meal, Kittywampus searched for a way to get in when he spied a set of boxes underneath a cracked open window. He crouched low, shimming his backside before springing upwards onto the boxes then to the lip of the window and down inside.
The room had the rank odor of human with an assortment of lavish furniture left unscratched. Kittywampus lowered himself and crawled against the floor on his belly. Listening for any danger that might come while searching for where the yak rat had gone to.
Waddling on the floor, he found refuge in the shadow underneath a tall stand with a lamp sitting next to a plush couch. His eyes scanned the room for the yak rat's location when the door to the room opened.
"It's the same one mentioned in the letters." A pair of black leather boots and pair of brown leather ones walked by the stand where Kittywampus hid. He backed himself against the couch so not to be noticed.
"There's been a number of medallions claiming to belong to her. So what makes you believe this one is the correct one?" A raspy voiced man spoke. Kittywampus watched as the black leather boots and brown leather ones stood beside a wooden desk in the corner.
"The etchings on it. Do you see them?"
"I only see lines."
"To the untrained eye those lines mean nothing but those are Maratan etchings. Crafted by the finest Oranthan jewelers that ever lived. I'm telling you. This is the correct medallion."
"I've seen Maratan etchings before and this looks nothing like them."
"That's because they weren't from the same era. Oranthan jewelers purposely switched their etchings around the time that they were being hunted down. Not only that but they also wanted to notify the wearer that this medallion holds a powerful magic."
"Magic?" The raspy voice man said unconvinced.
"None that this world has seen for generations!" The other exclaimed. "But it needs others to commune with. That's why you want it, right?"
Kittywampus heard the raspy voiced man sigh disappointedly to the side.
"This looks nothing more than the hundreds of other medallions that fill the street markets."
"If you don't want it I can find another buyer." The other man replied quickly.
Movement crawling up the left side of the desk caught Kittywampus's eye. The yak rat was making its way to the top of the desk.
"You're asking a hefty price for a crummy golden trinket with a few etches on it with no further proof. I'll need time to think about this." Replied the raspy voiced man.
"Time is a luxury that I don't have. We're to set sail for Skyfen in the morrow. So it's either tonight or never."
The yak rat scurried behind a stack of books out of sight. Kittywampus wanted to leave his hiding place but was too afraid of the men standing near.
The raspy voiced man sighed once more. "Okay. Maybe we can come to some sort of deal."
"Fabulous!" The other chuckled heartily with a clasp of his hands. "We can discuss this further over a tankard of Archway's famous Rubytear Ale. Come."
The boots walked passed Kittywampus as he lowered his head and ears. Never noticing him as they left the room, shutting the door. With the men gone, Kittywampus slowly emerged from his hiding spot out into the open. He stalked toward the desk as the yak rat sat on top, cleaning his head and whiskers unbeknown to the hunter approaching him. Eyes wide, Kittywampus slunk across the floor like a shadow. Carefully placing each step with eyes locked onto his prey. The yak rat still did not notice him. Too preoccupied with cleaning his head and whiskers. Kittywampus squatted himself on his hind legs, wiggling his backend with claws digging into the wooden floor for extra spring. His tail wavering back and forth; flick, twitch, flick, twitch. He released like an uncoiled spring.
The power in his leap was enough to make it to the top of the desk; a glorious leap that would have succeeded in putting him on top if only he'd paid attention to the items residing there. When his front paws touched the paperwork and Skyfen cartography laying flat on the desk, they slid out from underneath him in a whoosh! Kittywampus went to correct himself, desperately attempting to sink his claws into the wooden frame but with four missing claws, he just couldn't quite hold on. He fell backwards with the maps and papers coming down on top of him with a loud CRASH.
Kittywampus lay spread eagle on the floor in a daze. Draped with several cloaks of maps and crowns of disheveled paper. A few silver coins rolling leisurely past his head. He pushed himself to his feet only to realize something had found its way around his neck and under his right arm. He tried to shake loose but it wouldn't yield. Rolling onto his back, he kicked at it with his hind legs to kill whatever beast had ensnared him. It pulled tighter across him as he struggled. He rolled back to his paws, shaking his head, and flapping his ears before biting into the golden object hiding underneath his chin. It tasted horrible and he immediately dropped it, gagging at the foul taste. The metal object swayed underneath him like a pendulum laughing at him but he wasn't quite finished. Kittywampus butt scooted backwards, attempting once again to shake the object free but it hugged even tighter around him. He let out a sharp snort in detest when the sound of boots running on the wooden floor echoed from outside.
"Planestalker thieves!" Someone shouted as boots rushed into the room. Kittywampus's ears lay flat against his head, eyes widening in fear. He immediately darted for the window that he had come from.
"STOP THAT CAT!"
Several pairs of hands lunged for him as Kittywampus raced towards the open window. He jumped with as much power as he could muster, barely able to make it to the window with his front paws but ran the rest of the way up with his back.
"DON'T LET HIM OUT! GET HIM!"
Kittywampus sprang from the window, fleeing down the bridge of the "Maiden's Woe," and weaved in and out of the stacks of crates. The whole time the golden medallion smacked him in the face as he ran but he didn't stop. He continued his harrowing escape across the dock, passing underneath the legs of mariners walking the docks almost tripping them, a black shadow being chased by a golden glimmer of chaos in the moonlight. If rats could laugh, they would surely be laughing at the sight of him.
(( This tale was delivered through Vhalen, but we wanted to thank Miserere
This the 7th Day of Midwar, 141.A.C.
My Darling Daughter Galene,
I was able to fight through to the prisons, though martial law in Orantha made it difficult. Even with the chaos in the streets I located your father in the bowels of the jail. However, he will not be returning to you or with me. Keep the medallion I gifted you on our journey to Strontia. It will remind you that your father loved us all until the end. It's a symbol of our love for you both.
Now that we are safe in this underground fortress, King Ironstorm will not let any harm befall you and you may seek refuge with him even should I not return. Orantha is no more than a shallow grave for our loved ones. Everything you know of it was razed to the ground in the riots. The ruins are not a place to call home.
There is an Elven army in the forest of Falmyrys. They're making preparations to attack the God-King's new stronghold with Dragon God Kaul'Odun in the Skyfen Mountains to the south. The Dwarven King is sending a legion of his army in the hopes that we can meet up with our Elven allies and march on the Throne of Skyfen.
I have a score to settle and cannot take you with me. I will not let Oranthel go unpunished and I cannot hide from my own guilt in what he has become. If I'd have realized sooner and not retrieved the Militicon, perhaps this would not have happened. Since I did not prevent the mortal madman our God-King has become, I vow to put an end to it, and I will avenge the death of your father.
Galene, please be strong for the family we have left. You are the oldest and Nicanor will need your calm and your wisdom if he is to weather the days to come. Give heed to the Dwarves for they will watch over you. And remember, no matter the outcome of this war, I will always find a way to protect you.
All my love and protection
As the last breath floated away in a prismatic rune, Rapha looked at the beautiful new creation surrounding her. Shelves created out of the loyalty and duty to her task. Scroll cases showing off the love and devotion to her family. As a tear came to her eye at the sorrowful beauty, Rapha knew Vhalen had chosen well. The Athenaeum would soon fill with other stories - some beautiful, some tragic, and others still would be so full of evil and malice. But all of these tales would rest upon the shelves created from Eudoxia's story. As Rapha placed the letters in a case befitting of the story told within them, she wondered what had become of this strong woman so devoted to what she believed in...to her family torn asunder in this world of Terminus. With one a sigh she knew what she had to do. Rapha had to leave her beloved Athenaeum for a time and venture into this new world. Shaken out of her reverie by the strumming of lute strings in a most aggressive and unconventional pattern, Rapha turned to see Vhalen looking at her.
"You might need a bigger case when we're through with our little treasure hunt." he spoke in the rhythm of his impromptu performance.
Strapping the archaic lute upon his back, the crimson garbed minstrel prepared to move. "Are you ready for adventure, my old friend?"
"Yes, I believe it is time," she said simply. "Just let me gather a few things."
"Hurry then, the Terminus Arcana will collapse the portal at anytime." he said with a slight tone of urgency.
Rapha collected a few things into her pouch and took one last look around...her eyes lingering on each shelf a little too long for the minstrel's satisfaction. With another gruff cough of urgency, Rapha hurried to pack the last few items she might need in Terminus. Knowing this was to be a part of her path though not knowing why, she stood tall and faced Vhalen.
"Let us begin for knowledge is key, and there is a story here I know I must unlock." Gazing upon her magnificent archives she smiled. "Till Yonder, my precious Athenaeum."
This the 16th day of Firstraes, 141 A.C.
I do not know how to begin, so I will simply start from where I left off two months ago. After the war drakes coordinated attacks left Hydrona in ruin, Oranthel's War Priests used the Militcon to sully the memory of the Maratan dead there. Against all we believe in, everything we honor - they raised hundreds, if not thousands, of deceased mariners and turned them into Revenants. I still spy Melitta's blank expression in my nightmares.
Why would Oranthel do this? How could he turn on his people, his allies, the God of the Tides? So much confusion and death, dishonor and dissent. Unable to find the answers we craved, my Guard and many others units revolted. We left, we ran, and yet I feel no dishonor - only relief.
Something is very wrong with our God-King. I only wish I knew a way to fix it. I would pray that this letter finds you safe, but the truth is I'm no longer sure where my prayers end up. Oranthel has changed. I'm worried for Orantha's fate, for you, and our children.
It took over a month to fight my way free of Oranthel's forces, and reach the Strontian Mountains. I meant to travel to Orantha and retrieve you all, but after losing the rest of my Guard, I succumbed to fever, frostbite, exhaustion, and collapsed.
I now find myself in the palace of King Braun Ironstorm, in the huge underground city of Strontia, The Dwarven King has been very generous since his patrols found me. He has given me refuge and a place to heal. But I do not have time to stay. He has promised me a brigade of his finest warriors to escort me back to Orantha so I can make sure my family is safe. This letter is sent in advance in the hopes that you can prepare to meet me.
Stay strong, dear husband, for I fear worse is yet to come. Keep the children close and safe, and I will collect you as soon as we reach Orantha. Look for us on the foothills, to the back - where we first met in our youth.
This the 15th day of Frostfael, 140 A.C.
I hope, no, I pray this letter finds its way to you. After finally retrieving the Militicon from the Sunken Sanctum our orders were to journey to our Straton garrison outside of the Maratan port city, Hydrona. King Timaeus and Hydronus, God of Tides, have always been such great and faithful allies. I looked forward to spending some time in the city and seeing my sister Melitta and our cousins.
I did not expect to see the smoke and ashes clouding the usually blue sky and the city under siege. The screeching of war drakes and the beating of their leathery wings makes sure only a few of the screams from the port city reach us. What has driven them to us from the Skyfen Mountains so far to the south, from the lands of Dragon God Kaul'Odun?
These war drakes fight for Oranthel's forces, but against our allies and family. Has our God-King found a new ally in Kaul'Odun? Oranthel must know something I do not. I cannot presume otherwise. His wisdom has guided us so far, given us such strength in times of war. Perhaps there is a reason for this mayhem and bloodshed in front of me that I, as a mere warrior, cannot comprehend?
Our camp at this garrison looks over the smoldering city. My orders were clear, and I have handed the tome of Myraxian necromancy over to Oranthel's War Priests. I stand ready to fight with what's left of my elite guard at my back, because this is what I was born to do - to fight for our beliefs, god, and family. But some of my family is trapped within those besieged walls, and I can only pray to appease the unease that grows deep in my heart.
Pray for me, dear husband, and for all of our forces that we might return to our families soon. Kiss the children on the head for me and remind them how much I hold them dear.
In strength and Oranthel's name
Captain of the Divine Guard, 2nd Arm
This the 2nd Day of Frostfael, 140 A.C.
I'm not entirely sure why Oranthel has sent us to recover this Militicon, a Myraxian necromancy tome, but I am certain he has his reasons. Enough so to hand me these orders to lead my Guard through the Wastes. Traversing through these ancient ruins has brought much unexpected adversity, but adversity is just a test of devotion. We will withstand it, even if it comes at a price.
Writing this makes the loss of four dear comrades so much more real. It's hard to believe Acacius and Eunice will not return to Orantha with me. Having fought our way through hordes of undead with no living thing in sight fills me with an uncertainty I'm unaccustomed to. The highlands and its monuments loom over us here - some of which, from the tales I've heard, are supposed to be the goddess Nexus looking over us. I think this mission is getting to me, because I feel disdain in her eyes and do not know why.
Oranthel has a plan, and I will be his instrument in it. He has seen fit to give me a command and I will not let our God-King down. We will find the Sunken Sanctum, recover the tome and deliver it to him. His divine hand will guide us.
Pray with our children, dearest husband, and give Oranthel his due. Let Galene and Nicanor know their mother fights this war for their future, for all of us and our faith.
In strength and Oranthel's name
Captain of the Divine Guard, 2nd Arm
The visit came as a complete surprise, but the real surprises and adventures were yet to come. Before he left, Vhalen pressed a packet into my hands. With an urgency in his voice, he made a request of me. "Please, before you venture into the new lands, will you begin the wing with these? My group had ventured into the ruins of a fortress city called Orantha. The battling there was fierce. More than once the thought crossed our minds that we may not all make this out alive. We found a relatively safe place to rest up and tend to our wounds. As I was taking in the ruins around me and wondering what must have happened in ages past my eyes fell upon an object that looked out of place. I sang a simple dispel magic type song when the object revealed its true self. Someone took great care to make sure these were preserved for just the right time to be discovered. I can think of no better place for these to be kept, and I trust you will know exactly how to proceed with them. I implore you to finish this task before you cross to the new dimension."
With a nod of understanding I took the letters bound in a beautifully engraved leather case. I could feel the magic bound in these letters so well protected and knew exactly why Vhalen did what he could to return to The Athenaeum and deliver these with his own hands to mine. With a deep breath I held them near my heart and began a soothing incantation. As the intricate runes filled the air so also did shelves and cases appear just as intricate as the runes and as beautiful as the love that penned these letters. Vhalen chose well in bringing what I would need. And now I leave them here with you, Seekers, to read as I prepare to see this new world with my own eyes. I feel a strange pull from this place like I have been there before though that cannot be as I rarely leave the Library and know this is not one of the causes of my previous absences. Perhaps I will discover that answer and others while I am there. Here is the first of the letters perhaps I will be able to bring back some insight to share with you of the places and battles told in them.
Till we meet again,
This the 27th Day of Windfael, 140 A.C.
The frontlines are bleak and the Briggs stand huddled just beyond the rise in this deathly cold, like idiots. As they make preparations for the oncoming battle, I could almost feel sorry for them.
Marata will never bow to these washed-out, pale excuses for cousins and their traitorous Gods. How dare they conspire to reduce Oranthel to a mere God-King! He will prove their ignorance and his wrath will be merciless. We must fight to remain pure and distinct, true to our ancestors and our future. He will lend us the power to overcome this insult.
I miss the warmth of our lands and your arms, dear husband. This will be over shortly and I can return to you, and our children with grace and blessing when Oranthel is restored to his rightful place. Tell Nicanor to practice his sword, and Galene to recite her prayers. Oranthel will see and hear them both, and grant us boons of strength for the days to come. He will keep the blessed city of Orantha safe.
In strength and Oranthel's name
Captain of the Divine Guard, 2nd Arm