Thousand Years of Sleep

Zerth's log Stardate 8472.5

Aaargh, what am I writing. I should have a week’s time before my mind disappears. I feel as though my every memory is being rewritten, twisted into the madman’s own. To recapitulate – I have one, only one week to stop Ixori and save the world – for now at least, kill the madman’s surviving body and then destroy myself. This went better than I expected. His desire to be me instead of killing me will be his undoing. My only regrets go to Eve. She should know how I feel even though I’ve never told her. I can’t even dream of a nice afterlife, having a devil’s sould and all that. And then is that damn Icax … I’d give my powers to know whom he really serves. Even so, he will have to be trusted, at least for a little bit. By playing with time, Ixori is going to be his own undoing.
Whose voice was that … “you are out of time” – very well, i will do exactly this – I will be completly out of time – outside of it that is. The forge will not appear for another 3 days, and we have 13 more hours to prepare till the batle at Sanction. With the vilage’s suppor I will have enough time, knowledge and power. I will prepare outside of time and not even Icax will know my plan. Hopefully I’d have made one till then.

The god in the machine

Sanak whispered a prayer of thanks to the spirits for leading him inside the machine’s mind. The experience had been exhausting and dangerous, having led them all to the verge of death several times, but the chance of seeing his children again made it all worth it. Even if it was all inside a dream, he had the chance to say the things he should have said and do the things he should have done, and that made him feel a bit more at peace with his past.

That warm feeling was quickly cast off as the machine spoke to them, and offered them grim news. The elan village elder was a clone of something or someone called Eldar Cain of the Black Library, and he was making undead elans. Sanak knew little about other planes (not enough to have any idea what that Black Library was anyway, but he told himself to ask Malik when they had a moment alone), but undead, and even more so undead aberrations was something he understood all too well, and hated from the bottom of his heart. This Eldar Cain needed to be stopped, and, to his satisfaction and relative surprise, Z’ol agreed.

But that too needed to wait. The machine was quite knowledgeable and also revealed the cause of the current state of Desolation: Malys’ skull totem was still in her lair, and the trapped energy was still twisting the landscape. Moreover, the same energies were pulling another plane of existence toward Ansalon, and the resulting collision would irredeemably destroy most of Desolation. By the machine’s estimation there was less than 2 days left, so time was of the essence.

Desolation Expedition Report - part two

As I said in my previous report, I once again have some free time to continue writing my report, the people I travel with are proving more and more interesting, we have encountered a strange device that has the ability to bind souls to bodies, I’m still not sure what to think of such a device, but it appears to be very hard to control.
As for my companions, one of them it seems has the soul of a lesser devil bound to his body, I do not know yet if such a thing was achieved with that machine, or something else, but none the less I have decided to not jump to conclusions yet, during my time travelling with him he did not display any tendencies towards evil and while first divined he didn’t appear to be evil at all, I shall keep observing him, and should he prove compromised, I shall take quick actions to make sure that a devil will not walk free on this realm.
In any case that last two companions didn’t prove that interesting, one possessed the soul of a strange dragon, and one was just a plain ork, we are continuing our journey to the Pick of Malistrix, our next stop should be in Kendermore, I will try and continue the report there, since right now travelling takes up all my time.

Careful what you wish for
The truth about the elan race was revealed to Sanak sooner than he thought. And it was an outrage. Somebody had built a machine to fabricate living beings. Artificially grow bodies and lure souls of dead creatures into them. Still, looking past the entirely justified anger and disgust at the thought of somebody twisting the laws of the world to such a degree, he had to admit Z’ol was at least partially right. The elans had no choice in being what they were but, regardless of their origins, they were a race of the world now. And sentencing a whole race to a slow death, and denying them even the most basic rights of a living thing was a crime every bit as hideous as allowing them to exist in the first place, and not the privilege of a mortal being to decide anyway.

The moment he stepped into the machine, the spirits sent him a sign. By making his spirit take the form of a young Keja, who had not yet imposed his will and ‘superior ways’ on countless tribes all across the land they made it pretty clear he was once again at a crossroad of similar magnitude and, he hoped, an opportunity to make up for any mistakes of the past. This time he would not lead or force. He would advise and aid. He would help Z’ol fix the machine on the condition they would work together to ensure minimum damage to the natural order of things and that new elans would only be made from willing souls.

The machine also revealed the true nature of the two elans’ souls. Z’ol was some sort of devil, which surprised Sanak little. He had certainly proved both cunning and reliable enough, even if he claimed that under normal circumstances an elan wouldn’t remember anything about the soul powering it. Evelyin on the other hand was a loose cannon. She apparently drew her power from Takishis, or part of it at least. Containing the essence of a god was bound to be no easy task, and that probably explained her day to day behavior. Sanak promised himself to watch her closely, provide any form of aid possible and take decisive action if necessary, as, should Takhisis’ full personality manage to emerge, he had little doubt the people around would be left with two choices: obey or die, and he wasn’t very keen to experience either.

Also, Malik took the presence of Takishis surprisingly well. Whether it was out of restraint, repressed anger, practical sense or whatever other kind of plan Malik’s mind was no doubt hatching, Sanak was planning on talking to his friend about it. But first they needed to find a way out the damaged machine’s mind.

A cursed land

As the boat glided across the dark waters toward the ragged dock of Port Balifor, Sanak’s mood wasn’t improving. He had spent the past week wishing to finally get off that damn ship, but landing here felt like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Everything, the cliffs, the water, even the air seemed frozen in an eternal moment of agony, forever bearing mute witness to the depredations of the great dragon. Even the voice of the spirits, with which Sanak had grown reaccustomed was muffled here, as if distant, sad or hurtful. For a moment he thought about asking their boatman to go back, but looking at his companions he quickly chased the thougt off. Orr seemed a lot less fierce than his namesake and more like a scared cub, throwing worried looks over the side every time the boat’s prow dived in another wave. Definitely, a boat wasn’t the best place for a bear. A dark magic altered desert probably wasn’t either, but if Orr could speak there and then, Sanak was sure he would have expressed an overwhelming preference for the latter. As for Malik, he was standing at the prow with his usual determination. They were going to Desolation because they needed to. No more and no less.

For some reason Malik was opposed to any kind of disguise, and as a result they quickly came to the attention of what passed for law in Port Balifor, which, given the town’s outlook, Sanak was certain it simply meant ‘the guys with bigger swords’. He tried to give them as little info as possibe, but their leader was quite insistant and had them take a coin which could transmit information back to him when boken. Further divination into the target of their journey revealed draconians belonging to a splinter group of the same Dark Knights that interrogated them. Maybe they could use the coin to turn the two groups on each other.

Before leaving Port Balifor they also picked up a weird local couple. They both looked human, and introduced themselves as such. Not human enough to fool Sanak though. When asked about it they became evasive, but from what he could read between the lines they belonged to a tribe of something called elans, in essence corrupted humans and that their corruption far predated the red dragon’s arrival. Not very keen to push people too much to reveal their secrets (spirits know he had plenty himself) or willing to judge anyone by appearance Sanak decided to back off but not let his guard down. Between himself and Malik they had enough magic to investigate this matter at length. Especially since the presence of an older corruption source might throw a whole new light on the currentstate of Desolation.

The desert proved every bit as unforgiving as he had been told, and it took all of Sanak skill to navigate it safely. Also, he started to know his companions better. Both skilled in the ways of the new magic Malik called mysticism, their personalities couldn’t have been more different. The girl, calling herself Evelyn, seemed little more than a big arrogant child. A omewhat skilled battle mage (and yet to show any skill in anything else) she seemed to take great pride and pleasure in her explosions. The male, calling himself Z’ol, on the other hand, seemed much more agreeable and also a knowledgeable and quite skilled diviner. Of course, it could all be a ruse to make himself liked.

The first desert tribe they encountered wasn’t all that different from the nomads of Khur Sanak had grown among. Harsh men fighting to survive against an even harsher land and beasts. The leaders were a bit weird though. A gold dragon and a druid Malik said was evil. And he wanted a gold dragon skeleton in exchange for awakening Z’ol’s cat. Despite not understanding the need for an awakened cat in the desert, Sanak agreed to help mainly because between the presence of a gold dragon, the moral conduct inherent in every druid and the typical behavior of sand dragons, the druid would probably do with the skeleton a lot less evil than it’s late owner.

All in all, despite being way out of proportion, the land and people of Desolation reminded Sanak of another time and place, and a young idealist named Keja. Like back then, he felt thse people and land deserved a chance to begin anew. And he was willing to give it to them.

Desolation Expedition Report - part one
Greetings Lord Inquisitor Bolest, as operation code dictates I have started making an report regarding the expedition to Desolation, due to the fact that travelling takes up most of my time I am unable at this time to submit a detailed report, a full report regarding the expedition will be submitted in person when I shall report for debriefing after my task is over. The vision that has started me on this path so far also proved to be true, travelling to the Valley of the Accursed confirmed the first part of my vision, in that devoid place, contrary to any rational expectation I encountered a nature worshiper named Sanak Firescale, a curious creature. When I encountered him he seem lost, without purpose and trusting the sign from my god I offered him a chance to regain some of his lost glory and a new goal which can give him something to focus on for now, when asked about his past he seemed apprehensive to go into details, will inquire more about this once he gets more used to me and more trusting. Together we hired a small fishing boat from a coastal village to get us across the Khurman Sea, not wanting to draw attention just yet to us by arriving in Port Balifor via a larger vessel. As instructed I made no attempt to hide my status and allegiance while in Port Balifor, as you suspected almost soon as I landed, agents of the Dark Knights approached me and my companion and started questioning us regarding our business in the local lands. As we discussed I tried to provoke an response from them my telling them my mission in this area was to investigate the activities of a evil organisation in this land, they seemed to dismiss my remark, and only made us register to the local authorities as visitors. I think it may not be prudent to return to the fortress via a route from Port Balifor, better they believe that I perished in the Desolation during my mission. While preparing for the journey ahead we were approached by a very strange couple, two young red haired mystics, as I learned by travelling with them. The male, a mystic named Zerth Z’hol or something like that, the cockier of the two started talking to us by complaining that the effects of blessings our deities have bestowed upon us bothered him by radiating to much light. Zerth seemed at first nothing more than a local, trying to prove himself to his mate by taunting strangers, but looks can be deceiving, during our common travel he proved his abilities on more than one occasion, gifted with some forecasting abilities and an rudimentary ability to influence others and events to go according to his will. His mate a female, named Evelyn Crypton, I believe, seems to be a bit distant, not as flamboyant as Zerth, but very deadly, on more than one occasion I witnessed her unleash immense elemental explosions, utterly obliterating anything or anyone opposing her. I must admit i have heard about mystics but travelling with them makes me wonder how can the mages allow such powerful individuals to roam the lands unchecked, yes they are as different from mages as they are from regular people, but the devastation then can wreck is just as great. After talking with them we decided that it would be safer to join forces while travelling into Desolation, plus travelling with someone that already knows this area, can prove invaluable to my mission, I have yet to reveal to them my true objective, all I told them is that my order sent me to investigate the activities of a cult operating in the area that might be related to a cultist found in the fortress from where I came, also the nature worshiper seems to be very suspicious of their appearance, he feels that there is something unnatural with them, for now I have advised to him to drop the matter, we have more important tasks and dangerous foes to defeat than to waste time investigating potential allys.

The Desolation is more dangerous than I could have ever expected, anyone living here is either extremely brave or desperate, while passing through the mountains to enter the desert area we encountered some ogers while seeking shelter from the insane weather around here, I see why the lord Paladine showed me where to find Sanak, without his help and his connection with the land crossing the desolation would have proved almost imposible. The ogers seemed a bit more civilised than the local brutes roaming the mountains near the fortress, but like all ogers they still eat people and even had some afflicted kenders as slaves they wanted to sell, not willing a confrontation so early in the journey and because I am not yet accustomed with the laws of this land, Sanak and I decided to buy the slaves and release them when we reached the tribe of the two red haired mystics. As soon as we entered the desert area from the mountains we were attacked by locals, but unwilling to risk the lives of the kenders and waste resources we avoided them.
Eventually during our travels we reached a desert outpost, were we could resupply and gather some more information about the area. There we met a gold dragon, a completely unexpected in such a remote place, according to him, he is the guide and protector of this settlement, after gaining some insight from him regarding the area and some useful information about the upcoming trials. Soon after our conversation with him the outpost was attacked by a crazed copper dragon commanding the lost souls of the desert, we aided in repelling his attack but I was mortally wounded during this, the nature worshipper managed to heal me, but his healing was not without consequences.
We eventually continued on our journey, but not after taking a small detour to do a quest for a local druid that the male mystic had asked to perform a ritual on his cat to bless it with sentience, what a waste of time and resources for such a foolish undertaking, but not wanted to lose the mystics support we agreed to help him.
I will add more information as our travels continue and when I have some time to make a proper report about our journey. So far the vision proved true, but I feel the true test is yet to come and the journey through this forsaken place will seem like a pleasant memory compared to what horrors we might face when we reach our destination.

A vission from a forgotten god - the story of Malik Grim

Fantasy church by viijigsaw d4qhs0l It was dark rainy night in the fortress of High Clerist’s Tower, the streets were empty, every soul living in the fortress taking cover in their homes from the hard mountain wind, the only sound that could be heard was the wind blowing through the buildings. The sounds of night were suddenly broken by the march of armoured feet, soldiers returning from patrol duty, going towards the fortress orphanage to bring another unfortunate or unwanted soul for their care. During their patrol route a soldier found an abandoned baby on in the field, left to fend for himself and barely protected from the elements, it was left outside to perish and be forgotten by some unknown and uncaring parents, only by some divine miracle spared from such a cruel fate.
The churches orphanage started an investigation to see who would commit such an atrocious act within the wall of the fortress, but amazingly their search revealed that there had been no recent births, no unaccounted children, every house they searched revealed nothing and every person they question was shocked when hearing that someone might commit such an horrible act in their devout fortress. The fortress orphanage accepted to foster unwanted children willingly and without questions, children raised by it being recruited as line soldiers or in some rare cases as priests and clerics for the local churches. Due to the lack of resources and time to search the neighbouring villages, the orphanage accepted the fact that the parents of the young baby, will never be found soon and named him Malik Grim after a cleric who had died recently during an dark knight ambush. The fortress belonged to the knights of Solamnia and guarded the pass through the mountains to Palanthas, being the only access point trough the mountains and a major trade stop, growing from a simple fortification to a impressive fortress-city.
Like all the children under the care of the orphanage, Malik started studying with the other acolytes of the church, the church teaching them in diverse fields, to see where every child excelled and where to be assigned when they grew up. Those who had a knack for knowledge will remain with the church as acolytes and later either becoming priests or scholars, doing research for the church and taking care of the archives, while the rest became soldiers, or some very lucky and exceptional acolytes eventually became squires for the sons of noble men who became knights. Malik at a young age was good at both, but was assigned to the church libraries since he wasn’t able to join the knights or the clerics, where he would be more suited, since he wasn’t nobility and preaching didn’t really suit him. From a young age he didn’t really stand out from the other children, usually keeping to himself, studying in the library or praying in the chapel, even though he was well built and proved his physical prowess in many occasion when provoked by the other children. He also proved to be a good negotiator, managing to persuade other acolytes to back down from fights or to return to their chores when they tried to skip them, despite all of his abilities no knight wanted to take him on as their squire, because most of them didn’t consider him a citizen of the fortress because he wasn’t born there, or others didn’t like the idea of having in their service a bastard child or one who’s origins were completely unknown.Mountainfortress
From a young age he used to have strange, very intense dreams, most very confusing, that he couldn’t find any meaning to, some would sometimes repeat but he couldn’t remember what they were about. He would talk to father Thackeray about them, when he started feeling overwhelmed by them and felt the need to talk to someone about them. The father told him that they might be signs from his god, and he should try to focus on them, over the years father Thackeray started regarding Malik as his own son, seeing the potential the young boy possessed he used to encourage him and try to guide him, and using his influence he manage to take Malik as his assistant in the library seeing the boys passion for learning. In the library the boy studied all sorts of texts about legends, folklore, history, religion and even some about magic and other planes, learning as much as he could about everything he had access in the library and some more obscure text’s that the priest gave to him that other acolytes didn’t have access to. Following the father’s suggestion, he started focusing more and more on his strange dreams, trying to remember more and more details, and make sense of them. After a while he started having a recurring dream, he saw a dark figure entering a house shrouded in black smoke with red light windows, and after them man entered the house he heard a very powerful scream and blood gushed out from the house’s door, followed by a very distressing a maniac laughter and a strange chant. He told the priest about his dream, after listening to him at first the father tried to dismiss it as just a simple nightmare, but when the dream got more and more intense, to the point that while working in the library the young boy collapsed, being overpowered by the vision, he suggested that he should investigate it if only just to get some closure and gave him a few days leave to search the city for his mysterious house. After searching the fortress for a few days he didn’t find the house or any person that might even came close to the figure he saw in his dream, starting to dismiss his dream as just a strange recurring nightmare and realising that he had no chance to search the whole fortress in the allotted time, almost decided to give up. On his way to the monastery he suddenly froze, seeing a merchant that used to travel between the fortress and neighbouring cities, he didn’t know why but he could have swore he saw the merchant before. Then it hit him the merchant’s size and stature matched exactly those of the mans in his dream, he followed the merchant for a while, trying to stay out of sight as much as possible, taking side roads and blending with the crowed. Eventually the merchant entered a house near the outskirts of the fortress, and much too young Malik’s surprise it matched exactly the house from his dream, he could almost smell the blood in the air and hear the strange scream and chant from his dream, but since none happened he decided to ask around about the merchant. He learned from the people around the house that the merchant was a live stock trader and butcher, but they didn’t hear any odd sounds from his house, or see him do anything strange, the only thing out of the ordinary about him was that he would sometimes do night runs, returning with a cart full of livestock carcases for processing in his shop even though the roads at night were dangerous, bandit or animal attacks being frequent in the area, but his neighbours figured he needed the money and took that risk and couldn’t tell him more because he usually kept to himself.
Convinced that his dreams were a sign for his god, Paladine, Malik decided to wait until the merchant left his shop to get new stock and investigate the place, he returned to the church and prepared himself to investigate the house. The told father Thackeray that he actually found the house and figure from his dreams and while telling the priest what he saw, the man listened to his story amazed, only the most devout and powerful clerics had ever had a vision from their deity, such a thing was a very rare thing and happening to a simple acolyte was unheard off, and what was more amazing was that it happened to a follower of Paladine, a god considered dead, having very few followers, most of them fighters or knights that worshiped him due to family tradition, clerics rarely worshiping him, and those that did weren’t very powerful. The priest tried to dismiss what happened as just a coincidence but to many things had happened for it to be that, first the dreams, then the strange episode where Malik passed out in the library, followed by the fact that he actually found the house and man from the nightmare. He urged the young man not to investigate this matter further until he had the chance to talk with the clergy about what happened and if his vision proved real he would be in alot of danger if confronting the merchant.
While father Thackeray went to talk with the clergy, Malik decided not to investigate on his own, learning from the merchant’s neighbours that there would be a large livestock sale in a neighbouring village the next day and the merchant would go there, providing the perfect opportunity for him to search the merchant’s house. He managed to bargain with the acolyte overseeing the soldier armoury and borrow a long sword for “training”, so armed with the sword and his faith, he sneaked to the merchant house at dusk and waited for him to leave. As soon as the merchant was out of sight, going towards the village in his cart, the young acolyte entered the house, and started searching for anything out of the ordinary. After searching the ground and upper floors and not finding anything, he went outside to look in the slaughter house, almost giving up and deciding that everything was just a nightmare, and that he should return and face the reprimand for braking into an innocents man’s house, he found a secret hatch. He almost had given up, but fearing punishment for what he did, he decided to search one last time, praying to his god that his attempt would not be in vain, he spotted a hatch he had first missed dude to all the gore and blood on the floor. Forcing the hatch open he light his torch and descended in the underground room, what he saw there froze, the room was filled with all sorts of torture instruments, knives of all shapes and sizes, strange tomes and drawings on the walls. The room seemed to be some sort of strange place of worship, in the middle of the room was an altar, covered in blood, sounded by strange symbols on the floor and an large bookstand at the end of the altar with an odd looking tome on top of it. As he approached the tome he heard a voice behind him, congratulating him for finding the place and becoming the next sacrifice to the dark one, turning slowly he saw the merchant standing in the stairway, armed with a huge meat cleaver. Muttering a quick prayer to his good Malik rushed to meet the butchers mad charge, dodging a vicious blow that would have severed his head, he slashed his sword at him, nicking his arm, the butcher unable to fully dodge the blow. The butcher enraged by the lucky hit landed by the young acolyte, charged and delivered a gruesome hit in his opponent’s torso. Malik was starting to lose a lot of blood from the hit he just took, and started to blackout, in a last desperate effort he lunched himself at the butcher, praying that his sacrifice wouldn’t be in vain and if couldn’t kill the mad cultist, he could at least deliver a significant blow that injure him enough that the local authorities would start an investigation or at least force him to leave the city not raise any unwanted attention. Fuelled by adrenaline and holy purpose he slammed his body into the butcher, ramming him against a book stand knocking him out and thrusting his sword into one of the butchers lungs impaling him into the wall before falling himself unconscious.
When he woke up he was in the fortress’s infirmary, father Thackeray talking with an armoured man bearing the symbol of Kiri-Jolith, seeing that Malik was waking up they stopped talking and approached the young man. The priest explained that the armoured man was Elmond Bolest, an inquisitor sent by the church to investigate the house where the knights that were looking for him when he disappeared from the church armed, found him following the sounds of battle from the open hatch when they searched the house for him. 33747 Father Thackeray told the clergy about his vision and sent some knights to talk to him about it, suspecting themselves that something was going on in the fortress, the bandit and creature attacks getting more and more daring and frequent, suspecting that someone was feeding information to the bandits and making creatures attack the patrols to draw their attention and seeing that they were missing they quickly went to the merchants house and found the there. Elmond wanted to talk to the young acolyte because the cultist committed suicide as soon as he woke up in the infirmary, and needed to see if he read some of the texts in the house and what he had found out during his investigation. Satisfied with the answers, the inquisitor told Malik that he will not be punished for what he did, his actions stopping a great evil, and that if he wished he would be allowed to serve with the inquisition, so that they can put his gift and skills to use.
Malik accepted the offer to join the inquisition, seeing the chance to do more good and use his skills to root out evil, so he entered the service of the inquisition, as an apprentice to Elmond. He served with the inquisition for a while, but rather than continuing his training as an inquisition he started to focus on his connection with his deity, seeking more and more tough challenges to prove himself both to his deity and the church. Focusing on fighting enemies, and proving himself a deadly and honourable warrior he got accepted by the knights as a paladin, due to his victories and with the recommendation from Elmond for the service he provided to the inquisition.
During an assignment for the inquisition Malik got ambused in the Khalkist Mountains by some dark knights, after a vicious fight he got severely wounded finishing off the last enemy, but unfortunately his entire squad was killed. He wandered close to death in the mountains desperately trying to reach an Solamnian outpost, slowly felling his life force leaving him he passed out, thinking that this is his end he passed out. Much to his surprise he woke up near a camp fire, with a old elf tending his wounds, he tried to ask the elf his name, but he told him not to speak, he lost a lot of blood and needs to regain his strength, Malik tried to ask the elf another question but passed out before he got the chance. Struggling between life and death he had another very intense vision, a giant cavern with a huge horde in it and some strange looking eggs, guarded by some vicious looking draconic creatures, and then heard a strange voice telling him that there lies his destiny, strangely the voice sounded somehow very familiar like it had been with him his whole life, even though that was the first time he heard it. The voice told him that there he would find his true destiny and calling, but for that first he will need to find help in order to overcome the challenges that will arise on his quest. When he woke up again much to his surprise he now saw a draconic figure watching over him, at first he was startled recognising the creature as the one in his vision, but before he could do anything the creature told him to calm down, they mean him no harm, a patrol found him near one of their routes, unconscious, and with some bandaged wounds that needed further tending. They didn’t know how but where they found him, it was almost like someone knew their patrol route; they usually took hidden routes to avoid unwanted attention and if they could swear that someone specially placed him there so that they would find him.
When he got better due to the careful tending of the draconians, and was surprised to see that unlike the myths and legends he heard about draconic creatures being evil creatures that raided villages and worked for evil dragons, this draconian were a secluded society, not wanting to take part in current world wars and politics, focusing on peace and doing good. They lived in a gigantic fortress high up in the mountains, being hidden by clouds, and only accessible through a hidden mountain paths. He stayed with the draconians until he got better and able to travel again, he asked them for a small patrol so he would return to where his men were killed so he could bury their remains. After that he stayed for a while with them to learn more about their society and wanting to repay them for their help, he asked about the strange elf that saved his life but none of the draconian patrols ever encountered him before. During his time spent helping the draconians he had another strong vision about a vast wasteland, so devoid of life and inhospitable that made him wander that should he do there, then he saw something bright, that shone on top of a cliff, when he focused on the light he sensed a void inside it, but also great power, that lacked purpose. The voice he heard last time returned telling him that that is where he will find the first and most powerful and trusted aid for his quest, and that his determination and faith will be tested in that valley, he told the voice that armed with his faith in Paladine, he will not falter and will not fail in the task set before him. The voice chuckled telling him it’s nice to see a man with such determination and showed him the image of a huge port, he recognised as Port Balifor, and told him that there is where he will find the rest that will help him and that no matter what will happen there not to judge his future allies by the way they might act, that their destinies are bound and with their help he will complete his quest. Cloud castle 20408
After receiving this latest vision Malik, talked with the draconians about the place he saw in his vision, at first they looked oddly at him when he told them that he receives visions from Paladine, although they still worshiped Paladine accepted the fact the he haven’t showed himself in a long time and might have lost his powers, but hoped that this strange man might have some sort of connection with their beloved good, so few people remained that had any connection with him, the last few being some of their clerics, but they never received any visions or signs from Paladine. After describing the place he saw in his vision the draconian scouts recognised the area as The Vale of the Accursed, and strongly advised him not to go there, no sane soul dared enter such an desolate and cursed place, he thanked them for everything they did for him and promised that he would return to them after his quest is completed, feeling more at home there, that he felt anywhere else. 23609
Malik began to travel with renewed purpose, happy that he finally found a place where he could call home and where people accepted him for who he was, and swore he would defend that place with his last breath, but before he set on his quest he visited the High Clerist’s Tower one last time to say his goodbyes, and thank father Thackeray and inquisitor Elmond for all the help and support they offered to him. When he arrived at the fortress everyone was shocked to see him return alive, they considered him and the squad sent out dead, no one hearing anything from them in a long time, and the patrols they sent out to search for them found nothing, but everyone was overjoyed to see him return and that the families of the lost knight would finally have closure, by knowing what happed to the knights and that they received a proper burial. He thanked them for the warm welcome, but told them that he couldn’t stay, that he has to embark on a holy quest set before him by his god, before he left father Thackeray gave him a ancient holy symbol of Paladine that the church had for a long time, and he wanted to give it to him when he joined the paladins, a relic that true follower of Paladine should have, but since things has changed he gave him the holy symbol hopping that this symbol would bring him luck on his quest. Inquisitor Elmond told him that he will always be welcome back at the fortress when his quest is complete, and that he should consider himself an fully fledged member of the order of paladins, managing to come back alive against such odds and overcoming such difficulties proved that he is more than worthy of joining the order. Malik promised them that he would return from time to time, grabbed the armoured they offered him when he joined the paladins and his gear, thanking everyone for all their help and set off for the Vale of the Accursed and then port Balifor.

Part II - The fall and rise of a man

Desert by tincek marincekThe Vale of the Accursed lies at the heart of the Burning Lands, the most inhospitable area in all of Khur. No man or beast that had set foot in that valley ever came out. Even blue dragons, otherwise unchallenged masters of deserts avoided it. So rumors started spreading that the area was cursed and that great evil lurked within. Some spoke of the ghost of the Kingpriest, others of a fragment of the Graygem, others of even worse, unimaginable stuff.
And yet, a knight, armor shining in the midday sun was heading straight to the entry of the valley. He didn’t seem eager, nor afraid; not in a hurry but not hesitant. He simply walked because he needed to. High up on a cliff face, unseen, a small desert lizard was watching, its faceted eyes devoid of any feeling. As soon as the knight set foot in the valley, the air around him filled up with magic: sand rose up to swallow him, molten rocks came rolling over him, and strange creatures popped out seemingly out nowhere. But the knight had magic of his own, protecting him. He walked through the quicksand unhindered, the molten lava seemed to run over him, harmless, and his sword made short work of the creatures. He then looked up, straight at the lizard and began walking up the cliff at the same measured pace. He stopped with his boot inches away from the small reptile, and made a single gesture. In a flash of white light the lizard changed, becoming something that might have very well been a living, breathing humanoid once, now a dry withered shell, eaten away by time and the desert.
The shell spoke with great difficulty ‘Stronger than me….at last…death?…at peace after so long…’
The knight stretched his hands forward, one holding his sword, the other holding a platinum scale ‘I bring you a choice’.

Part I - The rise and fall of a nation

Nomads by iririvThe lands of Khur had always been the home of savage people. Tribes of men, goblins, orcs and ogres rode forth and made war upon each other for what little spoils their tent camps could hold. Bot for a nomad warrior even a sack of flour or a couple of cattle was a small fortune.
This is the world little Keja came into. Unwanted byproduct of the aftermath of such a battle, kept in his tribe only out of mercy and due to his mother’s pleas, little Keja became an introvert, focusing more on communing with the spirit world rather than with the other people. Still, his wisdom and strength in magic were unquestionable, so eventually he found himself the spiritual leader of his tribe, named as her successor by the tribe’s shaman on her deathbed. In his new position, Keja dedicated himself to the wellbeing of his people. He taught them better craftsmanship and agriculture, his magic making water and plants sprout from the hard desert soil. His views often brought him at odds with the tribe’s warriors and chieftain who thought his new ways were ‘soft’ and ‘unworthy of a true man’, but not only did Keja provide the people with more, but also his magic and the beasts he could call to his aid proved more than enough to keep their more safe from neighboring tribes.
Then the Drowning came, and much of the land and people were swallowed by water. Completely unaware of the events in the larger world, Keja could only see one reason for it: punishment from the gods for the blood and suffering the warriors of Khur had inflicted upon each other. The very fact that his tribe’s land had remained untouched was proof that the new way was better and pleasing to the gods. So it needed to be brought to all the people of the desert. Some smaller tribes listened; others mocked him, and refused to give up the old ways. So Keja went to war. He hated it, but proved every bit as capable in waging it as he was as a peace time leader. Soon, all the people of the land answered to him and called him ruler. Under his leadership, they built magnificent cities and irrigation networks. Desert city by gamefan84Khur was forever changed. What Keja, in all his wisdom did not understand was that a man’s spirit can’t be bent so easily. Even if the warriors of yesterday held plows and hammers, they still dreamt of holding swords and spears. Many people felt that wielding so much knowledge and power, their nation should put it to use and strike at its neighbors, but Keja would have none of it. So the people turned to his sons. For moths they were told in secrecy old stories of brave men riding forth in battle and coming home to their families covered in glory and spoils of war, and they were led to believe this was what the men of the nation longed for.
So one day his sons and close advisors confronted Keja: the people wanted him to lead the nation to glory and great plunder into war against the ogre kingdom of Blode. When he would have none of it, they asked him to stand down and let them do it, which he would also have none of. He had built his nation for peace, and peace would it be. Fighting broke out, but not even a strong druid as Keja could hold off so many experienced warriors and mages. Wounded and full of bitterness he fled into the desert. His former advisors regretfully announced their beloved leader had died, and then the country plunged into chaos. Unable to agree on anything, each threw their loyal supporters at each other’s throat with weapons more destructive than ever before.

A nightmare is woven - The story of Frederick Rukeger

Jason engle illusionist 2346004982The wizard was stumbling in the dark hallway desperately trying to escape his pursuer, looking back over his shoulder to see if the shadows were catching up with him. He reached into his black robes to fetch the key that opened the door at the end of the hallway, hoping that if he would reach safety in time, and evade his pursuer by locking the door back behind him.
In his haste to search for the key, he tripped on the fold of his robes, cursing the rogue mages for attacking the tower and that help wasn’t arriving to save him, the attack caught them completely off guard no one ever expected the tower to be attacked so sudden, the rebels took advantage of the war erupting and started raiding increasingly isolated towers for resourced or to punish the mages. He looked up to see the door, he sighed finally thinking that he reached safety, trying to get up, he heard his pursuer telling him that there will be no sanctuary for the likes of him, frozen in place for a few seconds, he turned to at least see his killer. The man standing before him was a tall human, his features barely discernable in his shadowy hood softly illuminated by the glow strange markings carved in his face, he wore dark blue robes with strange symbols on it, and he could swear that shadows moved around him and on his body. The strange figure stared casting a spell, but before he could finish it the hallway door suddenly slammed open, and seeing the figures standing in the doorway, the figure suddenly froze, as long forgotten and repressed memories suddenly resurfaced.

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TO BE CONTINUED——————————————————-

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