The First Land Herald

From elanthipedia
Jump to: navigation, search

FirstLandHerald.jpg

The First Land Herald is a publication dedicated to the current events of Zoluren; "Zohlu Ren" is Gamgweth for First Land. When possible, the Herald may also report on other events throughout Kermoria.

Editor in Chief: Navesi Daerthon
Reporter: Saragos Daerthon
Assistant Reporter: Marcul Mak'iyiru

Contents

Publication In Game

The Herald now offers newsletters exclusively IN GAME FIRST for at least one week -- possibly longer. Articles will not be available on elanthipedia until this waiting period is over. Thus if you want to be sure to read the news and get it as it happens, head to one of the imp locations in game.

  • For updates when an article is published in game, follow @Dragonrealms on Twitter.
  • For updates when an article is archived here on elanthipedia, follow @FirstLandHerald.

Locations

The Herald is proud to be partnered with the imps of Elanthia! Copies of the latest edition can be obtained from news stands manned by imps. Visit and GET NEWS for 50 coppers. Currently located at most docks, and a few other places.

In Genie, the following #goto commands work if you're on a map with a news stand:

  • #goto newspaper
  • #goto news stand
  • #goto First Land Herald
  • #goto Herald
Room Title Description Genie Zone Genie Room Lich room
The Crossing, Hodierna Way east of bank 1 160 731
The Crossing Docks, South End Skirr'lo'lasu dock 1 169 937
The Crossing, Alfren's Ferry ferry dock 1 236 957
Riverhaven, Town Square town square 30 8 389
Riverhaven, East Pier Lybadel and Kree'la dock 30 104 471
Langenfirth, Wharf barge dock 40 36 3434
Therenborough, Horseman's Run one north of gate 42 3 3162
Shard, Moonstone Street just outside bank 67 81 2512
Ratha, Port Walk outside Neh dock 90 4
Uaro Dock, Port of Ratha Night Sky dock 90 234
Uasin Dock, Port of Ratha Tasia'zaul dock 90 262
Mer'Kresh, The Galley Dock galley dock 107 113

Latest Issues

430-09-35 - DEATH BLOW TO A DEMON

So, it is done. Maelshyve is dying, her essence dissolving. It may be eons before the last mote of her is finally gone, but at long last, we have assured she cannot corrupt our home any further.

I slept for days after the deed was done. It was a process longer and more arduous than I expected, even given Osven's warnings that it would be so. Here I will detail my journey into the soul of the demon, and what I witnessed there.

Osven contacted me a few andaen before we would gather. The device was ready, and it was time. Somehow, on the day, it was as if she knew. As I prepared to leave the Crossing, the back of my neck prickled, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being watched. Everyone was receiving visions: whirlpools of ichor, blood-red triangles, blue-scaled tentacles. Our plane was already starting to writhe under the press of her thumb.

It was decided that two groups would implant devices into the two locations where Maelshyve's influence is strongest: her Fortress in the Zaulfung and the Moors near Shard, where there is access to the Abyss. I chose to attend the Fortress location, and found myself once again descending in the skeletal claw and slogging through the muck. Perune led the way, and we ever so slowly made our way past the rope bridge and the deadly puzzles and finally came to the area near the fallen altar, where a wall of silver liquid dripped with peculiar purpose. There Osven settled the device (see picture), which as I understood it would grip with impossible strength until our task was finished.

[A sketch is included of the final device, and although it is rendered in the standard black strokes, it includes numerous fine notes and labels so that the reader can discern the many different materials used. Composed of nested rings, the device appears to be designed with unparalleled craftsmanship. The sturdy outer ring is spiraled brass and steel, with eight facets smoothly alloyed into the overall structure, alternating between dull, mottled cambrinth and orichalcum. The inner ring is a spiral of niello and lodestone, and bears several spokes supporting a central sphere of cambrinth; a note indicates it is capable of spinning freely with only the barest whisper of friction. A minute inscription on the inner ring displays the letter "O".]

Upon focusing on the device, I could sense the volatility of a Feral Energy enchantment. Structures derived from wild mana admixtures were piled high like precarious bricks, continuously sparking against one another. The sense I had was that it was ever on the verge of explosion. I could clearly see each facet and gauge roughly its progress toward activation. In addition to the five mana types (if one can call Arcane a true mana type), there were facets for sapience, blood, vigor, and motive.

To our surprise, the area became magically peaceful with the implantation of the device, which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse; we could work in relative peace, but so could those who came to disrupt our progress. It seems that as we filled the device, so could others empty it. Several times we were visited by known demon worshippers — whom I will not satisfy at this time with mention of their names. In some cases we were lucky enough that one of our fighters could lure them away to their deaths, but at other times they drained away our progress. Although I was not at the Abyss location, I had news that their device was constantly under drain and required incredible effort to fill.

Still, fill them we did. Men and women opened their veins to this creation, fainted under the strain of mental and physical exhaustion, and occasionally burned their attunement out for some minutes when pushing too hard. Some died. We had to learn how to walk the line, give as much as we could and then cut ourselves off abruptly, as the drawing would become suddenly more powerful near the end of what we could give. Meanwhile, the breath of Maelshyve was ever-present on our necks, her whisper in our ears. She'd tease about how we were too late, too feeble. I often felt a sudden stab of fear that her influence was doing unspeakable things to my body, and I admit I had to check to ensure my skin remained smooth and free of scales. The wall of silver liquid flowed unceasingly, occasionally distending with an anguished face or glistening with a pair of sanguine-red lights like piercing eyes.

We had to sustain high levels of depletion for days on end, madness creeping at the same time. I became unable to tell day from night, curling up in a damp stone crevice for rest only when I could not force myself to continue.

Once we were visited by her cultists, their tentacles writhing beneath their robes, shifting movements shuffling them together so I could never get a good look at them. They sang their paean and cut their palms, then melted into nothing. The only other thing of note was that they, for some reason, pointed at me.

A short time later, we were all beset by visions again, too numerous and detailed to catalog here. Once again there was the whirling of ichor and the attempt to swim in it, exhausted. Also a great black shell, cracked open. A huge bone construct, swirling high above a black abyss. A mass of green eyes.

Time grew indeterminate once more. I must have slept. Progress was achingly slow, and the meters on the facets seemed to change and winnow every time I blinked — or were they improved? I felt that we flickered within those last slivers of charge indefinitely. Perhaps some part of us is still living, left behind, in that moment of anticipation. Yet ultimately, finally, with a surprising thrum, the device warned us that we had completely filled a facet. Slowly, ever so slowly, we eked out progress on the rest, until the final thrum was heard. I awoke to learn from Osven that we could now traverse through the horrific silver wall, and the devices required more charging inside, though they were already projecting forces antithetical to Maelshyve. He prepared me for the inside by telling me that it would be "a dying Maelshyve... In there is a realm designed by her will, or, the opposite, her will rendered into the rules of our Plane. Either or. But there are Others nearby, and I wager some of what you see is not just what She wills, but what They will."

I steeled myself to enter what I knew would be nothing less than some form of hellscape. Still, one can never prepare for the breaking of one's own mind. Again, what I saw is too much to render here and must be done in more detail elsewhere. But what I can say is that I sped through *something*, images rushing past me, my bones grinding, the bubble of reality around me tenuous. I saw vast smithies and contorted cathedrals, angular forms, blinding light. I arrived at a place I will call the Involution, within the Soul of Maelshyve herself.

Everything was incomprehensible, except where it wasn't. The wide path flowed like melted wax, and a step off of it, I learned, resulted in death within a place people were calling in whispers, "the Plane of Exile." Maelshyve's Fortress flickered in the sky, and the crystallized air felt like I was pushing through a sea of glass shards, shattering and burning as I navigated. As I traveled, I saw millstones, vortices, discarded machinery and weapons, chaotic puzzles of rearranging cobblestones, and flaking monoliths growing from fragmented ground. Formulae floated in the air. At the concentricity, a gargantuan sphere of hissing ichor billowed with smoke and crackled with radiant blue lightning. I smelled overripe fruit and burnt sugar, along with the noxious sting of solvent.

We set to the devices again, constantly disrupted by heaving ripples of Maelshyve's essence, which scattered us about the spiral path. Many fell to weariness, their feet leading them involuntarily off the path and into Exile. Maelshyve's influence continued to exert itself also, most notably in the form of a weeping child, who begged for help, only to split apart into steaming tentacles. Still we pressed on, charging, finally achieving our end. This time I was awake to witness the activation. With a loud *SNAP*, all eight facets simultaneously erupted with their massive energy stores, causing the fused outer rings to warp and expand violently. The two inner rings burst with radiance and began to spin along perpendicular axes, churning great gobs of ichor from the gargantuan sphere as they tunneled inward, trailing a brilliant beam of light shining forth from a perfect circle rimmed with smoldering char.

The ichor sphere quaked wildly, and countless grasping arms reached outward, triple-tined claws grabbing hold of everyone present and twisting viciously as they receded back into the sphere! My vision went dark, and I saw the demoness crouched, her back to me, tail wrapped around her form and wings held aloft as she gorged on crumbs, her every breath ragged and forced.

Stunned, I was forced into what I will call the Interval. I had traveled through the circle of light, and bizarrely saw the ichor sphere above me. Somehow I could tell that the beam, coming as it did from the devices, was projecting an incursion of our own Plane of Abiding into this place. Reality continued to ripple around me, jerking me from one eccentricity to another. I found I could not orient myself to determine which way was the path of life and which would lead to my unmaking. I froze. Osven appeared and babbled with all the froth of an addict: "It's here! It's all here! Everything laid out! This is everything!" I grabbed him to shake some sense into him; when this didn't work, I slapped him. (Perhaps this was the most satisfying moment of this adventure, from a personal point of view.) He was then able to tell me the path to take.

I learned to traverse the area by moving, according to my senses, "up" and "down," although movement was not so much physical as it was like hewing to a single thread of peace amidst pandemonium: the beam. The Interval was by far the most maddening location so far, memories echoing around me, fractal starbursts and broken fragments of reality blurring in and out of focus. Mosaics and diagrams loomed out of the chaos, describing her will, her plans, her history. Perhaps her thoughts. Somehow she had coalesced into image. Finally I found the devices once again, resting atop the forehead of a massive outline of Maelshyve, her arms stretched wide as if receiving adulation.

I learned that we must continue, for a final charge. Although the ripples still tossed us through the Interval frequently, we floated down again and again to the devices, gripping them to charge what we could. Feral waves of unbridled fear and rage emanated from Maelshyve's outline regularly, nearly drowning us in raw emotion. Occasionally we were stunned by piercing wails, or psychically overwhelmed with feelings of supplication or fear. Still we pressed on.

Partway through I was overtaken by a vision. A melliferous voice began to sing a mournful dirge, broken by the sound of weeping. I saw Maelshyve crouched, her great winged back facing me, and the voice stretched along chords that only existed in the tortured rules of that space. Suddenly, she stopped singing, noticed me, and screamed in fury. As I spoke to others of it, I realized that her song was audible only to me. Osven warned me of listening to her; I think he feared she might somehow seduce me. I must admit, it was the only time that I glimpsed something beautiful in her. A shred of Kaldaran, perhaps.

We struggled the most to fill the Life mana facet, at times down to just one or two Life users charging. Osven left to gather reinforcements. After he left, Maelshyve began to plague us with illusions. One time, we saw hairline fractures spread across the walls, radiant black energy coursing inward. Another, the devices convulsed, screaming and exploding with black lightning, metal shards ripping through the air. Each time the illusion shattered, and things were left as they were before. I believe it was part of her attempt to throw us off. Visions tormented us also. This time I saw myself, carving away flesh to reveal dusky blue scales. I still itch at the memory.

With a bone-rattling *SNAP*, the devices activated for a final time. Above the cacophony of light and noise, a woman screamed in pain. But suddenly, everything went wrong. Void-black ichor surged everywhere, wrapping the devices, grinding them into stuttering and slowing. Osven appeared out of nowhere, shouting, "No!" He shattered a vial against the inky vines and sawed with a knife. The tendrils whipped at him, and he muttered a quick phrase and vanished again.

The devices rattled, broken and ineffective. I heard a woman laughing with mirth and contempt. Somehow I saw the true essence of Maelshyve then, a sphere of bubbling tar rippling with vortices of demonic filth, an endless fractal expansion at every point. A mirror fractured and I fell into my reflection, the unfolding sphere slowly extending hideous triple-tined claws covered in radiant green eyes — unavoidable, inescapable, all-encompassing. I realized I was screaming.

Suddenly appearing again, Osven slammed another vial into the mass of tendrils binding the devices, then impaled his hand with his ritual knife. Reality reasserted itself with a shock, and a brilliant circle appeared at the mixture of solution, blood, and knife. Between writhing tendrils, I saw Osven flare with oozing reddish-black energy that pulsated and coursed down his arm. The knife erupted with white light, which slowly encompassed him entirely and poured into the device. Then he desiccated, skin tearing and flaking away, his body crumbling, eyes burning pure white. His skeletal remains pushed the knife deeper into the circle, and the devices spun with renewed vigor, the tendrils scattering. Osven's remains collapsed into dust. The demon began to scream.

The devices accelerated and finished their work. They thrummed with power, constant and unchanging, stable and complete. The sense of Maelshyve's essence shrank, a fragmenting shadow, a broken and lobotomized remnant.

From there we were able to enter a chamber, which I will call the Pith. A whirlpool of violent change, scalding heat here, shocking cold there, decay or crystal or subsonic rumble swirling as if circling the final drain. I can only surmise that it is whatever is left of her decaying soul. Take care when entering, as it is populated by ur-maeldryths, the final fragments of her, which are beyond the abilities of all but the most expert combatants — though I did hear Father Liurilias slew several on his own. Also, any misstep is death in Exile or feeds what remains of her, and do not speak too loudly or you will lose your tongue.

So I say again, it is done. Maelshyve, against all odds, is defeated, to dissolve through the next millennia. When the exhaustion passes, we should celebrate.

As for Osven, it appears that the Necromancer did as he promised, even at the ultimate cost to himself. If he could hear me, to him I would say: I hate you. I hate your vanity and ego, I hate your secrets. I hate the filthy magic that courses through you, and I hate the path you took. But thank you.

Thank you.

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald

430-07-02 - DEMON HUNTER DEMONSTRATES DEVICE

Recently I paid a visit to the Demon Hunter Osven, the man behind the device I previously mentioned would be instrumental in attacking the demon Maelshyve (see my article from 430-03-22). What can one say when faced with a lesser evil, a man of Necromancy, yet the only one with any promise of saving our plane? I gritted my teeth and held my poise the best that I could.

Before I tell you of his device, allow me a brief foray into the theory of demons, so that you might better understand the grave danger we are in. As the Herald has published recently in several articles (see articles from 430-03-21, 429-04-22), Maelshyve's activity has grown massively in scope of late. Invasions press at our door. She has cackled in triumph over the return of her robe. Her cultists sing paeans in the streets and on the gweth. And, perhaps most troublingly, she features prominently in several prophetic visions. This evidence together suggests that she is increasing her foothold in our plane.

But a slew of invasions, even a massive war against her minions, does not even begin to touch the scale of the problem she could cause. Researcher Fredrick Modah wrote of how a demon's incursion into our plane creates a dangerous planar portal. He said, "The longer the portal remains open, and the most (sic) power is used in its creation, the hazier the distinction between the planes becomes. This leads to a doomsday scenario, where the void between two planes is completely removed. The laws of both planes mix and merge in unimaginable ways and a new, bastard plane is created from the two original planes. The original inhabitants of either plane would not be able to survive this apocalyptic act of creation, let alone find the new plane habitable." In other words, if allowed to thrive, Maelshyve would render our home bereft of life, the rules of her plane merging and destroying those of our own.

To add to this, the Philosopher Yvela told me, "even if we did manage to survive after Maelshyve has her way, a lock broken once does a poor job of keeping other intruders out. More demons will see Maelshyve's success and follow suit."

For all his unholiness, Osven was passionate in his plea for action: "[Demons] have no right… Maelshyve has caused enough suffering, and corrupted too much, perhaps irrevocably. We can stop that… I know how this sounds. I know how this riles your sensibilities. All I can offer you is this demonstration to prove the device's efficacy."

Osven began his explanation of the device by vouching for its power: "The good news is that this device works. It vaporizes Maelshyvean influence with appalling efficacy. It is as close to antithetical to her essence I think is possible in this plane." It works by taking infusions of five types of mana — Holy, Lunar, Elemental, Life, and Arcane — in addition to sapience, blood, vigor, and motive.

[Several sketches of the device are included, done in a precise hand with vivid attention to detail. The first picture shows it to be two rings, nested within one another. The outer ring bears eight facets, and the inner ring holds a series of spokes, which support a cambrinth orb. Three further pictures suggest a progression of changes within the device. The first shows lines lashing across the inner ring, implying it spins within the outer ring. Next, the spokes appear melted away, the inner ring collapsed into a brilliant point of light. Finally, the cambrinth core is gone, an inky-black disc in its place, rimmed with light, as wild shadows and beams of light streak away from the object.]

Osven chose to demonstrate using the midnight-colored barbs we obtained from Ciriasa during the Raid on Maelshyve's Fortress. I held the barb in my hand as he activated his prototype, and lances of energy flickered around, unaffected by solid matter but brightly illuminating the barb. Suddenly, it began to grow hot, then exploded into fine ash and smoke! I felt a bizarre lurching in my gut as everything felt somehow more solid again. Clearly, it worked. Osven added, "We've observed this version to be capable of destroying a hierophant from a mile away."

A number of details about the device might be pertinent to those willing to join the fight. First, note that this demonstration was of a prototype only; the actual device will be "implanted" and immovable, with the likely site of implantation being within the Fortress in the Zaulfung. Also, according to Osven, "Once activated, the device will continually sustain that level of projection, like a tautline hitch. As Maelshyve works against it, the device is clamped into a self-reinforcing cycle. The only way to shut it off is for Maelshyve to die." (Although he clarified that her "death" would be more like a lobotomization and removal from our plane.) Failsafes are in place to prevent meddling with the device once readied, although problems can still arise. He cautions against being overzealous in the charging and mentioned the possibility of an explosion if a backfire should occur — a mundane explosion, that is.

To use the device, a few seconds of focus will be required. It will draw energy or vital force from the user once turned to the appropriate facet, and the amount drawn will steadily increase over time. It will appropriately funnel each mana type such that it's not possible to accidentally charge the wrong type. Many people can use it at once, but no one will be capable of providing more than one type of energy at once. Empaths can use it safely. The infusion process can be stopped at any time by simply stepping away or letting go. Everyone will have the ability to read each reservoir. Importantly, Arcane mana is needed the most, fivefold more than the other types.

Osven finished by saying, "Maelshyve stands in an open doorway. Over the years, she has widened that doorway. This device will not only kick her squarely in the chest with enough force and fury to bind her, harm her, lobotomize her, but also slam the door shut. The door may still have a small opening, or be held open a crack, but it's not going to be a wide open access portal for other forces." In other words, he claims that the device will not only deal with Maelshyve, but simultaneously seal away much — though not all — of the foothold other demons might have on our plane.

Whether to believe such a person is a question we all must ask ourselves. I can only offer as evidence the demonstration I witnessed with my own eyes and the vouchsafe of Grove Scholar Uryutis, who told Perune directly that he examined the device and found it sound — and he is truly an expert in this field. It is my own personal belief that we risk more by doing nothing than using this device. All signs point to Maelshyve's rise if we stand back, and we have at least reasonable proof that this object will do its job. As always, though, with Necromancers, we must be wary of any traps and go in with eyes open.

Maelshyve overextends herself. Now is the time to strike. Join us as we stand fast to preserve everything we hold dear. The device will be completed in a couple of weeks' time, and when that happens, we will need all the warriors we can muster.

With humility,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


430-04-37 - IMMORTALS RESPOND TO DEVOTIONAL VIGIL

Rushing past startled onlookers, I managed not to bump into anyone in the streets as I jogged to the grounds of the High Temple in Crossing where several others had gathered at the behest of Mother Whiteburn.  In light of the coming conflict with Maelshyve and her minions, the prominent S'Kra Mur Cleric had called for a devotional vigil to the Thirteen Immortals.

As I stepped onto the platform of the High Altar, I looked up for my first view at the great iris skylight which bathed the metallic altar in sunlight.  We waited a few moments for stragglers to arrive, then Mother Whiteburn began to lead us in prayer.

As the venerable Cleric raised her voice above the small crowd gathered before the High Altar, she sternly admonished all present that we were not there to make demands on the Thirteen or ask Them to perform miracles.  "When the time is right, we will know Their will. When that time comes, we must be prepared to act in kind," she reminded us. "We wish only for the Divine to know that we stand with Them. In times of peace and in times of war, our faith shall remain.  They, who guard our souls and grant us life, that we may cherish our time on Elanthia."

"They arm us with a vanguard of light, the capacity to bring about wonders, the knowledge to act for what is good and right, in opposition of what is evil and profane," she continued, "and through the trials of the Dark Ones, we are pushed and molded to become stronger, wiser, better.  In return for the immeasurable gifts and blessings we are granted on a daily basis, we must serve not only as Their children, but Their soldiers. Our faith in the Immortals will never die. To war, with Their names on our lips and Their symbols held on high as a battle standard," she finished, her voice filled with great zeal.

Finally the priestess seemed satisfied that she had duly prepared us to pray fervently in support to the Immortals.  She went to stand beside the metallic altar, her gaze moving over the assembled congregants as she raised one arm in the air.  Instructing us to kneel, the Cleric began to chant her devout orison to the Gods.

As she rose back to her feet, she ended her prayer with a simple "Amen."  Almost immediately, I heard the sound of a hammer striking hot steel. As the metal resonated with sound from the force of the hammer, a high note echoed around the area.  A raven cawed in the distance and I felt a deep sense of scrutiny, as if an appraising eye were evaluating and weighing matters.

As I gazed up at the skylight above me, I heard the hammer strike again.  I quickly lowered my gaze and briefly saw the area light up with a spray of sparks.  Then everything dimmed. I heard the flutter of wings and the tap-tap-tap of a beak upon a window pane, sounding curious.  It felt as if it were teasing out the fine details of a puzzle.

A small shrew darted between my feet, impossible to ignore and impossible to follow.   Rich laughter filled my ears — mocking, promising, waiting — and then, abruptly, nothing but silence.

The silence was palpable.  Somehow it seemed to become heavier, twisting along the floor, whirling into a darkening void in front of the altar.  It made my vision spin, and reality began to bulge before my eyes. Suddenly, a vile wasp and centipede landed on the ground with a scratching of wings and too many legs.  An unnatural creature about the size of a melon, the wasp seemed intently focused on the centipede, though it occasionally cleaned its stinger, which produced a noise that rang in my head like the sharpening of a blade.  The huge, dog-sized centipede had pincers tipped with blue venom, which flexed open and shut as it scurried around, turning its head from side to side, fixating its compound green eyes on various points in the distance. I smelled the scent of rot and decaying flesh carried on the air as it moved.

I include here a sketch of the creatures: [A grotesque wasp with thin, iridescent wings hovers in the air above an enormous centipede with myriad legs terminating in triple-tined claws.  Venom drips from the centipede’s pincers as it faces off with the wasp in the age-old struggle of life and death in front of a metallic altar. A hooked stinger of impressive length extends and from the wasp's abdomen, razor sharp and savagely pointed.  A raven circles overhead, its gaze fixed on the battle below. In the background by the side of the altar, a shrew partially concealed by shadows is crouched, prepared to leap forward at any moment.]

Momentarily confused, the two creatures quickly found their bearings and began to circle one another.  Both appeared to be venomous, but the centipede was larger and was incredibly agile, while the wasp had the advantage of flight.  The centipede struck first, hurling itself at the wasp, which darted out of the way and thrust its stinger at the centipede. The hooked barb skittered off the centipede's armored carapace, and the myriapod quickly recovered, focusing on the wasp.

The wasp flitted high and dove toward the centipede.  Sinking its stinger between a gap in the centipede's armor, the wasp wrapped its legs around the centipede's body and held fast.  The centipede's legs near the site of the sting went limp, but the long creature spun back and crushed the wasp with its powerful forcipules.

The wasp's frail body leaked hemolymph, and I heard a man shout in pain and rage.  The wasp tried to use its front legs to force the centipede's forcipules open and managed to drive its stinger deeper between the armored plates.  The centipede writhed in agony. Its green eyes blazed with rage and indignation. After a long moment that seemed to go on forever, I saw the forcipules relax and the centipede fell limp, the ground quaking with its impact.  Bleeding, the wasp staggered off from the wreckage of the centipede, which was already decaying into blue ichor and smoke.

Body crushed, stinger snapped, the wasp paused a moment as it gathered its strength.  Without warning, the shrew raced from the shadows and pounced, grabbing the wasp in its jaws, devouring it whole.  The raven cawed and, with a flutter of wings, vanished from my sight. With a snort of laughter, the shrew escaped to the shadows whence it came.  I felt the watchful eyes of the Immortals wander.

I stood in stunned silence as I pondered what had just transpired before my eyes.  Mother Whiteburn was the first to speak, declaring, "The Immortals have spoken! Our prayers have been heard.  They have shown us a sign. For Their kindness, for Their guidance, shall we give thanks and think on what we have seen today.  The Raven. The Shrew. Lord Kertigen of the Forge and Mistress Kerenhappuch, Dark Lady of knowledge gained at any cost. Two insects, who war on one another to the death.  The winner of this battle gains naught, for the Shrew takes her price from their battle from the victor's own blood."

It is clear that the wasp represents a man, quite possibly a Philosopher of the Knife, and the centipede with its triple-tined claws is meant to be Maelshyve.  Perhaps we can expect no direct involvement from the gods: Their intent is to let these two beasts destroy each other and devour what remains. Notably, though, it is clear that They did not show displeasure at the work of the wasp, even if They provided no aid.  I entreat those of you who wish to speak further about what was witnessed to seek out Mother Whiteburn for guidance.

May the truth bring you wisdom.

Shannera Sheikah-Inukuro
Apprentice Bard
Reporter-In-Training, the First Land Herald


430-03-22 - NECROMANTIC DEVICE MAY DEFEAT MAELSHYVE

At Baron Gyfford's audience today, Warrior Mage Perune came forward to deliver some shocking news to His Grace. He claims that a faction of demon-hunting Necromancers called the Philosophers have fashioned a device that will allow us to push Maelshyve from our plane, and in fact even give us a chance to end her existence entirely.

The device works through "esoteric planar theory" and is based on the Necromancers' observation of the work done by Mother Whiteburn to seal the planar rift that appeared near Rossman's Landing (see my article from 425-03-10). As demons are beings that exist outside of our own plane and seek entry in order to consume and destroy us, the sealing of planar rifts is of crucial importance to shut them out. Perune himself is an expert in planar lore, having recently devised and conducted his own experiments on planar sealing, which is what drew the attention of Grove Scholar Uryutis (see the Herald article from 429-11-15). Perune's own research might also one day work to stop the demon, but unfortunately it is in the earlier stages and will certainly not be concluded in time. Thus he believes we must rely on this device.

However, most importantly — and terribly — the device requires a "large number of magic users to function," including the Philosophers.

Perune begged the baron to sanction his Orders to assist the Anduwen Watch — and the Philosophers — in once again assaulting Maelshyve's Fortress, in order to face the demon and attempt to destroy her. There, where the planar barrier against her is weakest, would they use the device.

Baron Gyfford weighed this matter heavily, first turning to Court Cleric Liurilias, a Grand Inquisitor, for his opinion. Father Liurilias said, "I know it is distasteful to say the least, however, the activation of this device does seem to be the most effective option currently at our disposal. I am not pleased by its source, by any means — I wanted to rip open the [Demon] Hunter's throat just for even suggesting it — but I've been assured the theories are sound and it would afford a great opportunity to drive her out if not slay her." He went on to state that, while alternatives might exist, we simply don't have time to pursue the research necessary.

Baron Gyfford ultimately gave his opinion, which resounded through the great hall: "If this is a way to rid us of Maelshyve and to keep the citizens of all provinces safe, then I grant concession for the troops and warriors willing to engage to this cause." He was quite clear about his reluctance in doing so, his continued hatred of Necromancy, and that he will "not ever change [his] stance on the Necromantic filth that [he sees] happening in [his] province." He also made clear that he is not ordering or in any way forcing any of his citizens to engage in this fight. "The choice must be theirs." He also added that he hopes to join the fight personally.

Elanthians, it pains me to write this, but in light of the leadership of His Grace, and upon my own reflection as to the threat of the demon, I must call for all adventurers to step forward and face this threat. Seek Perune, Saragos, Father Liurilias, or myself if you wish to join with the Anduwen Watch in fighting at the Zaulfung. Additionally, all Necromancers who are not beholden to the demon should prove themselves worth something after all. Take up against her, and seek the one among you known as Yvela. Know, though, that your taint will be known forever after, and those of us on the side of good cannot promise we will forget your sins entirely, should we all survive this malice.

In darkness we prepare. We will bring Hodierna's light again.

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


430-03-21 - MAELSHYVAEN THREAT ON THE RISE

The demon Maelshyve was sealed away for millennia before being empowered to enter our plane again by Archrost the Kobold Necromancer in the year 368. Now she grows in power and influence here.  She dares to send her minions across Kermoria to do her evil bidding. They attack without warning. Her worshippers, cursed beasts and foul undead, roam the city streets, dispatching commoners and adventurers alike who have the misfortune to cross their path.

This latest development follows an incident with a stolen robe, a Maelshyvean artifact (see the Herald’s previous article from 429-04-22), and began with the sighting of a Maelshyvean cultist by Empath Marssi a few andaen ago.  In speaking with her, the Empath explained that she happened upon the cultist on Magen Road, outside the Crossing Empath Guild, and followed him into the courtyard garden, seeking to determine his purpose. The cultist spouted his devotion to his demon, declaring, “She rises!  Know her will that she may sup on your bones!”

Marssi said that when she focused upon the cultist, she could feel a twisted and abused life essence, clearly indicating that he was undead.  After entering the garden, he continued to spread his message to those gathered there. “Know her ways, feel her will! All will bend to her desire, her name written in blood!” he exclaimed.

The cultist made his way back outside to the street, and Marssi observed him raising his arms joyfully and chanting in a strange tongue.  Robes billowing violently, a mass of tentacles descended around his feet, blindly probing the ground. As he finished his song of praise to the demon and inhaled a sharp breath, the tentacles receded.

“What is it that you wish to happen?” Marssi questioned, pressing the cultist.  He replied, “She will write her name upon the skies, rend pathways to the void!”  A tentacle appeared from beneath the folds of his robe, caressing his cheek. “Spread her word, share her glory!  She reaches, she dances in the darkness! Know that she comes!”

The cultist kneeled, his hand splayed wide on the ground, and vomited a steaming mass of black and blue ichor.  The puddle hissed and steamed as it evaporated into smoke and dispersed. He wiped his mouth with a tentacle-wrapped hand and slowly rose to his feet.

Marssi continued attempts to question the cultist -- and warn him, rightly, that he would be tossed aside -- but her words fell on deaf ears.  The putrid undead proclaimed, “Hear her! Announce her coming! Know her will. She speaks. Marssi. Spread her will. Welcome her embrace. She is coming, and she reaches for the void.”

As he finished, the cultist twisted awkwardly.  The sound of shattering bone and ripping flesh echoed around the area, and his robe billowed with hidden tentacles.  For one horrifying moment, he smiled rapturously. Then his mouth opened, spewing forth a black and blue ooze which writhed tightly around him.  As his body snapped and folded into configurations not meant for mortal forms, a sphere of hissing ichor coalesced around him as tentacle and pitch swirled together.  In a moment, the cultist disappeared, his shredded robes scattered to the wind.

The sphere remained, churning and popping wildly.  Cursed basilisks, cinder beasts and shadow beasts -- all known creatures of Maelshyve -- swarmed the area, and Marssi was dragged to the safety of the Empath Guild by Inquisitor Rifkinn.  When I questioned him later, the Inquisitor asserted, “I was present at other attacks following the appearance of the cultist and dispatched a number of the foul beasts.”

One attack in particular featured the incorporeal servant of Maelshyve known as the maeldryth.  Clearly a denizen of a foreign plane of existence, it has an amorphous form composed of a mass of churning shadows.  Dozens of tentacles snake outward from a central nexus of inky blackness and sweep aimlessly through the air in languid, almost lethargic strokes.  These creatures appeared in multiple locations. They were spotted on M'Riss by Knight Magister Saragos, at the Crossing Empath Guild by Navesi, the Crossing Bard Guild by Bard Bardolf, Pfanston’s Grove by Navesi, and the Arthelun Flats by Bard Seldaren.  More maeldryths were reportedly seen in Riverhaven and the Crossing Ranger Guild, so said some bystanders via gweth.

Maeldryths pose a particular problem, as they cannot be killed by normal means.  Weapons, even those blessed by a Cleric, proved useless against these cruel servants of Maelshyve.  The only known successful way to harm the creatures is the spell Uncurse, which often takes several attempts.

Those who were attacked by their tentacles suffered paralysis and overwhelming nausea as they were bathed in a powerful dark purple radiance that slowly seeped into their bodies.  Afterward, they found that they were under the effects of a powerful curse. Symptoms included vomiting, lethargy, extreme cold, and numbness, in addition to coughing and sweating.  As with most curses, an Uncurse is needed to cure the afflicted. Be warned, as the maeldryth appears capable of attacking even those who are invisible.

Even as I finish writing this, reports are coming over the gweth of another attack.  Zaer warns of hierophants and cinder beasts gathering outside the Crossing Empath Guild at this very moment.  These attacks pose a dire threat to the Crossing, especially the maeldryths, since they can only be dispatched with the Uncurse spell.  If any of our readers come across any of the creatures mentioned in this article or see any unusual activity, we ask that you report the sighting immediately on the gweth and find help.  We must remain vigilant. It is clear that Maelshyve intends to rend openings from beyond and claim our plane as her own. Stay strong, Elanthians!

May the Truth bring you wisdom.

Shannera Sheikah-Inukuro
Apprentice Bard
Reporter-In-Training, the First Land Herald


430-01-38 - SPEAKING WITH SHADOWS: MOON MAGES CONTACT THE PLANE OF PROBABILITY

Once again the Moon Mage Aaoskar gathered his guildmates, this time in an effort to summon and communicate with a shadow creature from the Plane of Probability. His stated aim was to learn about them, about their perceptions of Moon Mages, about any plans of the Arbiter's, and to establish a dialogue in order to avoid future conflict.

As a Bard, it is my duty to provide some historical context. In the time of pre-history, those who practiced Lunar magic, sometimes called the proto-Moon Mages, built obelisks that allow for the breaching of the Plane of Probability, which granted them both knowledge and power. This mental link to that plane is what we call a confound, the external force that allows the Moon Mages their signature abilities: teleportational magic and connection to prophecy. However, these proto-Moon Mages, despite seemingly enormous power, all but disappeared, leaving behind only fragments that would one day form the basis for the Lunar sects. Denizens of the Plane of Probability gave names to these mages: the Children of Grazhir and the Defilers of Fate. The plane reportedly transformed to one of unmatched fury, directed at the Children and all who would inherit that name, including modern Moon Mages.

Still, no one knows precisely what the proto-Moon Mages did to earn their new moniker, or the rage that is so freely directed at them. Aaoskar's quest was in part an attempt to discover these answers. He called upon the Moon Mages to meet on Taisgath, where a millennia-old planar breach has allowed the laws of the Plane of Probability to seep across the Void and affect our plane, altering what it means to be a shadow. Taisgath is also home to one of the fabled obelisks, and it is that precise location that he chose to use.

Although I did not arrive until after they had begun, it was clear when I did that the first part of the plan involved summoning shadow creatures. I could barely walk without stepping on a shadowling, as they pounced and hissed at one another. Numerous shadow servants of various dispositions looked on. Aaoskar would go on to summon devourers as well, and the group also deliberately opened a rogue moongate.

In the midst of all this chaos, mages were shouting out questions to the shadow creatures. "Why do you call us the Defilers?" "What happened to Grazhir?" "Why does light hurt shadowlings, but not shadow servants?" "What is the connection between the obelisks?" The barrage of spoken and, potentially, psychic probing continued for a short time before I felt something distinct: a sense of rage raking across my mind, which somehow I knew was coming from beyond the obelisk. As the mages continued, shadows writhed in anger around the translucent stone, looking momentarily as if they were flinching or cowering from the deluge of unfocused attention. Melting shadow appeared to drip upward from the obelisk, and for a brief moment, I saw within a snarling face with too many eyes.

I could not help but suggest that they unite their efforts and choose to focus on a single question. To my surprise, they did so, roughly, choosing the question, "Why do you call us the Defilers?" The shadows began to form an umbral script on the weathered stone. For a brief moment, it crystallized into a form that was understandable, reading, "Defilers, is it not enough that you bid us to do your petty errands, that you wish to bind us to answer your questions in your primitive tongue?"

Given the clear anger and revulsion of the shadows, the group chose to focus next on a message of apology and humility. Traim proposed a circle and began repeating a message of peace: "Shadows, we apologize for mistakes of the past, for mistakes of the present. Help us understand those mistakes so we can make amends, so we can do better." He suggested trying multiple languages, and they did so, each in a different voice. In response, my mind was then filled with an alien rhythm. I could grasp no words, but I somehow discerned a sense of resentment of a plane laid to waste. The shadows writhed violently again, and we heard a multitude of voices echoing in rage, "Children of Grazhir," repeatedly, growing in intensity and volume.

The shadows then swarmed around the obelisk, covering it in inky blackness. Rippling under unseen forces, the shadows suddenly froze in place and thrust jaggedly outward! They coalesced into a tight mass and lashed out directly for Aaoskar! He leapt aside but could not escape their grasp; a tendril wrapped about his head a moment, causing him to twitch in agony and inflicting a deep wound. With an explosion outward, the mass radiated away from the obelisk, buffeting us as it dissipated into nothingness. All was silent. Aaoskar declined to comment on whether he received any pointed message from the shadows, stating only that he felt an intrusion.

Ultimately, the mages achieved what they had sought to do: They made contact with the Plane of Probability. However, little was learned. It was already well known that they have enraged those beings, and it's clear that rage has not abated. That said, this event bears reflection. Perhaps more can be gleaned from a future attempt, or perhaps the answer, lying as it does in their past, can be reached through further research and archaeology. For the present, I suggest both caution and contemplation to those who are known as the Children of Grazhir.

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


430-01-28 - MAGICAL MIND-SWAP REVERSED

The following story was witnessed in its entirety by myself, Shannera Sheikah-Inukuro, and I report here directly what transpired.

As I was out hunting, an unusual thought came across the gweth from Saragos:

"I am looking for scholars and mages, particularly of the mind or the spirit.  I will be hosting a discussion at Taelbert's bar starting in a few minutes, and I will need some opinions on a magical malady."

Intrigued, I made my way to Taelbert's Inn.  Upon my arrival I met Saragos and Navesi, with others arriving soon after, including Angel, Sereze and Ledia.  The Necrolord Totenus was also present. It soon became clear to me that those suffering from the malady were Saragos, Navesi, Angel, Sereze, and Ledia, who were all clearly in pain, wincing and rubbing their heads. Totenus left soon after everyone had arrived, but I later confirmed with Navesi that he too was suffering and the unusual nature of the disease meant that he was not his usual threat.

The malady itself was some kind of mind-switching between individuals (see Navesi’s article from 430-01-10).  Those afflicted complained of horrible headaches and a ringing in the ears. Navesi turned to me in pain, telling me of it.  But I quickly learned Navesi was not Navesi, but Saragos! Saragos and Navesi had "swapped" minds; Angel, Sereze and Ledia had been switched so that within Angel's body was the mind of Sereze, Sereze's body was inhabited by Ledia's mind, and Ledia's body had the mind of Angel inside!  (Note: I will henceforth be referring to participants by the mind who is acting, not the body.)

I quickly offered to sing an enchante to try to ease their minds, hoping to spare them even a little pain from the splitting headaches.  They took me up on my offer and I sang Hodierna's Lilt. Navesi later told me that my enchante did provide some relief.

Moon Mage Traim arrived, apologizing for his lateness.  He explained that he had been researching possible remedies for the problem in question and had come up with three different plans to remedy the situation:

The first option was that they could sacrifice themselves to a dark god.  Thus the spirit would be separated from the body and, with the proper appropriations to the gods, should be driven back to its rightful home.  

They could also attempt to realign the minds with the appropriate bodies though an esoteric process Traim had devised, involving manipulating the threads of Fate connected to each person.  His idea was to briefly disconnect the bodies from their Fates, so that when that Fate returned, the mind might find its way to the right body.

Finally, Traim feared that the final option would be to turn to Necromancers, whom he believed might be able to tamper with their corpses to try to reverse the issue with what Traim felt was a limited expectation of success.

I was then overcome by a vision that assaulted my mind, clouding out reality.  I found myself kneeling at the bedside of a Kaldaran man, his face marked by the lines of a man who is stern and discerning -- yet now it was slack and faintly purple.  As I clutched at his lifeless hand, great feelings of sorrow and loss welled within me, warring with anger.

As I told the group of my vision, Saragos surmised that their minds were now leaking into other people, suggesting that what I saw was some piece of memory from one of the afflicted.  They knew at this point that they must act quickly. The Necromantic option was immediately (and rightfully) rejected by the group. Initially, the group chose to place their faith in the gods, however they were unable to find a suitable Cleric to perform the ritual.  With time pressing on and the searing headaches becoming more powerful, they held another short debate. It was decided that they would attempt to return the minds to the right bodies using the Fate-based ritual, which would be performed by Traim.

We headed to the Hilltop Cemetery, where we gathered in front of an imposing marble crypt.  Traim revealed a sphere of blackened moonsilver, which would need to be held by those attempting to return to their right bodies.  Traim explained that while he worked the necessary magic, those touching the sphere should be concentrating on their strongest emotions while trying to reconnect to their physical selves.  Originally, Traim suggested concentrating on their greatest fears, but Sereze brought up the possibility that a focus on what the person truly loves might also help to realign the minds. Everyone present agreed to try to focus on both fears and loves.

Saragos and Navesi went first.  They placed their hands on the blackened moonsilver sphere and centered themselves while Traim began his work, drawing a patterned circle in what appeared to be different colors of sand.  As he gestured first at Saragos, and then Navesi, the color seeped from the world and left the area cloaked in monotone shadow. A vivid purple glow lingered around their forms. Then the world rapidly resaturated with color.

The pair before us focused on their deepest fears and the things they loved as they held the sphere between them.  Then Traim traced the lines of his circle backwards, erasing the patterns. A faint glow diffused throughout the circle, growing to a vibrant multicolored hue that slowly faded, taking the circle with it.  I glanced at Traim at that moment, who looked peaceful as the circle vanished.

Suddenly, Navesi gasped and Saragos took in a painful breath of air.  Then both collapsed to the ground.

I held my breath.

Navesi groaned and sat up, then Saragos.  The spell was a success: Saragos was Saragos again, and Navesi was Navesi.  It was clear that both were disoriented, Navesi more so than Saragos. Saragos suggested he use electricity to shock Navesi’s system, which had a positive effect of bringing her back to herself more quickly.  Traim encouraged Ledia, Angel, and Sereze to quickly follow suit, and in short order they too were put right again.

The implications of this discovery are profound.  I can only imagine with horror the consequences if knowledge of how to afflict this sickness were to fall into the wrong hands.  This Bard will keep her fingers crossed that such power remains shrouded in mystery.

May the truth bring you wisdom.

Shannera Sheikah-Inukuro
Reporter-in-Training, the First Land Herald


430-01-10 - STRANGE MIST CAUSES VICTIMS TO SWAP BODIES

Dear readers, my hand shakes as I write this. I have never before had such a personal stake in events, and I hope you will forgive me if my usual style may be slightly altered.

My hand, you see, is not my own. I find myself a victim of some magical or mystical malady, which affected a number of people at Morlen's "meet and greet" party a short while ago. Although otherwise a normal get-together at Taelbert's, at one point I spied a strange, prismatic mist creeping into the room. Before I had time to react to it, I saw it swirling upward, surrounding myself and some of the guests, and taking on a sort of glow. My senses were overwhelmed and suddenly I blacked out.

When I came to, I found myself suffused with a feeling of unfamiliarity. My limbs felt heavy — no, wrong somehow. It was difficult to place where each part was and how it belonged or fit together. As I struggled to my feet, the world seemed oddly larger, and I noticed a smoky taste in my mouth that wasn't there before. Disoriented as I was, I gazed about and was suddenly struck by a chilling sight: I saw another me stirring to one side of me, lifting her head and gazing about in confusion. With horror, I backed away. In a flash I glimpsed my own hands out of the corner of my eye, and I fixated upon them. They were not my own, but a man's hands, tanned and strong!

What followed was an eruption of chaos. For it wasn't just me experiencing these effects, but several others, with onlookers shocked and bursting with questions and confusion. In the minutes that followed, we learned that at least 7 people were involved in what I can only refer to as "body swapping." Father Sereze's mind was found to be in Ambassador Angel's body, Angel's mind in Ledia's body, and Ledia's spirit was absent but was later found to be residing in Sereze's body. I found I had swapped with my husband, Saragos. Two others were swapped, but will remain anonymous. After hearing a voice coming from a pig, someone speculated that a man had swapped with it, but we were unable to track either down for comment. If anyone encounters either a talking pig or a squealing man, direct them to me.

Once I recovered from a pounding headache, and needing to be away from the noise, I gathered a few of the victims along with the Moon Mage Traim in order to seek answers. Although he has several theories and some ideas for how to return us to our natural states, we agreed that we must research them more thoroughly before undertaking action, lest we risk causing greater harm. We must likewise seek clues to the cause of this mysterious mist. If any of you readers has information to report about it, or theories about the psychic or spiritual nature of this affliction, I am naturally most interested to hear them. Reach out to me, but remember that for the time being even gweth contact must be made with Saragos's body, not my own.

If possible, I will look to gather a few interested parties for a deep debate on the subject and the safest path forward. My distress grows, but as with all problems, logic and diligence must prevail.

By a hand that is mine but not mine,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


430-01-01 - ASKETI RIDES THROUGH RIVER CROSSING

The darkest night of the year. She always chooses one city. To my great dismay, the glorious city of the Crossing was punished this year for its lack of veneration of the almighty Asketi.

Asketi the Hag, master of the North Wind, summoned a blizzard like no other. Gale force winds roared through the town, blowing snow so thick that locals became caught in snow drifts. With the blizzard came Her favored minions in wave upon wave: various forms of adders from the tiny to the gigantic, armored warriors clad so thickly that only their baleful eyes showed, ancient hags, horned black steeds carrying bony wretches, and, of course, banshees. These spectral women especially embody the aspect of Asketi, the frigid gales surrounding them suffusing the area with unnatural cold.

Once again, She brought the curse of the Icebound Heart (see the Herald article from 421-04-26). Many an adventurer was turned, excruciatingly, into a solid, frozen statue. I will remind readers that, assuming the curse has not changed from that previous incarnation, it may be contracted from a banshee, through touching one of the already cursed, or touching a statue. It must be cured with the Uncurse spell, or it will advance until the heart is destroyed and a statue is formed. Banshee wails also deeply damage the spirit, and Soul Shield is an effective counter. Bless is another spell any adventurer should seek when the Ride is upon us, as many of the creatures are undead and some incorporeal.

Once I realized, with dread, that Asketi had chosen the Crossing, I made an effort to gather supplicants at Her altar in the High Temple. Father Sereze was brave enough to lead the prayers and made several sacrifices of his own blood upon the altar, stoically enduring as the great goddess is said to enjoy. After much prayer, song, and sacrifice to Her, the attack finally abated, although without any clear signs from the goddess indicating Her appeasement or pleasure. I worry that we were not able to gather enough faithful, and we must all heed the call should we be unfortunate enough to be chosen again.

Furthermore, we must do better to honor Asketi during the year. The Crossing is one of the largest, most vibrant cities in the world, with the grandest Temple. Surely we can do better. This incident is but another reminder that the gods must be venerated, lest Their wrath be felt.

Faithfully,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


429-10-34 - CROSSING EMPATHS PETITION FOR PROTECTION FROM GLASS CONSTRUCTS

Empath Marssi recently held a gathering at the Empath guild in the Crossing, at which she discussed the letter she has written to K'Constanze, the Khalo rae Moda of Zoluren. For those unaware, the five Modien — one for each province — make up the council of leaders for the Empath Guild.

Marssi allowed all of us to view the letter. In it she outlines the problem, which is specifically that Necromancers tend to frequent the guild and create a glass construct before K'Constanze can come out to compel them away. Although the Moda's skill is incredible and readily convinces the Necromancer him or herself of the desire to move, according to an anonymous Empath present, this tactic does not work on the undead or constructs, which are non-living. Thus the construct remains, wreaking havoc upon whatever innocents may be gathered there. I must add that, although many adventurers ultimately return to life after such attacks, Zoluren is home to millions of common folk who are not so favored and, upon death, will walk forever on the Starry Road.

The petition's request is for the addition of either alfar guards or a magical ward in order to combat the construct or prevent its violence entirely. Marssi suggests that the ward could be of the lesser type, requiring mana to keep it charged, given the expense. She mentions that some considered hiring Paladin guards, but she is concerned about their availability and outsider status. She also asks to speak to the Moda in order to discuss these or other ideas.

As of this writing, the petition contains 26 Empath signatures and 24 non-Empath signatures, including those of three Inquisitors. Both Marssi and Cydd have copies, so seek one of them if you wish to add your own name. Given the strong response so far, Marssi intends to deliver the letter soon, and she will host another meeting if there is no reply in order to determine next steps.

At the meeting itself, Marssi laid out the foundation of her petition and opened the floor to discussion. A number of other suggestions were made, some supporting the idea of protecting the guild and some against it. One on the side of protection proposed the configuration of the nexus point in the courtyard to activate a banner-type effect, and there was also a desire among several to discuss what the guild could do to combat the general problem of Necromancy. One person was against the petition as "bureaucratic," ignoring the power of those already present, and argued for an immediate excursion to attack Necromancers instead.

Ultimately, several new people signed at the event. Of some note, Viyalo wanted it added to her signature that she sustained a severe injury to one leg as the result of a glass construct attack. When I asked her about it, she said that two Empaths had examined the leg and were unable to heal it fully with their magic, leaving her with a devastating wound that must heal naturally.

The scourge of Necromancy has touched the Empath guild one too many times, and now they are stirring. We must await the reply of the Moda.

In solidarity,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


429-10-26 - LOCAL WOMAN BEGINS MIDDENS CLEAN-UP

At the most recent Zoluren Town Hall meeting, local Prydaen woman Viyalo spoke up on the conditions of the Middens. She expressed concern about the dilapidation of the buildings, the pools of fetid water and muck — which the children play in —, the lack of clean drinking water, the corpses left to rot in the open air, and the rubble that still remains from the destruction of Ulf'Hara Keep. I have visited the area myself, and I can confirm that each of these problems is both present and profound. I must add that the region is thick with refuse, and most structures are either ruined or entirely makeshift, built of cast-off materials, mud, and dung. The people there have turned predatory in their thieving and thugging as well.

Viyalo proposed a three-prong plan, beginning with cleaning up the Keep's debris. She also called for charity, both in the form of platinums and donation of tools. Finally, she suggested rallying the local craftspeople for some repairs and rebuilding. Given that the Moon Mage guild recently donated to the Middens (see my article from 427-08-26), it may be possible to build on that step and enact true change in the area.

Admirably, a few andaen later, Viyalo put out a gweth call that she would begin the clean-up herself, and she invited anyone who listened to come join her. I purchased a shovel and an empty trunk for a few silver and went along to help. Together, we began digging at the rubble nearest the Observatory, shoveling piles of glass and granite into our receptacles. I crafted a Sanctuary in order to keep violence at bay, aided by the charm the Empath Eruwyn directed at some of the locals.

It was inspiring to watch those who attended attack the problem in different ways. Although Viyalo did not appreciate my use of a resonant frequency to shatter the larger pieces of glass, I saw that the utilization of the Shadow Servant to store debris was a particularly good idea. Altogether, I observed that Eruwyn, Sir Hebion, Rhatt, Zaer, Rhul, and Traim participated in this first attempt. The Demon-aider Lenaea, who recently admitted publicly to giving a powerful artifact to a demon worshipper (see my article from 429-04-22), also dared to show up. However, given that she was helping and remaining quiet on the subject of demons, the rest of the party was content to tolerate her presence — although intrepid Necromancers and supporters should know that I am not likely to make a habit of such tolerance in most arenas.

Of some note, Viyalo continued to work for much of the event despite an obvious pain she bears in one leg, which made carrying on impossible for her after a certain point.

Traim had the idea to take what remained of the Keep and deliver it to an artist who might reforge the pieces into a sculpture or other work of art, and the rest of us were amenable to this plan. What better use for these bits of detritus than to remake them into something that both memorializes what was lost and brings a small portion of joy and beauty into the world? Thus, when we had worked at the problem for a good while, we chose to store our containers of materials in the ruined warehouse nearby, until we can find a suitable artist. I note that it may require the assistance of an elementalist skilled in the reinforcement of matter, so that anything made of glass would remain resilient.

Viyalo indicated that she would like to continue such clean-ups, so if you are interested in donating your time and labor to a worthy cause, listen for further such gweth announcements.

Lenaea also spoke, surprisingly, of the shame that she felt on behalf of her guild, the Moon Mages. She told me she intends to speak to Guild Leader Kssarh and entreat the guild to play a stronger role in the restoration of the Middens. Despite Lenaea's crime, I will hesitantly throw my support behind such a petition, since it is likely to aid this noble endeavor. If it should surface, I encourage all to sign.

With humility,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


429-10-15 - ELEMENTAL ENLIGHTENMENT: A LECTURE BY GROVE SCHOLAR URYUTIS

Having become aware of current experiments with Aether by some mages, Scholar of the Grove Uryutis recently gave an open lecture in Riverhaven exploring his perceptions of Elemental Magic, the Planes, and some history as well.  He touched on several subjects, providing many fascinating insights.

The Study of the Elements

It was clear from the beginning that Uryutis comes from a different tradition than that of the mainstream Warrior Mage Guild, one that focuses on the study of a single Element.  "I'm not going to debate politics," he said, "but it is my view that by spreading your focus, you have diluted your understanding of the Elements, and this shows in your fumbling."

He further commented that "as Telo'Getha, successors to the Imperial Collegians," the Warrior Mage experimenters (and attendees of the lecture) are lacking in the more subtle aspects of Elemental Magic.  "I was sent because my teacher believed that due to your guild-taught vantage and the fumbling it led you to, you all may not have the language to understand the forces at play. That you hear of the ocean, and take the pond for the seas."

This hearkens back to the first studies of Elemental Magic, where "in the early days, we studied an Element and learned of its ways.  The dance of Fire, the flow of Water, the whisper of Air, the heft of Earth. Focused study of a single Element led to its mastery, and great works were completed."  These Elements form the physical basis of our Plane, and were the first to be studied.

The Planes

He offered a rather poetic vision of the Planes, saying, "The Planes are distinct, separate, whole and pure.  Their influence bleeds into our own, shaping it and making it possible. Our Plane is beautiful, unique in the mingling and suffusion of these [other] Planes, a magnificent painting whose every brush stroke is wrought in the Elements themselves.  Where these Elements mix in their pure form, you have the chaotic flow of our existence. An ocean wave painted in Water, but also Air and Earth. Where these forces manifest, the Elements provide the substance for them to do so."

There are more "non-negligible influences" too, of course, in ways that are not always clear.   "[The Immortals] may bend our Plane to their will, the course of celestial movements affects us from afar, and curiously, life itself impacts its own weight."

The Importance of Aether

"Aether is vital insofar as the Elements are concerned.  Without Aether, there is nothing. Our Plane is unique in that it is subject to the influence of so many different Planes, for better or worse, and Aether is evident, in trace amounts, everywhere you we look.  And I mean everywhere."

In a surprising twist, he also reported that collaborations with Moon Mages have revealed a framework of Aether in the Astral Plane: "glimpses of Aether [suffuse] through their open Moongates when they access the Astral Plane."  He believed this "confirms [his] hypothesis that the Plane of Aether has suffused throughout the other Planes, making them possible." He said, "I don't believe it is merely my sensory bias -- Aether is everywhere that isn't the Void."

"Aether," he says, "is fundamentally different from the other Elements, and suffuses everything, giving the other Elements weight and heft."  Borrowing an analogy of a painting, he compared the other Elements to the pigments, while Aether was the medium, the canvas, upon which they sit.

The Plane of Abiding, and Planar Influences

But this canvas is not fixed.  "It flows and ebbs, in response to various influences and whims.  It mends when torn, eventually. When you summon an Ethereal Fissure or weapon from another Plane, you are poking a fine hole in the canvas, a bridge that leads to another Plane, and drawing a small portion of it to you, here.  These small punctures are fairly minor, and we see them repair almost the instant they are released, but the effects can be seen, even from afar." Such Elemental energies he characterized as "untidy blobs of color or a splash of dissolving spirits, damaging the painting for a time."

Elemental domains, which change the rules of a local area to be similar to one of the Elemental Planes, he said are more subtle still, and akin to "pressing a finger into the canvas of the painting, deforming it.  These changes are subtle, and while they appear awfully strange from afar, like the smaller punctures, eventually relax back to normal."

So, minor distortions and tears are eventually healed.  "The Void will reclaim the separation between things eventually.  Aether is not, afterall, everywhere."

The Othersight

This Aetheric "canvas" can be used to sense these holes as well.  "Aether is the foundation, and with the right focus, can be probed from afar.  This has been called Othersight by some, though that term describes the wrong sense."

"By tuning out the other senses, and feeling the Aetheric streams, we can induce them to carry our will, which can be directed, and reflected, lending a sense of the shape of things afar...  Of note, Elemental charge gathered in our bodies reflects particularly well. We stand out like fireflies against the night sky." In other words, the Othersight is akin to echolocation, allowing the mage to "see" things at a distance.

Bards, he said, excel at detecting and responding to Aether because of their unique relationship with music.  "Aether is the medium through which all others manifest, similarly to how sound is the vibration of Air. We can sense the Aether that is foundational to all things by sending energies along its streams, just like a Bard can hear a single instrument played among an orchestra."

As a demonstration, he placed a head on Navesi’s forehead and the rest of us felt our skin tingle, and our mouths taste of copper.

Of the experience, she said, "I heard a sound not unlike a gong, high and pure, and it rang out from Uryutis's location.  I heard the reverberation of it play off of him and -- come to think of it, all the other Warrior Mages here. It was as if they were clearly outlined.  Another gong sound struck, of a lower pitch, and again I heard it echo through this area, revealing fine details. I believe I could even tell a bird was in flight.  Finally, a much lower sound rang out, and it was as though I could sense things from a great distance. In a similar way, but farther."

These are fascinating revelations, with potentially great import for the Warrior Mage Guild, as well as the Bard Guild.  The Othersight, in particular, is a revelation worthy of study. Perhaps more will be revealed when the mages involved in this experimentation go public with their work.

Saragos Daerthon
Knight Magister
Reporter, the First Land Herald


429-10-39 - PIRATE PLUNDER PARTY PANDEMONIUM

The Order of the Apostles Pirate Plunder Party was broken up by a raid of the very pirates they sought to imitate. Almost as soon as Speaker Haileyann declared, "Arrr, I am the Dread Pirate Haileyann. Don't you landlubbers be takin’ my rum," a weather-beaten pirate ship appeared in the distance, headed directly for the docks. Upon docking, the pirates swarmed over the railing and began attacking the partygoers!

The pirate captain shouted, "No quarter, men! Take all ye can!" and the raiders themselves were heard to demand gold and rum from those in attendance. The bodies piled up quickly, with only a few defenders able to withstand the onslaught, and the pirates soon overran the docks and the surrounding streets of the Crossing.

After a tough battle, they were defeated, and the ship departed for the open seas, much emptier of crew than it had been before. There was no sign of the pirates being after anything but gold and rum, which they demanded loudly of those they attacked. Said Haileyann, "I know we were playing pirate and singing and dancing to pirate shanties. They just docked and attacked." She further opined that they might have been after a bit of vengeance for the appropriation of pirate names: "I was Dread Pirate Haileyann, Queen of the Apostles. They did not like that."

It has been a while since pirates have been so bold as to attack the Crossing. This will bear investigation, lest we be caught unaware in further raids. Keep your swords sharp and your spells ready, Zoluren.

Saragos Daerthon
Knight Magister
Reporter, the First Land Herald


429-04-22 - DEMON ROBE IS LOST; MAELSHYVE GROWS IN POWER

Dear readers, I bring you terrible news. That artifact of most Profane origin, the robe bearing the triple-tined claws in dedication to the demon Maelshyve, was stolen during the holy ritual which was meant to destroy it. Its whereabouts are currently unknown, but dire signs point to its reclamation by Maelshyve herself.

Upon the appointed date for the robe's destruction, Mother Whiteburn and the Anduwen Watch met a throng of supplicants at the altar of Hodierna in the High Temple of the Crossing. There our holy Mother raised her voice to beseech that goddess of life, the nemesis of Maelshyve. She called upon all present to join hands and kneel before the sacred altar. Knight Magister Saragos stood at hand to present the robe.

Strangely, we heard the distant sound of hoofbeats echo around the altar and an impatient snort. I felt an impression of mild annoyance and disinterest. This response was most unusual, given Hodierna's staunch history of loathing Maelshyve and all related to her. She has, after all, sent unicorns in the fights against both Lyras and Maelshyve previously, even dispatching one recently to bless our raid upon the demon's fortress. She has also dubbed the champion Karszen, who wears the very scales of the demon herself and is dedicated to her annihilation.

However, before we could interpret the signs, the congregation was ambushed by the vile Nsar the Discordant, a Necromancer of growing notoriety. He brought their favorite tool: the glass construct. Although the Watch was expecting such a disturbance, what was unexpected was the significant assistance of the Necrolord Totenus, the most abominable of all living men who call themselves Necromancer. He unleashed a hissing cloud of acid so potent that I saw entire limbs eaten away in moments, bones exposed. He murdered at least a half dozen people before I could extract myself from the deadly spray, the faithful scattered.

Saragos would later tell me that, in the confusion, the robe moved of its own volition, ripping itself out of his grasp and onto the floor, where it was picked up by the Enchantress Lenaea. She disappeared shortly thereafter. Perune also informed me that Hodierna's triptych statue gave a whinny of alarm, and he felt something stirring to the north. He also saw the statue flare with radiant morning light, and he was filled with a profound sense of unease and failure.

Numerous people, myself included, reported feeling a blast of fetid air and hearing a horrible roar of triumph. For a moment, those experiencing the vision had the impression of a pair of triple-tined claws reaching for the sky, great black wings spreading over the land.

Once I was sufficiently healed from the searing burns I had received, I quickly employed the Moon Mage Mistanna to locate the absent Lenaea. We found her in Rossman's Landing. There she told me that she had dropped the robe in the bucket inside of the Crossing bank and left, even before waiting to see if it was consumed. Naturally, we checked the bucket, but we found no trace of the robe. Given the vision we had received, we feared the worst: Maelshyve reclaimed what was hers.

The next andu, Lenaea contacted me, and at our meeting revealed to me that she gave the robe willingly to Nsar, who appeared at her side and corroborated her story. I recalled his gweth after the ceremony, that Maelshyve had smiled at him before she took flight. When I asked Lenaea why she would do such a thing, she said, "You were trying to destroy it before you understood what it was… I would rather have seen it used than destroyed without any study."

I implored her to understand what she had done, aiding a demon worshipper and in fact directly contributing to the power of a demon. I warned her to beg forgiveness of the gods for her misdeed, but she refused to do so and must now be treated as a Consort to Necromancers, deserving of all of the wrath of the righteous. I set upon her to extract justice and was slain by her husband, Aaoskar, who clearly stands by her in sin.

Reader, you must also know that more happened that day of the ritual. During the fray caused by the Necromancers, Mother Whiteburn saw a crackle of lightning play angrily across the temple dome, and the area flooded with softly glowing, ankle-deep waters. "Her symbol has been stolen for Her," the waters seemed to gurgle. "Beware Her plans and followers!" She sensed Drogor was displeased.

Upon receiving this vision, Mother Whiteburn gathered those who had remained and regrouped, and they journeyed to Riverhaven to visit her favored altar of Drogor. There she prayed and meditated before the altar, confessing and asking for forgiveness and guidance. The Faldesu surged angrily, a stormcloud gathering overhead. Suddenly an immense bolt of lightning struck the river, and she was left with a feeling of acknowledgment.

She further promised that she would not abandon the gods, and that she and the others would fight Maelshyve and her followers to make recompense for what occurred. Thunder crackled, the sound reverberating around the altar. Great waves lapped against the docks angrily. Suddenly, those present felt like they were drowning, mouths filled with salt water and lungs screaming for air. An enormous shark circled them and, pausing a moment, gazed upon them as if scrutinizing their being. After a moment, it slowly swam on, and they were left with a feeling of acceptance.

Ultimately, we have lost an important battle. Maelshyve's power grows. We must remain devout and steadfastly face what comes next. She desires to consume all that exists on our Plane, and so we have no choice but to find a way to fight back.

Faithfully yours,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


429-01-35 - DEMONIC ROBE UNEARTHED

The following story was witnessed in near entirety by Navesi, and together Navesi and I report here what she saw and heard directly from those present.

A few andaen ago, a young Prydaen by the name of Viyalo was gifted a treasure map which led her to the area near Lake of Dreams. Upon rooting the area thoroughly, she discovered a treasure had indeed been long forgotten in this place. Unearthing it, however, left her to face something she was entirely unprepared for. "I got a bad feeling the moment I dug it out," she said.

The box contained a purple-speckled robe of deep blue velvet, which at first glance might have appeared to be innocuous. However, the specks it bore were shaped as the stylized triple-tined claw known to be the symbol of the demon Maelshyve. The combination of colors and markings were not dissimilar to previously discovered robes known to be associated with Maelshyvean Iconoclasts, and further, it bore the writing: "She Who Owns Our Souls shall break the gods themselves." The robe was taken by the treasure hunter and some few companions to the Crossing cemetery, and they put out a call for an Inquisitor. According to Viyalo, the Cleric Piety first responded to their call, but "Piety came and poked at it and she couldn't do nothing." Following this, Viyalo explained, "Klonardas picked up the coffer and got all possessed or summat! [He] kept saying the robes was [his] and he wanted to bring it back to places to study it!"

Knight Magister Saragos had heard the call for aid himself and decided to investigate, and he was joined shortly after by Navesi, his wife. Saragos attempted to destroy the robe using the powerful consumption cantrip known as Flashpoint. However, strangely, he was totally unable to affect it. He laid the robe back on the ground.

At this point, the robe began to emit a soft clicking sound.

The tiny claws along the surface of the robe shivered quickly, lending them a blurred appearance. Patterns along the surface began to shift. The shivering claws started to create tiny tears across the garment, clearly coming to life and shredding it slowly.

The group put out another general call for a Cleric, and they were attended by Father Superior Serature. Unfortunately, the Father was unable to make any progress in blessing or uncursing the object, claiming that his strongest bless was resisted. Soon the embroidered letters upon the piece were cut away, until it merely read, "She who .. owns .. breaks." The claws grew still, but darkened slightly. Father Serature began instead to bless those who had come in contact with the robes or their container.

At this point, the minor tearings turned to the claws elongating and digging up the cemetery ground itself! Saragos took it upon himself to create a rain of Fire centered upon the robe, and Navesi added her own fiery vocal talents to the attempts to purge what might be crawling forth. The claws began to shiver and shrink back into the fabric, the velvet darkening.

Father Serature then led the gathering in prayer to Kertigen, and others cried out to the gods to aid in the endeavor, also calling upon Chadatru. The muffled clicking from within the robe grew louder even as smoke began to rise from it, the claws digging frantically. Viyalo bravely edged forward, stabbing her hiking stick into the robe and pinning it to the ground. Clods of dirt few from the hole as something tugged at the garment from below. Suddenly, the claws disappeared into the ground, leaving the robe behind!

Saragos immediately attempted to incinerate the robe again but was still unable. Navesi, not content to allow the creature to escape, called those present to dig with her, plunging her hands into the earth in order to pursue it. Others joined in, Saragos flinging dirt away with a magnetic ballista.

What they unearthed was unquestionably a Maelshyvean vessel, who manifested before them in plumes of dusky smoke. It is known that the demon's hierophants take mortals and prepare them for the manifestation of the demon within, and this was clearly such a vessel. Navesi told me she felt immediately besmirched by its presence, and others voiced similar fears.

The gathering of brave souls was able to defeat the demonspawn after a short battle, but soon they felt the malevolent press upon their psyche, a sweet voice whispering terrible things to them. Annais reported having feelings of a heinous spiritual encroachment, as if someone were rummaging through her memories. They heard such things as, "What a good vessel you are," and "Where is your Sunderer now, little enemy? For every paltry scale he tore from me, I will braid a thousand skulls of your kind into my hair." Clearly it was the voice of Maelshyve herself. Father Serature once again turned to blessing everyone present, and eventually several reported that they felt the presence of their god protecting them.

Readers of the Herald that come into contact with robes matching this description should take care both not to don them, nor to attempt to destroy such befouled items alone. The Herald suggests that such attempts at destruction be handled by members of the Inquisition and those of strong faith in the Immortals. You may turn them in to Navesi or to any Inquisitor, such as Mother Whiteburn, Father Liurilias, or Inquisitor Rifkinn.

In the case of the present robe, we announce that in the coming andaen the Anduwen Watch shall hold a ritual at the Holy Temple's altar to Hodierna. All present will beseech Her to destroy the robe and to offer us guidance regarding the possible incursion of Maelshyve into Zoluren. Heed our future announcements and come ready to prostrate yourself before Her with gifts pleasing to Her.

Be humble and pray. Cleanse yourselves. And prepare.

By our two hands,

Marcul Miakeyiru
Assistant Reporter for the First Land Herald

and

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-09-10 - BE'ORT SOURS PARTY AS TEARDRINKERS INVADE

In a recent article, I brought you news of the "love donkey," a magical white donkey appearing to be the servant of Saemaus, who attended numerous parties throughout Kermoria. Events involving the donkey have escalated and it is now clear that Be'ort is also seriously involved.

I attended another of the donkey's parties recently to observe the holy being once again. Held at the Half Pint Inn in the Crossing, the honeymooners Tasivu and Inlagie were again present, as were many merry-makers. The donkey again provided gifts of food, drink, party favors, and Saemaus' kiss roses, and in its presence I felt the airy lightness that seemed to impart intoxication to all nearby.

(Thankfully, this time I was protected by a Psychic Shield, kindly offered by Visionist Miskton. I just tried to avoid the donkey's direct gaze, which seems far more potent.)

As the party drew on, the general aura began to turn in a way that was not immediately discernible. In hindsight, I can say that there was a distinctly sour note in the air, an effluvium I could not place. Around the edges of my Psychic Shield, I felt thoughts intruding into my mind: Could I ever really trust anyone? Is true love real? Couples began to bicker, who before had seemed so effervescently in love. Tasivu and Inlagie in particular exchanged some biting words, becoming judgmental and angry.

Suddenly, a piercing howl echoed through the area, rattling me to my core. A cloaked figure at the edge of the party sneered and said, "The roots of love betray you, and Be'ort will have his due." Bizarre feelings of amusement and anguish echoed against my Shield.

Roses were abruptly flung out of containers and onto the floor, smoking. At the center of each flower opened a pair of doleful, tear-filled eyes, and the stem sprouted arms and legs. These creatures, which I dub 'teardrinkers,' drew out tiny crystal Be'ort scission blades and began to attack us, sobbing in between blows and calling out to Be'ort. Although tiny, the flowers overwhelmed us in number and attacked with shocking and devastating precision. The donkey fled.

Though some adventurers managed to rally and fight the teardrinkers, we discovered that upon the creatures' deaths, they explode violently, often sending thorns of lethal poison deep into bystanders. Most of us did not survive.

Inlagie cried out an apology to Tasivu, and Tasivu in turn called out that he would not leave her. I would later learn from Ghust that the two made up and escaped together.

It turned out that any Saemaus or Be'ort rose posed a danger and could turn at any time. I discovered one myself at the Bard guild in Riverhaven, and I watched it transform even as I tried to destroy it in a bucket. These creatures tend to follow their marks, teleporting in clouds of pollen. Deal with them cautiously as they are extremely dangerous.

After the party, a group of Olvi priests appeared and told us that the damage done by Be'ort was far deeper than we realized. You see, they tend to a sacred grove of khor'vela trees, and they believe that the imbalance caused by Be'ort has led to corruption among their trees. They have set representatives next to the portals in all major cities. Speak to them if you wish to aid their cause.

A few days later, the Crossing was invaded by the teardrinkers again. After experiencing the deep sting of their poison, leading to a second death, I heeded the cries of Mother Whiteburn on the gweth. We gathered supplicants to the altar beneath the Temple's wedding chapel, a place dedicated to Be'ort, and there we prayed and made an offering of our blood mixed with vinegared wine.

Perhaps it was nothing, but as we prayed, I noticed a few clear droplets start to gather on the altar — as we continued, more rolled down the side and the air seemed to clear a little. A sprig of rue blew into my hand. After Bard Odakai and I sang to the god in reverence, I heard a howling sound rip through my mind, as a phantasmal coyote lunged for my throat. Fear filled me in a most unnatural way. Several others experienced similar visions, including Odakai, Mazrian, Kaelie, and Rosinnia.

Finally, at the end of our prayers, we heard a fading howl echoing in the distance. Although most of us left at this point, Mother Whiteburn would tell me later that she stayed and witnessed a sign. The incense from the service was still smoldering, and as it burned, faint wisps of smoke reformed into the image of a great coyote howling at the sky.

Mother Whiteburn said, "The sacred beast turned a satiated and benevolent gaze toward me, its gleaming ivory fangs tipped with blood… I am confident that was a sign that Be'ort was, indeed, pleased by our offering and our prayers." Thus it seems we stemmed what could have been a larger, deadlier invasion, although given that the khor'vela remain corrupted, I suspect Be'ort will remain active for some time.

Some other visions have been reported throughout these events, and Mother Whiteburn continues to gather information on them and other signs in order to form her opinion as a holy servant. The Herald encourages all Clerics, particularly those following Glythtide's aspects, to come forward with thoughts on the current crisis.

In sacrifice together,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-09-10 - FIRST LAND HERALD REACHES DISTRIBUTION DEAL WITH IMPS

Dear readers, I am excited to bring you the news that I have reached an accord with the noble imps of Elanthia. They have agreed to absorb my team of Olvi copiers and provide distribution of the First Land Herald on a continent-wide scale. Fair wages and treatment have been assured for all employees. The First Land Herald is not responsible for the attire or behavior of news-imps.

A sketch is included of an impeccably dressed imp, a monocle in one eye, reaching upward to shake the hand of an equally immaculate, kneeling Kaldaran woman with intense black eyes. Although clearly the imp would not even reach the woman's knee, and the two could not be more dissimilar in skin tone, hair, or number of sharp teeth, the tiny evening coat he sports makes him look like a miniature version of the composed Kaldar.

Beneath the image is written: "Navesi Daerthon and Flindre the Imp."

Dewberry, my lead copier, had this to say: "Well those imps do eat a tart faster than my Great Uncle Thomthin! And they say we'll be allowed to eat on the job, never mind the berry stains. Miss Navesi never lets us do that. Oh, sorry Miss Navesi."

Look for news stands throughout Kermoria, manned of course by imps. It's a brave new world. Read all about it!

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-08-27 - LOVE DONKEY SPOTTED AT TAVERNS AND EVENTS

Dear readers, it is with some trepidation that I bring this news to you. You must understand that it is my duty to present to you information that has been vetted to the highest degree, with sources entirely accounted for and a focus on eye witnesses. Facts are foremost. However, I have encountered a situation in which finding such firm facts has proven somewhat elusive, yet it is important enough that I feel it is my duty to bring it to your attention anyway.

A magical white donkey has been spotted by numerous witnesses at taverns and some Order events, mostly accompanying the married couple Tasivu and Inlagie on their whirlwind honeymoon tour. I investigated myself at the Half Pint Inn in the Crossing, when I heard of a raucous gathering there. I can confirm that the donkey appeared and magically produced a number of foods and drinks, which it also helped itself to. It also provided several Saemaus kiss roses, of the type used to bond souls together in matrimony, as well as some various trinkets. The air was festive, and it was quite apparent that this creature must be a servant of the great god Saemaus. However, curiously, it ignored my warnings that a Necromancer was present, despite the blithering corpse-lover actually singing of his fondness of Necromancy.

Here is where my account grows fuzzy. At first, I felt I must have inadvertently imbibed too deeply; later I would suspect otherwise. At the time, I only knew that there were many merry-makers enjoying a boisterous party into the wee hours.

I caught wind of another party in Hibarnhvidar a few andaen later and managed to attend that one as well. Once again, my memory of the event is unclear, although I am certain that I attended with every intention and will to remain a sober observer. I can only say that this party went much like the first. Given my firm resolve and that this was the second time I was affected, I must speculate that the mere presence of the donkey brings with it a general thrill to the senses, which may result in memory loss.

Visionist Miskton was kind enough to provide me with an account of another meeting with the donkey. This time, strangely, it appeared at a lecture on Necromancy in Therengia, presented by the Order of the Dragon Shield. Miskton too noticed the intoxicating effect of the equine and in fact prepared a Psychic Shield in an attempt to ward his mind. Otherwise, its actions were much the same: more procurement of food and drink and spontaneous festivities. However, one event stood out. A Dwarven woman present by the name of Urmira looked into the distance with a wistful tear, then suddenly dropped dead. Empaths present examined her and discovered that her chest cavity had been mysteriously destroyed. She was as confused by the death as anyone, only remarking that she missed her "guildmates" and that the last thing she remembered before dying was a feeling of sadness at not seeing them. She said, "All that time... making toys for others... in isolation... I never saw them again," and, "It came so sudden. I haven't seen them in many years." She was not able to say anything more of note.

Miskton also relayed to me that something strange happened at a different gathering. A woman he identified as Berima was participating in the party happily, but suddenly experienced a change of demeanor. Miskton told me, "Her eyes rolled back in her head and she grew still, then her voice went low and husky as she said, 'Worms within the dead limbs still lend the tree life.' Her hands trembled, then her eyes snapped open and she went on like nothing had happened."

These oddities certainly lend an air of mystery to the otherwise benign donkey. Still, as befits all pious denizens of our lands, I recommend giving heartily in offerings to Saemaus. As the holy week of Glythtide approaches, there can be no better time. Forget not His other aspect as well, Be'ort, who will want for offerings to appease Him in a measure with Saemaus.

In holy revelry let us prepare for the coming festival and rejoice in our bonds of love.

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-08-02 - GRUESOME RESULTS FROM ARBITER CONTRACT BREACH

I was contacted today by Ysei Sanar, a local Trader, who told me that she witnessed what is in my view a profoundly disturbing event. What follows is as she described.

Some andaen ago, a researcher by the name of Dehvra Valdish, of Valdish Enterprises, paid a visit to the Trader guild. She gave a brief presentation in which she revealed that her principal aim was to "[attempt] a controlled access of the Plane of Probability" in order to predict market forces. She said she planned to build upon the work one of her employees had begun, though he was most thoroughly unsuccessful and died in his endeavor.

For any who may not know the current position of the Trader guild (though I detailed it thoroughly in a previous article), only three years ago it successfully completed negotiations with the Arbiter in Darkness, a Greater Concept of the Plane of Probability. Thanks to the diplomacy of Lord Veahmic Turmar, an esteemed elder Trader, the guild was granted access to numerous magical spells of the Lunar variety, though they are quite unlike any known to the Moon Mage guild. These spells are taught in our Plane by a plural being called the Negotiants, a mosaic of tesserae, spun glass, and refracted light. However, in addition to the agreement to grant such vast power, very clearly written into the contract was that the guild must never touch the Plane of Probability.

Dehvra claimed that she had discovered a loophole: "By working through several shell proxies, I believe I can increase the time delay between access and information utilization, which as I outlined previously, evokes the simultaneity clause of my contract amendment." According to Ysei's understanding, the contract stated that the Arbiter must act within a certain time period, and so if Dehvra could delay enough, it would supposedly not be allowed to stop her from utilizing the Plane of Probability.

Today, Dehvra appeared at the guild again and enacted her experimental venture to access the forbidden Plane. She began by creating several illusory copies of herself of coalesced crystal and starlight — the first demonstration of such ability, I might add — which were only discernible by a slight glistening and their tendency to repeatedly perform actions in a series of loops. These copies began to sketch in the air a radiant series of elaborate and extraordinarily complex equations, including such defined terms as "Mean Frequency of Energized Crauyarin," "Variation in Resumption Recall," and "Price of Steel vs. Xibar Phase." This display seemed to form in cadence with Dehvra's concentration, growing rapidly in areas of little concern and much slower in those where she paused to regard them. As it finished, each copy stepped backward and vanished.

Suddenly, Dehvra stared at her hand, and Ysei was aware of what seemed to be an infinite number of Dehvras, as if she were caught between two mirrors.

Dehvra began to scream.

Each mirror image started to shake and then to change. One was dressed in ragged and filthy robes, another bleeding from the eyes, another cradling a baby, on and on. This cascading series began to vibrate, a high keening sound building. The floor cracked and strained and gusts of searing heat and shocking cold billowed around the room. Staring at Dehvra, Ysei found that she was looking instead at the back of her own head. She could only describe this experience as the embodiment of a contradiction.

With a screech of shattering glass, the Negotiants suddenly unfolded from empty air, extending fractal extremities that bristled with red hot crystal needles. They lashed out at the remaining illusions, shattering them, and Ysei heard their crystalline voices in her mind: "You are in breach of contract, Dehvra Valdish, and your gifts are forfeit."

The Negotiants exploded into tendrils and razor-wire and began to spin them rapidly around Dehvra, lashing into her and extracting her embedded avtalia crystals. (I'm told that surgically implanting such an array is a common procedure now.) They etched a cube of starlight around her head, which appeared to immobilize her. Horrifically, they then proceeded to cleanly remove the crown of her skull, tendrils writhing into her exposed brain.

After a few agonizing moments, the tendrils retracted, the skull fragment was replaced and the wound cauterized. The Negotiants began etching a series of starlight diagrams in a perimeter around Dehvra, apparently attempting to contain the contradiction, which appeared to be growing. A mass of shadow and light, space warped and crackled around it, reflections of shattered perspective and prismatic hues of raw starlight and inky darkness rippling against the far walls of the room. Frost dripped from the air around its border, sizzling as it hit the ground, which also rippled from the unseen forces. The room dimensions seemed to shift.

Although the Negotiants continued their work, soon their containment diagrams began to flex and bulge, before finally shattering. Dehvra was gone. From every right angle sprang maddened zenzics and starcrashers. The area pitched like the deck of a ship in a storm. Most present lost their lives in the ensuing invasion.

In time, the invasion was quelled. At the end of it, Trader Jep reported that he saw the Negotiants reappear, saying something about "possibilities were accounted for," before returning to their usual location within the Crossing guildhall.

Master Trader Rafano also reported seeing some "after-images" of Dehvra. "In the first, her face was bloodied. She was silently screaming, beating her fists against an invisible wall. Then she vanished. In the second, her robes were torn. She was running in a panic. She glanced back over her shoulder, then tripped and fell on the ground. All this was silent… only images… like a spirit."

Aside from noting the staggering arrogance displayed today, I would like to add something I heard three years ago from Lady Lilena, an incident that may be considered related. She spoke of an artifact guarded by her House, a set of books that contained "very particular mathematical formulae," notably advanced probability theory. These books were stolen by researchers interested in "seeing things more clearly." According to Lilena, the breach was "extremely brief, just long enough for the fools to get themselves killed." The Arbiter, you see, responded to their meddling, intercepting them before they could cause too much harm. However, as a side effect, a temporal distortion was created at the site of Ulf'Hara Keep, sealing a portion of time away, "forever to repeat, but safely unable to become one with our time, our fate." This contact was the beginning of the now fateful dialogue between House Turmar and the Arbiter.

Fascinating that Lady Lilena described such a temporal bubble, for lack of a better term. And now it seems that Dehvra, too, is contained in some way, no longer on our Plane. Perhaps she is trapped in infinite other worlds, doomed to repeat forever as punishment for her transgression. I will pray to Harawep for her. But in the end, it may have been necessary in order to prevent her breach from consuming our very world.

Traders, you play with dangerous mathematics. I task you to stay within the boundaries of your Contract.

Remain vigilant.

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-07-14 - 'INTELLIGENT' UNDEAD ENCOUNTERED IN THE CROSSING

Lately there has been a rash of undead "persons" sighted in the Crossing, each showing signs of life and intelligence before its true nature was revealed. I am relaying a story as given to me by Vaila, who was present through two important encounters that took place a few andaen ago.

Vaila told me that she arrived at the Crossing Empath guild, and there was a Human man present there, who "looked kind of bad and smelled worse." He mentioned that he was a farmer and said that he was looking for his son. Some time after, his son arrived, frantic. At this point the father said that he was in pain, over and over repeating "it hurts" and at one point saying "everything hurts." He screamed and threw back his head, and to Vaila's surprise, his head detached from his body. He died, decaying suddenly thereafter.

His son seemed at first to be in shock. In time, he revealed that the farmer had been dead for weeks. According to the son, the farmer had fallen ill and wasn't showing signs of improving. The son left to tend to some duties for a few days, and when he returned, his father was dead in bed. The son subsequently buried him. Thus the farmer's appearance at the Empath guild would seem to indicate that his body was animated by some foul force, which quite possibly didn't last.

The son said that he would visit the Temple, but upon others later following, he was not found there nor reportedly seen by anyone at the Temple.

Thus ends the tale of the first undead "person."

That same day, Vaila traveled to some farmlands in order to search for the farmer's family. During her searching, she had an encounter with the hated Necromancer Talinel, an unknown S'Kra Mur man whom Talinel referred to as his "brother," and an Elven woman. Talinel threatened Vaila, telling her not to "poke her nose into this," and not to mention the S'Kra Mur again. Vaila bravely ignored his threats and returned to the Crossing to spread the tale. Talinel followed and made good on his threat, killing poor Vaila twice, but by the will of the gods she rose again.

Later, Vaila was invited to the Temple to discuss matters with Mother Whiteburn, who naturally takes a great interest in the machinations of Necromancers. While there, the Elven woman she had seen with Talinel arrived, introducing herself as Jensia. However, an empath confirmed that this woman, too, was undead! Yet once again, this "Jensia" was able to hold an intelligent conversation, and even argued about her own state. According to Vaila, she claimed that she was "alive, though not in the same sense that she used to be. She admitted that she could be controlled by Talinel at any time, and that she could feel his presence… And she mentioned having more than one 'master.'" Furthermore, "Jensia" also claimed that when not controlled, she enjoyed walking the hills because they reminded her of home, and that she wanted to continue living, that she could think and feel.

Mother Whiteburn did the right and holy thing and destroyed this undead creature. Vaila recalled that "a black mist exited her body as she died."

However, today I was startled to encounter Vaila on the streets of the Crossing again, with a small crowd including an Elven woman. Vaila informed me that it was "Jensia," risen again! This is the first I have ever seen or heard of an undead being rising again after being dispatched, save for the powerful lieutenants of Lyras herself.

Thus we can conclude:

- There are creatures, which I shall refer to as Risen, who are undead but appear to all outward senses as living, including in the appearance of skin and hair and all such extremities. They can also conduct intelligent conversation and therefore pass for the Eleven, although they may be discovered by the life senses of an Empath. They may or may not feel pain or truly recall their past experiences.
- These Risen appear to be linked to Necromancers who can command and control them. The Necromancers may or may not relinquish this control at times. It is likely that the linked Necromancers are the ones animating the bodies.
- Despite destruction, the Risen may be reanimated or reconstructed, to appear again at a later time.
- Thus far the Risen do not appear to have the sheer strength of other undead creatures such as zombies and glass constructs. To the contrary, all reports so far indicate they are extremely weak.

Given these facts, we must remain vigilant against these creatures. If spotted, they should certainly be removed from meetings or private spaces, and ideally destroyed in an attempt to return to rest the bodies of the dead. However, I do note that they are thus far nonthreatening, so in some cases it may be permissible to allow them to remain fully constructed, so long as they are not posing an immediate danger or in a position to pass useful information on to their masters. Circumstances permitting, some intrepid researchers might capture one or two in order to discern how to destroy them permanently, or perhaps learn how to break their bond with their profane masters.

As an aside, I must say that I am reminded of the late Lady P (unknown - 351). For the uneducated, Lady Penelope was well known as an undead creature, though she was unaware of her state. I was fortunate enough to come across a copy of Vivviane Abdel-Messihh's book, The Deceived (Part II), in which she referred to Lady P as "a lich" but also a "beloved friend of the Moon Mage guild" who was "a fixture for many centuries." (See also Profiles in Magic, Volume 7.) I suspect that this "lichdom" was in fact more similar to the Risen state, although it appears that Lady P had full access to her own faculties.

Lady P was the guardian of an artifact that posed a danger to living beings, and so it may be that the guild allowed her to remain animate in order to fulfill that role. She was also quite knowledgeable and taught many notable figures in the guild, including Guildleader Mortom Saist and Grandmaster Taramaine Braun, so it was apparent that she was valued for her centuries of accumulated understanding. Eventually, however, another undead "person" called Kellior plotted against her, posing as a Paladin and calling for her death. He recruited from the Crossing Paladins to accomplish the task and was subsequently killed by the famed Fateweaver Demosel (see Profiles in Magic, Volume 11), who was a close friend of Lady P.

Curious that such a clear product of Necromancy should so recently have been accepted by a sanctioned Guild. Could it be that Lady P's state was somehow of a more tolerable form, such that the gods would not show Their displeasure over the many centuries of her friendship with prominent people? Perhaps not even Necromancy itself? Still, I must make it perfectly clear that the current outbreak of Risen among us are most certainly linked to Necromancers, and due caution should be taken.

Sincerely,

Navesi Daerthon
True Bard, Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-05-29 - THE CIRCLET OF ZOLUREN

Today I will tell you the tale of a mysterious artifact, which may or may not be of any import at all, and how it came to be at the center of a great Conflict between the righteous and the Evil.

The artifact in question was drawn to my attention by the Warrior Mage Tirost, who called a general meeting in front of Asemath Academy some months ago to announce his discovery. He had at a previous point received an encrypted journal once belonging to a Prydaen called Lasika Priskorya, which he was able to decipher enough to obtain directions to a secret location she often used. There he found a small silver piece of circlet, set with a clear crystalline gem. Along with it was a note, which read in Gamgweth, "That which to nature is perverse, the Eye of Light may yet reverse." Finally, Tirost described the strange sensation when focusing his magical senses upon the gem: "Rather than a pattern, or familiar type of magical energy, it felt rather like the absence of magical energy."

Tirost then said that he believed the silver piece was a reshaped part of what was originally the circlet worn by Prince Vorclaf during his confrontation with Lyras. His reasoning was as follows:

First, that Lasika was well known to have an obsession with the Merelew, as evidenced by what she wrote in her journal. Thus she would have a potential interest in the royal family because of Princess Arilana's Merelew lineage. This, coupled with her interest in Necromantic influence and the circlet's possible relation to Necromancy (see below), may have led her to pursue the circlet and obtain it somehow. Alternatively, she may have simply encountered a lost artifact while digging a tunnel, a pursuit for which she is famous. Tirost also pointed to a passage of Lasika's journal in which she discussed a helmet she had crafted to avoid being spied upon. He believed that she wanted to weld together different 'magical things' in an attempt to make this helmet, and may have been attracted to something like the circlet for that reason.

Second, that the note stored with the circlet piece indicated the potential to affect a Necromancer, even to "reverse" his or her power. It is well known that certain artifacts are used to strip Necromancers of the "profane aegis," the demonic taint that prevents the gods from claiming their souls, and thus allow them to be killed permanently. Prince Vorclaf deposed his uncle Sirolarn and had him executed for Necromancy; an execution of a Necromancer would be quite difficult without such an artifact. Tirost hypothesized that perhaps Vorclaf's circlet gave him this power.

Finally, it must be noted that the circlet piece was of great interest to Necromancers, which they proved by brutally attacking Tirost at this meeting and absconding with it. I saw the well-known Necromancers Nefis, Talinel, and Jhien in the ambush, although the piece itself was taken by one I did not recognize. Thus, even if the evidence that it was originally Prince Vorclaf's was slim, it is clear that they believed it to be a threat. I heard Nefis upon the gwethdesuan network saying, "An item of that rumored power should not be in your hands!"

Naturally, this caught our interest. Those of us present on the side of the gods decided to meet again and develop a plan to take back the circlet piece from the Necromancers, and to search for any other pieces that might make the artifact whole. Tirost had spoken to Lasika's wife, Almiwey, and believed it had been split into three in total.

I took to deciphering the journal with a fever, and in the end Rafano, Collain, and I were all able to crack the code. Many thanks go to my crew of Olvi copiers, who took the algorithm I created and used it to write out the many pages of the book in Common for us. Unfortunately, there was not much of interest within that Tirost had not already managed to decipher. It was mostly the ramblings of a woman most tragically insane.

Once the deciphering had finished, the interested parties met again at Taelbert's Inn. Upon discussing the circlet, we were approached by Andiolf, a servant of House Denesal. He told us that the circlet worn by Prince Vorclaf into battle was a simple circlet of silver on his helm, and clarified that it was definitely not the crown regalia. "Plain. No gems. Just a simple band fitted around a helm." This would seem to indicate that the piece Tirost found, set as it was with a gem, was unlikely to belong to the prince. However, given the interest of the Necromancers, and noting the possibility that Lasika may have added a gem or that a small gem may not have been noticed, we decided that we must continue our pursuit.

Unfortunately, we were once again visited by a Necromancer. We discovered that a woman who appeared to be an ordinary patron of the tavern was in actuality some sort of undead facsimile of a person, a fact which screeched against the senses of the Empaths present. After Perune favored us all by dispatching the creature, we were set upon by Talinel, though thankfully we were able to strike him down -- multiple times, in fact -- before he rallied his still-putrid flesh into a quivering arrangement capable of slinking away.

We agreed that we must not meet in public any longer and retreated to a private, warded location. I asked Miss Azettie Poppy to check Lasika's cave again for further clues, meanwhile Tirost, Kaelie, and Oscearo set out to search for associates of Lasika by delving into the records of the mental hospital she once stayed at in Riverhaven.

Their research bore fruit, as they discovered a local Olvi woman by the name of Bellula had spent some time at the hospital with Lasika. Tirost gathered more to his team and they found and approached her. Being somewhat of a nervous sort, she first tested them with riddles. After obtaining some kind of satisfaction, she revealed that she held onto a piece of silver for Lasika and seemed relieved to be rid of it. She gave this piece to Mazrian.

Meanwhile, Miss Poppy sleuthed in the cave and managed to discover something Tirost had missed: a bit of encrypted note. Working quickly, she delivered it back to us and I deciphered it post haste. It read, "South of the good goat's milk, in the hole in the tree where Rihlo and I hid from the barky things." Rihlo was an earlier lover of Lasika, so it seemed certain the note was written by the mentally disordered Prydaen. A companion and I searched every tree we could think of, finally discovering a chest in -- well, perhaps I will leave you to riddle it out for yourself, if you're interested. The point is that we found the third piece.

At this point, Tirost gathered together as many warriors as he could muster to meet about confronting the Necromancers. Our spies had done good work, and we learned that they were holding their piece in order to perform some sort of ritual upon it. Most importantly, we also discovered the time and place, meaning that for once, we could be the ambushers! The group scouted the location and laid careful plans to stay nearby and spy upon the ritual until we could confirm that they had the piece.

Impressively, the plan worked. Fortunately there were few of them, and many of us. We stormed into the cave where they had begun their foul work and quickly slew the lot -- except for one who had the quickness to escape upon our arrival. It saddened me to see them all together, ragged and in pursuit of such dark ends. When will they learn?

Finally, we had all three pieces in our possession, and I must admit, they are of a volume that suggests they might really have been a full circlet previously. Unfortunately, a thorough Bardic examination revealed nothing as to their provenance, nor did I detect anything with my magical senses -- certainly not any sort of "absence" as Tirost mentioned. But who knows what the Necromancers managed to accomplish.

The next step will be to return these pieces to the Crown. I know the chances are slim, but if they hold any significance at all to His Highness, they will be seen home. It is with some sadness that I send them off, knowing as I do that their power and history remain a mystery, but I do rejoice in that we most likely succeeded in thwarting whatever evil plan was laid by those Necromancers.

Sincerely,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald, True Bard
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


428-03-24 - DIVINE RITUAL BANISHES SORCEROUS AFFLICTION

Many persons in this land are aware of the dangers posed by sorcerous magics, yet it is not every day that one has the opportunity to observe at first hand the most calamitous effects that such powers may have upon those who attempt their practice. Lately, however, the world has been afforded a stunning case study in the perils of sorcery, as well as in the resilience of a young woman who fell prey to the malign workings of this most unnatural of magics.

Some may have heard, being spoken abroad this past winter season, the name of Iskra; still others may have met her and heard her own voice as she lately spoke out quite strongly in warning against sorcery. For Iskra, a young Prydaen who had once studied as a Warrior Mage, had cause to know better than most the ill effects of sorcery. In the course of her studies and experimentations, she had had the great misfortune to fall prey to a sorcerous spell of her own devising, which escaped her control and seemed to take on a life of its own, and alas for Miss Iskra, the place at which the spell decided to take up residence in its lively workings was inside the space of her own head.

Iskra, a mere novice in the guild but possessed of any young mage's abundant inquisitiveness towards magic in all its forms, had according to her own account been perusing a text in the Crossing Empath Guild detailing various life and healing spells. Not realizing the terrible consequences that might result in doing so, the young elemental magic student attempted in her curiosity to cast one of these spells herself, but, unsurprisingly, found this impossible to do. However, Iskra sadly did not give up the matter at this point, but instead persisted in her efforts. Being particularly an aficionado of lightning magics and having yet learned few Warrior Mage spells beyond the most elementary, Iskra reported that she had attempted to use the magical concepts which she understood from the lightning spell Gar Zeng to help her cast the empathic spell, with fearsome results. The most horrible lightnings created thereby, compounded of elemental and life magics twisted unnaturally together, rose up like a great storm inside the mind of the poor mage and proceeded at once to wreak havoc there. Such an encounter with a sorcerous spell has never before been recorded.

Losing first her sight, then even the ability to sense elemental mana, the young Prydaen in a steady succession of disasters in time found herself in hospital and cared for by empaths who brought her forth from a state of deepest insensibility, but were next to powerless in the face of her affliction's most awful progress. Iskra gave up all hope of regaining her facility with the elements and took up the mantle of a moon mage instead, at which point she began bravely to speak up throughout Zoluren on the dangers posed by sorcery, both to the unwary and to the overly ambitious. But most sadly, Iskra's condition continued still to decline, until her body was left entirely paralyzed, even as the ferocious lightnings continued to rampage vigorously about in her head. It was thought she could live but a short while longer in such a state, and one might have thought her entirely lost.

But happily, all hope was not yet expired for poor Miss Iskra. Though she had lost her magic, her sight, and even at the last the ability to stir so much as a finger, she had not lost her allies. Aid was sought by them from Grand Inquisitor Liurilias, a fellow Prydaen with both knowledge and experience of magical curses, and before too many days more had passed, he was brought to Iskra's side where she lay at the Half Pint Inn, helpless and suffering. A number of other allies were brought there also, to lend their own gifts to the ritual which it was hoped would banish the sorcerous magics from Iskra's head and harmlessly contain them in such a way that they could not cause further mischief. Besides Father Liurilias, Perune, Ayrell, Ruea, Annais, and the author of this account were all assembled to assist in the ritual, and later on were joined by Elec. Though Father Liurilias had the lead of the ritual, still each person present had their part to play, and their own small bit of assistance to lend.

Father Liurilias began by directing his prayers to the Triquetra, the traditional gods of the Prydaen people, and it was clear to those present that his prayers were listened to, and answered in the most literal sense. He seemed to hear the voices of the gods in his own head, and translated their demands, first into words, and then into action. Iskra herself was wrapped carefully up for warmth, and where she lay stretched at length upon the floor of the Bards' Corner, figurines of the Prydaen gods were placed on either side of her head. Most importantly of all, a vessel was created for the containment of the spell once it would be purged from Iskra's mind, and this took the form of a tiny wooden bead carved by the Cleric in the shape of a cat's head. The Empath Annais was called upon by the Triquetra, through the translation of Father Liurilias, to invest the bead with life and vigor, and this being done, Father Liurilias himself intoned several mystical words in Prydaenese, while tracing symbol upon symbol over the surface of the bead, each in turn flaring and then appearing to sink into the ebony surface without a trace.

In addition to the Triquetran figurines and the vessel to hold and neutralize the sorcerous spell, a small portion of the elements was also required for the proper working of the ritual. This was provided by those other persons who were present that had some connection to the elements, and each of these in turn took in hand an amulet of senci, provided by the Warrior Mage Perune, and invested it with a bit of the essence of Fire, Electricity, Water, and lastly also of Mind or Will. Meantime Ruea created in traceries of holy water upon Iskra's brow, the sign of the Triquetra, and this being done, the amulet was placed there on the sufferer's forehead, in the center of the sign.

Father Liurilias then turned his attention upon Iskra herself, and caused a pure white light to shine forth from his hands and to wrap the afflicted young woman briefly in their brilliance. The Cleric began an incantation in Prydaenese, pressed the wooden bead into Iskra's limp hand, and began to sing a song in praise of the Triquetra and the beauty, comfort, and wisdom with which they have filled this mortal world of ours. He finally concluded with these words: "Blessed Eu-Demrris-Tenemlor, hear the entreaty of your Chosen. Let your will take place to mend this kit broken by untimely happenstance. The vessel is prepared, bless it that it may draw the hurt from her body, mind, and soul. Enliven the token of Demrris' vitality that it may rejuvenate the flesh of her form and give the life you ever intended she have."

And as Father Liurilias then sat back peacefully, bright light like silvery flames began to flicker and flash between the figurines on either side of Iskra's head, and from thence to the amulet upon her brow, and finally to the cat's-head bead cradled in her palm, where it settled with a pure white brilliance that was nearly blinding. As this came to pass, Iskra's body began first to twitch, then to spasm, and then to contort itself into the most agonizing forms and gyrations, while a hideous purple-brown smoke began to flow from her neck, and a fearsome white froth to pour forth from her mouth and nose. Just when it began to seem that her frail body could take no more, a small ball of light, of the most evil violet hue, burst forth from her neck in a fountain of blood, and proceeded to waver between the two statues, shoving fierce electrical tendrils at either one while emitting the most hideous shrieks, as if of agony and fury. But at the last, with another terrible shriek, a roar of wrath, and a brilliant pulsing and flash of lightning forklets, the malicious spell energies vanished over the carven surface of the ebony bead, as entirely as if they had never been at all.

All of those looking on were naturally quite impressed by this extraordinary display, and no less so to see that with the vanishment of the purple light, so too had the wound in the young Prydaen's neck disappeared, and even the pool of blood that it had so painfully produced. Iskra, left quite exhausted by her ordeal, nonetheless had regained not only an appetite, but all mobility and even the eyesight which she had been without for so long, though very sensitive from disuse. And so after a short time of speaking with her and ascertaining the weakened but promising state of her mental and physical condition, the allies who had come to her aid left her now to that healing and comfort which sleep alone may minister.

In the weeks since this astonishing ritual, Iskra has continued to steadily regain her strength and health, and appears set to make a very nearly full recovery. However it is greatly to be hoped that as the traces of malign sorceries are erased from this young mage's brain, the warnings of this tale linger heavy upon the minds of others, a timely and dire warning of the perils of Sorcery.

Oscearo Stillwater

427-08-26 - COURT MAGE CONTINUES TO INVESTIGATE ROGUE MAGES

Court Mage Sherella, who I now understand represents Zoluren, attended a meeting held by Aerathor recently, where she commented on both Aerathor's current plans and his recent catastrophic group prediction.

Aerathor's intent was to discuss former guildleader Tiv, claiming that, after failing to discover a path to salvation for the Children of Grazhir (Moon Mages), he wished to find a way to learn from one of the guild's most venerable leaders. Tiv, unfortunately, was struck with an apparently incurable madness during the destruction of his guildhall in 410. Aerathor's plan was to attempt a healing ritual he had observed in Dirge in the hopes that it may cure Tiv's insanity.

The Court Mage commented, "We can't begin to comprehend what happened to Tiv. The last I knew he is still under the care of Lady Gylwyn. I can't think of a better person to safeguard him and to put his well-being and interests above any other consideration... If you think whatever happened in Dirge hadn't already been considered by Gylwyn, well, not much gets past her."

Despite Aerathor's intentions, the crowd was determined to discuss the effects of Aerathor and Aaoskar's most recent event, the group prediction, which unleashed a colossal starlight harbinger into the Crossing Moon Mage guild, among other extraplanar creatures. Mazrian told me he asked the Court Mage whether an example would be made, and she responded, "The Prince handles matters as he sees fit. In this case at least his mind was set more toward making right with the people of the Middens who lived through this horror, rather than giving to to a display of stringing anyone up by their toes... The Guild has made a healthy contribution to the coffers for the Middens orphanage and for general repairs and renovations. They have also agreed to dedicate increased resources to the study of wards against planar incursion." She also mentioned that she was present at the Prince's request and that she has been gathering information for His Highness on the event for several weeks. Mazrian explained his concerns to her about the lack of public punishment, and she agreed to relay those concerns to the Prince.

So, we must wait and see whether His Highness plans to act. The Moon Mage Guild certainly seems content to allow its students to act with reckless abandon.

Sincerely,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald

427-08-26 - VIGIL TO ELUNED BRINGS STRANGE VISIONS

As you may recall from previous issues, the Anduwen Watch recently called for a raid into the Fortress of Maelshyve, even as the powerful demon stirred and attempted to break into our Plane. Maelshyve chose to try to make her incursion by possessing an innocent woman, Ciriasa. During the raid, the Watch and a contingent of brave warriors defeated Maelshyve by driving her out of this avatar, but, unfortunately, during the process Ciriasa was killed. Her body was kidnapped by Osven the Necromancer, only to reappear mysteriously a few minutes later. I noticed the corpse was mutilated, the torso destroyed and right eye missing, and though we begged for the gods to offer favor, none was given. Shortly after, the corpse was mysteriously dragged away again by a person invisible. Although we searched high and low, we could not find it.

In recent andaen, the Anduwen Watch again put out a call, this time to hold a Vigil to Eluned. They hoped that, by making offerings to the goddess of knowledge, She may grant them some hint as to the location of Ciriasa's body. It is the Watch's belief that the innocent woman should, if possible, be found and laid to rest. There also poses a danger that a body so closely linked to the demonic might be of aid to the foul practitioners of Necromancy.

At the appointed time, Mother Whiteburn gathered a number of participants at the silvery pool along the Northern Trade Route, the entrance to Eluned's Shrine. There she opened in prayer, and we meditated on the nature of Knowledge and the great Ocean Mother. By Divine will, we were all transformed into fish and allowed into the Shrine, whereupon we resumed our natural forms. (As a public service announcement, this transformation is typical and all participants in such events should refrain from eating the other attendees.) With Mother Whiteburn leading the prayers, we each in turn touched the statue of the graceful dolphin, and we began to offer what we had brought to Eluned: carved dolphin effigies, dolphin imagery, and bits and pieces of our own knowledge.

The first to offer such a piece was Mazrian, who spoke of his memory of the women who died in the fortress -- for many were corrupted by the demon's attempt at possession. Amazingly, in response an elegant script formed in a whorl of radiant light above him, making the theological symbol for corruption. The light descended in a spiraling tendril from head to toe, as if searching for something. After a brief time, it dissipated. At the same time, Mother Whiteburn received a vision:

A miserable looking sailor clung to the shattered wreckage of a raft, a lone point in a vast windswept ocean seascape. A group of graceful dolphins playfully leapt through the choppy waves, heading towards the sailor who greeted them hopefully. A triangular fin followed the pod of dolphins from a distance, leaving the barest of ripples as it sliced through the water.

Suddenly, the sky darkened and the waters formed turbulent eddies, and countless figures became visible from the depths, glowing with a blue iridescence as they began to reach upward. The dolphins hesitated, twisting about in fear, and the shark began to circle the raft in menacingly tighter and tighter circles, one dead eye always on the sailor. The glowing blue forms reached ever closer, and the sailor appeared enthralled, reaching into the waters.

Lightning split the sky, startling the pod into action. The dolphins quickly dashed to the sailor, knocking him from the raft and pulling him to safety, away from the forms, away from the shark. The shark turned to follow the pod and sailor as the vision faded.

As others prayed and made their offerings, they too were surrounded briefly by a whorl of light, which quickly dispersed, and many received the same or a similar vision. However, when it was Ruea's turn, the light behaved in a different way. As it searched, it began to emit a high-pitched whistling tone. Ruea would tell me later that this was accompanied by both a vision and a searing heat, as well as the goddess denouncing her as unclean. I saw the script flare as the symbol pulsed rhythmically, a voice crying out, "It betrays!" Then the spiraling tendril erupted in a small explosion! Ruea would later also say that she was struck twice with bleeding wounds.

Mazrian suggested she carried something that offended Eluned, so she searched her purse, all the while feeling increasing heat. What she eventually withdrew was one of the vials used during the fortress raid. At near the same time, Saragos suffered the same fate of the whistling light, though he says he felt no burning or wounds. He immediately raised his vials up one by one and disintegrated them, burning them to ash. Meanwhile, Ruea exited the chamber and felt the urge to discard her vial into the pool above. She did so and it was swallowed by the depths. She then returned peacefully, and at this point the light revisited both Ruea and Saragos and dissipated harmlessly as it had with the others.

They both told me that they experienced a similar vision to Mother Whiteburn's, but with a different ending:

Red and green lightning split the sky, causing the iridescent forms to recoil and the dolphins to startle and flee. The sailor scowled, and, hefting an oar, began to slowly row the raft in the direction of the wind. The forms receded into the depths as the shark continued to follow the sailor from a distance.

We continued to pray for some time after the vials were destroyed, but we received no further visions from Eluned. What the visions mean remains a mystery, though one clearly tied to Eluned and Her role. Why She was displeased at the presence of the vials is another mystery, especially given that they were used to purge the demonic from our world, under the eye of Hodierna's own Unicorn.

Keep watching for further updates in case the Watch decides to pursue this matter.

With humility,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald

427-06-05 - MOON MAGE GUILD'S WEAK RESPONSE TO PLANAR TRANSGRESSION

As you will know if you read my most recent articles, Aerathor and Aaoskar's group of rogue Moon Mages incurred the wrath of Pelag ai Aldam after attempting a group prediction within the Astral Plane. This reckless action resulted, predictably, in a serious invasion of our plane by a starlight harbinger of immense power, as well as zenzics and the like.

In the wake of this catastrophe, many people were left wondering what the Moon Mage guild's reaction would be to the rogue mages' actions, especially given that the act of group prediction is expressly forbidden by the guild and denounced by none other than Grandmaster Taramaine Braun. As Sentinel Captain Cierzen pointed out, the guild must have been aware of their plans, especially given how publicly they were announced, and yet the group was allowed to continue.

Recently, I have learned the guild's response. I was approached by the Moon Mage Angel of the Theren Guard, who spoke directly to Guildleader Kssarh. She said, "Master Kssarh referred to [Aerathor] as 'the blasted fool who dropped a massacre on [my] doorstep,'" and that Aerathor needed to "fix this mess, whatever it takes." Further, he said, "I've got enough to deal with already because of all this. Just tell those idiots to make things better, not worse."

With regard to the guildmembers in general, Angel said that Kssarh's response was that "he'd like every student who claims to have a half-filled head on their shoulders to explain in painful detail how they made every effort to dissuade these idiots."

I sought out Kssarh myself to take a statement for the Herald.

FLH: Do you intend to punish those responsible for the group prediction?

Kssarh: You know, I might just throw them out a window now that you mention it.

FLH: Will the guild consider any formal indictment or more serious punishment?

Kssarh: Are you suggesting that my throwing students from the third story of this Observatory is neither a formal nor serious punishment? Also, why are you still here?

Furthermore, Moon Mage Fashan told me about a visit made by a Court Mage, whose name he thought was Sherelle, and whom he believed may have been from Throne City. She visited the Crossing Moon Mage guild and was asking about the ill-fated expedition, what Aerathor and Aaoskar wanted, and what happened. However, nothing further came of her questioning.

In short, the guild has made no announcement of an inquiry and appears to have no plans to indict those responsible for inviting deadly creatures into the Plane of Abiding in a ritual that they were warned was fraught with danger. Further, the guild leadership almost certainly knew of the group's plans and did nothing to stop them. These inactions denote a frightening lack of care for the safety of Zoluren citizens and, indeed, the denizens of the entire Plane of Abiding.

I once again call upon the guild of Moon Mages to take appropriate action to discipline its members and inform the populace of how it intends to safeguard the common people from such planar meddling.

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald

427-04-34 - PREDICTED CATASTROPHE COMES TO PASS

Despite many strong objections, rogue mages Aerathor and Aaoskar went ahead with their foolhardy plan to perform a group prediction within the Astral Plane. According to Mistanna, who was present at the event though not participating, the mages at the Taisgath gathering began by studying the sky together to better understand the celestial portents. They then proceeded to the Pillar of Convergence within the Astral Plane, whereupon the attempt was made to look upon the Web as one, still with the puzzling aim of looking to the past.

During the ritual, Mistanna felt disturbing ripples in the Web of Fate. She heard a voice that she described as "a thrumming buzz with metallic overtones" insert itself into her mind: "Defilers could never resist walking through an open door, and now your insolence compels you further. You dare attempt to break every window in a house that was never yours! Hopeless children can only corrupt all that they encounter. These desperate circles have only ever had one end. This path is already perfectly set, as it is for all things, and it leads rightfully to your much deserved suffering!"

Mistanna then detailed a pale visage with striking red hair, which flashed into her mind before manifesting in excruciating pain. It was as if two crossed daggers were stabbed into the back of her skull, exiting through her eye sockets. (Of some note, Pelag ai Aldam is said to have red hair.) Simultaneously, a starlight harbinger hauled its way through air that had become porous, its ten luminous limbs stretching for purchase. Most or all of the mages present were slaughtered by the being and fell out of the Astral Plane.

Mistanna reported that those who participated in the ritual circle said they did not receive any visions.

Unfortunately for those of us in the Plane of Abiding, Court Mage Miskton was mistaken about the danger being confined to the Astral Plane. The Crossing Moon Mage guild was invaded by zenzics, starcrashers, and the starlight harbinger, which was reportedly a creature of immense power. Aashja said that the harbinger "blew to shreds... more than ten of us all at once... People that are far beyond capable... just destroyed."

Thankfully, Mother Whiteburn's group was poised at the altar to Harawep in the Crossing Temple. Although at first we were set upon by two foul Necromancers, these were either dispatched or removed by the guards, and we were ultimately able to focus on our prayers in peace. Mother Whiteburn gave a sermon in her usual, bracing style, and we prayed continuously as the rogue mages were preparing and entering the Astral Plane. As time passed, we began to see disturbing ripples pass over the silver cobwebs inlaid into the altar. Just as the webs seemed like they would shatter, a cluster of spiders, representing myriad species, emerged to stabilize the fragile design. A particularly large black widow centered herself upon a web above the bloodwood altar. We took heart from these apparitions and redoubled our efforts.

Some time later, just about at the time the ritual was beginning, we saw a flash of light and shadow forming into a hand, which quickly faded. I am uncertain if this vision was related to Harawep, though I must confess I do not know what else could have caused it. Shortly after, we saw a web form of nearly solid shadows. A silvery disc passed behind the web, gleaming within the shadows like a moon amidst the clouds. A red sphere followed the silvery disc, its path a jagged series of twists and turns. Then a roaring sound vibrated the web, causing it to shiver and shimmer, and the disturbing ripples started anew. We heard a series of muffled shrieks, voices rising and falling in agony, and then the air became still and very cold. We sensed the Moon Mages had begun to die.

Olave said she felt a strain, like "pulling on the Web, only it's pulling back."

It was then that we heard of the incursion onto our own plane. Several of the skilled warriors with us went to do what they could against the formidable beings, but enough of us stayed to continue on.

We heard a haggard, haunting voice echoing in the chamber, "The decision is not yet made what you should do: Live or Die." We prayed that Harawep might tell us what we should do in order to live. She followed by saying to us, "The penitent give themselves to spare the many." Those of us present agreed wholeheartedly to offer up our lives in exchange for saving those under attack in the Crossing. And as we prayed, the black widow spider exploded, immolating us all.

We endured this burning, which gave a pain with the intensity of a white-hot sun. I am proud to say that most of us were able to remain upright, accepting it rather than following our instinct to extinguish the flames. Several times more would this suffering be visited upon us. Finally, after what seemed a small eternity, the flames died down for the last time. We heard reports on the gweth that the harbinger was gone, and later Aaoskar would say that he witnessed a spider-like entity swoop down and take the harbinger away. I rejoice that Harawep heard our prayers and spared our Plane the ravages of those titanic beings.

I am left now wondering why this disaster was allowed to occur, what foolishness could have possessed these mages to think that they might succeed where only calamity had fallen in the past. And why did the guild do nothing to stop them? Sentinel Captain Cierzen, a Moon Mage, commented after the event, "[Grandmaster Taramaine] thought it was worth them learning the lesson first hand instead of being shut down... he would have undoubtedly seen it all along."

Mazrian asked the captain who would be held accountable for events, and his response was, "For what? The sensations the populace never felt or the harbinger that never made it past our gates?... Who saw any of this?" To the captain I would say that this accounting stands as testimony to these events. I call upon the guild of Moon Mages to hold an inquiry and punish those responsible.

Praise to Harawep, praise the spider,
who holds the threads of Fate inside Her,
and through Her shimmering, lucent Web
our souls are held in rise and ebb.

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald


427-04-10 - GROUP PREDICTION PLAN POSES GREAT DANGER

Dear readers, I write to you today to warn you of an imminent threat. Moon Mages Aerathor and Aaoskar have of late been hosting meetings at the Crossing Observatory in order to discuss their plans for a group prediction. I attended the most recent of these meetings in an attempt to learn more of these plans, and I will share what little I managed to obtain.

First, they will attempt a group prediction from within the Astral Plane, the realm that borders both our Plane of Abiding and the Plane of Probability. Their aim is to learn of the origins of the mysterious obelisks used by Moon Mages to connect to the Plane of Probability, by looking "into the past" at the creation of these obelisks -- a rather puzzling aim given that Moon Mages have historically only ever possessed the ability to see into the future. Unfortunately, I was unable to learn more of their plans, because Aaoskar chose to strike me down during my questioning. Aerathor commented, "Moon mages are not nice... Why should we be? I almost did it myself."

To provide some historical context, group predictions have been attempted in the past. All have resulted in catastrophe. Take, for example, the attempt made circa 362, when Moon Mages were struggling with the Mirror Wraith Prophecy. A circle of Moon Mages gathered in an attempt to wed their prophetic visions, hoping to divine greater knowledge. However, the only thing they accomplished was opening a rift to the Plane of Probability, out of which came a Shadow Master. This beast slaughtered the mages present and required an army to finally dispatch it. The Moon Mage Council subsequently forbade future attempts at group predictions, proclaiming that they violate the sanctity of the guild.

Nonetheless, at least one more attempt was made. At the Moon Mage Conclave of 412, a mage known as Traim called for a group prediction, despite the strident objections made by his friend Malzard. Traim claimed that adding "mixed mana patterns" might allow a successful result, but once again disaster struck. Although at first the mages received visions, soon after they were visited by none other than Pelag ai Aldam, servant of Fate. His voice was heard, and a rift opened to release an umbral colossus into the gathering. Although the mages attempted to fight back, each blow struck against the colossus split it somehow, creating a tenebraeling, until innumerable shadow creatures swarmed the area and slew many of those present. It took great effort to destroy the creatures and make the area safe again.

Guildmaster Prime Taramaine Braun himself wrote in his book on the Celestial Compact, "All attempts at group predictions [ended] in gateways large enough to allow beasts from the Plane of Probability to escape into our own. We seal this line of study."

I further spoke with Court Mage Miskton of Ilithi to learn more about the potential dangers of Aerathor and Aaoskar's plans. He first confirmed that all recorded such experiments have "gone poorly." He further said, "It might be possible to do it in a way that limits danger for those outside the immediate participants, but it would still be risky... [Limiting the danger] would largely center around... having a great deal of firepower ready and aimed at the group performing the prediction." Aerathor and Aaoskar made no mention of preparing such firepower, I should note, although again I was unable to obtain the full details from them. I might also mention that by holding the event within the Astral Plane, only Moon Mages may attend, seriously limiting the warriors available.

When I probed Miskton about the location of the ritual in the Astral Plane, he said, "In that instance, it would likely be safe for those of us in [the Plane of Abiding]. Casualties would likely be limited to any mages unfortunate enough to be in the Astral Plane at the same time... [but] as soon as Pelag ai Aldam noticed what was going on, I have to imagine he would immediately attempt to destroy the participants." In sum, we may be safe if we do not enter the Astral Plane ourselves, but those inside will be in imminent danger by a being of incredible power. Pelag ai Aldam, as described by Miskton, is "a being... [who] hates anyone with prophetic abilities. He seems to be tied to the Web of Fate in some way, and touching fate seems to enrage him." It is well known that Pelag has the ability to kill anyone unfortunate enough to encounter him.

Furthermore, Miskton warned that, "In the event that the participants can survive long enough, it's possible [holding the ritual in the Astral Plane] might make for an even stronger connection to the Plane of Probability... It could perhaps range from unusually clear visions, to forming enough of a planar breach that the participants end up falling into the Plane of Probability." Mages who might participate should strongly consider this possibility, as it could mean being lost forever in a foreign plane, one dominated by creatures like the Shadow Master.

Ultimately, according to the Court Mage, the danger is very real to those who would participate in this event. It is also forbidden by the Moon Mage guild and might result in official sanctions. I would urge anyone thinking of taking part to reconsider.

Additionally, I must take a moment to address the fact that Aerathor and Aaoskar's aim is "looking into the past." Miskton confirmed that Moon Mages to date have never been able to see into the past; this ability has remained solely the provenance of Bards. As a Bard myself, I can attest that our focus on the past is central to our guild and results in true, embodied experiences in which we can observe historical events as if standing present at them. Such evocation has its own, milder dangers associated with it, but it is completely unconnected to the Web of Fate or the Plane of Probability. I would urge any amateur historians with an interest in visions of the past to connect to the Bard guild, as we may be able to truly and safely help with such matters.

Finally, I must remind us all of the message of Harawep, so recently pressed upon us as dangerous rifts opened in our Plane in 425. She wanted to burn the Plane entirely, to begin again rather than risk Her Web, so said her many priestesses. It was only through great effort that we managed to seal these rifts and prevent Her wrath. These Moon Mages risk not only the ire of Pelag, but Harawep. I call on everyone involved to withdraw support from this endeavor and instead join in prayer to Harawep, so that She may show us mercy and protect the Web without destroying our only home. Mother Whiteburn has agreed to host a gathering at the High Temple's altar to Harawep at the time of the ritual. Join her in preserving our Plane and our lives.

Sincerely,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald
Editor in Chief of the First Land Herald

426-09-10 - MAELSHYVE RAID A STUNNING SUCCESS

Against slim odds, a large group of intrepid adventurers recently raided the Fortress of Maelshyve, intent upon attacking the Demon herself in her own lair. I am proud to report here their near complete success. The Demon's presence was weakened, her avatar prevented entirely from manifesting in our Plane! Hodierna's own Unicorn was a constant companion during our battle, and when the fighting was finished, we felt upon us the blessing of the Immortal Herself as we prayed to consecrate that Unholy place. The only mystery that remains is the location of the corpse of Ciriasa, the unfortunate woman whose body was nearly overtaken by the Demon.

To begin, I must first confess, dear reader, my sheer inadequacy in telling this tale. I expect I will only be able to barely scratch the surface. There were too many parts, too many roles played, for a single Bard such as myself to know them all, even with my own extensive observation and interviewing practices. Thus I hope you will read with understanding, and feel yourself free to publish your own additional details or request addenda.

In the beginning, a small, Zoluren-based group called the Anduwen Watch made the decision to perform the raid. Their name comes from the anlas of Anduwen, the first anlas of the new day and also a dark, midnight anlas. Their stated desire is to fight for the breath of civilization across Elanthia, to herald the new day even among the darkest of times. They chose this raid in order to strike back against a festering Demon presence which has long situated itself in the Zaulfung swamp: Maelshyve, the green-eyed beast, symbolized by the triple-tined claw.

For the uninitiated, Demons are not simple nor small monsters, nor even mortal enough to be called something like "monsters". They do not live and breathe as we do, but instead are more akin to gods, their presence and power expansive, although extraplanar. We are only protected from them by their difficulty in manifesting in our Plane of Abiding, though their lust for all things Divinely created means that they will forever scrabble against our figurative door. Maelshyve's corruption of the Zaulfung, though a terrible blight to us, is but the tip of her little finger.

During the planning phase, the Watch became aware that the Demon was stirring. For how long this had been occurring, no one can be certain. It came to them that she would soon attempt to materialize herself into one of many human women, their bodies gruesomely transformed into the Demon's image. The group intended to utilize vials of liquid inimical to Maelshyve, which would expel her from her potential vessels.

When the day of the raid came, the Watch was joined at the Riverhaven Temple by a horde of capable adventurers, with the official support of the Order of the Black Fox. Several individuals from the Theren_guard|Theren Guard and Tavern Troupe were also spotted. The Order of the Dragon Shield pronounced to me afterward that they were against the raid and asked to be quoted: "We protect Theren, particularly Haven and the surrounding, and of course anything else the Baron directs. We DEFEND, we don't seek out additional trouble for the area, there is enough with Viggu as is." However, as part of their aim of protecting Therengia, they sent a force to guard the Standing Stones and Riverhaven during the event.

Mother Whiteburn exclaimed to us all, "This is a night of power. A night of glory. Today, I espied a red buzzard flying over the swamps of the Zaulfung. The early morning sun haloed the holy bird in a corona of blood." She then led the group in a battle prayer to Hodierna before we would begin the work of the raid.

Those supporting the raid split into three groups: a forward team, a main force, and a prayer group intending to remain at the Riverhaven Temple to provide spiritual support.

The forward team was sent into the Fortress well in advance in order to stymy the plans of any cultists. This team consisted of Mazrian, Qiyan, Saragos, and Seldaren, who traversed ahead to the main chokepoint within the Fortress: the rope bridge. There they worked tirelessly to prevent entry of known Necromancers. Saragos reported that the team engaged several such Necromancers and was able to successfully destroy them without incurring losses. Team members also threw themselves upon the unstable rope in order to knock down any interlopers who made it to the bridge, risking their own lives and falling in the process. Maltris arrived and was particularly adept at such acrobatics, eagerly leaping toward the enemy. Qiyan also reported that an occasional great wind would pick up and blow people clear across the area.

The main force, of which I was a member, gathered under the leadership of Perune, then moongated to the Fortress's entrance within the Zaulfung. There we were greeted by none other than a unicorn, surrounded by motes of Divine light, which could be none other than a servant of the great Mother Hodierna, Protector of Life. Although bolstered by this appearance, our group quickly encountered its first obstacle: the slow entry into the Fortress itself. Fighters could enter only at a trickle of two at a time, every minute or so. The patience shown by those present was nothing less than astonishing as the group slowly reformed inside. Some pressed forward while others remained to be led.

My own role was to sound the horn and provide Sanctuary as we traversed the murky caverns below. Thanks to such dampening magics, we made it to the charred caves without much incident. However, there we encountered the first more serious minions of Maelshyve: shylvics, blood wraiths, and lesser vessels, which appeared amidst the cinder beasts that usually prowl there. The lesser vessels in particular were disturbing, their Humanity clearly encroached upon by unhealthy patches of scales. It was there that I first saw the brilliance of the unicorn's horn bringing Holy retribution to our foes — yes, the creature actually fought at our side! Ethereal shield was enough to protect us from the explosive flames of the dying cinder beasts, and the unicorn and warriors made short work of the other enemies.

As if these attacks were not enough, we also tasted the first of many Incursions of the Demon into our own persons. Not only did many of us report hearing her voice whispering to us, but beginning at that point, we felt her true weight upon us as invisible talons crushed our heads, cracking skulls. Such attacks would continue periodically throughout the raid, and so from that point forward, the Empaths would be taxed by taking so many similar wounds. I said a silent prayer of thanks to Hodierna for remembering to bring a full remedy kit. Furthermore, the vessels emitted dusky blue fumes which could penetrate into party members. I now believe these fumes caused necromantic corruption, which was occasionally abated by the love of our favored gods.

Once we reached the bridge, although it was a point of safety, we were again slowed severely by the need to cross one at a time. During this time, much loud discussion was had in my mind over whom to send next. Empaths were called back and forth as our heads continued to be crushed. In particular, I recognized Aislynn, Kaelie, Karthor, Qiyan, Szrael, and Zymi providing enormous support in triage in general. I switched to Hodierna's Lilt — particularly appropriate given our ally — in the hopes of sustaining everyone while they worked. At times things felt desperate as we were repeatedly assaulted by the invisible talons.

Eventually I made it across and discovered that we had managed to set up a banner and field hospital near the obelisk, south of the Halls. However, I learned via gweth that the forward group had pressed north into the Inner Sanctum, past the Hall of Malice, where the true threat lay. I was tasked with setting up a new, forward field hospital in the Sanctum. For that I knew I needed a skilled Paladin, so I took Sir Samsaren and we headed north. This area is fraught with deadly puzzles and traps, a rushing river, and teleportation circles that require time to activate, but we managed to make it to the heart of the Demon's lair.

There we encountered Ciriasa. Unlike the lesser vessels we had seen before, who were merely patched with scales, Ciriasa was clearly in the full throes of metamorphosis. She was covered in thick, midnight-blue scales from head to toe and bore daggerlike talons on her fingertips and menacing fangs dripping with venom. Plated wings allowed her to take flight, and she often attacked by flicking them outward, sending ichor-coated barbs into her opponent.

When she saw Sir Samsaren, she roared out, "FINALLY! SOME SPORT!"

We were forced to engage, the warrior holding her back while I tried to maneuver us into a position to banner. I saw her attack him again and again, barbs building in the cracks of his armor, claws rending through his breastplate. At one point she swooped down from above, landing on him with terrible force and pinning him to the ground as she tore him apart. To my amazement, he managed to whisper the final words of the Banner of Truce spell just before he fell unconscious, dying in my arms. The area was safe!

I traversed back south through the traps and led the rear group to the new safe area, where the triage party immediately got to work on the wounded and fallen. Throughout our fighting, I spotted the unicorn moving to support different warriors, attacking Maelshyvean foes and Necromancers alike, and Seldaren reported it even once stopped to resurrect him directly.

The final battle unfolded before me. An enormous number of warriors engaged Ciriasa or participated in triage at our field hospital. Among those I was able to identify were Agadir, Atanamir, Aurayn, Binu, Charlize, Collain, Elec, Etherian, Everics, Hanryu, Dame Isharon, Mother Khaelyn, Father Liurilias, Maltris, Maxwelinski, Mazrian, Miskton, Perune, Ruea, Sir Samsaren, Saragos, Sir Sebestyen, Seldaren, Father Sereze, Sir Sturm, Talmoon, Tirost, Toreakas, and Mother Whiteburn, along with the stalwart Empaths I mentioned above. The best throwers were given vials to target the prime vessel. I also witnessed a dark-skinned Elothean and a hooded Prydaen, both Necromancers, fighting against her, each with his own concoction. It appears that even among the Necromancers, there are those who would battle demons.

Sir Samsaren said that fighting Ciriasa was like facing a “very powerful Barbarian” in terms of the barriers she possessed. The projectiles often missed their mark, spilling across the floor, or were knocked away by her wings. However, when they did connect, the spray of liquid caused her to reel back in shock, black energy erupting from the droplets and causing a massive concussive blast that blew everyone backwards. The battle was harried and brutal, as hierophants and blood wraiths swarmed, and three or four foul Necromancers brought forth deadly glass constructs at the same time. Despite these trials, our warriors prevailed.

Finally, Sir Samsaren held Ciriasa’s gaze with unwavering strength, then bowed his head and called forth the resounding magic only a Paladin can muster. She was stunned, and in that moment of weakness, Seldaren made the final connection, his mastery clear as the vial struck perfectly her frozen form. She collapsed to her knees then, reality itself warping violently in the area as waves of distortion rippled outward from her. The green glow in her eyes dimmed, and she shouted in a desperate plea, "Help me, warriors, please, while her grasp is weakened!" Then the fierce glow returned, although she appeared severely weakened, and she cried out, "What's this? Master, do not abandon me, I will destroy these fools here and now!" But it was too late for her. We heard an unnatural hissing as she fell over in a heap, convulsing. The scent of filth reached my nostrils as her scales and wings began to dissolve, melting off her form in a sickly blue ichor. When it was done, she was left in Human form.

Included here is a detailed painting showing an energetic battle scene. Just off center looms the feminine monstrosity Ciriasa, bat-like wings captured mid-flight in a turbulent extension, with one scaled arm outstretched and a single, wicked talon pointing across the field toward a determined Human Paladin, his shield upraised and bearing numerous barbs sunk into its frame. The Paladin is poised with axe preparing to strike, its head flaring white-hot, the man's lined face stark in the contrasting light. A swirl of action is portrayed around the two figures, unbalanced poses and restless composition lending a sense of feverish urgency to the fight. Alight in one corner is a blonde Elothean man surrounded by a maelstrom of fire and ice, his figure leaping to the side as one arm is outstretched in release, a tiny glowing vial soaring toward Ciriasa.

According to Mazrian, in the heat of battle, with the surge of bloodlust all around and the press of warriors, some were not able to comprehend the transformation and pushed toward the now Human Ciriasa with attacks, wounding the woman. Mazrian dragged her away to be healed, but she bled out before the work could be done. There were some tense moments of discussion over the body, but then Osven, a man I earlier identified as a Necromancer, dragged away the corpse.

Frustrated at the loss of the corpse and unable to find her, eventually we decided to move on to our final task: consecrating the corrupted altar. This place was once dedicated to Urrem'tier, but Maelshyve defiled His holy altar and made it her own. Mother Whiteburn led us in prayer once more, calling upon those present to raise their voices to Urrem'tier, which we did in force. Although we heard naught of Him, the Divine Unicorn spoke to us thusly:

"The fate of she who was the demon's prime vessel lies with Urrem'tier now. Seek her if you wish, save her if you can. The gods are pleased with your deeds this day, and I, the servant of Hodierna, ask no more of you."

Its form then dissolved into mist before my eyes, showers of sparks raining down upon the area, leaving a glittering gold dust behind. A sense of peace settled upon us, and I felt distinctly as if Hodierna had blessed our place.

Suddenly, the corpse of Ciriasa appeared before us, as if out of nowhere. I noticed that where before it was healed, it was now mutilated, missing parts from the abdomen and back, and the right eye was gone entirely. We learned as well that she was bereft of favor with the gods, and so we beseeched the Immortals to raise her again, many of us offering up our own favor so that it could be so. Alas, our prayers were not answered, and the corpse was suddenly dragged off again. Although our Rangers and Moon Mages searched for Ciriasa, Osven, and other Necromancers to whom they might have retreated, they could find no trace of them. Exhausted, we decided to retire, accepting that at least we were victorious over the Demon.

Oscearo reported to me that those who remained at the Temple during the fight were Annais, Janora, Rafano, Rze, and herself. Janora was insightful enough to send her familiar in to follow the fighting and gave regular reports. Oscearo called out Rafano in particular for his devotion to the prayers, which he gave steadfastly "in the face of much horror and distraction." At one point, a unicorn visited them. She said, "It suddenly revealed itself to us in the room with the altar, and stood there bathed with moonlight as if from the inside out. It did not speak, only bolstered our resolve with its presence, and let us know we were heard." Just before the end of the ritual in the Fortress, it then spoke into their minds, wishing blessings everlasting upon them, before it dissolved into motes of brilliant, heavenly light.

The Standing Stones remained largely free of conflict, though the Order of the Dragon Shield reported that one Necromancer did attempt an attack there. They drove him off and killed him. Riverhaven was peaceful during the event.

Overall, I am stunned by the success that was wrought on that day. If the Demon had manifested fully, we would have been faced with a cataclysmic event that could well have cost untold lives. Recall that even Prince Vorclaf, infused with the power of Meraud, was defeated by Lyras as the Hunger manifested within her. Despite the difficulties of the entrance and bridge, the traps and enclosed places, the desperate need to Banner in unaccommodating areas, and the sheer, raw strength of Ciriasa herself, we rallied and removed the demonic presence from her. Every person who participated has contributed to the peace we may now enjoy once again.

My only moments of unquiet come when I consider Ciriasa, once prime vessel, removed and lost to us, fate unknown. Mother Whiteburn also confessed to me her unease that Urrem'tier's voice was not heard at the altar, and we wonder if it is truly consecrated. Even still, the work that we did that day was done well, and I personally commend all who took part.

In peace and solidarity,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


426-05-34 - RAID PLANNED FOR MAELSHYVE'S FORTRESS

The demon Maelshyve has for too long lain uncontested in her fortress beneath the Zaulfung! So says the Anduwen Watch, a Zoluren-based group dedicated to the preservation of civilization and the Plane of Abiding. This group of intrepid adventurers plans a RAID upon the demon's very home and heart, an event to which they invite all able-bodied guilded individuals.

The main aims of the raid will be:

  • To KILL as many supporters of the demon as is possible, particularly her hierophants. However, shadow beasts, cinder beasts, and basilisks may also be encountered in her most dangerous Lair. To defeat hierophants, it is recommended one be able to match a storm bull in combat at the least. For the others, I recommend skill at defeating warklins. Note that these are rough estimates only.
  • To CONSECRATE the altar Maelshyve has defiled by her tainted Will. This altar once belonged to the great god Urrem'tier, and the Watch hopes to beseech Him to intervene and resume His ownership of this once-holy place. It is advised to bring offerings and words pleasing to Urrem'tier, god of Death.

NOTE that the Watch wishes to provide aid to ALL those who dare to brave the demon's fury, regardless of ability. They especially welcome those with healing or resurrecting abilities, and those with a special connection to Urrem'tier. A guide will be present to usher noncombatants to the altar's location and peace-making abilities will be in use to attempt safe prayer, however no guarantees can be made. The Lair is mazelike and full of dark horrors, so plan accordingly.

Meet the Watch at the Riverhaven Temple on the appropriate day and time. [OOC: March 31st, 9pm EST.] Come prepared for death, and let us hope Death is prepared for us.

In solidarity,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


425-06-34 - PROVINCIAL LEADERS DISCUSS NECROMANCY MENACE

Yesterday large retinues from each of the five provinces converged on DiSilveron Manor in the Crossing. An anonymous source from within one of the retinues reported to me that leaders from all provinces were in attendance, including Prince Belirendrick of Zoluren, Ferdahl Aemmin of Ilithi, Baron Gyfford of Therengia, Councilor Ilanthesh of Qi'Reshalia, and King Tongrid of Forfedhdar.

The source claimed that the meeting's topic was Necromancy and how best to deal with it. According to the source, Baron Gyfford takes a hardline stance, claiming Necromancers are "evil" and "they deserve no mercy." Prince Belirendrick agrees that they are evil but stated that "jailing them for five roisaen" was not an effective solution. He also brought up concerns over false accusations. Ferdahl Aemmin was said to eloquently argue that "killing them doesn't work" and could in fact lead them down a darker path. She believes they deserve a chance at redemption.

King Tongrid and Councilor Ilanthesh, according to the source, were not as vocal about their specific stances. The king acknowledged that Necromancy is one of many evils that he deals with, and the councilor only said that each individual island is responsible for its own denizens. All were said to be in agreement that Necromancy is "terrible."

At one point, I heard yelling come from within the manor, though what was said was not discernible.

At another point, couriers dressed in the colors of each province were dispatched on horseback.

Finally, my source revealed that sorcery was also a topic up for discussion. According to the source, Baron Gyfford called it "blasphemous" while Prince Belirendrick said it was bad but noted the lack of organization behind it. The prince is concerned that shopkeepers are currently alarmed and may sometimes believe Necromancy is being practiced when in reality it is not.

Discussions may continue for several days. More will be reported on this topic if further information is discovered.


Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


425-06-34 - TRADER GUILD NEGOTIATES WITH THE ARBITER

I apologize that, given my recent vacation, I was unable to report on this news earlier. Guildleader Cialen, leader of the Shard Trader guild, has confirmed that Lord Veahmic Turmar, and the Trader guild in general, are communicating with the extraplanar entity known to us as the Arbiter in Darkness.

My source within the Trader guild told me that Researcher Tozu of the Moon Mage guild was spotted at Brickwell Tower in Shard, where the Trader guild is located. He exited a rather heated meeting with Cialen, though no words between them were gleaned through the door. The leader requested an escort to Dirge, where he would meet with the Turmar family, and during the journey he revealed the guild's new discussions with the unusual being.

The Arbiter in Darkness, for the reader who does not know, is entirely different from a creature from our own Plane of Abiding. The Arbiter is what is known as a Greater Concept from the Plane of Probability; it is the embodiment of starlight. As Cialen put it, "…[asking what is the Arbiter] would be akin to asking what is a feeling. What is a thought. What is a concept." Visionist Miskton described it as powerful, along the lines of one of the Immortals, and said that "people who tried to deal with it… were given what they asked for… which was generally not what they wanted." For those interested in further study, I recommend you seek the story titled only "Arbiter in Darkness."

As a side note, the Plane of Probability is the same one from whence came the recent starcrashers, zenzics, and the like. My Trader contact informed me that these creatures, too, were willing to negotiate with members of the Trader guild, providing a short term of "service" in exchange for metals of any type. Service in this case appeared to consist of following the Trader and attacking all others nearby, regardless of allegiance.

Cialen noted that individually the Trader guild leaders would generally dominate a given deal. He added, "But for this one [with the Arbiter], it's been determined that collective experience is in order. Not to mention considerable outside research." The terms of the deal have not yet been reached, and negotiations may continue for some time. Cialen was not forthcoming about what each side is expected to gain or lose, but he did say, "These may be some of the most profound negotiations in our guild's history."


Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


425-03-10 - MOTHER WHITEBURN'S RITUAL CLOSES THE STABLE RIFT

Today Mother Whiteburn, Chosen of Drogor, a prominent priestess of the Cleric Guild, called for the consecration of the stable rift discovered near Rossman's Landing. She gathered both members of the clergy and the public to aid her in entreating the Thirteen for aid in ending the anomaly, whose presence promises the continued corruption of our dear Plane of Abiding.

At the appointed time we met at the rift. I am told that before I arrived, the group was beset by a small array of zombies, led by a Necromancer that those present identified as one Talinel -- may the gods smite him down forever. The one that I witnessed when I arrived was a zombie shark, somehow compelled through foul forces to attack brutally even when on land. I also spotted at least one other known Necromancer flitting through the area. Mother Whiteburn told me that one of them recited a prayer to Hav'roth in the S'Kra Mur language, only instead invoked the name "Antrayelsis". Whether this represents open demon worship will be up to scholars; we shall only know once we discover to whom this name refers.

Around this same time, the rift acted upon the area, releasing a fetid mist which immediately diseased all those present. Thankfully, Web Healer Sarkranis, Zoluren's Shadow Aislynn, and Rairken were able to handle the crisis with precision and alacrity, purging everyone of the illness.

Mother Whiteburn began the moment the last zombie fell, commanding the clergy to hold hands in a ring, and the rest present to kneel and press their hands unto the dirt. She explained to me afterward that this was to create a conduit for divine energy to enter the area and cleanse it. Holy trident raised high, she began chanting, beseeching the gods to purge the corruption and end the rift. Everyone began to pray, calling out to personal gods and the pantheon alike. Father Liurilias joined in with Mother Whiteburn's chanting. The air became palpable, and I could feel the gods' presence in my bones, as if held in the thrall of Their greatness.

As the praying continued, I saw a cluster of large spiders in all manner of hues appear and enter the rift. One witness, Malykai, made the unfortunate choice to follow them, returning as a body, though his soul suffered no undue harm as he was resurrected.

Improbable angles began to jut out from the rift before contracting again. The Elemental, Lunar, and Holy magics being released into the area became visible to all as entwined streams of fiery, cold white, and golden light poured themselves into the shimmering rift! The energies assaulted the planar distortion, crackling violently. The rift started to break apart, then, quite suddenly, it completely collapsed! The ritual was a success! Mother Whiteburn, pleased but obviously drained, still implored us to continue to close the other, unstable rifts breaking through into our Plane. Our work is not quite done yet, though we have experienced victory today. We give thanks to our Immortals and to our talented clergy.


Praise the Thirteen,
Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


425-02-34 - RESEARCHER TOZU SPEAKS ON PLANAR EVENTS

Today Visionist Miskton hosted one of his infamous Visions meetings at the Great Tower of Shard. We convened to discuss in particular those visions lately relating to the planar incursions we have suffered. However, this would be no ordinary meeting.

First, we were met by an unfamiliar face flashing briefly in the sky (depicted below), indicating that we were being watched via a Shadewatch Mirror. Miskton was concerned and requested that I ward the area from clairvoyance, which I did with a reasonably powerful manifestation of the Sanctuary spell. However, my success was short lived, as a blinding purple explosion of shadows appeared momentarily, revealing once again the interloper's face. A basic sketch reveals a vague male face, enough detail present for an approximate identification. Below the face is written: Tressoth?

Considering we had little means of stopping the individual from observing as he chose, we decided to continue the meeting. Shortly thereafter, Researcher Tozu of the Moon Mage guild arrived. He suggested our observer might be none other than Tressoth, one of the Children of Kalestraum, a cabal of rogue Moon Mages known for both their magical terrorism and their research into forbidden Teleologic sorcery. He claims Tressoth has been following his movements, although given Tressoth's earlier arrival, he may have had an interest in the meeting for its own right.

We discussed a number of visions, most with clear ties to current events. Crystalline latticeworks descending from the sky, waves of frigid heat washing from tears in reality. For details I encourage readers to seek out Miskton. We all agreed that they only emphasize the need to heed the High Temple's word and work to heal or purify the rifts, and eliminate the creatures.

Fortunately, Researcher Tozu was able to speak further on these planar events. He began by talking about the stable rift leading to the area of planar distortion: "The issue is that we see it here... I mean it's not a portal to some other plane. It's literally a part of the Plane of Abiding being changed... [It is] the merging of two disparate Planes. It wouldn't just be a meld or one takes over the other. Entirely new laws of nature or physical manifestations could be created... This kind of incursion and merging, it can result in something entirely foreign to either Plane involved... Which means bad things for all the things that currently exist on either." When asked about the dangers of exposure, he said, "We need to be worried about mass exposure, because if this keeps growing..." and at this point he trailed off and declined to finish.

Furthermore, Tozu was able to enlighten us on the nature of the interplanar beings' interaction with sorcery. He said, "I've confirmed some of the high sorcery spells can break the protection [the planar beings] have in their maddened state." He added that this included Teleologic sorcery, "among others." However, the researcher cautioned, "Not that anyone should be deploying the [sorcery] tactic." He also confirmed that Uncurse is the safest way to end the maddened state, and that Psychic Shield provides protection against the limb-severing spell of the zenzics (though not the rogue gates of the harbingers). When I asked him if he would make a statement on the use of sorcery and its relation to the corruption of the Web, he responded, "I think anyone with sense can see it's part of the problem here."

He spoke a little too on anathema, the substance retrieved from the rifts. He said, "The anathema demonstrates curious structural properties, both physically and magically, when subjected to proper scrutiny." I myself have confirmed through magical focus the sense of sorcerous corruption latent within the material. Tozu went on, "It is the essence of the rifts, and represents the literal boundaries of the planar void weakening as physical laws are violated first. After that come the psychic energies, among other things. Many guilds have experience visions and psychic assaults as these energies begin to flow across the void."

About the loimic, he said, "Compared to the anathema, the evidence of corruption here is weaker, but still present. As expected, these physical manifestations are the most resilient but nonetheless ultimately susceptible." Visionist Miskton mentioned that there was an odd occurrence with a moongate at the start of the meeting. As he put it, a wave of semi-solid shadow burst forth from the gate, an effect similar to that seen near the rift by Rossman's Landing. Tozu replied, "It's not unexpected that the properties of mana could begin to be disturbed."

Finally, Tozu revealed that Traders appear capable of dealing with the interplanar beings once they are forced out of their maddened state. He said, "They can make a sort of deal with the creatures in exchange for some metal. It actually settles them briefly." However, he admitted his knowledge in this area was lacking and could not speak on it further.

Once again, I emphasize the words of the priestesses of our High Temple. We must deal with these rifts, or risk Harawep's wrath. Speak to your local priestesses about how you can help.


Sincerely, Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


425-02-30 - STABLE RIFT APPEARS NEAR ROSSMAN'S LANDING

Today, what appears to be a stable, possibly permanent, planar rift was discovered near Rossman's Landing, in the Mistwood Forest where three paths come together by a hawthorn tree. The rift leads to what is clearly a planar distortion, quite possibly some sort of physical manifestation of the Plane of Probability. It is populated by some of the most deadly of the interplanar beings I wrote of in my last article: huge zenzics and starcrashers. All attempts to break apart the rift, as we are able to do with the others, failed utterly.

A detailed drawing shows the rift yawning open, lightning streaks of light and shadow deeply inked across the edges.

Shortly after the rift appeared, I witnessed several strange effects near the opening, on our side in the Plane of Abiding. Webbing appeared from nowhere and covered those of us in the area. Brutal cold suddenly buffeted us. We were also at different times stunned and taken to our knees. The rift itself dripped liquid fire, burning the grass beneath it. Crystalline bubbles floated out from within it, rising to the sky above. Finally, the surface of the rift buckled and warped before snapping back into place, looking somehow more solid than before.

I was only able to brave the interior for a short time, but within it my eyes were filled with the wonders of an alien world. Strands of manifest darkness and light roped around each other, pulsing like the heartbeat of a great web in the sky. Light and shadow grew like moss upon boulders. I saw songbirds singing droplets of liquid crystal. Yet, among all this strange beauty, there was also corruption: pitted ground, noxious gas, and sickly green and red veins connecting twin masses of shadows. Unfortunately, due to the danger present I was not able to take the time to connect to the area and search for visions of the past. If you should choose to brave this distorted world, exercise great caution. These creatures are deadly in the extreme. I remind us all to continue our work to remove the other rifts, purify the tainted material, or purge the interlopers, as desired by our goddesses. Our link to this foreign plane is growing stronger.

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald


425-01-38 - INTERPLANAR BEINGS CRASH THROUGH KERMORIA

Beginning about 5 andaen ago, several beings from the Plane of Probability made numerous, violent appearances within Kermoria, appearing at different times in Riverhaven, Shard, and the Crossing. Just last andu, they created havoc in the Crossing as they wandered through, snipping limbs from citizens and summoning monoliths of crystal to hurl at those they encountered.

The Creatures

Several sketches show the appearance of the various creatures. The zenzic resembles a tufted caterpillar, innumerable glass filaments rippling across it, with a note indicating that they can appear in a variety of sizes, from tiny to huge. The zenzizenzic appears identical except that it is two zenzics occupying the same space. The starcrasher and starlight harbinger are drawn as a cross between a starfish and a ten-legged spider, the jumble of limbs positioned to display its unusual movement. A note explains that the starcrasher is translucent and opalescent, while the starlight harbinger shines with blinding white light.

The creatures known as the zenzic and the zenzizenzic are considered lesser incarnations of mathematics, while the starcrashers and starlight harbingers are lesser incarnations of physics. For those not educated in the matters of Lunar magic and the Plane of Probability, this means that these creatures are a physical manifestation of some of the unknowable rules that govern that plane. Natural inhabitants are typically beings made of shadow, light, or, as in this case, pure concept.

The Attacks

Practically speaking, their nature as denizens of the Plane of Probability makes these creatures unpredictable. In fact, initial attempts to wound them were totally unsuccessful, as they would blink away from the aimed location of the strike. Spell patterns targeted at the creatures were stripped of their meaning by localized anomalies around the beings.

Thus, at first, the beings had free reign of their respective cities. The zen-types cast a spell that suggests the intersection of improbabilities, scissoring off whatever limbs happen to be caught within them. The star-types created storms of objects whirling around them via telekinetic force, and they hurled chunks of ice-cold crystal at defenders. Most brutal of all, the starlight harbingers would occasionally summon sky-high rogue moongates, which would invariably tear apart anyone in the near vicinity. Run immediately if you see such a being calling forth a gate.

Fortunately, defenders soon discovered a method to weaken the creatures, stripping them of their ability to avoid attacks: A Cleric must Uncurse them. Mother Whiteburn, Chosen of Drogor, said that she could feel Harawep's influence within a curse upon them, and this allowed her to break it. Rumors of sorcerous spells affecting the creatures are unconfirmed. I did glimpse an apparent moon mage cast upon one of the creatures, at which point it strangely turned and followed him. I was unable to detain him for comment. He was a green-scaled S'Kra Mur dressed in a dapper suit and bowtie, if a reader should spot such a person.

Visions

Renowned Visionist Miskton, Court Mage of Ilithi, was kind enough to share several visions with me that he feels pertain to the current events. They are too numerous to list here, and thus I encourage readers to confer with him at his next Visions meeting, whereupon they will be discussed in detail.

Father Padhg also told me he experienced a strange vision, one not shared by any others that I spoke to. Just before the first attack, as he was resting after combat, he suddenly felt as if he were drowning and could not breathe. His vision went dark, and he dreamed of shadows, which swam through the dark water in front of him. Later, he awakened to find himself face to face with a dolphin and one of the shadows, and, as he put it, "Eluned chased the shadow away."

Father Soraent's Advice

To our great fortune, we in Zoluren were lately visited by Father Soraent, an investigator of the High Temple known for his ability to commune quite physically with the gods. At the start of his visit, he experienced such communion as a stream of spiders, doves, and tabby cats poured forth from his mouth. He spoke to us: "Sorcery, Necromancy, perversions of Fate, disruptions of the Web, all of this adds up. In haste, in greed, in lust for power, in ignorance, in hubris, the non-pious poison Her Work." He means, of course, that Harawep's Web of Fate is corrupted, poisoned, allowing these extraplanar beings into our own Plane of Abiding.

He went on to explain that the Immortals are of three minds as to how to combat this corruption, of which the creatures are a symptom. Tamsine wishes to purify the corrupted pieces so that threads can be spun anew. Albreda thinks to dismantle the rifts through which these creatures seem to come. Harawep feels that we must burn out the poison and all touched by it. She grows impatient and will slaughter all life on this plane before she allows the Web to die. At the end of Father Soraent's speech, he was overcome by the voices of the goddesses themselves, each urgently plying Her own solution.

Father Soraent implores all to seek out the priestesses of Tamsine, Albreda, and Harawep, who have been sent out by the High Temple. Some are located within our very own Crossing Town Green, though I have been assured they are in other cities as well. The priestesses have tasks for us that will aid in their particular attempts to deal with the corruption of the Web. I join him in urging all to participate. Further, I would like to reiterate Father Soraent's belief that Sorcery and Necromancy are causes of this terrible plague. Choose wisely the spells that you use. Remember, within our hands rests the fate of Fate itself.

With humility,

Navesi Daerthon
Zoluren's Herald,
Editor in Chief, The First Land Herald

Notable Issues

416-02-32 - A Brief Guide to Current Events in Zoluren

Archives

First Land Herald Archives