Where dead gods once kept their court
We were greeted well at the palace. Aeran and I stumbled to the palace gates covered in blood while escorting the Watcher’s brother Ross, the mad prophet Ferdiad, and the young bard Davy. The palace guard immediately guided us inside and showed us to a private room where we could clean up. Ross departed from us and ordered the palace guard to make sure that Ferdiad and Davy was kept safe this time. He thanked us for our efforts and headed to meet his brother.
Eventually Branden and Grzegorz also arrived to the palace. Unfortunately they had lost Rhoderick somewhere in the slums. We were given our own luxurious rooms with majestetic beds more comfortable than anyone of us had ever experienced. While we were enjoying our rest Camil returned to us. He had been released from the interrogations and found not quilty. His father, however, had been sentenced to be executed for treason. I felt bad for my friend as we all knew that by tradition evil deeds committed by an individual fouled his clan – both living and dead. Camil carried a heavy burden caused by his father. I only wished that he would get the chance to clean his family’s honour.
We spent few hours treating our wounds and cleaning up when we were summoned to meet Ross who told us that his men had traced the albino priest’s movements into a deserted house in the slums. He said that he would send the palace guard to raid the house and that we could join the if we wished. There were no second thoughts, of course we would.
We joined the raiding party but found little in the abandoned house. It had clearly been a hiding place prepared for the priest in case anything would fail. We found one strange thing: a burned circle on the floor. Grzegorz examined it and concluded that it had been some kind of a teleport incantation prepared and triggered separately. What was precarious was that it was clearly a ritual of black magic, a strange thing for a priest of Corwynt to use. I immediately wondered whether Geshtar had something to do with this, but it would have not made any sense. It seemed obvious that the members of the Priory and Geshtar had their own agendaes and worked separately. However, I thought, Geshtar had meddled with so many things already that he might have his hands mixed up with this strange cult also.
We returned to the palace with little to report. When we asked Ross about the black magic practiced in the house he was as confused as us. He told us that only a powerful wizard could track the teleportation spell. Those are as rare as they come, but Ross remembered he had heard of one called Sweeney, who had last been seen near the mountains of Mynydd Brynn. We were adviced to rest and meet Ross next morning when he had had the time to catch up with all the news his network had gathered while he had been captured.
After a well rested night we learned that the negotiations had a small recess as Robert magh Connacht had thrown some the quarreling thanes out of his palace and cursed them all to hell. From the guards we heard that the Watcher had gone through his halls shouting ‘’are there any more traitorous rats living in my house?!’’ after he had heard of the depth of the treachery from his brother Ross.
As I stepped out of my room I heard a loud curse from Aeran’s room and quickly dashed in. I saw the mercenary lying on the floor holding his leg in agony. I immediately closed in to examine his injuries but saw nothing wrong with the leg. I asked Aeran what was wrong with the leg but he did not know. He had just fallen on the floor straight from bed as the leg suddenly started to ache tremendously. I wondered whether my friend had been poisoned when I realised what was wrong. I remembered from my years at the cleric school that the healing spells cast by white magic spellcasters never healed the injuries fully, but merely hasted the natural healing process exponentially to mend the most imminent physical damage. The trauma caused by the healed injuries still remained and could cause serious complications on subjects who had been healed several times in a short period of time.
Aeran had nearly lost that leg to the Hillpeople at the battle of Caern Coeth. I had mended the nearly severed leg in the heat of the battle and even then the wound was nearly too great for me to heal. After that battle Aeran had taken some serious beating. I had lost count on the times he had been cut down and healed just to return to the fight yet again. I explained to the mercenary that he should be cautious now on and try to avoid getting beaten so bad. There was a limit to the amount of punishment his body would endure. The mercenary shrugged at my lecture and rose on his feet, the pain had stopped for now. I helped the him to the breakfast table where we heard that the Watcher had invited us to meet him personally.
We immediately moved to meet the high lord to hear what he wished to tell us. We were guided to a fine dining hall where Ross magh Connacht was already waiting. After a while we were joined by the Watcher, Robert magh Connacht; and Devin magh Keeth. I had expected to meet a cultured nobleman with sophisticated manners, but was a bit surprised when Robert magh Connacht entered the room. At first he simply greeted us with a single glanse and proceeded to empty his bladder in one of the tin pots placed near the wall. “So you are the ones I’m to thank for getting my little brother out of trouble.” After finishing his business he belted his pants, belched and walked to the dining table where fine foods and delicasies where laid infront of him and us.
‘’Fabulous, just when I had no one to constantly bicker and question every decision I make’’ the large man said and began laughing. There was something stunning about his laughter: it seemed like his facial expression was free of all emotions yet the laughter sounded hysterical. I wondered whether his face was paralyzed.
‘’Yes, milord. We are at your service,’’ I said and greeted the thane with my best etiquette.
‘’Ah, leave all that fancy arsed crap, lad. If I wanted my ass kissed I’d call one of my servants, AHAHAH!‘’ The Watcher quickly responded.
’’As you wish. You wished to meet us?‘’ I asked him.
’’Yes I did. You have done me a great favor by saving my brother, but now, tell me about your journeys,‘’ the thane demanded as he sat at the end of the table.
’’A short or a long version?’’ I asked and the thane demanded me to tell him the long version. I began to tell him about our adventures in the past two months and quite soon the thane was enthralled by it. It seemed that he enjoyed my story very much and often stood up and grabbed the nearest object to wield as a weapon and waved it around in a comical demonstration of battle. This often happened when I described the battles we had fought together.
‘’So you’re the ranger, a sharpshooter I hear?‘’ the thane said to Branden when I was telling him about the battle in Rhaynder Valley. The ranger simply nodded at the strange thane and then the thane grabbed a finely made long bow from the wall.
’’I was once a great fighter too, I tell you. Many great battles have I fought and the stories I hear now bring those memories back to me. Let’s see if I can still hold my aim…,’’ Robert said and threw the bow to Branden who caught it in his arms.
I continued the story and in a similar fashion he talked to each of us separately:
‘’I white spellcaster I see. You’re such a fox, Devin magh Keeth, to get one of them in your flock. You cunning devil, I say!’’ The Watcher said and glansed cunningly at Devin who simply smirked at him. He was clearly referring to the fact that his fellow thane had acquired a cleric to his clan, a valued asset.
I continued my story and when I got to the point where we learned about Camil‘s father’s treachery, the thane interrupted me:
‘’I think it is a stupid custom to think that ones ancestors deeds affect you somehow. I mean, who imbecile made up that idea! It’s just completely retarded and should be abolished. Just look at you, a valiant paladin and you should suffer for your father’s wrong deeds. For example, should I be shamed for my treaturous wife’s recent actions? Hhhmph!’’ Robert said and gave a symphatetic look at Camil.
When my story began to end, the thane rose up and said that he wished to arm us with great weapons and that he would buy each of us a new weapon. Either a masterly crafted weapon or armour, or a similar piece made of Hrod Steel. Just as he was getting carried away by his sudden urge to arm us, his brother Ross interrupted him:
‘’How about we talk about more serious matters first.’’
‘’Aaah, alright, but after that we’ll go straight to the armory,‘’ the bearded thane huffed.
’’Let’s cut to the chase then. As you know I had been looking into the actions of the villains who fled from us at Glenwathen and just some time ago I got a lead on Findley. My informants tracked the merchant to the west where he had been hiring mercenaries to accompany him on some journey. At the moment this group is heading north with Geshtar to the sacred spings and the Larwein temples." Ross turned to us: “They have a head start of four days on you and that is where I would wish you to follow them. I have no clue on what they wish to do at the ”/wikis/mynydd-brynn" class=“wiki-page-link”>Mynydd-Brynn mountains, but that is something you should find out"
We agreed to do just what Ross magh Connacht had proposed and decided to leave to visit the arms & armor shop just like Robert magh Connacht wished. Before we left Devin magh Keeth told us that there had also been strange rumours south: apparently there had been some trouble on the southern sea as numerous ships had not returned as scheduled. He also told us that he was going to meet the High Priestess of Debranua at the Tower of Winds as she was a well known specialist on prophecies and visions.
After the the armory we quickly visited the Tower of Winds. The high priestess Eleanor greeted us and answered some of our questions. He claimed that time wasn’t linear, but instead could be thought as an enormous three-dimensional sculpture where every moment existed simultaneously forever. According to him those called prophets were special individuals who experienced all moments at the same time, and are driven insane by the experience. It also seemed that Geshtar had tried to manipulate the prophecy.
There had been prophecies related to the discovery of the Mysterious Stones: “And four shall find one shard beneath the breadbasket of the north. Four knives in the throat of the son of snakes”. Apparently everything at the Hill Keep had been staged so that the prophecy would happen. They had lured groups of four into the ruin and slaughtered them so that the prophecy could not come to pass. He also had prophets across the realm assassinated so that no one else would be aware of the prophecies. I decided to ask the priestess what he knew about preventing prophecies, but she could tell me little. Even Geshtar had not been able to prevent us getting the Mysterious Stones. I told the priestess about the prophecy Ferdiad had told us about us betraying Branden. I asked her about my theory that if I would tell Branden about the prophecy its magic would disappear. If we all knew about the prophecy couldn’t we just make it not happen? Eleanor stayed awfully quiet for a while after my question, but eventually said that we rarely understand the lenght of consequences of our actions. Unsure what to say to that I simply nodded.
I decided that I should tell Branden about the prophecy. Even if it didn’t help, I did not want to hold such information from my friend. I told him that Ferdiad had made an ill prophecy that we would betray him and it would lead to his death. It felt horrible to tell something like that to a dear friend and from Branden‘s eyes I could see that he could not take such information lightly. Branden didn’t answer. Instead he just grunted and walked away. I decided to give him some space and didn’t speak of it anymore. I truly hope this will break the curse.
We decided to waste no more time and saddled our horses. With haste we began to ride north along a caravan that was heading to the Larwein temples. When the caravan stopped to rest we kept on travelling through the night.
The day was spent on the road. We travelled with little rest, camping by the road. The summer will soon come to and end and the nights are growing longer.
By midday we arrived to the mountain range and by evening we arrived to the temples. There was a long queue of pilgrims on the gates and after a short wait we got inside the walls. As we walked inside, we saw numerous Knights of the Hand. It was obvious that this place was a great source of income for this sect of Corwynt. The steady flow of pilgrims brought lots of silver to the temple. I had heard many tales about this place, but instead of a center of spirituality it seemed more like a military fortress teeming with soldiers and merchants peddling obviously fake relics.
As we felt the sting of cold on our skin, we purchased winter clothing from a street shop. The prices were quite high here due to the constant flow of pilgrim silver. After we re-stocked our gear, we entered the only local inn. We casually ordered some drinks and food and I proceeded to ask questions from the bartender. It seemed that everyone here had noticed the group we were chasing. We heard a story of a mercenary group arriving to the city and getting in trouble with some local scouts. A towering man, apparently Ramsey, had single handedly slain two of the local scouts after a dispute. The local scouts were proud warriors who were responsible for scouting the nearby mountains for Bridei warbands. The scouts had a grudge against the man who had killed their friends. There were two scouts at the tavern as we listened to the bartender. They joined the conversation and told us how they had joined a group led by a seasoned scout called Osgar, and followed Geshtar’s party deep int Bridei territory. They witnessed how the wizard encountered a Bridei warparty. He shouted out some arcane words and the area was covered in unnatural darkness. In the haze the scouts could see an unnatural form appearing out of nowhere. The Bridei fell to their knees and hailed the wizard as a holy man. The two scouts telling the tale had fled back to the fortress while the others were goaded omwards by Osgar. They have not been seen since. I have heard stories how the Bridei worship demons as gods, and felt a chill go down my back.
We decided to hire the two scouts, Magrath and Gormal, to guide us to the place where they had departed. I told them that we would leave early in the morning.
We left the Larwein temples early in the morning. Our guides were already waiting for us outside the inn and we swiftly exited through the gates.
We left our horses and our most cumbersome gear at the inn.
On our second day of trekking in the mountains we reached snow and pretty soon we noticed something sticking out of the snow far ahead of us. As we closed in I sent Camil to see what it was. The brave paladin walked straight to the mysterious bulge in the snow and kicked it. A frozen leg was uncovered as the snow fell of it. We gathered around the gruesome sight and dug the corpse from the snow. The scouts recognised their friend even though the skin had been cleanly removed from the corpse’s face. This was the work of the Bridei: they believe they can steal an opponent’s soul by taking their face. I inspected the corpse and saw multiple cuts on it, probably made by swords and axes – there definitely had been a vicious fight. Branden tried to find tracks, but apparently it had snowed last night and all the tracks had been covered.
We continued forward and by midday reached a mountain side where our guides told us that they would not go any further: the Bridei heartlands would start here and here they had separated from the other group. We said farewell to the scouts and continued to the direction they showed us. Before departing they warned us about the barbarians. Unlike the Hillpeople the Bridei rarely engage in straight fight, but rather use cunning and dirty tactics to lure outsiders to their deaths.
‘’Bunch of cowards…’’ I heard Grzegorz whisper to himself.
The path was completely covered in snow, slowing our pace considerably. We marched for few hours reaching a narrow mountain pass when suddenly Branden, who was scouting ahead of us, raised his hand as a signal of caution.
‘’I wonder what it would feel like to be a gold fish here, wouldn’t the water freeze?‘’ Camil suddenly blurted out and gazed at the majestic mountains surrounding us.
’’Camil, please, just shut up,’’ I whispered to the thick-headed paladin.
I crawled towards Branden and asked what was it. He pointed his finger towards the snowy slopes ahead of us: I saw a lonely figure standing in the distance. It was too far away to see exactly who or what it was, but it was still right on the path we were supposed to go through. I decided that we should go straight towards it as a group. Frontal contact had worked well for us in the past and I didn’t want to risk anyone of us going there alone.
We began to close in on the figure and soon saw that it was one of the scouts tied to a wooden pole. I stepped closer to the man and saw that he was still alive, although barely. His eyes had been plucked out and his tongue removed. I began to loosen the ropes binding him and saw that his condition was most definately beyond any help, even my magic couldn’t save him.
As my concentration was locked to the tied scout, we were suddenly ambushed. Several Bridei warriors plunged out of the snow: apparently they had been there hidden for some time already. Plunging towards us we readied ourselves as best as we could, but as they appeared right next to us, they gained the initiative. I turned around and saw several Bridei warriors – half naked despite the cold – between me and my friends. One of the Bridei plunged towards Aeran who cut the barbarian in half with a mighty swing. A sprout of blood and gore flew in the air and rained on the snow. A brutal combat began as our fearless enemies continued to fight us. Suddenly I heard loud noices behind me and as I looked behind I saw two giantic forms running towards us: ogres! These creatures were notorious, but rarely seen in the south. I instantly began to chant and opened a prepared link into a group of celestial wolves. They instantly appeared in front of the other ogre and tripped it to the ground. They would not stop it, I thought, but they would certainly slow it down and give us more time.
As I turned around I saw my friends in a pitched combat. Everyone seemed to fare well except Grzegorz, who laid bloodied in the snow. I plunged towards the mage and saw that one of the Bridei assaulters had beaten him pretty bad. I dodged a blow coming at me and knelt besides Grzegorz to heal him. The necromancer stood up grimacing as he regained consciousness. Blood spurted out of his mouth as he coughed and leaned against his staff. As I saw that he was still alive I turned around to continue fighting with the Bridei’s.
We were slowly gaining upper hand and the first ogre was quickly felled as Camil, Aeran, and I teamed up against it. Just as we were beginning to think that the combat would soon end in our victory we saw a group of ogres on a mountain ledge above us. They vigorously tried to break a wooden beam that held a great snow mass together. They were going to bury us in snow, we immediately realised! We immediately struck our last blows against the remaining enemies striking them down and began to run forward.
The avalanche began to break down behind us and we barely escaped it. A cloud of snow dust covered the air and obscured our retreat. We decided to make best use of it and continued to run for a while. After we were sure we were not followed we stopped to heal ourselves. Grzegorz had taken the worst beating as he had been surprised and stranded alone.
We continued to march and eventually the dusk began to fall. We realised that we should seek shelter and Branden began to scout our surroundings. It didn’t take him long to find a set of bloody tracks that led to a cave. We decided to search it as it would surely provide us a safe camping place for the night. Inside the cave we found a wounded scout, unconscious and on death’s door. I healed the man and quite soon he woke up. He turned out to be Osgar, the scout who had led the group after the mercenary group. He told us that they had followed the strange group here, but had fallen into a Bridei ambush. For some reason they had been taken as captives which was something the Bridei never did. He told us that he had understood what the ir captors had said and that they were going to take them to a sacrificial site nearby. He had managed to knife his guard down and escape during the night, but had suffered a crippling blow on his leg. Despite this he had crawled several miles and finally hidden in this cave too exhausted to continue.
We asked him about the surrounding areas and possible sites of interest and he told us that there was the Bridei sacrificial site and a mage’s tower where a wizard called Sweeney lived. We thought that we should go investigate the wizard as we had no idea what Geshtar was planning to do here. It was obvious that the Godspring had not been his target.
We slept in the cave and kept a guard for the whole night.
We continued to march forward with Osgar as our guide. From time to time he signalled us to take cover and every time someone made an unnecessary sound he gave them a furious look. By midday we arrived at a place where a small mountain peak obstructed our way. A cave decorated with skulls and human body parts was the only way we could go through. Osgar told us that this led to the sacrificial place and we would have to go through it to get to the mage’s tower. I simply nodded to the scout and entered the cave.
There was something sinister in the place and a constant feeling of evil lingered in the place. I could almost hear faint whispering in my head, the voice unnatural and otherwordly. I attuned my senses to pick out any magical auras and continued to scan my surroundings as we ventured deeper into the cave. The tunnel soon began to rise up and eventually turned into a staircase. I suddenly picked out a single source of magical aura and turned to investigate it: a pommel of a sword or similar weapon lay on the ground besides a skeleton in ancient Ellysian armour. Apparently the pommel was magical and rest of the weapon had vanished over time. I picked the pommel up and placed it inside my bag.
The tunnel eventually led to a plateau on top of the mountain. At the other side of the plateau stood a sacrificial pedestal and behind it a tall obelisk hewed from black stone. Raw magical energies swirled around the place almost overpowering me. The altar was surrounded by unnatural darkness that seemed to move like it possessed a will of it’s own. In the darkness a bloody corpse of the last scout could be seen laying by the pedestal. Suddenly I felt my body stiffed and paralyze. It seemed that the same had happened to my friends except Camil and Osgar. Suddenly a black figure plunged at us from the darkness. The thing looked like it had been spawned from the deepest abyss, a demon of some kind, I thought!
The fiend began to claw at us and quite soon the paralysation loosened its grip. I saw Camil charging at the creature, but unfortunately he stumbled and crashed straight into the wall. Branden grasped for a bottle of holy water but, just as if he had been cursed, the bottle slipped out of his hands and broke on the stone floor. As soon as I was released from the devious paralysation, I cast an enlargement spell on Aeran who began to deal some serious beating to the hellish abomination. The creature seemed to resist our blows quite well and used a leeching aura of negative energy to drain life our of us. Each time it used its aura, its wounds seemed to heal. Camil, who called the divine grace of Nimue to smite at the fiend, seemed to pass its resistance and eventually the beast began to weaken. A decapitating blow from Aeran finally ended the creature.
As soon as the black carcass hit the floor, the darkness disappeared from the room. The demon’s form melted into a pool of foul black gore before evaporating into thin air. Osgar rushed to the corpse laying by the altar and from his face I could tell it was one of his friends. The presence of magic was strong near the obelisk although its patterns were hard to read. The closest thing we had encountered in the pass were the standing stones guarded by the Fey. We quickly continued through the plateau and found a similar staircase descending on the other side. We continued forward and finally arrived to the other side of the mountain.
We marched to the direction Osgar headed us for the rest of the day and eventually stopped to rest for the night.
Early in the next morning we arrived at a tower that looked like it had perhaps once been a guard tower. There was a small wood shed and an outhouse near the tower. As we closed in we saw a woman chopping firewood at the shed. We approached the woman, or to me she looked like an young girl with hair as fair as wheat in Simiuisonna. I greeted her and asked whether this was the place where the wizard Sweeney lived. She nodded at me and said to follow her in. She then walked to the large wooden door on the side of the tower and began to move her hands over the stone blocks surrounding the entrance. Magical runes began to glow faintly under her hands and just as quickly they appeared they vanished when her hand moved away from them. I realised that the door must have been heavily warded and if we had tried to force ourselves in we would have probably been vaporized.
As we stepped in we saw that the interior of the tower was just as modest as the outside. I was a little disappointed as I had expected something glamorous or even pompous for a powerful and old wizard. The girl said that she would go fetch Sweeney and that we should wait here and not touch anything. As she walked away, I saw Aeran look at her like I had seen him look at female waitresses and servants before. I nudged at him with my elbow and wondered his behaviour.
‘’Why so prude suddenly?’’ the mercenary asked me.
’’She’s way too young for such gazes Aeran,‘’ I replied.
’’Why, I don’t understand? She’s not a kid but a grown woman, and quite a decent one might I say,’’ Aeran said and seemed a bit confused. My reply was interrupted as an old man entered the room. He wore simple robes and his looks were of a man of decline: his nose was red from heavy drinking and his face and circles were swollen from bad diet and idleness. Nevertheless, he had a distinct aura of a great man hidden inside him. Despite his degraded looks, I could not help the feeling of respect he demanded as he entered the room.
‘’Who in abyss are you and why do you disturb me?’’ the old wizard said.
‘’Your momma let us in,’’ Grzegorz said and pointed at the girl. I wondered what he meant with that, but quickly interrupted him to introduce us properly.
‘’My name is Magnus and these here are my friends. We follow a group of malevolent criminals who wish to do gods know what in these mountains. We heard that there was a powerful wizard called Sweeney living here and we wished to come seek advice from him. Are you this wizard?’’ I said in a respectful tone.
‘’Yes, indeed I am. It is not a fancy wizard name one might think to fit for a mighty mage like me, but it shall do,’’ Sweeney answered.
‘’The gods will forgive you for your name,’’ Camil suddenly blurted. His thoughtless comment didn’t please our host.
‘’You insolent imbecile! Mmmmrrgh! Tir-naes-tul-go….’’ the wizard’s already red face seemed to turn crimson as he lifted his hand and cast a quick spell to silence the paladin. As we looked at our friend, we saw that his mouth had suddenly disappeared altogether.
I apologised to the wizard for my friends foolish comment and began to further explain our situation. He had indeed noticed a large group of travellers pass by, he was a great wizard after all, but had payed little attention to them. As I told him that it was led by a powerful mage called Geshtar who had a magical stone called The Stone of Algernon, Sweeney suddenly turned a lot more interested. He said that there was something vaguely familiar with the name Geshtar although he could not tell what it was. He explained us that The Stone of Algernon was a control device of a sort. Centuries ago, before the Skyfall, the great Ellysian city Everon had been located here and its climate used to be controlled by numerous obelisks that kept the area warm and pleasant – something very different than what it was now. We told the wizard that we had probably seen one of those obelisks before and he agreed that we had very likely done so. He explained that these obelisks held great magical power and if a wizard as powerful as himself would try to approach such a thing he would disintegrate almost instantly, or worse. This magical stone , however, worked like the king’s personal seal, allowing free passage into the palace. With this device Geshtar could enter the ruins of Everon without the risk of turning into a pile of ash.
‘’Everon? What do you mean by ruins of Everon? Wasn’t it obliterated in the Skyfall? A mountain landed on that city and created the Bedd Duw sea, or so the story goes!‘’ I gasped as I realised what the old mage was telling us. He continued:
’’Of course it was obliterated, but not completely destroyed. You see, the magical barriers that kept the warm climate from not escaping also managed to hold parts of the city intact. The presence and survival of the obelisks proves that. What is left of the city is unknown for even if it survived the cataclysm, it still moved hundreds of miles in mere seconds when the mountain hit the ground. Anyway, I’m too powerful to ever enter those ruins, but you could do so and if you wish to find out what that Geshtar fellow is up to, that’s the only way to do it.’’
We talked with Sweeney for a while and he handed us a magical pearl that would record all events around us. He adviced to keep it with us and hold it visible. He told us that we should investigate what our malevolent enemies were up to and bring The Seeing Pearl back to him. He said that his servant would show us the way to the ruins. We asked for more aid and he reluctantly handed us few magical potions and few scrolls to Grzegorz.
We did not wish to waste any more time and desided to leave immediately. Osgar, who had helped us very much so far, said he would return back to the Larwein temples as all his friends had evidently been slaughtered. We said farewell to the man and began to march to the direction the girl pointed at. She, on the other hand, told us that she would wait for us ahead and suddenly turned into a blazing eagle and flew into the horizon.
‘’Look at that old witch! That’s one spell I’d like to borrow,‘’ Grzegorz croaked.
’’An impressive spell, indeed, but why do you call her an old witch?‘’’ I asked the black robed wizard.
‘’Well she casts spells and looks like she could be your gran’momma,’’ he replied. I began to realise that she was more than my eyes told me. Apparently each one of us saw her differently. Aeran had not lusted for the little girl I saw, but someone else: a luscious beauty perhaps?
We marched on in silence. We were all wondering the strange events that had just happened. Everyone just kept walking silently except Camil, who had regained his big mouth and blabbered constantly. During our march we passed by two dead Bridei warriors who had had their heads brutally torn off. The bodies were scattered on the rocky ground and Branden found no signs of battle.
By evening we met the girl waiting for us and told that we should camp for the night. I asked her whether she saw those dead Brideis on the way and she told us that she had killed them. I wondered her reasons and she told me that Sweeney had told her to make sure we were safe. I realised that I had not asked her name and did so. She introduced herself as Badb and after my inquiry on the way she seemed to look like a different person to each viewer she told me that it was the way that used the least energy for her. I didn’t wish to offend her more with my questions and decided to leave it for a while. I discussed about the matter with Grzegorz who faintly remembered an ancient myth about a goddess called Badb. He told me of ancient religions that had hundreds of gods and Badb had been the name of a three faced goddess of war. Legend told that she had been the wife of the brother of a great hero named Ulstor. This Ulstor had slain his brother in a berserk rage and since then Badb and Ulstor had been adversaries. Grzegorz also told me the legend of how Ulstor finally died: after a bloody battle, where he single-handedly slayed more than 200 enemies, the mortally wounded warrior tied himself onto a rock with his own intestines just so that he could die standing. His body was carried away by Badb in the form of a giant eagle.
After a cozy night of old stories by the camp fire, we eventually slept taking turns to keep watch.
We slept surprisingly well that night. Vivid dreams of ancient battles filled my night and for some reason I felt rejuvenated in the morning. With new spirit we began to march forward, this time with Badb by our side.
Briskly we marched for few hours until we arrived at a tall mountain. Badb stopped us there and told us that she could not continue forward. I asked her why and she told us that she was already too close to the ruins. I felt anticipation rise as I realised that she was telling us that the ruins were just ahead of us. She adviced us to climb over the mountain and look for old ruins sticking out of the peaks. After that she propmtly vanished.
We began to climb the mountain and after few hours we finally made it to the top. The view ahead of us was breath-taking: The vast and dark sea of Bedd Duw lay below us and disappeared into the horizon. The strong and moist wind hit us differently on the sea-side of the mountain range and as we gazed at the shoreline we could see a large city far away on the shore. I had never heard of a city being here and its presence shocked me. So close, but yet unknown to all Cerns. I wondered whether there were thousands of Bridei living there. Grzegorz held the magical pearl and captured the view.
As we were admiring the view, Branden had scouted the immediate surrounding. He told us that there was a trail going west and that there were tracks on it. We immediately gathered ourselves and began to follow the trail, Branden at the point. Before long we arrived at a set of ancient ruins. They were of old Ellysian build and barely intact. Most of the arches and pillars had collapsed and it seemed like the place had not originally been built on a mountain slope, but that the mountain had grown under it. We followed the tracks that were quite easy to follow as there was piles of snow here and there. The foot prints on the snow covered areas told us that there had been dozens of armored soldiers with the group. Eventually the track led to a ruined temple building that had a large crack on its floor. It was wide enough for a person enter and slide down inside the mountain. It seemed that our villains had gone down there and we would have to do the same.
Looking at each other we began to lower ourselves to the crack. I took the lead and slided down into the darkness with an enchanted gleaming rock giving me light. As we all eventually slided down we arrived onto a terrace and a jaw dropping sight greeted us: before us laid the ruined city of Everon, trapped inside a colossal bubble of air. The city at least five times as large as Caern Môrn. It was partly submerged in water and here and there the city seemed to merge with stone where the bubble ended. Just ahead of us stood the majestic gates of the city: giantic bronze larks formed an arch over the once grand passage that led to the city. Infront of the gates lied a dreadful sight. A layer of bones, reaching maybe 500 or 600 feets from the gates, covered the earth. The victims of the Battle for Larks Gate laid there in front of us, piled on the ground like fallen leaves.
None of us, not even Camil, said a single word as we descended to the field covered by bones. We tried to move through the field of bones without disturbing the dead, but it turned to be impossible. The bones crumbled beneath our feets as we slowly approached the Larks Gate. On our way I tried to sense magical auras, but the whole place seemed to radiate magic in a way that numbed my mind. Despite this, I did sense a glow of magic among the bones and picked up a magical ring. I admired the craftmanship on it and placed it in my pocket.
Finally we reached the gate and stepped through it. Ahead of us we saw the ancient city. The great metropolis of ancient times that had been thought to have vanished with the Skyfall. The former northern capital of the Ellysian empire. And the place where dead gods once kept their court.