I write these words in haste, the Lodestar flies at sundown and I plan to be on it. After the siege of Starmhill I intend to be on something well-defended and mobile until the end of this war.
Interesting query. ‘this war’ – no nomenclature has developed among the participants. What will this war be called by the survivors? I imagine that depends entirely on the victors, in the usual fashion.
No time for digression. Four words that fill my scholar’s mind with dread. If this world falls to the devils, I fear there may never be time for digression ever again by any human mind.
My studies have long concerned the different planes of reality, with a focus on the Umbral Plane — the Shadow Dimension. In the past month, my knowledge went from blood-crucial to trivial. The events that transpired at Kythera, and the city’s subsequent destruction have severely diminished the connection between our world and the shadows. Saving the world from a great threat, certainly — but also curtailing my further studies.
Logically I should be glad, but my mind still aches that I will never journey into the Umbral Realm and divine its secrets.
And in the wake of the destruction of the Arkanic capitol — a new foe has appeared, and moved with precision and menace across the globe. The forces of Hell, iron-clad legions of perfect evil and regimented sorrow. They serve Fairchild, the King of Glass.
‘The King of Glass’ is an imperfect translation into the Common tongue. The Infernal language is far more gifted than ours in conveying levels of meaning, especially in relation to pain and suffering. A more unpacked translation would be – The King of Breaking Glass, the taste of copper in the back of your mouth when you hear the sound, the alarm that all mortals feel when they hear the sound, the knowledge that everything can be broken.
Though, to be exact – Fairchild is not truly a king. He is a prince. The devils are not native to our world, they traveled here from some unknown place beyond. I’ve looked through dozens of scrolls and tomes this afternoon, looking for more information – but there has been no conclusive evidence found that clarifies what drew them here. Many sources corroborate that there was once a true King of Hell, a godlike being of pure malevolence. Either he died or was left behind in their travels, and his royal court arrived in Aufero with no clear leader.
Reports vary, but most seem to say there were nine princes of hell. A few reports set the number at seven, and a few as many as thirteen. Regardless of the original number, they immediately gathered their supporters and vassals, and descended into a vicious civil war. Devils are creatures of law, for their society to function, there must be an absolute authority – there can be no gaps in the system. They needed a King. After several centuries, Fairchild was triumphant – subjugating his brother and sister princes through trickery, seduction and force.
Another digression. This is not a history of the royal court of Hell. This is about the methods available to them for visiting our dimension — and the unbelievable way they have found to subvert them. My time grows short, the sun is near the horizon.
Devils cannot visit our world without aid. It is a function of the laws of our world, by which they must abide. A mortal agent of some sort must choose to let them in. Choice seems vital, according to all of the texts I’ve studied. Whether through a spell, or a contract, or the construction of an elaborate portal — the mortal soul must knowingly choose to allow the devil in. Folklore is full of tales of devils tempting the people of Aufero with all sorts of earthly pleasures in return for entry — and our history [especially recent] has shown the great time, patience and planning the devils have devoted to building Hell Gates. Brimhorne, the Piccan Undercity, the ruins of Thay, the great dam of Jacra. Mortal agents, toiling sometime for generations — choosing again and again to give the devils sway.
And now this gate in Gilead. The description provided by the barbarian, Agnar was evocative enough, but sadly lacking in technical information. I’m including it here for later reference.
“Two pillars,” Agnar blurted. “Two pillars of thick crystal-looking stuff. But not showy crystal, like fancy ladies wear. More like the crystal that bends and shapes sunlight, breaking it into colors. Edges cut perfect, each pillar a mirror of the other, angling up from the floor then towards each other. Wedged between the points of the pillars, a ring of metal that glows blue from some enchantment, and chained within that ring is the Browncloak. Golden light— thick, like liquid sun— pours out of his chest like a waterfall, and through that waterfall walks the devil legions.”
I have dug through scroll after scroll, leaving the stacks in such awful disaray. When the Tomemasters return, they will be sickened by my clutter — but I was desperate to find some mention of this, and I think I have been successful. One fortunate benefit of the vicious battle today — the Forbidden Texts Repository was left unlocked, and unwatched. I have dreamed of being within this tiny room for years, so many questions that could be answered, so many scholarly riddles finally unwound! Frustrating to finally be inside, but have a time limit and one narrow field of inquiry.
A stone tablet, conservatively dated at -13289 VA. Thousands of years before the coming of the Lost [Precursors, Arkanic Civilization] — the Time of Dragons. I almost couldn’t decipher the text — it is a primal form of Draconic, beyond ancient in syntax, and the tablet has suffered much to the ravages of time. The tablet itself is incomplete, only a third of what was clearly a much larger piece — and many of the ideograms have been completely blotted by wind and water.
It seems to be a codification of the laws of Aufero — almost a charter of sorts. The author is unclear, but it seems to speak of some sort of meeting place, or place of judgement . All of the strange travelers who had found their way to this world, having the rules explained to them. Perhaps I read too much into some of the nouns, inadequate time for a proper analysis.
The main section that caught my attention was a reference to a Circle of Gold – it reminded me of the barbarian’s description. The author of the tablet seems to be recounting a question asked by some sort of lord — the question directed to the higher power that presided over the judgement, or meeting. The following translation is incomplete, and hopelessly innacurate – but I believe that it catches the gist of the exchange.
Lord: But why must my people be kept outside the walls?
Higher Power: That is the way of it.
Lord: Is there no way we may enter into the city?
Higher Power: Only at the citizens’ invitation. Only at great cost. Only through the proper ways. And never for more than a [period of time].
Lord: This is unjust. All of the other lords have been treated fairly, as is their due. It is not right that we should be so denied. All others are welcome in the city, is there no way that we may not become citizens ourselves?
Higher Power: You speak true. A balance is required. Through one door only can your people forever enter the city. Through a Circle of Gold.
After this, the gathered personages all nodded as if this ‘Circle of Gold’ was a common term, that required no further explanation. The rest of the tablet makes no mention of it. On a hunch — and truly, out of desperation — I searched through a series of lexicons dated from the founding of Valeria. I only found reference to something known as a ‘Circle of Power’, a magical construct that could bridge the gulf between worlds — the interesting section was that it required something of both worlds to operate, a willing sacrifice.
My hypothesis is as follows. Somehow, Fairchild discovered the existence of this Circle of Gold — a loophole in the very fabric of this reality. The man referred to above as the ‘Browncloak’ [Izus Torossian, infamous assassin] is the willing sacrifice from our world — but what was the sacrifice of Hell?
I am certain the process was far more complicated, but I have no more time to study. I will grab as many books as my arms can carry on the subject, and transport them to the Lodestar — in hopes of continuing my studies on this matter. I cannot swing a sword, or lead an army — but if my knowledge or scholarship can aid our world…. I pray that it might.
Parallelogram – Scholar in Absentia, Primex Loghain