Santos's Journal - Year 12
Twelve years now. Far from being the child I was when I arrived. Far from anyone I ever loved or cared about. The only familiarity now is the Patriarch. Darkness still seeps over the world, but we are quelling it. The Mages are being brought down, and paying for their crimes. I have never faced one, many of the clergy say I am not ready. I feel ready. I feel useless simply carrying out messenger missions and defending towns from raids. Who is sending the raids? Who holds the reins of these barbarians who terrorize the innocent? Those are the ones I am looking for. Many of our tenants warn against such ambition, that to seek for destruction brings it only upon yourself. I recently read a tale of a fallen warrior of Light from the old days, in the much larger library at the temple. The story of Paladin Timshel, that he was a warrior who decided he was going to take the will of Light into his own hands, deciding that he would give up his soul to do what needed to be done for Light, knowing full well he would fall out of grace. When asked by a cleric in the story why he did not care about his own soul, he said he offered up his ever lasting peace, so that those still living in Majeria could have peace now. Is that selflessness? Or is it an excuse to practice violence and vengeance, and how will I know the difference when I see it? If a man says he kills someone in the name of Light, does that make it mercy or murder?
I am being sent forth tomorrow morning with a small band of warriors and a few clerics.
Patriarch Ruger has entrusted me to lead a small party of men into the wilderness to investigate the rumors of a dark “seed” plaguing the forest. I find it interesting that while the warriors outfit themselves with armor and weapons of all sorts, talking about the new items they have gained, that my strongest asset cannot be taken off or taken from me and never grows rusty or dull. It is an encouraging feeling that although a shield and mace may protect you from some of the dangers in the world, I am just as strong walking out in my vestments as encased in armor. This journey will be an interesting one, and I hope to finally get to the root of some evil that has been tormenting local villages, finally end some of the pain that has vexed them so long. I will read my tenants over and over tonight, asking for and building my strength for the trials that lie ahead, and be sure that my party returns unharmed.
We stopped in a village called Goud that was nice enough to house us since we were planning to end the blight on the forest. Many of the villagers told me stories of dire wolves entering the town and eating livestock, saying they’d never come so far from the forest before, many saying they’d never seen a dire wolf in their lives. Maulik,a Dwarven warrior accompanying us, says he’s defended himself against a few dire wolves before, but they are not the sort of thing you want to fight up close. I keep my crossbow at the ready should the need ever arise. The old women tell tales about the Shal’Hai or people from the acorn, and I must admit, I’ve heard a few of the whimsical tales before myself. Still some villagers fear there are ghosts in the trees, shifting and shuffling about. My fears jump right to Necromancers, in which case we were ill equipped to deal with such a matter. Only by strategy and tactics would we be able to accomplish such a feat, the warriors’ intimidation and war cries being of little use against the undead. Still the small group of Clerics in my charge would hold true. However, I doubt PatriarchRuger would have sent us at all if there were true reports about Necromancers. By request I lead the town in prayer the next morning. I’m not sure if they cared much about my denomination, simply that we were here to help. Hopefully they will see that only through devotion to Light can we overcome the Darkness.
The forest, which the villagers called Greenling Forest, must have earned its name long ago. It now mostly looks gnarled and sick with rot. We have stopped for the night and I sit watchful next to the fire, wondering what may be watching us. If I—
We were attacked by a pack of dire wolves of course, fulfilling our own prophesy or readiness. I hope the same does not hold for my fears of the Necromancer. All in all we were successful however. Maulik had been right about his battle tactics. As I sat there writing, a wolf crashed through the brush for the final lunge at me. His teeth sunk into my neck but only moments later Maulik’ sword sunk into his. I quickly grabbed my mace and shield preparing for battle and the heinous eyes shot through the dark, making them apparent, almost as though they had been cloaked before. Another rushed at me as they began to close in, more brothers waking to arm themselves. As the hulking beast raced at me, I remembered Maulik’ warning and quickly lowered my shield to lift the beast over me. His momentum threw him over and on the other side a warrior was able to end the beast. With speed I dug my shield into the ground to create a barrier and pulled my crossbow, leveling it on the neck of a wolf. I began to fire, and if possible shoot through the fire to mark wolves. If any got to close to me, Maulik made quick work of them. Many of the young acolytes held their own, though one was beyond aid when the dust and blood cleared. Maulik helped dispose of the wolf bodies and I performed lasts rights for the brave acolyte. Maulik in many ways reminds me of Viktor, though Viktor was more uncontrolled and the better fighter frankly, Maulik is trustworthy…well and a Dwarf.
We have returned back to Goud a new sense of the world we live in. Another acolyte and a warrior fell in the battle, but we were able to finish the confrontation. We were met by something supernatural, a magic that was being cast on the forest, something dark, and what I think is what shielded the dire wolves from my sight for so long until they attacked. However when we arrived at what I can only assume was the source of the power, it was but a child. Upon seeing us he screamed but did not move and swarms of creatures fell on us. The battle ensued much like the confrontation with the wolves, however birds and reptiles now joined. It was too overwhelming. I began to rush to a compatriot and began to speak the words of Light and suddenly the child stopped screaming, the beasts stopped attacking and it approached me. I still cannot say what had happened but the child led me to a small grave. The grave had been dug up, the body moved and it seemed as though something had been taken out of the skeleton’s hands.Something had been taken from the body and the spirit of whatever loomed here wanted it back. I returned to town to find that the grave had been robbed by local merchants who, although still vile for the initial sacrilege, did not know that the trinket they stole would cause discord with the forest. It was a small doll made from leaves and acorns that somehow in one way or another never decomposed and stayed in pristine condition. The grave robbers however were more interested in the precious blue jewels set in the doll’s eyes. Our second trip through the forest was much less eventful, although I still had the feeling that we were being watched. I placed the doll back in the grave, and as we left, the forest seem to untwist and gain color again.
This entire experience has introduced something else in this world. Magic is in fact everywhere, and perhaps essence is not the chooser. It could be very easy for a Mage to see essence as something to be used or manipulate and not a gift from the Gods. I know better though that a being, even if they are pure essence is dictated by the pull of Light and Dark, and that their emotions are in swings. A being of essence is not being changed through magic, it is being changed through its morality.
Patriarch Ruger visited today, a busier man than usual, with so much change going on in the world. He says he will have great news soon. We talked philosophy, about my subsiding nightmares, my position on the council, and the world in general. As always, things turned to the world at large and I again felt as though my need to experience the world was no unfounded as Patriarch Ruger also seemed to think I had a greater purpose. I told him of the experience in the Greenling Forest and for Ruger it seemed not as strange, he mentioned that the Dark can have a way of perverting even the very landscape of Majeria if sown deep enough. My mind drifted back to the teachings of both Father Liam and Prefect Leoht as they had recently, and I asked Ruger if he knew stories from the book of Élan Vital. It was then that I saw a look from the Patriarch I had not seen since my days as a boy and we were in trouble. The look vanished into a playful dismissal of such a tomb however, until finally he asked where I heard about it. I told him from Prefect Leoht, and Ruger asked if Leoht had told me where it was. There was almost a hopeful nature about it, and it was then I knew the book had to be real, but the sad truth, which I told Ruger was, that it had been lost to the ages. Ruger once again dismissed it saying “Yes, lost to the ages, as so many legendary items from fairytales are.”