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    Posted: 12 Apr 2015 at 09:48
Heirs of Voyldarn

From the daily reports of Commander Cirian Danorian, deep reconnaissance mission. 

Day 24, evening: We met a group of Orc hunters, and traded gifts. Having won their trust, we asked about Praekorn, the mages' stronghold ahead. Most of us fear that these will be like the New Light. The Orcs were relaxed. They said they trade there. They said we would be fine so long as we didn't try to pass through the walls without escorts. They said we would not have to introduce ourselves, as the mages would have been scrying on us already. Somehow that is not comforting. 

Day 25, noon: We can see Praekorn in the distance. Our informants yesterday talked of its walls. It has no walls. Just two concentric rings of monoliths. I have sent scouts ahead. 

Day 25, afternoon: The scouts report that the monoliths are inscribed with elemental runes and sigils. They saw the remains of an animal, perhaps a wolf, which had tried to cross between these, its body mangled and crushed. Scorch marks scar the ground around the monoliths. The scouts decided not to walk through these circles. There is no gate, but the approach path leads to some tables and benches, under a rickety roof. Presumably we are meant to wait there. I will go now. 

Day 25, evening: A few of us waited at the hovel for a few minutes. A human servant walked out to meet us. He asked if we were there to trade. I said I wanted to speak to the mages. He seemed surprised, but led us through the rings of circles. As our scouts reported, the first ring is covered in sigils. The second ring has no visible markings. The settlement is small, resembling only a village, but with an eight story tower at its heart. He said that I will have an audience in the morning. We will learn what we can of the village tonight. There is a building set aside for the accommodation of visitors, which is adequate if sparse. 

Day 26, morning: In an audience room on the bottom floor of the tower I spoke with a wizard. He said that he was an Apprentice of the First Sanctum and he asked me my business. I said we were there to offer the greetings of our King. I asked if he was in charge. He said, no, he was of the lowest Sanctum. I asked who ruled Praekorn, and he said that several Masters of the Seventh Sanctum were resident on the top floor of the tower. I asked if he could introduce me to them. No, he said that he can only speak to the Adepts of the Second Sanctum. They can only speak with those of the First and Third Sanctums. The Adepts of the Third Sanctum may then convey my message to the Mages of the Fourth Sanctum. It would take some time for my message to reach the upper floor. He suggested that I return in a few hours. 

Day 26, afternoon: I met with three Masters of the Seventh Sanctum. They bade me welcome, without conviction. They were disturbingly well informed. They asked if my injured scribe, wounded a month ago, was fully recovered, or if they could offer medical assistance. I tried to sound like a diplomat, and offered the best wishes of our King, and so forth. They said that they would pass on my good wishes to the Arch Mages of the Eighth Sanctum in Kolbarch, who would pass these courtesies on to the Supreme Mages of the Ninth Sanctum. I inquired after these Supreme Mages, but they said that they had never met them, and did not even know their names. They rule a stronghold for the Heirs, but do not even know the names of those two ranks above them? I am not sure that I believe them. 

Day 26, evening: I have just spent an hour with several of the lower mages. These were of the Fifth Sanctum, and one seemed to be some sort of librarian, with a long list of books that he wants. The authors and titles might mean something to a mage, but baffled me. The librarian said that the Heirs would pay well for copies. Another asked if we had any unusual artefacts that he might examine. Another asked after any unusual locations that we might have found in the wilds. Their interests are purely in magic and magical goods, it seems, and particularly in anything of a defensive nature. They were disinterested in any other subject of conversation. 

Day 27, morning: We will move on today. The locals know almost nothing about the lands around here, and their rulers don't seem to care. Their attitude reminds me of the Dwarves of Clan Dollogh. They seem less dangerous than the mages of the New Light: they are keen to gather wisdoms and power, but as they have no interest in any people who might live in the lands around I would assume that they are not interested in unleashing these magics on outsiders. Still, it is sobering to wonder how much power the Heirs might have amassed in five hundred years, and it is worth remembering that their founder, Voyldarn, had been a refugee from the ranks of the Order of Silver Light, so it would seem naïve to trust them.

Kreyo [Heirs of Voyldarn]

From the central tower of Kreyo, Apprentice mages often emerge to help the locals with seemingly petty tasks: some assist with midwifery, some tend the sick, some work charms 
over the fields or livestock. But the wizards assist only when it suits them, on their whim and not in response to any need, as a steady trickle of poor and needs refugees 
can attest. The sick and desperate cluster at the tower's main entrance, hoping that the Apprentices will tend to them; but most wait in vain, and some die begging on the 
steps there, ignored by the Apprentices.

Veem [Heirs of Voyldarn]

From the great tower at Veem's heart, the mages rarely descend to the town below. They will come to take a tax of the first-born babe of each household. They will sit in 
judgement in court cases, where the guilty are taken away and never seen again. But these appearances are rare, and the population are generally left alone to run the market 
and harbour as they wish.
But it is recommended that a visitor should not pry too closely. Best to ignore the screams and howls that echo from the tower at night, and the dark movements in the waters 
of the bay, and just go about your business quietly.

Praekorn [Heirs of Voyldarn]

From the tower of Praekorn the mages send scouts and agents into the wilds, to ferret out ancient ruins or the traces of old enchantments, and the Apprentices are often seen 
scouring the market for oddities which might interest their masters. At the foot of the tower, the town is bustling, and usually peaceful: the Heirs expect the townsfolk to 
provide them with any services that they require, and are determined that the smooth workings of the town should not be disturbed.

Kolbarch [Heirs of Voyldarn]

The tower of Kolbarch is home of the supreme overlords of the Heirs. All of the mages of their top two ranks live here, and lower ranked mages who aspire to promotion jockey 
to find a place within the tower.
In the town beneath the servants, craftsfolk and labourers who serve the Heirs work diligently, most hoping that if they do a good job the mages above will leave them alone. 
Meanwhile, visiting traders and diplomats and wizards loiter in the markets and taverns, hoping to gather scraps of wisdoms from the tower overhead, or to sell arcane wares 
to the Apprentices who emerge from within.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Houergerrt

From the Teachings of Urgrukt the Blind, first High Priest of the Kartur-Hhakrall. 

Pilgrim asked: “How now shall we deal with that last tower of the Order of Silver Light, the Tower of Houergertt?” 

Urgrukut answered: “First, ask yourself, what could you do?” 

Pilgrim remained silent, and thought. 

Urgrukut frowned: “You are Orc! Long thinking is for Elves and cripples. Your heart knows what you should do. When I ask what could you do, let your heart answer!” 

Pilgrim asked: “My heart says fight! Is that right?” 

Urgrukut answered: “Of course! You are Orc! So how can you fight, and how can you not?” 

Pilgrim replied: “I would fight its champion. But it has no champion. I would scale its walls. But they are enchanted. I would kill its lord. But he is dead. I would battle its armies. But they cannot be killed.” 

Urgrukut answered: “You say you cannot scale the walls. This is true. No siege engine can scratch them. Curses slay those who climb over them. But you are Orc! If your foe is more skilled that you, you train harder. If your foe has bigger armies, you win more allies. If you want to defeat an enemy, you will always find a way. You are Orc!” 

Pilgrim asked: “Is this what I should do? Should I build bigger siege engines? Should I find other wizards to overcome his curses?” 

Urgrukut answered: “You could. But why? To break into the castle of a man already dead? There is no glory there, no slaves to be won. It is an empty battle.” 

Pilgrim asked: “Should I fight his armies? Each day they return! They cannot be defeated!” 

Urgrukut answered: “You are an Orc! Your heart hurts if you cannot fight. Great glory is had in defeating a champion. In blood and pain you find joy. Now, here, the dead wizard’s enchantments provide you endless enemies! Sometimes there will be better battles. Sometimes you will have wars where you can take slaves, win gold, earn glory for your King. But here, always, there is an enemy who will face you. And you want to defeat champions? What greater champions than those who cannot really be slain!” 

Pilgrim asked: “So this is what I should do? I should fight?” 

Urgrukut answered: “Yes! At times of peace when there is no worthier fight. When you are at full strength and your heart is restless. When your warleaders are bellowing for blood. When your warriors are growing fat or lazy. Then, here, there is an enemy that you can fight. But that is not the first thing that you should do. First, you should give thanks! The Always-Chiefs laid down at the start of time that you should fight. And in your heart your long for war. And here, this dead mage has made it so! Give thanks that this wizard has given you these foes to fight. So, the New King may build a kingdom in peace, and you may serve him with honour, and yet, as the Always-Chiefs demand and as your heart desires, you will always be able to fight!”

Dreadland Keep [Houergerrt]

The broken tower of Hourgerrt has lost none of its menace in five hundred years. The old mage told his retainers that they would never be allowed to desert him. And they 
never were. The dead still walk the halls of the tower, and the living may not enter.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Illyria Trade Council


Letter from Journeyman Timpras to his Uncle 

Dear Uncle, 

I cannot begin to thank you enough for your introduction and secondment of my person to the Illyria Trade Council. 

What my teachers have forgotten about the intricacies of trade is more than most peoples of the world ever knew! 

Trademaster Raffine says I have an innate understanding of the way volume affects market price, and Routefinder Oliver has asked me to accompany him on a restock mission down to the trade hub at Bepima in Southern Azura! And to think I've never been out of the Middle Kingdom before. 

So it's all very exciting, and all going very well. There's one small problem though - Trader Simalin (who teaches us the Ethics of Trade) has said that I lack what he calls the 'cutthroat instinct'. He says I don't have enough fire or desire to get the best deal at the best price, and that I don't know when to commit and when to pull back. 

So. I was wondering if I could ask you to send me whatever you can spare - perhaps a part of your retirement fund? - so that I can go "all-in" (as they say) with both our monies on this trip down to Bepima and thereby maximise our profits. 

Simalin says he'll take care of our investment, and will return full profits to us both (after removing fees, taxes, travel and lodging expenses, and any other unexpected outgoings, of course). He says it's a sure thing! 

With thanks, 

Your loving nephew

Hope Ridge [Illyria Trade Council]

Aptly named, Hope Ridge is the Illyria Trade Council's most optimistic foray into the Broken Lands. The most southerly of their trade posts, it has no access to the sea, and 
so relies entirely on local trade.

Shearwall Market [Illyria Trade Council]

Trade Council explorers from Broadrick's Landing identified this location, on a low tor, with sheer cliffs on all sides and a good harbour at its base, as an ideal adjunct to 
the Landing to the north. Their hope is that over-land trade between the two will allow goods to pass from the northern ocean to the central seas without the need for 
shipping to pass through the Straights of Huronire.

Tattershill [Illyria Trade Council]

Securely based in the peaceful land of Virten, Tattershill's river-side location was chosen to allow both ship access from the central seas and land access from Virten. The 

Illyria Trade Council hopes that it will become the the leading centre for trade between the peaceful west and the wild lands across the water to the east.

Rainswinton [Illyria Trade Council]

Rainswinton seemed, to northern foreigners with little grasp of the Broken Lands, to be well-positioned - with good access for shipping and no competing trade centres for 
many miles. But the Melder-corrupted lands of Huronire and the sparsely populated Yuraquncha jungles provide few opportunities for profit, and newcomers bemoan the stifling 
humidity in the town itself.



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The New Light

From the History of Loss and Hope, by Llanawi Puresoul of the Halls of Care, Chief Physician of the Office For Cleansing. 

A tragedy for the present Age is that so many learn the wrong lessons from history. The New Light are foremost in this error. 

In the Second Age, the Order of Silver Light brought peace, prosperity, stability and order to these lands, but failed to keep control over their subjects. After the Sundering, surviving mages, hedge-witches and sundry practitioners of secret arts came together to rebuild the Order. 

These optimists called themselves The New Light, and they embraced all manner of occult practitioner. Where the Order of the Silver Light had included only the most powerful and most intelligent mages, the New Light included every manner of magical practitioner from shamen to alchemists. Where the Order of Silver Light understood the supremacy of Elves, here Humans and Orcs are accepted alongside their natural betters. 

Still, many of the goals of the Order of Silver Light live on in this more diverse gathering. These mages understand that the wise should rule the foolish, and believe that an educated class of rulers should be schooled to provide leadership for the ignorant masses. They also believe that magical power is supreme above all others, and magical study the greatest intellectual endeavour. And so they continue the work of the Order to impose upon the lesser peoples the wise rule of potent mages. 

These mages are obsessed with their magical power, and determined to rebuild a civilisation akin to that of the last Age through the rule of wizards. But this is muddled thinking. They have failed to learn the correct lessons from history. 

The fall of the Order of Silver Light did not come from a lack of diversity. It came from a lack of commitment to maintaining order. Faced with a choice between keeping order and gaining magical knowledge the New Light will choose knowledge. This is a fine way to build a college of magicians, but an inadequate way to build an eternal empire. 

This is why the New Light will never build a civilisation to rival the heights of the Second Age. And this is why we Argiri, not they, are the best hope for a land too free, to fractured and too foolish to prosper.


Scio [The New Light]

The stronghold of Scio is famed for the Library of Reflection, which contains a small number of treasured tomes - the greatest books on the arts of divination, the history of prophecy, and the structure of the cosmos. Each room is lined with mirrors on all sides, but contains only a single book on a reading stand. Outsiders estimate that the library holds only fifty books. The wizards of the New Light say that, rather, the library contains an infinite number of texts.

Memor [The New Light]

Memor is home to the Archive of the New Light - a huge repository of decrees, reports and diktats prepared for or by the arch wizards of the New Light. Moreover, as these mages see themselves as heirs to the Second Age's Order of the Silver Light, they have also collected here a huge body of texts relating to that legendary organisation; many lament that outsiders are strictly forbidden access to this ancient archive.

Acies [The New Light]

This mountain stronghold is home to the Training Towers of the New Light's elite swordsmen, the Enlightened. This confers on Acies a more martial feel, rather than the usual scholarly, arcane atmosphere in a New Light city, with scarred warriors striding the streets and weaponsmiths on every corner.

Durus [The New Light]

After the Sundering, an intact Silver Light tower stood here. The New Light took it over, and rebuilt the stronghold. Within a generation no trace of the tower remained, but the mages deny that they tore it down, nor indeed damaged it at all. In truth, they insist, they simply made the tower stronger.

Augo [The New Light]

Augo stands as a border stronghold for the New Light, looking out across the jungles of the Yuraquncha, its mages vigilant, its troops plentiful and well drilled. Visitors puzzle over this, since the jungle-folk have never threatened the New Light; but the mages disdain such arguments, retorting that they are concerned not with mundane historiography, but with a more profound reality - whatever that means.

Mentis [The New Light]

Outsiders mock Mentis as a retirement retreat for superannuated wizards. The oldest, wisest and most warped by magic of the order's mages come here, to end their days in a town which maintains a solemn reverence for its aging patrons. But insiders do not mock. The magic-scarred arch mages may be old, but they are powerful, and their networks of patronage stretch through the order.

Tractus [The New Light]

Tractus is a haven for many young wizards of the New Light, who come here hoping to study the most advanced, experimental and uncertain magics. The town is thriving, with new plentiful arrivals, strange goods in the markets, tall tales in the taverns, and seemly endless construction work (generally to repair damage caused by wild magics).


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Tower

From the daily reports of Commander Cirian Danorian, deep reconnaissance mission. 

Day 12, evening: We are approaching the centre of the Sundering. The mountain before us looks unnatural, black and baked. Our scribe tells us that when the Sundering came, the very rock around here rolled and burned, becoming a tossing sea of fire. The mountain looks like that. It looks like a wave that has been frozen and turned black. 

Day 13, afternoon: We have reached the mountain. There is no soil here, nothing can grow on it. It is just brittle, hard rock. It is also warm to the touch. 

Day 14, afternoon: The mountain that we saw was not unique. As we marched today we were flanked by more mountains the same, barren and black. There is little wildlife here, and we have seen no hunters or settlers for some time. 

Day 15, evening: We have reached the Great Moat. Beyond it we can see a huge island, encircled by it. The island is of this same black stone. We have set out night-lines and fish traps on the Great Moat, but the water itself tastes brackish, so I hold out little hope of fish for breakfast. 

Day 16, morning: No fish for breakfast. The Great Moat is dead, as far as we can tell. We discussed finding some trees and building a boat, sailing across to the island beyond. All agreed that it would be possible. Nobody argued for it. From here the island looks barren, and we know that the water is dead, so there will be no food. None of us have heard of any expedition returning from the island. Rumours tell of ancient magics plaguing the land, and unnatural armies that still serve lost masters. We have no need to go there just to find out what kills all who attempt it. 

Day 16, noon: We followed the coast of the Great Moat for the morning, and will now turn away from the island. Somewhere on there, legend says, the greatest stronghold of the Order of the Silver Light still stands. From there they unleashed the Sundering. And when the stones burned and the mountains rolled like waves, the tower stood untouched, enduring through it all. So the legend says. We are content to leave that legend untested, and we will move on.

Omen [The Tower]

A cracked and charred spire, rising from black and barren crags, the tower of Omen was once the greatest, shining stronghold of the Order of Silver Light.
But from here The Sundering was unleashed upon the lands, and the tower fell silent.
Some say that the inhabitants were torn apart, destroyed, just as the lands around were destroyed. Some say that the wizards never really left. Some say that twisted forms still prowl the corridors. But the rumours remain unclear and contradictory. None dare to approach, and none can enter the sundered tower.




Edited by demdigs - 16 Apr 2015 at 19:46
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