A New Era
Journal of Astrid Furend
15 Wealsun 609 CY –
Helga has suggested that I record a log of our travels. I care little for putting quill to parchment, but I suppose it is for the best.
We arrived in Niole Dra two nights ago; the metropolis is every bit as maginificent as my mother said, Gods rest her soul. From here we’ll strike out into the Dreadwood, searching for the dragon from my dreams.
25 Wealsun 609 CY -
A shadow wearing human flesh stalks from the south. I feel his presence, though faint, moving closer every day. We must find the dragon before he does.
28 Wealsun 609 CY -
A disastrous day this has been.
On one hand, we found the creature from my dreams. The great beast slumbered deep within the Dreadwood. Helga was particularly flabbergasted at the sight of the thing; the Ancients were thought to be long dead, after all, but here one was standing right in front of us.
Something was strange, however. The Ancient seemed… immature? I cannot think of a better term. He acted more the part of an angry, spoiled child who wanted nothing to do with our expedition. Even if it meant Oerth’s continued survival!
We expected a conniving, intelligent being when we first came upon him; what we met was nothing of the sort. He kept insisting that he avenge his father’s death. The Grand Druidess’ blood would be spilled by his hands, and then maybe, just maybe, he’d assist us.
No matter how many times we tried to appeal to his sensibilities, he would not relent. We were about to come to blows when a small voice called out — a voice from a sending stone strewn among the Ancient’s hoard.
The voice relayed a location… the location of none other than the Grand Druidess. Neldea, a small Elven outpost not far from where we were, was being besieged by a lycan army. The Grand Druidess was said to be there.
The Dragon took flight immediately, leaving us alone with his retinue of guards. We could dispatch them easily, of this we had no doubt; yet we were not here for treasure, but rather the dragon himself. He is essential to the ritual we intend to perform.
1 Richfest 609 CY -
A day has passed with no sign of the dragon, who we’ve learned is named Nazurian. His retainers and guards have provided us with some very useful information, however. It would seem that the dragon has aged at an alarming rate — a decade has acted as near a century for him. It explains his temperament.
This is a key, of course; whatever is causing his rapid aging must be related to the ritual.
2 Richfest 609 CY –
The dragon has returned, looking older than when he left. Nevertheless he was satisfied; he’d avenged his father’s death, and now he could be at peace.
“But alas,” I said to him, having mulled over solutions to his rapid aging over the previous night, “She no doubt has loved ones, relatives; and there will be more like her. When one Grand Druid falls, another takes up the mantle.”
He gazed at me with those slitted, serpentine eyes. “So what do you propose?” He asked.
“Immortality. My mother was close with a necromancer, who lived not far from here. If we take you to him — if we ensure that you live forever — you will help us.”
And so the bargain was struck.
5 Richfest 609 CY –
We’ve taken what we needed from the Necromancer’s tower. Fortune favors us this day; the wizard himself was nowhere to be found, and his tower was left with menial defenses. A large tome containing the formulae for lichdom was found in his library, which we will make good use of.
Helga says his spirit was watching us as we burglarized his home. She’s gifted in the touch; can see things that aren’t there. I would have liked to speak to the man — to learn more about his relationship with my mother — but alas, he did not reach out to us.
11 Reaping 609 CY –
We have run into a few snags. First, the tome does not provide us with any way to create a ‘dracolich brew.’ This is a pivotal ingredient for creating an undead dragon. We also need to create a phylactery, which is an expensive and time consuming process.
Thankfully coin is no issue; Nazurian has given us full access to his hoard, something a dragon — especially a dragon with a immature temperament — is not wont to do. It would seem that a continued existence outweighs the importance of his material wealth.
Is our serpentine friend finally growing up?
22nd Reaping 609 CY –
We’ve succeeded in the creation of a phylactery, which leaves only the dracolich brew. Our presence in the sleepy hamlet of Crow Town has caused quite a stir. Indeed, these simple-minded folk have embraced us as gods, and as the harbingers of the end times. If only they knew the truth of the matter… that we intend to save this world…
Helga sometimes says that those of lower intelligence can peer through the veil; can see things that the more grounded of us cannot. It’s why the dog barks at the spectre its owner cannot see; it’s why some children can commune with imaginary playmates, despite having no connection to the Art.
Could it be possible that these townsfolk sense something that we cannot?
On the subject of Helga, she has become increasingly erratic as of late. I have not felt the shadow’s presence in some time, not since Neldea and the Grand Druidess’ death, yet Helga said something strange this evening:
“The Shadow that once walked on two legs now walks on ten. And more will join, and the heavens above will beat like a heart. We will not succeed, Mistress.”
I punished her for speaking above her station, yet her words chill me to the core.
20th Goodmonth 609 CY –
Nearly a month has passed and we are no closer to discovering this brew. Nazurian has grown feeble and old, his scales molting and flaking. His eyes have become clouded, and it would not surprise me if he has gone blind.
We have dispatched a number of adventuring parties in the hopes of finding the ingredients for this elixir. One group in particular even burglarized the Silent Tower, only to find it virtually empty and guarded by feeble old men.
The greatest magical fortress in Keoland reduced to a tower of trinkets…
And so, it is with a heavy heart that I pen my final entry. Nazurian is destined to die soon, and time is running out. I will not surrender just yet, but my attention must be devoted solely to finding this brew.
Before I set this journal down for the last time, I will leave the reader with my reasons for doing what I’m doing. I’ve neglected this from the start, perhaps out of fear that an enemy might use the information against me. But I feel it must be said, must be explained, so I shall endeavor to do my best.
It began some months ago… the dreams. Voices of Draconic origin, beseeching me for my aid. I could not fathom why they were calling to me, though I suppose my bloodline has something to with it.
One in particular told me of a dragon in the Dreadwood, a dragon who would be the key to reversing the effects of the Days of Vanishing. My first thought was a reunion with my mother, who disappeared during that fateful week. But it was bigger than that; the voice could sense my desire, and he promptly informed me of the impact of not finding this dragon.
Oerth would be consumed. Destroyed.
I needed more information — needed more to go on other than a vague clue. But the voice vanished.
Am I mad for doing all of this? Following blindly in an attempt to save the world, because some voice in my dreams said so?
Helga says I am not. That the feet of The Shadow follow just as blindly, and that our destinies are intertwined. Perhaps here is such a thing as Fate; perhaps all of this is beyond my control.
… Maybe there is still hope.
18 Harvester 609 CY –
Today I had finally given up what little hope I had left. Nazurian laid lifelessly in the forest clearing, his breathing shallow and prolonged. He would not last the night.
And then, peering up to the heavens, I saw the most majestic thing. A young red dragon ridden by a man in gleaming armor descended towards us. When it landed I knew — I cannot explain why, I simply knew — that this armored man would be our salvation.
As he came closer I discovered that he was a Dragonborn. His dark red scales shimmered in the sunlight as he approached, and I knew at once that he was their King. I’d heard tales of his exploits while we stayed in Niole Dra; heard of how he lifted a curse from his people.
As if reading my thoughts, he grunted. “No. I did not free them; I blinded them.” Now within arm’s reach, he withdrew a potion from his satchel. The Dracolich’s Brew!
And then he spoke, all of which I shall repeat on the following page.
“We, the Dragonborn, were created for one purpose. Sacrifice. The Dragons of Old foresaw the awakening of The Shadow, and they knew what it would entail.
You mistakenly believe The Shadow is of this world; perhaps Tharizdun, perhaps a demon of the pits of a devil of the Hells; perhaps a manifestation of some evil from ages past. No, dear girl, it is nothing of the sort.
The Shadow goes by many names — here it has adopted the moniker Yothagos. What little we know of it has been gathered by tidbits of information left by those it has destroyed.
We know it is a creature of the Far Realms. We know it has a insatiable appetite. We know that it consumes Spheres — Primes, Worlds, call them what you will — and that Oerth has been chosen.
It does so by creating a pocket demi-plane, forcing all beings of power into it. It then surrounds the Sphere with an inky blackness, preventing any form of divine intervention or planar travel. The gods have been deaf to the plight of Oerth for over a decade.
Beyond the stars, it now pushes. Slowly. It cannot breach the Sphere itself without time and patience. It can send avatars of itself down here, which it has, and it can manifest its powers to those it deems worthy…
But soon it will break through. The Dragons have spoken to you through your dreams, yes? You know that you must complete a ritual, a ritual to help stop The Shadow’s invasion. It will bring back those who were taken from us — those who will be able to stop Yothagos.
I am the key to this ritual, as are my Dragonborn brethren. Nazurian here was created through rapid-aging magics, just moments before the Days of Vanishing, because only an Ancient can act as the door to the demi-plane where our powerful friends are trapped.
Nazurian, son of Aramanthyn… your destiny shall be fulfilled. Your sacrifice, and the sacrifice of the Dragonborn, shall ensure that this world and its people survive.
I once thought I freed my people from a curse. I remember so vividly the day I was told that we’d die for the sake of this world; a world we knew nothing of, and a world that meant nothing to us. Were we to be cattle, raised only to be slaughtered? No. I would not stand for it; I would let my people thrive, if only for a few years.
Yet as the years have come to pass I have seen the error of my ways. If we do not sacrifice ourselves, then we are destined to die with all the rest. Better the lives of a few than those of an entire world.
Let us make haste; the ritual must be performed!"