I write not truly knowing what I achieved here. Everything? Nothing? As always, the answer must be somewhere in between, but where?
I encountered the First Inquisitor, Leon; he was meeting with an Elven Mage, Lady Sasara, whom it seemed had been – perhaps still were – lovers. An assassin broke ranks during the negotiations for peace, and struck her down with a blade that robbed her of her magical power; I failed to stop him, but my conscience was clear – I alone tried, out of the assembled hordes that day. I discovered several new things about my magic in doing so; there’s more inside me than the whispers inform me of. Some things I must intuit on my own.
I was lucky to survive; Sasara knew something, sensed something… I could see it in her eyes. She distracted Leon before he could order me struck down; and I had a chance, a moment, to speak. I challenged Leon to tell me that this Purge was right, that this act today was justified, that the war was bringing trust and friendship and love into the world, rather than simply removing it. He was wounded deeply by the accusation; and he couldn’t defend it – I felt sorry that it had taken a great woman’s death to make him realise that, but he did, at least, realise it. He had me chained, and had little further interest in me – given that, technically, the use of magic carried a death penalty, I was satisfied with that situation.
It wasn’t until I pondered Sasara’s words further, while trying to march back on my badly injured leg, that it came to me. The one thread that connected her portents of doom, Madook’s prophecy to me months ago, the freezing madness that was claiming Mages across Eidar… Dread Winter linked all of them. And what was Dread Winter? It had to be the title of the dragon lord Galmathrax, Lord of Ice and Snow; and his coming was a certain portent of doom for any who lived in Eidar, or even Odolain – both realms he’d viciously attacked in the past in opportunistic land grabs, and against which he must still bear an immortal’s long grudge.
I tried to warn those around me, but they took my warning for a madman’s ravings; but I was helped by a spirit from the Aetherweald, inhabiting a dessicated Drakkitar skeleton – his name is Kii’sha, at least I assume him to be a ‘he’, insofar as gender has any meaning to such a being. Kii’sha says he is a spirit of ‘joy’, a memory fragment that escaped the Aetherweald because something pursued him and would have consumed him had he not… and he tries to minimise suffering and maximise happiness in the world. I was terrified when I first saw him – how could I not be, seeing a skeleton walk into the tent where I was chained? – but once we started talking, I knew I’d found a friend and an ally. His heart – metaphorically – is in the right place, and after seeing so many misguided souls in misery it was so refreshing to meet another who just wants to do the right thing, make the world a better place.
With Kii’sha’s help I was able to give Leon some warning, but it was already nearly too late; the Elven delegation who’d come to take Sasara home became violently angry over her death and refused to permit human hands to touch her again; the confrontation nearly became violent, and amidst the distraction, there was no action on my advice. I can only console myself that perhaps it was already too late, but I’ll never truly know how many lives the Elves cost. They were poor reflections of Sasara.
Kii’sha and I – along with an insectoid being called Vren’zzik – managed to escape to safety when the dragon lord stirred and awoke from the nearby mountain, and set a freezing fog throughout the nearby valleys to kill off the army whose presence offended him. We waited until the mists cleared before making our way down to the valley again and trying to render aid; alas, few survived. For now the Inquisition and the Magicals are working together to survive; we’ve tried to talk both sides into prolonging this cooperation, but I have the feeling that once the fog has cleared, darker elements on each side will try and find reasons to blame one another again. I dare not let them… not if I can help it.
Leon’s body was not amongst the fallen, so there may yet be hope. If he lives, he would be a powerful voice of reason; he knows the truth, even if it took a great woman’s death to remind him of the difference between right and wrong. But I fear the finding of him is a task in itself, and one that – as outsiders – we may be poorly placed to attempt. We shall follow what rumours and traces there are… but they are few and contradictory. We must head south, though, as must he have; we may well find news. I pray for his survival and health; he may be the only man who can challenge the Pontifex and end the Purge.
Vren’s patron in magic is a lost spirit of the Elevahn, called Voorvaskiin; he wishes Vren to find out what happened to the other Elevahn… and I’m very inclined to help, after what Voorvaskiin said. The “Tarren”, the Aetherweald, is dying… wounded, millennia ago, a darkness is eating it from within like maggots in a wound.
What could have caused this? Was it the Night War and the Black Archons? Was it the death of Arethorelas, an immortal manifestation of the material world? Was it the disappearance of the Elevahn themselves? Or was it something earlier, or later, subtle and apparently insignificant… impossible to say, yet so much may rest on the answer. Kii’sha’s life, certainly; the fate of Aneada itself… quite possibly. The world is imperfect, and growing worse with time; with hindsight, it seems so obvious that there could be a cause in the Aether, subtly pulling on mortal dreams and immortal magic alike.
But through it all, all I could think of was that the Aetherweald contains fragments of the dead, memories and spirits and impressions left; perhaps, then, it’s possible that a person could be reassembled… if they left enough pieces. But something is consuming it, and eradicating those faint traces irretrievably.
I must try. I must.