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Author Topic: Kaliklies Library - The Breath of the Deep  (Read 1492 times)
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Kane
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Spell Energy / Taint +12/-3
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« on: July 27, 2010, 04:50:42 AM »

The Breath of the Deep

   So far, Kalikliesí research had still not shown me anything that could affect our current war. Yes, I was beginning to believe that there were powers outside of the conflict that were acting toward some hidden goal; an unknown race in the Aruun, elthedar artifacts that retained their potency and were functioning toward some long lost mission, and maybe some hidden servant of the lost gods. I had even begun to question what the Witch Queen was keeping from her servants and why she would keep such secrets. As always, Kaliklies challenges my mind, setting me tasks and problems to force me to expand the way I think. He still tries to teach me from beyond the grave.

On the top of the next document, I could see in his scrawl, the Breath of the Deep. Trying to clear my mind, I reached for the package, untied the ribbon and began to read.

Census of House XX Lands, 679 Second Age
   "On the orders of the High King, a census was called for all the lands of Eredane. A count of each household no matter how mean, to include men and boys of an age to carry arms in the service of the High King. In this role, I have been tasked to document every village in the Barrens, a vast and unforgiving land. For three arcs I have traversed the land, following rough trails and the herds of boro finding villages and isolated farms that acknowledged no lord and could not recognize by my colors that I was a member of House XX.

Most of the villages I found were barely surviving, dependant on the seasonal rains and the health of the boro herds. A dry spring would mean starvation or migration out of the region. There was little here to tax, but the men were hardened by their environment and if properly fed and armed would be fearsome warriors. Without leaving the villages defenseless, maybe a thousand warriors could be raised during the summer months and half of that over the winter.

For those who follow me in a role of census or tax taker, make sure you come well armed and with suitable escort. There are some villages that I would not stay in over night and far too many hungry eyes followed me as I rode through. Three villages in particular should be avoided.  The three follow barbaric customs the center on a gaping hole in the Ayrth. The hole blows out cold moist air that has the reek of long dead flesh. The villagers give their dead to the pit and each new moon one or more boro or forced into it to plunge to their deaths. The villagers have a superstitious dread of the place and believe that whatever might live at the bottom needs to be appeased."

Kaliklies notes: Finding this account took many days of laborious search through records smuggled out of House Davin lands. On its own it looks like little more then primitive dorn following an age old ritual, like the old fertility rights conducted in Pelluria. This is the last of the reports I found on the Breath of the Deep. As you read the later notes you can see the degeneracy grow in the villagers near this site.

Travels in the Wastes, a Merchantís Tale, 704 Third Age
   "Every year, the reach of the High King shortens and the various Houses gather more power to themselves. The roads have fallen into disrepair and banditry that was almost unheard of fifty years is rife today. Trade routes have collapsed and whole regions have been forced to rely on what is at hand to survive. This is a tragedy for many, but a boon for one such as me who is willing to brave the wilderness bringing goods to the countless isolated villages and farmsteads.

Over the past four years I have built a stable trade with good profit. I have expanded, adding caravans of goods and building my own force of reliable and relatively skilled guards. Even with my success I was hungry for more; sure there were many more villages I hadnít visited. It was that hunger for profit that led me to a sprawling, but unnamed village in the barrens of northern Erenland. If not for my naturally suspicious nature and some good luck, I never would have left, murdered in my sleep.

I entered the village in late summer, with three wagons, their drovers, and a half dozen guards. I didnít like the looks of it; the people were lean and almost feral in appearance. We arrived shortly after one of the village elders collapsed.  He died later that night and we witnessed a disturbing funeral. They stripped the body of his clothing and wrapped him in a rough cloth bag which was stitched shut.  The village as a whole gathered as four men carried the body more then a mile before arriving at a fuming hole in the ground. I was almost overwhelmed by the stench and cloying, damp air. They called the pit, the Breath of the Deep. Once there, the villagers began to chant in a dialect that I believe was close to old Norther and then threw the body into the hole.

Due to the fear of fell and in respect for the spirits of their ancestors, most dorn burn their dead, collecting some of the ashes to be interred in a family cairn. I tried to carefully ask about why the elderís body was treated as it was.  The responses I heard were not convincing.  The villagers claimed that good wood was scarce and too much was needed to properly burn a body.  They also claimed the ground was rocky and that dead bodies attracted the carrion eaters. What they were doing was barbaric and appeared to have an almost religious significance to them.

Having conducted very little good trade, I prepared the wagons to leave in the morning. I wanted to be out of the village at first light. Maybe it was a desire to leave or just my general unease that didnít allow me to sleep. I saw them coming at me in the dark of night, their long knives out. I was able to yell for the guards and pull my own sword as they rushed forward. We were able to beat them back, leaving several of the villagers dead.  After that first rush, they retreated back into the darkness.  I was able to get all but two of the drovers back to the wagons and we left, every man armed and torches burning bright. I was sure that the two missing drovers would be feed to that hole and whatever foulness lived in it. I still wake to nightmares of being wrapped in rough cloth and being thrown into that fetid pit."

Kaliklies notes: In such a poor region, sacrifices are rare and the merchant and his caravan would appear to be a gift.  They would capture and sacrifice the merchants and keep the goods. Iím convinced that the villagers are sacrificing people and animals to a very real entity or entities. The desperation the merchant saw may be due to an increasing demand for people to feed to their master. There are many legends from our own people of those that live below coming up from the ground on the darkest nights to steal the living and the dead. The legends are too many and too well spread across Erethor not to have a basis in truth.

Letter to Albrecht, Grand Master of the Order of Witch Hunters, 92 Last Age
"Your Holiness,

   I tracked the renegade and his follows north from Esben lands into the barrens. I lost his trail several times and was forced, to my shame, to call on the local garrisons to aid in the search. The region is almost lifeless, having been stripped bare by slavers, plague, and fell. I travelled through over a dozen crumbling villages and saw no living human other then my fellow hunters for the better part of an arc. Failure was unacceptable, so I forced the often reluctant guardsmen to continue their search.

I thought we had the renegade when the first reports of missing patrols came in. I had spread the net wide and forced him to fight. In a five day period three small patrols of a half a dozen men disappeared, all roughly in the same region. I gathered what men and orcs I could and moved into the region, fairly confident that we either find him or pick up his trail. What I found instead was a charnel house.

We came to a ruined village that had very recently been the scene of a slaughter. I found bits of bones and half eaten flesh of horses, copious amounts of blood, and discarded weapons, but no bodies. There was also a wide trail of blood leading out of the village to a fuming pit about a mile away. Whatever killed the guards dragged the bodies here. The pit reeked of death and a cold dread. Whatever lives in that pit does not serve our master.

Back in the village I found an almost intact house that had many of the papers and some other personal items of the renegade, and once again a great deal of blood. I am returning these items to you. I believe that the renegade is dead, killed by whatever lives in that pit. From the state of the papers and the little bit of food still the house, the renegade was likely killed no more then four or five days ago. Whatever is in the pit has killed and eaten twenty men and their mounts in a handful of days. I think whatever they are, there are several, as the renegade was exceedingly dangerous and no matter how poorly we think of the local guardsmen, they were well armed and mounted.

Your servant, Michal"

Kaliklies notes: Something has wakened in that pit, something that had been appeased for almost two ages by the dorn villagers. Killing or enslaving the dorn forced the creatures to emerge seeking their own food. I have little proof but I suspect that the pit leads very deep underground and that the creatures are servants of the darguul or that the sleepers themselves have wakened. The darguul fought the eldethar and the gods and were driven back only at great cost. If they have returned can even the Shadow contain them? If itís just one of their servants, finding an intact darguul city could reap artifacts of incredible power.

Iíve read many accounts of the darguul and a chill went down my spine. Our ancestors fought the darguul throughout the Time of Years, losing thousands of dead. If the darguul have returned, I knew we did not have the power to stop them. A worse thought entered my mind; what if they didnít oppose the Dark God but instead served him? Here was a threat that couldnít be ignored. I donít care about what we could find in a darguul city, but we have to know if they still exist.
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