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Scorp40left.png The Unleashed Darkness: Chronicles of Oblivion Scorp40right.png

These fragmentary pages comprise the final testament of Deacon Abelon of Melvaunt, who vanished in the winter of 99 SY. They were found stuffed into the entrails of one of the thousands of walking corpses that attacked Kings Cross just before the appearance of the Isle of Oblivion. To this day, no sign of Deacon Abelon has been found, nor has he returned to any Tree of Life or known Ruin.

The 15th of Torvald, 99 SY

As High Bishop Renard ordered, I have made my way from Kings Cross to the Abbey of Caerwynt in the remote plains of Estragoth. Derroth, my guide, tells me we shall arrive tomorrow. The road has been long and fraught with many dangers. Throughout the lands of Aerynth, some two dozen petty warlords have declared themselves baron, warlord, or marquis of whatever patch of land they can claim with a charter, a crown, and an iron fist. I fear that war, already common in this Age of Strife, shall become endemic as these new monarchs seek to impose their will upon the face of the world, even as their rivals storm their gaudy new palaces. Indeed, many now proclaim that we have already entered the War of Realms a bitter struggle for power among the would-be monarchs of the newly emerging domains. Too many times we were forced to take another road around a province embroiled in siege, or fleeced for taxes or road tolls by gangs of armed thugs serving some warlord. Alas, the Bishops seal held little awe for too many of them. 

I have seen frightful things on my trek across war-torn Aerynth: new siege engines that can bathe entire armies in gouts of alchemists fire, Dwarf-trained engineers that can undermine the stoutest walls, and crafty saboteurs who can wreck a siege spire with a simple chant. Caerwynt lies far from other cities, and I hope that I may find a respite there from this bloody game of crowns, and devote myself fully to my sacred task. 

The 17th of Torvald, 99 SY 

I fear my mission for the Bishop has failed. Caerwynt Abbey is no more. We came upon the abbey in the cold morn, and found it empty. Every door stood ajar, swaying in the breeze. All of the inhabitants, some 200 souls, are gone, with no sign of their passing. It is as if they have turned to fog and joined the morning mist. Lannod the scout has ranged for more than a mile, and he swears he has not found even a single footprint. On every door we found a foul glyph, painted there in blood: three crescent horns or moons, pointing outward, in a circle. Brother Corben paled at the sight of them, intoning chants to Saint Wend. The outer village is devoid of life: dogs, livestock even the gnats and flies have left this place. The silent village quite unnerved us all, but it was only a prelude to the horrors awaiting us in the chapel. 

Here we found living things at last: ravens, hundreds of them, huddled among the peaks and gables of the roof. Their eyes followed us everywhere, and I swear I could feel malice in them. Acolyte Norran first heard the pattern to their croaking, and try as I might to dismiss it, I heard it, too, a single word: beware. Even bowshots could not drive them from their roost. If only we had heeded the ravens warning 

Merciful Saints, give me comfort to endure the sights that I have seen! That desecrated church, thick with the smells of a slaughterhouse, its altar bathed in blood and filth the icons and emblems of the Holy Church inverted and befouled the unholy diagrams, scrawled in blood. But worst of all, the horror that awaited poor Norran in the reliquary in the urn that once held the holy libations, he found a heap of eyes. Hundreds of eyes, still slick and glistening with blood and slime, plucked no doubt from the heads of every living soul at this abbey. The sight drove Norran mad with fear, and even my most powerful blessings cannot restore order to his mind. Corben made to count them all, but lost stomach for it at 156. I can hear poor Norran whimpering and gibbering even as I write these words. None of us shall sleep tonight, I fear. 

I can still hear the damned ravens as well, croaking from atop the abbey. I can hear new words now, mixed with their warnings. 

I wonder how is it that they know my name? 

The 18th of Torvald, 99 SY 

At last, Lannod has found some hints of a trail. They who watched us in the night left footprints as they fled. The trail leads west. Corben is adamant that we follow the tracks and seek righteous revenge for what happened in this place. I cannot help but agree, though I wonder what horrors await us at the end of this new path  

The 25th of Torvald, 99 SY 

Our long race across these lands has finally reached its goal. It is as Corben feared: the villains have made straight of the runegate of Haedans Stone. All along the road from Caerwynt we have seen their handiwork: empty towns, villages of festering dead, and everywhere that terrible sign, three crescents drawn in blood. Last night we finally caught a glimpse of our foes, the pale skin of the Shades almost gleaming in the light. The distant figures performed a bizarre ritual at the gate, and then opened a portal, the likes of which I had never seen before, a pillar of energy darker than the midnight. By the time we reached the ancient stone, our quarry was gone and the portal had closed. 

Lannod knows the Travelers arts, and swears he heard enough of their strange chant to open the gate. Though I deemed it folly, Corben urged him on. Even now, Lannod is making his 10th attempt to open the portal. Strangely, the portal on the gate is the Eighth Gate the gate of the Unknown. Lannod knew of chants for the five elemental gates and the gates of Law and Chaos. He had never heard of anyone using the eighth gate even the wisest Magi are baffled by its presence. I look back on the horrors we have seen in this long chase, and I find myself praying that he fails. 

The 27th of Torvald, 99 SY...? 

I am no longer certain of the date. There are few ways to note the passage of time in this blighted place. The moment Lannod opened the black portal, my heart sank. I could feel the power of the gateway tingling in my bones, cold and baleful as the winter wind. Corben raced through, and I followed, fool that I am. 

I have journeyed from one end of Aerynth to the other, from Khar Thale to frozen Stormvald to the blasted heart of Maelstrom, but never have I seen or heard of any place so terrible. Nothing in all my service to the Church has prepared me for this. This place is pure Darkness, pure Evil. The dark sky glowers down upon us, with only a hint of pale light at the horizon, like the last breath of dusk. The air is cold, and a driving wind howls mournfully. The ground is the color of bleached bone, with pitted rocks dusted with mounds of fine dust, like ash. Corben swears the stuff is powdered bone. More terrifying than the vista was the news that Lannod could not reopen the portal. 

After much argument, we made our way across the darkling plain, past hideous things that could only be called trees in the bleakest nightmares. For hours we saw nothing, and then came upon the greatest horror of all: what we had taken for a stone pillar is actually a towering obelisk of bones: stacked bones, millions of them. Lannod has not spoken since he noticed the tooth marks on the bones. The look in his eyes frightens me. 

The Month of Torvald? 

From every shadow, ye Archons, deliver me. Through strife and darkness, ye Saints, deliver me. Past every terror, All-Father, deliver me. Look upon me, Caeric, blessed paladin, and guide me through the shadow you once faced. 

Despair hangs heavy on my soul. I am now alone in this blighted place yet not alone. 

They came for us without warning. There were dozens of them, foul things that had once been men, and even the decayed husks of Minotaurs and Aracoix. We fought them as best we could, and our blessings kept the things at bay, but their master was different. 

The thing that commanded them I have seen the thing that lurks in Abbadoth, calling itself Lord Charne. The scholars call it Vampire this thing was its kin, but far more terrible. The red eyes, the skin like alabaster, and that hideous strength Corben fought with all the fury of Saint Lorne, but to no avail. I saw the thing withstand a stroke that would have felled a drake, then laugh and rip the head from Corbens body, holding it aloft to drink from the severed neck! 

I alone managed to flee, past charnel heaps of corpses and unholy obelisks, past hideous creatures defying reason that seem to have been wrought of others bones, animated by some hideous malice. Now I am hidden, half-buried in a heap of bones. I pray that death has sent Corben back to Kings Cross to deliver a warning, but I cannot know if this hellish place even lies on our home fragment. I must find some way back to Aerynth, before th 

All reason has left my life. All light, and all hope. I write these words as a captive, in my own blood. They have not yet found this journal, and I pray that they will not before I can make my one last, desperate attempt. 

The Vampire will not let me die. At the end of every torture, his hideous blood restores my flesh. I have tried to escape many times, hoping that their mindless servants would kill me, but they answer the fiends will. I have contemplated the unthinkable, but too much of my faith remains intact for me to end my own life. At least for now  

Given the things I have seen and heard, I am amazed a single shred of faith remains within my soul. I have looked upon blasphemies, seen the Necromancers working their arts upon dead flesh. I know now why they took the eyes of all the poor souls in Caerwynt The Vampire will not let me die there is too much chance, I think, that I might escape to the Tree at Kings Cross and warn the Bishop. Their plan cannot allow the risk. 

The pale fiend has told me much: how he is of the Belgosch, one of the four great clans of the Nightborn, and how the Vampires have been waiting for the day of their advent. He told me the true cause of the War of Shadows that wracked ancient Ardan, and the arcane traps wrought by the Nameless Titan to keep the Hungry Void at bay. He told me what really happened to Ithriana when she took Shadowbane to the lands of her kinsmen, and how she truly became the Lich-Queen. 

Time first drew the Voids hunger to Aerynth. The Elves sought to tame the Dark; the men of Ardan held it at bay. Even the All-Father could not stop it: He wrought a truce, but it ended at the Turning. Now the universe is imbalanced, and the very Trees of Life that gave us hope in the Dark Years gnaw at the barrier, weakening it with every soul they preserve. Why were we so deceived? 

Shades were but the harbingers of doom the Void has looked out through their eyes and wrought its dark designs with their pale hands. I have looked upon the Gate these fiends have built in this wasteland. I have seen Ithriana, the Lich-Queen. She lives! I have seen what lies beneath her pallid mask! And I know her aim the Dark shall consume all light, and all life shall become death. 

I have but one hope: if I can warn Aerynth, the worst may yet be averted. These pages shall be my souls salvation. To any who read these words, deliver them to a Bishop of the Holy Church as swiftly as you can, and arm yourselves! Soon, all lands shall fall under the shadow of the Throne of Oblivion. All-Father, forgive me for what I must do

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