Chapter One

Since I last wrote you, dear readers, the world has changed a great deal. The isle of Rheatoc was cursed with a volcanic eruption, while an army of the dead rose up to attack my own Lockinton. The city of Guardia was overwhelmed by another of its historical floods, and the Empire of Meed was host to none other than the Darkness Dragon itself. Over the past year, the world has seen disasters of innumerable number, plagues, terrors, curses and more. An ancient god arose from his unearthly lair to plague the world once more, a god that has been imprisoned on this plane for untold millennia, who has destroyed the world many times and been imprisoned many times. This past year, assisted by the irrepressible Jacob Tabber, an entity known as the Darkness Dragon plagued our world. But just as all other foes fell before my might, so did this so-called god, who was defeated with the help of many others, along with the faith and power of all those who read my memoirs and believe in me. The tale is a long and complicated one, but I shall begin it simple enough, at the point where the first volume of my memoirs leaves off.

Me and my companions were able and ready to investigate the supposed cult that had taken root in the underdark. We were about to search for an entrance when we were contact by our old ally Settin, legendary crafter of items. He had a message for us from a gnome named Jenbie, a well-known fellow who supposedly dwelt on the isle of Rheatoc in a city called Cloudia. He wished to speak with us concerning some matter of great importance. We decided to give the little guy a chance, and we headed out on a long sea voyage. At the time our group included myself, the paladin Gaspar, Ingar the dwarf and the elderly Mu. Latheric stayed back in Lockinton to research a project, and Estienne was off dealing with the troubles in her own city. The journey took an entire month, and during it we received a good amount of rest and relaxation, and I got to catch up with many of my friends. Mu seemed older than ever; truly ancient now, barely able to move around, his eyes glazed over, his mind at times failing him. He knew that he didn’t have long to live, and I knew that in his mind he had a plan. Ingar, on the other hand, seemed quite different. The dwarf was rude, inconsiderate and truly a stupid man. At the same time he was afraid of our power, but tried to bully us with his ‘strength’. Ingar was a fool, a follower and a complete bastard. One time on the journey I said something that insulted him. He told me "Shut up, Huron, or I’ll cut out your tongue!" "Bring it" I answered, calling his bluff while I pulled my swords out. Of course, he was too afraid to back up his threat. Thus began a long series of Ingar’s follies. The dwarf argued with us the entire trip, and as our boat sailed across azure blue seas, he nearly started fights with both myself and Gaspar, who was growing increasingly irritated with him.

The journey was a long one, but to us it hardly seemed a journey at all. Half of the time I wasn’t even on the ship. A sea journey is an odd thing when you know how to teleport yourself. You can move from the boat to land and back in less than a day. I spent much of my time practicing my fighting techniques, hanging around in Lockinton’s tavern, or doing other fine things while the boat merrily sailed on its way. Yet I was mainly busy with one important task: writing the memoirs. I received help from my good friend Janko, halfling bard, now one of the world’s greatest heroes. The former doorman for a thief guild had now become an excellent storyteller, and with his wisdom he aided me in composing my memoirs, which I wrote during the journey. Gaspar was composing a work of his own too; a ‘paladin’s code’ that he planned to follow on his own and present to his followers. Little did he know that soon his faith would be wholly shaken, if not destroyed completely.

At the end of our journey we saw the great isle of Reatoc rising up above us like a great castle in the sea. The entire island was a vast mountain, its lower parts covered with lush jungle, its top housing the sky-city of Cloudia. The boat stopped about a mile from shore while the sailors prepared rowboats. Myself and Gaspar, possessing the ability of flight, easily performed gigantic air leaps and floated to shore. Ingar, deciding that he could do the same, tried making the jump. He made an excellent jump, so long that it took the dwarf over the rowboats and straight into the ocean, where he sank like a rock in his heavy armor. He was barely able to save himself, and like a drowned rat he pulled himself aboard the rowboat, greeted by the applauding laughter of the crew. At that moment I think I started to lose respect for the warrior; before he was merely rude, but not an idiot. Though I knew not his motives for leaping off the boat, I began to question his intelligence.

We were all on shore and soon we made our way through the jungle and to the base of the great city. Here, a guard made many of us hand over our weapons, as they forbid violence in the city. I was easily able to sneak mine in, though Ingar had to give up his axe, which he nearly put into the guard’s skull. The city was a wondrous site; immense ships flew in the air, machines chugged along in the city streets, and freedom reigned. We visited The House on the Rock, a fine club, and enjoyed the city’s many delights. When we went to look for the gnome, we eventually found his house. He seemed rather hesitant to let us in, and his door seemed locked by a strange kind of magic. Oddly, it was Gaspar’s Holy Sword that opened this door, fitting in like a key. Gaspar walked in, then disappeared through some strange portal. Later, he told us what he encountered. The gnome was there, but so was Jessalyn; his old love, who he had not seen for many years. She begged him to help her, and told him a wild story. Supposedly, Jessalyn and the gnome had discovered a way to become gods, by visiting a long-lost temple deep inside of this isle’s mountain. According to her, the gods were the enemies of the human race, and to defeat them, we needed to all access the innermost depths of that secret temple. The story didn’t really fit together well, and when I later spoke to her, I heard a slightly different account. It felt like a trap of some sort, though Gaspar seemed to trust Jessalyn, and either way it seemed like something worth investigating. According to one account, both the gems of good and evil were needed to enter this hidden shrine; both had to be used at the same time. Thus, we formulated a plan to lure Tabber to this location, though it was hardly needed, as he seemed rather eager to come along.

First, however, we had to get another odd item: the hilt of a sword. Mu told us about it first; an ancient artifact from olden days, capable of combining the gems of good and evil into one item of vast power. According to Mu, this could be very useful to us. We hunted it down in the ruins of a place called Black Rock, a crumbling and waterlogged fortress lying off the coast of Guardia. Deep beneath the marsh, Black Rock was a mere shadow of a dungeon, its guardians having long since died or rotted away. In an ancient tomb deep in its interior, our party discovered a strange being. He had been the former master of the place, or rather, he was a shadow of that former master, an illusion left behind after even the ghost of the lord had died. This being had no power to stop us, though he claimed that a terrible curse would befall all who took the artifact from his possession. We took it anyway, for we had little to fear from any curse. The magical hilt was, however, contained in a lidless box of pure obsidian with no visible openings. I had to drop it off the top of Lockinton castle to even get the thing open, though this seemed to do the job just fine.

Thus, after some preparation, we returned to the city with Tabber and tried finding this cave. Here, we had a rather interesting night, actually hanging out with the evil lich Jacob Tabber at a bar. Being a huge dork, Tabber refused to dance with the ladies, however, and didn’t even want to have any drinks. When Ingar begged Tabber for some gold, Tabber eagerly gave him a bit of it. Sadly for the dwarf, the gold was actually maggots, covered by a weak illusion. All of us, including Tabber, had a few good laughs here. It’s strange how a complete fool can unite both friend and foe in comedy. We managed to get rid of Ingar by having him go off and collect some rocks from the nearby quarry; all a part of my secret plan to harvest wealth from nothing using the great powers of the Golden Wand. There, he found a secret passage leading into the interior of the mountain. We had found our goal!

Along with Tabber and two of his thugs we searched the ancient cavern, passing by many strange traps and mysterious tricks. A shimmering corridor led into the frightful depths of the dungeon, covered in shifting symbols and unearthly script, supposedly the secrets of the gods, which could only be read by a master linguist. Deeper we went, to a sinfully vast chamber where ethereal columns rose miles above us and a fountain of pure gold bubbled forth its contents. A strangely familiar symbol covered the whole room; the symbol the T’lok had placed on the bodies of their victims. After inspecting this odd room, we knew that something strange and powerful must be contained here. Tabber said that he knew what to do, and we eventually decided to give him the hilt, knowing he could cause no great evil without the gem of good as well. He took it, put his evil gem inside; a horrid blade of pure darkness surged from it, creating a devilish sword of evil! Tabber rammed it into the middle of the fountain, and a strange glow began to surround it. He attacked, betraying us as expected! His minions were vampires, drow undead with the skills of deadly ninjas. Me and Gaspar battled them, while Latheric used the might of artifact to fight Tabber’s evil. After knocking Tabber aside, Latheric decided to place his own gem inside the opposite end of the hilt’s cross guard. The effect was strange, as the two gems merged together inside the new sword to create an effect like spiritual lightning. The battle went well for us, and though Gaspar was almost defeated by his opponent, we managed to beat them both. Ingar, of all people, managed to beat Tabber, sending the lich back into his phylactery. Then Gaspar pulled the sword out of the fountain. A creature emerged, a gigantic being of energy and spirit, ethereal and huge, with the form of a five-headed dragon, so big that it filled the whole room. This was an incarnation of The Darkness Dragon, a powerful god that had long ago been trapped in this place by a team of heroes, now let loose to roam the world once more. It attacked, and we were forced to fight back. With a swing of the new sword, Gaspar beheaded one of the being’s heads, and it fled, floating right through the ceiling. Suddenly, we heard a powerful rumbling all through the cavern: the mountain was erupting!

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