Shadow of Death
Yog's letter to the wizards of Bracada
To the Wizards of Bracada,
My tale is a long one, but I must tell it because there is no one else who will. After all, who would believe Crag Hack's bar room bragging? Gem seems to want certain events swept under the rug, never again revealed. I have heard nothing of Gelu since he found the cursed sword, Armageddon's Blade. So that leaves me to tell the tale history forgot.
I parted with you on shaky terms so very long ago. I may be a genie like my mother, but I have my father's adventurous spirit. Preferring the life I found in Krewlod, I had to leave the one you offered me in Bracada. It was on this journey of self-discovery that this tale has its earliest beginnings. After being accepted into Krewlod society, I began my wanderings and met three people near the Erathian-Deyjan border. The four of us were all searching for a new life and stumbled upon events far larger than each of our petty problems.
It was before the Restoration of Erathia war when I met and worked with the young Gelu, the beautiful Gem, and the barbaric Crag Hack. My three comrades were from such different backgrounds it is surprising we were able to work together. Crag Hack was an easygoing man, with a passion for combat, wine and lots of women. He made me smile and forget my own troubles for a while. When Gem wasn't slaughtering the forces of undead, she was a quiet and reserved woman with a kind heart. Gelu had barely graduated from the Forest Guard, ready for a fight and eager to prove himself. His seriousness was surprising in one so young and contrasted greatly against the boisterous Crag Hack.
Somehow we managed to stop a Necromancer, Sandro, who had plans for world domination. Manipulating Gem, Gelu and Crag Hack, he was able to reach Deyja with some very powerful items in his possession. Once there, he vaulted a puppet king, Finneas Vilmar, to the throne and threatened to conquer all of Antagarich. My tale will begin in four separate places, but in the end you see that all of the events were intertwined, leading to the near destruction of us all.
Restoration of Erathia
Letter from Wilbur Humphrey
I hope this letter finds you well and has reached you before you set sail with Queen Catherine to Erathia. I regret these trying times. The duties forced upon me have made it impossible for me to see you off in person.
First, let me congratulate you on your commission. I am glad — no, thankful — Catherine has someone of your character and abilities among her entourage. I do not hold such an unqualified opinion of some who travel with you. I know you are more at home on the battlefield than in the company of the royal court, but let me remind you, the strategies and tactics employed there are every bit as complex and potentially deadly, as any found in military conflict. No, I don’t have any real proof of any particular disloyalty or treachery — just a feeling.
It is unfortunate your first visit to Erathia could not be made in happier times — it is a land of beauty and stability. Or at least it has been, under Nicolas Gryphonheart’s rule. He was a great king and a dedicated ally. I will remember him best as a man of strength and fairness, both qualities have breditrue in our dear Catherine. You know she has not ruled out the possibility foul play was involved in his death. Do not be too quick to dismiss her thoughts as those of a grieving daughter. True, she is saddened but has not lost hold of her wisdom.
Hah! Listen to me and my gloominess! Just watch your back as a favor to a friend made cynical and suspicious by age. I’m sure I’m just seeing things in the worst possible light. A vocational habit. Perhaps I have been at this job too long.
Farewell, friend. I look forward to your return, to a good cup of tea by the fire, and to the recounting of your journey’s tale. May the seas be calm and the wind steady in your sails.
Wilbur Humphrey, Regent of Enroth
Letter from Lucifer Kreegan
To Xeron, loyal servant of his majesty Lucifer Kreegan, killer of his king's enemies:
Upon receiving this letter, kill the messenger. No one is to learn of its contents. Should its information fall into the hands of an enemy, our kingdom of Eeofol may find itself the victim of a greater nation's aggression.
Though we have met and spoken frequently since the death of our previous lord, King Xenofex, I have yet to tell you how I came to know of his death before anyone else in the kingdom.
On the night of the day Xenofex fell to a band of adventurers, he came to me in a dream.
As I slept, my dream-form walked through a lush forest of rich green foliage and warm sunbeams. As I walked, the stench of fresh earth and morning dew surrendered to the fragrance of charcoal and sulfur. Through the parting trees, I stepped into a clearing. At my feet lay a shimmering pool of molten rock. Warming my face to the heat rising from the pool, I leaned over and peered inside. At the bottom, barely visible, rested a breastplate. Unafraid of injury, I plunged my arm into the pool and grabbed the artifact. Unscorched, I withdrew my arm and held before my eyes the Breastplate of Brimstone.
I could not help but feel my own exaggerated grin as I put on the prized artifact. However, my elation faded as I heard the echo of an insane cackle. After a moment of stillness with nothing but the sound of the leaves rustling in the faint breeze...then the laughter came again. Its direction was obvious, so I walked toward the source. As I grew closer, the laughter became louder and more frequent, until I came upon a shield set against a dead tree. The laughter reached a fevered pitch, threatening my sanity, as I drew closer. With much concentration, I was able to grab and lift the artifact. The laughter ceased. It was the Shield of the Damned.
No sooner did I hold the shield then my ears heard a horrible screeching. I spun around. For a split second, I glimpsed a sword speeding through the air. I raised the Shield of the Damned to deflect the attack. Cartwheeling backward, the blade hovered for a moment then dove. Again, I parried the attack. This continued, until finally, the blade tired and dropped to the ground. Carefully, I approached and picked up the artifact. It was the Sword of Hellfire.
As I rose, I saw before me Xenofex. He turned and began walking away. I followed and eventually caught up with him. He was standing next to an old man seated on a tree stump. The old man was examining the construction of a wild rose he had plucked from a nearby bush.
Under the watchful eye of Xenofex, I approached. At the feet of the old man, I placed the Breastplate of Brimstone, the Sword of Hellfire, and the Shield of the Damned. Stepping back, I watched as the old man put aside the flower.
Picking up the sword, he examined the blade then lifted the shield from the ground. By a means I do not understand, he folded the artifacts together creating a new sword. He then repeated this feat, folding the sword into the breastplate, creating a final artifact: a sword with a strong blade and a golden bird lifting its wings at the hilt.
After the old man laid the magnificent blade on the ground, Xenofex stepped forward. Taking the blade in his hands, Xenofex looked in my direction, grinned, then with great strength, drove the blade into the ground.
In an instant, a flash of white blinded me. My vision returned in time to see the blade conjure an ocean of fire to wash over the world. These waves of fire spread, fast as lightning, burning all in its path. When it was over, Xenofex and I stood face to face, on a world charred black. Examining the face of Xenofex, I saw only satisfaction and glee. He then stepped backward, away from the blade as it spoke to me; "I am the blade of Armageddon."
Carefully, I approached. Stretching out my hand, I reached for the blade. Before I could touch it, time froze and the vision shimmered. I awoke.
I know Xenofex came to me the moment after he was killed. I know not why, but it is my destiny and duty to possess Armageddon's Blade. With it, I will set the world on fire.
Go forth and search the land for the Breastplate of Brimstone, the Sword of Hellfire, and the Shield of the Damned. When you have the three artifacts, seek out the old man. I do not know who he is, but I have no doubt you will find him. It is your destiny.
When you have finished, return to me with the blade.