This being the account of the wanderings of Malvyn servant of Elowal
Day 1: I begin this journal on the first day of our leaving of the tower of Elowal in the Vallis Caeli. I do not know the reason for our leaving of our pleasant tower but my master had commanded that Dechtire and I accompany him away on his journeyings. Since the mage wars, he has gone on journeys before, but always alone. Also before he did so with a specific promise to return at a specific date in the future. This time he just told the two of us to make preparations to leave for a long trip across the Campo Magno with no return set. Also we were to set up a camp one mile from the tower down the road to Caelum Sedes. For what purpose we were to do this I do not know.
Day 2: Elowal has joined us and I am disturbed at his demeanor. His visage was more grim than I have ever seen it. These last several months have wrought a terrifying change in him. His physical form has wasted away and he seems to be a gaunt skeleton of his former self. Rumor has it that he is seen walking the battlements at night muttering to himself. But today as he met us, there was all but a physical force that pushed us away from him. He all but exuded malevolent power. Also he spoke of the school and the tower that has been our home for these last twenty years in the past tense! I can only speculate what that means I don’t know if he noticed, but Dechtire and I pitched our bedrolls as far on the opposite side of the campfire from him that politeness allowed.
Day 3: We camp on the southern edge of Vallis Caeli. For some reason we took secondary paths that took a wide berth around the elvish settlement. I was happy not to have to go through the ghost town that once had been a bustling hub of learning and trade just a year before. Why have the Elves left us to this fate?
Day 4: Tonight we camp in the lands of the pleasant Tabaxi. Those shy cat people did not come out to meet us. This is no surprise. They are reclusive under the best circumstances. Now that the world is on fire, it only follows they should retreat to their tree houses and shun the outside world that has gone mad.
Day 5: This has been the worst day so far. Tonight we camp on the foothills of the delta in which Caleum Sedes is sited. Only now have we realized the true tragedy that befell the Kingdom of Campo Magno! To our east, we could only see death and destruction. The cities that should have dotted the land on the horizon were only crumbled ruins, their once proud skylines beaten down to a jumble of broken buildings. Worse yet, the land itself is changing. The apocalyptic magics that were unleashed seem to have wrecked the very earth itself. Even now we can see a creeping desert overtaking the towns as drought parched earth blows hither and yon eating up the formerly fertile valley. The greatest blow of all though was the view to the south. I have seen this view before in happier times and to see the pillars and palaces of Caelum Sedes from afar is to strike awe in the soul! Now the palaces are beaten down and the pillars cracked and felled. The greatest edifice of civilization crushed to the earth! I go to sleep in a deep depression. Why does my master desire to journey here and why has he muttered not one word of when we shall return to our school?
Day 6: We camp by the shore. The coast of the Great Ocean is a wonder to behold. Warm and tropical, one believes that all care could be discarded here. Perhaps when our wanderings are done, I may return here. A small garden and a skiff to catch fish with and I could be content to live out my days.
Day 7: Elowal has been gone for a day. He contracted the services of a nearby fisherman, to what end I don’t know. They left headed out towards the peak of the island we can see in the far, far distance. Is that their destination, and if so, why? I opened up to Dechtire about my feelings and was relieved to hear that I was not the only one that felt this oppressive doom. Worse yet, it has lifted this past day in the absence of our master. it is as if a cloud of gloom follows him and only in his absence can we enjoy the warmth of the sun and the caress of the breeze. I now dread his return and part of me secretly wishes for it not to happen.
Day 10: The master returns! To be plainly honest, these last days we began to believe that he must have met some ill fate over the seas, and only the dread fear of our master’s wrath if we abandoned him kept us rooted. When we had all but given up hope, we sighted the sail of the dinghy on the horizon wending its way to our cove. When he did arrive, another fearful mystery was at hand. The fisherman was missing. Our master explained that he had been slain by the fearsome creatures that inhabit the isle we could barely see in the distance. Something in this explanation did not ring true as our master is no sailor. Could he possibly have fought weather and currents to bring this small skiff across the sea on the true course to our cove? It would have taken the greatest of luck. Still, when someone has no choice, they can rise above their abilities. I will hold my peace on this matter for now.
Day 12: We have reached Auro Civitatem. The days have been pleasant as we journeyed up the Magna Flumen, it’s great waters flowing past us on the way to the ocean. The arrival at the town was less so. Auro Civitatem was no great city in its day but a hub of commerce it was, being at the confluence of the Great River and the Cataracta Fluvius flowing down from Civitas Cataracta. Oh how I wish to visit that city! Can you imagine a city built over a great waterfall. It is a wonder of our modern world I am told. But we are in Auro Civitatem, or what is left of it. It is just a shell of a town now with the shattered walls of its buildings jutting up like broken teeth. Only the town hall seems remotely intact and even that is missing the roof to its bell tower which still stands in an impotent quest to reach the sky. It seems more like the haunt of the unquiet dead and we were most happy to camp on its outskirts as we were forbidden to enter the town as our master did. It took no threats on his part to convince us not to enter and in fact it would have taken strong threats to get us to do the opposite.
Day 15: The unquiet feeling continues. We have had nothing but time to reflect on our surroundings and we cannot fail to notice that the land is failing. A blowing sand or rather dust has been advancing from the east. It settles on our food and chokes our lungs. We have taken to wearing cloths over our faces as the nomads of the desert east of Portam Magnum do. We fear that in a season, it will swallow up the whole of the town and fear it may have already done so for the cities east in the valley. We can even see its stain flowing down the river. These last several days our master has returned each night for the evening meal and he showed the signs of doing some hard labor. What he is doing we have no idea, but it is consuming some of the magical supplies he brought as our packs have been the lighter each day.
Day 19: We have been here week now and have had no sight of our master for days. This time he warned us that he would be gone for some time so we have not been as alarmed as we had with the trip over the sea. Still how long should we wait? We will bide our time for now.
Day 25: The day of our leaving must be coming soon by hook or by crook. We fear abandoning our master. If he ever caught us I’m sure his revenge would be terrible! Still we are running out of food and the water is bad. The staining of the river is increasing by the day. A sand bar even formed in the middle of what used to be a navigable river. We have taken to straining the water through a cloth to get the dust out of it. Speaking of which, the dust is piling up like snow drifts against the buildings. As much as we are in fear of the town, we have moved our camp to the lee of a broken building to escape the drifts. The local gardens have grown wild but they provide us with some provisions and I have had some luck bringing down some of the local rabbits and other small animals to supplement our rations, but it seems like they too are abandoning this town as their numbers are dwindling faster than my marksmanship can explain.
Day 29: Just as we were sure we must leave, Elowal has returned. He seemed pleased with whatever task he set himself upon and in a lighter mood than we had seen since we left the school. We pleaded with him to divert to Collesque or Civitas Catracta to resupply and it seems like we are headed towards the latter. Good thing, as I figure we only have a few days of food left.
Day 30: I am convinced that we are either lost or Elowal is not heading for Waterfall City. We are going too directly south. Perhaps our master is aiming to hit the High Road and then to civilization? Our supplies are so low. I am fighting rising panic.
Day 31: I was right about missing Civitas Cataracta but wrong about our supply situation. It turned out that we had been making for the Summer Palace all along. This too looks more like a tomb than a town. Perhaps some who fled Caelum Sedes took shelter here after the Mage Wars, but if so they are long gone and it is a ghost town. It was well supplied and we took from its stores enough to set us on the road for weeks again.
Day 33: Mystery abounds again. After raiding the town for stores, Elowal relocated us an hour’s hike away and had us set up camp. He has been returning to the town by himself again and again. As has been the case this whole venture, we have no idea why.
Day 34: This has been a day of ups and downs. I realized that the ominous feeling that has hung over us since leaving the school has lightened. As often happens, it has been happening to a degree as we have left each of our stops, but it wasn’t until now that it became obvious. It is as if we are leaving a bit of angst behind with each stop we make. On the down side, Dechtire has fallen ill! It started with chills in the morning and progressed to a full fever and shaking by mid day. I am ministering to her as best I can but cool cloths and herbal brews don’t seem to help.
Day 35: What a horrible day! Elowal had finished whatever he was doing in the Summer Palace and commanded that we leave on the hour. I explained that Dechtire was in no condition to travel. He declared that she must be left behind. I protested but he gave me a look so menacing that I nearly fainted! When did he come into possession of such power? I packed up but it was as if I was just a spectator watching someone else operating my body to do that work. In the end I left Dechtire enough food and water to make it back to the school. However we had not gone even an hour when we heard wolves attacking something back down our trail. If that was our companion, I fear she is dead. She was in no shape to fight off anything. Even if she wasn’t set upon by the wildlife, what chance does she have in this forsaken wilderness? This may be the worst day of my life and I’m possessed of the notion that I do not have many more left to me.
Day 41: I now wallow in depression. The sun holds no light or warmth for me anymore. After this valley crossing I can only summon the energy to put one foot in front of the other, my head down. When we left the Summer Palace, I faintly hoped that we would head to Civitas Cataracta and civilization. Instead we trekked north across the valley towards Collesque. The prospect of visiting the happy Halflings would cheer anyone up! Even the ugly rumor that they had built a wall to keep outsiders out of their lands wouldn’t temper that desire. As we near their vale there is only sorrow in my soul. Any happiness was sucked out of me during this journey. Many times have I visited the great cities of the fertile vale and strode their fine avenues. This time we gave each a wide berth and with good reason. Now just burnt shells of crumbling walls and rotting fields, their proud mansions and towers thrown down in ruin. Calidum Fontes, Auro Civitatem, Aquam Flueutem, Portam Civitas, they all lie in ruin, slowly being buried by the blowing sands of this ruined valley. We strayed too close to Portam Civitas hoping to refresh our stores with the spoils of the gardens let go wild. As we did so a mongrel lot of refugees set upon us. They charged from the ruined building and I quailed and would have fled, but my master stood firm. He stood resolute as stone in the face of the slavering mob and when they approached within a stone’s throw, he threw up his arms and the most curious event happened. They stopped in their tracks and a visage of true horror appeared upon their faces. They paled, screamed, and fled as if the very demons of the underworld were after them. After this I follow my master only because I fear leaving his service would visit upon me a similar fate.
Day 42: The rumors about Collesque are true. A shining wall of new stone has been erected across the valley entrance to the Vintners Barony. Two large gates bar entrance to anyone not of the vale. This was of no account to us as this apparently was not the goal of my master. A shanty town of refugees has built up at the base of the new wall and we were able to barter for provisions to continue our trek apparently further into the mountains.
Day 48: This is quite a wonder! Even in my distressed state, I am not immune to the wonder I encountered today. I had heard that there was a settlement of Gnome tinkers between Collesque and Ferrum Mons and we have found it. Or at least what was here some time ago. The settlement is, or was, built partly inside and partly outside the mountain. The outside seems to have suffered the same fate as just all settlements outside of the walled baronies of the hills. It too was flattened by some conflict in the mage wars and to look upon it is depressing as the others. The part that was built into the mountain side, perhaps by the dwarves, shows signs of hasty exit. News has it that the Gnomes fled to the security of the mountain fortress of Ferrum Mons. Most of the tools, fixtures and inventions were removed, but apparently due to their speedy exit, not all could be taken. In some cases only the finest things were taken leaving much behind. My master has been away several days again and so I have taken to exploring a bit, although not too far so as not to get lost. I can only wonder at the items and devices that I have found. All are either broken or incomplete as I assume any complete inventions were spirited away with the refugees. Still it hints at the wonder and ingenuity of the tinkers that lived here.
Day 49: Elowal returned and looked exceedingly pleased so I assume that the mission he was on was a success. As usual he is silent on the subject of what tasks he does. The only clue that I could divine was the air of smokeyness about him as if he had been in the presence of a large fire for some time. I see no smoke rising into the air. Perhaps there is yet a heated forge in this place? We are packing to journey again which is well as we are running through our supplies again. We are headed east so perhaps to Ferrum Mons, but I have heard it is sealed. We do have enough provisions to make Portam Magnum. The largest of the walled cities would be a great place to reestablish ourselves! Hopefully so. I realize that this is an optimistic thought and have to admit that once again I feel lighter as if we have left a burden behind in the Gnome ruins.
Day 52: It was not to Ferrum Mons we go but further up into the mountains. If I thought the Gnome settlement was a wonder of the industrial world, it pales in comparison to this wonder of the natural one. We crested a pass into a protected valley filled with winged steeds! Elowal crept in stealth down among them and captured one. He must have used the same magic as against the mob on the valley floor as the poor thing was showing the whites of its eyes! It was sufficiently cowed though and permitted us to mount and carry us up, up, all the way into the clouds! I just closed my eyes hard shut and held onto my master as tightly as I could which in itself was a trial. He is so gaunt now that it was like clinging to the embalmed dead! I still feel revulsion from that touch. When we broke through the clouds, I permited myself a peek and gasped with astonishment. Before us, as if resting on a giant plain of cotton was a castle of gargantuan proportions. We alighted in it’s courtyard and introduced ourselves to the nobility within, cloud giants! We have been made guests within. On one hand I am glad of it as our supplies have dwindled and we would be eating crumbs in a few days. On the other hand I am quite disturbed by the leering glances that we get from the lords of this domain. Rather I should say I get. Elowal seems to be an honored guest and completely at his ease. The sooner we are on our way the better. I long for our school tower.
Day 53: Hopefully we will be leaving soon. I don’t like our hosts and it seems as if unsavory creatures are hiding in the shadows of the castle which are everywhere. I understand we are invited to a feast tonight. Perhaps we can go after that. Someone is here. It seems too early to go down to the feast but perhaps I’m being invited early or some such.