26
Nov

Mauril’s Journal, Entry 10

   Posted by: Mauril   in Campaign Logs, Fantasy, Pathfinder, RPG

I have been busy over the last months traveling for the Prince. I have spent much of the winter in Lindur gathering information on the people, culture and their success against Manath. The Prince plans to compile this information and sell it to the western kingdoms. War is profitable. Death is coin. Since the fates didn’t seem to want to take me, I thought I might as well find some sort of profit in all this misfortune.

Crebain had taken to accompanying me less and less on these excursions. He said that someone needed to stay behind and keep Daidra company. I knew that he was lying but I had ceased to care. He could stay with her if he chose. It made study slightly more difficult, but I am never really alone anyway. Where Visvatman had left me in the Pale, he had taken up the loss and had begun to torture me all the more. I had become accustomed to the anguish and completely ceased to care for the fate of my mother. I never really knew her, so why should I care that she chose damnation? My only concern is that her punishment seems to be linked to my own fate.

A fate which I intended to change.

The Prince had actually given me two missions in Lindur. The first, as I had said, was to simply study the ways of the people and their success in repelling Manath. This mission was straightforward and public. The people in their simplicity hide no secrets about their lives. They will gladly blather on about their insurrection and escape and how the gods intervened on their behalf. But this was only my public persona. The second mission was much darker and more secretive. And it required much more subtlety on my part. It was a secret that I was sure that most, if not all, Linduri knew but of which none would speak openly. They had lived under it for most of their lives. The Veil.

The bronze elves have created and powered various Veils for centuries. My research into the Pale lead me to discover that the destruction of the first Murmanityedi Veil is what created this rift in the planes two millenia ago. Since then dozens of separate Veil crystals have been created and destroyed, each one leaving ruin in its wake. Cities fell; peoples were destroyed; time and reality were altered. The city of Sharbal, which has been ruins for over twelve hundred years, was the sire of one of these crystals. Irradiated by the burst of magicks when their crystal collapsed, every single occupant was immediately removed from existence. To this day, the stones at the site still pulse with residual eldritch energy.

It took months, but I would not relent in my search. Since I first laid eyes on the Veil almost two years ago, I knew that I needed to explore its secrets. Now knowing that it was connected with the Pale, which had silenced my tormentor, that desire had been rekindled. He may have filled my thoughts, but he did not control my actions. I had made this assignment from my employer into a personal quest. If the Pale could block him, then surely there was a way for a Veil crystal to do the same.

I was able to gather scraps of information here and there. Half finished sentences uttered by old Linduri, pages only partly removed from ancient texts, legends and hearsay were the most substantial sources I could find. Independently, each one was useless and together I was not sure that they amounted to much. But I had to try.

I was in the militarized city of Ardoren, patronage of Vultan, when my only solid clue was discovered. I had been granted access to their military prison and spoke with the prisoners of war there. I have no idea why the fools there had left them alive, but I am grateful that they did. One, a bronze elf cleric, had actually been involved in the creation of the most recent Veil crystal, the one the ranger Rath had shattered. This elf had gone quite mad and spoke as if he himself no longer existed. He spoke of how the elf – that is, himself – had been tasked with the “conversion” of slaves. He told of how the elf pulled the soul from the slave and sealed it in a reservoir.

The part I found most intriguing about this process was that the slave was not truly killed in the procedure. Both his soul and mind were stripped from him but the body continued to function. With the proper magicks, this body could even be used for basic labor. The Manathites had created the perfect slave and the perfect defense. These husks, as the elf called them, were branded and sent back to their tasks. The western kingdoms had it wrong. The Murmanityedi – and the Manathites who followed them – were not slaughtering thousands of slaves to power their war machines. These elves were no different than Fir when he binds the souls of earth elementals to his mechanical golems or Ossius of Barloz when he binds the souls of Chatalize’s damned to animate his minions.

With this I had found my way out. My way to shut down Visvatman for good. I just needed some test subjects. And I had figured out just where to get them.

Fleera, matron of Ardoren, had become rather fond of me in my time in her city. She was fascinated with my tales of the west and my adventures. Despite being the chosen of Vultan and commander-in-chief of Lindur’s army, she was still a mephit at heart, whimsical and curious. I used her fascination with me to secure the release of all of the bronze elf prisoners in her jail. She agreed to turn them over to me as long as I promised that they would not be released back to their home country. I had no intention of releasing them anywhere. I intended to use them for my own crystal.

It took some work when I returned to Eregant, but I was able to secure a laboratory for my studies. When the prince realized what I had discovered and what it could mean for him, he was willing to give me whatever I needed. The first thing I needed was space and the second was simply time. Time with the cleric and time alone. I found plenty of both beneath the Prince’s library. Rooms that had once been used to translate works were now dormant. Halls that once housed thousands of tomes and scrolls were now empty. I had been given a new domain and all others were forbidden from treading there.

The chambers used for translation were now housing my prisoners and the storage halls were rapidly filling with my notes and theories. I had hired something of a prison guard to make sure the elves stayed in their cells and received enough food and water so that they did not die before I needed them. I spent two solid weeks writing, studying and questioning the bronze elf cleric. I had named him Robaund, which means “empty” in New Skosian. He was capable of giving me much of what I needed to begin tests, but not everything. He did not create the ritual and only performed portions of it, so there were gaps in his knowledge. Some, it seems, had also been lost when his mind collapsed. I simply had to begin experimenting.

My prisoners were a finite resource, so I knew that I couldn’t begin with them. I started small, with rats. The city was full of them and trapping them was simple. Starting with what Robaund knew and what I was able to gather from my scraps from Lindur, I started systematically experimenting on extracting the soul of the rat without killing it. My first trials were utter failures. Necromancy was not something I had studied much, so I had to draw inferences from what I knew of summoning and binding. It took me a week of work, 20 hours a day, to reach my first success. Were it not for my ring of sustenance, I’m sure that I would have taken a full month for that success.

But it was only a small success. I had extracted the soul from the rat and it still remained alive. It took me dozens of more trials to succeed again. Three days to begin to do so reliably. I had not yet learned how to properly store the souls or make them fuel the crystal, but I was on my way. Robaund was some help with the crystallization process. This was his portion of the ritual. He had also become more cogent and had returned to using the first person when referring to himself. He had become something of a friend down in my laboratory. I would be sad to see him go when it came time.

It only took six days to perfect the crystallization process for the vermin souls. At this point I thought that maybe I would not need my prisoners after all. But the crystals I had been able to form seemed to lack a certain quality to them. There were like a lamp with no fuel. They looked the part until you tried to light them. I spent days wondering what was wrong with my technique. I poured over my notes and rituals and could find no errors in them. I then realized that my flaw was not in my procedure but rather in my source.

The Murmanityedi clerics processed thousands of slaves a day to power their crystals. If using anything less than sentient creatures would have worked, they would have done so. They were not wantonly husking slaves. The slaves were the only things that would provide the right fuel. Whatever was in an elf that was not in a rat was the key; the crystal needed minds.

I started with the soldiers first. They had the weakest minds and I needed to be as scientific as possible. I needed to know what level of sentience was needed to power a crystal. If a simpleton would do, then getting replacements would be easy; most criminals are fools. However, if I succeeded first with an academian or an arcanist, then I might end up wasting town down the line husking a fool.

I lost the first two subjects recalibrating the rituals. I expected there to be differences between the soul of a rat and that of an elf, but what those differences were, I could not be sure. I had nearly a dozen subjects, including Robaund, and couldn’t successfully power a crystal until I had amassed four souls in a single crystal. Ranking them in intelligence put four warrior souls in that crystal. The remaining five elves were all casters – two clerics, two wizards and a sorcerer. I left Robaund aside and extracted the four remaining souls into another vessel for comparison. It was only slightly stronger than the warrior crystal.

I had found my solution. A final solution to the terror of Visvatman. He had been relatively quiet through my experimentation but was now making quite the show. I simply laughed at his petty attempts to increase the reality of my visions. All I needed was to disrupt the crystal into my tome and he would be silenced forever.

Or so I thought.

I used the crystal fueled by the casters, since it was the more powerful of the two, and produced the warrior crystal to the Prince as the produce of my work along with eight perfectly obedient servants for his personal use. The miniature Veil that I had produced worked, but it did not last. After one week, I began to have nightmares of my mother’s torture again. After two, the voices returned. By month’s end, Visvatman’s torture had returned completely. I had already turned over the first crystal to the Prince and I cannot get it back. I only have Robaund remaining and his single soul will not be enough to produce a viable crystal. I need more prisoners, and soon.

-M.E.

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