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Mauril’s Journal, Entry 8

   Posted by: Mauril   in Campaign Logs, Pathfinder, RPG

The book has now made its purposes known.  His purposes, I should say.  He has offered me my own soul and I have taken his deal.  I have been trapped by him for nearly three years of my life now.  It would have been three years in twelve days of this writing.  The worst part of this infernal bargain is that I knew it to be foul from the first day and since then I knew that I could not escape this fate.

I have spent my time here in Eregant trying to put together the pieces of my now shattered life.  I have been struck blind and, for the first time in my memory, am having to relate my soul to another.  Her name is Daidra and she has become my window back into the world.  Before I can tell that story, I must tell another.

Nearly two hundred years ago, before the invasion of Nagul, two vile peoples met.  Far to the east in the nation of Kami, the great oni peoples took to battle against the bronze elves of Murmanityed.  A heated war raged between the two nations, though over what issue or offense my texts have been unclear.  The Kami were successful in driving the invaders out but not before the elves could strike them at their very core.

The Kami are a very mystical people and do not worship the gods of the west.  Instead they offer their fealty and sacrifices to powerful beings who choose to manifest themselves on this plane as totems and artifacts.  Each city and village has a guardian totem, as does each noble house.  The Murmanityedi knew this and knew the devotion that the people had for them, so they captured one of these spirits to take as a ransom.

They meant it as an effort to turn the invasion back in their favor.  Their clever plan might have worked had the elven couriers arrived to deliver the ransom demands.  Again the records are unclear but the envoy never arrived at the oni general’s camp so the Kami never received the Murmanityedi demands.  What likely would have halted the war enraged it further.  Both sides believed the other barbaric and cowardly and any hope of negotiation and respectable war was lost.

The Kami were able to drive Murmanityed from their lands but the invaders took with them their prize.  I have reasoned that the artifact, a large book, knew what it was doing and allowed itself to be kidnapped.  What happened to this book over the next several decades is a mystery, though I believe the spirit known as Visvatman to have waited quietly, biding his time.  He waited in ambush like a venomous snake.

Visvatman knew that the bronze elves would not worship it but try to wield him as their tool, so he chose not to reveal his power to them.  He made himself as innocuous as possible and was soon relegated to a storeroom in the back of a palace among the other forgotten spoils of war.  For seventy years he plotted in the darkness waiting for a receptive people to liberate it.

These people were the Barlozians.  They stormed the Murmanityed palace and looted its coffers.  Wagons of treasure were hauled back to Perdaith to be sorted and apportioned.  Visvatman saw this as his opportunity to begin his work and brought itself out of hiding.   The archmagis of Barloz saw the raw potential of this artifact but, not knowing its origin or history, he decided that he would have the book copied and studied.  This isn’t exactly what the book had intended.  He could not exert his power through duplicates but he could not erase its contents or he would lose his attachment to this plane.  He could however rearrange its contents obfuscating his true nature and purpose.  The wizards of Barlox, he decided, were too strong of will to fall prey to his charms.  He was also now in a foreign land and needed time to learn the people so that he could discover their wants and desires, their hidden dreams.

The artifact had become known as The Book of Dark Knowledge, as were all of the copies, since it was found among the peoples of the dark tongue.  Copies of the Book were distributed to all of the colleges throughout Barloz to see what new wonders could be extracted from them.  The great thinkers of the country took to pouring over them hoping to unlock the cipher.

Over the next decade wondrous new things were created, the greatest of which were the Crossway Gates, the portals that link the western nations.  Inherent in the very nature of the spirit were the ideas of travel.  Even hidden and obscured, the ability to teleport was written on every page.  Hundreds of other magicks were extracted from its pages but none were as impactful as the Crossway Gates.

The Barlozian king Greco ordered that the original tome be locked away in his vault, to protect it, and that only the copies would be read and distributed.  This angered Visvatman.  He did not want to wait anymore.  Eighty years had passed and he could feel his power slipping away.  He drew up as much power as he could covertly muster to alter his path.  He charmed fate and he was misfiled and another tome was placed in the vault.  He knew not where he would go, only that he would remain free.

The book floated around Barloz for nearly the next half century.  It exchanged hands a dozen times and Visvatman took what power he could from them, but he found them either too dim for his purposes or too set in their ways to be swayed.  The book spent much time in Bardoon before being transported to the temple of Mishya in Mercan.  They had just received a new priest in charge of their archives and he had asked for new texts to be brought in from around the kingdoms.  This priest was me and this is where my story intersects with his.

I was a young man with an insatiable thirst for knowledge but I didn’t have the wisdom to temper it.  The original Book of Dark Knowledge disguised as a copy arrived at my temple and I was immediately drawn to it.  I was the perfect target, though he calls me his protegé.  I was intelligent enough to understand his plans an uncommitted enough to my faith to carry them out.  It pains me to dictate these words, but they are truth.

I have already related the story of my early experiences with the book and the eventual expulsion from my temple, so I will not recount them here.  Just know that none of those events happened without the will of Visvatman having some hand in them.  My adoration of him had given him strength - as my fear of him now does.  Even though I know his true purposes and I feel that I have become his prisoner, parts of me still follow him willingly.  I fear that I am being lead to the slaughter but I continue to follow anyway.

As to how I know my captor’s true intentions, I am now able to tell that story.

While exploring the library here in Eregant with Crebain, a voice came to me.  It introduced itself as Visvatman, a name I had not yet learned.  The voice had a familiar quality to it while being still being entirely alien.  The voice explained that it was the spirit of the book that I carried with me and that it was revealing itself to me because I had passed his tests.  He said that I had seen past his shifting words and through his devious charms.  He claimed to be pleased with me and wished to offer me a “boon”.  He offered to return my mother to me.

I had known my mother only through stories from my father and what vestiges of her had been passed on to my sister.  I knew her to be a quiet, graceful woman who was strong of heart and mind.  Before the final years of his life, my father would often wax poetic about his “sweet Mira”.  In his last year, she had become an obsession for him.  Because she had died giving birth to my sister and me, I never knew her personally but I still loved her dearly.  Often I would sit and wonder wistfully about what she was really like.  I knew that, because she had died a natural death and that nothing now remained of her, I would only be afforded this opportunity if we were to end up in the same afterlife.

My book offered me the ability to change that.  He promised that I would be able to see her again and that I could even speak to her.  He promised that I could do so whenever I wanted and he promised me that I would not be harmed.  I knew Visvatman to be powerful and capable of things nothing else I knew could do.  I probed and questioned him and, as far as I was capable, I deemed him to be dealing with me truthfully.  I have since discovered that his truth was not free of deception.  He had been truthful to me because he knew the explicit assumptions I would make and the questions I would never ask.  I have long suspected that I would find my final destination to be one of the hellish afterlives but never had I considered that she would.

My father had told me how my mother had been a follower of the war gods.  She was of the house of the great general Salawin and his family would follow them.  It seems, however, that Ulmira had a darker side.  She had a quick and calculating mind and loved puzzles and mysteries.  This lead her to begin to dabble in the realm of Hylarr.  The goddess specializes in the greatest puzzle of all, a puzzle in which the pieces are actively resisting being put in their places.  At first it was just a small trick here and a harmless deception there and soon she became hooked, trying to make more intricate and complex plots and increasingly dangerous scenarios.  Her capture by the Jarls and rescue by my father were a result of one of her plots.  Her entire marriage to my father, it seems, was a failed ploy to manipulate the entire royal house of Aligindel.  She had become a secret high priestess of the goddess of the moon during this time.  Olwyrd herself had promised my mother that the greatest manipulation of the age would be hers.

My mother was told that her death would come with the birth of her children and that her death would drive her husband mad.  She was told that his madness would cause the destruction of Firforge and would open Barloz to invasion from the east.  This invasion would destabilize the nation and the aid offered by Spaartha and Aruthien would result in the division of Barloz between the two liberators.  The former Barlozians would eventually rebel against their occupiers and that would further destabilize the western kingdoms.  Olwyrd promised her that the far reaching effects of the plan were beyond understanding but that she would be the lynch pin to it all; she could die knowing that her actions would manipulate entire nations.

With this, my mother’s fate was sealed.  I now know her fate firsthand because Visvatman brought her to me.  Or rather, he brought me to her.  For the last thirty and more years she has dwelt in the realm of Hylarr.  Though I had hoped that she would be able to return with me, I knew that it could not be so, but I had not prepared myself for what I would experience.  I do not think any mortal is capable of preparing themselves.  My sight became filled with blackness and then with a confusing landscape of wonder and despair.  It was still and littered with soft pinpricks of light.  All around me I could hear the rasped breathing of the insane.

I was brought to my mother.  She lay curled on a stone whimpering, long dry of tears.  She was surrounded by comforts and riches that would be the envy of any living person but she would have none of them.  She would not even touch the food offered her even though she was gaunt with starvation.  I tested the cushions and they were soft and warm.  I sampled the food and it was delicious and filling.  I tried to comfort my mother as she murmured to herself but she could not be consoled.  She kept reminding herself that these pleasures around her were not real, that they were another trick.  She refused my aid and raved at me calling me a “spectre” and a “ghost” and telling me that I was not going to fool her again.

That was when I knew.  She had tried all her life to manipulate others into being her pawns and now she was doomed to a life where she was so paranoid that others will do the same to her that she refuses even the truth and goodness offered to her.  I was awash with more pity and anguish for her than I had ever felt for any being in the whole of existence.  I wanted to leave and I bid Visvatman take me home.  But he would not.

Rather, he revealed to me that I could not leave by any effort of my own.  I had accepted his “gift” and he would release me whenever he saw fit.  Even now my eyes are filled with the plush prison my mother had locked herself into.  I thank Mishya that my ears no longer have to suffer my mother’s sobs while I stood impotent to help.

I began by stating that I knew Visvatman’s purposes for me.  He tires of his parchment cage and has fought from himself a new host.  When he arrived in the west a century ago he realized that we held no respect for objects but praised only their makers.  He now intends to break  me down , hollow me out, to make me an acceptable vessel for him.  He has given me full knowledge of this because he knows that I can do nothing about it.  No mortal can cure me of this living hell and it is only a matter of time before it eats away my soul.  I know that even death is not an escape because I know that a fate worse than Ulmira’s awaits me.

I write, or rather dictate, knowing full well that my only hope is oblivion and Visvatman has promised that to me.  It is a sad day when the thought of oblivion warms your heart.

-M.E. via Daidra Iascaire

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