Aetolian Game News
The Revenants and the Wardens
Written by: Anonymous
Date: Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
Addressed to: Everyone
In Khepary of the year 494 MA, two supernatural events of rediscovery took place in two different parts of Sapience.
The first rediscovery occurred in the the northern continent, when a wraithlike revenant called Meyondu approached the city of Spinesreach. It became quickly apparent that the revenant came from a different epoch, as the handbook they carried had directed them to approach the Ard-Dhasani and the Conclaves - not the Republic which now existed.
Though Meyondu spoke of a threat to the continent, the revenant's purposes were unclear. When the gathered Spireans inquired further, they were met with the same uniform response: "Classified." As the city debated how to answer Meyondu, Lord Severn appeared amongst the crowd with inquiries of His own. The revenant interrupted Him, however, stating that the handbook that they and their compatriots carried had been written by the God, and that they carried a message written by and addressed to Himself.
Visibly perturbed, the Manipulator asked the revenant to show Him the words, of which there were only two:
The God of Artifice required no more than this, for He recognized His own handwriting. Ordering Meyondu to recruit whoever they needed, He turned away and departed in haste. Mortal eyes have not glimpsed His bovine visage since.
Encouraged by Lord Severn's permission, an expedition - whose number included Kanivara Sor'Tirivan, Nisavi of Kemau, and Odette Blacktalon - followed Meyondu's directions to the outskirts of the Tarea Mountains, where a long-overlooked cave descended into the rock. Within lay a ruined bunker, as well as another revenant named Ozimudu, Meyondu's sole remaining compatriot.
Ozimudu and Meyondu explained that the bunker belonged to the long-forgotten order of the Revenants, who had been commanded long ago by the God of Artifice to maintain vigil over a break in reality - a portal to Czjetija, the plane of Shadow, within which had been bound an unknowable entity of thought and memory. As awareness of the entity's existence grew, it was able to reach further out of its confinement, seeking to spread knowledge of itself across the entire world.
As more adventurers poured into the ancient bunker, they found a prison deep beneath the upper levels - a wall, at the end of a long set of stairs, which had prevented the portal to Czjetija from opening further. The more the wall was examined, the more the entity behind it was able to pry into the Prime Material Plane, stealing away mortals and replacing them with violent memories of their former selves. Though the adventurers quelled these memories with ease, they could not determine how to close the wall, and fell back - except for Seurimas, who stubbornly continued his investigation and became the wall's captive multiple times.
Finally, the two Sciomancers who had journeyed with the company - Nisavi and Odette - attempted to use their power over shadow to stabilize and seal the prison. Though this had been impossible in the time of Meyondu and Ozimudu, times had changed, and the Sciomancers demonstrated their prowess by at last sealing away the wall and entity, preserving Sapience from the threat of thought. Impressed by what they had seen, Meyondu chose to accompany them back to Spinesreach, swearing themself to the Sciomancers.
As the ancient Revenant settled in and got to know the city and their fellow citizens, memories began to return to it - mere inklings, at first, but then the full of its training, received from none other than Lord Severn Himself. Combining these old teachings with the Sciomancer arts, Meyondu was able to pass on the Revenant ways to a new epoch, combining the ancient tongue of Kalsu, shadow magic, and martial might into a single, devastating discipline to revolutionize warfare throughout Bloodloch and Spinesreach.
The second rediscovery took place further south, within the wild Ithmia, when an ancestral warrior spirit answered the prayers of Iesid Mulariad, who had stood in contemplation over Huwald Seluno's grave. The spirit had come for Cenuth, the grave's satyr caretaker, and revealed that he was near to death - and that he was the last of an ancient order known as the Wardens. Iesid was joined by the Prideleader, Rhine Aquila Taziyah Mulariad, as well as the Ranger Sekeres Dark-wing, just as Cenuth's final moments came. When Cenuth asked the ancestral spirit if his penance had been served, he was told that it had - and that he could rest among his forebears in the "crypt of the ravens."
This crypt turned out to lie beneath the Sentinel guildhall, and as Cenuth was laid to rest among its bones, the ancestral warrior spirit revealed that the guild were the sole surviving descendants of three ancient clans of the Ithmia - the wise White Bears of the western wood, the warlike Red Serpents of the northern wood, and the crafty Black Ravens of the eastern wood. The Sentinels had descended from the latter clan, preserving their arts of trapping and scouting into the modern day. As debate raged within Duiran concerning the controversial actions of their then-Voice, Stine Emerson, the ancestral spirit determined that the ways of the Wardens should not pass out of the world, but instead be inherited by the Sentinels during the course of three ancestral trials.
The warrior spirit put the first of these trials to the Sentinels, telling them part of the legend of Segiae Clinemh, the first Warden who united the three clans of old. The three clans had been at odds with one another, each holding to the Hunter's ways, but disagreeing on how best to practice them. These divisions had embittered them and driven them to conflict, which had endured for several generations. The Hunter had permitted their conflict in accord with His way, but became troubled when an army of darkness encroached upon the forest's borders - and so He sent Segiae Clinemh, the greatest of His hunter-priests, to intervene and save the three clans from themselves.
Alas, for Segiae's ancient efforts had proved fruitless; though she tried to convince the elders of the clans, none would hear her nor act with the necessary haste, and none considered the other clans their kin. Divided by mutual enmity, she was left at an impasse. The ancestral spirit paused in telling its tale, inquiring of the ancient Sentinels: what should Segiae have done? They hesitated, for the spirit had told them there was a correct answer, and they did not wish to disappoint the ancestors.
At last, Sekeres Dark-wing spoke, suggesting that Segiae Clinemh ought to have appealed to the clans by flattery, and beckoned each one to meet the true enemy - and by this token, realize that they must stand against this common foe. Although, the spirit answered, flattery would have failed to work, the answer was nevertheless half-right: the clans required a common foe.
The ancestral spirit could not recall any more of the story past it, and so it faded, but not before guiding the Sentinels into the northern Ithmia, where another burial mound stood. An ancient Troll spirit of the Red Serpent clan appeared to them upon their arrival, and promised to continue the tale of Segiae Clinemh if they - and indeed, any who wished to fight alongside the Sentinels - could best it in combat. Many warriors from Duiran and Enorian gathered to meet the challenge, and the battle was on. The Troll spirit proved mighty, slaying several during the course of the fight, and at multiple points burst apart into snakes. Eventually, however, the Sentinels and their allies emerged victorious, and the spirit congratulated them upon their well-earned victory.
Descending into the crypt of the Red Serpents, the Troll told them the second part of Segiae Clinemh's tale: that she had killed the elders of the three clans, and cast their heads into the river which struck through the Ithmia's center. The people of the Ithmia were enraged, and sought to hunt her down - and so she led them to meet the army of the enemy. The ensuing battle forced the three clans into temporary unity, and raged all throughout the day before both sides finally retreated. Although some had overcome their anger by this time, most remained suspicious, and would not aid the people of the other clans - nor Segiae, when she approached them and urged them to take the fight to the enemy.
Once again realizing that the clans would doom themselves through inaction, Segiae marched out to meet the dread army, shooting one of their number through the head so that all could see her. Provoking their rage as she had provoked the clans, she led them on a chase across the forest's border, charging deep into the Ithmia. The Troll, having concluded its part of the tale, faded away to rejoin the bones of its forebears, directing the Sentinels and their allies to seek out the crypt of the White Bears.
Upon the company's arrival in the west Ithmia, a third ancestral spirit arose with a bearish roar, and invited them into the crypt. Deep within, before a mural of its brethren, it posed the third trial to them, asking a question much as the first spirit had. Segiae Clinemh had led the enemy on a wild chase through the Ithmia, and their frustration grew such that they set the wood on fire to flush her out. Only then did the three clans see the full extent of the threat their enemies posed, and at last united to war against them in earnest. Another battle took place, raging all through the night, and the river Zaphar ran red with the blood of the fallen.
When Segiae Clinemh was found, she was dead in a clearing of her own making, surrounded by slaughtered foes. She had accounted for a substantial portion of the enemy herself, killing several dozen before finally succumbing to her wounds. The three clans had intended to hold her to account for her slaughter of their elders, but were now unable to. The ancestral spirit paused in its telling here, and put the third and final trial to the Sentinels - to select one from among their number and spill their blood.
Once more, the Sentinels were preoccupied in heated debate, for the spirit of the Bear had told them that there was a correct answer. None of them could guess which of them was correct, and so - after long deliberation - they insisted upon a united front, and told the spirit that if one must be sacrificed, then all of them would be. The spirit, visibly perturbed, asked them what would happen if none returned from the Underhalls, only to receive a collective answer: "We trust in the Cycle."
The first sacrifice chosen was the guild's Speaker, Valorie Aresti, whom Iesid cut down with his dhurive. No sooner had she fallen, her blood anointing the floor of the crypt, than the spirit of a Bear brought a halt to the ritual, informing the Sentinels that they had chosen wrongly. Confused, they asked the Spirit why, and were met with the last small part of Segiae Clinemh's tale-
Once the clans had disposed of their enemies and determined that Segiae had fallen in combat, they began to argue once more, determined to exploit the conflict to prove themselves the superior of the other two clans once and for all... but then Lord Haern, the Hunter appeared amongst them, reprimanding them for their arguments and conflict. Only then, in the face of Segiae Clinemh's death, the forest's devastation, and their God's rebuke, did the three clans set aside their differences to form the Wardens, interring Segiae's bones within the crypt of the White Bears as the first of innumerable ancestors.
The ancestral spirit cautioned the Sentinels in accord with the tale's lesson - that one should not be so hasty to die by one's ways, for the point was to live by them instead. Reassuring them that the trials were not to be won or lost, only learned from, the spirit faded, leaving only the collective ancestral knowledge that was the Sentinels' inheritance - the ways of the Wardens, which have since spread through Duiran and Enorian and encouraged newfound reverence for the forestals of old.
Penned by my hand on Gosday, the 6th of Midsummer, in the year 494 MA.
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