Chapter I - Hopes and Fears

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Been sent to some arse-end of the central mountains to investigate a supposed location of the Hidden Vale. It’s an Athayan legend of a sheltered village – never been found. Obviously priests getting overly hopeful – ha – since it’s never been found. Obviously a dump job, but gets me away from the line for a few weeks.

Brenna’s Bones. It’s fucking real. Met with 2 crowns – some haughty elf called Illaneal and quiet scout nicknamed “Spiderpuncher”. Explored the area. Found ghosts and a gate to the shadowlands. Met a fucking Reaper. Strangely, not quite so scary. Like a passing of wisdom from an ancient uncle. He – It – looked into our very souls to see if we were safe to pass.

Turns out the Vale was real and they’d actually found it. Athaya had moved the entire village to the shadowlands during the last war. Saw the path to the heavens. I touched Brenna’s path and felt her blessing. Everything was so huge, but when I touched that pillar I felt inspired, like I could do anything. I think that is what got me through the day.

You see, it gets worse. Turns out the rumour that the blade of Veredain was shattered is completely true. The blade had his soul in it – how he killed the first dread wraith.

So we needed a soul.

I have taken mine from the garden of Souls. Because no-one else would. Because the blessing of Brenna made me feel like I could. Because…. Someone had to.

The Two Crowns and I fought demons and soul forms of myself.

But now I have a blue rose, my soul. I can see it wherever it goes.

I can’t sleep, so I’ve been writing this. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but Ilaneal seems to have some kind of crazy idea that I’m going to help them kill a Dread Wraith. Normal Wraiths are hard enough but that just sounds crazy.

I’ve been awake for 3 days. I can’t stop thinking about what I’ve done.

I know it was right. But now I’m just terrified. I’m a fucking clerk. I’m not a hero. I was barely a soldier.

Ilaneal has gathered together a bunch of people from the Two Crowns. Got this angry little Orc Shaman to ward the tube holding my soul. It’s actually great work, even if he thinks this fucking crazy shit is normal. We didn’t see eye to eye. Like I should just expect everyone around me has the best intentions when I don’t even know them. Like they know better than me. They probably do, but realising that two years ago I was a damned clerk might give them some context.

There’s a huge Forged Orc that they want to make the weapon. And Ilaneal’s boyfriend Ruintharon, who’s clearly some kind of Athayan paladin. He seems to be the only one that understands how terrifying this all is for me, but he also seems to think I can be some kind of hero.

I can’t do that. At least someone thinks about what this is like to me.

Not been much to say lately. We trek to the Western front.

Sleep is still difficult but I’m so exhausted my body passes out for a few hours. I feel so cold since the Vale. Maybe the world is just growing colder. I can’t tell.

Today I met the Empress. I never thought I’d ever do that. She says I have done a great service to the world. I just wish I felt I could do the rest. She’s practical though. I appreciate that.

We’re going to collect the next materials needed for the weapon tomorrow. Ilaneal suggested I don’t go, because it involves Demon Magics. She’s probably right. I don’t even want to, but I know I have to.

Just to prove to myself I can. If I can’t do this, what hope do I have?

But mostly, it’s because these people know my soul is here. I don’t really want them wandering off and telling people.It might be petty. I prefer to say being prepared in case something goes wrong.

Went with the Two Crowns to the fallen Elven capital of (NAME). Anzuth tells us we need elements of Destruction for the blade – Fell Crystal. Demonically-attuned elements.

A lot of today is a blur. We were tricked by a demon. The center of the keep was still a focus for Zarael and his power. But now we have what we need to make the blade.

There is no more Fell Crystal where we found it, or TrueSilver. We have taken it all.

Also found a stash of gemstones. Going to live like a king.

  • illegible scrawling* ….. Gems … *illegible scrawling* trader. SO MUCH SILVER.

Held out at tavern. Pain goes for while. *illegible scrawling*

Its all awful. What am I going to do?

This is all *illegible scrawling*

(this entry is scribbled and harder to make out, but still legible)

Talked with Ruin today when he came by the tavern. Seems to think I have problem. Bout time somebody noticed. People watching me enough but not seeing how freakish this is.

Shared a drink or four. Still thinks I’m going to be some kind of hero. Haven’t had courage in weeks but he always seems to crop up, making sure I’m okay. Explained a lot about Hope. If I had a silver for every time he’s said hope or hero I wouldn’t need to work ever again.

It’s a different way of thinking. Maybe why I stopped and tried to put my thoughts into words again.

I’ve got nothing else. Courage steels in the moment. Maybe Hope can bring courage.

We strike for the Empire today.

Head killing me.

Yesterday was very special.

Ilaniel and Ruintharon got married. I was invited.

We’ve been through a lot in a short time. They really do believe in me, even though I don’t. That means a lot.

I got them some Rhundr’s Runes, omens of fate. I gave Ruin the last of my crystals.

Apparently I scared Sebastian Vale with my magic – some kind of administrator for Refuge. Wants to go back to Farhaven. Genuinely don’t remember – I thought Farhaven got flattened.

I remember the ceremony was beautiful but it all gets a bit hazy after that. I remember people coming and talking to me. Everyone seems to think I’m someone very special, because I was driven by a divine blessing. But wherever I’m going I’m not going alone. That genuinely made me feel better.

Until Ukmaz emerged from the fucking shadow realm to terrify me. Prick. Dunno what his problem is.

Been losing sleep again.

Tomorrow we go into the Ilmarii facility where the Imperial Forge is.

Where my soul gets turned into a weapon to fight the hordes of undead.

I don’t think I will sleep tonight.

It’s done.

It’s dead.

I drove the soulbound blade into the darkness where the Dread Wraith’s heart should be.

When my soul was bound to the sword my body was taken to the heavens. I met with Verendain, who was… very in line with Brenna. He told me when I hold the blade there is no feeling like it, and he was right.

Something about the sword lets it open a portal to the shadowlands. Never been there before – people seem like the more perfected forms of themselves there. It is a strange place. Also Ilaneal has two smaller souls within her – she is with children. We went to the Necropolis to fight the wraiths. Ukmaz is a Reaper. Met another one. This one was terrifying. I think each one is different.

We fought a Wraith. I think I killed it, but can’t be sure. When I came to we were being dragged into the sky - dragged through a rift to their world. A desolate and dead husk, where the very land is dead and the life is drained from all things. The air is weak, like on the top of the highest mountains. Rich earth borne of magic turns to ash in seconds. The Wraiths did this to their world. They grew in power syphoning souls and leeched the power of their gods with heretical magics. Then they sought to invade our world.

We managed to find a the rift on the Wraith’s side, back to our world. We slew many foes – undead and cultists alike, to the tip of the necropolis and fought the Dread Wraith. It wielded impregnable magicks, and could syphon the souls from living beings for sustenance. His weapon was an unholy blade as tall as a dwarf, on a stave equally as long.

It was slain by the soul blade.

Somehow we live.

For now, I rest.