1998-08-14: Looking for Answers
Over the course of the past week or so, our land hath been pummeled by forces we are only now beginning to understand. The earth itself hath been marred with gaping wounds. Time hath accelerated forward and then slammed backwards. Mine very existence was seemingly shattered then reformed. I know of those who seemed to have lost everything only to awaken and find all as it was before the dream began. And they had not been sleeping.
Such events are not lightly shrugged off. With that in mind I set off in search of some answers. First I packed mine bag with clothes, food, wine, ale, a poorly cared-for broadsword, various potions, a bit more wine, and a large number of empty journals in which to take notes. As the bag was much too heavy, I removed the extra clothes and the broadsword plus a few of the potions. Then I bid farewell to Vesper and struck out on mine way.
A few inquiries of fellow travelers told me of a mountainside northwest of Minoc which had been scarred by the disturbances as well as a hillside west of Trinsic and an area in Serpent's Hold which all bore the same type of disfigurement. The obvious choice for me was to head to Minoc. So that is where I decided to begin. In addition to which, The Barnacle tavern in Minoc serves one of the best ales in all of Britannia.
Upon reaching Minoc, just a short walk from Vesper, I noticed nothing too much out of the ordinary. Being for the most part mining folk, Minoc has oft been a somewhat somber place. At least, in my estimation. The people there are quite closely connected to the earth, and don't tend to rattle easily. I stopped at the Healing Hand on the south side of the city, and spoke to the guildmaster Healer, Vaughn. "Up yonder at the Matewan, they might be able to help ye with such questions. Me, personally, I haven't done more than heal a few folks."
At the Matewan, the miners' guild of Minoc, I found Julianna, the mining guildmaster, and an alchemist named Gregory. They did indeed know where the site was and told me that peers of theirs were at the mountainside even now. I asked if they could help me find my way there. "I don't know why ye would wish to go there. 'Tis nothing to see any more but a pile of rocks," Julianna told me, "and ye would more than like just be in the way." I told her I was doing research into the entire affair and merely wished to see for mineself. Reluctantly, she relented and handed me a small, crudely drawn map. I turned to leave when she called, "No. Memorize thy path then hand me back mine map." With a small sigh, I studied the map. When satisfied I could find my way, I handed it to Julianna. "Thank ye both," I said, and left the Matewan.
After a quick meal and a couple bottles of ale at the Barnacle, I went off in search of the mountain. While it would be a short trip by boat, on foot it was quite a journey. I managed to reach my destination without major incident, and was astounded by what I found. It was as if the mountainside had opened up and spewed forth tons and tons of rock. Three people were carefully inspecting the area: Archer and Glenna, alchemists, and Filmore, an officer from the Mining Cooperative in Minoc. The greeted me warmly, thankful for a bit of company I would suppose.
When I asked what they had found, Filmore told me, "Well, as far as the rocks go, they are nothing special. One strange thing though - as we proceed further into the debris, the rocks begin to grow strangely cold. My guess is the outer ones were once colder as well, but hath been warmed by exposure to the sun. The question is... what is would cause any of these rocks to be cold? Stranger still," Filmore continued, "I have heard that the site in Serpent's Hold hath rocks that are hot to the touch. But the hillside west of Trinsic hath neither. Everything was completely normal there." Filmore scratched his head and mumbled something about preferring to be out mining.
Glenna the alchemist next spoke up. "There is a residue on some of these stones. 'Tis made up of a mixture of spiders' silk, blood moss, ginseng, sulfurous ash, black pearl, garlic, nightshade, and mandrake root. All of the reagents used in normal magic. Only... well, apparently used all at once. For a single spell."
"Also," chimes in Archer, "we found a corpse under the stones on the north side of the pile. And a scrap of paper. 'Twas in his hand. The rest was torn away. Almost as if someone was trying to retrieve it from the dead man's hand."
"Was anything else found on the dead man?" I asked.
"Nothing of any real interest. He was dressed all in black, though. Black shirt. Black pants. Black shoes. Black cloak. Everything. Oh, and there were words on the scrap of paper. Much was rendered unreadable by stained blood, but we made out 'Corp Bet Mani.'" Archer puffed up with perceived importance. I had no idea what those words could mean, so just nodded and smiled.
Having gleaned all I would from this location, I puzzled over what I had learned and what it could possibly mean. All information from any other source was being directed toward Britain. Thus I decided to journey to Lord British's city. Perhaps there I could find more a key to unlock all of this. After a couple bottles of wine, I bid Glenna, Archer, and Filmore good day and began the walk to Britain.
In Britain, I made my way to the Lord British's castle. While strolling across the courtyard, I bumped into an old colleague, Buckley, a mage I knew from Moonglow. I asked him what he was doing in Britain, and he told me he had been asked to consult on some of the information concerning the Zog Cabal and their latest actions. Since I wasn't familiar with this Cabal of Zog, I again just nodded and smiled. "They have been up to no good. Trust me," Buckley said. "This latest plan involved destroying the entire world. Why? We have no idea. But just knowing they desire it is enough. Fortunately they failed badly. But their attempt did have some drastic results - the total extent of which we are not yet sure. The earthquakes and time splitting were just the immediate results. We do not want them to try again." I had to agree.
Over by the castle wall, I noticed a woman standing by herself. She looked so forlorn and sad that I wandered over to speak with her. "Hello, are you well?" "Indeed, I'm not. My husband has left on a dangerous journey. He went with the others into one of the fissures." And she told me her name was Renee. "One of the fissures?" I asked. "Aye," she replied, "One of the fissures opened by the earthquakes. He left with five others to explore what lies beyond the openings and to report all back to His majesty, Lord British." I offered my sympathy and my extreme desire to have the virtues guide him home to her in safety.
Shaking my head at these amazing and disconcerting events, I made my way out of the castle grounds. Before leaving I overheard one of Lord British's guards speaking to another guard. He said that our Sovereign Lord would make a public speech. I think I'll hang around in Britain for a bit longer...