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[Fanfiction] Epistles of the Mad Scholar

deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
edited July 2020 in Community Creations
-- Disclaimer: I got all the information through so I only have the same information as everyone else. I'm just writing this as a fanfiction. This will likely be very outdated by the game comes out. It's still early days it is.

Epistles of the Mad Scholar
These days, I write in the flickering light. The dust falls from the roof, the floor rumbles, with the roars of the monsters competing with the whispers I’ve been hearing. Hard to distinguish now, as I’ve been battling this madness for years. Yet, I remain myself despite everything that has happened, and right now, I am bolstered by the courage of the last defenders. I hear their war cries, echoing through the grey stone walls once magnificent now worn down. I sense the magicks being used, even this deep down in the Archives. At times, I look at the writings stored away in the Archives, and hope they will be preserved no matter how long it takes. Knowledge here is too important. I am reminded of my order’s purpose, as I write. I smell the sweat and blood in the air, knowing the Corrupted monsters are on their way here. I will have to fight now. I am no fighter, but we elves never come without being prepared. I’ve enchanted the traps, laid down the magicks of my order and borrowed techniques from other magicians that taught me, though I admit I am still not confident in these techniques but little time remains.

I will not allow the Corruption take me, ever since it tainted me in my youth. I must remain true to myself. Surrounding me are the warriors in uniforms and armour of different nations that have chosen to guard me. Armed killers all. United by hatred, and purpose. In another time, I would have been nervous in their company, and they would have killed each other due to differing ideals and allegiances to their great empires. None of their enmity matters anymore, only the truth must reach to the people that will return in the future. And so I continue to write, and to work to hide the archives under layers upon layers of enchantments to ensure Corruption does not defile or change the contents.

They call me the Mad Scholar. The gall of it! That’s what you get when you’ve gone too deep into Corruption, Corrosion, or Rusting… whatever they call it that? Whatever it is, I’ll refer to it as Corruption since my people have called it. Or more accurately, the Order of Truth. I still follow Shol, even if the rest of my own order started calling me the Mad Scholar. It doesn’t matter anymore. My name will be forgotten, so I will not provide my name, nor the names of my fellow scholars, even if they were my detractors, even if I frequently disagreed with them. I still will honour them. Only the truth matters. It must be spoken, I don’t care but it must be spoken. Shol has been silent for a while though, since the Corruption started but everyone of the Order of Truth felt Shol open a Gate of Sanctus, and I heard of others opened by Gods. I’ve decided to stay behind to gather what remains of knowledge here and put them in a safe place where people who will return, may be in the near future or far future? I cannot tell but I’ve made my choice. I just hope these will be discovered by you and are still readable.

I don’t know how long it will be, whether the Orders still remain, or if it has been so long a time that your language has since evolved, dear readers, but I hope enough remains that you can translate what I’m saying here because this is important. Very important.

My fellow scholars think this is a one time event, and when they flee Sanctus, Corruption could end here. Others debate that it will fade away then return, like tides of oceans but it will never affect us personally. Still others remain positive that our descendants, when they come back once portals open again, Verra will be free. I disagree and when I spoke my reasonings, and presented evidence, they called me Mad especially when I gave them multiple theories, some of which almost got me killed. No one believed what I was saying because my fellow scholars stayed in their Hallways, never having gone to Mages, nor dug into the depths of the oldest tombs and investigated deeply into the hearts of the anomalies that recently happened, and the strange star signs that never came before. If I knew then what I know now, then, I would have gladly warned people, even if they decried me as a heretic before Shol in time before Corruption came in their full terrible might.

No one knew what Corruption was, but even then, when I was young, I kept hearing of the bad omens and rumours. In fact, these slowly increased in the years before I joined the order of Truth. it was these rumours and events that I witnessed and experience that pushed me into this order. I had friends that disappeared. I saw strange monsters that looked similar to the harmless creatures, as if moulded by strange magic, watching us. I heard tales of travellers and small groups disappearing out in the wilds, and each year, seemingly closer to cities. What finally pushed me into it were the people that watched, I recognised some of them to be my friends but something changed them. I remember nights I called them, sometimes foolishly but no one came. And that was many years before Corruption came in full force.

Everyone thinks these attacks came all at once, from all over the place. This is inaccurate. It may not be what historians or the story tellers want to tell, but Shol dictates only and only truth be told, and so I recount here. Corruption didn’t strike all at once. It was starting slowly, and from what I’ve investigated in my time, it may have started perhaps a century or two ago? Maybe three? You may have found this out by now by other sources. Or it’s possible you’ve lost that knowledge. I say that because so many have died, and not all scholars and mages made it through the portal, and I suspect even the truth of history. It’s something that had crushed many in the Order of Truth, driving them to try to preserve the archives for historical references and still, some committed suicide because they couldn’t bear the idea that the next generation would never know the truth.

And they told me this, believing I won’t judge them because I am a Mad Scholar who’s gone into madness after seeking out the truth of the Corruption. Pretty much anyone who has gone into it went mad, before they went out raving about it. I am tainted myself. I fought to keep myself sane, to remain true, to never allow this corrupting disease change me. Yes, they do have a good reason to call me mad, but I refuse to let madness erode me. Even now, I must never stop, even at the end of my life.

I am straying, sorry. As I was saying about Corruption happening over time. It didn’t happen all at once but over centuries. I don’t know how long but it happened in bursts at times. This will take over time. You may come across all of my writings or some. I don’t know if they’ll even be readable, or whether you know this much of Corruption or not. It varies but this is what we know.

Onto the testimonies of the individuals:


  • deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Evidence One - Early recollections before I became a Scholar.
    When I went into the forests in my youth, I witnessed the strange people in the forests going through the trees. Intrigued, I went near them for the first time, thinking it was the cultists doing their strange things. After all Magicians and cultists like to do experiments. Easy to assume at first, but I wasn’t hearing the chants, or the sermons, nor see any magic energies. None of them sounded like zombies either, which made this even more horrifying now that I think of it. At that time, I was looking for my friends who went missing near this forest. Back then I wasn’t armed with a sword, which in hindsight, was a big mistake that nearly cost me my life.

    As I got closer to these strange people, I recognised all of them as my missing friends I had been looking for a long time. I called for them, having felt elevated as we were very close then. When they didn’t respond at first, I thought perhaps they didn’t hear me. As I got closer, none of them appeared changed. Mind you, this was in my youth, early days of Corruption, long before I was recruited by the Order of Truth. We ran to each other in happiness and talked as if nothing had changed but in that instant, I could tell something had changed. They apologised for being gone for so long. They were working on a series of projects which struck me as odd.

    This is at that time before I was a member of Order of Truth. I wasn’t always this into books, researching secrets and hidden truths what History wanted to cover. My friends and I, well, those friends, before they were claimed by Corruption. We were just a bunch of youths that liked to fool around. I used to spend time with them pranking people, being lazy, and joking around and at nights, we screwed around with the women. With that in mind, I really found it odd because they were not the type to work on projects. Nor be this zealous or focused into it. What raised my suspicions was the way they talked. Mostly the same but how they spoke was odd and the tone of their voice actually creeped me out a bit.

    I asked them what got them into this. They said they found something in the forest, and I noticed they started surrounding me and I could feel my hair raising. I didn’t want to believe something was wrong here, until they started brandishing the stone shanks and sharp sticks. “You noticed already, didn’t you? How clever” all of them said in unison and then their eyes showed madness and all of them smiled creepily and I could hear the whispered chants in the air, none of them came from my friends. I knew somehow they were still themselves but they were twisted. It was as if they had malignant sickness in their minds, and attempted to infect me.

    It was either if I died, or allowed this strange sickness into me. I suspect even now I was tainted from the beginning. I refused either, and cast the light spell for the first time, outside of my practices (I never returned those books. I should have…). In that moment, the light banished the darkness, and my former friends recoiled as if they were extra sensitive to light. We elves are not sensitive to light and we used it daily in our architecture, showing our glory and beauty, banishing away any shadows that might hide it. Come to think of it, we’re very vain people and we have good reasons to be vain! Well, the Pyrian Elves of my time anyway.

    I fled after that. I never saw my friends again. At that time, all I thought of was getting out of that place as soon as possible, and never looked back. When I found myself in the safe place, I was relieved to be safe. I kept thinking about what I saw, and how they suddenly gained extra sensitivity to light. I remembered seeing the strange forms of trees revealed by the light. It was as if they were twisted and warped, and somehow having faces, leering at us, with evil smiles, and some faces seemed to laugh at me. I looked behind my back and the forest seemed normal once more in the dark. No one followed me. I went to look for a guard, and warned him of the strange things in the forest but I was told to go to bed as they didn’t believe me. Back then, I had a reputation for not being trustworthy due to things I’ve done to them. I regretted it, as they suspected I was lying to them again, despite my insistence that I was serious this time.

    Before I slept, I heard those whispers again, and I struggled to sleep. When I managed to do so, these whispers invaded my dreams and I saw great and terrible wars between gods, and clashes between their armies and worshippers. I dreamt of the blood being spilt. I dreamt of the dark force generated by this conflict, and I saw it slowly reaching out in its infinite malignancy, to all who were either vulnerable or susceptible to it. I woke up screaming and yet it was in the morning. These dreams kept coming, and slowly grew stronger in the years to come. I think this is when I knew these malignant things would never stop. Never end. Perhaps made eternal because of this conflict. I’m convinced of it, despite what everyone tells you that this Corruption is either a one-time event or will come and go like waves in an ocean.
  • deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Evidence Two - Warsmith Balrak the Ruthless’ Last diary
    I came across this diary of one of the commanders of Dünzenkell military. He was a Dünzenkell Warsmith, forging his weapons as much as he wielded them. These dwarves were known to be particularly brutal towards their foes. I couldn’t find his other writings as it seems he had written several books but I only have the one that he wrote before his demise. Please note that this is in his words, not mine.

    The Dwarves of Dünzenkell had a term for Corruption, Rusting, and referred to the people and wildlife infected by the Corruption as the Rusted. It doesn’t make sense at first but when you know of their culture, these dwarves are stoic people, and they often gravitate towards Blacksmithing, either as a job, or as a hobby. It seems their obsession with metals had gone to the point that the entire Dwarven culture is based around metals and stone as evidenced by the names for many professions in Dünzenkell such as Ironforged. Though they are unparalleled experts when it comes to that anyway. Nobody can build gear as excellent as they can.

    -- Start of the diary --
    …. Rusting. It really has affected everyone, even we who are of the Ironforged, the Inheritors of the Great Mountain. This is my last diary. Not everyone has escaped. We held the outside, and had to deal with the betrayals inside. Though I suspect it’s because Rusting has affected the Ironforged terribly. The Rusted came at us, as we fought to keep them onto us while our people fled to what I hear leads to Sanctus Gates. I pray that these rumours are true.

    I saw some of those recognisable warriors of Ironforged who I served with, and those that followed my commands that were claimed by Rusting. They came at us like these undisciplined Orc berserkers made insane by the Rusting, some with armour, some without. We fought with our discipline and honour. The wounded, we gave quick death, for healers reported infections spreading amongst them, and healing them seemed to have accelerated the Rusting, twisting them. We learnt to kill them quickly as possible as a matter of mercy.

    If the Rust didn’t interfere with the healing or speeding up the Rust infection on these poor bastards, we would have held out longer, and many of our kingdoms would have still stood. Curse the monsters who brought the Rusting! If I could find the bastards that brought it to all of us, I would be happy to bury my axe on their foreheads! Not even the worst of the dwarves would bring out something this horrible and I had displeasure of knowing some of them.

    At the writing of this diary, we are still under siege by the Rusted abominations. The food has run out, and our stores for potions are empty now. We knew this would happen when we strategically laid out every trap in the arsenal, after most of our people had fled. There are still a few people that couldn’t flee before the Rusted came. And now none, after we executed them as a mercy when they were wounded. We couldn’t afford to have more mouths to feed, and they knew because we did everything we could to draw all the Rusted Ones to our cities filled with explosives, enchanted spikes, pitfalls, and other kinds of deadly traps that would have brutally devastated other armies if our cities were conquered, out of pure simple spite. Our healers have begun to take roles of battlefield mages, with only their fury fueling their spells. As the last gate to our inner sanctuary is being forced apart, the Ironforged stand in line to line. We will not die to something as disgraceful as hunger. That’s not the way for the warriors to go out.

    No doubt, we will be dead by the time anyone reads this diary. Remember this, our names may be forgotten, but the last defenders of the Great Mountain shall never be forgotten! We are the Ironforged, and we will make Rusted monsters pay for killing so many dwarfs! Nothing but fury and hatred remains in our hearts now.

    One thing to note here as a warning to anyone. I don’t care if it’s to dwarves of the Great Mountain, or to the fancy elves and humans. I don’t care if the descendants of my hated enemies read this. Everyone must know this.

    The Rusting cannot be healed, and when we tried to heal them in the early days, they talked to us about the dreams they were experiencing or the whispers they heard. In fact, they begged for merciful death. We didn’t grant them that. We should have as when they started going further into their madness, they attacked viciously, bringing several warriors with them to their deaths. When we started executing them, they kept ranting about how Rusting cannot be stopped. How it will keep coming back. The healers here tell me that we were fortunate that this is in early stages of the Rusting infection. When we fought the Rusted in later stages, they had mutated and changed, becoming more monstrous. Tougher to kill too and somehow more terrifyingly intelligent as if controlled by puppetmaster.

    Whatever you do, kill the Rusted even if they do not appear to be showing signs. It cannot be cured by our current means. And pray to the gods for the mercy. And know that Rusting cannot be stopped. We cannot afford to let the infected live. We know that now. I pray that when everyone returns, somehow that a true cure for Rusting will be discovered. If not, start praying for forgiveness as you kill the infected. It is the only way they can be granted peace and rest from it. Pray that this Rusting does not affect you. Know that wherever the Rusting has come from, it now has infected Verra herself for all eternity.
    -- end of the diary --

    I was given this diary by the last surviving warrior who fought in the company of Balrak the Ruthless. Before the last of Balrak’s Ironforged passed on, he said that he wanted their names to be remembered in this diary. I will honour him this way, for Balrak may had been a ruthless warlord that fought many states, even his own neighbours on the behalf of King Grimlay, he was honourable warlord that spared the wounded and allowing the battlefield dead to be buried by both sides, even if he was ruthlessly crushing armies unlike certain dwarfs that were utterly merciless, though I can see why they were this way because they were constantly fighting the horrors of the mountains and treacherous kingdoms that broke away, long before Corruption arrived. The Ironforged were amongst the greatest warriors of Dünzenkell. I mention the name of these warriors because their last stand may have allowed many to escape to the keeps, and potentially have fortified these keeps. The dwarfs were known to be very extremely difficult to defeat in conventional sieges, a blessing to defenders and a curse to the unlucky besiegers.

    The warrior refused to give his name. He said that mentioning Ironforged is enough. He explained that he tried to refuse the Warsmith’s order, wanting to die with honour, having lost his family to Rusting. Balrak explained to that warrior that he was the youngest warrior who still had the best traits of the Ironforged. Stoic, Honourable and still able to laugh. The rest of the Ironforged were filled with fury and vengeance, and consequently became genocidal which concerned the Warsmith greatly. Apparently this warrior was the only one who could laugh, who could make jokes even with the tragic events happening, which raised the morale of the last Ironforged defenders. The Warsmith chose this warrior to carry the writings and to find a scholar to warn the people when they return, and that was his last command before releasing this warrior from the service of Ironforged, and allowed him to keep his armour which is normally forbidden in their traditions.

    This dwarf found his way to me when I was searching for the bastion in the early days of the Corruption when I was gathering the stone tablets containing information from the prophecies which may have information related to Corruption. Defended me and my caravan as we routinely made our way from the keep to places like crypts and ancient places. He lived well.
  • deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Evidence three - Yasin the Shifty
    This excerpt comes from a former merchant hailing from the Vaelune region. He was a weapons trader that supplied pretty much everyone. From the paranoid civilians, criminals and the guards. If there was money to be made, he would take opportunities. His account however backs my statement that Corruption has been made eternal due to the wars between the Gods and the Corruption that may have infected the very fabric of time.

    The people of Vaelune regions called Corruption the Corrosion, and their term for the Corrupted was the Corroded. I always wondered where they got that but then I remembered they often had to deal with the corroded metals in their places, armoury and weapons. Living in Desert wasn’t always easy for them. Hard but adaptive people indeed.

    Excerpt begins --
    This is not good. It's a great time as a business, of course, that everyone was buying my weapons, even the weapons I picked up from the dead of the battlefield but this is not good. Everyone has gone mad. I see fewer customers as the great sun passes by. First, everyone starts having less gold. Then, later on, everyone tries to sell me something in trade for my weapons. I may be a shifty bastard, hell, I’ve ripped people off, priced my goods a little high, sold certain weapons with illegal enchantments, and even looted weapons from the dead regardless of wherever they were but I won’t take payments in form of sexual favours, slaves, and illegal substances. Not only are they against my code of honour, but they bring more trouble than they’re worth. Only gold is acceptable. Failing that, I’ll just take the non-enchanted gold amulets.

    Yes, I am a shifty bastard. I do have that reputation but I’m also known for selling excellent goods after I loot them from the graveyards, keeps, or buy the goods from families at maybe midge lower price if they’re desperate for gold. I may be shifty but at least I keep to my word. There are bastards worse than me who took advantage. And I’ve had to personally “kindly” remind them because they’ve been ruining my good name! Bloody bastards. Especially some that have received the final visit from me or my bodyguards.

    Gold stopped being the main currency these days, especially as fewer customers came. I knew then my business would have to stop since the Corrosion started to ravage many desert towns. I’ve begun to fight off many of my former customers. It’s terrifying when you’re a weapons merchant and you see them coming at you with weapons you’ve sold them. I started hiring bodyguards then, as I couldn’t keep running all the time.

    At first, I was confused as what was going on did not make sense and was thinking people started to band up trying to get their gold back, or trying to get my goods for free, having witnessed them attack other shops as well. But then I even had customers join me, defending my shop alongside my bodyguards, which in my gratitude, they were given free weapons and had some of their payments recompensed. I had gained valuable trading relations with them for a while because gold was becoming worthless.

    My customers explained to me that Corrosion had washed over the world like a terrible tide, breaking hard on the docks, eroding the wood. Not even the stoic dwarves Dünzenkell were immune to this, and they were immune to many things! It terrified me then. So on the last day, I sold all the stock to the people at lower prices. This was a necessity because well, many towns were being emptied, and people fled to the widely-known rumours of gates of a safe world. Where Corrosion would not affect them. People claim that gods spoke to them in their dreams, in their visions, or subtly influenced them through their prophets. I couldn’t be sure that it was true. But I figured I might as well sell all the goods to the last few people remaining in their towns, before I made my trek.

    I do not know what happened to these people, but I pray they died well. Corrosion is a terrible thing that can twist a person, as my group and I fought off the Corroded as well as the bandits and brigands. My caravan was beset multiple times as I made my way to a nearby fortress when I came across a group of adventurers protecting two scholars. They appeared to be a ragged band with worn out armour that had non-recognisable guild sigils that I did not recognise but the way they fought and interacted with each other made me think they were from one of the powerful guilds. Two scholars, a human and another an elf, flanked by warriors, one a centaur archer, a ren’kai blademaster, and an elven Paladin and two halfling rogues, though I could never tell what races they were from.

    This group of adventurers rode with us for many nights. Then as we reached the fortress, before dawn came, they gave me rare precious books and writings, asking me to pass these books to Order of Truth scholars and they passed me the high quality weapons that I could have never tried to obtain. Seriously, when I inspected them returning to my old habits as a weapons merchant, I found they were actually from the royal armoury, and weren’t fakes. I was nervous suddenly, because there was a reason why I didn’t try to obtain royal armoury items despite many clients offering big sums. They always bring trouble. Big sum of trouble. It may have brought glory and fame to certain merchants, but it always brought the fury of kings and the lords of kingdoms on them, and they made sure to erase any glory to these foolish merchants that plied the same trade I plied on. Only fellow merchants like myself who have been on this road long enough know of their fates. In my time, you do not want to mess with the royal items lest you have unkind fates coming at the most inopportune moments.

    The scholars revealed themselves to be former advisors to the great lords of Aelan Empire and they said royalty doesn’t matter anymore, and these bodyguards were but one of few remnants of once great volunteer force raised from the loyal populations living in the Aelan Empire territories. Only that as many people get to the Sanctus. I realised that even the great lords of the Aelan Empire had been moving to the Sanctus with their people. They said that I’m fine to read the books, in fact, reading them was to show how important it is to get to the Order of Truth. I accepted the royal weapons as a payment, and had my group arm themselves with these weapons to better defend against the Corroded and bandits. I gathered the books hastily, and put them in one of the empty treasures boxes. When I returned to the Aelan Imperials, they smiled in gratitude, thanking me for my help. As we approached the portcullis of the fortress, I noticed the Aelan Imperials fading away as if they were spectres. I was spooked, and checked my motley band. Somehow, we still had our royal armouries, and when I checked the chest containing the books, they were still there. I don’t know how this happened. I.. I don’t know. I am a humble merchant who has been shifty in his dealing, but was visited by the Aelan Imperial ghosts who somehow fought off many Corroded. In fact, they were solid as day. Was I protected by the dead who felt bound to their duty?

    When we were accepted into the fortress, and questioned, I noticed that there were a fair number of Aelan Imperial defenders, as we distributed our weapons to them as gold no longer mattered to me anymore. And amongst them, a number of elven warriors of Pyrian Kingdoms. Somehow, they worked professionally together, despite their simmering deep-rooted hate despite eighty years having passed since the bloodiest wars between the Aelan Empire and the Pyrian Kingdom. And then I saw the stoic warriors of Dünzenkell fortifying the fortress as much as they could, and working with them, were the brutal berserkers of Ren’kai. Normally, this would not have happened, if not for that charismatic commander of that fortress. Apparently he was charismatic enough to unite this force, utilising their hatreds for each other to unleash hate as a weapon on the Corroded. They were determined to hold out long enough for the people to get into the Sanctus, and if Gates have closed, then find somewhere that is actually safe.

    They let me stay at night, but directed me to a nearby Sanctus Gate. I was informed by their seers that I was to go through it as it’s remaining open for a time being. When I read the books on a break from supplying weapons to the fortress, I saw visions of the Aelan Empire collapsing completely, and I saw hordes of Corroded ravaging the countryside, simply killing everything they could find. Not even mages were immune to this, as they cast dark magic tainted by Corrosion on the unfortunate people, and I saw a band of most powerful mages unleash their most devastating spells now that most of their people have escaped, leaving only this circle of mages. I’ve witnessed their last stand. Then when I still had my visions, one of the mages looked at me. She sported white hair, and her blue eyes gazed right at me. I felt an icy chill as she inspected me. I don’t know who she was and didn’t look at her garments much but could see a wintry white garment mixed with a blue raiment of an ice mage. Time froze as she looked at me. “I see you have made it. Good. I’ve enchanted one of these books that you have read now to allow this vision to happen. This is not just a dream nor a vision. This is real.” Then she approached me “This must be passed to the Order of Truth. The last warriors that I’ve sent away. What happened to them? I pray they have made it with you to a fortress.” I explained to her about how they accompanied me and my caravan as we made our way from the great deserts to the other side, and how they disappeared the moment I went close to a fortress. The mage was saddened by this news and said “I hope they died well” then she gave a stern look. “This is our last stand now. Flee to Sanctus if you can, after you pass the books to the Order of Truth'', then as the vision ended, I saw what she saw in the dark, battling the great Corroded abominations. I saw the tears in the middle of the air. Tears seem appropriate, with the leaking of the Corrosion into Verra.

    I could feel it, I swear I am not tainted by Corrosion, but I can feel it, just being near a tear that leads to their source and I can feel it being unending. Have the gods made a great mistake? How could one be so evil to conceive this Corrosion? I may be a shifty man who’s done a lot of illegal things but even I wouldn’t unleash Corrosion. Not even I could be this evil! What the -
    -- Excerpt ends

    Easily the longest excerpt that I’ve put into this collection regarding Corruption (though his full tale is longer but not as long as what others told me, or the books, diaries and scrolls I was given) but this is coming from the weapons merchant. I’ve eventually met him, and guided him to one of the gates of Sanctus as at that time they were open. He was very shaken. He mumbled about how the gods made their mistakes, and begged me to ask how this could happen, not even caring if I was known as a Mad Scholar, or even a Priest who could do a better job calming his nerves. I couldn’t really answer his question. But he was shown the source by Felwintyr. I know because I recognise these enchantments on the books were crafted by her, and the merchant’s description of her in his tale. She was my friend, having overcome our distrust at one of the Aelan universities when I visited it in my obsessive hunt for all things related to Corruption. Somehow, Fel knew this would be happening. She had some insights in the future. I wonder if even as a frost mage, she could see the future but chose to tell only a few she could trust? May she rest well. She’s done her duty to the last.
  • deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Evidence Four - Berserker Garnag the Butcher of Cities
    Garnag hailed from the City of Ren. Unlike others I talked to, he did not possess an ability to write though he did have an ability to read. This orc was an imposing figure, and fortunately he had sense to wash himself before settling down for an interview. This warrior was covered in blood when I met him at the Last Castle, after the Sanctus Gates had closed.

    This orc was one of the berserkers, and had earned his title by slaughtering many warriors. I know of him because his name was feared by many warriors that fought the orcs. He had a policy to take no prisoners, and often butchered more than he ought, which required the strong-willed commanders to rein him in. It could be mistaken that he was simply a brute, a weapon in the commanders’ hands when dealing with particular strong foes. He is a cunning berserker who lived a long time, longer than most berserkers who normally die in their first five years of service. He attempted to rise in ranks but he could not go beyond it due to other orcs seeing him as uncontrollable, bloodthirsty and often unstable despite his cunning and intellect.

    Despite this, Garnag made use of the appearance and reputation of being a brute, a barbarian to make his foes underestimate him, which is one of the reasons why he survived this long as a berserker unlike many berserkers. He had to force himself to remain calm, as he told me his tale of escaping from the City of Ren, dealing with the Corrupted people and fellow warriors. It appears the orcs had been very hard hit, perhaps not as hard as Aelan Empire, but as close. Here is an excerpt of what he relayed to me (Not all of it for his tale was long but I will write it in another section for a different topic. We are focused on the topic of Corruption being made eternal)

    Orcs of the Ren’Kai Protecterate call Corruption the Rot, and they refer to the Corrupted as Rotted. It does make sense, given where they are from since they prefer the forest and marshes areas, which often competed for space with the Pyrian Kingdoms.

    -- Spoken excerpt begins
    The Rot is a terrible thing. I am furious still when I remember my escape from the City of Ren. It’s now an empty city. The Rot spread everywhere, and many orcs went mad. Those who hadn’t, I fought to clear the paths so they could flee. I fought every bloody Rotted orc under the sun, I can say that now. It wasn’t easy, but I had to do it. At first, these Orcs didn’t change. They just went about their business before random attacks started. It increased in numbers. Ach, it still aches, when I had to slaughter many of my own people. First came the rage, then came the regret later. Still, I kept my rage in check as much as I could, to make sure those who have not been claimed by the Rot could escape, but it was hard to control it. I am not a noble orc, you see. There’s a good reason why many call me the Butcher, the Red Orc, and Warden of the Old Ways. Unlike many orcs of Ren, I lacked the ability to control my rage. But the Rot? Rage was all I had left, after it took many of my family and friends. In fact, I warned my surviving friends to flee before my rage grew to monstrous levels, after watching my home burn in the fires when the Rot took many of my brothers and sisters causing them to slaughter each other. I waited ‘till they began to escape understanding where my rage was about to take me.

    It did not take long, for I roared, my vein pumping blood into my brain, and I went out, not caring if I had my armour on. My effort to direct my rage bore fruit, as I began to butcher many berserkers and warriors that went mad, but I also fought some who crossed my paths unfortunately. I am Garnag the Butcher, and in my rage, I felt my hatred pushing me onward, cutting down my foes while my mind worked out the tactics and strategies of the Rotten, and how to minimise my damage on the still pure people of Ren. It didn’t have to take long before the maddened killers and murderers came at me. I was raging as I cut my way through the Rotted mages and fought my fellow warriors taken by the Rot. I did see a few berserkers followed my bloody trail, fighting everything we could fight.

    The Rot took away my people’s discipline, their skills, turning them to raving madmen, and murderers. It was the easy part because well, we warriors of Ren are known to be cunning. This would have been harder. But this was easy early on. Later on, it got harder as the Rot began to change their forms, shaping them into even harder killers, and it seems to have grown smarter too. But by that time, many weeks had passed, City of Ren was filled with the Rotted monsters. The Rot spares no one. When my last comrade died, I was alone, and this time, I allowed full force of my rage to take control of me. I don’t know how long it was, but I do remember fighting everything I could find, changing the weapons as soon as they broke. I even took the fancy Aelan swords, or used Pyrian staff, or the durable dwarven hammer. I used everything, even as I subsided on the dwindling food supplies of the city, but too many of the Rotten came, and I could see they were much changed and much more intelligent and stronger for it. I figured that I’ve done all I could, and began to cut my way out. Fought my way through the bog and through the forests. I went through the empty towns and cities that once had lived. I prayed that even my opponents escaped as I wouldn’t wish the fate of the Rot on anyone. It’s like a second death but much worse.

    When my mind cleared as I went through the dead villages and cities belonging to the tribes of Ren’Kai, I notice many corpses and Rotted monsters prowling and when I went through houses, shops, empty buildings like barracks, scavenging for supplies like food, equipment and so on, I saw the writings on the walls, with blood on them. Some on the ground in every place I’ve been to in the lands of Ren’Kai. I could tell many either used the writing instruments, or their hands, or rocks, or whatever, carved onto the walls and parchments. Eerily, all of them said the similar even though there was no way that they would be communicating with each other, even by magic. I suspected even as I picked up the writings to make my way to any fortress still defended by the last sane people that it was written by the orcs still resisting the Rot that tried to erode their mind, unfortunate not to have received merciful death before changing.

    These messages repeated about how the Rot hurts, and that the whispers were in their minds, and they couldn’t drown it out. These implied the Gods caused the Rot, and that magic shouldn’t be trusted. They all said that the Rot is here forever now thanks to them. In another time, these people would have been decried as heretics, and made to repent. But even the empty temples had these same writings, which terrified me.

    Any Berserker worth their salt will not admit their fears in a normal time. This is not a normal time and I am not afraid to admit this nor feel any shame. I’ve seen Rot erode many berserkers into raving murderers and madmen that had to be put down. Despite my initial terror, my rage came. I was furious thinking dishonorable elements of the Aelan Empire, or the ruthless Dünzenkell military or even the worst of Pyrian Kingdoms caused this. I vowed then to slaughter my way through those empires to avenge my people, and left the deadlands, filled with vengeance. I was determined to make my name more feared, and to live up my reputation as a Butcher. I admit, that was at my darkest moment as so many of my people were twisted and had died off.

    I traveled to the Vaelune settlements, ready to settle the blood debt with some of the inhabitants for their consistent raids on the outlying Ren’Kai villages. I found them filled with corpses and the Rotted abominations prowling about and I saw the same signs but written in different languages. I can understand it because I’ve spent time studying the languages, and working to understand them. It’s how I’ve survived by knowing my foes. You don’t just charge in like an idiot trusting to luck. That gets you killed fast. Anyway the writings on the walls, floors and even on scrolls and books said the same thing as the ones back in the City of Ren. That’s when I started to wonder if the Rot was getting to them as well. I’ve begun to travel with suspicion but I needed to investigate. I found the same thing in the Aelan Imperial places filled with the Rotted abominations. The same writings everywhere, in different languages. I’ve taken some of the books and whatever I could. I had a sense of foreboding, and investigated Dünzenkell Deeps and the Pyrian Universities. In those places, I’ve seen the same writings everywhere. Different languages but the same content. I came across a few survivors in some places, and got them to safety. I couldn’t accompany them, and so I have bade farewells, wishing the blessing of Gods as they make their way to whatever safe place is left. I fought bandits that took advantage of this situation wherever I found them, made use of their encampments as I searched those empty places filled with the Rotted abominations. I continued to gather writings then as much as I read them.

    I lost how many days, or even months that passed since my escape from the city of Ren. It was getting harder to find food, and the wildlife changed too much to provide any substance, and I refused to eat any of the meat from the Rotted wildlife, in fear that the Rot would take me too, so I made my way out, hearing of the Last Keep. At that time, I heard that many people were scrambling to get to it. I figured I might as well get there, because there are only so many times you can keep repairing your armour with the materials that are either the same, or are of comparable quality and the pure food got much harder to find at this point. Dead everywhere and I wasn’t willing to resort to eating the dead. It’s a taboo for Ren’Kai everywhere.

    To be honest, I did consider ditching my backpack that had all the writings from all over the place related to the Rot. But decided to keep them given someone may find this valuable. It took me a while, but I found my way to an Aelan bastion, which I saw people fighting their way to get there. I made my way there, having had to kill many survivors who attacked me, especially the damned mages who almost burnt the writings I had spent time collecting.

    So with at all said. I can say this. The Rot is a terrible thing. It’s a malignant force that tore apart all of the major powers on Verra. It’s no wonder the Gods had to open the gates to what I was told leads to Sanctus, a safe place for people. Good. At Least my fights at Ren that lured as many Rotted to me and my last sane brothers and sisters. At least they didn’t die for nothing, as I heard many Ren’Kai got out safely. I hope someone finds a way to cure this Rot, or failing that, a way to stop it. Seeing the writings all over the place, it’s never going to stop. The victims had ranted about how the Rot is eternal now, and how it’s within our souls. The writings… They talked of the war between the Gods, they ranted about the darkness in our souls, and how it formed the Rot eventually. If everyone is saying the same thing, then this is really bad. No catastrophe from mages’ experiments would affect us this bad. I’m convinced it’s the Gods...
    -- End Spoken excerpt

    As I said earlier, Garnag the Butcher was literally covered in head and toe in blood. He didn’t even bother washing his armour, but he had the backpack which he was clearly protecting. I was at the gate of the Last Castle, watching for the non-Corrupted. I can say with any confidence that it was good I was here, or else, we would have lost the writings he carried. Coincidentally, this was a day before the siege happened. Garnag made everyone very wary, the way he wielded the scavenged weapons, his armour battered yet still regal. His presence made surviving berserkers very nervous, having their weapons out before anyone did, knowing his reputation as the Butcher, and I remember hearing that he had been personally responsible for destruction of several Ren’Kai tribes that refused to follow the Protectorate. He had a very intense look, and his presence. It was as if you were standing before the bloody storm waiting to happen. Then he grunted, and I saw his rage eb suddenly and asked who was the commander as he sheathed his weapons which shocked everyone. I led him to our commander as we couldn’t afford to turn away a potential defender. He chose to guard me, as I was the last scholar working on archiving the records. He felt that the writings mattered. I agree with him on that.
  • deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Evidence Five - Necromancer Lucia the Black
    Every living person on Verra has a reason to be wary of these dark magicians that dare to pierce the veil of the living and dead, and force the dead to return to their rotting bodies in various states as enslaved armies for their dark purposes. Indeed, many in history have done that, which is often a good reason why necromancy has been forbidden sensibly in many areas. To have rumours circulating that that you are casting death magicks means your career in most places is pretty much over. To be caught practicing arts means you’re now marked for death by many parties. Necromancers pretty much have to find secluded spots or find any safe places in certain towns that allow it or rarely be protected by a lord of certain realms.

    Lucia did neither of these things. She is among the few very cunning necromancers who blended in well with the population and unlike many necromancers, she actually had the gall to become archmagister of her region some years before Corruption came, which somehow mages didn’t detect a hint of necromancy on her person. To be honest, that is impressive for one who lived for such a long time. I’ve met her in the early days when Corruption was starting to manifest it’s full horrible might that began to drown entire empires and kingdoms in blood, requiring the direct intervention of the gods. Back then, she was the one who redirected me to the Last Keep as I was one of the last people to flee her town. I think I spent a little too long in that town, collecting everything related to Corruption. I only knew her as Archmagister Lucia the White back then.

    This is Lucia the Black’s excerpt regarding the Corruption. More clearer than the others regarding the horrible nature of Corruption. This goes to show that even the dead fear it.

    The people of Kaelar regions called the Corruption “Madness”, with the Corrupted “Maddened Ones”. Now, we elves often have most appropriate and accurate terms for everything and we are damned proud of it! To the point that we refuse to use other race’s terms for something, but for once, these short-lived humans have one-upped us with their term for Corruption. It is indeed a literal madness that can infect you and twist you utterly. Terrible thing.
    It’s been years since I was able to raise the dead from the graveyards and from the recent battlefields, though I never did that in public to prevent the mages of Kaelar regions from being targeted, or letting anyone find out about my necromantic practices. If you thought politics between the lords of the realms, and even between the large guilds were very dangerous and are cut-throat, you would be correct, but even that is safe and pleasant compared to the politics between the mages. Even the most ambitious lords of the realms dare not to involve themselves in our politics. I’ve done great and terrible things to maintain that position as archmagister and I will not hesitate to do it again.

    At that time, months before Madness started fully manifesting, and started striking at every major powers and infecting many of the populations, I noticed that many of the dead began to speak of the horror and madness happening in the Dead Realms, which in my term for it as a realm of the dead (Mind you, others will have different terms for it). I kept hearing of the wars that breached the walls between realities, and of a malignant Madness spreading to the Living Realms. These dreams kept me awake at night. My attempts to raise them began to fail more frequently even in places where the veil between the living and dead was at its’ weakest, the dead strongly started to refuse my summons, and there was a strong sense of fear in these refusals. At first, I thought it was a strange phenomenon that could be resolved by adding wards of protections and preparing to force the spirits of the dead through higher levels of necromantic magic since I used the dead to further my agendas and plans until the magisters unsuspecting of my necromancy, started reporting their experiences of their visions of apparitions and ghosts fleeing from the Madness, and rumours sprang up of the terrible Madness that seemed to be intelligent, spreading in many realms infecting ours. I did not act until the horror of the Madness became more apparent every passing day when I received the reports of people going mad randomly, with the seeming random deaths and murders, making everyone very paranoid of each other and witnessing mages turn on their comrades without a reason why. It made everyone paranoid.

    In a month before Madness came in full force, my dreams grew darker and I could hear other magicians. This made me realise that we shared the same dreams and could communicate with each other. Normally, you do not share the same dreams or even communicate with each other, you would need to do it via rituals or through magic, if one was willing to risk sharing deep scandalous secrets. My cabal suspected there was more to it. I hired an ill-famed Pyrian elf that had the reputation as the Mad Scholar for his obsession with the previously rumoured and unknown phenomenon on the Living Madness that could twist both living and the dead and consequently, his expertise on it which has helped though we had to deal with his mad rambling and nonsensical speculations when it comes to certain aspects of Madness.

    A week before the full attacks came, I ordered my magicians to start securing the city and the hall, and to begin finding the cure, no matter the cost. My morality was questioned, and some self-righteous souls even protested this and attempted to undermine my authority as every mage under my command started experimenting on those infected by Madness.

    It didn’t matter because Madness is an malignant entity that rose from the bloodshed of several realms at once. I even posit that we influenced the gods into shedding blood with each other and at same time, they influenced us into doing so, with the latest example being the Aelian-Pyrian Great War eighty years ago, after receiving the reports of the dreams, wars between the gods and the hatreds that still simmered. I speculate that the madness is a result from the two-way relationship we have with the Gods, both light and dark and this Madness might have been magnified by the conflicts over many things. Perhaps it’s true, perhaps it’s not or it’s in between but no one knows right now. All that we know is we’re being assaulted by this horrible darkness.

    While we experimented on the populace, I started destroying any evidence that linked me to my necromantic practices and hid the essential items in secret whenever possible. I’ve ingested potions to keep my memory perfect for all this. Necromancy, experiments and everything else. I still remember with perfect clarify on what the dead have reported to me years past and my beginnings. Unfortunately that perfect memory also comes with some regrets. One can say I acted coldly towards my own people for a long term victory and also in anticipation that the Madness could be much more terrible. Ah, even now in my sleep, I see the dead accusing me of the experiments done in my name, and in my waking moments, I squash my regrets with my will, because what matters right now is dealing with the Madness. Better have immoral victory that guarantees survival than moral extinction. Can these brave self-righteous souls that have been executed interfering with my plans make the same choices I’ve made? No. Not at all. They’d try to save many only for the short term, only delaying their doom through their short-sightedness and their folly would have cost everyone eventually. Idealism in a perfect world would be nice. Not here. Not in this reality.

    Anyway when the Madness came, all the defences we’ve established came to naught. It’s like that Madness was studying us as we studied it’s victims trying to find a way to cure them of it’s infectious touch. For example, some of the mages that worked for me went mad immediately, breaching our enchanted defences by pouring the corrupt energies into our defences' weak points. Nobody anticipated such betrayals. In another instance, the Madness twisted the healers’ attempts, accelerating the stages that the victims went through, turning from the people we knew into mutated maddened abominations that could only be killed, and unfortunately, our magisters were targeted first. How could that Madness be so powerful this early? How could it be intelligent? And how could it easily twist even noble mages into monstrous ones? Even the biomancers reported that the plants started growing misshapen, turning into monsters that napped at everyone. When the attacks came, the plants and trees started showing leering faces and staring eyes. I ordered them to stop biomancy at once, and burn these plants.

    Everything happened too quickly despite my hidden necromantic rituals and defences that became active, draining the life energies of the Maddened. My town became cut off, as if the Maddened knew the location of the most powerful mages and It has become evident that the collective power of my cabal has attracted a large force. I’ve sent the messengers through the secret routes to warn the rest of the towns of Kaelar regions associated with my guild to escape to the nearest rumoured Sanctus Gates, in hope rumours are true. By my order, most of the people in my town were forced to flee from this town through the hidden paths as they were warned of our need to employ our most destructive spells without hesitation, and without regard for any lives and properties. It seemed as if the apocalypse came, and the hordes of madness springing up everywhere, within and without and since we couldn’t keep continuing with our experiments in the middle of this long siege, I ordered merciful death to be granted to the victims of our experiments. You can argue about the morality of these experiments. I don’t care as I’ve done what needed to be done in a larger scheme of things even if these experiments yielded more information on the Madness but no true cure for it.

    As the attacks progressed, our spells shaped the landscape quite literally even as infinitely more hordes of Maddened began to surround my town even as they killed each other. That the loveless monstrous butcher horde coming to sweep my town aside. It was genuinely terrifying, though momentarily it was exhilarating as we got to unleash most destructive spells without any restrictions, as the only people who were unable to flee, remained with us in our council. These destructive spells were but distractions, as these people set to work creating new hidden paths. It was a good thing that while I primarily am a necromancer in hiding, I’ve learnt elements and other spells. It’s a necessity, because a necromancer cannot employ their true abilities everywhere and there are places that can actually prevent the necromancy from working but right now, I don’t want my cabal finding out about my activities, so I’ve employed the standard frost spells.

    In those days, the time manipulating mages had reported they resorted to using different spells and had to learn elemental spells. They said that Madness seems to have infected even the fabric of time itself, causing the Maddened to rapidly increase in mutation stages, no matter what they did, and they were wary of attempting any further because they saw Madness caused their effects not only specularly backfire, but it accelerated the spread of madness in other places somehow. Slow time spells instead moved to accelerate the hordes of monsters. That goes to tell you how dangerous Madness is.

    When the healers came back to me, they reported that our wounded mages that have been in combat with Maddened Ones invariably succumb to Madness. Their healing accelerated Madness in them somehow and I am concerned, remembering my earlier weeks of attempting to call the dead to service, and hearing their refusals and fear. I asked if they were speaking at all, anything when wounded. The healers looked at each other, and their face expressions showed as if they didn’t want to remember. One of them had the courage to tell me that the wounded talked of the dark dreams, of the Madness spreading infinitely everywhere, and that even now they could hear dark whispers, trying to twist them even though they were resisting it. When some of the wounded rose, as if healed, they immediately attacked everyone until they were put down by the guardian golems. There was significantly more damage than possible on these guardian golems. In that instant, I ordered merciful killing on the wounded still on the bed. Any who can still fight, were to be made use of and the healers were to assist the magicians now.

    As you can plainly see from these descriptions, even we magicians had to be very careful on how we employed spells and stopped using certain spells as the Madness somehow kept twisting the effects. It’s yet determined on how we can stop that, or how it’s causing our spells backfire. Only fire and frost spells have been reliable consistently. Air and water spells are a little finicky but will work for most parts. Druidic and nature spells, we have to be careful. Necromancy (in secret that is) has reduced efficiency. Time manipulation cannot be trusted. Astral projection spells to communicate with others? Cannot be used so we have to rely on messengers whenever possible as it seems Madness prevents communication everywhere by the sheer force of the Maddened ones now spreading everywhere. And that’s just the basic stuff! Any further details will have to go into another book later if I have time to write that.

    Eventually the traps were laid, and held on as the new underground path broke into an existing cavern that led to a Dünzenkell military base. We just took the opportunity to flee through it. And from there, to the bastion of the Aelan Empire.

    This journey is for another tale, especially when I was forced to use the necromantic spells to save my group and the dwarves we were travelling with. But know that I made it there with my cabal, and the last surviving warriors of the heavily battered dwarven garrison.

    I’m telling you, this Madness. I sensed there may be a cure for it, but none of us found it. Not even in the hundred and eighty three days into this siege. The magisters from every major power of Verra in the Last Keep told me they couldn’t find it, even with all the resources they had on hand, and they had far more resources than my town’s meagre resources. I could tell they were humbled, broken, as if Madness shattered their pride and invincibility. Not one of these magisters wanted to go to Sanctus where I was told they would not have magic at all, even completely preventing any magic from being used. We all set aside our politicking then and just simply worked together to protect what we know is a Last Keep. If this is the Last Keep then so be it. I don’t know if there are any others like ours at all ever since the communication cut off. Sanctus Gates were closed by the time we found our way to the Last Keep. If we survive this, we’ll go to the Underrealms as there may be safety in those realms as the surviving scouts have reported no Maddened Ones in those deep caverns. Somehow it’s either Madness does not know of it, or it avoids these deep places entirely.

    This is an excerpt of Necromancer Lucia the Black. The stigma surrounding necromancers no longer mattered, and while she is still unable to call forth the undead, she was very helpful in leeching all life from the Corrupted via the magical traps, which did help in keeping us alive. The last defenders of this keep had accepted her dark arts of necromancy as they did not affect us and for that, I could tell that in these times she was fully relieved that she could now fully unleash her ability. Despite her imperious coldness, she was genuinely a regretful person, donning the black garment of the Necromancer, indicating her mastery at that art. She no longer wore the white raiment of the Archmagister of Kaeler regions.

    Perhaps once we finish protecting these archives, we’ll make it to the Underrealm. That place is very dangerous even without the Corrupted. I never entertained the notion of going there because of dangers. I may be a Mad Scholar but even I can see the lunatic insanity of trying to be safe but there’s no other way and I just want to live. Damn my obsession with the Corruption! Maybe I should have gone to the Sanctus Gates, but then I would have lost all the materials I have now on the Corruption that should be stored in the future that may help the returning adventurers. Hells, I even consider it a likely safe place because Corruption just twists everything!

    These are some of the significant pieces of evidence that back my argument. I have more evidence but I’ll write them in the later sections. Corruption is not just going to be like a tide, nor will it go away for good. It’s now eternal and very likely linked to our souls. There are other tales but I will put them in another section for you to see. Honestly, in another time, I would have been executed as a heretic just for saying this, and my name expunged from history, forever branded as a madman, and my writings purged. Well, I’m already branded as one… but at least the writings here will never be expunged. The truth is too important.
  • LexLex Member, Phoenix Initiative, Avatar of the Phoenix, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    I loved it @deadmansprice ! Such a great story! ♥️
  • deadmanspricedeadmansprice Moderator, Member, Leader of Men, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    Thanks man! I'll add a little more to the story eventually :D
  • Ooooohhhh, I am DEFINITELY coming back to read the rest when I'm capable of keeping my eyes open lol
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