The Winter's Herald
I grew up in the orphanage in Vaxi, after my mother Denmara died in battle against the demonic Vellen on Voran. She had taught me to sense the earth and the spirit of the Insomnium Isles, starting me on my path to becoming a Warden. In the orphanage I met Sephos and Zodia, two brothers from the Black Fox bloodline. They became my Bondzokuii, my bond family, and together we sought our ideals. I became a disciple of the Temple Wardens, as Sephos built and ran his very own toy shop together with Zodia. We lived content lives like any other Vellen, in symbiosis with our guecubu and acknowledging the darkness of the world along with the light. Then, I was chosen as the Champion to participate in the Gauntlet…
Kisaria Selkiin’s Journal
Entry 1: Archon
Today I met the Archon for the first time, as a Champion of the Vellen. He emerged from the obelisk and sailed elegantly down to us with billowing scarves and shining platinum armor completely encasing him. As he addressed us, his voice echoed hollowly and distant. We were then led into the obelisk, the Archon no longer drifting through the air and walking before us. It was strange inside of that obelisk, dark and mystical, as magic coursed like a river all around but unseen unless one was trained in great arcana. I could only feel it myself; the earth here was very foreign. I could also feel the looks given to me every once in a while by the Xa’tan champion. Requius is his name.
The Archon gave us our task, a sort of qualification before entering the Gauntlet. Three demons are threatening our world—the Fallen Hero, the Demon Monk, and the Fallen Angel. He wants us to eliminate them. Champions in the past have had to fight these demons, too. The Archon expressed some measure of emotion when asked about the Fallen Angel. “She was…difficult.”
I am aboard a magical ship named Pathfinder as I am writing this entry in my journal. I will attempt to write in this every time I have the chance and something interesting to note. Hopefully it will be of some use to myself and my people. This ship has some sort of crystal compass and plenty of supplies on board for a variety of destinations we may find ourselves at. Requius wanted the role of captain, which he gained after Ilmarinen gave it up for him. I would try my hand at being captain, but that would give me less time for my real task.
It’s a rare experience to be in a group with a person representing each faction; but I realize no one person can be truly representative of their race. I know I certainly am not. Though I am of the blood of the Silver Dragon, I do not see myself as the Champion of my people. Sephos would have made a better champion…but our obelisk chose me, and the Vellen are counting on me—I cannot back down.
Requius the Xa’tan, Ilmarinen the Vikran, Sya’han the Tez’ni’lan, Bay the Artican, Aenee the Seram, Lucife the Kavmier, Skorn the Banku, and Molshyr the Evran; these are the other Champions whom I must work with for this first task. We are both enemies and friends on the surface. I should like us to be more friend than foe. I am not here necessarily to win, but to find out what this Gauntlet is truly.
I feel the Gauntlet is not justified, based on what I have heard. The reward seems not to quite line-up with the tournament on the surface of things. I have my own conjectures as to the underpinnings of the tournament, but they are simply that—guesses, feelings. They say the one who wins becomes the Archon, this all-powerful being, and elevates his people to a greater honor and even greater place beyond this world. It just seems unlikely, and the price is steep.
And how is any one world greater than another? How is it a great honor?
The Archon…can I learn anything from him? He uses his words sparingly, for whatever reason. The Archons live for a thousand years, a cycle’s worth of time to contemplate and act. He may have secretly began a war, or learned a terrible secret—I can use my imagination to imagine anything such a being could do. But what did he do? Unlike others, he has the least known about him. Who are you, Archon, and what is this game? How did this all start, and why? Is safety really so costly?
There must be a power struggle in this, or an understanding hidden away for fear of upsetting the balance and which is just. If neither, then the Gauntlet has no justification at all.
Which one is it, Archon?
Entry 2: Fallen Hero
I have never ventured this far from home before, into territory most have never trespassed upon. Pathfinder took us to the outer lands, attracting the attention of a sea dragon along the way. We were able to slay it before any irreversible damage was done and used it as a chance to loosen ourselves up a bit. Teamwork did not seem too difficult, but we weren’t synchronizing much either.
We shored on the coast of a craggy, barren realm. The earth here felt scoured, dry, and lifeless. We split up to either find the demon or seek our own interests, but it didn’t take long until the Fallen Hero made himself known. He emerged from a cave addressing us and engaging in conversation. He was not hostile, and did not match any normal conjured imaginings of a demon. The Fallen Hero was the kind of demon that at one time was very much human. He was once a hero who fought in an ancient war alongside the Demon Monk and Fallen Angel, back before they were banished and turned demonic. Ever since, they have each been waiting patiently and silently every thousand years for the Champions to find them and defeat them.
The Fallen Hero gave us the choice to fight him or leave. After some discussion, we decided not to do as the Archon told us and did not fight him. One of the factors was the possibility of another faction threatening the world, called the Ascended. I could feel something out beyond the fringes myself, something fiery and consuming. The hero said they were banished to the farthest reaches and put into hibernation, but one has awoken. He will wait there and fight it.
Before we left, he gave us a medallion with a carving of a dragon perched on a mountain in it, and assured us we could return and meet again.
I know a little more about the Archon now. His name is Maver, and he was a sorcerer. In battle he wielded his magic ferociously as if consumed by the power and wonder of it and constantly awed by it. Yet when he came to strike the hero down, he showed reluctance and sorrow, as if he understood that his action was not entirely for good. The Archon had emotions once…What was he thinking then? What did he know? What did the other Champions know and experience?
I don’t know. No one will say—just forget. The Fallen Hero said much, but suffered the same amnesia as the Archon. Did they attempt to keep memories, or want to forget?
I, I was tempted to fight the hero at first. Keltor was tempted more so than I, but I waited and let the others continue debating. Skorne, Requius, and Lucife talked the most, arguing for and against fighting. Skorne grew extremely defensive, and then Requius reversed his decision and reasoning to match the consensus. The group dynamics are somewhat strange for us.
I wanted to feel what the Archon had felt; that is why I wanted to fight him. But I wanted to change the hero’s mentality as well.
Maybe it is better that things went the way they did. Regardless, we have much to talk to the Archon about.