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An Evil Unmasked
To the Lord and Ladies of the Ruling Council, greetings.
Today, I witnessed events that sent fear into my heart. I recount this dire tale for you now.

I and many citizens of Britannia heard rumors that there would be a Council meeting at the Castle. We hastened there, hoping for news. After a few moments, Clainin, Iyona Kondo and Odric walked to the dais. Odric appeared puzzled, but the faces of the other two were grim.

“This does not look like the Council to me!” Odric said suspiciously.

Iyona stepped forward and stated, “We have called this meeting in front of the Royal Guard, as we may have need of them before this is done.”

“You called me here to meet with the Council! Where are they?” Odric’s voice was growing a bit shrill. I think he suspected something.

Clainin stepped forward and addressed the crowd in the throne room. “Do you all remember when the Commander took ill?” he asked. “We could not cure him, and were desperate. Then Odric appeared and offered to help us in exchange for locating heirlooms that Minax had taken when his family was killed during the siege of Trinsic. When we agreed to assist him, he brought forth a potion that cured the Commander!”

“Thanks to me, your Commander lived!” interjected Odric. Iyona and Clainin ignored him.

“Therefore, Lord Geoffrey and the Royal Guard assaulted the Hedge Maze in Felucca, and some of the heirlooms were recovered. Later, Odric led us to a hidden valley near Trinsic, where Keeonean turned against Minax, and handed over her necklace "Mondain's Embrace", to Odric. We finally captured Keeonean and brought him to trial.” continued Clainin.

“Awfully convenient wouldn’t you say?” sneered Iyona, glaring at Odric.

Clainin went on, “That was the last we saw of Odric, until recently, when he appeared again and offered us his assistance.”

“Aye, and look how it’s turned out!” exclaimed Iyona. “We found the messenger’s house ransacked and the messenger killed. ‘Tis all too convenient, Odric!”

“I don’t understand what you mean,” replied Odric. “I have been aiding you and helping Britannia!”

Then, Iyona Kondo said what I never expected to hear. “We believe you are a Shadowlord!”

Odric began to laugh, and I confess, I almost laughed too. How could anyone believe such an outrageous accusation? Around me, the crowd muttered and shifted.

“What? You’re insane! I cannot believe your impudence.” Odric continued to laugh, but I could see him eyeing the room’s exits.

Around me, there were cries of “He must be a traitor!” and “Why do you humiliate him!?” Like me, the citizens were of two minds; this claim was unbelievable, but Odric’s actions were suspicious. How would Iyona and Clainin prove this wild accusation?

Clainin stepped forward, his expression unreadable. He glanced swiftly at Iyona, who nodded grimly. Clainin raised his arms above his head, and in a voice filled with power cried out:

VAS WIS QUAS

The air in the room was suddenly thick with magical energy. Then, to the astonishment of all in the throne room, Odric’s form shifted, taking on the appalling form of… Ramuz the Shadowlord!

The room erupted into noise and confusion. As Ramuz/Odric attempted to cast a recall spell, Clainin drew a shimmering purple crystal from his robe and placed it on the dais near the throne. As its magic-dampening force cleared the final remnants of Clainin’s powerful spell from the room, Ramuz/Odric realized that his spells would not help him here. So he attempted to escape on foot!

Ramuz rushed through the crowd towards the back of the room, his shadowy form flitting through the crowd, evading all attempts to restrain him. The crowd surged after him - with the Royal Guard after him, how could he possibly escape? Unfortunately, his shadow form proved too much for us; in his true body he proved able to move faster than anyone would have thought, and even small shadows in Britain’s streets were enough to conceal him.

After several minutes of fruitless pursuit, Iyona gathered us together in a street in the north end of town. As we discussed our next possible move, a messenger ran up, panting. Something was afoot in Cove! Ramuz’s escape and this new disturbance in the besieged town had to be related. We made all haste to Cove.

Of course, we found the town overrun with orcs, and a great battle ensued. As always, the Royal Guard and volunteers fought bravely, and seemed to be gaining the upper hand – after weeks of being occupied by the orc army, it seemed Cove was about to be liberated!

Suddenly, a shadowy form appeared on the rocky hill above the town. We had found Ramuz! Many brave warriors attempted to scale the cliff, and many mages cast their magics at him, but it was to no avail. Ramuz looked down and mocked us.

“You will all die at my feet!” Ramuz’s chilling laugh echoed off the surrounding rocks. “I will call down the wrath of Chaos upon you! Your blood will burn in your veins and your bones will become as dust! Heed my words, Britannia – you have taken another serpent unto your breast!”

Suddenly, new cries of terror and rage rose up from the crowd. I turned, and to my horror, saw a fearsome beast tossing warriors to ground and savaging them. Ramuz was forgotten as the Guard regrouped to fight off this new threat.

After a fierce battle, the beast was defeated, the remaining orcs in the city were slain and Cove was free at last!

Though Ramuz had slipped away again, we were understandably ebullient at the liberation of Cove and our steps were a bit lighter as we began to tend to the wounded. Suddenly, Iyona’s voice rose above ours. “I have found something!” she called out. To my surprise, Iyona was rummaging through the gory corpse of the slain beast. “A bag!” she said. “Or, it used to be…” She pulled a bloody, sodden mess out of the beast’s body. I retched, but I don’t think anyone saw me.

“It seems that the contents are not ruined,” Iyona mused, as she wiped the gore from the dark bundle. “A journal!” She gasped. “Malabelle’s journal!” Shocked murmurs rose from the crowd.

“It is written in a strange text I cannot read! It is not in a language of this realm!” Iyona’s frustration was evident. One of the Guard suggested that she show it to Clainin, and Iyona agreed. Wearily, she informed us that she was returning to the Castle and taking Malabelle’s journal with her. She congratulated the Guard on their bravery, and left. Her departure was a bit abrupt, but I and other attributed that to her exhaustion and her frustration at the escape of Ramuz.

I made my way back to my home and set my pen to paper in order that you, my noble Lords and Ladies, should hear of today’s events. Now, I must rest. It is my hope that Clainin will be able to decipher the journal of poor Malabelle and we shall see an end to this mystery. I remain,

Your most humble and obedient servant,
Ailsa Maclean 

Published: January 2005
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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