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
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?"
"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...
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Friday, August