The Onslaught of Madness

Erik Valstrom

UP: Catskills

    It was so good to be whole again! After days of languishing in bed with little more than a few good books to read and seeing only the all-too-familiar face of my servant bringing all sorts of disgusting and ineffectual draughts and concoctions he vainly imagined would "cure" my disease, I am well again. A day more of that and I would be stark raving mad myself.

So, with great pleasure, I rose early the other day, saddled Andar, and made off toward a number of familiar locales seeking the fine details of stories which had come my way regarding the depredations being reported all over Sosaria Felucca.

I first went by the home of a dear friend, Beechel Kire, only to find him absent. The people there were not even the servants of his I recognized from a prior visit, but were nothing more than a group of displaced wanderers who had taken up residence. They knew nothing of Beechel and his wife Nyssa. I saw lights on at the Brazen Monkey Tavern across the way and directed Andar there. Inside sat a man named Vlad dressed in a yellow robe. He bade me stable Andar next door and we returned to discuss things over a pint of ale. Others soon arrived and I pieced together a number of items regarding the truth of events I had heard about.

To my utter horror I learned that Beechel and Nyssa Kire were both slain by the Undead of Necropolis after their refusal to turn over to them the ancient Armor of Shielding that belonged to Beechel's great-grandfather, Stanton Kyre. The Undead, in a ruthless attack on the villa in Yew where Beechel was preparing a surprise birthday party for his wife, kidnapped them both and forced him to demand from members of the Justice Alliance that they hand over the armor to them. When the Justice Alliance refused, an Undead leader named Anthony murdered them both in cold blood at the Keep in Necropolis. I was greatly shocked and saddened by this bit of news, and still am.

I then visited Necropolis and met Anthony, who gladly admitted slaughtering Beechel and Nyssa, and still offered in exchange for their souls the Armor of Shielding, which I knew would never be exchanged. Cursing him and his fellows, I then visited the Whispering Pines Tavern in Edinburgh where much more was told me by a fine group of acquaintances gathered there.

All in all, I learned a good deal. I learned that Dale Larkspur, the ranger who had been seen in Skara Brae, and in Yew at Kent's Last Pint, is clearly in league with the mastermind of evil behind the attacks I had heard so much about - who is none other than Io, the false identity of Scaramandine the Elder, the great-grandfather of Scaramandine II who had visited me. It seems the old records describing the death of Scaramandine the Elder being victimized by his own evil device, the Orb of Soul Seeking, proved false. Rather, Scaramandine permitted his soul to be drawn into the Orb in some kind of protected state fully empowered to absorb the knowledge and wisdom of the souls of those who were later drawn into it by his Necromari followers. By doing this he not only preserved himself alive when the Necromari were rooted out of Wrong by the champions of Minoc but gained untold wisdom, knowledge, and power from thousands of souls trapped within the Orb with him.

When the Orb was recently rediscovered he devilishly presented himself to the world as Io, the entity of the Orb, and, after a series of misadventures, actually assisted in the shattering of the Orb so he would be released and incarnated once more. Once free he gathered together fragments of the shattered Orb, which still possessed magical properties and created the Wand of Soul Command. Then, seeking the souls of those who had been first trapped by, then released from, the Orb - souls of those he hated most in his former life - he incarnated them to do his murderous bidding. Dale Larkspur is such a one.

Others now have been seen and in their wake comes more death and misery. Strom Elkhart, the renown engineer of Minoc, a man who detested gargoyles on buildings, and birds in general, has been seen where the gargoyle and harpy attacks have descended upon the islands of Jhelom, Moonglow, and more recently, Ocllo.

Ariel Wyndmere, the beloved sorceress consort of Agisto Fyrebrandt, Scaramandine the Elder's worst foes, a lover of all things gentle and beautiful, has been seen in Britain graveyard, summoning hordes of undead to wreak devastation on that area. A fourth leader has been foretold and it would not surprise me if the recent attack of lizardmen and giant serpents against Minoc was not his doing.

Yet the worst has lately been revealed in dire fashion. Reports have circulated concerning some kind of beasts known as Dark Slayers, seven armored, extremely powerful and fearless creatures who seem to appear out of nowhere and go on a mindless rampage, annihilating every living thing in their path.

Clearly a dark evil has befallen Sosaria Felucca! It is the onslaught of madness, being perpetrated by a villain whose only goal seems to be his enjoyment of spreading death and misery upon peace-loving folk. It is a time for noble champions to arise and demand a reckoning from Io, who has now revealed himself as Scaramandine the Elder. But I wonder - are there enough left willing to risk their all for it? Or is the evil so great that only the goodly Virtues will be able to save us by sending a champion to aid our cause? Prayer may indeed be our only hope!

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Tuesday, February 27th 2001