The Search For Truth: Prelude to challenge 3
The land of Historica is enjoying a time of peace and prosperity! New Embassies and fortifications have been built throughout the land and the High King can finally rest at ease, knowing his reign is at an all time high.
He knows that under his rule, Historica has indeed become a mighty realm. Now all it needs is something that will boost that claim-will; a talisman, something unique and special, that could become a true symbol of all that is just and good about Historica.
There is no shortage of Legends about treasure in Historica, and the High King has been showing an increased interest in whether or not there is really any truth behind the tales. One legend, in particular, has really caught his attention.
All children of Historica grow up with The Tale of the Lost Shrine Of The Druids
. It is a tale about the first settlers of this mighty land; a powerful race of Druids who lived in harmony and were as one with the land. It is said that they built a sacred shrine, and within its walls they placed 'The Soul Of Historica'. This treasure is said to contain the power of the four Elder Druids who sacrificed their lives so that the land would forever be blessed. It is indeed, a treasure of extreme importance and power.
People have been searching for this treasure for centuries, but to no avail. Presently, the story is accepted as nothing more than a legend. But is it indeed just a legend? That's something which the High King is determined to find out.
Four warriors, one from each corner of Historica, have been assigned the task of tracking down a retired Historian; the only man in the Kingdom who may know the answer.
Lord Owain Of Avalonia, cousin of Artorius Rex
Ragnar'The Fearless' Nibelung, nephew of Jarl Nibelung
Kathyrin Flagg, slave sister to Dextrus Flagg
Kahzoul 'The Reaper', bodyguard and trained assassin of Lord Ssilyrrlith
After many weeks of ceaseless searching, the four finally track down the Historian to a dwelling in Nocturnus, a place known as Grim Hollow.......
Owain: "You sure this is the place?"
Kathyrin: "Why?" "Doubting my skills are you now?" she grinned.
Owain: "But look at it!" "Dark and dirty and falling to pieces, who lives like this?!"
Kahzoul: "Oh I am sorry, would you prefer it if we planted some lush green trees? Perhaps a nice row of flowers along the front, yes?" he asked sarcastically. He lowered his tone, "Fool, your not in Avalonia anymore!"
Owain: "Mores the pity" he grumbled.
The group took a moment to gaze upon their destination. Could the answer to the most sacred of treasures really be found in such a place?
Ragnar: "Enough time wasting, lets just do what we came here for and head back" he growled.
Kathyrin: "Agreed, after all, we are being watched."
Owain: "Watched?" he shouted. "By whom?"
Kahzoul: "Drow spies of course." he said casually. "They've been watching us ever since we set foot into Nocturnus." He seemed to find the situation amusing.
Kathyrin: "Then they know why we're here?" "They know of the Shrine and the Historian?"
Kahzoul: "Oh yes, they know alright." he smiled.
Ragnar: "If they know" he snarled, "then why haven't they already taken the Historian, learned his secrets and gone ofter the Shrine themselves?"
Kahzoul: "That's not their style." he said with a grin. "They find it far more fun to let us do all the hard work and find the treasure, then they can just come and take it from under our nose!"
Owain: "Not on my watch!" he roared.
Owain stepped out from the group, drew his sword and looked out towards the gloomy land of Nocturnus.
"COME OUT YOU COWARDS!" he shouted. "COME OUT AND FIGHT!"
He unbuckled the straps of his shield and threw it to the ground.
"I'll MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU, NO SHIELD, ONE HAND BEHIND MY BACK!.....COME OUT AND FIGHT!"
His shouts were greeted with nothing but silence. He spat on the floor in disgust, picked up his shield then turned to walk back to the others.
Kahzoul: "What a fine display." he mocked, clapping his hands.
Rangnar: "And what did that achieve?"
Owain: "Look, if they are out there, then at least they know that Avalonia is not afraid of a fight!"
Ragnar: "Nor is Mitgardia!" he stroked his hand across the blade of his axe. "And you would do well to remember that!" he said said dangerously.
Owain: "I'd end your life before you had time to swing that hedge cutter!"
Kathyrin: "I'll cut both your throats right now if you two don't pack it in!" she shouted, then smiled. "Come on, lets get this over with."
The group made they way to the main door. The stench of the overflowing sewers wasn't making this task any easier, but they knew they would soon be on their way home.
Owain: "Right, I'll break down the door."
Kathyrin: "No!" she said shocked. "We're not thieves, we knock."
Owain looked bemused. 'Just kick the door in' he thought to himself, but nodded at Kathyrin, who went ahead and knocked.
And so they waited, and waited........and waited!
Owain: "What a surprise!"...."So now we kick the door down right?"
Karzoul: "Leave it to me, amateurs." he hissed. He made his way to the door, placed his hands on the lock and within a flash the door swung open.
Owain: "How did you do that?" he asked confused.
Karzoul: "Oh please, picking locks is child's play, we Nocturnian's know how to pick a lock from the day we can first stand!" "Not to mention a wealth of other tricks!" he boasted.
Kathyrin: "Lock picking?" she raised an eyebrow. "Whats that for then, thieving?"
Karzoul: "No...well, not as such" he grinned.
Owain: "More likely for when the imbeciles manage to lock themselves out their houses on a daily basis!" he chuckled.
Karzoul: "I'll ignore that comment Owain, besides, the door's open, so lets go."
Into the building they went, glad to be away from the harsh eyes of the watching Drow. Now to speak to this Historian!
Ragnar: "Strange place this." he looked around the lower floor, scouting for anything that may be threat. "Shall I stand and guard the door?" he snarled.
Karzoul: "No need, like I said, the Drow won't make a move yet." he spoke with a confidence that washed onto the others.
Kathyrin: "I guess your right, they wouldn't stand a chance anyways!"
Owain: "I'd kill them all before they even got through the door anyway, so its really not an issue is it?".......
Karzoul rolled his eyes and carried on searching the lower floor with the others. Owain decided to have a look around as well, until something caught his eye.
Owain: "Look at all those barrels of Mead!" he cried, "and they're full too, I knew this would be a worthwhile journey!" He raced over to the barrels.
Owain: "Perfect, now lets see, six full barrels....So, we're gonna need to find some sort of wagon to get these back to mine and..."
Ragnar: "Oi" he interrupted. "If anyone's having those barrels of Mead, its gonna be me!" "Besides, I don't need a wagon, I'll just carry them on my back like a real man!" he grinned.
Owain: "That's stealing!" he said.
Ragnar: "What?" he asked confused. "What's the difference with you taking them then?"
Owain: "I'm borrowing", he said with a smirk, "borrowing."
Kathyrin: "No one is stealing or borrowing anything." She spoke with a half smile while flicking her dagger in the air.
Owain: "Come on Kath, its a long journey back home you know!"
Ragnar: "Aye, journey goes a lot quicker with a barrel of Mead!"
Kathyrin: "Must I remind you two that we are on a mission for the High King? We are here in the hope that this Historian will give us some information regarding the Lost Shrine! Not only have we already broken into his house, now you want to take his supply of Mead as well?...What next?" she grinned, "I wouldn't tell us anything if I were him!"
Karzoul: "Hey, over here." he called the other three over and nodded towards the staircase. "Up the stairs, I hear movement coming from one of the rooms, that's probably our guy!"
Sure enough, the sound of somebody moving could be heard coming from the upper floor. They made their way up the stairs and pushed open the door. Someone was sitting at a table at the far end of the room. They had found the Historian.
Historian: "Ahhh, I've been expecting you."
Owain: "Expecting us?" he gasped. "Did you not hear us knocking? Four bloody hours we were waiting out there, FOUR!"
Kathyrin: "Oh shut up Owain!" she snapped. She turned towards the Historian. "I must apologize for his rudeness Mr...."
Victor: "Revolword, Victor Revolword" he smiled, "And don't worry about that business with the door; yes I heard your knocking, but you can't be too careful round here, likely to get dragged outside and robbed if you answer your door in this hamlet."
Kathyrin: "Well its good to know we have found you safe and sound." she smiled. "There's a matter we really could do with you expertise on, lets just say its historic." she smiled.
Victor: "Well you have come to the right place, but first let me get you all a drink, you must be thirsty?" he asked. "I have some very fine Mead downstairs, I'll go and fetch some for you all" he offered.
Owain: "Its ok, I know where it is, I'll get it."
Victor: "Oh...ok...splendid. Yes, that's very kind of you Sir"
Owain bounded off downstairs and appeared again ten minutes later. He had managed to haul and struggle a whole barrel of mead to the top. He stood exhausted, but looking very pleased with himself.
Kathyrin: "What are you doing?" she asked shocked. "You only had to fetch one beaker each!" she rolled her eyes shaking her head.
Ragnar: "You did well lad!"
Owain: "Yeah, I know."
The two of them stood there grinning, while Victor poured them all a drink. He seemed oblivious to what Owain had done.
Victor: "Right then, what is it that I can help you with?"
Kathyrin: "We need some information on a shrine; if it exists and where it can be found."
Victor: "There are plenty of old ruined shrines in Historica, are you looking for one in particular?" he asked.
Kathyrin: "The lost Shrine of the Druids." she watched for Victor's reaction.
Victor: "Ah yes, but of course." he calmly leaned back in his chair then looked up at them. "You're treasure hunters then?"
Kathyrin: "Not as such, the High King has shown an interest in the Shrine and would like to know whether it really exists?"
Victor: "Of course it does" he chuckled. "Legends don't just appear, they may grow and be exaggerated over the years, but they are all based on real events." he looked carefully at the group. "Yes it does exist, and it contains the greatest treasure in all of Historica. I have devoted a large part of my life to finding it, and through that journey I have learned much."
Owain: "Ok....So where is it, how do we get there?"
Victor: "I'm afraid its not that simple, you can't find the shrine until you have the keys."
Victor: "The keys open the shrine, and its the keys that, when found, reveal its location." he gave a sly smile. "So you can't find the shrine or open its door without the keys."
Ragnar: "Right then, so we need these "keys", fair enough." he scratched his beard and looked at Victor. "So where do we find them?"
Victor: "For years men have been searching, but nothing has ever been found. Why do you think that could be?"
Owain: "Because they've rusted away!Or better still, maybe they never existed at all!" he scorned, then got up and drowned another beaker of Mead.
Karzoul: "Perhaps...I've encountered most of Historica's sacred items on my travels, but never a Shrine key; I'm afraid that they may be lost forever. Or..."
Kathyrin: "Or maybe they aren't keys in the conventional sense?"
Victor: "Exactly my dear, the keys to the Shrine are not keys in the conventional sense, but something else entirely."
Kathyrin: "What exactly are they?" she asked.
Victor: "Crystals. Four Elemental Crystals; one for each of the ancient elements."
Karzoul: "Earth, Air, Fire and Water...?"
Victor: "That's correct, and when they are all found and brought together, they will reveal the location of the shrine."
Owain: "Crystals eh?" a look of interest crossed his face. "I bet they're worth a fair price?"
Kathyrin: "Don't even think it Owain!" she snapped.
Owain: "I know, I know, just jesting" he smiled.
Kathyrin: "Now then Victor, how exactly do these Crystals show the location of the Shrine?"
Victor: "On each Crystal there is an inscription that explains where the shrine is located, but this inscription does not become visible unless all four are brought together."
Kathyrin: "I see; so once we find them, how do we open the door of the Shrine?"
Victor: "According to an old manuscript I found, the Keys are placed in some sort of device, and their power unseals the door."
Ragnar: "Now we're getting somewhere!" he said excitedly.
Karzoul: "Well that explains why no one has ever found the keys, they've all been searching for the wrong thing." he smiled with amusement.
Owain: "Its just like what I've been saying all along" he proclaimed.
Owain: "Nothing...never mind."
Kathyrin: "So, its just the location of these Crystals then, have you discovered any information on their whereabouts?"
Victor: "I'm afraid I do not know their exact locations, but I do know that they were hidden in each corner of Historica. The Earth Crystal is hidden in Avalonia, the Air Crystal can be found in Mitgardia, the Fire Crystal lies in the land of Nocturnus and the Water Crystal rests somewhere in Kaliphiln."
Owain: "Great, well that narrows it down, so somewhere in each land of Historica, there lies a Crystal hidden! All we need to do is spend the rest of our lives searching every inch of each land trying to find them!" he sighed and slumped down in a chair.
Kathyrin: "That's all the information we needed!" she exclaimed. "We now know the shrine and keys exist, we know that one is hidden in each realm, and we know what they do and how to use them! That's more than enough!"
Owain: "Yes but there's still the burden of trying to find them, it would be never ending!"
Kathyrin: "Not if the whole of Historica is looking for them! We'll find them!" she said enthusiastically.
Owain: "I'm sure your right."
Kathyrin: "Victor, if you knew all of this, why haven't you tried looking for them?"
Victor: "Ah therein lies the problem; you see, only a Mitgardian can find the Crystal in Mitgardia, just as only an Avalonian can find the Crystal in Avalonia.The same is true for every land, and alas it's one of the reasons I never bothered looking for them myself." he chuckled.
Kathyrin: "Thank you Victor, your information and help have been invaluable; we're in your debt. Is there anything we can do for you in return?"
Victor: "I just want to see the Shrine finally discovered, that's all." he smiled.
Kathyrin: "You shall see that happen, I promise! Its time for us to leave, there's lots to be done."
The group stood and said farewell to Victor. He seemed excited at the prospect of the Shrine finally being discovered, but why wouldn't he, after all, its the Shrine of Legend that countless men have searched for all their lives.
The group headed outside into the darkness of night. Owain and Ragnar fetched the horses, then they all gazed out into the darkness.
Owain: "Whats our move now?"
Kathyrin: "We each head back to our leaders, report everything we have just heard and then, I expect, they will speak to the High King. A plan will likely be put into action to find the Crystals."
Ragnar: "So this is where we part ways then?"
Kathyrin: "Yes, we have done our part, whatever happens next is up to our leaders and the High King to decide."
Owain: "Fine with me, I just want to get back to Avalonia; its a long journey." he said with a sigh.
Karzoul: "Yes, I do feel for you guys." he grinned. "I expect I will be home in under an hour!"
Owain: "Yes, but then you've got to mess around trying to pick the lock to get in!" he laughed.
The group smiled and said farewell to one another. They were going home, successful in their mission and excited to finally be able to set foot back in their beloved lands after so long away.
So the stories were true. The shrine did exist and so too did the mysterious treasure hidden inside.
But before this treasure could be found, four Crystals must be located; and that will be no easy task. Objects of such great importance are bound to be hidden well, in treacherous places; bound to be guarded by all manner of unspeakable creatures and traps. One thing is for certain; they must be found! For the glory of the High King, and for the people and legacy of Historica!