Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Tales of Aeternum

The Vitae Aeternum Pact

The Formal Pact

Found on Aeternum

On this island of eternal life there have been established three parties of interest: The Marauders, The Syndicate, and The Covenant that shall thusly be referred to as 'Factions'.

These Factions represent their individual interests and motivations that shall be introduced to every new denizen (henceforth referred to as 'the subject') of Aeternum. These introductions shall take place in the order of signing; first Marauders, then Syndicate, and finally Covenant.

Each settlement's Magistrate shall direct the subject to the Marauders representative of the corresponding settlement who may issue a test of mettle in order to judge the subject's physical prowess. After said test, the Marauder representative must send the subject to the Syndicate representative of the settlement so that they may issue a test of wit in order to judge the subject's cunning in battle. After said test, the Syndicate representative must send the subject to the Covenant representative of the settlement so that they may issue a test of valor in order to judge the subject's gallantry.

Once all three tests have been issued the subject is to return to the Magistrate of the settlement and make a formal, immutable decision on which Faction they wish to swear their undying allegiance to. Henceforth the subject shall belong to their chosen Faction and be available to fight in Wars for settlement gubernatorial control as well as conduct missions for influence within their Faction.

All members of each Faction agree to conduct their fighting away from the settlements of Aeternum, as they are hereby decreed sanctuary.

So the Pact is decreed and so it shall be so for so long as there is life on Aeternum.

Signed: The Marauders - Representative Commander Joshi The Syndicate - Representative Alchemist Long The Covenant - Representative Adjudicator Amano

United in Blood

Found in Everfall Settlement

My fellow Marauders, if you will allow me a moment of extremely brief sentimentality, are among the bravest and most noble fighters on this island.

Here in our faction it matters not your creed or origin but how ferociously you can fight and conquer. The Vitae Aeternum Pact dictates that we issue a test of strength to all newcomers and, once proven worthy, extend the offer of membership to them. It is disappointing to turn them towards the Syndicate. To give undeserved weight to their well-spun fantasies. But it is the price to pay to insure potential recruits make a well-informed decision. They will then join up with us, for life, with no regrets.

While all factions must band together to fight the Corruption, the Marauders are without pretense, an uncomplicated bunch united in blood shed on the battlefield. What more could an adventurer ask for?

-Commander Chauhan of Everfall

United in Mind

Found in Everfall Settlement

The Syndicate may have thinkers from all corners of the world in a seemingly incongruent group of intellectuals, but we are united in the use of our mind before our fists or our hearts, often prone to error as they are. The Syndicate is superior in its objectivity and logical outlook on conflicts. We may have internal disagreements but there is one thing we can agree on: we are better equipped for battle with our sharp, focused minds than the other factions.

Still, we must cooperate with the thoughtless Marauders and Covenant against the Corrupted in the end, lest we desire mutually-assured destruction at the hands of the red tide.

-Alchemist Olivera of Everfall

United in Spirit

Found in Everfall Settlement

Our sacred cause cannot be beaten. The snakes of the Marauders and Syndicate stand no chance against us, but at the same time can be, if wielded properly, vital tools in the fight against Corruption. The enemy of my enemy is my friend sometimes, and the same applies to all those fighting Corruption. Though it is said "to lie with dogs, you wake with fleas," cooperation is at times necessary if the Corrupted tide is to be stemmed. This Vitae Aeternum Pact calls us together in the handing off of new denizens to one another to see where they best fit in, and if they are pious enough, to join the Covenant. After the choice is made, we still must rely upon others if we are to truly end the threat of Corruption.-Adjudicator Amano of Everfall

Puerile Desires

From the journal of Commander Edwin of the Marauders, First Light

Should just crush them all right now, Pact be damned! What use is the Pact if no one does anything? If I were leading the Marauders, I'd make certain that things happened... force those Syndicate cowards to give over what they've researched, and wipe the sanctimonious smirk off the faces of the Covenant with my blade, if I had to. Commander Joshi is a great woman, but the others bind her hands! If the weak were meant to rule, then it wouldn't be so easy to get rid of them, would it? I'll talk with her about it more, next time I see her.

Biding Time

From the records of Alchemist Long of the Syndicate, First Light

Commander Joshi has again proposed that we carry the fight to the north... and while the day will come that we must do this, the time is not yet right. I, and the rest of my brethren, are certain that we will uncover something that will give us an edge over the Corruption. The Ancients must have had some way of fighting against it, perhaps they were too few at the end, or there was not enough time? That halfwit Amano tried to say that the Ancients fell because they lacked faith, that the Covenant is stronger than the Ancients were because of it. I could have throttled her right then. We must not be hasty. And I must control my temper.

The Unyielding Balance

An unsent letter from Adjudicator Dempster of the Covenant, First Light

While this Pact has made these sanctuary settlements much quieter, I fear it has only prolonged the existing conflict. Each leader knows that the Corruption is the true enemy, the rot at the center of all chaos across the island, yet none is willing to step back and accept another viewpoint. I refuse to be caught up in the rank venality of the Marauders, and even if Alchemist Long and I sometimes agree on the blessed nature of azoth, her inability to find faith in our cause makes her a difficult ally. While I am certain our beliefs will act as both sword and shield against the darkness ahead, I am at least willing to grant that some members of the other Factions make points to consider. That does not make me doubt our cause, no... I believe it makes me stronger in it.

Discordant Trinity

From the personal notes of Commander Joshi of the Marauders, Windsward

I am aware that not all share my viewpoint, hence the purpose behind the Pact... but part of that was agreeing to join together to fight against the Corruption! Each time I propose that we take the fight to the north, to the heart of the enemy, I am blocked by imbeciles! The Syndicate keeps saying that now is not the right time, that we must wait and find more knowledge of the Ancients... but doesn't stop us from losing fine people each day to this Corruption! And the Covenant are no better, thinking that their beliefs will keep them safe. The only thing needed to keep us safe is a blade, a strong arm, and the will to use it.

Hidden Strength

From the journal of Alchemist Jansz of the Syndicate, Windsward

Progress is being made, but slowly. Others have spread far and wide, searching for any and every remnant of the Ancients. Anything that can aid us in the coming battle is immediately sent to a settlement for safekeeping and research, though we often have to fight off bands of Marauders or Covenant in the wilds. They see us as easy targets, they see us as weak... but they do not know the knowledge we possess, which gives us an edge. Often, a threat is more useful than an action, so we have reached a stalemate. We may not be willing to throw ourselves at an enemy, but we are more than capable of defending ourselves.

Shield of Faith

A discarded draft from Adjudicator Dempster of the Covenant, Windsward

Those heathens! They refuse to understand that our cause is just and right, and with that on our side, we cannot fail! If they would accept that we have been chosen by Aeternum to fight, to restore the glory and divinity of azoth, we could wipe the Corruption away in a matter of weeks! But no, those Marauder fools want to charge in with nothing to protect them but their armor and blades! Without faith in our cause, they will fall like a bloody harvest before the might of the Corrupted. But still, they do wish to fight... the conniving Syndicate thinkers, on the other hand, want only to sit and wait and hide, hoping for providence to fall into their laps.

The Stevens Expedition

Day One

Found near Orion

Today we journey out from the settlement in Everfall to uncover all we can about these beguiling obelisks! I, Roger Henry Stevens, lead this expedition, and am accompanied by two strong associates: Walter McKay and Elias Anders. As leader, I assign myself the task of documenting our journey for posterity, as well as recording all scientific measurements and observations to be gained from this endeavor.

As draft animals are difficult to come by, our expedition is lightly equipped, bearing only what we may carry on our backs. Our goal is to complete a circumference of the outer obelisks and, if successful, gather a full expedition to penetrate ruins and make a true inspection of the central obelisk. One planned detour is to be made to the Windsward settlement for resupply and respite.

I plan to spend a few days at each obelisk, taking measurements and gathering plant and stone samples from each location, to determine what — if any — differences are present at each. Our first destination is the Orion obelisk, where the journey shall begin.

Days Nineteen and Twenty

Found near Octans

Arrived at Octans today, no issues of note during the travel from Hydrus. Earlier settlers established a fortified structure nearby, where we have set up camp. A pleasant change from these past weeks, having a roof over our head. I shall have to speak with McKay and Anders and ensure we do not relax our guard, even during this respite. I am confident that my idea of leaving collected samples at staged locations is the correct one, given our limited carrying space.

To note: Samples have been stored at the Hydrus obelisk, while the first bundle of notes were stored at the Draco obelisk. Collect these upon our return.

Structure is almost identical to others found on previous expeditions, save some environmental weathering. This morning, McKay tied off a rope and climbed to the observation platform, with nothing to show for it but a nice view. Stones appear to have been shaped with little or no use of tools, may have been magically crafted. Will continue to investigate area, but plan to move on to Delphinus soon.

Day Twenty One

Found near Delphinus

Delphinus is much the same as Octans, with no nearby threats and travelers passing nearby with ease. Odd, that.

Earlier obelisks in this expedition — Hydrus, Draco, and Orion — housed a number of Guardians that did their best to prevent us from investigating the sites... yet these two seem to be uninhabited. No damage is apparent, no major alteration in construction... though neither has easy access to the upper balcony. Is there something on that level which attracts the Guardians? I shall convince McKay to scale the side to the platform to inspect the area further.

We shall continue our endeavor, and with luck, will find a clue to help us unlock the mysteries of these obelisks.

Day Twenty Six

Found near Cygnus

We have finally established a camp near Cygnus, though it has not been easy. Perhaps we should have turned south toward the Windsward settlement to resupply and raise a larger company before continuing.

The Guardians here seem... different, somehow. Perhaps it is the proximity to the nearby ruins which makes them more aggressive. Though I myself am not a great fighter, I have given Anders the night to rest — I shall take the watch with McKay. Few days have passed, but we long for the relative safely of Delphinus again.

A smear of blood obscures much of the text, but it continues in a different hand near the bottom.>

Stevens is dead. McKay is dead. I'm likely next.

I don't know why they aren't coming back to life... not like we haven't all died once or twice or thrice before. Maybe we each have an allotment of lives, like cats? Maybe it has something to do with these obelisks?

Whatever the case... the team is gone, and I'm trapped here. Whosoever finds this, please, re...

Chronicles of Mesnard

Surveying the Lands

Found in Stoneview Seabreak

This bay will be perfect! A breakwater already built, plenty of stone and wood for homes, and as much land as you could want for farms. I've been surveying the lands nearby with my spyglass, and believe we have found the perfect place to establish our homes. Our ship may have been tossed to the rocks, but most of our supplies were intact.

The stone faces have been disturbing some of the men, but not me. I see them as the faces of those who were unsuccessful in taming this land, a record that we will wash away with our achievements.

Averham's Research

Between Colleagues

Found in Windsward Settlement

Robert - Our exploration continues, though we are no closer to finding the cause of these Corrupted areas. No logical progression, no determinable cause for location or spread... it is baffling. And while the scientist in me is thrilled at this challenge, the settler in me is terrified. The only points that seem truly safe are the protected areas of the settlements. Whatever energy is present there is enough to prevent those Corruption points from forming. Our team has reached the northern edge of the Great Cleave, and we are down to 12 members, of the original 19. If we lose too many more, we may be forced to turn back... which may work out for the best. I think everyone would like to return to the safety of the south. For now, we will continue our research. Our current task is checking soil samples between locations, to determine if there is any variance in composition or quantity of azoth. You may wish to do the same in your own area.

Looking forward to seeing you soon. Perhaps you'll buy me a drink on my return? Sarah Averham

Grounded in Study

Found near Cooper's Ranch

Sarah, It pleases me to know your expedition is going well, though I mourn for your losses. I would have loved to join you, but my duties here — while menial at times — are important to the settlement. Perhaps, if another were to take my place, I would be free to do so, but... my standards are high, you know, and I've yet to find anyone who could measure up to the task. I shall take on your recommendation regarding the soil. There is a skilled newcomer to the area who has been able to handle my requests with ease, and I may present them with this new one the next time I spot them in town. I have full confidence that they're more than capable of gathering soil samples from some of the locations nearby, and to handle whatever cretins are currently in residence there.

And yes, of course, I shall buy you a drink of your choice on your return! I do miss our discussions, and you have a knack for deciphering even the toughest puzzles. I shall find a suitable one for you, don't you worry!

Robert Cotheran

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