“The Fourth Age could have had many different faces… It is interesting then, that uncertainty is our chosen fate.   The planes have spun out of control and need to be reset.  This world, nearly destroyed, will need rebuilding.  The board has been cleared.  Who will pick up the pieces?  The game is changed and no one knows the rules… ”

- Joshua X

 

The Chronicled End

…We are at the last battlefield, the last stand for all the sentient beings of Palamydia, perhaps for all of Arawyn. Through the use of a demonic ritual, the forces of Travance have been able to follow the Demon Lord Xualla across the continent. It is said that Travance has some of the greatest heroes of our time fighting with them, legends that each would define a generation in years past, somehow gathered in the hundreds to one place. Is it Travance that calls to the heroes, or is there something about Travance that makes the residents into heroes? That is a question for idle times, and few are those who stand idle now when the world is on the brink of pure chaos.

Three times before Travance has been victorious, pushing back the Demonic Host, forcing Xualla and Balfurous to flee the battlefield and renew their host. From Travance to Selandrias to Calasvorin and now before the walls of Castle Nostrov, Travance has relentlessly pursued the foes of all living creatures. Yet as the Demon Lords renew their troops with each jump, Travance’s heroes tire, and weaken. Bravely, the forces of Travance battle on, but the demon host begins to turn the tide. The forces of Travance had battled right up to the walls of Castle Nostrov, with victory within their grasp, yet Xualla would have no more. The power Xualla unleashed at that moment was devastating, pure death flowed from him, taking down some of the most powerful heroes of Travance, any that survived his onslaught truly cheated death that day. Slowly the forces of Travance withdraw and regroup, each time another hero is fell and left behind enemy lines. The fields, once covered with the bodies of demons, now are replaced with the dying remains of the heroes of Travance. Xualla himself pauses to read my words from over my shoulder. I recall each battle, Xualla circling me, watching me, seeing that I am witnessing the battle. He nods solemnly at my words; perhaps to reassure himself of his victory, as if he believed the written word sealed his triumph for all time. Pleased by what he read, he marched back into the fray, decimating the broken champions of Travance, and finally in a wave of fire and death, he finishes the battle, ending the lives of all who would end his reign. It would seem the end of days had begun, and soon the chronicles would end.

Yet, the written word is a powerful, thing. I had written before of hope, of a Pegasus born from the sacrifice of an Elven Sorcerer named Janus Ivillious, now forever part of the weave. There in the distance, the Pegasus took flight, closing the portals to the Abyss, and bringing back life and vigor to the once vanquished Travance. Those once dead upon the field of battle rose up, as if reborn and renewed, and battled the demons, and the Demon Lords. The legions of demons were destroyed, Balfurous disappeared into the earth below the battle, and Xualla was in forced retreat. Though there was nowhere to retreat. All the Chaos Stones were gone; Xualla was anchored into the material plane and surrounded by enemies. He called out for Balfurous to assist him, but it was to no avail, Xualla was now alone and about to die. He looked at me, confusion and anger, he looked at me and cried, “This is not how it is supposed to be, this is not how it ends!” I said nothing as I continued to chronicle the events before me, only slightly troubled by mentioning myself in the chronicles. The town overwhelmed him, and one drove a spear through him, another beheaded him, another collected his ashes into a bottle and all of them can claim greatness and be an honest storyteller. Yet there is one person who is ultimately responsible for the death of Xualla, and that is Janus Ivillious. I am proud to have known him, and I am humbled by his sacrifice, and I know he will forgive me for this: When I saw the light that was the Pegasus fly off into the night, I couldn’t help but think of Bromius Dreamchylde and smile, perhaps it was both accurate and right after all.

-O.H.

Chronicler of Travance

*      *      *      *      *

The Castle Gates

The field in Loez smoldered with the remnants of a dying fire.  The people of Travance milled about the pasture, healed their own and made sure no demons remained. The spot where Xualla fell was covered by many footprints.  A muddled pile of demonic ash and mud lay where once stood the demon.  With his Abyssal Tether destroyed, Xualla was certainly dead and would not be returning in any form. Almost a hundred separate Travancian heroes faced off with him in a battle that raged across the world scape of Arawyn. The world’s most epic and influential battle ended in front of the ruined castle of Kormyre.  FarSlayer pierced through the center of Xualla’s neck with Arden Ull Uidhir holding onto it, filled with a fiery vengeance and a cold determination.  Most of the Heroes of Travance had left for home, a small number lingered a while longer. Moirya Arkanian stared down at the dying hellfire that Xualla had summoned, watching the flames turn to embers.  Familiar words rose up into her thoughts… “A curse upon you Demon, may the fire from which you hide behind be filled with your contempt, from this day to the end of days!”  She spat on the smoldering hellfire and moved along…

Balfurous had disappeared moments before Xualla fell. Some say he fled on foot, while others say he burrowed deep into the earth itself.  Regardless, the fact remains that Balfurous lives.  There are whispers of what a future with Balfurous in our midst might entail…

Lord Inverness was reported dead upon the hero’s arrival; but later that night, as the dust settled, it was learned that he had actually entered the castle through a secret tunnel with a small battalion.  He intended to secure parts of the castle from within. His assumed death is one that the heroes of Travance intend to disprove.  He and his men were somewhere in the castle’s vast heart, fighting the battle on the inside. The Castle has not yet been reclaimed; but perhaps it is only a matter of time…

*      *      *      *      *

The Black Keep

Word from the Baroness was received at Winterdark that same night. A simple message written hastily in her hand, sent with great speed to the King.  It read, “Xualla is dead, all the Chaos Portals are closed.” The next morning one hundred ravens flew from the Black Keep to every conceivable location and outpost carrying the message. This missive of hope would bolster any standing army and let them know that the endless well of demons, was endless no longer. If they can press on with every ounce they have, victory will eventually belong to those who are determined to live in the new world.  

Upon hearing this news, the King determined that, despite the wishes of his protectors, he would don his armor and wield his sword to aid in the cleansing of Demons in Winterdark.  His personal combat retinue readied themselves to join the battle raging just outside the Black Keep.

No longer bound by orders to protect the King, the Count prepared himself for his journey back to Travance. His mission was twofold:  to congratulate them on their victory, and to help coordinate a massive deployment around the world to aid in relief wherever it was needed.  He would begin with a well-earned celebration to rejuvenate their spirits. At the celebration, he would proclaim a holiday of survival and rebirth.  Plans for the future of Travance would be discussed. In a few weeks’ time, after a breath of rest, they would begin a new monumental task.  Now, however, was a time of regrouping and remembrance; a festival for the people…

*      *      *      *      *

The Shadow Spire in Travance

A mile from the Dragon’s Claw Inn lays a dark and twisted sight.  Seven stories high and obviously unfinished sits a tower constructed of a dark and mysterious stone. The rock seems infused with demonic energies and the shimmering façade appears similar to a powdered finish of black diamond.  There have been reports that demons roam about the area, but every official investigation so far has come up with intelligence that contradicts this report. As of yet, the Barony has ordered the area to be avoided until they can send a team of highly skilled individuals to perform a more thorough investigation. Guardsmen watch all trails and paths that lead to the tower; none are allowed past without a written decree from the Baroness or someone of a higher station.

*      *      *      *      *

The Ascended War

A lone ascended paladin by the name of Garrison Corvin, lay hunched over on the outcropping of a mountaintop far above the clouds. He awakened from an unconscious state. It was quiet.  He could tell that he was very slowly bleeding to death. He was not alone, thirty feet from him a chaos champion lay sprawled out on the ground, armor torn and rent from its body.  There was a sparkle of red in its eyes that was fading fast as blood pooled beneath it.  Garrisons gaze went back out to the sky and he realized once again… it was quiet.  As far as his eyes could see, there was nothing.  The last moments in his memory were of the landscape filled with massive battle, so thick one could not see through it. It was difficult for him to recall the series of events that led to this place.  What he did know was that something was terribly different. Was the Ascended War over?  Did good or evil succeed, and if so, what happens next?  There was no indication of either victory… He did remember that his powers were waning before passing out.  Then it occurred to him, good must have lost!  His heart fell into the pit of his stomach and tears of sorrow streamed down his face. Garrison turned back to helplessly direct his stare at the dead chaos champion.  It was, in fact, not dead; but was staring back at him. Their eyes locked, the chaos creature spoke aloud through a raspy, blood filled throat. “I felt it too. They have abandoned us…”

The realization of what was said gave Garrison hope that his worst fear had not come to pass, that good had not lost.  “Then what has happened here?” he asked.  The chaos champion did not respond, but instead rolled back over in its pool of blood...

*      *      *      *      *

The New Dawn

A sea of tents float upon a field with rows that are crisp, clean and pristine. The largest tent, located in the center, flies a flag high in the middle bearing the Sigil of a bright sun barely cresting over a horizon line.  To the side of the tent area is a massive army practicing what appeared to be combat drills.  On the farthest outskirts of the enormous encampment are hundreds of spikes standing twelve feet tall, dug deep into the ground in a line.  Adorning the spikes are the corpses of demons; a terrifying and gruesome sight to behold. Within the encampment, individuals hurry from tent to tent with armfuls of scrolls, parchments, books and maps. The location of this scene cannot be determined, but it is clear that some massive undertaking is at hand…

A lone figure dressed in various blacks and whites, approaches the encampment. The form walks among the tents unmolested and perhaps unseen straight to the center tent.  The figure enters.

The inside of the central tent is massive.  A dozen or more beings of various types stand inside, talking with each other and pouring over documents. All discussion ends, all moving stops, when a light in the far corner of the tent lights up.  It is a smoking pipe’s light.  All attention turns to it and the voice that comes behind it. “I always thought that the end would come from within the Abestine Tower... not from a power crazed demon…” the stranger lets loose a steady stream of thick tobacco smoke.  Everyone in the room seems mortified.  One of the individuals throws a blanket over the plans sitting on the table. The mysterious figure seems unmoved, “I already know what you are doing, and I am here to help. Consider me a defector from Seven Lore.” The stranger takes a long draw from his pipe and exhales.  There is a pause before he continues speaking in the deadly silent room…  “You may call me Joshua X and if you are to succeed at your plans, you will need my help.”

*      *      *      *      *

The Pegasus

A beautiful young Pegasus trots around in the heavily wooded forest. Despite its youth, it looks tired and worn far beyond its years. It is perhaps one of the most powerful creatures to walk the earth.  Yet in seven days, all of its power for a lifetime had been used.  After its massive and noble task was completed, it chose to return to this place to rest. The Pegasus moves through the forest a bit longer and comes to a stop.  Here it lies down under a large leafless willow tree.  It sniffs and prods at an object on the ground. The item is a small crystal statue of its own likeness, next to a plain wooden cross sunk into the ground.  The scent here is familiar and calming.  The Pegasus lays its head down upon the earth, and rests…

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