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[News] Festival of the Way: Part 1-6 (Warning: Picture Intensive)

Discussion in 'UO Baja' started by WarderDragon, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    The Festival of the Way Part 1 – The History of Dawn
    [News]​


    By WarderDragon (Baja Stratics Reporter)
    May 31st, 2009

    “A band of four strangers shall come upon thee, and unto them ye shall deliver the implements of the abominations downfall. Yet the danger is not the abomination, but what it has released…
    In the midst of the great imbalance, thy city shall vanish from the sight of man. Ten times thou shall await thy summoning in a place of power. That which was small will become large, that thou canst prepare thy destiny. In all things there is purpose…”
    - The Prophetess Xenka,
    The History of the Kingdom of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    Once upon a time, there existed a realm of powerful magicians and fearless legionnaires known as Akalabeth. A vast empire ruled by a line of wealthy and influential sorcerer-monarchs and guarded by a host of warrior-prefects, Akalabeth thrived for centuries as a center of learning and trade unmatched throughout all the realms of Sosaria. Only the Kingdoms of Olympus and Rondolin, who later became known as Luna and Zento, rivaled the majesty that was the Imperium of White Light.

    The Dynast-Emperors of Akalabeth brought peace and tranquility to their lands, with only a few notable exceptions to be discovered amongst the records of their long and storied history. They employed a small arsenal of enchanted relics and alchemical catalysts in their attempts to produce great wonders of elemental tempestry and arcane thaumaturgy. The performance of such miracles benefited their people in ways that have since been lost to history, although legend tells us that disease was rare and famine unheard of in the land of the Sorcerer-Monarchs. Yet for all their arcane prowess and knowledge of the world around them, the Akalabethans failed to see the darkness that had begun to fester within their own hearts or the black taint that their sorcery had left upon their souls. In the last five decades before the empires final collapse, a series of wars and the outbreak of plague threatened to destabilize the once peaceful realm.

    The Sorcerer’s War was the first to erupt, leading to the destruction of seven of the nine Towers of the Moon. The Keepers of Sorcery, once the protectors of the realm, were now divided and leaderless. The Third War of Succession followed shortly thereafter, threatening to tear Akalabeth in two had it not been for the swift rise of Lord Wolfgang the Great. Wolfgang was a wise and generous monarch, who managed to unite the numerous conflicting factions together and secure his place on the Imperial Throne. He performed many feats that helped to temporarily repair the damage caused by the two previous wars, but like his people he failed to see the treachery that existed within his own house. Wolfgang had two heirs, the youngest of whom was named Mondain.

    Mondain would show himself to be a capable albeit cruel young wizard, a child prodigy in every respect. Wolfgang recognized this all too late, but held out hope that his son would be turned from the dark road that he seemed destined to pursue. The emperor offered his son something that he believed the young sorcerer couldn’t refuse: The Sun Ruby. Should Mondain turn from magic for a time, and spend a year cultivating compassion with the monastic Order of Empathy, he would offer his son the artifact that was the source of the Emperor’s power. Wolfgang’s son proved to be much more treacherous and impatient than he had assumed. Mondain murdered his father that night, stealing the Sun Ruby and fleeing Akalabeth.

    Mondain returned several years later, launching the first attack in what would later be known as the First War of Darkness. He managed to swiftly crush many of the northern principalities. The weakened and divided Akalabethans – for without an Emperor to unite them or the Keepers of Sorcery to turn back the tides of darkness – they were helpless to stop the onslaught against them. It was at this time that Cantabrigian British, Squire to Shamino Salle Dacil and friend of Lord Blackthorne, arose to become the Champion of White Light.

    “There arose from the land a man, pure and just, to battle the Dark Lord. British, Champion of the White Light, did battle with Mondain deep within the labyrinth of dungeons, eventually driving him from Akalabeth forever. British of the White Light was now proclaimed Lord British, Protector of Akalabeth. Alas, much damage has been suffered unto the lands.”
    - The Annals of Akalabeth,
    Ultima 0: Akalabeth (Circa 1979).​

    Mondain retreated in defeat, and spent the next two decades plotting the demise of the Akalabethans. Meanwhile, Lord British began to rebuild Akalabeth as the temporary General and Emperor Pro-Tempore of the Imperium. He reconstructed one of the older fortresses, while abandoning what was now known as the Castle of the Lost King. He rallied the best and brightest minds of the realm to him, including Nystul and Blackthorne, and prepared the realm for what he knew would be the return of a vengeful sorcerer in possession of the Sun Ruby.

    Mondain began constructing an army to aid in his conquest of Sosaria. He used the powers of the Sun Ruby, and his knowledge of the alchemical sciences, to construct new and monstrous hybrids and demi-humans to serve in his armies. He also fashioned for himself magically infused constructs, creating the Dark Core Prototype that would later become known as Exodus. Mondain soon discovered that the Gem of the Emperors possessed some artificial limits that hindered his ability to completely unleash its destructive energies, but he was hardly daunted by such a setback. The Dark Lord entered into the Time of Legends, an ethereal dimension that existed outside of space and time, and used all his alchemical skill to yield a relic that would rival the legendary Philosopher’s Stone: The Gem of Immortality.

    Mondain’s attack came swiftly and unexpectedly, his armies sweeping over Sosaria like a tempest. Northern Akalabeth, Rondolin, and the Kingdom of the White Dragon fell within months, followed soon thereafter by Olympus and the Kingdom of the Black Dragon. Only in Southern Akalabeth, the Lands of Lord British, was the tempest held back for a time. Mondain was not thwarted though, for this was only a diversion. The Dark Lord performed a dark ritual during the light of the full moon, causing the Gem of Immortality to become weaved into the very heart of Sosaria. All who lived within Sosaria were now bound up in the Gem’s awesome power, subject to the Dark Lord.

    “Only the appearance of a stranger saved Sosaria from impending destruction. From whence he came, no one knows, but his strength and courage was without peer…”
    - The History of Britannia,
    Ultima Online Introduction (Circa 1997).​

    Nystul the Thaumaturgist, a close friend and advisor to Cantabrigian, devised a plot to thwart Mondain. Only a savior from the stars, not bound up in the corrupted Gem of Immortality, would be capable of acting outside the power and influence of the Dark Lord. With the Orb of the Moons, Nystul summoned a man from the same world that Cantabrigian had emerged: Planet Earth. The Stranger, as he came to be known, spent several years wandering the four continents, until he finally was able to enter the Time of Legends and defeat Mondain.

    The Stranger then turned his sword against the Gem, thinking its destruction would free the world of its corrupting influence. Shattered, the Gem did not free the world, but instead created a near-identical likeness of Sosaria within its myriad of shards. The Stranger, Savior of Akalabeth, had also caused the Great Sundering. Continents were sunk beneath the sea, while others rose. The Castle of the Lost King was swept beneath the waves. Olympus and the Kingdom of the Black Dragon literally vanished overnight. It would be decades before the lands would finally settle, and by then civilization had been brought to its knees.

    Lord British was made the reigning monarch of the remnant empire, which became known as the Kingdom of Britannia. He set about uniting the nearest city-states, and began to rebuild the cities that had been destroyed during the cataclysm with his own vision of a utopian society. The City of Moon was established as a place of knowledge and learning, built on the same isle as the last surviving Tower of Wizardry. Luminate was rebuilt, and was given the name Vesper. Magincia had survived the cataclysm, and was brought into the kingdom despite the reservations of its ruling Council.

    Lord British’s first years were moderately successful, despite being challenged by Lord Robert in a War of Succession and a small conflict with the Dark Mistress, Lady Minax. Cantabrigian established a system of ethics and morals – based on the earlier philosophies of the Ophidians, the Liturgy of Truth, and the Tenants of the White Light – which he dubbed “The Eight Virtues.” It would be during the following decades that he would be again challenged, as chaos would again threaten the ruin that was once Akalabeth.

    The world had been so changed by the Cataclysm, that not even the most skilled Lumarian sea vessel could locate any sign of the Lost Kingdoms of Olympus, Rondolin, and Barataria. Without the ability to do trade with ones neighbors in times of hardship, or the aid of the mystical Sun Ruby to control the weather and promote a successful harvest, famine quickly ensnared Britannia. The makeshift roads and forest paths that preceded our modern highways became choked with roving bands of starving highwaymen and desperate orcs who had been forced to engage in brigandry to survive. Travel between Britain and the recently constructed village of Trinsic became a hazardous and potentially fatal affair.

    Worse yet, not all took well to British’s Philosophy of Virtue. The Ophidians, an enlightened group of monastics who believed in balance between the opposing forces of Order and Chaos, fled to Serpent’s Isle and the Lost Lands to escape persecution. Lord Blackthorn, Cantabrigian’s closest friend and advisor, too turned against his King and established the Knights of Chaos as a countermeasure against the Cult of Order. Some began to question the monarch who had brought them through the First War of Darkness, including the city of scholars and alchemists that eventually became Moonglow.

    “Long ago, between the defeat of Dark Lady Minax and the rise of Exodus, there existed a city of mages known as Moon. Ever protective of their studies and secrets, the citizens of Moon were dissatisfied with the lack of privacy their open city provided.”
    - The Coming of Dawn,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    The High Council of Moon, and the remaining Keepers of Sorcery, recognized that their open city was vulnerable to both sea-faring pirates and several emergent evils who would seek to capture what relics they still posessed. They were also subject to the strictures of the Crown, who continually failed to provide adequate protection for their City of Truth, but still could afford to construct a shrine of virtue in the polar regions of Dagger Island.

    “And so they set out one day to build two hidden citadels of learning for their sorcerers. Unlike Moon, these cities would be isolated and hidden away from the world of common man, accessible only to those who know how to find and enter their gates. These two cities would come to be called Wind and Dawn…”
    - The Coming of Dawn,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    Wind was the first city constructed by the High Council and the Keepers of Sorcery. It would be established in the vents of an ancient volcano overlooking the forests of Samlethe, not far from the Village of Avalon, the Village of Haven, and the Village of Valderia. They would use what was left of their knowledge of arcane building construction, an art that had once been used to construct the Towers of Wizardry. Wind would be linked to the Tower of Wizardry via a magical one-way portal. Dawn would be constructed next.

    “Wind was built deep within the recesses of a mountain, and magically sealed off so only those with sufficient magical knowledge could enter. It’s sister-city Dawn was build deep within Sosaria’s Spiritwood Forests, hidden away from the eyes of man…”
    - The Coming of Dawn,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    The Spiritwood, the forests and meadows that lay between Skara Brae and Trinsic, were found suitable for the purpose of the City of Dawn. It was during the final weeks of construction that an ancient substance was discovered, or rather “rediscovered,” by the sorcerers and mystics constructing the foundations of the Mage-City.

    “Shortly before construction was completed on Dawn, a magical substance known as Blackrock was discovered. To their delight, the mystics of Dawn discovered that they could create their own moongates with small polished stones made from the rock. Their experiments led them to discover the ethereal void, a dimension as vast and mysterious as it was desolate.
    The Dawnites kept these discoveries a closely guarded secret and set upon a path to create the ultimate hidden city. They theorized that if a single pebble of blackrock could send a small group through time and space, could not a large enough piece transport all of Dawn?
    Using the last of their blackrock, a large globe was constructed and set into a stone obelisk outside the city. The mages used the blackrock orb to send their city into the ethereal abyss. They then enchanted the Orb of Dawn so that it would return the city to Sosaria for a brief time whenever the twin moons of Trammel and Felucca were both dark. In this manner the mystics obtained the privacy they sought without being permanently cut off from their beloved Sosaria. For many months, the cities stay in the Ethereal Void was uneventful, but then the Dawnites had an unexpected visitor…”
    - The Coming of Dawn,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    The newly established Mages Council of Dawn was approached within the Ethereal Void by a strange, elderly woman who purported to be capable of seeing the future and knowing their past. She warned them of another great cataclysm that was to come.

    “Great forces have been set into motion…
    Aye, forces so great that even restoring the Great Earth Serpent cannot hold them back now…
    Hear me, O’ Citizens of Dawn!
    For I have seen thy destiny and thy fate. I have been in thy future which is yet to be, and seen in my visions that which is to come.
    Only in thy reality amongst the many shall Dawn survive and prosper. And only in thy reality can the destruction of all the realities be averted. The city holds a unique place in all the multiverse, and should you fail in thy purpose, all the shards are doomed.”
    - The Prophetess Xenka,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    The High Council was naturally skeptical of this self-proclaimed prophetess, and considered throwing her into the oubliette until she had the chance to regain her sanity. Yet none could fathom how this strange woman had entered the ethereal wastes or had survived the dangers of the Nether Plates. Curious, they allowed her to continue.

    “An isle shall rise from the sea, spewing liquid fire and raining death on all who draw near. Tis a place so evil that the land itself shall bring death to all who touch it. And from this place an abomination upon the face of Sosaria shall seek the end of all that is. It will tamper with the elemental forces of nature which will set the Great Imbalance into motion. And with this Great Imbalance shall the scales be tipped towards evil and anarchy…”
    - The Prophetess Xenka,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    Xenka referred to the earliest incarnation of the Dark Core Exodus, who inhabited the Isle of Fire.

    “A band of four strangers shall come upon thee, and unto them ye shall deliver the implements of the abominations downfall. Yet the danger is not the abomination, but what it has released…
    In the midst of the great imbalance, thy city shall vanish from the sight of man. Ten times thou shall await thy summoning in a place of power. That which was small will become large, that thou canst prepare thy destiny. In all things there is purpose, and Dawn’s role shall one day be revealed…
    Other beings of power are aware of the growing danger, and thy ultimate role. One of them shall dispatch mighty heroes, strong of blade and pure of heart to seek them out. Among them shall be a Poet Warrior who shall become thy champion and lead thee to greatness…
    And what of the final battle? Four cities in two lands shall hold the key. One, the stuff of legends. One, an eighth of virtue. One, in the worship of evil. Dawn shall be the catalyst…
    On the day of reckoning, seek ye four spires of power, for they shall be the source of that which threatens all. One to the White, one to the Black, one to the Grey, and one to bind them all…
    A great power shall be summoned fourth. Here shall be the final battleground for all shards, all realities. You will face love, betrayal, hardship, death. Two armies shall rise, a third shall find itself divided, and the Army of British shall stand idle…
    They shall meet for the final time on the Bloody Plains…
    Remember, Dawn shall hold the key, but knowledge without wisdom shall undo all…
    Remember my words, citizens of Dawn, for foreknowledge is power…”
    - The Prophetess Xenka,
    The History of Dawn Vol. 1 (Circa 1998).​

    With a flash of smoke, the prophetess disappeared leaving the council baffled and confused. What they did not know was that the prophecy was nearly upon them…

    Stay tuned for The Festival of the Way Part 2 - The Widow's Web.
     
  2. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    The Festival of the Way Part 2 – The Widow's Web
    [News]


    By WarderDragon (Baja Staff Reporter)
    May 31st, 2009.

    “As the Widow’s will is the guidance of fate,
    And the prophet weaves her webs of woe,
    The lands are inclined to become entwined,
    With the wisdom and visions of her tarot.

    With tales from her cards guiding the shard,
    The world is divided and waits undecided,
    With so many wondrous rumors from Yew,
    Will an upheaval of Order leave Chaos in store?

    If wonders and rumors and bare truth,
    Of the ages since past from whence they were seen last,
    The Elves returning should surely bare,
    Knowledge and truth to humanity’s youth.”
    - The Web of the Widow,
    Alcandin Asandi (circa 2005-2006?)​

    Father Nicholas the Old, known to some as Father Christmas and to others as Sunta Klompz, found himself seated alone in the Office of Ilmarienen Seppo and Pallando the Far Wanderer. He had come seeking an audience with the green-clad sages, but his mind could not help but drift elsewhere. He sifted through the thoughts and memories that persisted to tug at the edges of his conscious mind, his daydreams haunted by the events of the past fortnight. The emotions that he had once thought buried now lurked in the darkness of his mind, threatening to seize control as they had once done. He had to be careful. So lost in these thoughts and feelings, he barely noticed an elderly woman close the door behind her and approach his seat.

    Nicholas’ thoughts drifted to the lands of his birth, and to the nature of his upbringing. They turned to his first love, Elizabetha. The Blood Oath, that familial curse that damned him as surely as it had damned his ancestor so long ago. He once thought he could escape the curse, but it had returned.

    The thoughts drifted to three nights before. He played out the scene in his mind. He clubbed the hooded figure over the head, pushing his way through the swell of battle into the Paladin’s Hall. He had to reach Clainin before Melissa. The scream. The flash of light. The explosion. The carnage. He was too late. Nicholas’ mind shifted to the Invasion of Trinsic, and the Second War of Darkness. He had also been too late to save her. He carried a sword back then, rather than his enchanted walking stick. Nicholas had once been known by the epithet Dracul, rather than Christmas. Ceno had been his squire then, and had long kept secret the nature of the old mans much more ominous nom de guerre. Nicholas had also kept secrets about his former apprentice. Both men haunted by the atrocities committed during that evil war, and not all of them were committed by the Armies of Lady Minax.

    He knew the darkness inside his own heart, and questioned if he could control that darkness if it were drawn back out of him. He would have strangled Sir Calyndrell, had Magdalena not come back down the stairs. Magdalena? Ceno? Would they too be lost to the darkness that he strived against? Would they be consumed by shadow, just as his son had been?

    Nicholas’ thoughts were snatched back to the present, and he swiftly fed his thoughts and his emotions into the flame of his subconscious mind. The Widow sat before him, and he forced a smile that he did not feel inside. They exchanged the usual pleasantries, although the old man still could not help feeling odd about being called “child.”

    The Widow leaned in, and informed him of a procession and festival that was to occur in a month’s time. The procession was to honor four brave individuals, who engaged in their first adventure in the early decades of Lord British’s Reign.

    “On the second Friday of the fifth month, there shall be the first of what will be an annual Procession. The Procession shall commemorate an ancient legend. Four travelers left the City of Britain long, long ago to attend the funeral of a Great Mage. The funeral was to be held in Dawn, an ancient and magic city to the South. They did not know that the City of Dawn would only appear when the Moons were right. And so they became lost, and wandered for many seasons. It is said that their tracking and tredging did wear the path that would become the road that leaded hence to Trinsic. It is the main thoroughfare of our World and what shaped the architecture, the economy and the spiritual life of all who dwell here. Without that road, this World would be a different place.

    And so, the procession is to take place on a day henceforth known as The Festival of the Way. A lovely name, aye?”
    - The Journals of Sara of Luna,
    April 10th 2009.​

    Nicholas, she announced, had been in her visions of this procession three times. He would be there, for the oracle never had such a vision happen with such frequency were it not destined to happen. The warrior-priest would help plan the event, and would ensure that the procession went slowly and solemnly.

    Nicholas was confused, but shuffled his questions to the back of his mind. He had much more pressing things to ask The Widow.

    “M’lady?” he spoke.

    “Yes, child?”

    “I’ve been avoiding these portents and readings for some time. I will admit that much. Yet your wisdom I now seek, not for myself but for others.”

    “Oh?”

    “The Kingdom of Dawn. Its citizens. Its prince and its duchess.” Nicholas sighed to himself for a moment. “You obviously know some of this. The Dark Tower, The Inquisitors of Luna, and Lord Casca. They’re no longer as strong as they once were, but they’ve threats on all sides. What will happen?”

    She replied with an elusive answer, which confused the old man in the beginning. She asked how one entered the City of Dawn, and he replied with how one might enter the Kingdom of Dawn.

    “Have you forgotten? To understand Dawn and its Duchess, first you must understand Dawn. Does 34 South stir thy memory?”

    Nicholas remained confused, but promised to meditate upon this question. He was left with one more question.

    “M’lady, does my presence pose a danger to those that I care about?”

    “Only if you wish it to.”

    Over the next couple weeks, The Widow began approaching others and telling them of the role they would play in the upcoming festival. One commented that these positions were not random, but seemed to have a purpose, as though she were trying to bring out a strength they did not know they had.

    Ceno Cottonwood was chosen as the Lord of the Way, and as the Storyteller. As observed by his former mentor, Ceno has a talent for leadership that he frequently and humbly denies.

    Nicholas and Sphinx were chosen to lead the procession of the citizenry, as well as plan the event. Nicholas and Sphinx have a history, and it was unlikely that the two wouldn’t be at one another’s throats if given the chance. Nicholas was also chosen as the Storykeeper.

    Lady Sara of The Ancient Order was chosen to distribute news of the festival throughout the land. She was also to conspire with Ceno, Nicholas, and the Sphinx, and decorate the festival area.

    Lady Oriana was chosen to be the wraith, whom the Shepherdess would frequently see over her shoulder during the course of their journey.

    Lady Katrina D’Antres, Daughter of Galindar of Lumaria, was named as the one who would stitch all the dresses together for the procession and festivities. The tailors of Lumaria, Britannia, and Dawn spent many weeks attempting to fulfill the order of shadowdancer cloth, which is expensive and difficult to obtain.

    Pol the Shepherdess was chosen to play the role of the Shepherdess, who was also the niece of the great thaumaturgist.

    Bucko the Kid was chosen as the Warrior, who came along to see the funeral.

    The Count of Berg was chosen as the Bard, who came on the procession to sing a dirge at the funereal of the thaumaturgist.

    Sleath was chosen to play the role of the tinker, but was replaced by Asimov. The tinker, according to the legend, was secretly a practitioner of the dark arts. He sought to retrieve the ring of the thaumaturgist, which he believed was the source of the wizards power.

    WildStar, and the people of Dawn, were chosen to represent the Old City of Dawn, which once lay hidden in the uncharted woodlands between Britain and Trinsic. Zackarias, Kurpur, and Shovel were given the task of aiding her.

    Elladan was chosen to give a few words to those who arrive at the end of the procession, welcoming them to Trinsic.

    Xel the Wanderer was chosen to be the Master of Ceremonies, who would deliver a speech honoring their journey that would begin the Festival.

    Lady Magdalena, Heiress-Presumptive of Queen Sheiba’s Alliance, was chosen to provide food and drink for the festivities. She was also assigned the task of collecting the Water of Life, which would be shared by the revelers at journey's end.

    Father Nicholas returned to the libraries of Dawn, and began sifting through the dusty vellum scrolls and worn manuscripts contained within its halls. He was familiar with the tale, and he had a theory, but he could not yet be certain. As he knew, there was much more to the story than what The Widow had revealed. Yet he could not seem to place his finger on it…

    Stay tuned for The Festival of the Way Part 3 - The Journey of the Four Companions.
     
  3. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
    Stratics Veteran Alumni BRPA

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    The Festival of the Way Part 3 – The Journey of the Four Companions
    [News]


    By WarderDragon (Baja Stratics Reporter)
    June 1st, 2009.

    “In the early years of Lord British’s Reign, there existed a legendary thaumaturge unmatched in his talent for the arcane and beloved as a performer of great miracles.
    He was revered and honored wherever he went, but he loved the City of Dawn most of all the Mage Cities. Dawn, which lay between Britain and Trinsic amongst the Spiritwood, was suspended in time and neither aged nor withered.
    He would visit Dawn often to further his understanding of the mystical arts, but tragically he was not able to save himself from a mysterious ailment that wracked his body and his mind.
    To honor the memory of the thaumaturge, he was to be entombed in the most magical of places, the center of the City of Dawn. Throughout the land people planned to gather and celebrate the passing of such a great Thaumaturge. One particular group consisted of four travelers who sought to journey to the Mage City of Dawn.”
    - The Festival of the Way
    (May 4th, 2009)
    (Edited by WarderDragon)​

    The Chosen began spending the next four weeks making preparations for the Festival of the Way, an event meant to commemorate the Four Companions and the construction of the Spiritwood Road. At the time, they did not fully understand the purpose or meaning of this procession or why they had been chosen for such a ritual, but who could truly fathom the deep inner-workings of the Oracle’s mind?

    Lord Ceno, called Cottonwood, began organizing the various organizers chosen by the widow to lead the procession. He also began to pen the forgotten story of the Four Companions and their failed Journey to Dawn, a story related to him by the Mother Oracle.

    “And so, the four filled their skins with the Water of Life which still flows to this very day from the Fountain in Lord British's Castle. They set out on the second Friday of the fifth month from the Castle and made their way South towards Trinsic. But alas, they never made it, nor did they ever find the City. For perhaps they did not know its secret way of entering the city where the two moons Felucca and Trammel had to align just right and the gate would only open for a very short period of time.

    And so, it is said that the four would wander North to South, and then South to North. season after season searching for The Way. Soon the shepherdess began to look over her shoulder and swore she saw some sort of dreadful ghost wearing a hooded shroud dyed the deepest, darkest black anyone has ever laid eyes upon and the material seemed as if it were as light as the air itself was following them. But whenever any of the four would turn to look, the hooded figure was no where to be found.

    They wandered for many seasons until their very tracks would make the road which runs to this day from Britain to Trinsic. This would become the main thoroughfare of our World, and would shape this Realm into the cities and settlements which we all know today. And the City of Dawn, now a Kingdom, has since emerged from the Ethereal Void which it once was and rests east of the dungeon Wrong on the Felucca side of the Baja shard.”
    - The Festival of the Way,
    Lord Ceno of the Way (May 4th, 2009).​

    Father Nicholas on the other hand began spending many weeks locked away in the realms libraries and scriptoriums, seeking any reference he could find to the forgotten four. Sara and Oriana began spreading word of the festival to the Town Criers throughout Britannia, Tokuno, and Malas-Olympus. Katrina D’antres and her cousins began searching the seaports of the realm far and wide, purchasing every scrap of shadowdancer cloth and spiders silk they could find. Bucko, and the villagers of the County of Berg, set about creating fifteen-hundred wax candles to be placed along the edges of the Spiritroad. Lady Magdalena began baking furiously, nearly exhausting the queendom’s supply of flour and cinnamon.

    Xel the Wanderer on the other hand spent several days sunbathing nude on the shores of Lenmir Anfinmotas in Ilshenar, meditating on his upcoming speech over a cold bottle of Shochu. You might say, he wanted it to go out with a showering of love.

    With all in place, Ceno sent out the call for all to gather on the Second Friday of the Fifth Month, May the 8th.

    On the evening of the festival, people came from far and wide to view the spectacle and share in the festivities that awaited them at journey’s end. The streets of the capitol became packed with sightseers and foreign ambassadors. The inns were packed, and the taverns were beginning to run dangerously low on Sake and Golden Ale. Britain had not been this crowded since the rediscovery of Olympus, the Realm of Luna.

    [​IMG]

    Ceno planted his feet firmly on the drawbridge of Castle Britannia, visualizing a flame. The sorcerer closed his eyes, allowing himself a moment to feel and understand the pain that seared his muscles and continued to wrack his lean elven form. Slowly, he began to feed the emotion into that flame. He could not allow the pain to touch him. He had a destiny to fulfill, and a week’s captivity at the bottom of Baron Darkmor’s Keep would not stop him from performing his duty as the Lord of the Way.

    His thoughts were drawn to everyone who had made this festival happen. Magdalena, WildStar, and the others who had rescued the dying enchanter in the woods north of Vesper, and had nursed him back to life. She had almost seen his scars then, wounds that only one other individual knew about. Wounds that haunted his dreams. He thought to the events that had led him to his capture, trading his life to rescue the Heiress-Presumptive of Shieba’s Queendom. They could have died then. He thought to his old mentor Nicholas, who had disappeared without a trace following that night. Was he still alive?

    As if on queue, the bent figure of an old man stepped out onto the bridge. A black hood shrouded the man’s features. Ceno could recognize that beard anywhere. Nicholas threw back his hood, and for a brief moment the old man and his former squire reunited. They had a great deal to discuss – the Dark Tower and the Prophecy – but that would have to wait for another evening. The Festival of the Way was about to begin, and those who deny casualty rarely benefit from their defiance.

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    Ceno requested that everyone gather around him, and he began relating the tale of the Four Companions and the meaning of the Festival of the Way.

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    Father Nicholas was briefly confused by the strange words being uttered by his former apprentice.

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    A strange, familiar woman began attempting some mischief at the edge of the drawbridge.

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    Ceno told the gathered of the legend of the great thaumaturgist, and how the man had performed many great wonders during his long and storied life. He was finally overcome by a strange sickness, but his memory continued to live on in the hearts of his friends and loved ones. The thaumaturgist was to be afforded a rare honor, to be buried at the center of the City of Dawn.

    He was survived by a niece, a young shepherdess who loved her uncle dearly. She sought to travel to the site of his burial, but the roads were packed with brigands and other malevolent creatures of the night. She knew that she would have to find help if she hoped to make it to Dawn alive. The Shepherdess was played by Pol.

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    She was to be accompanied by a talented minstrel and bow-maker of growing renown, who wished to offer a dirge in honor of the legendary archmagus. The Minstrel was to be portrayed by the Count of Berg.

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    The Shepherdess found two who would accompany her through the uncharted paths and hazardous depths of the southern woodlands. The first was a strange young tinker, who secretly studied the black arts of necromancy. Although he promised he would bring supplies for their journey, in secret he hoped to steal the Ring of Thaumaturgy from the grave of the Wizard. The tinker was convinced that the ring was an ancient charm, and the source of the legendary thaumaturgist’s powers. The Tinker was played by Asimov.

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    The last was a stranger, a brave and upstanding warrior who spoke a strange dialect and seemed to have come from a distant land. He wished to accompany them to Dawn, and see the legendary Citadel of Magic. The Stranger was played by Bucko the Kid.

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    The Four Companions gathered in the courtyard of Lord Cantabrigian’s Castle, Castle Britannia. The Shepherdess, who was a friend of the young monarch, was presented with a flask of water from the ancient Fountain of Life. She would pour the flask over the grave of her uncle, in honor of his life and his many deeds in service to the kingdom.

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    Ceno finished telling the tale, and asked if everyone was ready to begin the Procession of the Way.

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    Ceno, the Lord of the Way, led the procession out of the Britannian Gates. He was followed by Nicholas, who was to help lead the procession and ensure that it remained a solemn journey.

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    Nicholas stopped them at the beginning of the Spiritwood Road, and explained the meaning behind the fifteen-hundred candles placed along the highways edge.

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    The procession continued to the Village of Paws, outside the City of Britain and West Brittany. The old man explained that it was here that the companions sought directions to the Mage City of Dawn, and were directed south into the heart of the Spiritwood.

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    What the healers failed to tell them, was that only during the nights when the white and red moons waxed new did the Orb of Dawn activate and the City become visible to the common man. Without knowledge of this, the Companions were doomed to spend many months lost in the wilderness.

    The Companions wandered for many moons amongst the tangled branches and treacherous heights of the Spiritwood, finding no sight of the City of Dawn. Yet along the way, a strange wraith seemed to pursue the company and watch their every move.

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    They encountered highwaymen and cutthroats at every turn; desperate farmers and workers turned to brigandry to feed themselves during the great famine that followed the end of the First War.

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    Surprisingly, the procession encountered a real highwayman during the course of their journey, who attempted to attack Nicholas the Old and Ceno. Nicholas was knocked to the ground by the brigands hounds, but his former squire quickly struck dead the wolves with his Staff of Keeper Atrius. The highwayman fled, and the Storykeeper limped to his feet.

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    The sun dipped behind the Serpents Spine, leaving the world in darkness. The Four Companions made a makeshift camp, while Nicholas spoke further of the hardships of their long journey.

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    The Companions began to realize that they might never reach Dawn in time for the Funeral of the Thaumaturgist. One night, weeks after they had begun their journey, the Four Companions passed a strange blackrock obelisk in the middle of the Spirtwood topped by a strange orb. They thought little of the strange, ruinous looking pillar, not knowing that they had just passed the gate into Dawn.

    The Duchess of Dawn, and two Knights of the Blue Rose, stood near the site where the blackrock pillar once stood. As the procession passed, they were to ignore the Dawnites dressed in white as if they were invisible, while the Dawnites seemed to perform a ritual in honor of the Thaumaturgist.

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    A month passed, and then another. Try as they might, the four companions could not find the elusive City of Dawn.

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    The Four Companions were said to have come upon a corpse in the wilderness, and recognized it as a Wizard of the Dawn, an Adept of the Order of the Crimson Stave.

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    They did not know this at the time, but their discovery would be the catalyst that would set the four on a much greater journey than the one they now embarked. The companions gave the man a proper burial, and knowing that they must be close to the newly formed Village of Trinsic, decided that traveling there was in their best interest.

    On the last leg of their great journey, the procession encountered a band of orcs known as the Gulgeth Clan.

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    The Four Companions had often fought off the brigands and demi-humans that they had encountered throughout their journey, and failed to recognize their plight or exercise compassion for those that took to the forests to feed themselves. Nicholas, that sly ol’ scoundrel, devised a trick that would satisfy the Gulgeth and teach a moral that the Four Companions did not learn until much later in their journey: The Virtues of Compassion and Charity. It was not part of the story of the companions, but why not?

    Nicholas asked that all the members of the procession offer the orcs their gold and anything that they could spare, a tribute to thank the Gulgeth for staying their arms and allowing them safe passage along the Spiritroad. The Gulgeth, which had merely come to tell them of their safe passage, was surprised to find full coin purses, jewels, and food being laid at their feet.

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    After several months lost in the woods, the four companions arrived in the growing Village of Trinsic. They were welcomed by the charitable woodsman, and were honored by the city.

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    The Four did not realize it at the time, but their knowledge of the woodlands and the maps that they drew would eventually lead to the construction of the Spiritroad between Britain and Trinsic. They also did not realize the great destiny that would soon be thrust upon them at journey’s end.

    Stay tuned for The Festival of the Way Part 4 – Destiny Awaits in Trinsic.
     
  4. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    The Festival of the Way Part 4 – Destiny Awaits In Trinsic
    [News]


    By WarderDragon (Baja Stratics Reporter)
    Tuesday June 2nd, 2009.

    “Welcome, weary stranger! May you find here warm bread and the beautiful song of my mandolin. On a quest through Britannia, you say? Should you rest alongside my fire, I shall impart the story of our land for your enlightenment and entertainment.

    I am considered, by all measures, to be an expert on these matters. My pilgrimage as a Bard has drawn me to the lovely City of Britain, though I have had occasion to spread song in Moonglow, Trinsic and other townships you surely have seen in your travels. A journey through Britannia may not be wholly understood without the knowledge I am inclined to impart. So rest, gentle traveler, and I shall begin…”
    - The Ballad of the Shattered Stone,
    Sedrik the Apprentice to the Court Composer.
    (circa 1997).​

    The Procession arrived early the next morning, just as the first rays of dawn began to peak over the eastern horizon. They were greeted by the sounds of waves crashing against a distant shore, while the inviting smells of the cities bakeries hung thick in the cold morning air. Lord Elladan Faeryn and Xel the Wanderer, two of those chosen by The Widow, awaited them at the Western Gates of the City of Paladins.

    The Four Companions, having failed to complete their journey to the City of Dawn in time for the Thaumaturgist’s Funereal, chose to continue on foot to the village of Trinsic after having discovered the body of a murdered Dawnite. When they arrived in what was then a small colony of thatch-roofed hovels and wooden palisades built on the shores of the Cape of Heroes, they were greeted by the Captain of the Trinsic Guard and a sage of no small renown.

    Lord Elladan represented the Captain of the Guard, welcoming the Four Companions and the Procession as they arrived at Lightbringer Gate.

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    He took a brief moment to remind them why the City of Honor remains a much more desirable place to live than Britain.

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    The Captain then directed the Four Companions to The Sage, who wished to say a few words to the gathered.

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    Xel the Wanderer, like the legendary sage that he portrayed, offered the Four Companions words of consolation and hope. Although the words of the original sage have been lost to history, if the legends speak true, his enlightened words managed to stir something strange and wonderful inside the hearts of the four. The Stranger, the Bard, the Provisioner, and the Shepherdess now shared a bond that neither tribulation nor death could break. Their destiny was now bound up with one another.

    The gathered bowed their heads in silence, and listened closely to the wise words offered by Xel the Wanderer.

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    “We humbly welcome the Four, friends, and travelers alike from far off lands at journey's end. It is a joyous event; a grand gathering to celebrate the first native-born holiday in this World or in any versions of this World. It is a pleasure and honor to pay homage not only to the Four but also to the great Thaumaturge who so devotedly studied and refined his understanding of the art Arcane within the legendary City of Dawn. The original Four: the Shepherdess who was also the Thaumaturge's niece, the renown Bard whose voice could melt even the heart of an Arctic Ogre Lord, the Provisioner who secretly practiced the Dark Arts, and finally, the young Warrior who simply wanted to witness the spectacle. Though they and the great Thaumaturge are no longer with us in body, they are here with us in spirit.”

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    “We are here to celebrate this procession, this Festival of the Way. Through curiosity, dedication, and commitment, the Four's travels have forged a road, which has become a main thoroughfare for trade and leisure, between Britain and Trinsic. Like ripples in a pond, their actions have inadvertently become a catalyst that has touched us all. Their journey is not unlike Life itself... The twists and turns. The ups and downs. The roads and decisions yet untrodden. Trials to test one's resolve and one's beliefs. Experiences that make us stronger and wiser in body, mind, and spirit.

    So here we are at journey's end. Let us smile. Let us laugh. Let us rejoice. Let us drink our fill and eat these fine foods so lovingly made. Let us not forget that EACH and every one of us, no matter how small the deed or task, has the power to shape Destiny itself.”

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    “Let us not forget the Four and let us not forget the Thaumaturge. Let us not forget this day.

    Today belongs to all of us!”
    - The Festival of the Way Speech of Grooviness,
    Xel the Wanderer (May 8th, 2009).​

    With that, Xel the Wanderer showered the spectators with his…love and adoration?

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    The Procession cast off their somber-hued robes, and laid their candles aside to celebrate the Festival of the Way.

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    Lady Magdalena distributed glasses of the Water of Life, which were shared amongst the festive Britannians. They toasted the thaumaturgist, honoring his memory and his achievements performed so long ago.

    Xel the Wanderer, having lived off of nothing but wine, women, and song while contemplating on the shores of Lenmir Anfinmotas, quickly lept towards the potluck table.

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    After everyone had a chance to eat, Nicholas called a toast to honor Lord Ceno of the Way. Ceno had almost single-handedly organized the Festival of the Way.

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    They followed with a toast to three visitors from distant realms, who had traveled further than anyone to witness the Procession and Festivities. They were Ludwig Van Foltz, Chelsee Lynn, and Lord Nanoc.

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    James the Animal Tamer began serenading the audience with a romantic ballad. Several couples began to dance to the master troubadours tune.

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    As the nights events wore on, some reported seeing a strange-looking horse appear amongst the revelers. When approached, he suddenly began talking to the drunken participants. Although some claim that it was merely something in the sake, when he was asked about the incident, Nicholas merely smiled and gave one of those secretive winks he is famous for.

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    Stay tuned for The Festival of the Way Part 5 – Pipesmoke and Prophecy.
     
  5. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Reserved for The Festival of the Way Part 5 - Pipesmoke and Prophecy. (Cancelled)
     
  6. WarderDragon

    WarderDragon Babbling Loonie
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    Reserved for The Festival of the Way Part 6 - The Blessing of Trinsic. (Cancelled)