Falconreach: Excerpt from Aleric’s Diary- September 11, 16 Years Post-Plague (over 200 years ago)

As the cheers of victory rolled on, I silently wept. Although the victory was complete, the price was high. “How many more will have to die?” I thought to myself as they saluted me with their weapons of war. I remember that day well. The day the Heartlands were reborn. Out of the ashes of my father’s great Kingdom, at last, I had come unto my own. It was the first day of the struggles to come. My goal was clear… reclaim what I was born unto and build a Kingdom strong enough to tame the wilds that have grown so thick. Indeed, the true battle had just begun. The eerie scream of the banshee confirmed Kelteth’s warning. He had awakened me three hours after full darkness and claimed that he could sense the undead that now had surrounded our camp. “Light the torches and sound the alarm” I heard him shout to the captain of the guard. The ensuing ring of steel and sword that surrounded me was impressive. I had good reason to be proud of my men; they had served me well. But nothing could have prepared them for the nightmares that attacked us that night. “Ghosts to the south! Skeletons to the West! Zombies to the North!” was all the warning we had. Jorus’ staffs rose above all, and with a scream of power, light shot forth and drove the Skeletons back. Next it was Mithandril with her hands glowing blue, shouting to the sky and sending lightning bolts among the corpses coming from the north. Then it was my turn. Shouting battle tactics to my lieutenants, we charged the ghosts with reckless abandon. Looking back, that was our undoing. The screams were death itself, and by the ashen white faces of my men retreating past me, I knew it would take my father’s sword to destroy these enemies.

It was like I was watching myself in a dream. My crown glowed as countless spells fizzled around me. My shield exploded, shattered into oblivion, and then I fought. Had I realized then how outnumbered I was, things might have been different. I should have run. But the bloodlust was upon me and years of Kelteth’s lessons shone true. The creatures raised against us could not withstand the magic in my blade and in minutes it was over. With the strength of the enemy’s attack dissolved, my army regrouped and pushed back the undead until our healers used their power to destroy them for good.

When all was quiet, the laughter began. Out of the mists, a tall, shadowed shape appeared. Upon the sight of him, fully two thirds of my army fled in fear. When he entered the light, I understood. I had never seen a lich before. He just stood there, alone and laughing at my sergeants, commanders, lieutenants and me. I’ll never forget the words he spoke. “Aleric Falconcrest (he called me by name), welcome to my home!” And as he raised his arms, darkness surrounded him and his laughter echoed through my mind. The spell was broken as Mithandril cast forth a ball of fire. With a smile on his gruesome face, he lifted and hand, reflecting the magic back towards my friend. To my horror, she just stood there and accepted the flame. As it burst upon her, I could see that her strength was spent, but I saw something else as well. She wasn’t watching the flame; she was watching someone else. The last look on her face was one of satisfaction, revenge.

I turned to look and saw Jorus seething with anger. With obvious years of study and experience, he once again held his staff high in the air and chanted words of power. Drawing upon the powers of the “earth” itself he launched a spell of obliteration at the lich in front of him. What happened next no one knows for sure. When the pillar of flame that was once Mithandril at last died down, and sight returned to our eyes after Jorus’ spell, the extent of the carnage was at last plain before us. My two mages, most of my bodyguards and many of my friends lay dead around us. The lich was simply gone. Yet Jorus’ withered body left no question as to who had won the battle of magic.

With another signal from my captain, we were on a full retreat, back to the strength and protection of the old lands of my father’s kingdom. With Kelteth (the man that taught me how to fight and die honorably) leading the retreat and my surviving guards to either side, we ran until our strength would not permit it. We lost. We retreated. I could not protect my own. The days have not weakened my resolve for revenge. I will rule the Heartlands. My kingdom has been named to reflect my resolve to tame those wild lands, the lands to the south. And as the King of Southmarch, I have declared that at the center of the Heartlands, where the powerful city of King’s Port once stood as the land’s greatest marvel, I would build my future city of power. I will name it Falconreach, and dedicate it to the warriors and friends who lost their lives that dark night.

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