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- Taynor shares with you the memories that have finally returned to him. As the boy tells it, he and Nyelbert were born over a century ago as scions to a consortium of powerful mages, the leaders of which sought to master the art of opening portals to other worlds, that they might summon powerful entities from beyond. To that end, they were tutored in the arcane arts from an early age, their skills employed in dangerous experiments. One day, one of these experiments went awry, and Taynor was sucked into a rift between worlds, where he remained until you rescued him. Due to vagaries of travel between worlds largely beyond your comprehension, what felt like a relatively short span of time for the boy amounted to some one hundred years in the world he had left behind. Taynor shares with you another piece of fortunate news─along with his memories, he has also begun to recall the incantations he had learned─incantations which might serve you well in your confrontation with Phronesis. You and Cerigg set out for the Fields of Amber, where you intend to keep the boy safe as he puts his spells to the test.
- The boy succeeds in opening a portal to other worlds, if only for fleeting moments, before you are paid a sudden and shocking visit by the fearsome sin eater who is your quarry. Taynor succeeds in pushing away one of Phronesis's hollows and saving Cerigg from a fearsome fate, when suddenly the power of the Echo grants you a vision of the past. You bear witness to yet another vision from a century prior, wherein a youthful Nyelbert begrudgingly lends his strength to the warrior Ardbert and his band to fell a dreadful bovine beast that has risen up from the bowels of the earth to wreak havoc on dwarven mines. What course did the battle take so many years ago?
- The companions having triumphed over the great beast, Nyelbert confesses that he wished to claim the sorcerous stone in the fiend's possession and harness its energies to save his friend Taynor, but ends up tearfully destroying the stone when it is revealed that failing to do so would destroy the mountain and put countless lives in danger. In the end, he joins up with the party of adventurers in earnest, with Ardbert promising to stay by Nyelbert's side until they can together find a way to return Taynor to this world─a happy ending that, sadly, was not to be. You regain consciousness back in the present with Phronesis nowhere to be found, and Cerigg and Taynor clearly concerned for your well-being. Together, you decide to return to Mord Souq, so that you might recuperate and share with your friends all you have learned.
- Hearing your tale of the visions you saw, and recalling his own experience locking gazes with Phronesis on the battlefield, Taynor is at long last able to accept and make peace with the knowledge that the sin eater and Nyelbert are indeed one and the same. He resolves to join you and Cerigg in your quest to bring Phronesis down, that his old friend might finally know peace. Together, the three of you vow to redouble your training efforts, that you will be fully prepared for the confrontation that lies ahead.
You and Cerigg have shown me no end of kindness. I will do all in my power to recover my memories and return the favor in whatever way I can.
Good news, friend! Taynor here has told me that his memories are starting to come back to him.
There's one recollection in particular he says he's eager to discuss with the two of us. Tell us, lad...what is it?
As time goes by, memories of my earlier days return to me piece by piece.
Nyelbert and I were born to members of a great consortium of mages. From our earliest years, we were tutored in the magical arts by some of the realm's greatest scholars.
The consortium's leaders sought to find a way to open a hole in time and space─a portal to other worlds from which they could summon forth beasts of great power. Nyelbert and I were chosen to participate in the research.
Summoning great beasts from beyond our world? You're a mage, Forename...is that even possible?
|Perhaps he speaks of voidsent...?||Perish the thought...|
The beasts our masters sought to summon reside in the planes most distant from our own. Reaching across such a great distance requires a tremendous store of innate aetherial power.
And so our masters set about to breed the perfect mage. Marriages were arranged to wed the mightiest members of the consortium to one another, in hopes that they would bring forth children of theretofore unheard-of magical aptitude. Finally, they succeeded...
And so you were born...and Nyelbert.
...Indeed. From even before we could speak, we were taught the complex incantations required to breach the boundaries between worlds.
We practiced these spells day after day, night after night for what seemed an eternity. At long last, we were deemed ready to attempt the summoning.
Sadly, the experiment ended in failure. The pull from beyond the rift was too strong to resist, and I was sucked into a hollow of my own creation.
There I remained trapped─alone and adrift in that empty void─until Forename called me back to this world. Alas, over a century had passed since that fateful day...
That's the one thing I still don't understand. If so many years have truly passed, why is it that you have not aged even a whit?
I cannot say for certain. But I remember the words of one of my teachers. “The rift is not unlike a border between countless worlds─a place that exists beyond time and space.”
If it is true that the rift exists outside of our concept of time, then it is all too possible that even seconds spent in that empty pocket could correspond to months, years, or decades in our world.
And so you've returned to us just as you were that day, even while over a century has passed for the rest of us.
But why didn't Nyelbert save you? Shouldn't it have been as simple as opening up another portal to the void where you were trapped?
I fear that would be close to impossible. Opening the portal and reaching as far into the rift as we did required all of our energies to be focused in unison.
So in losing you, not only did Nyelbert lose his friend, he lost his only chance at saving you. Talk about being dealt a rough hand...
Fear not─I have good news to share as well. I do believe I've managed to recall the incantations needed to summon and manipulate the hollows.
Summoning beasts from beyond the rift is far beyond my powers, but I just might be able to seal up the hollows Phronesis so enjoys summoning. What say you, friends? Shall I give it a try?
Oho! Now that's music to my ears! But let's not be too hasty. After all, the last time you tried to use this magic, there were some...complications, to say the least.
Yes, we must take the necessary precautions before confronting Phronesis in earnest. Let us meet outside the village, where Taynor can test out his magic safe from harm.
Ever wonder what the world looked like in those days before the Flood? I suppose we could ask the boy...
Wicked white! You did it, lad!
Sadly, I have not the strength to reach further beyond, nor keep the portal open for more than a few moments. No, I will need further training before I can face...
Phronesis! Where in the hells did that bastard come from!?
Damn it all, I'm too close! I can feel it pulling me in!
No, Nyelbert! These are my friends! You mustn't...hurt them!
...This isn't good. The cave-in's completely sealed off the tunnel behind us. We've no recourse but to press on without our companions.
You heard her. What'll it be?
I suppose it falls to us to slay the beast and collect the bounty. Perhaps you and your band would care to take the lead?
Hah, spare me your japes. You've no intention of giving up your prize. Mind you, I too made a promise to my companions─a promise I mean to keep.
Bah. I told you that splitting up was a bad idea. If Branden and Renda-Rae were here, this second-rate spellcaster would be no match for us.
Now, now, Cylva. Let's not forget who our true foe is here. Lamitt─you're certain that if we slay this monstrosity, the cave-ins will cease?
According to the miners, the beast was first sighted on the same day the tremors began, its very presence sucking the mountain dry of its aether.
We dwarves know these caves as well as we know our own bodies. Trust me.
Then I suppose we'd best make short work of it before everything comes crashing down.
Hey! Where do you think you're going!?
...My apologies. I took your ceaseless prattling as an invitation to proceed on my own.
Think yourself clever, do you? You've uncommon confidence to think you can fell the beast without aid. Answer me this: why is it you are so intent on claiming the bounty for your own?
The bounty...? Why, indeed...
At any rate, unless you've a mind to stand around here until we all get crushed, we'd best be moving on, yes?
Finally, something we can agree on. And so I have a proposal: what say we band together until our battle here is won?
The tremors grow stronger─no doubt a cave-in is imminent. Let us vanquish the enemy with our combined strength and quit this place before it becomes our tomb.
...Until the battle is won, then. After that, I go my own way.
We've done it! Now, to find ourselves a way out...
The tremors continue...? But why!? The fiend has been vanquished, and its aether returned to the mountain!
We were wrong... No, it was not the creature itself that was causing the quakes...
Ah, yes...the crystal courses with nigh-inconceivable power. A vast wellspring of aether accumulated over the ages. Yes, the beast was but a hungry creature, drawn here by the stone...as was I.
...You had no interest in the bounty all along.
The stone has been left unchecked for too long. The sheer volume of aether it houses now is so vast and overwhelming it threatens to bring the entire mountain down.
For how many years have I searched for it? This precious relic that could afford me the power needed to save my friend...
You mean to take the stone from this place?
But then, what would happen to the mountain?
If the aether is not returned to the earth, it is but a matter of time until the mine collapses. The miners, those who live at the foot of the mountain─countless lives would be lost.
There's no time! What can we do!?
Taynor... My friend...
Damn it... Damn it all!
...The tremors have stopped.
Taynor...pray forgive me! I promise you this: as long as I walk this earth, I shall never, never give up hope...
The stone was yours to do with as you pleased, and still you chose the fate of many over that of your friend. In return for your sacrifice, I would make you an offer.
Come with us, and let us join you in your search for a means to save your comrade. The life of an adventurer isn't an easy one, but I daresay you strike me as the sort who just might enjoy it.
So, what say you? We'll travel the realm together and lend our strength to whatever unfortunate souls we encounter along the way. And who knows, before you know it, we just might stumble upon a way to rescue your Taynor.
I...I would like that very much.
Taynor...forgive me. I may have failed you today, but mark my words: for as long as I walk this land, I will not abandon hope. I will find a way to bring you back to us...
But today I find myself in the company of new companions. And for now, I must lend them my strength, just as they lent theirs to me...
Forename! Are you all right!?
Worry not─Phronesis is long gone. I launched a few arrows in its direction while it was distracted by Taynor's spell, and it just stole away.
Anyhow, I'm just glad to awake and on your feet again. Come now─let's hurry back to Mord Souq before the bastard has a change of heart and comes back for us.
Could it be that Nyelbert came back...for me?
You really gave us a scare back there, clutching your head in pain with a deadly sin eater in plain sight. Let me guess─you had another one of your visions, didn't you?
White take me...so that's how Nyelbert and Ardbert met up. Just goes to show you that in times of crisis, even the bitterest of rivals can turn fast friends.
Now let's see if I have this straight. Nyelbert made it his life's mission to save Taynor here. Knowing that his own energies wouldn't suffice, he went in search of a relic that would afford him the aetheric power needed to reach beyond this world.
...And deep in the mines that day, he found it. Yet in the end, he decided to sacrifice the stone─and his own cause─to save the lives of the countless innocents who called the mountain home. And so did he take his first step down the path of a hero...a Warrior of Light.
So that's why he came back to this place. Why he still summons the hollows as he did so many years ago...
Aye, there can be no doubting it. Even now that he's become a sin eater─bereft of memory, reason, and any sense of his own actions─the ghastly shell of what was once Nyelbert still haunts the wastelands, searching for a way to bring back his old friend...
I only knew him as a child, and the whole idea of sin eaters and Warriors of Light...it was all so new to me. Even as the pieces came together, I could not truly believe that Nyelbert and this...Phronesis...were one and the same.
But when our gazes first met, standing out there in the wastes...in an instant, I knew it without question. This was my friend─a friend who had been searching for me for all these years...
At last, I know what I must do. I must stop Phronesis, that my dear friend may finally find peace.
|I would do the same.||Together, we can do this.|
After all we've already seen from you, I've no reason to doubt you. If you're game, so are we.
Finally, some cause for hope, eh? But still, we must exercise caution. The last time the boy worked his magic, our foe showed up faster than you can say “Phronesis.”
While this might be simple coincidence, the likelihood is high that the casting of the spell itself summoned the sin eater to us. You'd best avoid casting any similar incantations until we're prepared for the final confrontation.
I want you to stay close for now. Devote yourself to your studies, and hone your skills to whatever degree you can in the safety of the village. In the meantime, Forename and I will redouble our training efforts as well.
Should we succeed in finding a way to counteract the hollows, it will come down to our firepower versus our foe's. We must be at full strength for the battle, lest we allow victory to slip between our fingers.