Kirac's my name, Commander of the Citizen Vanguard. We're the front line, ensuring callous gods and bloodthirsty fiends never blindside us again. The Templars kept the true nature of the world hidden from the populace, but now the rhoa's out of the sack, and we'll keep both eyes open. Or the one eye open, in my case.
We've a vital mission for you, Godslayer, but you're not going to believe me until you see this for yourself. Take this map and put it in one of the map devices below. It will take you to a realm we call the Atlas. Once you see the world on the other side and have yourself a battle or two, we'll talk.
Now that you've had a glimpse of the Atlas, our mission might make more sense. There's a whole uncharted realm out there, countless regions just like the one you explored, full of strange creatures and ancient threats. Nobody knows exactly what the Atlas is, but I can tell you my personal experience: danger, death, and loss.
We've been doing our best to explore its deeper reaches, but too many good men have died. We're out of our depth. That's why we need you. Keep exploring the Atlas. Look for anything we can use to defend Wraeclast. Believe me, we're going to need it against the coming darkness.
You encountered The Envoy? This is exactly what I was hoping for. He's an enigmatic being, but he never strays far from his ward. He serves and guards a being called The Maven, and she is the true reason I've asked you to work with us. She is... a horrific abomination of a similar kind to the ones that are on their way. You might think I'm crazy for seeking her on purpose, but she may be the only one who can help us. You'll understand when - and if - you find her.
Something dark is coming, Godslayer. Time is short. Keep exploring the Atlas. Where The Envoy resides, The Maven cannot be far.
He's a strange one. Takes the form of a man... poorly. I'm not sure what to make of him. He's prone to cryptic speeches, but every word he says has meaning. I suggest you listen closely. We need as much information as we can get if we're going to survive this.
You've found The Maven! Then perhaps we have a chance after all. Do your best to win her over. She's drawn to conflict — the bloodier, the better. Try working your way deeper into the Atlas. Entertain her with combat. She might just aid her 'favourite toy' when the time comes.
The Maven is a powerful entity with a penchant for forcing combatants to fight to the death. Then, she resurrects them to do it all again, over and over. She's tortured more than a few of my men and added them to her collection... my own brother included.
A previous exile worked with her on our behalf, catching her interest for a time. That didn't last. Don't let her make you part of her collection.
After all this time, all this dread and waiting... they're finally here. This is it, Godslayer. A struggle for the fate of Wraeclast. From what I can gather, the Atlas is a tempting treasure that keeps these creatures occupied. So long as we wage war in the outer realms, Wraeclast is safe. Should we lose the Atlas to their control, it will only be a matter of time until they take notice of us... we are nothing to them, and that is our greatest opportunity. Aid The Maven. Pit these entities against each other. It may be our only chance.
So The Maven has given you a tool to begin hunting The Tangle. I knew finding her was our best shot at facing these abominations. Attack it on her behalf, and we can begin setting them against each other.
My engineers have looked at that key... it's some sort of purposeful invitation, almost ceremonial in design. If you put this in the Map Device, it will open the way to somewhere far beyond the Atlas. It's about time we went on the offensive. Prepare yourself for a bit of a tussle.
This key glows brighter in proximity to the Map Device, as if it's trying to tell us it wants to be used. It will take you beyond the Atlas itself, to some unknown place in the celestial realm. Rather than defending known lands, this will be an offensive mission into enemy territory. Wherever it leads, be ready for a skirmish.
Our best researchers believe you've just won some sort of ritual for control of the Atlas against The Tangle. Defeating The Infinite Hunger is just one stage of the conflict, however. It can never be simple, can it? Keep up the pursuit, Godslayer. There's something much worse out there, readying itself.
Our strategists believe that by defeating The Black Star, you've strengthened The Maven's claim on the Atlas. No cause for celebration just yet, though. This is far from over. By all accounts, there's something far more deadly ahead. Be ready, Godslayer.
You've given The Tangle's champion a beating, but this was only one part of some ritual of ownership between eldritch entities. You've solidified The Maven's hold on the Atlas, but I doubt this is the end of the conflict. Stay wary.
I'm glad you survived your battle with The Cleansing Fire's emissary, but I suspect this is hardly the end of The Maven's battle for ownership of the Atlas. Keep fighting as her champion, Godslayer. She's the best of our terrible options.
By the gods, you actually did it! You did battle with those eldritch fiends and lived to tell the tale. You've bought us some time, Godslayer. For the moment, The Maven has full control of the Atlas, and she's content to play there and leave us alone. Keep doing what you're doing... very carefully.
Quite a bit has happened in the Atlas already. Suffice it to say, we have it on ominous authority that some unknown 'they' are coming. Judging by the one who gave us that warning, all of Wraeclast would be in jeopardy should 'they' take notice of us. It's best for everyone if we draw a hard line in the sand across the Atlas and keep them busy there instead.
Families. These courageous men and women have families. That's the difference between them and a traditional military. No disrespect to my old comrades in arms, but this organisation is not comprised of solitary violent-minded young men. The Citizen Vanguard is a volunteer effort filled with the ranks of ordinary people who are tired of the endless parade of doom and nightmare we call Wraeclast. I said we'd all have to work together to face what's coming, and that's exactly what we're doing.
The Atlas is a grave threat to mankind, a realm unlike any we've seen. It offers up your wildest desires, urging you ever onward into madness and danger... and yet, it may be our greatest defence as well. The Atlas draws the attention of eldritch creatures that would otherwise destroy us without a second thought. It's too dangerous to interact with, but too valuable to be left alone. You can see the position that leaves us in.
We used to have the Atlas fully mapped, but it changes. It grows. After recent major events, it completely changed form. We've started from scratch at a moment we can ill afford to be blinded. The more you explore the Atlas, the better our chances of survival.
My brother, Baran, was one of the Elderslayers. I'm immensely proud of him for that, but the toll of that victory was too high. It cost him his sanity. In my first campaign in the Atlas, I worked with an exile who was forced to slay him. It couldn't have ended any other way. I thought that would be the end of it... but The Maven 'collected' Baran and keeps resurrecting him for her sick games.
When all this is through, there will be a reckoning with that creature. Mark my words.
The Elder is the reason we're all in this mess. From what I'm told, it preyed upon humanity for thousands of years, eating memories and shrivelling bodies. That I can't vouch for, but I do know that other entities like it have noticed its sudden absence. We can ill afford that kind of attention. In defeating the Elder, the Elderslayers may have doomed us all.
They were not the first to find the Atlas, but they may have been the most impactful. They worked with a woman named Zana Caeserius to seal away an entity called The Elder that dominated that realm... and that victory cost most of them their sanity.
Not long after, I worked with Zana and a powerful exile to defeat the mad Elderslayers, who by then fancied themselves Conquerors. Unfortunately, we were too slow, and the leader of the Elderslayers, Sirus, escaped from the Atlas and devastated Oriath's rebuilding efforts. Talk about kicking us while we're down...
You've not seen tragedy until you've seen former comrades forced into killing one another by circumstance. Sirus could have been our salvation against the coming darkness, had he not been consumed by his own. The powerful exile I was working with at the time gave her life to deal Sirus a near-lethal wound, and then eight hundred of the Vanguard died finishing the bloody job. I myself earned an injury that will never fully heal... and Zana... well, often the heart suffers deeper cuts than the body. That was the last time any of us worked with her.
It's clear our little island is no place for men to live. Even cursed, one could say, though we are not entirely blameless for those disasters. We thought Kitava's rampage was bad enough, let alone the domination by the Templars and the crackdown under Innocence... but Oriath was attacked yet again while you were gone. The rebuilding efforts were all for nothing. The Vanguard undertook the largest evacuation in history... hundreds of ships... and Oriath has been abandoned.
No small irony that the Oriathan people now depend upon the Karui we once enslaved. I always said that if you kick a rhoa in the butt, one day, it'll kick you in the head, but I underestimated the honour of our new hosts. They're different after the death of their gods... and we are, too, after the departure of ours. I wasn't a believer, but I can feel it. We're on our own.
We're going to have to work together to face what comes next...
She's got a long and storied tale involving the Atlas and her father, but you'll have to ask someone else about that. I'm not one for gossip. All I'll say: our campaign in the Atlas resulted in the death of a man she loved. She seemed filled with despair after that, and then, that sadness became anger. I know what a desire for vengeance looks like, Godslayer. Someone's going to get what's coming to them.
I once swore I'd never trust a Blackguard in my life, reformed or not. I've had to begrudgingly rethink that notion. Helena's been crucial in putting together the pieces of Wraeclast's ominous and ancient history. Everything we face today has its roots in the evils of the past.
Never trusted a Blackguard in my life. Reformed or not. Never have, never will. That bastard Gravicius and his psychotic disciple Cameria... but I suppose I shouldn't blame Helena for that. Just rankles me that he's still got my eye.
He's loyal, but unsuitable for duty, for obvious reasons. Sometimes wish I had a hat with a light on it myself. I tend to stumble in the night on the way to the latrine. But perhaps it's best I not risk my one good eye with an open flame.
That one's a bottled up flask of rage, if I've ever seen it. I've known some good men who've suffered the same. When certain things happen to a soldier on the campaign trail, he returns home changed. Civilians will never understand. Let her work through her pain and revenge before we ask her to help us with the Conquerors.
Being a tracker myself, I'm no stranger to the hunt, but him - he embodies the hunt, and nothing else. I tried to ask for his aid in chasing down the Conquerors, but it was impossible to get a straight answer out of him. I was given the distinct impression that he encounters them regularly while cavorting out in the wilds. He thinks... very highly of each of them... even Sirus. I can't imagine what the two of them would even say to each other.
She's beautiful - I'm one-eyed, not blind - but she's far too intense. I worked with her once before, tangentially, when on the campaign for the Templars. Not that she'd remember. Too wrapped up in her God and her work. We soldiers did the dying, and she gave the credit to the divine. Wish I could get her damn songs out of my head.
After all that, The Maven turns out to be a young eldritch entity? It's no wonder she needs you to fight as her champion. It's going to take everything our absurd coalition's got to survive this. A bunch of half-trained volunteers, an Exile, and a psychopathic hatchling standing together against cosmic abominations... I need a drink!
Kirac's my name, tracker and officer in Oriath's new Citizen Vanguard. We're the front line, ensuring the likes of Kitava and Innocence never blindside us again. The Templar kept the true nature of the world hidden from the populace, but now the rhoa's out of the sack, and we'll keep both eyes open. Or the one eye open, in my case.
I'll come right out with it, Godslayer. I have a problem, and you may be the only one that can help.
My younger brother, Baran, fell in with a radical by the name of Zana Caeserius some time ago. She's a bit of a famous one in certain parts. Many who have worked with her have ended up two pews short of a congregation, ranting and raving on street corners or accosting random citizens... you can see the cause for my concern. I've reason to believe she was working out of an old Templar Laboratory off the Square. Head there with me now.
My brother spoke of a device like that in his letters. He said they used it to open passage to distant lands, whatever that means... However it works, it's clearly dangerous if it can explode in such a manner. We must do our work somewhere away from civilians. I'm going to requisition a team of tinkerers and engineers. Using the notes in this laboratory, we can construct a similar device. Your hideout will do nicely as a base of operations. Yes, I know where it is. I came up the ranks as a tracker, mind you.
Rumour has it this was built by order of a previous High Templar, the name of Venarius. If the impossible components we need are anywhere in our mortal realm, they would be in the Vault of Venarius in the Reliquary.
We're going to need to find the key to that Vault. Dominus was the next High Templar, and thus the one who declared his predecessor's pursuits heretical and had them sealed as blasphemous. A load of manure to secure the secrets for himself, no doubt. A man like him would have kept the key close. My gut tells me it's likely in his old office in the Templar Courts. Let's head there.
Hurts my eye just to look at. Those are definitely what we're looking for. Angles that don't make sense, shapes that shouldn't exist, and corners to trap the sight. Let's install these in the device and see what happens. Meet me in your hideout, exile.
The device seems stable now, though I've no inkling where its portals may lead. My instinct as a tracker usually gives me some sense of direction, but I just feel light-headed when I think about it... Baran's last letter included a small crudely hewn stone map so that I might follow him if anything happened. The carvings didn't make sense at the time, but now I understand.
Put this map in the machine. Somehow, I'm certain it's our destination.
If Caeserius is still alive, I'll track her down, and I'll deliver her in chains for judgement. It's not for me to decide whether skulking around Oriath with mystical technologies that explode is a crime worthy of prison. The new citizen Magistrates will handle that.
I intended to bring Caeserius to the Magistrates, but it sounds like Baran is in real trouble. It runs at odds with my position in the Citizen Vanguard, but I think I've earned some discretion. We should work with her until we rescue my brother.
Caeserius has a good head on her shoulders. I'm starting to think her reputation as a radical is unearned. By all accounts, regarding this 'Elder' creature she and her exiles defeated, she may have done Wraeclast a service, and nobody's the wiser. Of course, that opinion hinges on whether they're telling the truth, and whether my brother can be saved.
In my heart, I do blame her for what happened to Baran. If he was simply dead, that would be one thing, but he's out there suffering eternal madness because of her. I can't deny that bitterness. However, duty calls. The people we've got are it. If we tried to explain all this to the citizen Magistrates, Caeserius would be locked up for her associations with criminals, and we'd all be thrown in an asylum for our wild tales. We must face this 'Sirus' together, all grievances aside.
I'll keep my own counsel on the topic of Zana, thank you. Uh, Caeserius, rather. However, it seems someone reported to the Magistrates that she's innocent of all her supposed underhanded activities... funny that.
Baran sent me letters. He wrote that he was embarking on an expedition with Caeserius and several skilled exiles. Kitava's temper tantrum kept me from Oriath, but my brother should have long since returned by now. I know that searching for one man's brother is an inconsequential task for a Godslayer, but I have a bad feeling about this.
So that's it then. Baran can't be saved. Caeserius... did she understand the costs? Did she know the fate she was consigning my brother to? I've no small bitterness over how far she went to try to save her father, yet here we are, abandoning my brother to eternal madness. There's nothing to be done about it, but it still burns.
Even after all that's happened, I find myself unable to move on. Keep pursuing Baran, exile. Let's keep trying to save him. We won't fall into the same madness, either, because I'll stay out here in the real world. I'm the one with the desire, and you're the one with the strength. If we keep the two separate, the Atlas can't trap us.
Seems enough was enough. The Vanguard undertook the largest evacuation in history... hundreds of ships... and Oriath has been abandoned. After the domination of the Templar, then the crackdown under Innocence, then the slaughter at Kitava's hands, and finally the ruination by Sirus, it's clear our little island is no place for men to live. Even cursed, one could say, though we are not entirely blameless for those disasters.
No small irony that the Oriathan people now depend upon the Karui we once enslaved. I always said that if you kick a rhoa in the arse, one day, it'll kick you in the head, but I underestimated the honour of our new hosts. They're different after the death of their gods... and we are, too, after the departure of ours. I wasn't a believer, but I can feel it. We're on our own now.
We're going to have to work together to face what comes next...
Caeserius is a skilled cartographer, but she hasn't got martial understanding of the terrain. If I was looking to build a fortress, I know where I'd place it. I've marked it on your Atlas. She might be able to get you there.
Some say the Citizen Vanguard failed in its mission, but I say we succeeded, and wildly so. Oriath may have been ruined, but its people will live on, because you and I were out there in the wild unknown facing dangers that would have destroyed all of Wraeclast otherwise.
Life in the Karui Archipelago will be tough, but we've been through worse many times over. We'll be alright.
This might sound naive, but any entity we run into out there that doesn't immediately try to eat us or drive us insane is a win in my book. We need to learn all we can. Scrutinize every word The Envoy says. The fate of the world may one day hinge upon it.
You've driven away The Maven for the moment, but The Envoy is still around? That's not a good sign. I assumed it served her, but if that isn't true, then we may soon have a bigger problem on our hands...
Never trust floating women. I learned that the hard way in my second campaign, and the less said about that, the better. If The Maven is trying to communicate with you, learn what you can, but don't let your guard down even for a moment.
I've told you the job never ends, haven't I? We'll track down the Conquerors, we'll face Sirus, and then we'll figure out the mystery of this Maven entity as well. After that, we'll have a drink, and then we'll get right back to it when the next enemy of mankind appears. That's what I've signed up for, and that's what we'll do.
After all that, The Maven turns out to be a young eldritch entity? I've seen many terrible things in my time, but this... I should be relieved. Instead, I'm filled with apprehension. If that was a child, then what kind of powers do her elders possess? What happens when those cosmic fiends finally turn their countless eyes in our direction? We are on a very dark path, Exile.
You saw Baran? How is that possible, if you slew him? Unless -
It's The Maven. It has to be. She's been recreating other powerful creatures of the Atlas for her own amusement. Of course she would do the same to my brother, given his notable strength. None of the creatures out there can challenge him, either, which means The Maven is resurrecting him to watch his fights with you, and the Atlas is already the perfect battleground for such a show.
Keep her entertained, Exile. It will give us more time to learn about her. If we can play this right, then perhaps Baran can be saved after all.
I was right. The Maven is capable of resurrecting Baran, and has been doing so to suit her whims. If she is the reason he cannot find peace, then we must either slay her, or convince her to let him go. In either case, we have a very long campaign ahead of us. Stay the course, Exile.
You've taught The Maven a lesson, but she has not been defeated, if we can ever truly defeat an entity like her. I'm not even certain we can communicate with her on a meaningful level, but I have to maintain hope. Keep playing her games, Exile. Maybe one day she will recognise you as a peer, and then perhaps we can ask her to give Baran back to us.
Caeserius tells me that Sirus is on the verge of completing a map device. We should have counted on this happening once we prevented the Conquerors from interfering with each other.
The device's growing energy has given away the location of a secret citadel hidden within a tremendous storm. Caeserius can get us inside, and, from tracking your encounters with Sirus, I happen to know he isn't currently there. If we can get to his map device and destroy it before he can use it, we might just finish this before it begins.
The world is at stake once again. Danger be damned! We're both going with you. If this is the last time we speak, it has been an honour.
Sirus lives? I would imagine Caeserius is overjoyed, unless he's as mad as the rest of the Conquerors. I'll keep track of your encounters with him. Maybe we'll be able to figure out where he's been hiding.
If my brother spent his last words warning us against Sirus, then he must truly pose a tremendous threat. I hadn't even considered what his storms could do to mankind if they were ravaging Wraeclast instead of the Atlas...
There's something happening to the Atlas, Exile. When you socketed the fourth Watchstone in a Citadel, something responded. A storm on the horizon... a creek becomes a river... I'm not a man of metaphor, but I don't know how else to describe the crackling feeling of power on the wind. If the Atlas is a sleeping giant, our unknown force out there is slowly waking it.
While you've been tracking the Conquerors, I've continually noticed swaths of devastation left by a force unknown. The land reshapes and awakens with riotous power afterwards, so I thought it might simply be a property of the Atlas, but now I see there's a pattern: a storm. There's a storm somewhere out there, massive beyond anything we've ever seen, and roaring with enough force to disintegrate anything in its path. That storm... I'd bet my eye we'll find our enigmatic Awakener right at the center.
Was he an evil man? I think on it when I'm trying to sleep at night, because it seems the wound he gave me will never fully heal. It itches like rabid mudflies, damn latent disintegration eating away at me about the same speed as the skin naturally grows back...
Oh, but Sirus. I can't imagine being abandoned in darkness for a subjective eternity. I also can't imagine becoming so hollow that I would attack people I loved. I suppose, in the end, it doesn't matter. We did what we had to do... and we will again, when the time comes.
Navali is dead, as I understand it. Or somewhere between life and death. I asked her if Hinekora could save Baran by doing the same for him, and Navali... she spoke with anger for the first and only time I've ever heard. One word: fool!
It never occurred to me that her endless living death might be... painful.
The trail has gone cold, exile. The Conquerors seek the Watchstones, but we've defended certain territories too well. Try placing a few Watchstones in regions we've investigated less thoroughly to draw them out. Use their agenda against them.
In order to draw out our quarry, we need to tempt them with bait. The Conquerors seek the Watchstones, so let's give them the opportunity to get what they want. Place a few Watchstones in an open Citadel to draw their attention. When they leave hiding, we'll pick up their trails.
You've not seen tragedy until you've seen former comrades forced into killing one another by circumstance. Sirus could have been our salvation against the coming darkness, had he not been consumed by his own. The powerful exile I was working with at the time gave his life to deal Sirus a near-lethal wound, and then eight hundred of the Vanguard died finishing the bloody job. I myself earned an injury that will never fully heal... and Zana... well, often the heart suffers deeper cuts than the body. That was the last time any of us worked with her.
We've managed to build another map device with salvaged parts. Setting it up in your hideout seems like a good idea. It'll better allow you to eat, sleep, and breathe Atlas exploration. That's the only way we're going to survive this. Give it everything you've got, Godslayer.
You're not the first exile we've worked with. Wraeclast seems to be a crucible for forging powerful men and women. Unfortunately, ambition is a critical vulnerability in the Atlas. We've got a few rogues running rampant, so watch your back.
One of our technicians has detected a divination card in the region in question. Don't ask me how they figure these things out, I'm not one for technological babble. I just knew you'd want to get your hands on that card.
We've clashed more than a few times with invaders from beyond the Atlas, but this map has an uncommon concentration of bloodthirsty creatures. I suspect they're up to something, and I suggest you put an end to them before they can summon anything worse.
We're detecting instability in this map, and not the usual kind. It's reading like a breach in the very fabric of reality. I don't know how violence can solve such a problem, but I'm sure you'll find a way.
This one's not your usual romp, Godslayer. This map leads to a raw memory, a battle against a guardian of the being known as The Elder. This happened long ago, but, somehow, memories can remain real in the Atlas... and lethal. Be careful.
You'll be working with Sister Cassia on this one. The area's been completely taken over by a blighted fungus. If you defend her pump well enough, she might even give you a little credit for helping her.
Sister Cassia has requested assistance in this map. She's set up her pump to work against a blighted fungus infection, and she needs someone skilled with violence to hold back the reaction when she begins her operation. Have fun with that one, Godslayer.
I know this sounds mad, but a sinister voice whispered in my ear not long ago, requesting you pay this area a visit... I wasn't certain whether I should mention this mission, but it won't be the first trap you've purposely sprung. Stay wary.
One of my men followed a never-do-well recently. I believe there's a cache of stolen goods in this map. The criminals must have their own map device technology, but at least they're only using it for illicit exchanges. The cache is up for grabs, if you can find it.
Oh, boy. There has never been so obvious a trap than this innocent-looking map. There are no monsters, and we've spotted countless massive strongboxes. None of my men are going to set foot in there, so I leave it to you to explore.
I know the Atlas can retain the impressions of powerful memories, but it still disturbs me to encounter one of my own. This map leads to a raw memory, a battle against an Elderslayer. You might even see my brother, Baran, but it's not truly him. Just an echo... so don't hold back on my account.