I was no wonder child back in Oriath, but I prided myself on what junior accomplishments I managed to put together within the strict set of allowed sciences. Archaeology was my specialty, and Dominus and his ilk had an uncommon fascination with artefacts from the past. And I... I was told I was crucial. That I was important, because I could tell whether an artefact was truly Vaal simply by running my hand along faded stone patterns.
I may have had a head slightly too big for my shoulders. When the Ebony Legion made available an archaeologist position on their expedition to Wraeclast and nobody volunteered, I thought my colleagues were all simply afraid of continental dangers.
No. They knew better. None were allowed to speak it openly, but they knew. I didn't find out what kind of society I was truly a part of until I saw Piety's aspirations. I studied the Vaal. I knew all about their downfall, or at least our Templar-twisted perception of it. Piety's ocean of slaughter... the Vaal called their hubris the Apex of Sacrifice. The Eternal Empire called theirs the Purity Rebellion. We call ours the Temple of Lunaris.
And I know nothing, exile. Nothing at all.
Save that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past unless we learn the hard way.
It's hard to believe it's been a full year since you slew Kitava. This place is almost starting to feel like home. I left behind a piece of my heart in Oriath, even though I know we can never return there. Too many terrible things took place on that island. I think I agree with the popular sentiment that it was somehow cursed.
When I really think on it, Oriath's suffering was almost entirely the fault of its people. Not the common folk, mind you. The ones with the power. The Templars fostered a society in which monsters like Dominus and Piety could not only rise to power, but then wield that power to harm all of Wraeclast. Enslaving the Karui directly led to the cult of Kitava unleashing mayhem, and of course the tyranny of Innocence stemmed from the blind zealous faith they gave him. Then, there was the whole business with Sirus...
That was the final nail in the coffin for Oriath. We might have been able to rebuild things after Kitava's rampage, if not for the surprise attack by Sirus. Kirac was a lesser officer in the Vanguard then, and had to work with exiles and radicals in strange exotic realms to try to control the situation... but Sirus was far too dangerous to be contained. I'm not sure even you could have stopped him, had you been there. I don't know exactly how they won the day, because Kirac never talks about it, but I do know a great many people died.
We are the people's response to the madness of Wraeclast. We've had enough of corruption, gods, and would-be dictators. The last year or so, the Citizen Vanguard has embarked upon a celestial war in secret in a realm called the Atlas, and we've lost many valiant men in battle. We need all the soldiers we can get, so it's time for you to put your strength and wits to good use.
History, as I was taught it in Oriath, seems very skewed now. There were a great many events that were hidden from the public eye, and the use of map devices throughout the ages was one of those secrets. We know Maligaro experimented with one. There was also a map device in the possession of the Templars, though they did not know what they had. As far as we know, map devices can open portals to almost anywhere, even locations not of this world. We generally use it to enter the Atlas, although some of the exiles we worked with traveled to the domains of the Breach Lords. Those exiles were never heard from again, of course, but the portals worked.
Where do I begin? That woman has had a very uncommon life. When she was a child, her father was tasked by High Templar Venarius to work on what would end up becoming a map device. Both her father and the High Templar would eventually disappear into the portals of that device, leaving her to grow up an orphan. That experience left her very focussed on learning the secrets of the map device, as you can imagine. It was her work that enabled all of this. The Vanguard's foothold on the Atlas. The efforts against the mad Elderslayers. She even did some initial work with the exile The Maven first fancied as a plaything. But when Sirus died... she quit. She walked off into the Atlas, and we haven't seen her since.
I don't know much about High Templar Venarius, unfortunately. The history I study is generally older than that. However, as an Oriathan, I've heard the same decades-old rumors as everyone else. It was an awful thing they did to his mother... if it's true.
I'm less studied on The Elder than I should be, but from what I understand, it was an otherworldly entity that preyed on humanity for thousands of years. It served a force called Decay. Not too long ago, the Elderslayers defeated The Elder with the help of Zana Caeserius, but that seems to have simply led to another problem. The Elder's absence means the Atlas is a prize trophy left undefended against a cosmos full of hungry horrors.
While it may seem like control of the Atlas is constantly under contention, the first war of ownership was actually not too long ago. It's hard to say whether The Elder created it or simply found it in ancient times, but the realm served as a haven from which humanity could be preyed upon for thousands of years. Twenty years ago, a man named Valdo Caeserius, Zana's father, was trapped in the Atlas by the actions of High Templar Venarius. Zana's father learned some measure of power over the Atlas, and became what we call The Shaper. He waged war against The Elder for as long as he could, until his daughter led the Elderslayers to a final triumphant victory. Unfortunately, Valdo was too far gone by then.
They are probably better referred to as the Elderslayers now, but for a time, the Vanguard battled Baran, Veritania, Drox, and Al-Hezmin for control of the Atlas. The leader of the Elderslayers, Sirus, was far more powerful than the rest. Before they all went mad, he sacrificed himself to help seal The Elder, and they thought him dead... until he somehow returned, full of pain and ennui. He alone managed to escape the Atlas, and he took out his despair on Oriath, during our rebuilding efforts. As you can see, that triggered the evacuation, and we haven't returned.
I can't help but feel a sense of hope that the people we have gathered are part of something greater. We're all utterly different, but something has brought us together here and now. Alva, with her blood thaumaturgy. Tane, with his dark science. Einhar, with his natural wisdom. Niko, with his machinery skills. Jun, with her combat prowess. Kirac's leadership, and your strength, make me confident that we can handle whatever the future brings.
Serving under Kirac in the Citizen Vanguard this past year has certainly been rewarding. This is a nobler cause by far than aiding the Blackguards. I don't know if Piety's atrocities can ever truly be made right, but I will keep trying until the day I die.