Is it choice that carries you here, or is it fate? I see a need in you. A need to peer into your future. A need to follow the right path. But your future has already been cast. So open your mind and embrace it.
Long ago, my people called me a hatungo. A wise woman. Now they call me a revenant. But it is not my fate to return to the Mother of Death just yet. For now I stand with one foot in this world, and the other foot in the realm of the dead. I'm an inquirer of the living and an interpreter of death.
I sense you have questions. For a gift of silver, I will answer them. But you seek more than answers. Riches. Power. These I can also provide, in a way... All you have to do is join me. Heed my words, but walk your path. The future is mine to tell, but yours to claim. It is time to fulfil your prophecy.
Our paths meet in the shell of a long-dead snail. An empire slow to see where its path was taking it. Built on the husk of another, and destined to be buried time and time again. This city will see great things yet, exile. But not in your lifetime.
Many great things begin at the foot of a mountain, exile. So too do many tragedies. Often a path becomes a fork, and the echoes of your actions push you down one side or the other. Do you know where you are being carried? ...Would you like to?
The Mother of Death watches over this city with great interest. You have joined us just in time. Before you lies a great many paths, each walked by a different life. But each must come to the same end. Eventually.
I awoke in the halls of death with the life I once led little more than a dream half-remembered. Yama the White, my furry companion, stood before me with the Seeing Stone he holds now. Both were given a hair of Hinekora's dark knowledge, but each serves a separate purpose.
The Seeing Stone drags me deep into its core, where every instant into eternity is known all at once, like limitless rings on a tree trunk. Yama, like a torch in the mist, guides me back from the stone's infinite visions.
Dark minds hide in dark places, but it was not always so.
The wise Red rulers were long-dead, and the strong seized power. But an unwise leader pulls the people towards ruin. So it came to pass that milk fresh from the nipple was soured, grass grew hard and sharp, and flesh walked the earth without a soul. Hinekora cast her net towards the new kings and queens, but four slipped through the holes and fled into darkness. There they remain. Beyond the reach of the Mother of Death. But not beyond her sight.
The old red ones left this land barren. Crops grew stunted and disease filled the air. If you don't feed an animal it will soon cast a hungry eye upon its brothers and sisters, and man is no different. The Plaguemaw and his people soon feasted on their own, devouring the very life essence of the young and innocent.
When the rains stopped, the Lord fed his farms with the blood of the beasts. But blood carries corruption with it, and the crops soon towered, monstrous and thorned. In the thick jungle of his own making, it was not only he who turned feral.
Wisdom and knowledge are not one and the same. The queen's thirst for learning was unending. As she tore through the pages of countless tomes, her knowledge grew and her wisdom slipped away, buckling beneath the weight of insanity.
Sometimes death is a thief, quick on its feet and quicker with a blade. Sometimes it is a vine, slowly growing tighter and tighter around your neck. But death is not a toy. The unbreathing queen has raised an army of soulless corpses. Her actions mock death, turning it into little more than an obstacle for her puppetry of the flesh.
Wraeclast teems with the memories of a violent past. Although the flesh and minds of its original inhabitants are long-gone, their emotions - anger, fear, envy - remain in the artefacts they have left behind.
Doedre Darktongue, Marceus Lioneye, Shavronne of Umbra, Maligaro, Victario. If these names mean nothing to you now, they will soon. Keep an eye out for their long-lost possessions. Each holds the memory of failure, sadness and a desire for revenge.
The great thaumaturgists of the past considered themselves artists of the highest calibre. Their paints were the hidden energies that flow around and through us. Their canvas: the finely-woven fabric of reality itself. And like every great artist, there were times when their brush strokes wavered, when errors were made. Unfortunately, their errors have persisted far longer than their great creations.
Hinekora, my Mother of Death, is not the only god, exile. The Karui are watched over by many. Ngamahu lends us fire, which illuminates the path. Tawhoa gives us the trees and birds that line the path, so that we may enjoy beauty and peace. Tukohama provides us with weapons and knowledge of war, which lets us walk the path safely.
And in the final days of this world, Kitava, whose hunger knows no bounds, will take it all away.
The fragment you have recovered leads to a very dangerous realm. The Red Queen waits in her dark stronghold, and a thousand years of anger bubble just beneath the surface of her flawless, ill-gotten beauty.
Thieves make do with what they can find or take by force. When thieves outnumber their victims, they must look farther and farther for what they can take. It is their own greed that carries them into danger.
We must gather at once, for I fear the end draws close.
I have uncovered a tome that illustrates certain forbidden techniques used to prolong life far beyond ordinary means. We shall fracture our very souls, and keep safe a piece of one another's very being. With this, none of us may perish unless all of us perish at once.
It is not without a cost, for life granted requires life be paid, but it need not be any of ours. Bring your most loyal and healthy retainers, and bid the rest farewell, for we shall not see them again.
Make haste and do not speak of where you are going. Immortality is within our grasp, but there are countless who would risk death - who would kill - for a chance at eternal life.