I... I think this was a memory of mine. It has been corrupted, but I indeed recall fragments... A sunny day at the beach when I was but a boy. I remember the warm sand between my toes. I chose a seashell to bring home... A happy day.
But... I do not remember taking the shell home. I do not remember home at all. So much is yet missing... Wait! I remember seeing another of these memories. Where was it? Oh dear. I don't remember...
I'll take this with me. I might remember if I take it with me. I hope we run into each other again soon.
I thought for a moment I knew that place... I cannot be sure, and now it is gone. Oh dear... Wait...! I think I remember seeing another one of these memories somewhere... Where was it? Oh dear. I don't remember.
I must have a look around. It was around here somewhere... Or was it back in that cave? Was I in a cave? Hmm.
All these memories we've collected... When I gaze upon them, I feel as though I'm close to remembering something important. Like there are memories trapped in my mind but I just can't quite reach them.
Oh. Oh dear. Oh DEAR! I've remembered something! Exile, it is time we go to the Nexus.
I remember this! This place is the Nexus of... uh... something. The name doesn't matter. What matters is what it can do! A doorway! A doorway into these memories!
Here. Take them and lay them out in this machine. It will reinforce the stability of the memories. They won't last too long, mind you, but they'll remain long enough to be explored. Build a path to the memories that lay out of reach. I'm sure this will help us. Sure of it!
Even shattered as I am, I know that memories floating around like this is not... normal. I believe something terrible has happened to me.
What if other men fall victim? What if mothers forget their children? What if... what if the children are left alone and scared to fend for themselves in a world of nightmare... Exile, can you fathom the horror?
I remember nothing at all, save the flash of the sun on my mortal skin in a dream. I was a living man. I know I was. Ask me again when we have retrieved further memories, and I shall hopefully have more to tell you.
I was... a good man! I fought for God. I remember saying so. That symbol... the Descry... it stirs my half-remembered blood to think of it. I wanted to do good things. Important things. Can you imagine finding the truth of oneself on the wrong side of morality? I have thought long on this fearful notion... but now I know, exile, and that relieves me. I am no longer afraid to recover more of my memories.
I'm certain now that I was a Templar. Yes, I remember watching their mighty parades through Oriath Square as a child, and I can still feel that sense of satisfaction the day I truly donned the mantle. All of the pain and sacrifice was worth it, to do good, to protect mankind... to protect the children...
I was a Templar, yes, but now I remember that I secretly despised them. I understood that they were a diseased organization prone to brutal oppression. Friend, was I exiled as well? I cannot imagine my resentment would have gone over well with my superiors. Maybe I kept my thoughts to myself and lived a life of quiet desperation, but I feel like I was the kind of man to act.
Exile, there is something about all this that I cannot fathom. The memories I somewhat understand. A man's thoughts, a woman's remembrance, a child's sorrow - these things come from the living, or the once-living. They are real. But the ancient bridges that you cross between memories? Those were already out there. They came from no man, woman, or child of our land.
I suspect those pathways are not made of the iron we think we see. To dwell on their origins or true nature could send one over the brink, I suspect!
These are memories, yes, but they are also real in a sense. We feel pain within them. We find real material objects within them. Yet some of these objects are not quite right. It is as though they are stuck, half-remembered.
There's a device in the Nexus that seems attuned to such objects. It seems to draw upon their properties to create something new. Its creator must have been seeking something very important in his or her past... I wonder if they ever found it.
I sense within myself a natural affinity for the curious. I am not overly curious myself, but rather, I appreciate the rare resource that is a scientific soul. The child's work is crucial to protect mankind from the nightmare that lurks... out there. Her work must continue no matter the cost.
The miner is the only one, other than you, who can hear me in my current form. We converse at length, and his conversations help me keep my wits about me in this time of loneliness, but at times he seems to speak to others that not even I can perceive. There is too much competition for his attention.
The day I purged the old guard and rose to the highest position in Oriath, I thought I was finally safe, that no one would have power over me. But on that day, I was also given access to the secret tomes that only the High Templar may read. My eyes were opened to the truth. Wraeclast is a rare shining bauble, at the cracks of infinite oceans of hungering madness.
Oh dear. I don't know whose memory this was, but they were far too young for such cruelty. Sometimes, Exile, mankind makes me weep. Who could create such an inhuman system of exploitation, and for what purpose?
Oh, Exile, though I am a mere shade with only figments of memory, I can say with certainty that no man has ever felt the nuances of rage and love so strongly. His was the strongest memory I have ever felt, an imprint of his entire essence. His name... was Victario.
I think this is one of mine, Exile. I feel it: at eight years old, I was almost exiled by mere happenstance. If my mother had not found me and gotten the Templars to release me, I would have been lost...
Demons, child. Countless. They watch us from the darkness. They claw at the thin veil that keeps our world separated from theirs. A great tide of evil that wishes only to crash down upon us and sweep our civilisation into oblivion. But I will stand against it.
Oh, little one, it is you who will help me... Your memories will show what I need them to show, for the cause. Every thinking man and woman of Wraeclast will come to simply know that they must unite... under me. It is the only way to guarantee a unified defence.
She was perfectly preserved, but drained of her blood. We buried her, but within days the earth rejected her. Whatever killed her took root in that place. The earth soured and we had to move, abandoning her body.
I used to pride myself on taking care of these tomes, but the ancient treatises concerning the Vaal... should be burned. He's making me research for him, and the things I am reading about concern the destruction of all mankind.
I awake to the sound of screaming. My eyes and throat sting. Smoke billows into the hut from outside. Something is terribly wrong. I dash outside and am confronted by a wall of heat. Smoke makes it difficult to see, but the village is in flames.
I run from the smoke and, to my horror, realise we are trapped. A rival tribe stands at the only exit, cutting my brothers and sisters down as they flee. We've been ambushed. I run towards the flames and leap, praying to Valako for protection.
I see you. You are here seeking answers, because you can find them only in the stories we will leave behind when Malachai and Voll cause our destruction. In this final hour, I entertain the notion that the words I write exist in some form beyond me. Do they go on as dreams? As memories?
I have the wildest notion that perhaps you will find a way to pick up scraps of memory, and you, whoever you are, will come across this one someday. If you do, I ask only this: slay Malachai. Slay him for yourself, or slay him for all the lost citizens of the Empire, but, most of all, slay him for Marylene.
The Courts are burning. Accusations fly. Sinner! Heretic! I am but an initiate, and my patron urges silence. We will keep our heads down while one High Templar supplants another. It is all about power, my patron whispers, and we have none.
Should an accusation fall our way, we shall be doomed to die with the other accused. Be unseen and unheard, he whispers. This is what happens when men who seek power refuse to wait. I learned a valuable lesson that day: Trust without leverage is vulnerability.
Shavronne assures me the process will be relatively painless and that my duties as warden can continue unhindered, but as my flesh swells and ruptures I realise I am just another test subject. At least I can fulfill my duties to the Empire before my mind--
Another child was taken last night, so tonight we wait, praying the demon does not return, but it does. We catch only glimpses of its grey skin beneath the moonlight. We pursue the demon on foot to the edge of the woods. The child it carries does not cry out.
Anaris follows closely, but I hesitate. I gather my will and leap into the shadows, tracking the demon. But I am too late. The demon and child are gone, and Anaris stands frozen, pale as the moon. He whispers something I do not hear and falls, dead. I fear we will be hunted to extinction.
A man in uniform visits. He is from the Courts. He says the Templar have alms for widows like my mother, but she must collect it in person. We go to the church, and I wait outside in the gardens. The sun is setting. I don't know how long I've been sitting here.
When mother returns, she looks pale. Her eyes are red, and her clothes are torn. She grabs my hand, and we walk home in silence. I lie awake in bed. I hear her crying. The man comes over often after that, with toys and food, but I don't like him...
Help! Please, somebody, help me! I've fallen down here! I think I've hurt my leg! Hello?! Stay calm. I'm sure someone will come soon. I'm so hungry... If I get desperate, maybe I can eat some of the mushrooms down here.
I feel strange... my head feels like it is filled with bubbles. Are the walls breathing? The colours here are so vibrant... oh... my stomach... I'm ill. The world is spinning and, oh, my gut! What did I eat? I feel--
People stream down the street towards Oriath Square. I hear their shouts and cheers, and when Mother isn't looking, sneak out to join the merry crowd. Just outside the pens, a Karui boy, no older than I, stands atop the gallows.
We knew of the gems, but we did not know of what Malachai called his 'muse.' The smugglers have returned with rubbings of the device they found. They call it 'miraculous.' I know a thing or two about miracles, so I will be the judge of that.
The stench convenes around me thicker than the press of the vagabonds themselves. Though starving, their strength while holding on to one another is surprising. I'm trapped in a knot of ragged bodies, and the men of the Church clap me in irons despite my cries.
The shackles cut into my wrists and ankles. The guards are deaf to my pleading, but I am no murderer. If I am guilty of anything, it is falling in love with the wrong person. Justice served, they claim.
This is not justice. Any chance at justice evaporated the moment I walked into the courtroom and saw her husband held the gavel. I'm just the scapegoat. It's easy to get away with murder when you're the judge...
I strike the earth once more as I have countless times, but my strike feels unfamiliar. Instead of the crack of stone, I am met with flexing sinew. I examine my pick axe. A dark red liquid froths on its tip.
The last three weeks feel like they've passed in an instant. The atmosphere here since the High Templar's disappearance has been so relaxed, but, while enjoying the sun on my roof this morning, I saw the black smoke billowing from the Chamber of Innocence turn red.
The Seneschals have at last elected a new High Templar. Rumour has it they've sought young blood. Someone who can revitalise the Templar. Someone who can bring them into the modern age. Whoever it is, he can't be worse than the last one. The bastard set us back fifty years!
Indexing artefact one-twelve in lot ten, an ancient jawbone. Carvings on the side attribute it to... Valako? This can't actually be the jawbone from the myth... and this... Tukohama's tooth? Hinekora's hair?
These were in the archives for centuries. Are these what those thieves were after? Who would want these relics, except for followers of Kitava? But that's absurd... best not to mention the robbery attempt.
Malachai says he has perfected new techniques that will unlock the raw power hidden within the Virtue Gems. I have volunteered my body to the cause. I feel no fear, no hunger, no pleasure... nothing. I hear only his voice. I must obey...
We walk in absolute silence through the murk. It's after midnight, but the streets above are still abuzz with activity. Hours pass before the streets fall silent. We emerge one by one into a pitch-black room.
As I help our last out of the sewers, a flint is struck, and we are surrounded by light and gleaming imperial armour. There's a dagger at my throat. A setup. Dragged into a cell, the guards laughing. I still reek of the sewers...
I feel fear... and hatred. The Emperor stands before me, and I know this is my chance. I strike at him. I pierce his belly, but it is not immediately lethal. I lock eyes with the man. I watch him raise his axe...
Beneath the summer sun we follow Tarcus in search of the promised land. Before long, hunger grips our stomachs. The doomlands take their toll. Our numbers dwindle, and discord spreads among the tribesmen.
That's it. I'm out of here. Now... which way did I come from? Was it this way? No. Must have been this way. Hmm... this doesn't look familiar either. None of this looks familiar, and I think I can hear the wolves coming closer...
The foreman is beginning to show signs of madness. He claims the walls, earth, and even his pick have become sticky as honey. I pray death comes for us soon, but I fear we will receive something far worse.
There are rumours that Lord Yriel's blood-fed crops have swelled, but the fruit they bear can send a man mad. We look to our children for the answer. A child cannot hunt, but it can still provide. The taste is hard to forget.
Everyone is dead and I'm alone. The Karui swept through the watch so quickly, we didn't have a chance to flee. Men, women, even children, slaughtered. I'm lucky to be alive. But I cannot return home now. No.
I'd be branded a coward, imprisoned, and hung for desertion. I've no other choice. I must make do out in the wilds. Perhaps a farmer will take pity on me. And if not, I have my blade. I will take what I need by force.
The walls of the cave we huddle in tremble, but the screaming outside keeps us from fleeing into the open air. Life itself has gone mad, and the sky is burning. The children cry out for their mother, but I haven't the heart to tell them what she became in front of my eyes.
I come here on sunny days to get away from the squalor of the streets and alleyways around my home. It is not the cutpurses that bother me. It's the city guard. Even so, a legionnaire approaches me and asks my intent in the fields.
The crowd begins to shiver and shake as I creep between their bound hands. Some moan for help. Others scream as their bodies bubble, and I realize I cannot help them. Tiny spiders pour out of open wounds.