This chronicle consists of the surviving pages of the journal of Malvagel, War Wizard of the Protector’s Penta Arcanus. The pages are marked with dates in the format of the Ambrosian calendar, and the first entry reads:

 

3rd rise of Yelaya’s month, 821 D.E. (821 years since the defeat of the Eldren by Ambrose)

 

                Today is an auspicious day. After years of humiliation we strike back. I, Malvagel, Third of the Five, will do my humble duty and attempt to chronicle this venture for the benefit of our historians, and the students of the Arcanus.

 

Today, in Yelaya’s month, we set forth in force to reclaim our flowering land of Tristram from the thrice-cursed Eldren. It was three years ago to the day that the fiends landed in Vagnicae, and with great slaughter drove deep into our beautiful land.  With the blessing of Ambrose and our great Lord Protector, we march to retake what was ours.

 

Our cause is true, our force indefatigable. We will drive north across the Troos, and seek control of all lands south and east of the Renn. Once established, we intend to encircle and crush that hive of evil, once the simple village of Gloss-on-Renn, now known to all as Caer Eldren.

 

On our left our armies are led by brave Caw of Strathclyde,  and on the right by fey Duke Erekose, with his ancient battle blade. Despite the rashness of his initial campaign to retake his lands, the Duke has set our hearts afire with his passion and will no doubt acquit himself better. For even he must find humility in the presence of our great General Prava, who defeated the King’s forces in the last battle of our war of independence, and whose cunning drove the foul Charnish Loor from the province not ten years past. I dare say the Protector could have chosen no better…was is not Prava who saved the bulk of our battered armies from the disaster of the Eldren invasion? One shudders to think what would have happened had the flower of our martial strength been wasted there upon the plains, as the Duke would have had it.

 

Prava holds the center, and his plan is ambitious. For the past year, a strange quiet has fallen upon the Eldren. Where before the slightest attempt at incursion was met with devastating force, our scouts now penetrate even to within sight of foul Caer Eldren. We will take advantage of this lull. While Caw and Erekose guard our flanks, Prava will drive north in great strength and retake the fortress of Taran on the shoulder of the Ferus hills. Once secure, the fortress will be repaired and serve as the base for our later assault on Caer Eldren.

 

But we will not repeat our previous mistake. Few students of the Arcanus will remain behind in the libraries and towers of our great cities. Indeed, the First himself with many of our students will ride with Prava, and construct an arcane shield to protect both the fortress and our warriors from the Eldren’s vile magics.  My humble task as Third shall be to venture to the northwest, some half the distance between Taran and accursed Caer Eldren. There I shall build an arcane tower, to better use my unique talents to observe the fiends in their lair, and provide warning should they venture out to battle.

 

Sadly, the rest of the Five are prevented from joining. Were all my brothers gathered, we would be unstoppable…did our forebears in the ancient days of the Empire not teach us wisely? As Five together, our amplified might may alone turn the tide. But the other three brothers are needed to forestall the depredations of the mad King Laertes, who even now still dreams of bringing our rich lands back into his lecherous grip. I know the Lord Protector, may Ambrose bless him, will sleep well knowing the Fifth guards him personally from the King’s depraved tinkerers.

 

Once invested at Taran, the First shall unleash….(The remainder of this entry is illegible)

25th rise in the month of Yelaya, 821 D.E.

 

It stirs my heart to recount on our success of the past weeks. The Troos looked to be bridged with boats so great was our host, and we have acquitted ourselves well. Taran is ours, and its towers again rise to watch the northern plains, though this time for Eldren, not the raiders of backward Charn.

 

Indeed, we have suffered few losses, and even struck blows against the vile enemy. As yet, they have attacked us in small bands only, with seeming madness upon them…but who can determine the twisted nature of the Eldren mind? Their bodies strung along the walls of mighty Taran have inspired our brave soldiers and heartened them for the later battles. The Eldren can be defeated!

 

This day, I set forth to establish my watching post. In his wisdom, the General sends with me two squadrons of heavy cavalry to ware the enemy, while my garrison force consists of fifty stout footmen and crack archers of Erekose’s own house troops. They are near fanatical in their hatred of the Eldren…they will serve me well, no doubt, should martial force be required. Once invested, the cavalry shall return to the general. I wish to observe the Eldren in quiet, before risking a brazen display of force.

 

I must be brief, but an account of the First’s activities is needed. We have sited Tarak’s Forge. Together, we built the arcane wards and shields that will keep it hidden from the enemy. Even now, he prepares to build the workers…the hills are rich, and provided all the material we will need. Soon, the clang of Tarak’s Hammer will be heard again. Armed with such weapons, how can our warriors be defeated? Indeed, the First claims (at this point, the entry is illegible for a few paragraphs)…I dare say no metals such as this have been seen since the days of the Empire.

 

(Many entries following this are illegible)

 

5th rise in the month of Ambrit, 821 D.E.

 

Winter approaches, yet neither I nor my brave escorts shall be subject to its bitter winds. The tower is complete. It took much of my arcane skill to erect the place…for a moment, I wondered if the energies required surpassed my humble abilities. Two weeks of rest have restored my vigor and I am unharmed. I must take heed in the future of the Protector’s words…a blighted wizard is of no use to the Yrken cause.

 

Nevertheless, my creation is sufficient. Seamless, smooth as glass…black as night. It can not be spied from farther away than one hundred paces, and should resist all but the mightiest arcane attacks. The enchanted fountain I recently shaped shall provide us both food and sustenance.

 

The little news I get from the First via my Orb indicates that battle is brewing. Erekose has foolishly raided even to the northern banks of the Renn, no doubt making our force clear to the Eldren and our old enemies the High Lords of Charn…I pray that the Protector, may Ambrose bless him, sees fit to rein in these mad incursions. Though my position is still secret, who can tell how the Eldren will respond?

 

Indeed, I shudder at some of the things I have seen in my scrying. It is obvious to even a fool that the Eldren are depraved demons from the darkest pits. Of this Ambrose spoke at length, and truly. But even I, with my arcane knowledge, quail at the sight of their abomination. The cold, murderous efficiency of their initial conquest is difficult to contrast with the chaos and unholiness I see in my Orb. May Ambrose give me the strength.

(A great many entries are illegible following the above, and pick up at an unknown date)

 

…has befallen Taran? My Orb can no longer reach the First, and has not been able to for some weeks now. I sent two of my soldiers to seek communication, but they have not returned.

 

A cloud seems to have fallen over my Orb…it is as if some power greater than mine shields my sight from Caer Eldren, and the lands around. What I can see is quite troubling. Bands of Eldren wander freely, with the accursed dogs they brought with them from their unholy domain. I find myself at a loss to explain what I see and hear. When the Eldren first landed, the dogs caused great chaos, silently striking in numbers among our cavalry, rendering steeds useless with precision that does not become a simple animal. Yet, in some of my scrying I have seen things never before reported…the dogs have the ability to breath fire? Acid? I watched a group of our brave cavalry fall some twenty miles away…weeping in my powerlessness to aid them as they were surrounded by the fiend’s dogs and summarily  torn to pieces. I turned away when the Eldren began to eat the wounded…both horse and man…alive…Ambrose, give me the strength! My orders are clear, but the urge to abandon this position and seek the First’s guidance grows by the day.

 

I have ordered my men to leave the tower in force and begin clearing the trees surrounding. Should the Eldren come for us, this will spare them the benefit of shelter from my wrath. The Eldren demons may have magic in their very nature, and may be the wiser in the knowledge of the arcane. But I swear by Yelaya, Ambrit,  and Ambrose himself that they will find my powers the deadlier should they challenge me at this stronghold.

 

(nearly all the remaining pages are illegible, save for the following)

 

17th rise in the month of Tarak?

 

No word from Taran. The First, General Prava…the Duke, Count Caw.  I lose track of days. It is of no matter.  The Eldren have found us.

 

I recount this now, in the hope that I may spirit this journal away to my brothers. I know magics that can effect this, though in the past they have been beyond my strength. Nevertheless, the Blight seems a paltry threat compared to what I have seen the Eldren capable of.

 

My tower remains imprisoned in the arcane web spun by the Eldren after our third battle. Praise Ambrose, I littered the ground with their vile carcasses though at times, I feared the very world would split with the arcane energies being exchanged. I number the Eldren I slew at least three hundred. I have kept my men safely inside the tower, shielded from the accursed spells of these demons. My tower has served us well, easily repelling most of the energies directed at it.  Praise Ambrose for giving me the strength to fight so well. Yet, I fear even that strength will not be enough. The vile demons have turned the very trees against us, binding the tower in a wall of leaf and limb. Two of my archers were caught in the attack, and torn to flinders by the animated forest. The rest fled in terror as they watched the Eldren scamper, giggling,  after the remains of our comrades, greedily tearing at the flesh…I can not continue. Nothing could have prepared me for the sheer evil of these demons. The tales of Ambrose themselves do not describe the depravity of these vile creatures. Indeed, at times they seem entirely different than what the tales depict. More savage, more evil than the mind can even begin to grasp.

 

The trees prevent egress from the tower. We are trapped. I have rained arcane fires upon them, even drawn from the forbidden magics in an attempt to drive them away. They always return. The Eldren web deflects my mightiest efforts. I am very tired.

 

There is one hopeful occurrence. Although near useless, I still consult my Orb when not called to defend the tower. Today, I believe General Prava tried to contact me. If such is the case, the First must live…the General, though wise and strong, is no wizard and could not know the means to activate the First’s Orb. Ambrose bless him…he re-iterated my orders to hold the tower, and seemed to indicate a relief force approached. May Ambrose give me strength. I will not fail.

 

2nd rise in the month of Ellienne?

 

As I read my prideful journal, I am near wracked with grief. What fools we were to think that mere men could defeat the Eldren…we are not the great heroes…mighty Ambrose, faithful Ambrit, Yelaya, Tarak, Ellienne, and the rest. We are but men, and we are defeated.

 

I recount this now in the hopes of warning you, my Protector. When this entry is complete, I will use my last enchantment to transmit this journal to the Fifth, who no doubt guards you loyally. Please inform him to begin the rites necessary to replace myself and the First. You will need the Five at your side should the Eldren cross the Troos. May Ambrose ward you and our people against that day.

 

I have battled the cloud blocking my Orb for the past day, never ceasing, and I have seen. The Duke is driven with great loss towards Galava province. Count Caw I can not see. Of the General and his men…the walls of Taran are scorched, and the keep smokes as if burned. The field before the walls and the ramparts beyond are littered with statues my liege…an army turned to stone. The gates of the Forge chamber remain closed, but I can not see beyond the First’s wards. Parties of Eldren pursue the remnants of our proud army.

 

Prava is lost to our cause. I have witnessed what has become of our General. The Eldren had withdrawn, leaving the cursed trees to keep us within. In deep of night, flares approached and I dared spy on the approaching group. Most kept back, save for one tall, muscled figure, clad in your arms.  My General had come! It was then he removed his war helm, and I despaired.

 

Buried in the brow of Prava was an eldritch gem, my liege, the size of a fist. It burned with an unholy green glow. The gem’s light was matched in the eyes of our lost General. He has been possessed by the Eldren, Protector. Accept no word from him. Trust no missive.

 

He called to me by my secret name, and derided me most hatefully. He said “ (illegible) and as you have guarded this place so bravely, so you shall forever! Let your fountain sustain you in this mighty task!”. And with much laughter, so hateful and vile that words fail to describe it…the fiend in our General’s form raised his hands to the gem in his forehead and brushed aside my tower’s wards with magics so powerful I was nearly slain. A foul green vapor flooded from the fountain I had created to sustain us…my men have sickened and died of breathing it. For a few moments more, my personal wards should protect me.

 

My liege, I am and have been your humble servant. I beg that you not think poorly of my efforts, or my words. And I beg of you one more thing. Send no further missions. These were the last words of the General as he turned to go, again using my secret name…”You served Prava well, Malvagel…you now serve Martok.” My brothers will counsel you as to the import of this ancient, unholy….(illegible)…soul prison from the days of the Empire itself! (illegible)…am not a madman, but…(illegible)…Eldren must have uncovered…(illegible)…the corpses of the soldiers begin to stir, may Ambrose save us all!

 

(The journal appears to end at this point)