Editor’s Note: What follows is not a proper history, but instead a collection of tales and folklore from the inhabitants of Mar Tesoro. These have passed on through the generations, doubtless with many changes and alterations. The story usually varies greatly depending on the geographical location and race of the storyteller. The most common elements of the differing accounts are gathered here to form a single tale. It is recorded here for archival and reference, not for any supposed historical value. Indeed, many portions of the following are highly unlikely and should be viewed with utmost skepticism.
– Chronicler Norvus
In the earliest days of Mar Tesoro, the southern lands were inhabited by a peaceful clan of mountain Elves. They were gentle and kind, slow to quarrel and preferred music and wine above swordplay and bloodshed. They lived on the slopes of the great mountain, which they named Mt. Fiore, which means “the place of flowers”.
The mountain was tall and green in those days, and was fair to behold even in the cold of winter. Fairer still it was in the warm months, when the slender trees would bloom large flowers and clothe the mountain in white and gold. The tall peaks caught the spring rain and made the lands below rich and fertile.
Few others visited the lands. Only a few Gnomes and fewer humans had walked the slopes, and no Dwarf had even set eyes to the mountain in those days.
But Dwarf-King Thul Marblade came at last to the shores of Mar Tesoro. He came to the Elven chieftain Ellas Morad, and asked for leave to climb the mountain. “For”, said he, “it is the way of all Dwarves to seek the mountains and learn their ways.”
Morad gave him permission to walk the slopes, and the Dwarf departed at once. With him were many strong but grim Dwarves of his kind. As they ascended, a powerful greed came over them, for they saw that the stone of the mountain was filled with both silver and gold in plenty, as well as many fair gems and rare stones. Never in all the Earth had any Dwarf seen such abundant riches, and they marveled that such wealth had lain undisturbed for so long.
Thul Marblade climbed to the pinnacle of the tallest peak, and there he spoke to his kin, “Brothers, here lies the greatest of all mountains of the Earth. Behold how rich it is with treasure, how bold and strong its rock, and how kingly its shape! Surely we must build here a mine, or we are no Dwarves at all.”
His company agreed, and they departed from the mountain.
Here the story of Thul Marblade continues. Several aspects of this tale are plainly ridiculous, while others simply stretch the imagination. It is, however, a fascinating piece of folklore.
– Chronicler Norvus
Dwarven King Thul Marblade returned from Mt. Fiore and came again to Ellas Morad, leader of the mountain Elves. This time asked for leave to dig deep into the mountain and bring forth its treasure. He promised to pay half of all that was mined in tribute.
But Morad forbade him saying, “Not if you were to surrender every gem brought fourth to the light would I give you permission to do this, for we Elves care not for gold or silver or for gems, but love only our homeland. Our desire is not for wealth, but to live in a land unspoiled.”
Marblade became enraged, saying, “We offer to do all of the work, and in return you will receive half of the profit. Never has a Dwarf made such a generous offer! You find yourself atop a mountain of gold, and your only thought is to use it as a garden, and will not let the Dwarves even peer inside of it! It is unjust that the greatest of all mountains should be in the hands of Elves, and not the Dwarves. If we had the greatest of all woods in the world, surely we would share it with the Elves, who love such things best. Therefore give us now leave to mine the mountain.”
Morad was unmoved, and did not see his peril. For he replied, “Nay! You wish to barter with me a forest you do not own and have not seen, against my home and the home of all my people? No! Cursed are you that look on such a fair place and can think only of tearing it open to find what is underneath. Depart from this land, and come never again to the gentle slopes of Mt. Fiore!”
The Dwarf King’s rage was now fully kindled, and he answered, “You bid me, King of all the Dwarves, to depart from the king of all the mountains? I will leave indeed, when I have all the treasure hidden within. But you shall depart now!” And with that word he slew Morad and all his men, for the Dwarves were strong and sturdy in battle and the gentle Elves could make no contest against them.
Then the Dwarves roamed throughout the land, and killed every Elf they could find. They hunted them like animals, killing even the youngest, until not a single Elf drew breath in the land of Mar Tesoro. Their bodies were thrown down the southern slope into the great chasm, which is now called Bohrung Khel Toten, or “The Chasm of the Dead”, in the common tongue. And so were the fair mountain elves of Mar Tesoro forever wiped from the face of the Earth.
Then Thul Marblade took for himself the mountain, and they renamed it Khelberg, and they set to mine deep into the mountain and take its treasures.
The previous section records the tale of Thul Marblade, how he exterminated a supposedly idyllic race of mountain Elves and claimed Khelberg as his own. This section attempts to gather together the different accounts of Marblade’s rule and form a single coherent tale. The varying stories (mostly oral, as a rule) conflict in many ways but all have a few common threads. Most importantly, the actions of the “Spirit of the Mountain” are, in different accounts, attributed to various gods and deities. Nevertheless, the underlying theme of punishment and curse is present in all variants of the tale.
It is recorded here for those curious about ancient myths and folklore. The reader should not view this as a work of history.
– Chronicler Norvus
Thul Marblade took the Elven lands of Mt. Fiore, destroyed the Elves that dwelt therein, and renamed it Khelberg. Once all was under his dominion, he sought the depths of the mountain.
Yet the Spirit of the Mountain, sometimes called Fiore, did not forget the Elves, and greatly lamented their loss. So furious was the spirit of Fiore that it decided that none of the plunderers would have the wealth they sought. So it was that the mountain resisted the Dwarves, and fought against them as they dug.
The Dwarves found that each new shaft led only to trouble or death. Some caved in or flooded, others gave way suddenly, dropping the diggers into bottomless black holes. Still others issued forth molten rock which flowed from the holes like blood, filling them in and killing many miners.
Despite their masterful skills at digging and the making of mines, the Dwarves were defeated at every attempt. Many perished, and they were dismayed, saying that they should leave the mountain be and seek treasure where it may be less plentiful yet more easily obtained. They grew to fear the mountain, and dared not walk on the slopes at night when the land was restless and treacherous.
But Marblade was stubborn and would not turn away. He perceived the Spirit and sought to contain it. He sent word to the many Dwarf-clans, calling for the greatest wielders of magic and those with the knowledge of the arcane, that they should come to Mt. Khelberg and aid him in his war against Fiore. In exchange he offered all the gems that the Dwarves had managed to wrest from the mines. Many answered his call.
They met at the slopes of Khel Toten to gather their power together, and bind the Spirit of the Mountain. Using both strength and sorcery, both pickaxe and spellbook, they drove a single deep shaft into the heart of the mountain. The battle was terrible and numerous Dwarves were killed in the making of it, but at last Marblade arrived in the lowest depths of the Earth, and there he cast the great binding-spell to forever contain Fiore.
Even as he did, the Spirit in turn cast one final curse: A voice came from the Earth saying, “Even as you have cursed this land, so now will the land curse you. All who dwell here are doomed to constant war. All who attack the mountain are doomed to also defend it. Foes will come from around the world to plunder this place, and those who gather my riches will only live to see them scattered.”
With that, Fiore was bound and silenced. The Dwarves sealed the tunnel they had dug, and called it a tomb, for many had fallen in the making of it.
While other stories in this volume are little more than folklore, the following is very probably a true account. The events outlined here are supported by various other trustworthy documents. (See also: “Reign of King Oemar Vol III” and “The First Uprising of Khelberg”)
– Chronicler Norvus
The Dwarven King Marblade began a great dig within the gem-filled mountain of Khelberg. Several shafts were dug and many heaps of treasure brought into the world. Yet in the forty-second year of his reign over Khelberg, Elves came from out of the east. Some came from Dunlock and some from more distant lands. They swept through the country and drove the Dwarves away. The Dwarves were slow to relinquish their prize, and most were wiped out. The few who escaped were scattered and weakened, and would not return to Khelberg in their lifetimes.
The Elves claimed the mountain, saying it was the rightful property of their people, and just reparations for the crimes against their slain kin. Yet they kept the name Khelberg, and sought to continue the plunder begun by the Dwarves. They hired many Humans and Halflings as diggers, and sent them into the Dwarven mines. While these new races had less skill at such work than those that first created the mines, they were eager and learned much as they examined the Dwarven handiwork. In several years’ time, the mountain flowed with gems and precious metal such as had never been seen by mortals. The Elves became among the richest in the world, and their empire grew.
They expanded the number of mines, until the face of the mountain looked like a great hive. The mountain slopes became gray and lifeless as the trees and grass were stripped away to make room for more digging.
More workers of varying races were brought to the mines. Some were Orcish or Goblin slaves, who were sent to do the most dangerous or back-breaking labor. Others were Elves who were guilty of some crime according to Elven law, and had been sentenced to work within the mountain as punishment. Some were also of Halfling and Gnomish kind, although their numbers were always few. Of all the workers, humans were both the most numerous and useful. They were intelligent and strong, and did not hate the underworld as the Elves and Gnomes do. They came closest to the skill of the Dwarves in mine-work, and ever they strove greedily for the richest loads.
Yet less than a single generation later, the workers began to resent their place in the world. They noticed that the work was theirs, while the riches were not. A Human rose from among the workers and led them in rebellion. Lorman was his name, and he was both a cunning general and a powerful wizard. They overthrew their Elven employers, slaying many Elves and at last taking the land as their own. During this time, many Orcs and Goblins escaped and fled north where they would later multiply and grow strong.
The war was long and bloody, and many lives were lost on both sides. When at last the battle ended, Lorman was crowned their king. Once again the Elves had been banished from the mountain.
The following is a much reduced version of the history of Mar Tesoro between the rule of King Lorman and the rise of the second Dwarven King.
– Chronicler Norvus
King Lorman ruled and mined Khelberg for twenty years, when he was assassinated by one of his own lieutenants, a human foreman named Ingol. Ingol was a brutal leader but did not have the insight and cunning of his former master. His chief enforcers were more Orcs than Humans, and he ruled by fear and cruelty.
The Dwarves heard of the fall of Lorman and saw that Ingol was a weak leader. They attempted once again to reclaim Khelberg. Their forces landed on the southern shores of Mar Tesoro and pushed north. Few who worked in the mines were willing to fight to defend their cruel master, and Ingol was defeated before the end of the fifth year of his reign. As the war ended, many humans fled north and settled in those lands.
In those days the mining had begun to take its toll on the valley. The mountain was now naked of trees and grass, and the water that flowed down from the hills was dark and filled with the dust and waste of the mines. The Greenlands turned gray, and crops failed. The inhabitants were obliged to move away from the foot of the mountain.
The Dwarves built a great city southwest of the mountain and called it
Fol Thron. They ruled from this place and sent many workers to live in harsh camps at the foot of Khelberg.
Although they were invaded twice, the Dwarves held the mines for fifty years. Even when not facing full-scale invasion from Humans or Elves, they were regularly harassed by bands of Orcs from out of the North, who came often to raid shipments of food and gold.
The name “Khelberg” is simply the Dwarven rendering of “The Mountain” in Common Speech. This seems an odd name for the Dwarves to have chosen, given their habit of naming mountains after the Dwarf who first discovered, owned, or mined them. Perhaps Khelberg was so great in their minds that they did not think any of their names would be worthy, and so left the mountain “nameless” by calling it Khelberg.
It should also be noted that Khelberg is not a single mountain, but a small cluster that is roughly horseshoe-shaped. It was the custom of both Dwarves and Elves in the Earlier Days to name the hills in groups this way. It is said that the Dwarves had names for each of the peaks within Khelberg, although I have not found any record of them. The other races that dwell there now have continued the habit of referring to the entire group as Khelberg, as if it were a single mountain.
In the center of the crescent is a wide flat valley. Of old it was simply called “Greenlands” by the Elves, although that name was dropped once it ceased being green. As the valley turned gray and filled with gravel and brackish water, the city was largely abandoned and became little more than mining camps. At one time the elves (when they had control of Khelberg) gave the camps the name Della Minera (“The Mining Valley”, in Common) and the name remained, although the Elves did not.
Other notable names on the island include Tal Podere, (in Elven, “the Farmlands”), Tal Lengo (in Elven, “the woods”), Valle Calma (in Elven “Silent Valley”), and Fol Thron (in Dwarven “Strong Throne”).
The island itself is still called by its original name Mar Tesoro, which means (very roughly) “Treasures Island”, or perhaps “Island of great value”. Is it possible that the Elves were aware of the gold and gems in the mountain, yet chose to leave them be? Or is the name speaking of the value of the island as a place to live, and not of the riches it contained? It is impossible to know, as the legends from those days are few and unreliable.
Another curious fact is that although Elves and men have captured the city of Fol Thron many times, it has never been renamed. It has been the capital city of many empires, yet still bears its original Dwarven name.
– Chronicler Norvus
This section will highlight the middle years of Mar Tesoro. Again, a full account would fill many books but the record of conquest is given here in order to complete the timeline of this book. The reader should be aware that this list is very brief and leaves out many important figures and events. True students of history should consult other volumes to learn about these events in detail.
– Chronicler Norvus
The Dwarves held the mines for fifty years, enduring two sieges and many Orcish raids from out of the north before finally falling to the Elves.
The Elves appointed a king, who was assassinated within weeks, and then replaced by King Loemus. Loemus survived two attempts on his life, one from human assassins and one from among his own advisers. He was maimed in the second attempt, and as time went on he became more paranoid. He executed countless people he suspected of plotting against him. His purge was so vigorous that work stopped in the mines for some time because he lacked competent leaders.
The kingdom of Loemus collapsed on itself and many other forces moved in to seize the mines. From here a proper account of ownership becomes difficult. War raged around the mountain for several years, and more than once there were multiple factions mining from from different sides of Khelberg.
After a decade of fighting, a Human female named Rhone gained the mastery in the conflict, aided by a large group of Wizards. They drove the other forces from the mountain, captured Fol Thron, and set up a Mageocracy. This was the most diverse and stable government the land had known since the fall of Ellas Morad and the original Mountain-Elves.
It was during this time that the Mage Wars raged in Dunlock. As that war ended, the Guild of Mages was formed. (See also, The Mage Wars Vol. III and the charter for the Guild of Mages) Since members of the guild were generally discouraged (but not prohibited) from making war openly with one another, this had the effect of strengthening the rule of Mistress Rhone. If anyone sought to oppose or oust her, they could usually only attract non-guild mages, who were generally weaker or less disciplined.
Mistress Rhone was, by all accounts, the most peaceful and patient of all the leaders of Khelberg. While she put down many rebellions, she had a habit of imprisoning her foes instead of the usual policy of public execution that had been the norm for centuries. During her reign she fought two successful wars against foes attempting to reclaim Khelberg, and finally died of an unknown poison after ruling for thirty years.
Mistress Rhone never married or had any offspring, so at her death her post fell to Archmage Mordan, her chief military adviser. Mordan arrested many foreigners travelling in his lands, including many diplomats. He imprisoned and tortured them, saying they were spies. He sent many antagonizing messages to various Dwarven and Elven leaders, and did many other deeds to provoke his enemies. While Rhone had sometimes avoided open war when possible, Mordan sought it out at every opportunity.
Even his harshest critics admitted that he was without equal at the business of warfare. He was a great seer, and could at many times view the future actions of his enemies. Within months he had utterly exterminated the Orcs to the north. He initiated and won a number of wars against both Elves and Dwarves, and conquered the northern lands of Mar Tesoro, bringing the entire country under his rule.
While Rhone was among the most gentle of leaders to sit in Fol Thron, Mordan was without question the most ruthless. The common workers in the mines became slaves, which were worked ceaselessly. Mordan decreed that the slaves should work so hard that a third should die each year. He replaced the lost slaves with the captured soldiers he won in his many battles, and with peasants taken from the farms of the north.
The people of the city fared little better. Laws were brutal under his rule, and many perished in his dungeons for the most trivial offenses. He could enter the minds of his subjects, see their thoughts and vex their dreams. Any that might oppose him in secret were known to him, and soon driven mad with visions and nightmares.
Mordan was a student of history, and knew too well how briefly other rulers had held their position as master of Khelberg. He said many times that he planned to be the final master of Khelberg, and that none would supplant him.
The years of his rule grew long. He surpassed a hundred years of age, and although he was thin and gaunt, he retained the vigor of youth. He became reclusive, and ran his empire through his servants, who were all mighty wizards in their own right. They did his will, spreading his cruelty and malice as far as his power would allow.
The years drew on, and the wealth of the mines was used to expand the city. The palace grew, a great trench was dug around it, and was filled with water from the nearby lake. This new moat was filled with many watery beasts and fell creatures of the deep, so that none dared approach the palace for fear of being dragged from the bridge by some unseen horror. The palace was then renamed the Citadel, and began to look unlike the great fortress the Dwarves had built. It was dark and twisted, and few dared to lift their eyes to look upon it, even in the daytime.
The power of the Archmage Mordan far surpassed that of any other, until there were none that dared challenge him in battle. His foes relented, and drew back. After centuries of war, Khelberg at last belonged to one man alone, uncontested.
Much of the following information is guesswork on my part. A great deal of knowledge was lost during this period, and some facts are now beyond the reach of any historian. The reader should be aware that I stand by all of the following as being as accurate as possible, yet incomplete.
– Chronicler Norvus
The reign of Archmage Mordan reached its hundredth year. At length people began to wonder if he had died, and his assistants only pretended he yet lived. Mordan had not been seen in over twenty years, and had long since passed the natural lifespan of his kind. For the first time since his rule began, a small group of slaves dared to challenge their masters and seek freedom. They broke from their prison in Della Minera and sought the open country to the north.
It was then that Mordan at last revealed himself. No longer a man, he was now the unliving master of Khelberg: Mordan the dread Lich King. He appeared amidst the fleeing slaves and slew them with a single word. They gave up their spirits and fell at his feet. Within the hour their bodies had risen again to become the first of his most fearsome servants. They were the Grave Walkers, the terrible footsoldiers of his lifeless army. He slew many in this way, both foe and servant alike, and their ranks grew.
At length he discovered that the more bitter his victim’s death, the stronger and more viscous they were in unlife. He took many Elves and Humans and tormented them for years before allowing them to die. He invented many new spells and potions to aid him in extending the lives of his victims and intensifying their agony. So it was that each generation of Grave Walkers was more fearsome than the one before.
He took all of the people of the north and brought them south as slaves. The men were sent to work in the mines, while the women were made to live in Della Minera and used like cattle for the breeding of more slaves. The children were taken within the Citadel and taught to worship the Lich King as a god.
A decade passed and the first of Mordan’s children emerged from the Citadel. They were twisted and cruel, and wielded many strange magics in his name.
The work in the mines increased, and great smelting furnaces were built on the mountainside to purify his gold and silver. Day and night they burned, until the sky above the mountain was the color of ash.
Despite his boundless supply of gold, the peoples of other nations refused to trade with him, for he would take what he wanted from any ship that came close to his shores. The ships he would plunder and sink, while their crews were sent to his mines to work until they died. He grew bold, doing all he could to provoke war and make enemies. Even the evilest of creatures feared to serve him, for he held all life in contempt.
The gold and riches of the mountain were hoarded deep within the Citadel, where none could reach them or put them to use. He proclaimed loudly that the riches of the world were hidden within his Citadel for any that had the courage to face him. Heroes emerged at the rumor of treasure, and many adventurers traveled to Mar Tesoro to attempt to unseat him. All were slain and added to his army of Grave Walkers. He feared no foe in all the Earth.
As the power of the Lich King continued to grow beyond measure, the other nations of the world began to wonder if he did not plan to conquer all. The Elven kings of southern Dunlock joined together, and called on their sometime enemies of the north to join with them against this common threat, before Mordan became too strong for any to oppose.
The armies of Dunlock, from the greatest to the least of its kingdoms, gathered together to give one final challenge to Mordan the Dread Lich. Elf and Dwarf, Human and Halfling, all met the armies of Mordan at the foot of the cursed mountain. The Grave Walkers marched into battle along with many slaves and fell beasts under the control of of Mordan. The battle lasted many weeks, and unspeakable magic was unleashed on both sides.
The Dunlock forces, led by the Elven Songmage Lucan Forwinol, at last had the mastery. Mordan’s forces were pushed back and then annihilated. Forwinol advanced and captured – at the expense of many lives – the once-great Citadel.
Forwinol knew Mordan was undefeatable as a lich. If slain, his form would re-appear at the next sundown. The only hope was to find and destroy Mordan’s Phylactery, the container of his life-force.
Most Lich would hide such an item, but Mordan was proud and cunning, and his Phylactery was on display at the Citadel. And then Forwinol at last saw why Mordan was so fearless: The Phylactery was trapped with many spells so that none would dare destroy it.
Forwinol was wise and learned in magic, and saw a way to defeat the Dread Lich without breaking the Phylactery. Instead he added to the spells of the Phylactery, making a new binding spell that would hold Mordan when he re-appeared after a defeat.
A tomb was built in an empty valley north of the mountain. The Phylactery was then used to seal his prison. When all was ready, the armies met and defeated Mordan himself, at the cost of many lives. When he rose again, his form took shape within the tomb sealed with his own Phylactery. He was trapped, and could not escape without destroying his own Phylactery, and thus himself. He had been outsmarted.
But Lucan Forwinol knew this was not enough. Someday one of the many Children of the Citadel may seek to free him, or the tomb forgotten and hapless adventurers discover it. So Forwinol had added one final touch: Whoever freed Mordan would be the subject of one final binding spell. This spell would place Mordan’s power on the head or heads of whoever freed him. He would not be able to recover his former might until he killed them.
Thus, any that freed him would be doomed. Not even his most loyal followers would accept unlife as a Grave Walker to free their master. Warnings were engraved in many languages and placed about the entrance to his tomb, and a great stone slab was placed over it.
Mordan was forever trapped, and none would dare to free him. At last the mighty Lich was defeated.
While Lucan Forwinol brought Mordan to his final defeat in the north, his allies in war had secured the great city of Fol Thron. Forwinol had taken no plunder, save for the Phylactery of the Lich King. No other treasure touched his hands.
Yet so great was the rumor of treasure in the Citadel that many heroes came fourth and challenged the depths of the fortress. The treasure was recovered and taken away, the moat drained, and the many evil spells and traps of the place were removed.
Then began a great debate over who should be the new master of the mines. Forwinol proclaimed to his allies that the place was wholly evil and cursed, that they should set aside the plunder, return to their homes, and leave the mountain empty.
But those that had fought so hard for the prize were slow to release it. Seeing that the debate would lead to war, he proposed that the strongest of the forces should each appoint a leader, and that they should rule together as a triumvirate. Forwinol then decided that his work was done, and returned to his homeland in Mar Talos.
The triumvirate was made from three great leaders: For the Dwarves, King Konal Stonefist, the Elves had Mistress Myran Allidia, and the Humans had King Pallas Lorman.
Lorman was descended through many generations from the King Lorman of old, the first human King of Khelberg. Like his grandsire, Pallas Lorman was a strong leader as well as a fearsome commander of arcane magic.
The Dwarven King Konal Stonefist was the first to betray the triumvirate. During the twentieth year of their reign, he gathered in secret many Dwarves and tried to make Fol Thron his own. The other two leaders joined and defeated him.
The remaining two leaders distrusted one another, and accused each other many times of various plots and schemes. Lorman at last rallied many humans to his side, and tried to wrest control of the Citadel from Allidia. He caught her unawares, and used many strange magics against her. She survived his ambush, but was blinded in the attack. Her own forces rallied. Yet another war was fought. Lorman was defeated and fled north with his followers, where his family still rules to this day.
Mistress Myran Allidia was the sole ruler of Khelberg. With the other members of the triumvirate defeated, she now became Queen Allidia. Her blindness made her fearful and filled her with a lust for vengeance. Her injury pained her at all times, no no healer could undo the damage she had suffered. She came to hate and despise all Humans for Lorman’s betrayal.
The injury dealt her by Lorman had both stolen her sight and disfigured her. She became reclusive, and ordered that the windows of the tower be shut and no lights lit inside. The Citadel was ever dark, for she believed that all of her servants should share in her blindness.
Until this time she did not have great renown with magic, but once blinded she pursued magic both night and day, rarely sleeping or stopping to eat. The years of her rule grew long and she became as strong as many of the great sorcerers of old.
Queen Allidia had been gentle and beautiful to behold when the triumvirate was formed, but the long years of scheming, battles, pain, and arcane studies had left her dark and twisted. Her appearance was almost that of a Dark Elf, though she would kill any who stated so openly in her presence.
She became a skilled seer, and probed the minds of her subjects, wary of traitors or spies. And so she is, even to this very day.
Few of the scribes of Mer Tesoro have the wit to translate this work as I have written it, and fewer still would bother to translate a work of history that could be read more plainly elsewhere. Therefore you the reader are both a scholar, and an outsider not yet tainted by the curse of this land.
Under the rule of the Sightless Queen it is heresy to proclaim that the curse of Fiore is anything other than a fool’s tale. Although I made it sound like mere folklore at the start, it should be plain to any that have read thus far that the curse is real. In all the long years of war and bloodshed, no leader has ever sought to share the mines, none has ever known peace, and none has been willing to let the mines lay idle long. What else other than curse can explain such madness? What else besides the curse could explain how an entire nation of people could become so full of lust for gold that they would poison their own farmlands in the mining of it? Why did people not flee the lands when war came, even when their defeat was sure? What would make even the gentle Elves stand and fight to the death over mere treasure?
I implore you, the reader: Do not take any of the treasure of Khelberg for yourself. If you have any, throw it away. Do not spend it! Do not bring the curse down on your own head, or you will be doomed to forever desire the riches of Khelberg and the blood of those who gather it.
I have hope that it is possible to break the curse, and in my long years of secret study I have found many clues as to how such a deed might be done, although much knowledge has been lost or hidden beyond my reach.
The spirit of Fiore was bound by Dwarven magics deep below the mountain. If that work could be undone, perhaps it could be freed again? If Fiore were freed, would it not lift also the curse on the land itself?
But how to free it? Where is Fiore imprisoned, and can such a place still be reached? If so, what would one do to break the spell? Perhaps books existed with the answers long ago, but if so they were lost or destroyed during the rule of the Lich King. There may be some hope, though. To the southeast of the mountains was once the Magus Archives. Many books were kept there and many secrets hidden from the eyes of Mordan. The Wizards that kept the place were slain in the battle against the Lich King, and the location of the archives are now lost. But there is a slim hope that if they could be found again, perhaps some hint of the Dwarven spell could be learned.
The Magus Archives were built soon after the inception of the Guild of Mages itself. I have sent secret messengers to Dunlock to speak with the Council of Masters, and although their books do record that the Archives on Mar Tesoro existed, they do not have the location.
Since the Archives were constructed by Wizards, it would be foolish to go charging blindly into the wilderness in search of the site. The Wizards doubtless concealed the site, or at the very least sealed it with magic. It has never been their way to leave knowledge unguarded.
I have done what I am able, but I am no hero. In translating this long and difficult work, you the reader have proved yourself to be both learned and patient. I beg you to act on this knowledge, to break the curse of so many long centuries. I warn you again, do not corrupt yourself with the treasures of Khelberg, or you will join the others in the cycle of violence and betrayal. Use what strength and craft you have to end this misery.
With all hope,
Final Fantasy X
A game about the ghost of an underwater football player who travels through time to save the world from a tick that controls kaiju satan. Really.
Mass Effect Retrospective
A novel-sized analysis of the Mass Effect series that explains where it all went wrong. Spoiler: It was long before the ending.
In Defense of Crunch
Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
The Plot-Driven Door
You know how videogames sometimes do that thing where it's preposterously hard to go through a simple door? This one is really bad.