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by Brent Schmidt
Turbine Entertainment Software

Wintersebb PY 13/ Earth: March 2002

Dereth seems consumed by secrets. Where are the Empyreans? What is the secret behind the Lifestones? Why are the Virindi interested in Dereth? Who, or what, is the force empowering the forces of Shadow? With each day Isparians are in Dereth, they come closer to uncovering the secrets behind these and many other questions. In the case of some secrets, however, once they are found out, many would prefer to have remained ignorant.

After Nuhmudira's disappearance, people began to search her mansion for some clue to her whereabouts. Although slightly more ornate than the mansions owned by monarchs throughout the land, it seemed innocuous enough at first. Soon however, the searchers uncovered a hidden chamber below her mansion where the most shocking and horrific rituals had been carried out. On a sacrificial altar stained a deep russet brown, they found the body of a Gharu'ndim man, and nestled away in a corner, urns filled with blood. The horror of this revelation was compounded by the discovery of Nuhmudira's journal nearby. In this journal, she detailed some of her acts and her reasons for committing them. In the last entry, she concluded by saying, "Take shelter in the reach of my hand, humans. I am the Savior of Dereth." This and other portions of the journal caused many to wonder whether some dark force had taken control of her mind or she had taken leave of her senses. Queen Elysa in particular was stunned by this, as Nuhmudira had been a leading member of the Queen's Council.

The mystery behind the Empyrean structures found near the magical essences seemed closer to being answered when adventurers in the Direlands encountered facilities reportedly created by Martine. Within these facilities they found twisted creatures. One facility contained Olthoi infused with the magically inert Chorizite, and another contained elementals expressing two opposing elements, such as elementals of Fire and Ice or Acid and Lightning. Tying these two facilities together was a third facility, one in which both forms of creature could be found under the direction of an enhanced Dranith Menacet. Dranith looked like a Hollow Minion, but possessed a sentience not seen in other minions of this type. Isparian adventurers had been encountered this creature before, but unlike his previous incarnations, this Dranith was almost completely invulnerable. He easily vanquished any who tried to attack him, sending them spiraling back to Lifestone before many of them knew what happened. Dranith seemed pleased that he was not disappointing his "father," Martine, and boasted of this to those he defeated.

However not all secrets uncovered were of such a dire nature. Alchemists who had been slaving over methods of improving their craft discovered Bloodhunter potions. These potions greatly increased the power of arrows and quarrels, and improved atlatl darts seemed soon to come. Although the nature of these arrows prevented all but accomplished archers from using them, the promise of using such powerful weapons motivated many to hone their skills. At the same time, weapons of heretofore unknown power were found in the land, though again, only the most skilled of warriors could use them. These new weapons, along with the spells found during Snowreap and the Coldeve return of items long gone from the land, renewed the confidence of warriors in their abilities, come what may.

If not for one event during the month of Wintersebb, the Bronze Statues gifted to the various towns would likely go unmentioned. The Arcanum had given these statues to the Isparians in recognition of their accomplishments on Dereth. Usually the statues would cast beneficial statues on those nearby, welcomed by some and cursed by others as annoyances. One morning, however, the residents of some towns found their statues casting harmful spells which reduced the recipients' abilities and skills. Some towns found their statues missing, while in other towns two statues appeared, one still casting helpful spells, the other casting injurious ones. Fortunately, the harmful statues disappeared the following day, but many questions remained unanswered. Was this simply a flaw in the Arcanum's enchantments, or was there something more sinister behind this event? Only time would tell.

Dereth seems consumed by secrets. As soon as one is exposed, two more take its place. What will happen when all these secrets are revealed? That, like the secrets themselves, has yet to be uncovered.

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