OOC Date: Saturday, March 20, 2021
The Journey Begins
Being the avid sociocultural anthropologist I am and coming to Sleeper Island to actively pursue such opportunities, I could not resist the chance to become more intimately acquainted with the ancient civilization of the Altist. Linking up with the island’s foremost researcher on the people group (a rather grim looking fellow named Caslech) we soon put together a group of traveling companions to make the lengthy trek toward the temple site that had been left frozen in time through the winter months. As spring thawed the land so too warmed adventurous spirit and our expedition towards the ancient Altist temple site began in earnest. The first day of travel passed without any incident besides the sighting of hawks in the sky signaling their prey hibernated no longer than adventurers. Just moving a few miles off the Road to the Shinies we made camp and after a fruitless search for wild sustenance made due with our standard victuals.
An Eventful Morning
The night had several interruptions though none proved harmful. The first of these was the discovery of a statue seeming a seated feminine figure holding a tome of some sort though an inscription had long weathered away. The second break in our sleep was the sounds of a terrified individual claiming their fingers were stuck together, but moves towards the sound to assist resulted in them running off and the night continued quietly until morning.
That quiet was soon interrupted by the roaring of what proved to be a large, primal bear that attracted our more melee oriented members with haste. As they battled, the very shadows on of Nahil and others seemed to detach and attack, which caused the fellow considerable consternation. However, he was able to survive long enough for the others to deal with the bear and come to his aid.
Moving quickly we came to the river and noticed some merfolk watching from the water. Nahil having self-styled himself as the party diplomat soon had the creatures fleeing in terror when he suggested the rest of the party behind him were his slaves. Had the droll half-drow researched the peoples of the area he would have realized the error in introducing oneself as a slaver to a formerly enslaved people group.
Fey Teens & Rising Sons
After crossing the river we soon happened upon some adolescent elves riding elk. Amusingly, Nahil once again moved to intercept and began extolling his own virtues to the fey creatures who giggled knowingly. Shortly tiring of the bard they made some small excuse about how late it was getting and flew away on their elk back towards the Forest of Thorns.
Making camp for the night in an old structure with a script on the walls that Tenfoll’at translated to mean “The Sons shall rise again.” Having slightly better luck hunting this evening we slept with full bellies only to awake to the curious brightening of the room due to several light sources coming to life seemingly spontaneously! It was discovered the circle in the middle of the room radiated a faint enchantment magic of an indeterminate nature and we slept once again as the lights dimmed.
The Altist Temple Basement
However, besides that anomalous event in the wee hours of the morning, nothing of consequence occurred before reaching the Altist temple in all it’s ancient splendor. Given only a brief observation of ground level I could not help but be impressed by how heavily the Weave laid upon the area.
Moving quickly to the basement we quickly inserted the various symbols of the Altist warriors to the seven doors that each opened into a passageway. Inside each was some variation on the phrase “May the people of the Altist live forever” and also a lever with enough tension to reset themselves if left unattended. Being only six persons the two familiars managed with their combined weight to depress the seventh lever.
A pedestal rose containing an ancient-looking manuscript written in middle Common entitled The Writings of Web’ati as included below in this document.
The story of the Altist is contained within these pages. The tales are old. Yet the might of the heroes that stood as protectors of the people live on in the hearts of those that read these words and carry on in their footprints.
In the beginning, in a time of darkness, there arose a light whose brightness shone across all the lands. As the people rose up out of the gloom their eyes opened for the first time. They counted in the heavens the countless angels that descended as if from the stars themselves. This was the time before the written words when the world itself was being sundered. These were the words of Mul’ter’kuon the first priest of the Showa, which was even before the Mhairshaulk.
Having thrown off the yolk of the Mhairshaulk and believing that the Yuan-ti would coexist peacefully the people of the Lopango began to build a new life. They mastered the fields and fed their people. This time would not last as the great Wyrms descended on them blighting out their lands. The lands fell dark for four thousand years. These were the words of Er’seri’maw the wise.
The great tribes of the Lopango, Eshowe, Thingut, and even the Tabaxi tribes fell to the Empire of Katashaka. The fey played their games against the great Wyrms but the cries of the Lopango were mute to their ears. Yet it was the forces of the Sleeper that drove the Lopango into the Empire’s Arms.
Humanity was lost save for those that found shelter under the wings of the great feathered snake. Those were the one that had found their way north to Zalmada to live among and make peace with the cats. Those that did not found themselves chained and leashed to oppressors.
But all power wanes, and all oppressors are limited in their control. From this gave rise to the Lapendi who mastered the horse and made the steppes their home and were the owners of many heads of beasts which roamed over the hill and lowlands.
As time progressed, the power of humanity slumbered in Zalmada, and they found themselves being taken up into captivity by the Mhair, and the Yuan-ti. Humanity suffered greatly during this time, but they were not alone as they labored side by side with the other people seen as lessers.It was said that the differing Pepelexa was the wedge that split the people into the Lapendi and the Altists.
This was the time of the Great Strife, many disputes and infighting occurred which solidified the two people groups into those that still followed the Surrukh.
Humanity woke again, this time it was the blue light of the Warrior Priestess Altist, who freed her people from their yokes and forged the path. Those who were strong enough followed the blue light as she led them to Southern lands ringed by rivers and the stone of the great mountains. The people made it their home and stood strong against their enemies.
The people called themselves the Altists in tribute to the one that showed them the way. The people prospered and grew rich in both possessions and knowledge. Yet as the words of the wise ring out, it is said that hard times make strong people, and strong people make good times, yet good times make weak people and weak people make hard times.
The smartest of the Altists sought out the powers of those that walked the lands like gods and cast great creatures of power into pits. Low did they the people not know, but they were ants playing under the feet of a mammoth. They were as a child reaching out to feel fire for the first time filled with awe and wonderment they soon reeled under the pain of its flame. These were the words of Garden of Flowers.
Yet the Altists survived the rebuke of the angels which were those that rules as a body and bound their wounds, rejoicing in what gems of mastery they had procured from those that rules as a body and walked like gods on the land. Little did they know that this was just the opening of a wound. The scent of blood drawing in the predators. Jealous that those who were lesser had great secrets and whose freedom flew in the face of their right to rule all. The Mhair marched south with a great army scattering the Lapendi for a while but steadily moving upon the Altists.
Heroes of the Altist people, often outnumbered, hampered and stalled the enemy. At times they pushed the enemy back, yet it was not enough. The last hope was the great Ekun, born of the knowledge taken from those that walked as gods, and ruled as a body of people.
Yet the people realize that the Ekun would not only defeat their enemies but would destroy everything that it touched. The people deliberated hard on what to do faced with the eventual victory of the Northern oppressors. Near the end they decided that the power was too great and locked it away in a great fortress. Let it not take away the light of the world, the people said. So they resolved that some of the people would fight to the death and some would flee… so that resistance could live on.
Leading the people were the descendants of Altist. Sons that were born of sons of the sons of the sons of Altist. Holkimes the eldest stayed to fight and sent the younger son, Vorimanta to lead the resistance far into the wilderness. Vorimanta took with him the blue light and vowed that it would shine brightly for the people once again.
Then the war reached the heart of the Altist people, and warriors, mothers, fathers, and children alike all fell at the blade and spear, and arrows of the Northern oppressors. The last of the Altists save those that were marked for the resistance fell by Hokimes side in the last battle at Morrowvien.
The Northern Oppressors were denied their servants, and the knowledge they sought of those that ruled as a body of people. They occupied the lands for a season then returned laden with gold and jewels and precious gems.
Yet the Oppressors did not put out the blue light. The path is marked clear for those that seek it out and would join together so that the Altists would rise again.
The Key & the Gate
Upon lifting the manuscript to take with us for preservation, a key discovered and when touched the ghostly visage of an old man appeared across the room who Caslech indicated might be the Altist warrior Gul’tra Mes himself. This apparition entreated us to protect the great Altist fortress of old from defilement by the Shadow Queen and her army. “Move through the mountain gate though the route is old. The way to the pass is made clear when the sun rises and the throws it’s first rays upon this temple, then the angel will smile and gaze upon the way to the mountain where the gate stands. There might be quite a few things left behind or taken by those that dwelt within. But it would be your best avenue of approach to the fortress. It rises on a spire impregnable to most attacks. There you will find the enemy attempting to breach it’s vaults this key opens.“
As the visage faded, we spent the night to wait for the smile of the angel to guide our way at dawn’s first light and arrived at the gate without incident.
Shadow Fey Guardians & Skulkers
Upon arriving at the scene of the mountain entrance to the Altist fortress, we spied several goat or saytr-like creatures one of whom was seen conjuring a giant boar before going out on patrol. Additionally, there were several avian creatures Caslech informed us were storm crows, flying warriors who wield sword and magic with deadly purpose.
Now having seen the pass well-guarded (though apparently less so than the main gates with sentries in the hundreds) we turned our path toward Port Mirandia to return with a force more well-suited to the dangerous venture.
Several miles further along we sensed eyes upon us and spent a bit of time chasing away the would-be stalkers from our rear and lead positions before finally settling in for a well-earned nights rest.
Altis City Ruins
Besides finding a hot springs the night passed quietly then about 6 miles further toward Mirandia at the base of a hill we happened upon the ruins of a small house, overgrown now, nearby seems to be a circular slab with 3 statues appearing to be children or halflings with hands outstretched. And then another structure with statues, then another, and another and based on the symbols it was clear we were in the ruins of an ancient Altist city.
A pathway in the hillside led to an underground chamber locked and sealed with magic and the word “Moritum” on the door. Balthier decided it was incumbent upon him to promptly open these doors and found on the floor inside a red brick pattern along the floor that formed an Altist star symbol leading to another set of steel doors that no doubt went deeper into what we now realized to be a burial chamber. He seemed particularly dissuaded to open these doors due to some sort of magical traps and flanking “steel dog ‘statues'”, but was very keen to return in the near future.
Spending one more night out in the wilds we made it back to civilization with no significant discoveries, but our appetites for exploration only increased.