Arden's Diary

Day 47 of the Season of Wind

Headmaster Okuma,

I write to you on this fine evening in deep appreciation of your approval to pursue my research on the function of the spires. My youth has been a severe hindrance on my capacity to accomplish anything of substance among my peers, so by allowing me to personally handle this myself I may finally garner the respect for my efforts that I am long overdue to receive.

I had stumbled upon this topic by an odd serendipity. I was scribing some information on the founders of our order written by your great grandfather, Headmaster Fanuc, whom quoted one of them referring the spires as “A Spear Unto The Heavens”. I didn’t think much of the writing at the time, and continued with my transcription of the document.

It was later that evening when I was walking from the historical archives to the dormitory, when I saw that old and worn statue in the courtyard - the one with the lizard in the ceremonial armor with his spear pointing to the moon - when it struck me. A Spear Unto The Heavens! How could I had no noticed this sooner?

I remembered it from my classes on the original crystal sages that formed our order, this was a rare depiction of Founder Hardinge, who was written to have been the first person to unlock the mystery behind the spire’s purpose. He theorized that they were vaults and residences of a lost era, long before our time on The Cross. His placard at the foot of this tall statue, told little more than that but his role in founding our order.

But it didn’t seem right. Why the Spear? The man was a scholar, not a warrior. That dissociation with his role and his portrayal in this aging sculpture seemed odd. Being after hours, I thought it would be inappropriate of me to talk to one of the administrators about this odd finding as they already seem to be agitated by my frequent visits. So I decided to take this project into my own hands.

I returned to the historical archives. Luckily they tend not to lock the doors at night being behind the tall walls of the research cloister, and that night was no exception. I worked by candlelight through the night pouring through every tome, scroll, and ledger I could find in regards to Hardinge, but found oddly little more than stray quotations and nothing detailing what exactly he found past the engraving at that statues base. There wasn’t even a recount present of his findings with spires at all.

This simply could not stand, and I need a good thesis if I am ever to move beyond my position as scribe and become a professor. I need this to finally gain the respect I have so richly sought from my peers, and as such I wrote my proposal the next morning after some rest which you so wisely approved.

Across the gulf is Roqueport, which holds one of the few remaining active spires accessible to the world. I will be departing in the coming days when I finish the travel preparations, and my requisitioned supplies come in. I have already sent advanced word to their local counciI requesting access to their spire vault. I hope that I will find the root of Hardinge’s research and uncover the information that has been lost to time.

I promise I will not disappoint you Headmaster.

Your loyal pupil,

Arden Renshaw

Day 13 of the Season of Fire

Headmaster Okuma,

By the time you receive this letter, I have likely already abandoned my escorts and am travelling north via ship to Bellowport. I know this is very unorthodox, and likely against procedure but something happened here in Roqueport a number of days before I arrived.

When speaking with a council representative to access the spire located at the town’s center, I learned something unexpected had happened. The spire’s core had vanished some nights ago along with the heiress to the BannerSomething Fishmongering Company, Therrin. Popular rumor suggests that she was kidnapped along with the stolen core and held hostage by an unknown organization.

I was still granted access to the spire’s inner chambers to investigate it, but it unfortunately seems to be fully deactivated without its core. I was unable to glean much useful data at that site, and with the unexpectedly hostile air about, the otter twins you had assigned to escort me instructed me to leave on the next ship back to Atlas.

Garr and Hertel were strangely insistent upon my return to the Order, and seemed utterly uninterested investigating what happened here, or even travelling to another spire that is still intact. I know you worry about me because of my age and… stature. I was given approval to perform my first field research project, and I am going to complete it.

I will complete the lost work of Hardinge as I set out to do. I mean no disrespect to you sir, but I can’t simply turn around and go home when there is such significant knowledge to be gained. I know you are one of the few within the order that have shown me unwavering respect and treated me with fairness like no other. You must have faith in me Okuma. I have waited so long for this chance, and I will not fail.

With the fate at hand, I decided to have a drink. I went to a tavern to drown my sorrows in glass of brandy down by the docks. I don’t normally drink but I was tired and defeated. But serendipity had once again shone its face upon my circumstance.

The tavern was abuzz with the story from one of their dockhand patrons. She had been paid a large sack of gold to smuggle a curly haired sergal wearing the BannerSomething signet ring onto a ship headed north. This could only be Therrin the missing noble I heard of before, but she was alone and on the run from the city. That didn’t add up, she wasn’t kidnapped or in danger, just trying to leave town as fast as she could.

I paid that dockhand half of my remaining funds to get the name of the boat and where it was headed, then immediately got myself passage on the next ship to Bellowport. I know she has something to do with the missing core for her hometown’s spire, and I will get to the bottom of it.

I ask you again to please overlook this breach of protocol and consider what I could uncover here Headmaster Okuma. Please.

Your vigilant pupil,

Arden Renshaw

PS - The quartermaster stated that my uniform was special ordered to “Child Sized” and I was given a mace instead of the dagger I had requested at the time because they wanted to see if I was strong enough to even swing it right. I would ask that you chastise appropriately for their unprofessional behaviour.

Day 5 of the Season of Earth

Headmaster Okuma,

First of all, I would like to apologize for the lack correspondence in the recent weeks. It’s been a long journey keeping on the trail of Ms. Perch. I spent the last twenty days on a ship, plus a number of days canvasing the city of Bellowport trying to get a lead on the heiress.

Rumor pointed me toward Burnwurth. Being a debutant I doubt she’d settle for trail rations so I marched for The Rat Bucket Inn, the only apparent establishment in town that sold food after sunset. While I waited for the curly haired sergal to appear, I had an encounter with a stray bear by the name of Bata.

He was quite clearly from the isolated Bisemutum tribes to the northeast, and seemed a bit … new to the world. From what I recall on the scant documentation on his kind, Mr. Bata’s people worship spires rather fervently as some sort of religious icon. I believe they call them ‘Dragon’s Teeth’, though I do not understand the reference to dragons at all.

I caught Ms. Perch as she was leaving the bar, confronting her with her missing poster, which raised some attention by the locals. Once that was resolved, I was able to convince her to join me in finding a way into an active spire on the condition I did not turn her in. The Bear invited himself along too, but I intend to use his muscle and religious beliefs of the spire to my advantage in completing my task at hand.

My budget was running low, and for some inane reason The Rat Bucket Inn has no rooms so we took up temporary residence at a local farm owned by the recently widowed Ms. Cobble in exchange for some help with chores.

With a combination of bad luck, bad decisions, and rampant fur loss we were waylaid there for over two weeks. The other two are quite the unique individuals, but they proved themselves capable in their own ways. Once they recovered, we departed The Cobble Farm with a particularly unpleasant courier by the name of Samuel and young rat boy by the name of Zaus.

The courier will serve as a guide towards Gomphus. Out in the marshlands eastward from there is an active spire I intend to enter and study. He’s well travelled and seems to know the roads, so hopefully he can get us to the marshland city in an expeditious manner.

The child however is a bit of a unique case. The additional document sent with this report explains his circumstance. I have promised to do my best to prepare the young Mr. Cobble for induction to the order, and while he will need quite the education I believe he will be a fine addition to our ranks with time.

This is where I must end my report, we are soon to depart into town to gather traveling supplies for the long journey north. I hope you are well Headmaster, and I hope that my unscheduled absence hasn’t caused to much disruption back in Atlas. Take care sir.

Your vigilant pupil,

Arden Renshaw

PS - The quartermaster stated that my uniform was special ordered to “Child Sized” and I was given a mace instead of the dagger I had requested at the time because they wanted to see if I was strong enough to even swing it right. I would ask that you chastise appropriately for their unprofessional behaviour.

Day 12 of the Season of Earth

Headmaster Okuma,

I will preface this letter with saying that I am injured, but healing. My injuries are superficial, but its sting still lingers.

While in the town of Burnwurth, gathering supplies I was presented with a spellbook that had been recovered from a fire some time ago. I let me guard down and gave into my curiosities by opening the book without properly examining it first. It was trapped with fire and exploded once I opened it.

Through quick action, I was able to contain the fire before it go out of hand. I believe I was the only one urned too, luckily. The locals assumed it was me who cast a spell to attack the shopkeep, and the locals banded together to drive me from town, where we were quickly whisked away by Samuel and Therrin.

I was so reckless Okuma. I choked through my emotions and did what needed to be done, but I nearly broke down with all the memories of the accident that welled up once I saw the fire as we were leaving town. I know that as a Shepherd, we were trained to bury our emotions deep so that we could act rationally and maintain the upper hand, but… I was weak.

I’m still weak, but I will continue to strive to earn what you gave me sir. I don’t think I deserved the second chance you gave me, but I am forever grateful for what you’ve done. So thank you Okuma, I owe you everything.

After our hasty retreat to Allendauv, we were tended to by a costly surgeon by the name of Indigo. His methods left me alarmed, but he did good work. My wounds are nearly healed as I write this letter some days later. He even changed my arm bandages, which I can appreciate.

Samuel had a rendezvous with a fellow courier in town wherein he met Gordon to mix some sort of package they were carrying and deliver it to a festival happening south of Gomphus. Though, due to the odd instructions and suspicious nature of situation, I advised them to perform the act outside of town in the event of a reaction.

With that, we gathered ourselves together and headed a few miles outside of town. The unlabelled compounds were mixed together to form an alien looking black liquid. I took a small sample for myself if I happen to have time to perform an alchemical analysis on the substance to figure out its properties.

Shortly after we finished the mixture, I went with Gordon back to town to resupply. We had to quickly turn around because the group was under attack by an alien creature that Bata referred to as an “Umbra”. I was only able to get there at the last second, but it was taking blows at Therrin. Samuel was injured in the attack, but was able to the young Mr. Cobble into Gordon’s wagon. I used what magic I could to protect everyone there, but Therrin was unfortunately critically injured during the encounter. Luckily, Bata was able to thwart it with some well aimed swings at the creature.

Once we regrouped at town, we once again paid Indigo an extravagant fee to heal my associated injured in the attack. And as before, he took good care of them. During their surgeries, I spoke with Bata who claimed this Umbra creature is the living guardian of a spire that exists to kill those who trespass on their grounds.

After Ms. Perch’s recovery, she produced a dragon’s tear. I have never been so sorely disappointed to be so right on my theories Okuma. She stole as a slight against her family and nothing more. Bata warns me that in simply returning it, she could end up destroying Roqueport as did happen with one the spires in Bisemutum ages ago.

So we continue to the Spire in the swamp to see how these tears work so that we might be able to return the one we have in our possession safely to Roqueport. I have enclosed some rudimentary notes along with this letter detailing my observations of both the tear and the umbra. Please see to it that these make it to The Hidden Eye for proper analysis sir.

I will send you my next report when we reach the next city on our travels. I have a feeling we might be on the brink of a legendary breakthrough with where this is leading me to, so I hope I can do you proud.

Your ever determined pupil,

Arden Renshaw