The Journal of Sirian Waters
A prisoner's diary
Danen 13th, 1173 AL
While I do possess doubts as to the effectiveness of this endeavor, I shall nonetheless attempt to record the details of my imprisonment. I shall not be able to record regularly as my supply of paper and charcoal are meager. I was travelling by caravan to Heap to seek employment with a printer there, but we were attacked by the dead only two days outside of Southbury. My companions were all put to the sword, but myself and another man were spared. The black-robed creature that captained the ambush was interested in my being a man of letters. I am not certain as to what interest the creature had in the other gentleman, nor have I seen him since. Sadly, I have seen some of my other former companions since the attack, and their passing has not delivered their earthly remains from the exertions of labor. I was bound and blindfolded following my interview, and after countless hours in the back of a cart I was ushered into a building of ancient magnificence. My bonds cut and my blindfold removed, I deduced that my prison was none other than the necropolis of Gil-Nam, the Fortress-City of Murder. For three days I have languished in this tower with no clue as to the purpose of my imprisonment. No doubt these quarters were once highly luxurious, but now they smell of dust and mold, and their once beautiful tapestries have succumbed to rot. I have slept on hard stone as I am wary of the stains that cover the moldering bed. I have been served food once each day, but have elected to eat only the bread I am given. I will not touch the dried meats that lie twisted and dark upon my plate. But of all the discomforts I suffer, none are worse than the noises that emanate from outside. The legends of this city are true - the outside walls and towers are covered in the chained remains of the dead. They hang from every place imaginable and they are not quiet. Each has been raised in the manner their dead master is so fond of, and they howl and writhe at all times of the day. And so my existence is that of hellish dread and terror, and I know not what the future holds.
Danen 17th, 1173 AL
My nightmares have been given form. While no stranger to the threat of the dead, my life has until now remained blessedly free of their presence. But my new master surely seeks to remedy my inexperience, for the past three days have seemed like many lifetimes of horror. There can be no doubt who it is I serve - he is Ret-Talus, the Rotten King, the bane of all Itharia. I have been tasked as his scribe. I will not relate what material serves as my paper, nor will good taste allow me to detail what substance I must use as ink, but there is no amount of water that could now wash these sullied hands clean. At first I was confused as to why my new master would require my assistance, but time has yielded clues. He is prone to moving very little, as if reserving his energy for more important matters. I have also guessed that the majority of the dead that serve him must be controlled by him directly, making it far easier for him to dictate to me than to them. My writing has been limited to some sort of accounting. He has me tallying "walls" though what these walls may be I do not know. I list their numbers, their locations, and I attach names to them. I do not know what purpose my lists have, but I have recognized many of the names there. There must be some linear organization here, for at first the only names attached to the walls were my master's and Dane Lightbringer's, the long-dead, almost mythical founder of the Vanguards. But now many of the names are of leaders of various nations or factions that I recognize. For instance, I have listed Grognack, one of the fearsome leaders of the northern orcs several times now. I have also scribed names such as Oldin and Sera Eldwyn. On numerous occasions I have marked certain walls as destroyed, something which bothers Ret-Talus immeasurably. He makes frequent disparaging comments about those individuals he holds responsible for a wall's destruction, saying they hasten the end of the power of the gods, though what this power is, and what gods he is referring to I do not know. I once heard him mutter, "They can tear Godshome to pieces, wield its power like the ignorant children they are, but like children they will cry when the toy is broken and lost to them forever." Whatever the case, he plays the hypocrite for as I said, I have recorded him as a destroyer of walls as well.
Danen 19th, 1173 AL
My brain burns with fever, and my joints ache. My digestion suffers as well. Great hunger drove me to finally feed upon the meat they serve me. While salty, foul, and suspect, I can no longer live alone on the crusts they give me. My illness was apparent to my master today. I imagined him looking down upon my shaking mortal frame with disgust, but truthfully his face was as dead and unreadable as it usually is. He pardoned me from my labors at an earlier hour than normal and I assume it was due to my poor health. I learned today that the walls I record are none other than the walls used by the summoners to bring forth their legions into battle. I suspect I am privy to some great secret, for I have always been of the understanding that those walls were merely raised from the earth itself by the magic users. Given Ret- Talus's comments I cannot help but conclude that the summoners of Itharia do not fully understand the source of their power, for Ret-Talus clearly believes the summoning stones are pulling the walls from some strange destination - some place of divine origin. This knowledge has filled me with purpose, for now I know I must live. I must find the means to escape this place. I will travel to the Citadel of the Fist and tell the Vanguards there what I have learned. Surely it will be useful in their struggles against the dead.
Danen 26th, 1173 AL
The fever has rolled back from my mind like clouds leaving the sky after a long rain. The ache still fills my joints, but I confess to finding it oddly pleasurable. It reminds me of being a child and having a loose tooth - they would hurt so, yet I could never leave one alone, always wiggling it with my tongue. I find that my spirit is somewhat buoyed of late. Indeed, I spent several hours this evening counting the bones I felt beneath my skin. There was something marvelous about it, and once I was sure I had counted each one, I repeated the effort and laughed in delight at my recreation. The food seems to have improved as well. Perhaps my master is pleased by my service? While the meat looks the same as it always has, the taste has improved immensely. It is sweet and rich, and I feel it nourish me even as I first swallow it. Its excellence has led me to ignore the bread which now seems so overly dry and grainy. Such improvements in my stay here make me wish to show my thanks so that Ret-Talus will see they do not go unnoticed. I have considered giving him this collection of papers so that he will see my labors for him do not stop, even when he has no need for me. I shall consider the matter again tomorrow, but for now I will content myself with lying here in bed, and listening to the song that wafts in through my window from outside.