My name is Ildrak. I’ve never kept a journal before, but I feel I must have some sort of record, to let Anell know that I desperately tried to save her.
I grew up in Hyrem, a small fishing village on the western shore of the Ryness Bay. I was a foundling. My adopted Father told me a story of how a beautiful woman beckoned to him to the eastern shore of the bay while he was out fishing. He must have been disappointed to find her gone when he drew his boat to shore and only a synth bassinet with myself and a fledgling owl (whose name is Pyx) inside. I’ll credit him that he didn’t leave me there to die. He brought me back to his home and added me to his already large family.
I’ve never fit in. I was always “the foundling” to the other villagers. I had no interest in fishing and while I do feel a pull towards the Westwood forest where I was found, the woodsmen would never take a skinny lad to harvest lumber. I only connected with one soul in the village, my dear Anell. A restless soul, like myself, she dreamed of leaving Hyrem and finding her way in the wider world. I’ve a certain talent for illusion and we hoped to make a name in Qi or some other city as stage magicians.
As is tradition in our village, when a child reaches their eighteenth year, they undergo a ritual passage into adulthood. It is no great ordeal – a baptism by the magistrate is all – but the family and friends of the person usually gift them with a few shins or other goods to help them start a household. Anell and I agreed to wait until I had undergone the rite, collected my presents and then slip off into the night while the rest of the village celebrated. Oh, how I wish we’d not waited…
I was to undergo the rite with three other youths. Maga, a sickly warrior obsessed was mutants. Jemmy, son of the village healer and an explorer at heart. And finally Dudley, the magistrate’s popular and well-loved son. (He is perhaps the opposite of me in every respect.) The ritual is held atop a hill, some distance from town. I’d been dunked and Dudley had just had his bath when we noticed smoke billowing up from the town below.
Now, I have a peculiar ability in that I can share the senses of a willing creature, so I sent Pyx aloft to see what was amiss. The village was under attack! Lances of energy set buildings alight. We didn’t tarry, but hurried back to the village as quickly as we could. By the time we arrived, the battle was nearly at an end.
We crept into the flaming ruins, searching for survivors. Maga and Jemmy went to find weapons. Dudley spied a seven-foot tall automaton attacking a group of villagers and strode off to confront it, hurling bolts of energy as went. I had only one thought in mind: “Find Anell and get her to safety.”
While my companions sought conflict, I slipped through the village in search of Anell. As luck would have it, one of the automatons discovered me. I tried to avoid it using my illusions, but it was most persistent. Finally, I ducked around a corner, ran straight into the magistrate and fell flat on my back. The magistrate pulled a cypher from under his coat and made to attack the thing, but was felled by a paralyzing dart. I had concealed myself behind a rain barrel as this exchange took place and the automaton abandoned his search for me. Snatching up the magistrate, it bore him down to the beach. As I recovered the cypher, I saw the magistrate placed into some sort of huge sack. A few other sacks were also on the beach and I watched in fascination as another automata dragged one of the sacks into the depths of the bay!
Making my way through the village, I discovered our healer Sali in a pool of blood. She was delirious, but I was able to staunch the bleeding and promised her I would look for her son Jemmy. A short time later, I stumbled across my young foster brother Ulrie. He told me that the automatons had taken many of the villagers prisoner, encasing them in some strange sacks and dragging them below the waves. I told him to look after Sali while I went in search of her son.
I found him and Maga engaging an automata but a short while later. I discharged my cypher at the thing, but missed it utterly. While Jemmy and Maga made short work of this metallic creature, I made my way down to the beach in hopes that the magistrate had another cypher. As luck would have it, he indeed had another ray emitter. I hurried back to the fray. We managed to take down another of the automatons, but the rest retreated below the waves.
Only the Magistrate (Neomal), Sali, Ulrie, and the four of us remained in the village. The magistrate had no idea what type of being had attacked, but he instructed us to travel to Keyford and ask for assistance there. We’ve gathered weapons and supplies and will set out in the morning.
Anell, I know not where you have been taken, nor what you have endured, but I am coming for you!