Outlands Report #4: A Changed World
I. Avalon's Army
If you've been following my reports from the last few months, you know it's been quite a go for us Outlands folk. First there were rumors something was awakening, followed by the appearance of a mysterious and powerful enemy force. These foes were tricky to take down, but it was possible, and sometimes they even dropped strange glowing energy – lucrative loot for those with the will to get it.
Soon, though, things took a darker turn. New enemies appeared, with some of the bolder ones even entering our Territories. Whispered rumors claimed this growing force was some sort of ancient army, whose home was none other than the mythical Avalon. But that was surely just a rumor, right?
Well, soon enough we were given new reason to worry: immense creatures powered by some arcane magic appeared, disturbingly close to the portals we used to travel between the Outlands and Royal Continent. Whatever they were planning, it did not bode well for us.
Each day, their attacks became bolder, and the rumblings and quakings in the Outlands grew stronger. Word began to spread through the pubs and back alleys of Caerleon that the Baron, AKA the Don – the underworld boss who founded and ran Caerleon's Black Market with an iron fist – was planning a large-scale defense of the city. But even with our numbers, could we stand against a seemingly unstoppable force?
II. Doom on our Doorstep
That morning, the air in Caerleon felt strange; almost electric. It's hard to say exactly what it was, but something in my bones told me it would be a day like no other.
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I set out toward the Marketplace, and was just about to duck underground to check on my wares when, all of a sudden, a crowd goes running past toward the Realmgate. Cries rose from all sides, and among the cacophony the message came through loud and clear: we are under attack.
I grabbed Handsome Jim and ran with the crowd toward the Realmgate. We stepped through the shimmering red portal, and there it was: one of those beastly Constructs, stomping right toward us! We raised our weapons and ran at it, and though many fell, we were able to take it down. No sooner had it fallen, though, than we got word there were others at the other Caerleon portals, all angling to make their way through.
I can't say how long we fought them that day, steel crashing against the metal of the machines, but finally one made its way right up to the portal, and began to step through. Caerleon would fall! With all our strength, we fought and fought, and finally felled the foul thing. With a final burst of energy, it unleashed a mighty explosion that people on both sides of the Realmgate flying.
When I came to, I couldn't believe my eyes: the Realmgate was shattered, its magic gone. Caerleon was connected to the Outlands no more.
III. The World Remade
Who would have thought, just mere months ago, that not only our way of life but our very existence too would be under threat? I'd never trusted that shady old Baron, perched up on his fancy throne as if he were the king himself. Sure, I've sold my share of loot to him and his brutes, and made some good silver doing it – but I always had the feeling that, in a pinch, he would just as soon watch Caerleon burn as save it. Criminals thrive on chaos, and the past few months have seen their fair share.
I have to give him credit, though: he saw this coming, and he was ready. Chaos is one thing, but the complete destruction of Caerleon - well, that could be a blow to his business from which he might never recover. The gear he provided to our ragtag army helped save the city, and that I'll never forget. On the other hand, though, there are also rumors he may have been the one who blew up the Realmgate – the ruins show cracks and blast marks beyond what should have been made by that automaton's explosion. Why? We'll never know for sure, but if he saw this coming, perhaps he sees something else in the future known only to him...
A makeshift sort of memorial sprung up to the Realmgate, and to all who fought and fell. Word has been spreading that Varl the Stonemason, one of our most skilled sculptors, will be creating a sculpture soon which will be a proper tribute to the guilds who contributed the most to subduing the Avalonian scourge.
Despite all that's changed, Caerleon remains at the center of everything. Apart from the Black Market, and it's still a big transport hub, with fast connections to all five other Royal cities. And some of my associates in the local crafting and refining scene have reported they've been able to create more product for the same amount of material – perhaps some residual magic from those strange Avalonians.
The Outlands been remade in the image of old Avalon. The Royal Continent, too, has changed: Caerleon is no longer a bridge between lands, but with the survival of the Black Market and its newfound crafting and refining prowess, perhaps it will keep its place as the hub of the wheel.
And the Outlands? The Avalonians have torn them apart with their strange, terrible magic, and remade them in the image of old Avalon. They have gone back underground to their ancient vaults, though some entrances to these can be found throughout the wilds. Perhaps if we gather up a large enough group, we can take the battle to them, and claim some sort of revenge for the havoc they have brought to our lands... and perhaps we will even claim not only their energy, but pieces of their armor and magic for ourselves.
One thing is certain: change has come to Caerleon and the Outlands. We can either fail to adapt and become relics of the past, or we can embrace it and claim the future for ourselves. I choose the latter.
That's all you'll hear from me for now – perhaps we'll meet again in the Outlands.
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