“Many centuries ago, far before the dark ages of ash and brimstone, long before the birth of the Cradle, an ancient people dwelled in the shadow of a great mountain. This civilization manipulated the magic that dwelled within it, and used it to achieve unsurpassed feats of technology and engineering. With their knowledge of the unknown, they created what some might have once called a utopia. They wanted for nothing - yet yearned for everything. Such was their hubris, they believed their kind to be gods. With the mountain’s sorceries at their disposal, life had become trivial. Basic needs an afterthought, they turned to the arts, to scholarly pursuits, pastimes and excesses. In the last of their days they sought utter perfection, and crafted a great device to grant them the only thing they truly lacked - immortality. However, the mountain relented at their decadence. This was the Omega: a cataclysm of a scale never before seen. The inferno eradicated the guilty, and in its last gasp, the mountain collapsed, burying all with it. The death of the mountain birthed the Cradle as we know it.”
“We are not true descendants of these ancients, but we bear their curse. A dark heir of this hubris, a sorcerer, lingers in our midst. While the nations battle - not even a stone’s throw away from this very town - this fiend attempts to harness the divinity of the ancients. I can only assume this to be an attempt at succeeding where they failed. If the Omega has taught us anything, it is that immortality was never meant to be. As children of the Cradle, it is our duty to bring a stop to this scheme before it sees the light of day. Should this sorcerer succeed, I fear he will doom us all in a second, worse, Omega. A humble scholar I might be, but I have journeyed far and wide to gather this information, and trust me when I say I have found a way to thwart this attempt at divinity. In the catacombs buried beneath the Brimlands near Baccum, I have charted the location of the very device the ancients hoped would grant them divine power. It must be found without delay - before the sorcerer does.”
- - -
Farrin the Elder eased himself back into his chair with the feeble strength of a man past his years. His barren head reflected the midday light, a golden halo from one temple to the other. The air was filled with dust, screams and the rattling of metal as men flying banners of Mennon and Kathor killed and died a few kilometers away. Farrin’s wrinkled face paid no heed to the battle, and instead the once-legendary Mennonite patted his scuffed lamellar armor in search of an old leather pouch.
He stared at the adventurers gathered before him, seated outside the only tavern in town, in which the locals had barricaded themselves for refuge. Slowly the bearded hero pulled a strange gemstone from the pouch. It was the shape of an egg, but the size of a fist, with strange colors changing as light danced off its surface. Its was unlike any stone those assembled had ever seen.
“This is but one piece of the device,” Farrin explained, “There are four more like it, each required to power the ancient device. I plan to gather all five, and destroy them - and then destroy the sorcerer himself. From my studies, I have determined that the Omega scattered these stones across the Cradle, one in each corner of the land and into the hands of each nation. I managed to capture this particular gem from a ruin deep under Mennon… but not without cost.”
The old man raised his bandaged arm, gesturing to the stump where his right hand ought to have been. “The quest to gather the remaining gems will not be easy, and I cannot do it alone. But great fame and glory awaits those who try, and should we be successful, we shall preserve the balance of the Cradle for generations to come. Great peril, great reward and great duty.”
“Will you join me?” Farrin asked, scanning the group with wise yet, hungry eyes.