Of Kings and Men
My Journey into the Ruins of Agarikos
The book is primarily full of many images and hand-drawn maps, as well as some… unusual drawings of beast and humanoid anatomy, as well as what seems to be various drawings of wall paintings, inscriptions and text. A few pages contain drawings of views from parts of the ruined city. The last pages are written in arcane runes that speak of ways to conduct strange rituals, though the purpose of them is not clearly written. This is the text of the most relevant pages:
Day 1, In the Ruins:
My journey to the location of these ruins has ended after near a hundred days of travel, but my true journey only now begins as I step through the ruined gatehouse and the broken walls that lead into the city. Overgrown and forgotten, but they still bear marks of the ruinous events that caused the city’s demise. They are blackened in many places beneath the foliage, and marked by ancient inscriptions and paintings that the denizens of the city made while the city still stood.
The wind howls through the streets, where overgrown and torn apart buildings still stand. It is the only thing that now dwells here. I have made a simple camp in the ruins of an old inn, which seems to have been named “The Twelve Unicorn Meadhouse”. My spirits are high and had I came with companions, I feel that a game of Merrils and some wine would be in order – to celebrate our arrival.
Day 3, In the Ruins:
A storm came yesterday and I spent most of the day shoring up the tent and making sure my mule was securely fastened to an old fountain statue nearby. Unfortunately, he had escaped by the time I got to him. Luckily, I had removed my supplies. However, it seems that I will have to leave behind all that is unnecessary when I return to civilized lands.
I had ventured to explore the city in more detail and found many remarkable buildings that still stand amongst the debris and rubble of what was destroyed. A great arena, though in many parts broken and crumbling, still stands in what used to be called “The Warrior’s Ward”. A library, though it’s texts are destroyed or illegible, is still present. A few inns and taverns still remain, though their stocks of food or drink have been lost to time.
The most interesting, perhaps, is the temple. A large building, circular in nature, it still stands in the center of the city. It is overgrown, but it seems to have been the only thing untouched by the disaster that claimed Agarikos. I will search it further in the morning.
Curiously, my power seems to be suppressed while I am in the city. Perhaps, it is one of the many legendary places that naturally drain the magic from the people within it? If it is, it is a worthy discovery.
Day 4, In the Ruins:
Remarkable. Truly remarkable. The temple still has legible texts within it and it seems to not have suffered at all on the inside. Even a few of the windows, though encrusted in thick layers of dust and grime, still remain.
Searching through the remains of the dead has not been as lucrative as I had hoped, however, as they have nothing that would let me understand what had happened here so long ago. Their bones are bleached and anything that could’ve been useful has long since been taken – most likely by time.
I will read the texts when I can, but I am sure they will be interesting. I will return to the temple in the morning to examine it further.
Day 5, In the Ruins:
Another storm came, though it petered out by the morning. The wind grows fierce as I write, but I am comforted greatly by the furs I brought with myself. I have looked through many of the texts and they seem like old religious texts. One deals with the supposedly secret chapters of the history of the city, however, and that scroll will be my priority.
Day 6, In the Ruins:
I have read the first chapters of the text, which are quite interesting. It seems the city started out on the site of an old temple – the one that I visited – which is supposed to have been built by the First Men. Over time, it grew and expanded as more colonists flocked to exploit the gem-rich river and the metal ores of the mountains.
Day 7, In the Ruins:
I took a walk earlier today as the sun shone brightly. I sighted no animals within any part of the city that I walked to, and this worries me somewhat. In a place this overgrown, they should be common.
Day 15, In the Ruins:
My days are spent reading the texts I found in the temple. It seems that the city became host to many cults over time and it’s temple began to host many idols of worship for Gods both familiar and unheard of to us. They took tax for this service and thousands of idols soon flooded this city, which became rich from this “service” and successful trade.
Day 17, In the Ruins:
The last entry that I found in the text speaks of a strange cult of pleasure that came to the city and worshiped a Goddess who’s name has been lost to time. They brought with them a garish and woeful idol that made all others shy away from the temple. The rest of the text is torn away and lost. I shall try to find it.
Day 20, In the Ruins:
I visited the temple again, after spending several days looking through the other parts of the city. I discovered many buildings, but the temple interests me the most.
Day 21, In the Temple:
I relocated my camp to the temple.
Day 24, In the Temple:
I have did what little I could to tidy up the temple and searched it from top to bottom, trying to find anything that could help me. Unfortunately, many of the doors seem blocked or barred from entrance. I shall seek to somehow unlock them.
The winds grow fiercer and fiercer as I stay here, and fog floods the city at night. It does not bother me, as I believe it to be vapor from the nearby lakes and rivers that rises during the hot days and travels to the city through the canals.
Day 25, In the Temple:
I ventured into the city at night, but returned shortly. I feel great unease as I walk through the streets and the residue from the fog clings to my clothes. I saw wispy shapes in the darkness, but it could only have been my imagination, I feel.
Day 26, In the Temple:
I have found the idol that the priest has spoken of, sunken deep into the broken cellar of the temple that I only now gained access to, as the door had been barred from the other side. Mysteriously, there seemed to be nothing blocking it this time. The idol is truly a woeful and ugly creation, showing unspeakable acts of primal behavior. I covered it for my own modesty and comfort.
Day 27, In the Temple:
Many of the rooms that were blocked are now open, as if some unseen hand had unlocked them for me to see. I will explore them once I am rested, as I feel that the long stay in this city is finally starting to take it’s toll.
Day 29, In the Temple:
_I slept for nearly the entire day, as I felt truly tired.
Day 30, In the Temple:
I have went through the many rooms of the basement of the Temple, and found a hidden passageway into the depths below. It seems Dwarves had excavated deep into the underground beneath the temple. I shall seek answers on another day.
Day 31, In the Temple:
I have scribed the rituals I found on the ancient scrolls within the Temple. They are unfamiliar to me, even with my many years of academic experience. I will include them in the manuscript for the book that I’m writing about this city.
Day 36, In the Temple:
I have witnessed the dead walk through the streets of the city as ghosts and specters of their former lives. They move and speak to one another as if they were still alive – until at a certain time of night, they look to the sky and horror passes across their features and their skin falls away and bones turn to spectral ash and flow into the darkness like a tide.
I know not why they chose to appear at this time, but the sight unsettled me greatly. I will not leave the Temple until I am ready to go. I must still travel to the depths of the city and see what is to be found there.
Day 37, The Undercity:
I have traveled here under great stress and settled in for a few days time. It seems that a city had been built beneath this one, though far more ancient and old. What I had believed to be dwarves at some point, judging by the fine cuts on the stone, seems to be something else – an unknown race, perhaps? Some long forgotten offshoot of humanity or dwarven kind?
Day 38, The Undercity:
The Undercity, though small and primitice, seems in fine standing and I have noticed that it shows signs of the surface dwellers having wandered down here at some point.
Day 39, The Undercity:
I have ventured into what I believe to be a temple of a precursor race and found a deep black pool of water, surrounded by inscriptions in languages we could never fathom to have been spoken at some point! How wondrous this place is!
Day 43, The Undercity:
I see the dead that wander through the city streets sometimes, now in my dreams. Their faces frozen in horror and torment as they witness their destruction.
Day 53, The Undercity:
I have gazed too long into the black pool. I have seen things I should not have seen. I return to the surface now and leave this place. No mortal being as simple as man should gaze into places unknown and foreign to their mind. The horrors I have witnessed that only beings of greater intellect and wisdom could understand. Whoever has dwelt here before me, I pity their souls.
Day 67, “The Startled Rat” Inn, Kesav-by-the-Sea:
It took a great deal of ability for me to return to Kesav, where I now rest easy in the comfort of this rather cheap and tacky inn. I left most of my things behind, along with the remains of other adventurers who dared to enter the – to my mind – certainly cursed city. I feel that much of what I saw was a fever dream or a sickness of the mind, as when I arrived in the city, I had to spend a few days being treated by the clerics of one of the many hospices of the great port city, however, I feel that some of what I’ve seen was real and this scares even me to the very core. What I witnessed when I gazed into the black well was something beyond my understanding and I cannot put it to words that a human ear would understand. Only seeing it could give you some measure of understanding, but only very few could survive seeing it.
For certain, it seems that there is something evil and primordial that dwells within the ruined city – older than man and beast alike. I would not dare send even the greatest of heroes into such an unfamiliar and terrible place, and would encourage all to forget it and let it be buried forever by time and decay.
The question that I had embarked to answer is still unanswered and will hopefully remain so. What had caused the city to be destroyed so long ago? I know not, but I do not truly wish to know the answer anymore. May the Gods protect me.
Dear Reader, the man who had written this story was, unfortunately, not inclined to speak of his experience in the ruins of Agarikos beyond this, but, we feel, it is with good reason that he has said that all should stay far away from the ruined city! Since his journey, the curious parties that had ventured into the ruins have not returned – it seems that Ventor was protected by the Gods from whatever evil lurks within the city’s walls and the supposed “Undercity” that Ventor claims to have discovered.