Loredanes Invitation

Read this carefully, my friend! I have found a secret beyond imagination. Make sure that no one else hears of this. Remember, I trust you to be discreet. Someone of your ability and intelligence will surely understand the serious nature of this letter.

Ever since my arrival in Dereth, I had been plagued - or blessed? - by dreams. In the night, a voice whispers to me of blood and glory, seizing me fast in cords of strange and pleasing agony. I awake shaking in fear, but in my innermost heart, I am rejoicing.

For a long time I wondered if I were mad. Everything forbidden became tempting. At last, I could see no more reason to resist. I gave in to the call, and then I found the cords that bound me in the dreams became silken and sweet, until they seemed like a second skin, and I even forgot they were there. My dreams became veritable glimpses of a paradise in which what I wished for became mine, no matter what it may be. And then I heard more and more that distant voice bidding me to travel - to travel west, from the safe expanses of Osteth, into the dangerous Direlands.

I hesitated only briefly. Though not the most doughty of men, I took up my sword and armor, hired a few discreet stout mercenaries, and I traveled west. I shall not bore you with my journey.

At last I crossed over into the Direlands. Avoiding the savage tumeroks - alas, that my new dream-master did not enslave them as thoroughly as he did me - I slipped through the parched and desolate lands, guided only by the increasing dark joy in my heart.

I have been bound by oath to not reveal the exact path I took, but I can tell you this: I arrived at last in a certain underground cavern, ancient and majestic, built by the Empyrean long ago. Into it I delved. The suffering I experienced was both terrible and wondrous at the same time. Perhaps the best and worst was when I was forced to kill the last of my hired companions.. .but that story can wait.

Deep in the heart of that place, I found Him. He was waiting for me there, and He enfolded me into His darkness. There, I learned much. I learned of how He was the Lord of this world, the Master of Shadows, the immortal and unchanging Hopeslayer: Bael'Zharon in the tongue of the Empyrean. I bowed down before him, trembling in terror and delight.

Much more he told me - things that I dare not divulge to you until I have searched your heart and have found its weaknesses for myself. But I came away with knowledge of how to break some of the magical bonds upon those who arrive here in Dereth. I spoke of killing my hired companion. You know, as I do, how some powerful magic had stolen the ability to harm others from us: the terrible curse of Asheron, that cowardly wizard who hides in secrecy. But Bael'Zharon has found a way to free us of some of those entangling laws. He has given us freedom - a freedom that even Asheron must admit is deserved by all humans: the freedom to harm each other as we will. The very fundamental aspect of a living soul, that which Asheron would deny us.

It is unfortunate that Bael'Zharon's freedom is given only to a few, and that Asheron's chains cannot be removed from all humans who walk in Dereth. Yet, it is like a breath of fresh, cool air. It clears the head and removes foolish notions of safety. We are free beings, with the ability to kill each other and to delight in such things.

Thus, you see, Bael'Zharon is not just the Hopeslayer. He slays only the sad delusional hopes of those who would rule us with foolish laws. Instead, to us, He is the Hopegiver. He gives us the hope of a world without Asheron's chains. His bonds are, instead, silken and delightful, feeding our every desire, giving us all that we want. Desire-granter, Dream-fulfiller, Power-giver: these are the names I give Him!

But I digress. Tell me, my good friend, of what your heart desires, and I shall see if Bael'Zharon and myself shall be able to grant them. Be wary, though! Foul Asheron's allies are all around, those who embrace that illusiory peace. Did I mention that Asheron is a liar? Don't trust those deluded by him. Instead, come with me. I will show you what true glory is. The rewards are great.

Come talk to me, my friend. Remember that I trust you above all others. Do not tell anyone else of this!

Your friend,

Y'leric Loredane

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