Notes from the Floorboard of Dr. Arden Thatch

[Some pages have been folded up and stuffed in the back of the cabinet, as if Dr. Thatch didn’t want them to be seen. The pages slide neatly into a gap between the side of the cabinet and a poorly painted mug and strainer set bearing a failed attempt at ancient Thassilonian markings. One would not easily see the pages unless one knew what to look for.]

Okay. I’m just writing as I think now. I just need to document this, I can make it sound nicer later.

As if I’ll ever publish this. I’m sure anyone who read this would question my sanity. I, for one, already do.

I know so many people who have tried to cultivate some sort of magical talent but failed. Similarly, I have known many who attempted to speak with the gods but failed. I…believe I have managed to do both, somehow.

In reading through Sirarin’s journal, I came across a plea to carry on if she falls. To stand against the forces trying to bring destruction upon the world. To carry on the legacy of Alseta.

Now, I admit that I’ve been a bit overly enthusiastic of late when it comes to my research into the identities of the Seven, but that plea spoke to me in a way few things ever have. I found myself readily agreeing with it, vowing to honor the final requests of this long-gone hero.

I became suddenly overwhelmed by emotion and something I couldn’t quite name. The experience was so powerful I found myself falling to my hands and knees, my glasses hitting the floor. The sensation passed after a moment, but it felt like it had been hours. I had collected my glasses, only to notice a large crack running down one of the lenses, as is my luck.

However, I still felt a warmth that hadn’t been within me before. The tattoo on my left hand, the sigil of Alseta, seemed to have a faint, silvery glow to it, but surely I had to be imagining it. A thrill ran through me. Could it be? There was only one way to know. I happened to have a few spell components lying about from various attempts to entertain my aspirations of self-taught wizardry and quickly removed two lodestones from the collection. If I did somehow have magic at my disposal now, mending my glasses should be no issue.

I held the two lodestones in my right hand, anxiety and excitement in equal measure flooding my thoughts. What if it didn’t work? More importantly, what if it did? I closed my hand around them and reached for that warmth I had felt earlier. It rose to my mental call, rushing through my body. It felt so pure, so *right*, and very much like something I shouldn’t have. The tattoo on my left hand had taken on that gentle, ethereal glow again, silver light eddying around it as if moved by an unseen breeze. I delicately touched my glasses with my left hand, and paused. I knew I would need a word, anything that I could use to activate the spell, but speaking in common felt inappropriate, given the miraculous nature of this new power. The occasion called for something much more grand. I had learned Celestial a few years before and it seemed to fit what I had been looking for in that moment. “Mend,” I said softly, voice shaking with anticipation as the Celestial speech fell from my lips. Lo and behold, the glass of the lens melted back together and the crack vanished, as if it had never existed!

I set the lodestones on the desk and picked up my glasses, staring at them in amazement. I did that. I did. I put my glasses back on, then turned my eyes to the grey tattoo, now its usual self. I gently ran my finger over it, tracing the two faces in profile, marveling at all of this. Even now I can scarce believe that Alseta would grant me such abilities. It must be Her. I have no other explanation.

(The rest of the page is covered in various notes and sketches made during various experiments Dr. Thatch performed to explore the limits of his magical abilities. The notes suggest that he at one point believed himself a cleric, but quickly came to the conclusion that his own worship of Alseta had not been enough to warrant the bestowal of such a gift. Instead, he has written out a few lines from Theathana Sirarin’s journal and underlined them, writing the word “pact?” beside them.

To you who reads this, I beseech you with all I have in me:

Should I fall, take up my blade. We must find a way to carry on. Carry on my mission. Above all, do not let Alseta fade from this world. Carry the Welcomer within your heart, that She may teach all to embrace change with grace. This I ask of you, and nothing more.

Another note below the passage posits that the pact would have to be formed with Alseta, as there was no other higher power mentioned within that could grant such power.

(New pages have been added to the stack, though they seem to have been crushed, as if Dr. Thatch had been in a hurry to write them. Again the pages are covered in an unsteady script.)

Every time I think that I begin to understand things, my world is turned upside down once more. A living runelord? That just feels old hat at this point. No, instead it was…hell, I don’t know what that was. Visions bestowed upon us by a dead goddess?

This Elfetesh bastard. I’ve no idea who he is, there’s little mention of him in Sirarin’s journal, yet he claims to know them well. Surely if he were a friend, which I highly doubt, or even a foe of great importance, Sirarin would have written more on him. It makes me wonder how great his threats could truly be if she didn’t deem him of enough significance to document his existence in any great detail. I’d be a fool to underestimate him, though. As much as I revere Sirarin, her journal is missing quite a lot of important information.

It feels strange to call them Sirarin. Having seen her with my own eyes, she is nothing like I imagined her to be. Yes, I’ve read countless descriptions of her, but none of them do her justice. I had assumed that many had taken some artistic liberties, but her hair gleamed as golden as the sword she held aloft. Wings stretched behind her, each white feather tipped with gold, creating an imposing backdrop to her still form. I, for a moment, found myself wishing I were a better artist than I am, so that I could capture every detail of such power and beauty.

However the illusion that all was well was shattered the moment that bastard spoke. Elfetesh. His name alone is enough to incite rage within me. So much talk of destruction, not so subtle attempts at manipulation, threats that felt both urgent and hollow. I imagine if the slime that grows in sewers was given the form of man, it would look something like him. Perhaps that’s my bitterness towards him talking, though.

I must say, though, of all the threats he made, the one that stands out was the threat of corrupting Theathana. Having read of her fierceness and her own oath of vengeance, seeing her corrupted into a dark version of herself would be nothing short of a disaster. Just the thought makes my blood run cold. Once reunited with the others, I could fixate on nothing else, on the idea that they might be in serious danger from this slug of a man. But why now? If he’s been with her as long as he claims, why hasn’t he corrupted her yet? From the way he spoke, he was just getting started. When I asked where they were, he wouldn’t tell me. Or…perhaps he couldn’t?

What if it wasn’t real at all? Just a trap set by this putrid, moldy toadstool of a person? Surely if he wished Theathana freed with any sort of haste and truly believed that I had that capability, he would give clearer directions. Not that I knew anything about clarity in the moment. When he claimed to have ripped the heart of a god from her chest, my blood ran cold. Just who is he that he can wield such power? And why can’t he free Theathana himself?

Ah, but there’s the crux of the matter. I was so focused on her imprisonment in the crystal that I could think of nothing else. The words he used were “complete the process”. I hold part of her power, he had said. I was the key to completing the process, whatever that may be. I shudder to think of it, after his implication that I would use Theathana to rain destruction on the world.

This is all too much. Too much. I need time to think.

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