It is said that prophecy only becomes clear in hindsight, and that for every sentence of foretelling, there are a dozen interpretations. And yet, the peoples of Basin of Life gathered prophecy nonetheless, as one organisation after another were alerted in dreams, intuition, and sensations that something strange was afoot, and that the world itself poised itself for a change.
In Serenwilde, Huskii and Xiran worked to receive guidance from Chuchip, taking a detour first with Hyirah and Mani to access the words of Spirit Lake while awaiting the fullness of the Moon. Also having sought prophecy of Spirit Lake first, Freja and Uzriel of Magnagora laboured to ascertain the Necromantate’s screaming intent. In Hallifax, young Ellynne followed standard procedures to learn the determinations of the Matrix Core. And Yinuish of Celest heard the prophecy of the Star of Celest, after Celestians spent days puzzling the reason for the rippling of their Pool and the humming of their harps. Gaudiguch took time to realise that their Guardian Drachou had words to relay, rather than just a stomachache, the task falling eventually upon Eiselle to elicit them. Glomdoring knew for long that Mother Night had instruction for them, and Wrynn waited patiently until the dark of the Moon to listen to Night’s declaration with a gathering of communemates. Finally, Grandmother Scorpion spoke to Exeryte of Glomdoring and Sabik of Hallifax, the event witnessed also by two members of the newly revealed Fellowship of the Roots, Thes Erurozea and Nimuire Duskbloom, the latter of whom gathered the prophecies, as she believed they might inform her recent disturbing dreams.
And yet, despite the collective wealth of all the prophetic words, warning of hunger and of pain, of triumph and of rage, speaking of freedom and of resilience, of sinking, drowning, and of empowerment and destruction, none in the Basin could come to agreement as to what might come to pass, nor fully predicted what did.
In Shanthin, 657 years after the Coming of Estarra, a violent earthquake rocked the Basin of Life, seemingly rising from the south, beyond the mountains. In the wake of the quake, a cloud of dust and haze flowed northwards, triggering breathing difficulties in the areas passed. All across the land, people fell over, coughing, and some wondered out loud whether the quake had been severe enough to kill the birds in the air. In particular the folk who dwelt in Pilgrim’s Rest at Avechna’s Peak voiced loudly their displeasure at the earthquake’s toppling of everything from wares to shelves to trees.
Adventurers responding to the crisis went to Pilgrim’s Rest and found a meeting of several members of the Fellowship of Roots: Pachidrui Etloo, the chief shouter, as well as the forementioned Nimuire Duskbloom and Thes ‘Bonegrinder’ Erurozea. As everyone puzzled over what had just happened, the gathering was interrupted by an odd mechanical electric-blue frog, which, in a resigned, dejected voice, informed “Pachi” that “the thing I told you might happen has happened. Not that you care, probably… In any case, it’s sunk now. Everybody’s quite upset. Thought you’d like to know,” before ribbiting and hopping off once more.
Immediately, all attention turned to Pachidrui, as Nimuire and several adventurers demanded of them an explanation for the strange message. Though they attempted to reply, it soon became clear that Pachidrui could not give any details, being blocked in some way from speaking more. What they could relay was that the message came from a relative, that Pachidrui themself had come from the location of the possible quake, and that they had a “drawing” of the way to its entrance, but that it disintegrated into pieces due to defenses passed during their travels. These pieces, unfortunately, were now floating all over the many places Pachidrui had passed since they had arrived in the Basin of Life.
Ever helpful, a number of adventurers immediately fanned out to the places Pachidrui had visited to look for map pieces, searching Faethorn, Balach Swamp, the Greymoors, Verasavir Valley, the Planes of Water and Earth, and the Toronada Tidepools. After Pachidrui wondered aloud whether the Toronada seagulls may have eaten some pieces, Qistrel of Serenwilde made it her particular mission to slay every seagull she found in the tidepools to be certain, causing the deaths of countless birds. Ultimately, Wrynn of Glomdoring and Hyirah, Lendren, Haghan, and Tyrus of Serenwilde returned with all the map pieces they had chased down, and Pachidrui, with an ingenious and generous application of moss and spit, managed to piece the drawing back together. None except Pachidrui was eager to touch the resulting amalgamation.
After puzzling over the image, which Pachidrui described as “a place with sandy lumpses and rocky tail trails”, those gathered determined that the Skarch Desert was the likely area in which to search. Daxi of Celest was the first to notice the pile of rubble blocking a ravine in the southeastern Skarch, at the foot of the Scorpion’s Tail mountains, and her yells for help soon drew other adventurers as well as Nimuire, Pachidrui, and Thes from the Fellowship.
As Daxi of Celest, Xenthos and Wrynn of Glomdoring, Lendren, Mani, Haghan, Tyrus and Qistrel of Serenwilde, Ellynne, Trym, and Sabik of Hallifax, and Kaios and Eiselle of Gaudiguch all worked on pushing the melted boulders that blocked the ravine aside, Pachidrui explained that the rubble was likely only the first of the barriers that awaited them in their journey beyond. True to the mugwump herbalist’s warning, those who passed the ravine and traveled onwards soon found a humming vibrational field that none could attempt to cross without being thrown back with at first minor, and subsequently serious, injuries, eventually leading to death. But it was evident that each of their efforts at crossing was weakening the field bit by bit, so despite death and injury, the same adventurers who moved the boulders persisted until they also breached this barrier, the field having failed altogether, no doubt its generators having overloaded nearby.
Traveling further, the adventurers soon found themselves upon a fog-laden plateau in the Scorpion’s Tail range, and the fog was not without its own dangers. Xiran and Mani of Serenwilde quickly succumbed to the alchemical poison in the mist, and the rest of the group learned before long to retreat and observe the plateau from afar, avoiding the caustic air. From time to time, a member of the expedition would venture onto the plateau, where the alchemical barrier makers had left a cauldron with which to mix the fog’s neutralizing agent. While the revived healers Xiran and Mani treated them from afar, would be potion-mixers including Sabik of Hallifax, Wrynn and Exeryte of Glomdoring, Lendren, Qistrel, and Tyrus of Serenwilde, and Uzriel of Magnagora lent their power reserves, supplies of herbs, commodities, and concoctions, and alchemical expertise to the attempts to neutralize the fog. More than once, the mixers had to retreat again to breathe some fresh air and discuss possibilities of ingredients with Nimuire of the Fellowship, who as a service kept a list of everything already tried and their effects. Pachidrui also added their own advice, having recognised that this particular barrier had at one point been maintained at least in part by their aforementioned relative.
Eventually, Wrynn of Glomdoring placed the five correct ingredients into the cauldron after the expedition’s group effort and neutralized the fog upon the plateau, opening the way to finally move downward. As they traveled along the treacherous path, the group was assaulted again and again by groups of hostile mossy oozes – another barrier made by some inhabitants of their mysterious destination, as identified by Pachidrui. Every time the group thought they were safe, more oozes emerged, but the adventurers were equal to the creatures’ hostility. After some deaths and injuries and passing through ever more humid regions, the expedition finally entered into what appeared to be a swamp – a swamp beyond the protections and confines of the Basin of Life itself.