December 12, 1999
Tomorrow I leave on an expedition to uncover and explore these forsaken ruins. With the help of my brethren in The Circle, I have found what I believe to be the location of these long-lost ruins. I have been warned by many that it will probably be very dangerous - Ybbez's evil influence may still be at work there. I am undeterred, though. Today I make preparations, gathering all the equipment I need and performing the appropriate prayers and rituals. Tomorrow, the journey begins.
I am currently camped below a large stone arch, another definite sign that a great civilization was once here. A road leads south, through the mist-covered woods.. Tomorrow, I hope to find what I have been searching for.
I came across the ancient city. Crumbling buildings and rubble-filled streets, all inside of a gigantic deteriorating stone wall. Everywhere around me was a sense of... of rot, of decay. I could almost... smell it, I suppose. Mummified corpses rested under rubble and on top of collapsed furniture in many of the houses, withered with age and decay.
Yes, I found the ruins... but they were not abandoned. Twisted creatures, long since departed from the realms of human, roamed the streets endlessly. Deformed, grotesque mockeries of mankind moaned and shuffled endlessly, warped by the great depths of evil here. Some ignored me. Others, more corrupted by the powers at work here then their compatriots, attacked me on sight. Most disturbing of all is a warped race which I can only call the guardians ... their piercing, fiery gazes cut through the most powerful enchantments of concealment, and their skill with the blade is nearly unrivaled. They are vicious creatures, and hunted me endlessly as I fled deeper into the ruins. I was lucky to get here with my life.
But perhaps the most perplexing thing of all is where exactly HERE is. A woman and child, unwarped by whatever energy is here, were waiting in a house in the ruins, along with the mummified remains of its previous owner. They were scared and shaken, watching out of a broken, boarded-up window, cowering beneath the sill whenever movement was heard outside. Apparently, some normal people still survive here, the descendants of the Kalirians who thrived here so long ago. There is a secret passage in the west wall of the city, leading into a swamp where a small settlement struggles to survive. However, the door is always kept locked, despite its camoflage. The woman's husband had the only key on this side of the gate, but journeyed off several days ago to gather firewood for the settlement. However, he had not been heard from since. Here, the rest of his family awaited his return. I have been given shelter here, and in return have promised to search out this man - if I am to uncover more of the mystery of what happened here, I must seek out these people.
Using the man's key, I opened the hidden portal in the west wall of the city. Beyond lay a wet, bemired swamp. A chill was in the air in that place, giving it a cold, desolate feel. With each step, my heart sank into my stomach, almost as much as feet did into the sopping earth. Large creatures, translucent, as if made entirely of the mist that had again descended upon this place, wandered quietly and effortlessly across the muck. These creatures were aggressive and dangerous, but lacked the means to overcome my defensive magics. After a few spells of temporary blindness and the use of my enchanted cloak, they were unable to find me again.
My path seemed endless - each turn I was forced to make seemed to bring me in circles. Perhaps there was some enchantment upon this place... Eventually, however, I stumbled across the human settlement. It was an island in the center of the swamp, relatively small in size, and populated by perhaps three dozen people. Descendants of the once proud race that dwelt here, now they hide like hunted animals from the corrupted ruins I was explored.
I met their leader, an ancient man by the name of Mandaleus. He seemed older than words can clearly describe - as if he himself were present at the time of Ybbez's initial attack, ages ago. Age-old relics lined the shelves, and he carefully studied from several books of times gone by. He told me much about his people's past... about a time more prosperous, when great wonders filled the streets, and the city was alive with people and excitement. Everything was fine... and then *he* came.
Bringing an army of evil he swept through the land. No longer content to rule over his own domain, he created a dimensional portal with which he could enter the world of Medievia from his own fiery pit. Plague and disease swept through the lands of Kaliria, once a great and noble country, leaving it ill- prepared for the ensuing onslaught. Great monstrosities ravaged the land, and things looked lost for these great people... But they were not ready to give up hope yet. Two score of Kaliria's greatest wizards joined their powers in a ritual of incredible proportions, bringing forth all of their power to create a rift between worlds. However, they knew that they would be unable to force the demon that was terrorizing them through the portal - and even if they could, he would simply return when he regained his strength. So instead, they summoned a great and noble champion, a spirit of purity and heroism. And this spirit would battle the demon, a champion to defend Kaliria.
That champion was Ybbez.
A great battle ensued. Ybbez and this demon, Klaranthos, battled constantly for seven nights and seven days. The earth shook with the rising intensity of their savage combat. Mountains crumbled, and fire filled the sky. Thunder roared with each blow struck. Lightning flashed behind the two giant ghostly silhouettes, as they fought through the night. Finally, at the end, Ybbez stood alone.
But in reality, Ybbez had lost his battle. For Klaranthos, in his dying moments, imparted a portion of his spirit into Ybbez's soul, corrupting him, twisting him. He screamed with rage, and lashed out at those who had summoned him. He hunted the Kalirians, slaughtering each and every one he could find. Soon, all that remained was the city - all the rest of this once great country was laid waste. Simply being near his evil would twist and mutate people, turning them into hideous monsters. Those who fell in battle were raised as undead to serve him, and do his evil bidding. With each passing battle, his forces grew larger and larger.
Finally, four of their greatest wizards (all that remained of the original forty) were able to cast an enchantment using a great tome, and were able to seal Ybbez away underneath the city. Yet still, from deep underground, his power and evil corrupt and warp the minds of those who dwell in Kaliria. His minions continue to wander the region, thirsting for blood and hoping for their master's return. And so, the few people who remained fled to the swamp.
"Perhaps that is why I was sent here," I said at last. Mandaleus gave me a quizzical look. "My gods have led me here for a reason", I continued, "... at first I thought it was to find the truth... but perhaps it is something more. Perhaps I was sent here to rid this world of Ybbez's evil, once and for all... " Mandaleus simply looked into my eyes, as if his sad, somber eyes could peer into my soul. My confidence dwindled under his stare.
"What could you hope to accomplish, when some of the greatest wizards to walk this earth could barely even slow his rampage?" His voice at this point matched his face, filled with sadness and grief.
I looked down for a moment, then stared him directly in the eyes, hoping the fire I felt within would shine through mine. "My gods have delivered me here for a reason. Perhaps this demon has weakened with time. Perhaps my gods will give me the strength I need to overcome this creature. But it is better to try and fight then to cower in fear and do NOTHING!..."
The old man sighed, his entire body seeming to crumble in on itself, sagging in on itself as that long, grating breath left his lips. His age showed now more than ever. "Fear... fear is all we have left."
A long silence passed, and I took this as a dismissal. I turned to leave, walking back over to the ladder that descended back to the swamp below. Suddenly, a loud clunk immediately behind me grabbed my attention. I swiveled around, my hand at my mace, and an incantation half-forming on my lips.
Mandaleus was reading silently from a book by the fire, facing away from me. At my feet lay a small bar carved entirely of marble. The old man spoke again, never turning to look at me. "Look for the resting place of my colleague, if indeed you do seek to destroy the beast." I blinked twice as he paused briefly, not quite comprehending the situation at hand. "Be careful, boy... Your spirit is strong, but I assure you - the beast's is stronger."
I slowly knelt down and picked up the strange block, fumbling with my words of thanks. Standing again, I slowly descended back into the swamp, more confused than ever.
The lair of Ybbez was carved into a perfect cube shape, with smooth walls very unlike the rest of the cave. Human skulls standing on poles were lined up in rows in the back of the room, trophies of the monster's previous prey. He stood eight feet tall, shrouded in flames. The stench of fire and brimstone struck me like a surging wave of pure power, and I shuddered slightly at the sight of this horrendous beast. His hoofed feet tore at the ground, and he snorted flame as he looked me over. I cast one last spell of protection on myself and lunged towards the great demon, the three wizards not far behind me.
The battle lasted less than five minutes. I do not remember very much of it, to be honest. Fire, blood, and pain - those I remember. The wizards came upon me and attacked. One of them fell, his flesh withering as I chanted an invocation. I was struck on the back of the head - by a scepter of some sort, I believe. I stumbled forward, and then I was burned. Fire all around me. I could smell the burning of my own flesh as I dove from the column of fire that had risen where I stood. I rose to one knee and screamed an incantation, rousing the earth, shaking the cavern with a tremendous earthquake. A minor cave-in ensued, and several boulders dropped between the remaining two wizards and myself. I immediately turned towards demon I had been seeking when one monstrous claw of a hand wrapped itself around my neck. Ybbez lifted me up by the throat... choking me, burning me... leaving me gasping for air.. . growling curses in some demonic tongue... my vision grew hazy... blackness setting in all around me...
I slowly raised one arm, aiming my hand at Ybbez's face. I weakly mouthed a few arcane words, and an explosion of light burst directly into the demon's face, blinding him. He let loose an unearthly roar and he threw me across the room like so much garbage. I bounced several times crashing into a pile of rubble, the shock of the impact surging up and down my spine. Ybbez screamed, clutching his eyes. He cursed and stumbled, then he fell to one knee. I remember watching him in my half-dazed stupor, as I leaned up against a pile of rubble, trying to stand. I watched him rise to his feet once again, staring directly at me, my moment of oppurtunity already gone. He let loose another savage roar and charged at me. Weak with pain, barely able to move at all, I did the last thing I could do, the only thing I had the energy to...
I chanted one last spell, and the world faded to blackness around me. When I awoke, I was back at the Grand Hall of the Circle. My spell of teleportation had not failed me. My brethren found my battered body and healed me, using great magics to bring me back from the brink of death. I have spent the majority of the past several days recovering from the ordeal.
Perhaps, though, my failure is not complete. Ybbez still reigns supreme in the Lost Civilization of Kaliria - I know now that I alone cannot change that. Simply the idea of going back to that wicked place grips my heart with a cold, icy fear. But perhaps the gods brought me there not as a savior, but as a messenger. This journal holds all of the information I gathered from my investigations. Perhaps, in the hands of someone more capable than myself, this knowledge may yet bring about Ybbez's downfall.
I wish there were some way I could give you some feeling of closure, some grand conclusion, some definitive ending. But this story has no ending... indeed, it is just the beginning. For the demon waits, my friend; biding his time under the earth, regaining his power. The demon waits, for a time when he may be able to free himself of his stone prison. The demon waits, but somehow, someday, we will stop his campaign of terror once and for all. May the gods protect you, my friend. May the gods protect us all.