The Vocal Vale

A pocket of verdant green amidst the greys and blacks of the Pilon mountain range. As soon as Avenar the Erudite, famed Wizard of Skarlshold, set foot in the valley he had found peace. From the gentle breeze that swept through the trees to the soothing sounds of a river flowing over a bed of turbulent rock, he felt the stress of his travels drift away.

His white robes hid the muted, dull surfaces of his armour and relics. The matt metals were a contrast to the glossy white staff he carried, and his short brown hair had been slicked back with a simple gel compound. Walking in to the Vocal Vale, he paused to remove his boots to better feel the soft grasses underfoot.

Legends spoke of an Enchiridion laying in this place, an artefact of the Old Age. They also spoke of other tales, of voices in the wind as it rushed past the venerable trees growing in the sheltered area and of vicious beasts calling the vale home. A smile spread across his lips as small, furry creatures scurried about in the longer grasses and shrubs nearby.

Strolling along, he drew in deep breaths of the fresh air, the smell of wildflowers carried by the zephyr. One legend spoke of a tree stump on an island, where wise men used to meditate. It was Avenar’s guess that it was close to the artefact, and by meditating there remote contact was possible with the repository of information below.

Crossing the river to get to the island he stumbled across though would be a simple matter. Tightening his hold on the staff, he began to form the spellcall in his head. The Language of Magic was complex, and it was only thanks to his mastery of his assembly relics like the staff, and the various pieces of armour he wore, that let him command the powerful forces.

Golden light pulsed from his staff, exciting the air around him as a disk of solid gold energy formed. It dipped slightly as he stepped onto it, before drifting across the flow towards the place he sought. A grove of trees had formed around the stump, providing some shelter for any pilgrims. He could already feel the mass of energy thrumming in the air, brought forth into being from the Enchiridion.

Setting his boots down to the side of the stump, Avenar sat cross-legged on the trunk with his staff laid across his lap. With closed eyes, he focused on the staff in his hands as he slipped into a meditative state.

He had lost track of time when a chorus spoke to him. “Avenar.” The voice drifted across his ears, rousing him from his efforts. “Avenar, you have come to find knowledge.”

Opening his eyes, the sun had set, leaving him in a wind-battered grove with the flowers of the trees glowing softly. “That is correct. I am Avenar the Erudite, here to make contact with an Enchiridion rumoured to lay here.”

“That is we, Avenar. You have come to find knowledge, but will leave with more than you ever thought.” The choir of voices said, their tone and volume driven by the air rushing past the branches. “We are the Trees of Information, tied to this grove and the artefacts of the Old Age that lay beneath us.”

With wide eyes, he considered his words carefully. “I am honoured that you would greet me so warmly. I am eager to learn, and have travelled a long way to come here.”

“You are driven, Avenar. You have great promise, and great potential. But know this; your destiny lies with someone else. All the lore you obtain, the skills you learn are not for your own benefit. They need to be passed down. The seeds have been sown. The Heretic will be born in the coming years. You must be ready to guide him, Avenar.” The intensity of the voice of the vale made him recoil, the lights in the trees glowing brightly as he was buffeted by the forces whirling around him.

“You say many things, but the meaning is unclear!” He replied, pushing himself to his feet. “What seeds? Who is this Heretic? What would you have of me?”

“Open your mind, young Wizard. We will show you. Prepare yourself.”

He barely had time to react before he was overwhelmed by a flash of gold light, and an intense jumble of voices filling his mind.

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