The Journals of Xedris Thrannis Somabhakta
Entry 527, Decrypted and Translated
The last two days have been a wealth of information. Although I could spend decades here speaking with Vinyasa, the curse of his immortality begins to toll and I should not leave my companions without my guidance and talents for much longer. Sadly, I must depart the Archive and make all due haste to Sarya. Fortunately, the Archivist has promised some aid in that regard.
I suppose, for posterity, I should record some simple facts about the Archive and its wonders. The Parvati-worshiping mystics of Broken Spring led us here, a simple monastery carved into a sandstone cliff face, believing its keeper to be an "oracle." Based on this representation, Professor Sanjaya Pandava dismissed the Archivist as a fortune-teller, focused as he was on the geographical information provided, and on his goals. Nevertheless, I, along with Panja and Saatvik, ascended via bucket-and-pulley to consult with her.
How to describe the Archivist… she is clearly non-human, although she is certainly humanoid. She is swathed entirely in layered black silks and veils, although occasionally the head of a small emerald-scaled serpent can be seen poking its head out of her layered clothing. The Archive is carved into a cliff face, its hall lined with niches containing immaculate statues of high-Elves in various poses and states. The hall leads to a grotto open to the sky via a light-well carved upward through the rock. There is a circular pool with some plant life growing in it, and dozens more statues in various positions.
I won't belabor things. The statues are all living beings turned to stone by some art or quality of the Archivist. Each one of them is a high-elf who survived the Godswar nearly three thousand years ago. Each one of them chose not to join Surya in his prison, nor to join Aranyani in the Feywild, nor to give up their immortality. Each one, by so refusing, has been cursed by the gods to waste away in agony. Each one sought out the first Archivist who turned them to stone to preserve their knowledge against future need, and each one is occasionally returned to flesh to add to their knowledge before being frozen in stone once more.
I'm not entirely sure what manner of Monster the current Archivist (she says she's the Ninth) might be, but she has certainly found an excellent way to utilize whatever unnatural talents she possesses for the good of Civilization and the edification of future generations. I wouldn't have expected such dedication from a Druid, but perhaps I have misjudged them. Panja certainly treated her with elaborate respect, and they spent much of the first day we were here together discussing the secret lore of their order. I was more interested in Vinyasa.
To elaborate: the three of us inquired into the supposed "great evil" that had arisen once more, sending agents throughout the land poisoning springs with arcane artifacts imbued with necrotic energy. The Archivist indicated that the last time this sort of thing occurred it was the work of the Risen Son, and that she would thaw the one most able to tell us more about him. She selected one of her statues and re-animated him. After a moment of initial disorientation, he locked eyes with me and called me by my true family name. Clearly he saw some ancestor in my features. I pretended not to know what he spoke of and he shook off his confusion, but I decided then that I would seek private conversation with him if at all possible.
He told us that the Risen Son was a child during the Godswar, and when Surya fell he was just a teenager. He fled into the war-torn wastes that are now the Thar Desert refusing to give up his immortality and seeking a way to defy the gods. He found inspiration in Surya's example. Apparently during the war, Mahadeva would simply resurrect those of his faithful who would fall in battle, ensuring his army stayed ever-strong. Surya, seeking to emulate his father, attempted to imbue his fallen with esoteric fires and energies and successfully animated them once more, although they were souls trapped in dead flesh. The Risen Son, somewhere in the ruins of the ancient magical war machines of the Empire, discovered the arts whereby he could convert himself into a powerful undead, finding through this loophole a path to the immortality he sought to keep.
About a thousand years after the Godswar, the Risen Son led a cult of undead followers preaching the immortality of Surya through undeath. This cult dominated the Thar Desert, but was eventually suppressed and destroyed by a concerted military campaign led by the Kingdom of Mithila, and it hasn't been a known threat since. I created an illusion of the strange shard we found in the spring, and Vinyasa indicated that it looked very much like the blade of one of the swords wielded by the Risen Son's most faithful knights, weapons that could instantly re-animate the bodies of those they slew into loyal undead servants. There is some evidence, therefore, that at least some elements of the old Cult are still around even if we have no direct evidence that the Risen Son himself is still a threat.
While Panja and Saatvik returned to the expedition intended to head to Sarya to rendezvous with the other teams, I spent an additional day deep in study with Vinyasa. His knowledge of the arcane arts, while archaic, is dramatically more advanced than anything I've seen at the Wizard’s College of Mithila. He even gave me a spellbook in honor of his friendship with my ancestor who fought beside him in the war. I'll need to return someday to speak with him again, but he can only stay in flesh for so long before the gods' curse begins to fray at his life. The Archivist returned him to stone and arranged transport to Sarya via methods she has asked I not record.
I arrived in this desert caravansary and market-hub built into the ruins of an ancient city to hear of a disturbance. Asking around, it seems that Team Dvi ran into some difficulties. My own companions rescued one of their number from a line of slaves being sold by slavers who were, it turns out, Monsters known as "jackalweres", cursed and ensorcelled beasts who can take on the forms of men. They are remarkably resilient to weapons, but my companions managed to slay them anyway rescuing Sindoor. I'm resting in this tent, putting my thoughts to page, waiting for the ruckus to subside before I seek them out to learn the specifics. Perhaps I'll try this local delicacy of fermented camel's milk.