When Ulreik Hras Halril was expelled from the University, it was shortly after receiving word that a colleague, correspondent, former student and friend had passed away. Florian was an older man who’d studied at the University in his youth before arguing with the Alfar instructors and leaving. The two of them shared a fascination with the Faerie World, and a suspicion that the Alfar were deliberately withholding knowledge from their mortal students.
After leaving the academy, Florian took to the Tower of Nails, a fortified keep in the lands of Borgondhi. There he continued his studies, taking advantage of the isolation to observe the night skies and the movements of the stars. Ulreik discovered Florian after talking with some older students who remembered the man, and the two began exchanging letters, offering each other encouragement and helping with research the other could not pursue.
Of all the books, journals, notes and scrolls Ulreik lost in exile, this letter was a lonely survivor. Perhaps the mysteries contained within will help Ulreik pursue the knowledge that shut the doors of the academy.
The below is PLAYER KNOWLEDGE, not CHARACTER KNOWLEDGE, to everyone but Ulreik
TO THE RIGHT NOBLE, and learned, Ulreik Hras Halril, who studies most diligently at the Academy of the blessed city of Gloriana in pursuit of the light of knowledge and revelation of the mysteries of creation,
It gladdens my heart to receive your missives. It seems at times that we are but permitted to view the shadows as cast by the rising sun, and given no torch or lantern of our own. But in you I have found a scholar who refuses to bask in awe, who fashions lenses to focus that light, and hopes in time to ignite from it a fire of our own—unbequeathed, unburdened by gratitude, and free to spread as we see fit.
Placing my hope in your continued prosperity and wellbeing, I put to you the enigma I mentioned previously in our correspondence. For the bond of fraternity that we share as students of abjuration and with respect to the confidence of our long friendship, I implore you to retain this mystery between ourselves. It is my fear that the benefactors do not mean us to pour over the inscription below, for in my moments of brightest hopes I feel that it may hold the keys to this cage of knowledge they weave.
During my apprenticeship, before I took my leave and withdrew to the Tower of Nails, I strayed from the dormitory well past curfew—a sin that, while regrettable, can be remembered by all who have completed their studies therein. While seeking a glimpse of a fellow student who had caught my interest (in a not altogether intellectual way, I will admit), I happened upon a balcony over a room I had never tread before. The chamber below was inscribed with elaborate stone runes, circles within circles, and at their epicenter a basin rose from the floor. Across the waters two voices debated, one in a soft and melodic, the other with words few but like distant thunder. It was Runda herself and a stranger to the academy. He wore curious garments, a coat of sheening black or leather. His hair was cropped short in a curious fashion. I could see the burden of terrible secrets in the lines on his face. At his side he carried a thin chest or coffer, emblazoned with runes of dreadful power. The language they spoke was unfamiliar to me, but it was clear they disagreed. In my wonder I leaned over the balcony, and though the vaulted ceiling was inscribed only with stars of an unfamiliar sky, reflected in the water shone the runes I write below.
Though it is plain to me that these are elven script, and though they remain seared into my mind as fresh as that night I crept from my bed and witnessed two terrible powers in debate, nothing I have done with them has revealed any new truth. I have crossed them and translated them and all my efforts are in vain. Perhaps a fresh set of eyes and new ideas can bring me out of this long cast shadow.
The first row means in the old elven tongue “By the root,” as does the last row read backwards. I fear I can decipher no meaning from the rest of it. In my years I have pursued the truth of this mystery alongside my other, more reputable studies, and the only mentions I have found of this phrase stem from an old Huldra song. The song is called Nornogamon, or The Wheel Upon the Hill, and only the dusk elves of the Marchen woods know its words. The best I can tell is that it concerns the coming of a Dökkálfar to a place called Magardh gan réaltaí—”The Starless Market"—seeking the key to a “Road of Seven Veils.”
My search for such a place or the full text of the song has produced nothing, and it is my hope that in the library of Gloriana, and with eyes undimmed by the fog of time, you may make of this something greater. What it portends I cannot say, but I am firm in the belief that if Runda and the strange peer of hers found it a point of contention, certainly it points to knowledge beyond yours or mine.
I apologize for the delay in sending you the transcripts of the Mordavian Tablets—they are on loan to a scholar named Euthynos. Perhaps you two are acquainted—inquire with him for their delivery. Best wishes to your health and success in your studies, and may the light of wisdom shine ever on your path.
Yours ever in friendship and scholarly endeavor,