The Sagas of Mortaholme, Book 1: Corruption, Chapter Three
Olaf tapped out the smouldering pipe weed that sat in his pipe's bowl, and repacked it with new herbs. He looked up from his pipe at the boy; then, lighting his pipe with a click from his finger, he puffed out some more smoke. Savouring its taste for a moment, Olaf allowed the boy to take in what he had just been told.
"So, boy, I have told you my name and given you a little history lesson; maybe you could be as kind as to return the favour? Could you tell me your name and what happened in Stonehill?"
The boy drifted out from his thoughts and nodded whilst reaching out for another cup of tea. Olaf beat him to it, and helped him drink. Smiling his thanks, the boy tested and then cleared his throat.
“My name is Marius,” he said, and fell into his recount of the destruction of his home.
The old hero looked at Marius, swathed the room in blue smoke, and nodded thoughtfully.
"That's a very interesting story, young Marius, and it may be that our stories are closely linked to one another. I think what you may have seen is the last remnants of the Eldar. They must have corrupted themselves to return from their exile, and that must be why they were raising the Nosaferatu –the undead."
Olaf frowned as the memories of ages past came whirling into focus: a great army all clad in silver plate mail commanding the ancient beasts of the old kingdoms; the fabled dragon knights of Lornea sat astride their massive mounts.
"Were there really dragons in the old kingdoms?"
He snapped back to the present, and realised his thoughts were still linked to the smoke that filled the room. A vast dragon, three times the size of any other, reared and spouted flames over human troops; its rider, King Vlasmir, shot bolts of energy down upon his enemies.
Olaf sighed. "Aye Marius, there were dragons; still are, in some parts of the world, although they are rare now. They hide in the far north, farther north than the Vakringuardian Kingdoms. After the corruption set in, man set out to destroy all of the ancient creatures. That one there," –he gestured to the smoke dragon in the middle of the room –"was called Golgoth, and was King Vlasmir's personal steed. Vlasmir used magic to enlarge the dragon before its time and against its will, and as such corrupted his cause; that's where the corruption started, you see. The Eldar always thought that man was the corruption, but when man struck back with the Dwarf weapons, the Eldar used their magic for personal gain. They grew and armed the ancient gods of the forest, and gave a higher intelligence to other creatures, such as the dragons, griffins, and an assortment of other beasts. I don't know for sure the extent of their meddling, but after they cast their spells, the Eldar changed. Their magic diminished. and their long lives became shorter, as did that of man. So we cut them down and banished them. Man grew greedy, and the corruption spread to the younger generations; the monarchy disbanded and was replaced by the church, which in turn fed lies to the masses. Their fictions became fact and the disbelief of such things is what your people are now fed; these lies are now what is in the lands of Alturine."
Marius watched the swirling smoke fly around the room, and felt the sadness fill the room as it dispersed.
Finally, the Border Express slowed to a pulsing stop as the locomotive pulled up at the Alturine border station. Luther shuddered as he looked out onto the mist-shrouded platform, imagining snarling demons at every turn. Ice-glazed cobblestones crunched under his shined boots as he stepped onto the platform, his Elduinian Church uniform and scarf whipping around as the bitter northern wind engulfed him. Shadows of the other passengers flitted past him, causing him to recoil in fear. Taking deep breaths, Luther adjusted his spectacles, and set out into the mist, allowing it to swallow him whole.
The commotion of noise that surrounded Luther seemed to fade into the distance as the crunching of his boots encompassed all sound. He focused on the slow rise and fall of his chest, and matched his breathing to the sound of his feet as he passed through the platform's populace. The crunching underfoot suddenly came to an abrupt stop, and a loud squish sounded as Luther felt dread creep into his person. He fearfully looked down at his slightly raised left foot and groaned; his shined boot had become caked in the sludge of melted snow and mud. Worse still, as Luther looked up, he found that the cobblestones of the civilised south dropped away at the platform step, and opened out onto a freezing town built from stone and thatch.
The mist from the locomotive station cleared and allowed Luther to gaze unhindered upon the icy summer morning. The settlement of Pasenholme was the northernmost stop on the railroad leading from Alturine's capital, and took on the character of the Vakringuardian settlements beyond the border. Planks of wood had been laid across the roads and lane-ways to allow the townsfolk safe passage above the churned mud that carts and carriages bustled through, and the stone buildings, which seemed muddled together about the various streets, puffed smoke from their chimneys, giving the air an ashy taste. Pasenholme had become the major transport hub of the northern border with the introduction of the rail road, and was yet to accommodate the civilised structure of the south.
Luther stepped back onto the cobblestones and looked along its edge in hopeful search of further transportation. To his complete relief, he found a dark, weather-stained coach hitched to a pair of darker horses. Its rider leant against its side with his arms and legs folded, and a cowl pulled over his face. Luther strode over to the driver and stopped directly in front of him. The driver stirred, flicked his hood back slightly, and squinted up at Luther. Luther looked the man up and down, taking in the weather-stained cape and travel-stained trousers.
The driver's squinting dark eyes peered out from the shadows of the hood at Luther.
"Can I help ye there, sir?" The coachman asked in a slurred mid country accent.
Luther almost jumped, but then found his words in a stuttering fashion. "I... erm... yes, actually. Can you take me to the town of Stonehill a bit east of here?"
The coachman scratched the back of his neck slightly in thought, and then nodded. "Aye sir, I can take ye. It'll be a while though; Stonehill’s some fairways off."
Luther dipped his head in acknowledgment, and sighed. "That will be fine thank you. I am aware of the distance concerned."
The driver nodded again, and smiled, showing half of his original teeth. "Aye, right you are then, sir." He boosted himself into the driving seat.
Luther climbed into the coach itself, settled into its padded seat, and was just wrapping his arms against the cold when suddenly a hand clamped onto the doorframe outside. Luther had to hold back a scream as he fought to keep control of himself. The door opened slightly, and a strange broad-brimmed hat followed by a pair of twinkling eyes loomed up in front of a friendly face. The face wore a flashing white smile, and quickly offered a hand.
"Hello there! My name is Alun Black; I heard that this coach is traveling to Stonehill–is that right?"
Luther stared at this strange man for a moment, deciding whether to jump out the other side of the coach, or shake the man's hand. He studied the man's face and then noticed his clothes and accent–a southern gentleman.
Luther blinked for a second and then took Alun's hand. "Erm... yes... hello there, sir. My name is Luther Quail, and you are qu-quite correct, the coach is going to Stonehill. W- would you care to join us?"
Alun looked at Luther strangely, but then flashed another smile and pulled himself into the coach. "I would be delighted to; old chap. Say – what are you going to Stonehill for anyway?"
Luther braced himself as the carriage jolted into motion. He glanced out of the window with a furtive gaze, and then became aware of Alun looking at him with a questioning look.
Remembering the question, Luther glanced out of the window again and answered, "Oh...I am...um...yes, I am going to do a survey on the northern provinces for the Church of Elduin."
Alun raised his eyebrows at the mention of the Church, and looked Luther up and down with a critical eye.
Panic blossomed in Alun's chest at the mention of the ruling Church of Alturine. He watched Luther closely, taking in the fidgeting and nervous eye movements. Alun gauged the threat, and then began to relax when he realised there was none. Luther was still glancing nervously out of his window; Alun leant back into his padded seat, took off his hat and flashed another smile in Luther's direction, relieved to find that he was in control. Luther sent a sheepish smile back at Alun, then continued to gaze out at the passing scenery.
Alun cleared his throat in an attempt to re-spark the conversation. "The Church?"
He tried to be as unassuming as possible, and schooled his features into an innocent, inquisitive face.
Luther looked back from the window and glanced at Alun. Sheepishly, he dipped his head in acknowledgment.
"Yes, I am a surveyor for the Inquisitional Branch. I travel the empire recording the population and cultural habits of the people."
Alun raised his eyebrows and quickly flashed another smile. "Oh, well that sounds interesting. Although…" Alun cocked one eyebrow and leant in closer to Luther. "Why would the Inquisition want to know the population and cultural habits of the public?"
Luther seemed to struggle with this for a moment, but then responded in what seemed to resemble growing confidence. "The Elduinian Church surveys," he said, "in order to best gauge the use of their services."
Alun felt the ridiculousness of this statement and began to see that Luther was not a seasoned traveller in the northern reaches of the Empire.
Nodding, Alun allowed the statement to pass by, and decided to focus on the outside scenery instead of listening the other passenger's rehearsed propaganda. Luther too grew disinterested with his companion, and eventually drifted off into an uneasy slumber.
The further east they travelled, the more rugged the landscape became. Oak and maple trees littered the fields and roadside, and to the north, the Border Mountains loomed overhead, casting the farmlands and growing woodland in long, dark shadows. The road became wilder as the trees thickened; the shadows from the mountains caused the encompassing forest to become almost black beneath its branches.
The carriage began to bump and sway over the growing roots that invaded the road. The deep shadows seemed to retract and the trees seemed to darken; beams of light trickled through the clearing branches.
After a few hours, the branches finally cleared, showing a surprising scene of absolute desolation.
submitted by ThomFoxsmith
Dragon Age: Inquisition - Digital Deluxe Edition [v 1.12u12 + DLCs] (2014) PC | Repack by xatab
Based on the release of CPY;
German and French voiceovers are cut / nothing is recoded;
All registry paths are saved;
Game Version: 1.12 update 12
All DLCs Installed
A folder "Exclusive DLC Unlocker" was created in the directory with the game (file and instructions for unlocking);
Installation time ~ 15 minutes (depends on the computer);
Reack from xatab.
submitted by crack_repack_watcher