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  1. His hands moved swiftly over the old parchment, smoothed by the many hands before him. The Gnome was most helpful, almost a bit too helpful, always with this gentle smile on his face, his eyes hidden behind thick glasses. He took another sip from the dark brown ale and carefully spooned some stew in his mouth, not to soil the map nor his beard. The strong flavour of venison was a good indicator that the cook used fresh local meat, not ground up spoiled beef as was the case in the last establishment he dared to set a foot in. Tymora be blessed he knew the one or other herb that would cure an upset stomach. He looked again at the hand drawn ruins, his lips forming a silent word: “Everanthaâ€. The “Watchful Fortress†in the common tongue. Only old stories told around the fireplace spoke of the evil that befell the Elven kingdom, yet little was known about its demise, less even about the time when it stretched from East to West, North to South. When he first arrived in Greifshold he craved old sealed away books and dry parchment that would tell of these people, their songs, their poetry, how they lived, what trials they had to face in this harsh land. But all he got was the shake of a head, a gentle smile or a sigh: the foreigner that expected everything to be revealed to him without effort. Humans arrived late in these lands and were of a simple mindset. They were more concerned how to survive the next winter, not with old stories and haunted places. Still, as the Gnome told him, every few years adventuring groups that heard of riches untold would make their way to one of these frozen ruins. Few returned, some barely alive, frost-burned or crazed, some with artifacts, rusty and broken, but still of an elegant beauty, entirely absent from the local handicraft. What did he care for gold. Knowledge and knowledge alone he desired. Artefacts, yes, telling him of these people, how they celebrated, how they fought, but maybe more than this, sealed away down below a library would await him, the first to roam its shelves after thousands of years. At the first light of day he would depart. His fingers stopped at Walhafrid’s Stede, the little drawn chimney smoking invitingly. His first stop. And then only a good days travel further west. He sat back and finished his meal with a fine pipe. Maybe the last bit of comfort he would have for the next weeks. Snow began to fall, its icy embrace mirroring the cold hands reaching out for him. Not weather, not undeath would stop him. The flame always prevails, it always consumes. He delved into the darkness, only to meet more mindless marionettes, their purpose long faded and replaced with everlasting hatred. What would the flame reveal? You want to learn more? This dispatch should satiate your curiosity!
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