Welcome to the Temple of Pelor, though I wish it could have been easy for you. I am Annacks, patriarch of our order and head of the Royal Council of Atlas. Of course you have met my noble assistant, Devlin…
Words alone cannot express my joy and relief at your coming. I have summoned you here because this land faces its worst crisis since the time before the High Kings. In fact, as a realm we stand on the brink of destruction. The forces of chaos assail us from without and within, and there is but one solution to our woes: the return of the High King with the lost Sorona Crown upon his head.
As I understand it you have been out of touch with events and information does not travel as it did in better times so let me explain our situation. Atlas is a kingdom without a king and this is the root of our trouble. Over twenty years ago the last High King, Maramet, disappeared while leading a war band against the Orc hordes on our northern frontier. Even though the King’s men were successful in driving them back, I have no doubt the king perished in this sortie, although his body has never been found. Alas, the great Sorona Crown was also lost at the time, for Maramet always wore the mystical circlet of sovereignty.
Recently, the king’s son and heir, Thendel was killed during the ill-fated counterattack against the Orc laying siege to the castle. With most of our castle guard killed, the Orcs marched in and took most of the city from us. Some sections have remained and we continue to fight but most live under the heel of the Orcs now. That was almost a year ago. Oh how the fates have conspired against us! In a single generation we have lost the king, the crown, the heir and our capital.
Since that time we on the royal council have tried to govern as best we could in the monarch’s stead. I am loath to admit that we have failed, for the country is falling into anarchy. The individual nobles have no one stand behind and are only concerned with self-preservation. A kingdom must have a king! Only with a king can all of the people of Atlas be reunited in fighting off these invaders.
And now I will confide in you something that no man knows, save myself. A rightful heir to throne yet lives. His name is, or was, Tenitar, and he is Thendel’s twin brother. And here lies a tale of folly and woe, for which I take a good measure of responsibility.
Some 25 years ago Maramet’s Queen gave birth to twin boys. For many folk this would be a joyous occasion but for the royal house of Atlas it was a bane. The dilemma was obvious to the King and me. Which of these princes would rule when the time came? We both saw civil war in our country’s future, for how could one prince defer to the other in the matter of succession? True, there was separation within the kingdom anyway but there was no war because of it but that is another matter and not one we could have foreseen. When the Queen died tragically died soon after the birth we knew what had to be done.
As the youngest by a matter of minutes, Tenitar was given into the care of a midwife who spirited him away in the night. Neither the king nor I had any idea where the child was taken and we thought it wisely done in this fashion. If ever Tenitar was to be sought out, we trusted to the magics of the Sorona Crown to locate him. Thus it was that we depriced the babe of his birthright. Now this injustice was exacted its toll.
I believe that Tenitar is still alive, most likely somewhere in Atlas. But we must recover the Sorona if we are to find him, for the Crown of the Sun has the power to locate the lawful heir to the realm. Furthermore, this future king and the crown are inexorably linked. We must have the king and the king must have the crown if he is to be recognized as the lawful monarch.
The quest for the Sorona will take you north, quite possibly beyond the borders of Atlas itself. Maramet was last seen riding north and west into the Heidann Freeholds in hot pursuit of Orc raiders. This northern sojourn will take you by way of the Stones of Sky, a mystical place of standing stones and a shrine for pilgrims. Our lore holds that the first High King received the Sorona here as a gift from the gods. And the first Patriach of Pelor, the noble Haymin, placed the crown upon his head here at the Cathedral before all the assembled nobility of the land. The Sorona shone like the sun upon the head of King Gendar.
I deem that you should begin your quest at the stones. You may receive some insight here concerning the lost crown and the lost king. I can see that your spirit are noble and you may succeed where others have failed, for to date many have sought in vain for the Sorona.
I warn you though, our northern reaches have become wild and unruly of late, and what reports we still receive show of constant Orc patrols. Without the High King to unite us, I fear we will perish from without even if we do not collapse from within.
With this commission I have appealed to your honor, but we are also prepared to reward you in the material. If you are successful, we will reward you with a barony in our realm, and such honors, lands and incomes thereof. There will belong to you and your heirs in perpetuity. Do you accept this responsibility?
Excellent. It has been years since I have traveled along the northern trade routes so there not much I can tell you that would be current but what I know is this. The best way of travel would be along the main road to Darien. The Stones of the Sky are just a few days ride north from there through the Heidom Freeholds. Beware, for the Count of Darien, Lars Longfellow is a scoundrel. He has shown utter contempt for the High King’s law and their obligations of fealty since the monarch disappeared long ago. He was only kept in check by the King’s Army but when it left for the eastern sea he has grown increasing bold. We have not the resources to deal with him currently and things would be worse if it were not for the continued support and aid of the former High King’s cousin, Baron Vana Cullen of the western wastelands. He has shouldered a good deal of the responsibility for the western and northern regions of the kingdom. The state of our kingdom would be in poor standing if he were not such a generous man in his aid. I have even heard mention of some that think he should be crowned High King because of his strength and blood but they do not know of the remaining heir. If you have no further questions, would you care to join me and my fellow brethren for dinner?
How does the crown work?
I am afraid that I do not know the answer to that question. In truth, the magical circlet has never been in the possession of anyone other than the lawful king. On the other hand, I am positive that the crown will help such lawful people as yourselves in your search for the heir. Trust to the powers of the great circlet – its purpose is the same as your own.