I always loved new things. Ever since I was small, I always wanted to see and taste and touch new things that I'd never encountered before. Sometimes this insatiable curiosity got me into some unpleasant situations, but I made it to adulthood with only a few scars and two toes missing. Nowadays, I work as a reclamation officer for the Republic of the North. It's the perfect occupation for me, as my curiosity has never truly died, and exploring new places is the greatest thing in the world to me. I work with a documentor named Pilfry Bogram, who isn't quite as excited about the job as I, but he's a good fellow. Oh, that reminds me, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Finigus Torray, and this is the story of how I conquered the North... in a manner of speaking.
The scene is a particularly stormy night in the Witching Mountains near Tolmaas, or what is left of Tolmaas. I mean, most actual cities are in total ruin now, ever since the Great War. The Republic has managed to get some pretty nice towns set up, but no actual cities. They say that the Kuwren Empire might have a city or two, but no one who's ever gone there has ever returned to say for certain. But I digress, let's begin the story, shall we?
"Finigus, why the Crisol did you think it was a good idea to set up here for the night? You knew this storm was coming!"
"Indeed I did, my good Pilfry, but that's exactly why I decided on this spot."
"Because it's the most exposed area, so the wind can carry us right off the mountain and throw us down to the valley below!?"
"No, no, my good man! I chose this spot because yes, it is the most exposed, but also the best place to experience a real galestorm. Fear not, for we have the proper equipment to remain anchored here."
"Why!? Why would you deliberately put our lives in danger? Damn you man, are you trying get us both killed?"
"Honestly, Pilfry, have a little faith in me. We're perfectly safe!"
"No! No we are not perfectly safe! If you think that this wind isn't going to throw a boulder at us or rip out these ropes, you are a damn fool Finigus Torray!"
"Why my dear Mr. Bogram, didn't I just say to have a little faith in me?"
"Why in all the halls of Crisol would I put my faith in you? You're crazy!"
"Aye, I may be that, but I'm not such a fool as you think."
"Curse you Finigus! Curse you for being a madman and an insufferable pain in the--"
"Oh! look, Pilfry, it's a swarm of glow fairies!"
"Oh, yes, great! Maybe they're hungry and will come to dine on the two ploughing idiots who tied themselves to a ploughing rock in a ploughing galestorm!"
"Oh, quit being so dramatic, Pilfry. Why not just enjoy the glories of nature?"
"Curse the glories of nature, and curse you, you ploughing lunatic!"
"Don't worry, my dear companion. It will be over soon."
Alright, when I said Pilfry wasn't quite as excited about the job as I, I may have been making an understatement. Now, Pilfry wasn't an unpleasant sort of fellow... mostly. He just had a hard time of it now and then, what with the potentially dangerous situations we'd sometimes find ourselves in and all. I'd like to think he really did appreciate experiences like that, somewhere deep down. Anyways, the storm did pass and we were soon on our way across the valley and towards the White Marsh.
"How long have we been flying now, Finigus? I find it hard to believe it should take this long to get to the White Marsh."
"Well, we are on our last few units of propulsion powder, as you must know, documentor. Notice how our trails are so weak?"
"Yes, I know, I know... I just didn't expect us to be going so slow."
"Well, the wind certainly isn't in our favor. And it is possible that gasses from the White Marsh might be interfering with our aviation packs."
"Oh... damn it all. Why must everything be such a bother?"
"Why must you always complain? Come now, Pilfry, we're almost there."
"Damn you, Finigus..."
We landed at the edge of the White Marsh, and donned our breathing apparatuses. The marsh was known for two things: its smell and the perpetual haze that shrouded the place in mystery. It was a truly exciting expedition!
"Oh boy, I can't wait to venture into the foul-smelling death fog of the White Marsh. This has to be the most exciting day of my life."
"Oh, Pilfry! you're such a grump. Lighten up a little, man, this a very important day for the Republic! If we can find the source--"
"Yes, yes, 'the Republic is counting on us to win the war.'"
"That isn't what I said. I said: The Republic is counting on us to--"
"Whatever, Finigus, I don't care!"
"You know... you can be rather rude at times."
In fact, he was rather rude a lot of the time.
"Can we just get on with this already?"
"Yes, yes, of course. Let's just try to have a better attitude about it, shall we?"
We entered the fog wall and began placing the pathing poles we would need to keep track of our progress. They worked by emitting a two-way energy pulse that linked them together with bright blue lines. They had a certain range at which they were operable, around 700 lengths if I remember correctly. They weren't used for long, as the Standard College soon afterward developed a much better system, but of course that was only possible with what we found in the White Marsh.
"How long have we been walking already? I feel like this place stretches on forever."
"That's just an illusion created by the haze, Pilfry. And why are you asking me these types of questions? You have the time-keeping device."
"I know... but sometimes it feels like it just can't be right. It feels like we've been walking for the better part of the ploughing day, but this thing says it's only been a few spans."
"My dear Mr. Bogram, will you ever stop complaining?"
"Hmmm... Yes, I think. The day they assign me to a less irritating and boneheaded reclamation officer."
"Ah, well I supposed you got me there."
"Ha! I should say s--"
"Shhh! Did you hear that?"
"Oh for the love of Dalish--"
"Quiet! There's something moving about."
"Something... What, d'you think it's something dangerous?"
"It sounds big, Pilfry, so shut your mouth."
He obliged, but not without a sour look that I caught out of the corner of my eye. You see, unlike Mr. Bogram thought, I was a careful person. I never shied away from danger or taking a risk, but I wasn't stupid about it.
"Alright, I think it's gone now..."
"Good, because I--"
"Have a bunch more to complain about?"
"Damn you, Finigus. I've just about had it up to--"
He never got to finish his sentence, for at that moment a large set of razor-sharp teeth clamped down on his head. I stood there stupefied just long enough to see his body sink to it's knees, headless. I can't say for exactly how long a was running, using my aviation pack a little here and there to give me a boost. I do remember being genuinely terrified, unlike I had ever been before. I ran in no particular direction and I guess that was the work of fate, for my flight was put to an abrupt stop when I slammed straight into a very solid object.
"Oh... wow! that did not feel good. What the..."
Standing before me, as far as I could tell, was a huge, pure white monolith. The stone was the most exquisitely polished stone you could ever imagine. I could see my quivering reflection in the side of it, and was simply quite astounded. How did such a thing get out here in the middle of the White Marsh? But then I realized...
"This... This must be it! The source of the White Marsh's power..."
I knew then that I had very little time left, as the sounds of more of those creatures could be heard closing in on me. Immediately, I kicked my aviation pack into gear and shot straight to the top of the monolith. It was a monstrously tall structure, and I could only imagine what sort of people had first erected it. It was really only a matter of moments until I reached the top, but it felt like forever. I could see a luminescence coming from above, and was unsure whether it was coming from the monolith or the sun. I soon discovered the truth.
"Oh my... What in the world..."
It was what at first appeared to be a gemstone, carved in the shape of an egg, however I soon realized that is was in fact a thick liquid suspended perfectly in the air just above the top of the monolith between four metal prongs. I did not know by what means this was achieved, but I was going to find a way to collect this material.
"Now... how can I... Maybe the pack... or at least my canteen... What!? Oh Dalish, why?"
Strange clacking noises were coming from beneath me, but I didn't need to look to know that it was those things coming for me. I quickly took out my canteen and ran it through the egg. Suddenly, everything went bright, and the world seemed to spin. I felt a wave of nausea and then a series of colors swam across my face. I then realized those things were making an awful shrieking sound, and knew it was time to go. I didn't care how little propulsion powder I had left, I just made a straight shot for home with as much speed as I could. My pack eventually gave out, and I was forced to walk the rest of the way, which fortunately wasn't far. A few days of travel and I was coming to the top of the ridge that overlooked my hometown of Agrifa. With my last bit of strength and dragged myself up to the top and...
"Thank Dalish... I'm home."