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The Collegium’s Biggest Secret

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Article #2

From the Velika Falcon:

Falconinvestigative reporter Gavrel continues his series on recent events at Velika’s Collegium Arcane, and cranks up the excitement on what might be the greatest civilian adventure we’ve ever covered.

Velika Plains—Continued digging in and around the Collegium Arcane has uncovered a few more details about the recent top-secret meetings in the lower level library there. According to my source inside, bills have been arriving for the past four days from both continents for supplies and equipment, and even the hire of wagons and teamsters to take it all somewhere. But where, exactly, remains a mystery.

Moreover, who are the people mentioned in a mysterious hiring order only as Master Arcanist, Astronomer, Botanist, Teleport Master, Mythohistorian, Cryptozoologist (!)? Why does the hiring order include multiple scribes and “excavation technicians?” And why have junior collegium researchers been scouring an inland city for a sextant?

After some deliberation, I decided to follow up on the clue about the hiring of teamsters. A Lumbertown outfit known as Lek’s was engaged outside the city’s western gate by a minor collegium official two days ago, before they unloaded their wagons. Following the paper trail supplied by my contact inside, I spoke to Lek himself three nights ago at an inn outside the city. The next morning my pockets were lighter by a hundred gold pieces, and I was hidden inside a crate of soft goods heading for the west coast of Arun.

If you’re ever tempted to stow away on a wagon train rattling over rutted, pot-holed roads for two days, hidden in a wooden crate in a tightly packed wagon bed in stifling summer heat, I recommend you lie down in the shade and drink something cool until the urge passes. Nothing less than the greatest story I’ve ever been assigned could have convinced me that it was a good idea, and that was before I lived through it.

Despite being slipped food and water, and let out for a few minutes late each night by my new friend Lek, when we finally arrived at the coast I was exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and sore in places I hadn’t known I possessed. I was pretty happy to smell salt water, hear the lapping of waves on Arun’s western shore, and feel my temporary prison lifted into the hold of an airship headed into unknown (to me, at least) territory. When all the personnel and the rest of the crates were gone, Lek freed me from the expedition’s spare blankets and tent canvas, and I walked unsteadily out onto a dock with a view that’s hard to describe and harder to believe.

I appear to be on an island ringed by immense cliffs over which seawater flows endlessly. Tall towers beam light into the sky on all sides. Balder’s eye is reassuringly visible, which probably means I haven’t left the world I know behind, but where, exactly, am I?


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