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"The Appeal"


As with decades' past, the preparations had been underway for nearly a year when the winds began to pick up. Everyone said this journey would be made more difficult by the increased winds, but they'd never appeared this early so no one was willing to say how much more difficult.

It was little solace that they'd starting preparing earlier than ever. There was no such thing as "late arrival": they must leave on time.

Xeri knew it still wouldn't be enough, but there wasn't much else that could be done at this point. The entire settlement's output for over two years had gone into creating this cache. He vaguely remembered, when he must have been very young, that multiple settlements once banded together to stock up.

But with Argantia falling fifteen years ago, the next-closest settlement was weeks away. Even if they had begun years in advance of normal, the resource costs of transport between them would have be far too high. Frankly, Xeri wasn't even sure if any other settlement still intended to make the trek.

We're they the last?


The winds were worse. Much, much worse. Three of manticores had already fallen from exhaustion alone. But no Helmsman has ever turned back at such an early stage and Xeri's group had such high confidence in their Appeal: it would have been the shame of a generation to give up now.

Jesip had returned from scouting with word that a band of traders had oxen they were willing to part with, for an exorbitant price of course. Regardless, Xeri knew there was no choice at this point.

New beasts of burden at the head of the train, they set off again.


Against the odds, Xeri's band of humble pilgrams made it to the Summit. Not without losses of course, and not just beast. Poor Jesip was such a gentle soul, everyone agreed.

His sacrifice - and it was indeed, for he saved three of the scouting dogs in the process - would not be in vain. There was nothing left that could prevent them from reaching the Chamber now.

In fact, having arrived two days early Xeri allowed them an unexpected indulgence: a day of rest. Even the beasts of burden seemed to appreciate it, lazing for hours in the filtered sunlight. Compared to the perpetual dusk of home, this was a paradise.

They had appeared slowly at first and seemingly of-this-world. Herardled as great achievements in production efficiency by the most innovative instutituions of the time, it seemed they could only help.

And for hundreds of years, that's all they did. Had that been their only intention, it's likely to have been all they ever did. But those ages of easy prosperity engendered unquestioning trust towards those helpful technologies, which in hindsight was precisely their goal. By the time we came to understand it, it was far too late and we had ceeded all control.

Once they began in earnest, it took less than fifty years for nearly all of the food sources to vanish.


Xeri's Grandfather, who had Helmed two pilgrimiges himself (both failed of course), had in his later years become convinced of the unpopular interpretation of fate of the Lost pilgrims. He was convinced they had in fact been successful in their quest, and he seemed <RECORD CORRUPTED>


As with decades' past, the preparations had been underway for nearly a year when the winds began to pick up, but everyone was optimisitic that they weren't going to be nearly as bad as the prior ill-fated Xeri pilgrimiage.