The Founding, or alternatively The Rise of Ebonhawke, is a 20-volume text written by Kimmes the Historian. The book tells of the recall of Captain Gwen Thackeray's Ebon Vanguard from the Eye of the North, their reception in Ascalon City, and their subsequent journey south to the mouth of the Crystal Desert, where they founded the Stronghold of Ebonhawke. There are twenty interactive objects, scattered around Ebonhawke. Reading every volume unlocks the achievement Speedy Reader.
What follows is a version of The Founding edited for spelling and reformatted for legibility.
The Rise of Ebonhawke
A messenger from Ascalon arrived today, bringing the first word from home since the Vanguard were tasked with slowing the charr offensive, years ago. The Vanguard's deeds reached the ears of the king. The forces have been recalled. There's a quiet relief that can be felt throughout the unit. Their long, hard-fought struggle is coming to an end. Away from the troops, Captain Gwen Thackeray seems concerned, an unspoken question on her lips. Though Ascalon is telling them to return, is their mission really complete with charr still nearby? The troops leave a skeleton force to protect the Eye of the North as they set out in the black of night on their return journey. The captain won't let the charr know that we've all but abandoned the north.
The fanfare upon returning to the ruined city of Ascalon was indescribable. The Vanguard has accomplished something the troops here in Ascalon have only dreamed of: victory against the charr in their own lands. King Adelbern's speech commemorating the efforts of Captain Gwen Thackeray and the Vanguard moved both civilians and soldiers alike. The Vanguard's efforts bring hope to a war-torn land. A week has passed since the return of the Vanguard to Ascalon, and still the hero worship continues. Children run through the streets playing Ebon Vanguard and charr.
King Adelbern has called the city together to make an announcement. The Vanguard are ordered to appear in full dress uniform. Uncertainty ripples through the unit, but this does not diminish their pride. The Vanguard is being sent south, to the mouth of the Crystal Desert, where a dire threat is rising. They're charged with building fortifications to protect against an enemy the king warns is coming. Captain Thackeray gracefully accepts the duty placed before her and the Vanguard. Civilians look confused and worried. This new threat was not expected.
Today, a weaponsmith questioned the king's decision to send the Vanguard back into harm's way so soon. In response, the king decreed that he should join the expedition—to keep the Vanguard properly armed. Before long, a baker, a leather crafter, a tailor and their families had also been ordered to join the caravan. Is this a sign of support from the king or an act to remove opposition from sight? It's a question I dare not voice. Regardless, the Ebon Vanguard prepares to leave home once more, doing so without complaint and with their usual efficiency.
The day the Vanguard left Ascalon, the second time, was sad but proud. Civilians lined the street to honor these heroes from the north. At the city gates, dozens of civilians from various trades met the unit to unexpectedly join them on their journey. Additional supplies were packed to accommodate them. So many people willing to leave with the Vanguard and abandon all they'd ever known - was it pride for the unit that spurred them on, or was it fear of their king?
Days turned to weeks as the Vanguard marched south. Expected travel time to the destination had increased with the addition of the tradesmen and civilians, but no complaints were ever raised. I suspect that the Ebon Vanguard soldiers are happy to have actual professional chefs to prepare their meals and armorsmiths to keep their equipment in working order.
Rigo Bolan of Lieutenant Keiran Thackeray's Ebon Falcons scout unit discovered an animal that had been torn to shreds by claws or teeth this morning. Not taking any chances, the Vanguard is now on high alert. Civilians are told only that traveling in a new land can be dangerous, and they must be prepared for anything. They've been ordered to stay close to the caravan and not wander off by themselves. Several days have passed since we first discovered the shredded animal remains. Off in the distance, I can make out blurs that seem to be moving with us. Is something really out there, or is the long trek making us paranoid? And more importantly, if something is out there, are we leading it, or are we being led? I guess only time will tell.
At dawn, our greatest fears were realized. A warband of charr ambushed us from the brush. The Vanguard always believed their battle would be against the charr, just not this far south. Though the Vanguard were used to the horrors of charr battles, the civilians travelling with them were not. Many broke off from the caravan, fleeing in terror as the monsters set upon us. We struggled to maintain our defenses while returning those who had fled to the safety of the caravan. Questions danced in my mind during the fray. What were these charr doing here? Were they leftovers from the failed assault against Orr? Were they a herald of tragedies to come?
Corporal Dian Fermati pursued a young couple who had taken off. Unfortunately for them, the charr found them first. Unwilling to leave them to die, Dian rushed in against far greater numbers. Despite the odds, he kept the charr at bay and held out long enough for help to reach them. Sadly, the effort cost Dian his life. Dian died a hero's death that day. We were by his side when he passed from this world into the Mists. He wore a smile on his face as he drifted off, eased by his dying wish: just one more drink of rum.
The craftsmen are afraid. They were not prepared to be assaulted while we moved. Perhaps they thought the threat in the south was a passing madness from King Adelbern? Or did the king really know the horror that awaited us here? Did the civilians forget the terrible Searing and the pain that came with it? Had the return of the Ebon Vanguard lulled them into the false belief that they were safe? I pondered these questions as we continued to make our way south. Gwen continues to lead the caravan with firm resolve. Her speeches and encouragement lift the spirits. She has come so far since first joining the Vanguard as a frail child. She is a true successor to Captain Langmar.
It has been more than a week since we first ran into the charr. Their attacks continue but at random intervals. Sometimes we have a day of peace, sometimes only hours. Defensive efforts are starting to take their toll, but the soldiers put up a brave front for those they are protecting. This morning's attack took the lives of two more brave Vanguard soldiers. A small service was held for them, delaying our journey southward.
We can finally see our destination, the mountain range that separates Ascalon from the Crystal Desert. That's where we'll find our new home. The very thought lifts our spirits. Keiran suggests we make for a mountain slope to the southwest and Captain Gwen agrees. From there, we can move in and set up camp near the pass that leads through to the desert. The trek will be dangerous. We must cross an open plain where we will be pounced upon by the charr. Will we survive? Only the Six know.
As night fell on what was to be our last day upon the plains, the massive assault began. There seemed to be no end to the murderous charr. When one fell, two or three others were there to take its place. Dawn was barely breaking when Koro Sagewind called for people to break for the hills. Lawrence Crafton and Rigo Bolan stood guard while Koro cast the greatest illusion I would ever witness in this lifetime. A mystical army arrived from the north. Most of the charr broke off and, in feral bloodlust, charged the illusion. Koro's trick bought us the time we needed to prepare for the next assault.
Gwen and Keiran led us into the mountain pass while Nola Sheppard led a detachment holding our flank. As the battle raged on before us, seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours. At a mountain clearing, we discovered an old, abandoned mining town. Its masters were long gone, but their possessions would aid us in our struggle against the charr. No longer willing to stand idly by, our civilians took up discovered arms or built barricades against future charr attacks. Keiran spent the day teaching them to build traps that would litter the slope to the town.
Koro approached the camp at dusk, her two defenders nowhere in sight. Her pace slowed and staggered. Blood dripped from her face and, blinded, she tripped over a rock. She fell before our makeshift camp. Koro had tapped her own life force so that we would make it. Keiran held her in his arms in her final moments. She reminded him of the last time she had created such an illusion to save her unit, years before. Her parting words bolstered our desire to survive. She truly was the heart of the Falcons, but the Vanguard would not let her death be in vain.
Gwen stirred the hearts of the survivors once more with talk of brighter tomorrows. The charr feared the Ebon Vanguard in the north, and they would fear them in the south as well. The worry she saw in the eyes of her people was replaced with hope. The Ebon Vanguard would no longer be protecting the people. It would be standing united with them to protect a common future.
Just as Koro foretold, the charr returned, furious at having been tricked into fighting an army that was never there. But the precious time she bought us had not been squandered. We stood ready for them. Unexpectedly, mad with grief, Nola raised an army of undead from beneath the earth, an army consisting of the town's previous occupants. Her forces created a wall against which the rushing waves of charr broke. Ignoring Keiran's order to fall back, she marched beyond our front lines. The lieutenant vaulted the barricade, attempting to reach her before the charr could. To everyone's surprise, he hit her with his fist and knocked her out. Then, he picked her up and rushed her unconscious form back behind our defensive position.
The battle lasted for hours, and we suffered many losses. But for every human that fell, a dozen charr lay dead before them. We defined our existence on that day. With the battle finally over, we accounted for the dead. The baker and her son, who had taken up arms along the front lines, were among those who did not live to see daybreak. The charr have pulled back for now. We can still see them on the horizon, pacing and waiting. Captain Gwen has drawn the line, and we're not moving from this spot. But unlike before, we'll be ready for them, and we'll make them pay. The quarry attached to the mining town is said to be rich and deep, or so one of the craftsmen tells us. He and a couple others are already preparing to retrieve stone to reinforce the town.
Private Casey Carpenter has joined the workers in the quarry, pulling up massive stones that are now being moved to replace our makeshift barricade at the front. The foundation for what will be a massive gate is being built. Other Vanguard soldiers have put down their arms, for the time being, to help the civilians reinforce our position. Slowly, our defenses are taking form. Our losses have been great, but now, we've all been forged in the crucible of battle. We are united under a singular purpose.
Gwen walks among the weary survivors, thanking them for their tireless efforts. She's beginning to re-organize soldiers and civilians alike into teams, each working to establish our residence in this mountain pass. The look of uncertainty has all but vanished from everyone's eyes, replaced now with determinations. People have come to terms with their fears and now advance with a unified spirit. Captain Gwen Thackeray tells us we are finally home, and we are ready to believe it. We won't flee from our home, our Ebonhawke. Come, charr, we will meet you on the battlefield, but we will not move from here. The final line has been drawn. —Kimmes the Historian