Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Case Study No. 1100: Minstrum Yerin

The Longest Journey Walkthrough part 22
Chapter 4 - Monster

Tobias gives April the address to a new location - Enclave. So, April immediately goes there and meets Minstrum Yerin, the librarian.

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[scene opens with April Ryan speaking to Vestrum Tobias Grensret in the Temple of the Balance]
APRIL: Good morning, Tobias.
TOBIAS: Why, it's April, my friend from Stark! Have you come to visit us again?
APRIL: So it appears. I didn't exactly come here by choice this time, though.
TOBIAS: Oh? How so, if I may ask?
APRIL: In a weird and twisted way, it's nothing out of what's become the substitute for "ordinary" in my life. One second I was in my room, in Newport, the next I was in a dark alley in Marcuria.
TOBIAS: You must have opened a Shift while you were sleeping. Good! This means you are learning to harness your magic!
APRIL: Yeah, I guess ... except I don't think I'll be able to get back home again. And this time, my "mentor" Cortez has no idea that I'm here.
TOBIAS: Ah, but I'm sure you will find a way to channel and control your powers soon. In the meantime, is there anything I can do to help?
[the player selects "I need to locate the two dragons that reside in Arcadia"]
TOBIAS: The Draic Kin?
APRIL: What's the difference?
TOBIAS: "Dragons" is a word from your world. The Kin are not what they have become in your legends and fairy tales.
APRIL: But they're real, aren't they?
TOBIAS: Oh, as real as you and me, April. And old. They have been here since before our time. As you probably remember, the Kin were instrumental in the Divide, saving mankind from a terrible end. But I know so little, only what I can remember from my studies when I was a Minstrum at the Enclave.
[the player selects "How can I get more information on the Draic Kin?"]
TOBIAS: Books, daughter, books! The wisdom of the ages. There is one tome you should study, called "The Secrets of the Draic Kin", by Minstrum Elneak. It is old, but informative, and it captures the imagination.
APRIL: Where can I find this book?
TOBIAS: Pay a visit to the Sentinel Enclave, located outside the city, to the east. The Great Library of the Enclave contains every book ever written by an Arcadian Minstrum, and most others as well. Speak with Minstrum Yerin, the Keeper of Books. Tell him I sent you.
[the player selects "I need to find the entrance to the Guardian's Realm."]
TOBIAS: There is one, you are right in that, but where, I would not venture to guess. In the past, when the time came for the Guardian to step down and another to take his or her place, the Guardian opened a gateway wherever it was needed. A Guardian still in full control of the Balance can invite anyone in, and let anyone out. But with the Guardian gone ... The only way in would be the point where the Divide was first created, where the tower was built.
APRIL: Isn't the location written down somewhere?
TOBIAS: Remember that this was done on the old Earth, before the Divide. After the Divide, after the creation of Stark and Arcadia, places were shifted about ... this entrance may not even be on the ground anymore.
APRIL: What do you mean?
TOBIAS: It could be up there, in the sky, or far below us, through the crust of the earth into the molten depths below. I cannot say, and I do not know anyone who could.
[the player selects "Isn't there any way to locate the entrance to the Guardian's realm?"]
TOBIAS: Perhaps with careful investigation of the old texts ... histories of Arcadia, of the Divide, the Scriptures ... I do not know, April, but it cannot hurt to look. Again, you will find these texts at the Sentinel Enclave. Speak with Minstrum Yerin.
[the player selects "Thank you, Tobias."]
TOBIAS: Good to know I could help you, April.
[the player leaves and makes his way to the Enclave (a stone temple on a cliff overlooking the ocean), then clicks on one of the hollows on the right-hand side of the floor]
APRIL: It's a small recess, about the size of my fist, with a thin duct extending from the recess to the circular hollow in the middle of the floor. There are three others just like it, arranged with equal distance to each other in a circle, and all connected via a duct to the center of the floor.
[the player clicks on the circle in the middle of the floor]
APRIL: It's a circular hollow, about twenty centimeters across, and about five centimeters deep.
[the player clicks on a stone dragon on the ceiling]
APRIL: The dragon's mouth is pointing straight down at the middle of the floor.
[the player looks over the side towards the water below]
APRIL: It's emerald green, teeming with life, and carrying the pleasant salty scent of distant shores ...
[the player heads down a flight of stairs (where a male priest is scanning bookshelves in a large circular room), then clicks on the pool below them]
APRIL: It's a pool of seawater. You'd think that it'd be a bad idea to have a pool inside a library, on account of the moisture, but I guess magic makes everything possible.
[the player clicks on the priest, as he yelps in surprise]
YERIN: Oh goodness me! I didn't hear you come in. By the way, you haven't seen volumn six of "The Complete Annotated History of the Northlands", have you? I could have sworn it was here yesterday.
APRIL: Sorry, no.
YERIN: I guess someone else must have taken it.
[he clears his throat]
YERIN: I try to tell them to write down what they borrow on the list, but they never listen! Only last week, I spent three hours searching the entire enclave for the Second Scripture of the Balance, "the Scripture of Song", before I realized that Vestrum Tobias was studying it back in the city ... Now, such incidents could be avoided, if only--
[he pauses]
YERIN: And this applies to you too, young lady ... people would sign out the books they borrow, when they borrow them, and sign them back in when they're done!
[he shakes his head]
YERIN: Such a simple procedure ... it shouldn't take more than a few seconds to jot down your name and the name of the book you borrow. Oh, It makes my job so much easier ... Now, which book did you want me to find for you?
[the player selects "Are you Minstrum Yerin?"]
YERIN: Yes, of course, what a silly question.
APRIL: How would I know? I don't know you.
YERIN: I am Minstrum Yerin, Keeper of the Great Library of Marcuria. In fact, this is the greatest library of all the Northlands ... perhaps of the entire world, although they say the Dark People have a library as big, if not bigger, than this one. Uh, but of course we're not allowed anywhere near there. Have you been there?
APRIL: I don't think--
YERIN: What a silly question, of course you haven't! You're not of the Dark People, are you? You don't look like any Dark People I've ever seen, so I can't see how you could possibly ... now where did volume six disappear to, hmmm?
[the player selects "Tobias said I should talk with you."]
YERIN: Tobias? Vestrum Tobias? I haven't seen him for ... well, he was in last week, but before that it must've been, oh, days at least. How is he? Still eating enough for two mules? I must tell you of this funny story I heard the other day, of how Vestrum Tobias eats enough for a table full of Minstrum ... uh, or was it one Elgwan? Although the Elgwan don't, as a rule, eat very much at all ... Did you know that the Elgwan can smell water more than half a day's journey away? Amazing, amazing creatures, prefectly suited for a life in the desert! The Balance provides, uh, that's for certain. The Balance provides.
[the player selects "Vestrum Tobias recommended that I look at some books."]
YERIN: Uh, books is what we do best here at the Enclave, that is for certain! Which book would you like to see?
[the player selects "I'm looking for a story called "The Silver Spear of Gorimon"."]
YERIN: Yes, a fanciful tale if I ever saw one, but a charming one. Did you know that I'm often paid visit by adventurers wishing to read everything available on the spear so that they, too, can set out on their foolish quests?
APRIL: Yeah, don't you just hate those adventurers?
YERIN: Well, they pay for my bread, milk, and butter with their contributions to the coffers, so I shouldn't be too critical of them. But they care not about the books ...they care only about what the books can give them.
APRIL: I care. About the books. Really.
YERIN: I can tell. So, "The Silver Spear of Gorimon", then?
[he walks off and takes the book from one of the shelves, then puts it down on a nearby table and begins to read]
YERIN: I did find something of interest ... I'll leave it here for you to read.
[the player clicks on the book]
APRIL: [reading] "In the glory days of Baksheva, before the Drought, when Gorimon was the greatest city in the known world, the Parech of Baksheva decided to forge the most powerful weapon in the world to challenge the mighty White Dragon. The Parech had grown greedy and bored, his treasurehold filled with the riches of the world, and he desired nothing except the one thing he could never have, the unborn daughter of the White Dragon, the fairest, purest, most beautiful creature in the Universe. He had asked the White Dragon for her daughter's hand in marriage, but she had refused, scolding him for his insolence and warning him to keep--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "His distance from immortals. And, so the Parech sought the advice of a mighty Sorcerer, the dark and cruel Aos, to learn how to kill one of the Draic Kin. The Sorcerer told the Parech of the white silver of Mount Tireney, the strongest substance in Arcadia, and how it could be forged by magic to kill even one of the Kin. The Parech ordered his army to go north, across the ocean, and to bring back enough white silver to shape a weapon. When his men returned with the rare metal, the Parech ordered the finest blacksmith in Baksheva to his castle where Aos the Sorcerer cast a spell to create an unholy forge. Ten days and ten nights it took before the exhausted blacksmith could present a tall spear to his--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "Emperor, but before the spear could be used to kill even one of the Kin, it had to be bathed in blood. Beheading the poor blacksmith and the soldiers who had retrieved the white silver from Mount Tireney, the Parech's private bath was filled with their blood. As he dropped the silver spear into the red bath, watched over by Aos, a terrible scream erupted, and steam rose up in a red, foul-smelling cloud. When the steam lifted, the blood was all gone, and the spear was glowing in a deep, red colour. With the terrible weapon now ready to be wielded, the Parech issued a challenge to the White Dragon, to either surrender her daughter to him for marriage, or to suffer a painful death at his hand. Enraged, the White--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "Dragon refused him yet again and flew to meet the Parech, his Sorcerer, and his thousand strong army on the green fields outside Gorimon. Of the magical silver spear, she knew nothing, and the Parech kept it wrapped in cloth by his side. 'Bring your forces around, Parech!' warned the White Dragon. 'If you do not, I will lay waste to them all.' 'I wish my men no harm,' lied the Parech, 'for this is between the two of us.' He then rode forward, alone, and dismounted his horse, but stayed within reach of the spear. The White Dragon landed before him, and she said, 'You are brave, to face me like this when you know you cannot harm me.' Then the Parech raised a hand as if to greet her, but it was instead a--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "Sign to his Sorcerer, the terrible Aos, who cast a mighty spell to hold the White Dragon while the Parech drew his silver spear. The White Dragon fought bravely, and she was close to escaping the Sorcerer's magic, but the Parech was quick and he thrust the magic spear into her chest. She screamed in pain and anger, and the Sorcerer's spell could no longer hold her. Rising on her beautiful wings, blood pouring down on the land below, she cursed Baksheva, her Parech and her people, for all time. Wherever the White Dragon's blood fell, the land turned arid, and grass became sand. The Parech sent his army to follow the White Dragon and to bring back her egg, but the Drought grew, and within days--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "The once-proud Empire of Baksheva was turning into a desert. Then followed a fierce storm that tore across the land for one hundred days and nights, and when the dust settled, there was nothing left of Baksheva but two coastal cities and a few scattered oasis. It is said that in the buried ruins of a lost capital, wrapped in the arms of the Parech who dared test the imnortal, rests the silver spear of Gorimon."
[the player clicks "Exit", then the priest walks up to the table]
YERIN: Are you done? Uh, let me take that back for you.
[he takes the book and reshelves it (in a different place), then the player clicks on him]
YERIN: Oh! Goodness, it's you again! Oh, you gave me such a fright ...
[the player selects "Could I see some more books?"]
YERIN: Certainly. What a silly question.
[the player selects "I'm looking for some information, but I'm not sure which book to ask for."]
YERIN: No matter, I know a great deal about most of the books in here. What topic intrigues you?
[the player selects "I need to find out which four magical people of Arcadia were given a piece of the stone disc that serves as the key to the Guardian's Realm."]
YERIN: The stone disc of the Balance, yes? Yes yes, there could possibly be something on that in ... Uh, let me check, just one moment.
[he returns to the shelves and grabs another book, then places it down on the table and begins reading]
YERIN: I did find something of interest ... I'll leave it here for you to read.
[the player clicks on the book]
APRIL: [reading] "Chapter Sixteen in the Eighth Scripture. The Scripture of Breaking. Regarding the Disc of the Balance and the events that came about when the disc was broken ... The Scriptures tell us that the disc was kept at the Enclave for many thousands of years, safely guarded from any threat by the respect held by every man and woman for the authority of the Fathers. But with dissent came disobedience and disobedience brought immorality and immorality begat theft. Tyren soldiers, aided by Sentinel traitors, attempted to--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "Make away with the disc, but were thwarted by the White of the Kin herself, intervening, although forbidden to do so, on behalf of the Fathers. The disc was brought safely back to the Enclave, but the threat would linger in the minds of the Minstrum and the Vestrum. So it became that the disc was melted in the forge of the dragon's mouth, shaped into the elements of four magical people, and given to these respective people for safe keeping until such a time when it was decreed that the disc should once more be whole. One stone to the gentle souls that sing in the dark and shape the earth between--"
[the player clicks "Turn page forward"]
APRIL: [reading] "Their toes. One stone to the watchers of the woods, the ones who are outside. One stone to the two that make one, of air and of sea. And one stone to the keepers of the dark flame, the eternally dark, the mariners. When the time comes for the disc to be whole again, one person will make a journey to the four who hold the pieces, and the pieces will be given willingly, because there will be no doubt to the righteousness of this person."
[the player clicks "Exit", then the priest walks up to the table]
YERIN: Are you done? Uh, let me take that back for you.
[he takes the book and again places it back on a different shelf]



The Longest Journey (Norwegian: Den lengste reisen) is a point-and-click adventure game developed for the PC by Norwegian studio Funcom.

The game drew praise from critics for the protagonist April Ryan, considered one of the most memorable female characters in the history of adventure games, and also for its enigmatic, complex storyline and high production values, but was criticized for some of its more obscure puzzles.

The game takes place in the parallel universes of magic-dominated Arcadia and industrial Stark. The protagonist, April Ryan, is an 18-year-old art student living in Stark, identified as a 'Shifter' capable of movement between these worlds, and tasked with restoring their essential Balance.

The story begins in Stark, where a sleeping April unintentionally shifts to Arcadia and meets the 'White Dragon', who identifies her as the heroine of the coming story. Upon learning this, April is attacked by a dark 'Chaos Vortex' and awakens in Stark, where she dismisses her experience as a nightmare, whereof the character 'Cortez' later surprises her by revealing his knowledge. When surreal activity begins affecting her friends, April meets again with Cortez, who transports her to the Arcadian city Marcuria. There she meets Tobias Grensret, Vestrum of the Sentinel; learns Alltongue, the common language in Arcadia; and hears from Tobias that the Balance protecting both worlds is dissolving after the dereliction of its Guardian and must be restored by the appearance of another. To return to Stark, April visits Brian Westhouse, a friend of Cortez, who assists her return; whereupon Cortez tells her of the organization known as the Vanguard or Church of Voltec. Later, April quarrels with her housemate Zack, who earlier assisted her finding Cortez. The next day, April consults Warren Hughes, a homeless boy who agrees to help April if she erases his criminal record and locates his missing sister, in doing which April finds a data cube on the Church of Voltec. Hughes then refers her to a hacker named Burns Flipper, who reveals that that wealthy magnate Jacob McAllen is head of the Vanguard, assisted by Gordon Halloway, a former candidate for Guardianship divided by the Vanguard into Chaos (in Arcadia) and Logic (in Stark), and gives her a false identification by which to infiltrate the Vanguard through its front company MTI.

Meeting Cortez and Father Raul in a Catholic cathedral, Cortez tells April that Arcadia is on the brink of war. Later in Arcadia, April meets the innkeeper, Benrime Salmin, and the clairvoyant Abnaxus, ambassador of the Venar, who identifies the coming danger. In the morning, April learns of four magical species whereof each has prophecies of a savior who will restore the Balance, only to finally break it, and determines to visit one such species, the winged Alatian of the island Alais, having gained sea-travel by rescuing a talking bird that she names Crow and freeing the ships' wind from the alchemist Roper Klacks. En route, April kills the monster known as 'Gribbler' while rescuing one of her captive Banda, whose species later give her the name 'April Bandu-embata' as a mark of gratitude and grant her part of the disc necessary to restore the Balance. At Roper Klacks' Tower, April challenges Klacks to use his magic against her calculator, and wins. Immediately before her departure to Alais, Tobias gives April the Talisman representing the Balance.

On the voyage to Alais, a 'Chaos Storm' attacks the ship, and April sabotages the ship's compass to restore its course. When the ship's captain seizes her Talisman, April attempts to retrieve it, and in so doing sinks the ship, whereupon the crew abandon her on a raft. Thence she is taken prisoner by the Maerum, a Mermaid-like species related to the Alatian, but currently their enemies. In revealing their common ancestry, April fulfills a prophecy of the 'Waterstiller', a foretold savior of the Maerum. After fulfilling the second prophecy by killing a 'Snapjaw', she is conveyed to fulfill the third by re-uniting the Maerum with the Alatians. After a series of tasks and in meeting with the Alatians' leader, April fulfills their prophecy by flying without wings, and convinces the Alatian to make peace with the Maerum. In a coastal sea cave, the Teller's guard and the Maerum Queen bring stones which combine to form the second part of the Balance's disc; whereupon the Maerum convey April, at her own request to the Blue Dragon, who gives April one of the disc's Jewels and takes her to a ship inhabited by the Dark People, who give April the third piece of the disc and give her an astral map locating the Guardian's Realm. At the Marcurian Harbor, April is attacked by the Chaos and returns to the Cathedral in Stark. There, Father Raul reveals that he is also a Sentinel Minstrum of Stark, and that Cortez is missing. On returning to her lodgings, April is caught by Gordon Halloway, and her friends Emma and Charlie are slain. Thence, she is rescued by another character, Lady Alvane, who teaches April to shift at will and sends April to Abnaxus to receive the disc's final piece. April then returns to the White Dragon, who reveals herself as April's mother and dies, whereupon a new White Dragon emerges from her egg.

Returned to Stark, April gives Flipper the star map to decipher, infiltrates MTI, and is captured by antagonist McAllen. Unable to escape, she surrenders her two jewels and the disc, and is then imprisoned. Upon escaping in pursuit of her object, she is trapped again; but rescued by Cortez. McAllen then reveals that he and Cortez are two Dragons (called 'Draic Kin', in-universe) meant to protect Stark, but at odds after McAllen's decision to re-unite the two worlds despite the risk of Chaos. The two then appear to die in combat. Retrieving the disc and the four jewels, April returns to Flipper, whom she finds dying after the seizure of her deciphered map by Gordon Halloway, and gains a copy thereof from him, whence she locates the Guardian's Realm near the space station 'Morning Star'. At the station, April frees Adrian, the derelict Guardian, and escapes with Halloway in pursuit. On her way to the Guardians' Tower, she imprisons the Chaos Vortex in her Talisman and later summons Crow, who helps her complete the necessary trials. Inside the tower, April re-unites Halloway with the Chaos Vortex to restore his candidacy as Guardian and returns to Stark and Arcadia, leaving Crow behind.

In the Epilogue, the scene returns to Lady Alvane's home, wherein she has narrated the entire story to two youths and where she reveals that the two worlds re-united under Gordon Halloway. Upon their departure, Crow enters, asking the tale of the "warrior princess" who won the war of the balance, and whereof she corrects his impression; a possible reference to the sequel, Dreamfall.



The elderly librarian ('Keeper of the Books') for the Sentinel Enclave just outside of Marcuria, Minstrum Yerin is a consummate bibliophile with a particular liking for Arcadian folktales. April Ryan meets him on the recommendation of Vestrum Tobias Grensret, when she is trying to find guidance on her journey.

Yerin spends most of his time absorbed in the business of the Enclave, and rarely leaves. He's kindly but slightly absent-minded. His first order of business is to ask April if she's seen a book he's looking for, then despairs of visitors to the library who don't sign out the books they borrow, before querying if April's one of the Dark People (whose library he greatly admires). However, his expertise is invaluable, especially when April's not sure what books she wants and can only ask about a topic. Yerin takes excellent care of the volumes, carrying them from the shelves to a reading table for April, then back again once she's finished. From his recommendations, April learns about the Alatien, the Draic Kin, and the Maerum, as well as gaining insights into Arcadia and the Northlands.

When April returns to the Enclave with the pieces of the Stone Disk, Yerin is happy to open the sluices for her when the Disk is cooling in the Enclave pool. April is concerned about how the elderly Minstrum will fare when the Tyren arrive, but Yerin reassures her that his magic is up to scratch, and that he can throw "a fair ball of fire" if necessary. However, if April asks after Vestrum Tobias, Yerin sadly tells her that he has been found dead in the Temple. Once he has opened the sluices, Yerin disappears into the Enclave and is not seen afterwards.

Minstrum Yerin is voiced by Peter Fernandez.



Minstrum Yerin : (yelped) Goodness, it's you again! You gave me such a fright.

April : Could I see some more books?

Minstrum Yerin : Certainly. What a silly question.

April : A book on the history of Marcuria would be interesting.

Minstrum Yerin : Ah, an extensive subject to be sure. I will do my best. (As before, he placed the book on the reading desk) I did find something of interest. I will leave it here for you to read.

"Travels in the Northlands" by Jemein the Discoverer

The First Part

In my many years as a Travelling Poet and Bard, I have journeyed far and wide across the fair Realm of Arcady and I have seen sights most people have not dreamed. I have stood on the magnificent and terrible Southern Capes in the midst of Winder, when the storms are at their fiercest, while waves as tall as the towers of Altaban washed over my frozen body. I have witnessed the monstrous beasts that lurk in those dark and deadly waters of the South swallow brave galleons whole. Creatures the size of mountains that with a flick of a tail can touch the depths of the Sea and the Stars themselves. I have crossed the Great Ocean from North to South, and East to West, and in the course been stranded on deserted islands, with no sustenance but what I could gather from the sparse vegetation for months at a time. I have ridden the giant Elgwan across Ch'Angagriel, the Wasteland, from Altaban to Monterba, and further South where the Terukh, the Oasis are few and far between, and I have seen shifting dunes above the ruins of Gorimon, precious Jewel of the Bakshevan Empire, concealed for Centuries by the coarse and treacherous sand. And I have journeyed Far West, carried on good will and Destiny by Shadow Ships, to strange and unknown cliffs of a World unseen by most, a World of an unfamiliar Tongue and customs, a World of Great Wonder and Mysticism.

I have seen all this, and more, but the fairest sights still I have seen in the Lands of the North, from Ayrede to the Border Mountains, from Tyren to the Bay of Fire. No sight can ever compare to dawn at Mount Tireney, looking out to the Plains of Nehdrah where wild Stallions run free in the Thousands. And to look on the city of Corescent, the Pearl of Fire while the boiling sun sets in the Ocean beyond, the slow waves reflecting dark yellow and red as they lap slowly upon the sandy shores, is an experience truly treasured and ne'er forgotten. These Lands are blessed by the Creator, shaped by man, yet wild and free and fertile, home to the greatest cities, the most precious sights and the most cultured and civilised people in Arcady. Of all the fires I have rested my weary legs by, of all the taverns where I have learned the legends of tale spinners and memorised the songs of Bards, of all the lands where I have wandered from city to village, it is to the Northlands I return time and time again to learn ever more.

Join me now, for I will evoke in you the very emotions I first experienced, when visiting the sights and treasures of the Northern lands. Join me, and I will surely bring you there, to the exotic midst of this blessed land and you will pine for its rugged coast and green woods and its hardy people, and like me, you will ne'er rest until you can return to yonder shores.


"Oh, Marcuria, thou unkempt diamond,
Of Capitals thou art by truth the fairest!

Thy Council many seek for knowledge
Kept within is Centuries sought and gathered

By men wiser than the Ages, brought hither

By word of mouth

Marcuria, changed thou not the course of War

Between thine people? Diplomat, Wise Man, Magician, all this and more.

Thou hast without equal,
The mark of Merit and Virtue."

(Written by Jemein Urthrin, the Poet)

The august Capital of Ayrede, the Unified Country, Marcuria lies on the hardy Southern coast of the Northlands, halfway between Tyren and Corescent. It is a port of call for merchants, traders, adventurers and pilgrims from all four Continents. A place of commerce and diplomacy for millions of humans and other species, Ayrede is a strong and proud land perched between the Plains of Nehdrah to the north, the land of the Tyren to the west, the Great Sea to the south and the forests of the Northlands to the east, and inhabited by humans, Dolmari, Tyren, Mole-people and Vener. Ayrede was formed after Marcuria emerged as a major centre for diplomacy and trade, and became the banner under which the surrounding lands united as one. Ayrede is a democracy, currently led by the Chief Countil of the Ayrede Flag, Lord Ygmin Dellna. The High Council, composed of the ministers who govern by representation, resides in the Marcurian Hall of Assembly, flanked by the Palace and the barracks. The Ayredese are traditionalists, and their form of government has barely changed over the last few millennia. In High Tongue, Ayrede means unification or assembly.

Marcuria is one of the largest cities of Arcadia, the capital of Ayrede, and a centre for trade and diplomacy and cultural diversity. Populated by a large variety of races, from human to Vener, Marcuria has grown from its origins as the birthplace of humanity to a city of all Arcadians, the the hub of civilized world. Founded twenty thousand years ago at the shore of the then unconquerable ocean, it is the first known permanent settlement of the emerging human race. Initially left to its own devices by more developed races, Marcuria grew large and fat and wealthy. With new-found confidence, it passed through a period of expansion which gained it a reputation as a merciless aggressor, which soon brought violent attention from the Tyren in the west and the Dolmari in the north. After years of war, Marcuria was decimated and subsequently rebuilt with sufficient reinforcements to weather attacks from both sea and land. Peaceful times followed, whereupon, Marcuria settled into the role it has in today's Arcadia. Although all surroundings areas fall under its jurisdiction, there is sufficient self-governing and few central taxes to appease all but the most disgruntled. The huge areas of farmland around the city benefit from the well-kept roads, markets and the busy export to other lands.

Nearby villages benefit from the military might of Marcuria, protecting them against roving barbarians and Tyrene armies. And Marcuria also provides the people of the Northlands with one of the best and busiest ports in Arcadia, allowing travel to distant destinations around the world.

April : I'd like to read some Arcadian folktales.

Minstrum Yerin : A favored topic of mine! I have just what you are looking for.

"Sadra, the Faithful Wife"

Sadra was married to a brute of a man named Kare. He was a bully who drank, cursed, gambled and beat up his wife when he'd lost coins at the cupstable. Still, Sadra treated Kare with respect and care, she fed him when he was hungry, she made his bed and washed his back and she laid down with him when he told her to. She never complained of her hardships to anyone, even though some days she woke up with bruises all over her body. Despite her husband's treatment, Sadra was a beautiful woman, with lovely dark hair and green eyes, and men would admire her when she went to market for food or the town well for water. But none dared approach her, fearing her dangerous husband more than they admired her beauty and grace. People would say "Poor Sadra, she deserves better than what she has, she is so good and patient even though her husband mistreats her every day" But no one was willing to do anything to free her from her husband, as they all feared his wrath. "She chooses her own path," they would say, "and it is not our duty to interfere."

Then one day, a tall and handsome Prince rode into town to visit with the elder council. When he spotted Sadra carrying two heavy buckets from the well to her home on the edge of town, he was taken with her beauty and youth, and he jumped down from his horse to help carry her buckets home. On the way.he offered Sadra courtship, but when told she was already married, he bowed respectfully and excused himself for behaving inappropriately. That night Sadra's husband heard about the Prince helping his wife, and after striking her down for letting royalty interfere with her duties - he strode drunkenly, for he had already had his usual fill of dark ale - towards the tavern where the Prince and his cohorts were staying. When Kare arrived at the tavern, the Prince was eating dinner, and when told Sadra's husband was there to see him, the Prince stoof and waved the man closer.

"I must congratulate you on your good taste in marriage," said the Prince, "for your wife is the most beautiful and good-hearted woman I have ever met." And he offered Kare a seat and a tall mug of ale. But the angry husband did not appreciate the Prince's advances and he drew a sword and lunged at the Prince before his guards could react. The Prince was quick and lucky to avoid certain death, and before Kare could make a second strike, the Prince had recovered his sword from where it stood by the wall, and stood ready to fight the brute.

"Leave him be!" called the Prince when the guards drew arms and ran to protect their liege. "This is between him and me!" Smiling briefly, he nodded his head to Kare and stood to attention, obviously, his skill with the sword was formidable. Kare, a coward at heart, knew that if he fought fairly, he would surely die, and he sheathed his sword, but loosened the knife he had tucked up his long sleeve. "My pardon, Prince," said Kare. "My love for my wife is such that I am blinded by jealousy. I offer you friendship and apologies." He extended an open hand to the Prince, and smiled a broad lizard's smile. The Prince, unaware of Kare's mistreatment of his wife, smiled back and put down his sword and extended his own hand.

"Your apology is accepted, sir." Then, suddenly, Kare's knife was in his hand and moving in a blur towards the Prince's exposed throat. Had it not been for the quick eye of a nearby guard, who with the broad side of his sword struck Kare on the side of his head, the Prince would have been dead. The knife carved a deep scar in the Prince's shoulder, but did no serious harm. Kare was taken away to the town prison to be judged, when the sun rose - his crime was surely punishable by death, especially if Sadra would testify to his cruelty, in front of the judge. Free of Kare's tyranny, the townspeople spoke of Sadra's suffering by her husband's hand. But Sadra would not herself, even now, speak against her husband, and instead of being sentenced to death, Kare was sent away to work the King's mines for twenty-five years.

Taken with her faithfulness, the Prince yet again offered Sadra courtship, but again Sadra declined, for she was still a married woman. Then, one year later, Kare attempted to escape the King's mines by killing two guards and clumbing the walls, but he was shot down with an arrow and died in agony and disgrace. Again, the Prince visited Sadra's town, bringing condolences and a renewed offer of courtship, and this time Sadra agreed. Months later, the Prince and Sadra were married in a glorious ceremony, and when the old king died, the Prince became regent, and Sadra his Queen. She was as good a Queen as the land had ever seen, and she was loved dearly until the day she died, and her funeral was the grandest and most tearful in memory.

"The Children of the Lake"

There was a village by the lake where no couple had born a child for twenty years. The villagers were desperate, for without children, their village would wither and die, and they turned to their god for help. The next morning, fifty young children rose out of the misty lake and wandered onto the shores, much to the joy of the childless women.

"We are yours," said one of the children, "as long as you remember one thing. You are never to fish from this lake again. Instead, you must learn to hunt in the forest and live off the land." The villagers agreed, though they worried they might go hungry since they were used to catching and eating fish from the lake. But it didn't take long before they had taught themselves to hunt and grow wheat and potatoes in the fields. Eighteen years passed, and then one day an old man grew tired of rabbits and deer and potatoes and bread, and he longed to catch a big fish and cook it over a sizzling fire. He took his boat out to where the villagers would not see him, and he sank his line. Almost immediately, he caught a large trout, but as he was rowing back to shore, he saw the children of the late wander from their homes back into the dark waters from whence they came. Their mothers called for them, tried to hold onto them, begged them not to leave but they would not speak and, one by one they disppeared into the lake. The old fisherman then saw, as the children sank into the murky waters, how they turned into large fish and sped off into the deep. He was shameful then, and dropped his catch back in the water, bit was too late and the village would forever more remain childless.

April : I'm looking for some information, but I'm not sure which book to ask for.

Minstrum Yerin : No matter, I know a great deal about most of the books in here. What topic intrigues you?

April : I've heard rumors about mermen who live beneath the Sea of Songs, and I'd like to find out more about them.

Minstrum Yerin : Mermen in the Sea of Songs... hmmm... Let me see what I can find, yes?

Maerum, also, mermen, merpeople, merians

A magical people who reside in the depths of the Great Ocean and other seas.

Little contact has been made with the Maerum, who are believed to have been quite numerous in the past, but are now dwindling in numbers. Confirmed location of Maerum cities is between the Bristan Atoll and Ge'en, centering on the Sea of Songs. Legends of "mermen" (merpeople, merians) are rampant amongst sailors. These stories portray the Maerum in a grotesque and violent light, betraying the truth of a largely peaceful people. Although not much is known about the Maerum, their religion apparently centers around the belief of a benevolent god who lives in the immense deapths of the Great Ocean, and who brought the Maerum to Earth from a place distant and wonderful.

April : Are there any books about a flying people who observe and tell stories?

Minstrum Yerin : Winged storytellers, hmmm? Let me see what I can find. Hold on.


A crafty winged people who have recently dwindled in numbers, and whose ability to fly long distances has been steadily diminishing over the past few centuries. The Alatien are known for their ability to remember and tell stories from before the dawn of mankind and up to modern events. The largest known tribe of Alatien with whom traders have occasional contact resides on the otherwise inhabited island of Alais, in the Bristan atoll.

April : The island of Alais, near the Bristan Atoll. Maybe I should try to go there?

April : I'd like to learn more about dragons, about the Draic Kin.

Minstrum Yerin : Oh yes, yes, we have some wonderful books on that topic. Stay here.

"Secrets of the Draic Kin" by Minstrum Elyak


The Draic Kin are known by many names throughout the Twin Worlds. In Alltongue, they are often referred to as Drachyn. In the Southlands, the word Drachyn refers specifically to the winged lizard shape traditionally associated with the Kin. In Irhad, the eternal Spirits of the Kin are called simply Drac, regardless of their current shape.In Stark, most cultures refer to the Kin as Dragon (Drage, Drache, Dragone), though this usually refers only to the winged lizard-like shape and not to the Spirit inhabiting this shape. In fact, while in Arcady, the Kin are respected and revered as eternal Spirits with great significance in the Balance and the All, in Stark the Kin are mostly creatures of mythology and fairytales. However, in some Stark legends and scriptures (notably the Christian Bible), the name "Dragon" is associated with the forces of evil, and thus the religious connotations do seem to have carried over in a somewhat distorted form.

"Who, or What are the Draic Kin?"

Why not ask, Who is the Creator? Or, What is the All? Questions thus asked will remain, in perpetuity unanswered, for they are in truth unanswerable. To condense all knowledge of the Creator into one answer is futile, as is any attempt to define the All without describing every single element that makes up the All. So also with the Draic Kin. We cannot answer. Who is the Kin, or, What is the Kin? But we can provide some answers to the simpler questions, the questions that deal with what we see and hear and feel, and what we have been told by the Kin themselves. Answers that, together, may give us, if only the faintest hint of the whole truth, then at least some indication of the Who or What the Draic Kin are.

"Born of the emptiness between the Stars", reads the Eleventh Scripture of the Balance, the Scripture of Time, "shaped in unison with the All, part of the All, yet outside of the All. Dreyc'chyn (note the ancient High Tongue variation of Draic Kin)

Why so many variations and interpretations of the Draic Kin from culture to culture? The Kin have always been shrouded in mystery and from mystery rises legend and myth. The Kin seem content to be seen as nothing but tall tales and figments of a bard's fertile imagination.

Having found the last of the information she wanted, she bid the old librarian farewell and made her way to the White Dragon.

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