You must be wondering how you came to be in this place, so I will tell you. I brought you here myself. I know this entire situation must seem bizarre to you. In order to help you understand, there is much you will need to know. First, I’ll give you a little bit of information about myself.
As you have no doubt learned, I spent much of my life doing precisely the sort of things you have been doing since you arrived here. I fought evils, slew dragons, saved villages, and was rewarded with treasures and accolades from all over this realm.
Eventually however, my companions and I met a challenge that was perhaps too great for us. We were, in the end, victorious – In a manner of speaking. All of my companions were slain, and I was forced into a rift that took me away from this realm. It was during this time away that my story turned completely. And it was during this time that my involvement with the four of you began – however indirectly.
After I passed through the rift, I found myself in a very strange place. It was somewhat like the home I had always known, but it was also many things this realm is not. Upon reaching a settlement, one of the first strange things I noticed was all of the temples. There were temples to dozens of deities all throughout the city in this place. Here in my world, we know only one God.
Also, this new world I had entered seemed strangely unchanging. Growing up in this realm, I had grown accustomed to things changing from one day or week to another. Distances between settlements, locations of forests and mountains… All of these things change here, but after spending a few months in this new world, it seemed that everything all stayed the same unless it was caused to change directly by personal intervention. This world was also unbelievably vast, and was home to far more sentient races of creatures than I had known.
This brought a multitude of questions to the fore about my home, and I vowed to uncover all of the answers to them as I struggled to also find my way back here.
My first questions were about the Gods in this world. Why were there so many, and why was the one I knew not represented among them? I learned that in far-away lands in this same world, they worshipped yet another new set of Gods. In another place, another set. I traveled all over this world, and never found even a trace of the God I knew – Cerrec.
During these travels and studies, I also learned that there were still more worlds out there, and that magic could be used to shift between them. I could not, however, find a way to return here. So instead, I traveled to as many worlds as I could, learning of more and more Gods, and still finding nary a trace of Cerrec among them. Eventually, through my travels of the planes, I learned that the Gods are in fact real beings, and that worship bolsters their power and recognition. It was then that I decided to bolster the worship of Cerrec in as many of these worlds as I could, hoping that doing so might strengthen him enough that I could find a planar path back here.
The plan both worked and backfired completely. I set out to create temples to Cerrec, to deliver his message of order and balance to the peoples of these worlds, but it seemed that the majority of the temples I created – after a short time of positive influence – would become a corrupted pit of villainy. Sacrificing women, children, and becoming general menaces to their communities. The only positive was that during this period, I was able to find my way back here.
Upon my return, I found this realm even more chaotic than I left it. Mountains had sprung from nothing. The Muil Desert on the far side of the well had grown in size by ten times. Catawen neared destruction. They needed my help.
I managed to clear the immediate danger surrounding Catawen, and knew that this evil must be the influence of the temples I had created. I needed to put a stop to them, but I was afraid that if I had done so myself, I’d need to make a safeguard to ensure that I could return if I left this realm and the level of worship decreased. During the calamity, Catawen’s great bridge had been destroyed, so I decided to rebuild the bridge, and infuse the new one with enchantments—to leave myself a beacon of sorts to allow my return home. You would have likely crossed this bridge on your way here.
And now – while I hate to be so long-winded, there is something else I must tell you about before I get to your personal involvement. There is one more key difference between this place and the worlds you all call home. This world seems to react directly and with force to the actions committed within it. It is governed by a perverse sense of balance. I suspected this in the final moments of the encounter where my companions were slain, but did not understand it until well afterwards.
For every action I had taken to help people, another action elsewhere had been done to harm them. Every dragon I slew would lead to another dragon being born. The creature we were fighting – named Ammanon Albackisth – had basically spent his life opposing me. I discovered some of his records shortly before we confronted him. He had been systematically following in my footsteps creating misery in my wake.
It was only when I created these temples that the full message had been driven home to me. This realm, this place governed by the will of Cerrec, was in a constant state of rebalancing itself. Every good act is met with evil. And what’s worse, I couldn’t do anything to change it. I knew that every act of good I would commit would be met with an equal response of darkness. Every act of good I HAD committed had brought misery upon another.
I needed to come up with a new plan. While I had killed Ammanon Albackisth, there was no doubt in my mind that someone else would be ready, or would perhaps simply materialize, to oppose me again if I started again down my former path.
So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. First of all, I needed to destroy the temples I had started. They were causing far more harm than good, both in the worlds they occupied, and back here.
So I worked with the local authorities in those worlds to hire adventurers to destroy the evil men who had taken them over. I left behind an item in each location that would be invisible to anyone who wasn’t pure of heart. That item was the crystals you now hold.
Each crystal was infused with a power of planar shifting, and was attuned to this place – specifically to the Rune Bridge. The bridge was built infused with crystals just like the ones you carry. Unfortunately, due to the chaotic nature of this place, they don’t necessarily always transport people directly to the bridge, but they generally end up fairly close. Now that the four of you are here, each possessing crystals, it’s possible that any others who might end up here will be transported to you directly.
So why did I bring you here? Well, it’s with a bit of hoping on my part, but it is my suspicion that since you are not from nor bound to this place, that your actions of good will not be directly met with evil repercussions. It is my hope that by bringing you here, you can accomplish the good that I can not.
Now, as for our friend Ruminast, I can not help him. I know that in your worlds, it is not unheard of to bring people back from the dead. Here, however, it is impossible. Those of us who were born here seemingly lack the ability to be brought back from the dead. I’m not sure if it’s because we have no souls, or that our souls simply lack the tether back to our bodies that allows resurrection.
All of the people here, when they die—they will not meet an afterlife the way you yourselves will. Our souls will simply spin off into nothingness, if we even have souls at all. I have found no evidence in my travels of the planes of any souls from this place. This is the current area of my research, and hopefully we can eventually find a way to save the people of this world.