Notes donated by the archaeologists:
The archaeologists theorise that Sophanem was built by the refugees fleeing Ullek. The disaster that befell Ullek left in its wake a large number of undead creatures in the area. There is some debate between the two archaeologists as to whether these undead are the result of vile sorcery or simply the results of the use of this area as a graveyard. Initial findings seem to suggest that the area was once heavily forested, in stark contrast to its current desert state. Abigail seems convinced this is due to humans chopping down all the trees, but Kerner is of the opinion that trees regrow so quickly as to make such deforestation impossible.
Notes found in the depths:
The foresters are most incompetent as of late. Their claims that sources of wood are becoming scarce smacks of laziness. I shall have them flogged if quotas are not fulfilled. The furnaces must remain lit.
Another setback. The deliveries of timber we were expecting have arrived, but are in the form of bank certificates. While we could burn them, I fear it will not be much use. For now, I have had them stored with the other certificates.
It appears as if Elidinis has forsaken us. Armies, led by vile misbelievers, are smiting the northern settlements. Uzer is under siege and it cannot be long before we are also under assault. The outside areas may fall, but we should be secure in the tunnels beneath Ullek.
It has come to retreat. I can only blame myself for the next revelation I must make to the survivors. We are low on timber and the ventilation will ultimately fail as a result. The vast stocks of dried dung, in which I had placed faith for fuel in such an emergency, are soaking wet…
…and infested with some sort of giant maggot. That's bad for both morale and health. I fear that this is simply a reflection of our current dire situation. I only pray we are not forced to starvation and the dire choices that would entail.
Icthlarin has not taken us, after all. Though many died in these stinking warrens, we few have survived. We will now travel to the village of Sophanem and hope there are other survivors there. I have vowed to pay for a temple to be built there, in honour of the deities who saved us…that is, if our currency is of any value in this new world order.
As Scabarite custom dictates, the outer gateways have been sealed. No disturbances will now occur and we may worship in peace. The fortuitous discovery of a large stock of ordure may even allow some of the less pious worshippers to breed.
The relaxation of the breeding rules may have been something of a mistake. More of the young seem to believe that we should leave the darkness and seek to explore the outer areas, where odd noises have been heard. I shall pray for guidance, even though answers from Scabaras are clearly unlikely.
Although he did not reply directly, I have been seized by visions of some sort. A female with a red-sheened carapace and antennae spoke to me, sending disquiet through my soul. Could it really be that only the destruction of all other life will allow us the isolation we crave?
I am convinced. We will break through to the surface and ensure these noises are quieted. Silence shall be ours! Both the chasm and the outer areas are currently under investigation, by those dedicated enough to escape pollution of their souls for the greater good.
The chasm has proven to be a dead end to us, for the moment. The external trek has been useful, though. We discovered some large creatures, not wholly unlike us, with the capacity to leap great distances. Some have been captured for research. There were other creatures, too – dead but moving. Could this kind of existence provide the ultimate solitude?
A breakthrough, of sorts! The leaping creatures have enabled us to send warriors up through the chasm to explore. They report a large area of tunnels which they are now securing with traps. Traps that should be effective against the soft-skinned humans we can even now smell.
Contact! We have slain several human warriors, after emerging into the outer areas of a surface settlement. I am, however, worried that this contact might be sullying the forces. I have instructed that more traps be used so that pollution does not occur.
The red-tinged female reappeared and urged for a more active destruction of the surface-dwellers. The dreams come evermore and my mind is torn. She speaks for Scabaras and I shall follow, but I have not had such communication in years and the toll upon me is telling. Everything is blurring.
Now, I realise, there are two minds within me…and neither is strong enough. To be cursed so, with no chance to be alone, even with myself. I must control my thoughts…or should that be 'we'?
Paralysed by indecision or firm in the face of adversary; aloof or apathetic; violent or strong; merciful or weak? There is no difference within me. What will be the ultimate fate?
The High Priest seems to be wandering in his mind, so we follow his last instructions as Scabaras would wish us to. The outsiders will be destroyed. We slew one in the upper chambers and set our largest guardian to guard the area where he was found – all too close to the chasm.
A setback. The scarab guardian we left by the chasm was slain! Although no penetration has been made into the nest via this route, we have increased the number of perimeter traps and are considering a full assault upon the settlement known as Sophanem.
We have had reports of an intruder in the vaults before the doors – an area not yet fully set with traps! I have had visions of Scabaras in the guise of a female with red chitin. Now, I know what we must do: destroy everyone, for ultimate peace and solitude.
Notes made when talking to the High Priest of Scabaras:
The High Priest of Scabaras has a view of the genesis of Scabaras that differs from my own. In his opinion, the three dreams giving rise to the other minor deities were ultimately unsatisfactory to Tumeken. Thus, on the fourth night of dreaming, Scabaras was brought into being, the most perfect of the deities and the most pleasing to Tumeken. The most important part of the cult precepts seems to be that solitude is the ideal circumstance for self-improvement and an untroubled existence.
Most orthodox teachings of Scabaras rely on the worshipper meditating in silence, with interaction frowned upon due to being likely to pollute the mind. The recent events have reinforced this view as far as the High Priest is concerned. The pollution of the Devourer's words led to the recent depredations of the Scabaras cult. Obviously, the Devourer was able to convince the High Priest that solitude could only be guaranteed by killing non-Scabarites. After turning away from the influence of the Devourer, it is, perhaps, quite flattering that he should choose to talk to me at all.
Although this pollution is now driven from the mind of the High Priest, the perversion of Scabaras's teachings has driven many of the Scabarites permanently insane. Slaying them is thus an act of mercy in the opinion of the High Priest. In any case, these deranged beings will not be a threat to any but those who approach them. Sophanem is safe.
When I questioned the High Priest of Scabaras as to the origins of the Scabarites, I gained few useful facts. Apparently, their physical form is a blessing for generations of loyal service to Scabaras. Many of them live in the dark places beneath the soil, though such gatherings such as I have seen are very rare indeed.