Wandering through the streets of Ashtan in the year 833 AF, it was Paine Saer’rac that first alerted the city about a strange, bloody handprint. He had not been the first to find it, no, but he had been the first to notice how out of place it was, even in a city as rife with strange happenings as Ashtan. An investigation by several citizens found identical markings scattered throughout the streets of the Seat of Chaos, but no one knew where they came from or when they appeared, much less their purpose and meaning.

The months passed by, and many forgot about the handprints either partly or entirely. It was nearly a year later when equally mysterious posters started appearing. Titled ‘APOCALYPSE’, they all related an equally cryptic message about usurpers and rightful heirs. Though the citizens were quick to link these to the bloody marks, they came no closer to solving the greater mystery – or even knowing the right questions to ask.

Strange occurrences continued for years. Autino, a vagabond, was very audibly enlightened as if by an occultist, silenced by a fate that some would call worse than death. Poorer citizens began to disappear, and no one knew why. Worse, questioning witnesses only led to their bloody kidnapping, leaving the remaining citizens too terrified to speak.

It wasn’t until an unassuming thief by the name of Elyon Wineapple made a fortuitous discovery that any progress was made. He had heard of mysterious robed figures being spotted at every kidnapping case prior, and he met just such a creature on one of his walks through the city. Diplomacy quickly fell through, and the serpent stood over a corpse. It carried a letter from its superior that hinted, vaguely, at their ultimate goals, and Ashtan knew immediately they needed to be stopped.

Imyrr Rousseau, Orklanishkal Eruu’Yul, and Parthenope Corder knew what to do next. Through methods that will not be divulged here, their combined acumen found the lair of these mysterious kidnappers, and yet this breakthrough led them only to a new frustration: a massive iron door, too heavily fortified and warded to be broken through.

Next came the turn of the Esoteric Consortium, who used their shadowy contacts to find a man named Decker, the Unchanter. Rumoured to be able to break any lock, Paine led the negotiations by correspondence to secure his help.

Finally, on Sarapin of the year 840, the day came where Ashtan gathered en masse, following Decker into the lair of the bloody kidnappers. Though interrupted by overzealous Targossians several times, they managed to push through, finally confronting the leader of this mysterious group: a man named Wattley Castaigne. Little is known about him, but all those who sensed the ensuing battle easily discerned that he held a great power over the magics of Chaos, decimating entire armies in seconds.

And yet, through perseverance and the brilliant leadership of Penwize Baker, it was Ashtan that prevailed. Tragically, Decker didn’t survive the excursion, and so the world lost two of its greatest magical practitioners in the same month. Though their realms of expertise were nothing alike, they both possessed an air of great mystery, and much about them remains an enigma even now.

Summary:

A series of mysterious happenings and kidnappings led Ashtan to confront a man named Wattley Castaigne. Though he wielded devastating Chaos powers, he was ultimately defeated by the Seat of Chaos.