Nestled beneath the boughs of the Twelveswood, the Black Vault rests atop an ancient and weathered stump, unassuming save for its meticulously manicured garden and imposing visage. Here, the Eldritch Collective calls home; a strategic decision meant to temper the temptations associated with their pursuits with the ever-present threats of Gridanian retribution and Greenwrath alike.
First established as a place to study what dark and arcane things would oft be regarded as heretical or forbidden, the Collective quickly attracted interest from all over. From scholars to adventurers, servants to spies, the realm’s morally-flexible began to explore their limits. And so under the leadership of its head curator Archmagister Lior Emrys, the manse played regular host to dialogue about the nature of societal fears, and the foolishness of turning a blind eye to the very powers that might be used to stave off further calamities.
Offering assurances that such power would be kept strictly secured and only employed at such time that they could prove its safe usage, the Collective was left to its own devices, often proving a beneficial foil to the advances of cults like the Lambs of Dalamud. Yet the promise of power is not easily refused, and it was only a matter of time before the manse began to play host to those with selfish and ill intent.
In his hubris, the Archmagister thought such individuals could be reformed and the Collective bolstered by their ambitions. He wove for himself an illusion of great power and authority that he might curtail the Collective’s worst indulgences through fear, only to lose sight of his purpose in doing so. Thus did the Collective grow to be at war with itself, and often the realm, as perverse mages and corrupt diplomats wielded the order’s reputation and resources for their own devices.
Those who seek power for its own sake will ever want for more, however. As the Archmagister learned to starve them of attention and authority, it was inevitable that the Collective could no longer satisfy them. Now absent the need for his performative dominion, the Archmagister’s throne lies dormant, simply another showpiece in the vault. It serves as a stark reminder of the divergences of the Collective’s many cycles, and a warning that such a role can never again become necessary.
The Collective thus entrusted unto its stewards, it at long last becomes worthy of its name once again: an organization ruled not by ego or mandate, but by the faith and collaboration of its own. The dying screams of petty squabbles yield to the melody of thoughtful debate. The embers that gave rise to the fires of conflict now fuel creativity and creation.
Though the Eldritch Collective’s goal has not been forgotten, those who would seek to exploit it for their own sake have. And so with all eyes forward, hand in hand, it marches boldly on. Its doors open once more to those who seek answers denied to them by society, who would suffer the realm’s scorn in order to become its saviors.
Wear your sins with pride, adventurer. The world will not be saved in half measures.
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