- See also: Archaeologist
What answers does Kirkwall hold? Why look here instead of Perivantium or Vol Dorma? The Imperium does not give up its secrets easily. Even with the magisters centuries dead, our journey is perilous. Here on the dock of the Gallows, we renew our vows.
And should we fail, search for the markings of the Band of Three.
—A tattered letter found under a cobblestone. It has curious markings and is signed, "The Band of Three"
The viscount is suspicious, but the bribe was sufficient to gain access to the restricted section of the archives. The money would have been better spent elsewhere, the archives being almost devoid of Imperium-era records.
When the slaves revolted, they hunted magisters and burned the city—at least the parts that could be burned. One account says that the streets were littered with piles of scrolls and books set aflame.
Is our quest futile? Did the slaves destroy the answer? As Maferath's armies toppled the Imperium, they sent three magisters and their legions here. They never arrived. But why march here of all places? What were they coming here for?
—Behind a panel with curious markings, signed, "The Band of Three"
It is as we thought. The quarries of Kirkwall were found after the city was sacked by the Imperium and after they started constructing the city. The Imperium found the mineral wealth, not the indigenous people. The histories give conflicting accounts on who lived here before the Imperium. Some say the Alamarri. Some say the Daefads. We do know it was a barbarian people who had little need of the metals in the hills.
So why did the Imperium come here in such force? It is hard to disprove Brother Mikhel's theory that the natural harbor would be important for their armies, but magisters ruled, not common men. What barrier would a simple sea pose to them? The wars with the Alamarri wouldn't start until centuries later.
Each clue we find only leads to more questions, but we will not give up.
—Underneath a pile of small boulders carved with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
In the back alleys of Lowtown you can find extraordinary things. Priceless tomes of knowledge can be bought with a handful of gold: The Chant of Archon Lovais, a whole chapter of the Midnight Compendium. Some of these books were thought lost forever!
And these are no forgeries. I've verified their authenticity myself. The fences have no inkling that what they're selling has value. Where did these books come from?
After several failed attempts, I got my answer underneath the city. There is a hive of hidden passages in Kirkwall's sewers. Now and then a lucky "sewer rat" comes across an unlooted chamber, and then a cache of ancient Tevinter relics spreads through the black market. We must search below the city.
—Underneath a cobblestone with curious markings, faintly glowing. It is signed, "The Band of Three"
A maze of caves, sewers, and hidden passages! We found three Tevinter chambers already looted, but today (tonight?) we found one closed. It was a small cell containing a few trinkets and a common tome, but it symbolizes hope. The magisters had hundreds of mages deep below Kirkwall. They lived and researched here, far from the scrutiny of common men.
Many ancient cities specialized in arcane research, but why did Kirkwall hide its efforts here? Why go to such great pains to keep it out of sight? Were they a cabal of renegade magisters? Or was this a special project of the archon?
—Hidden in a small fissure near curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
A master mason made a comment that set my mind afire. She said that of all the cities she's worked in, Kirkwall was the most difficult, and that the city is almost literally a maze. Recollecting my first years in Kirkwall, I have to agree. Getting lost was commonplace. The city was a sprawling mess.
The mason showed me a plan of the city, and my heart skipped a beat. There were patterns in the intersections, back alleys, and boulevards. Some magisters believed in the power of symbols or shapes. In the oldest parts of the city, one can make out the outlines of glyphs in the very streets! What manner of magic is this?
—Underneath a cobblestone with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
Ironically, the Chantry has the best records on the Imperium occupation that we've found—none of the forbidden texts, which have undoubtedly been destroyed, but many administrative records. In their cold, numbered rows, misery is told. Thousands of slaves passed through the Gallows to work the mines or to be shipped elsewhere.
The list of elven children is numbing: "three maimed, two mute, and four serviceable." These numbers don't add up. For every thousand slaves that came to Kirkwall, a hundred disappeared. I checked the tax rolls, as well, and the discrepancy exists there, too, if one has the wit to see it: 203 slaves went missing in the Imperium's 312th year! That's just one year. Other records showed similar discrepancies. Over centuries, practically a whole civilization of slaves simply disappeared.
—Hidden inside the cover of a book with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
After pursuing another dead end, we were attacked by maleficarum. I fear V. will not make it. The fences must have tipped them off. Are they cultists trying to protect the answer? Are they after it themselves? Or was it a random attack?
The mages of Kirkwall have a more troubled history than those in other Circles. A greater percentage of them do not survive the Harrowing, and a greater percentage turn to blood magic—almost double that of Starkhaven or Ostwick. Is there a secret fraternity delving into the Tevinter secrets of this city?
Either way, we must be more careful, lest we become the Band of One. Or None.
—Hidden under a cobblestone with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
Access has not been easy, and I fear my disguise will not bear great scrutiny. But I saw the records the templars say do not exist. The blood of countless slaves was spilled beneath the city in sacrifice. Whole buildings were built upon lakes of blood. The sewers have grooves where blood would flow, all leading down. The scale is hard to fathom.
A blood mage can channel great power from a simple cut. At least a thousand unfortunates died here every year for centuries. For what ungodly purpose would one need so much power?
I must retreat now before I am uncovered. But the answer is close.
—Behind a panel with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
It is well known that the Veil is thin in Kirkwall, small wonder given the suffering in the city. But we've discovered the magisters were deliberately thinning it even further. Beneath the city, demons can contact even normal men. Did they seek the Black City to compound the madness of their previous efforts? Or was it something else? We've found a chamber where the Veil is at its thinnest, long-since looted, but the power is still there. Tonight we will go there. Pray for us. Pray for us all.
—Hidden behind a rock with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
A recent trove was uncovered. This one was big, perhaps the archon's visitation chambers.
And a flood of tomes is on the market. Even the simple fences know something is amiss—they've raised their prices at the frenzy of collectors. One said he sold a copy of the Fell Grimoire! I doubt he would lie; how could he know that tome is a mere legend?
If that is real, then what of the Forgotten Ones? This journey has taken us to many strange places, and made us re-evaluate many former truths. Where will it end?
—Hidden under a cobblestone with curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"
We went to the center of it all. F. is dead and I am alone and injured. I must go back and put an end to it. The maddening thing is there is still no answer. But the Forgotten One, or demon or whatever it is, must be destroyed. I fear one may already be unbound.
I foreswear my oaths. The magister's lore must be burned and the ashes scattered. No good can come of it. And Maker help us if someone does answer what we could not.
—Hidden near curious markings and signed, "The Band of Three"