Javis Ghan examined the old parchment in minute detail.
The soft leathery feel made the hairs stand on his neck, and his tongue tingled with distaste. There were old markings that he could not make out, ancient words and strange symbols, almost part of the material itself, almost like some ritual tattoo deep within the medium that someone later had used to scribe the layout of Darkholm Keep.
But the Keep was his main interest, deep in the cold heart of Solis, built ancient into the very bedrock that supported a writhing, living city. Many were the rumours of ancient treasures in its dark and forgotten vaults, and many were the tales of terror that went with them. Guardians, magics, curses, madness! He had heard them all his life, as a child being scolded by his mothers harsh tongue, as a tearaway adolescent, by the Guard Captain cursing him with his last fetid breath, and as a grown man in the taverns and bawdy houses of Dockside where gossip flows as free as ale.
It had occured to Javis Ghan that some of these tales, grown longer over the years in the telling no doubt, may hold a whisper of truth. Somewhere, running through them all, might be a common thread. And sat in the Grey Lady tavern this cold winters eve, in front of him a map set on a strange old parchment, he was sure he heard that whisper. A quiet echo perhaps, but there none the less, if you cared to listen.