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Deka had procured the book by threatening to reveal the librarian’s actions to his masters. Now, he sat huddled in a dark corner of a dilapidated roadside inn, just outside the city walls. Thick smoke clung to the ceiling and half-concealed the ancient wooden beams and supports that should keep the decrepit building upright for perhaps another ten years.

The patrons were in no better shape: ruffians and panhandlers they were; rogues who had been denied access into the city and who would perhaps try their luck again on the morrow after the changing of the guard. They leered with red eyes from dirty faces, spoke little, and kept to their cheap swill.

It was the perfect place for Deka. He had pulled his cloak tight around himself and--despite his great size--sat well-concealed in the dark and out of everyone’s way. He studied the book with feverish intensity and ignored the tankard of cider and the wood trencher with victuals that the innkeeper had without a courteous word placed on his table.

The writings spoke of how, centuries ago, the Etter built the Thyra--the Door that led them from their dimension of flame and darkness to this world. To build it, the Etter had enslaved thousands, ranging from their own kind to the demons and devils that dwelled in the depths below them. It became a marvelous thing to behold, greater than the greatest palaces of kings and decorated with precious stones and unimaginably beautiful carvings.

The construction of the gateway took centuries. Generations of Etter slavers would come and go without seeing the completion of the grand project of their race. Yet their kind was ever hard-working and its leaders cared little for the fate of the individual, save their own.

When the immense structure was completed, the Etter sacrificed their slaves through a blasphemous ritual. Yet still they were not free, for the Etter mages laid claim to their eternal spirits as they died and held them even in life after death. And as the souls of the dead cried in outrage at their abuse at the hands of the Etter mages, they were imprisoned in the gateway they had built with their very own hands.

And so it came to pass that the Etter completed their great work: a doorway to other dimensions, powered by the souls of thousands, and they named it the Thyra. And when they activated it, it drew upon the energy of the spirits trapped within and with that power tore a bleeding, gaping hole through time and space.

Shortly after, the Etter sent their first scouts through, and it would not be long until their empire spanned not only their own world, but many other dimensions. How many, Deka could not tell. Perhaps ten, perhaps a hundred, perhaps more than he could count. But this world had been among them. And for a reason that no one knew today, the Etter had departed again and left naught in their wake but questions unanswered. . .

A loud bang roused Deka from his studies: the door to the inn had been flung open with force. And as the newcomers entered, Deka smiled, for fortune was kind to him. . .


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