The shade king of Congradagh

Hi, Book !   As another part of Fyaril told you, we are currently moving to the Congradagh mountain range.  
Yes. I was told you took this decision after playing some storytelling games with adventurers in a tavern, back in Direadus. How about you tell me about that story ?
Sure ! In fact, that's why I'm here. The person who told us this story is called Uain' Seilche, it's a human. Uain' comes from a family that are members of the Circail Gaisgels, a nomadic group.  
Ah, I remember the Gaisgels : they are nomads of the north that make a living by following big herds and pillaging trade routes. They attacked our vehicle on the road to Direadus, remember ?
... Maybe.  
You don't remember, do you ?
... No. I guess I can't access that part of Fyaril's memories, that's weird.  
I guess so. The multiplication of consciousnesses inside of Fyaril's mind is probably not a good thing overall, especially regarding the decreasing amount of things each consciousness can do.
Makes sense. Also, this is the subject of our story ! Let me explain. The tale Uain' told us about is about a form of Shadow creature that live in the mountains: the Shade Kind of Congradagh.   The Shade King is said to be almost as old as the mountain itself, and for as long as it existed, it has stayed in the mountain. Some think that is because it is stuck there, cursed by some ancient gods to be the guardian of the mountains. Others think it stays in the mountain for the same reason as why we usually stay away from it : it is afraid. However, most can agree on one thing. Whether it is bound in the mountains or afraid to leave them, the Shade King is an ancient entity, that guards something.  
Wait. Are you explaining me that the reason why we took part of an expedition to a mountain range, allegedly some of the least well-known and hospitable areas in the whole Cylinder, to steal some artifact from a Shadow creature, that is to say yet another menace on our already very fragile and fragmented mind ? Do you not remember how it did not exaclty end well for us last time we stole a relic ?
Maybe I remember, maybe I don't. And anyway, the situation is totally different now. First of all, I never said we were going to steal anything. See, according to Uain', the Shade King is benevolent. What is more, the thing we are seeking aren't some treasure or yet another relic. It's more like an ability. When Uain' told us their story, they explained how after a bad skirmish against some Wandrel, their family had decided to take their luck in the mountains to avoid being pursued. It is at this moment that they met the Shade King.  
Is it now?
Yes. See, the nomadic tribe was stuck in a small canyon at the entrance of the mountain range. They were terrified, as you can guess, and they started to pray the surrounding nature spirit to allow them to spend a while there. They built effigies out of wood and dark jewels they found in the river, they prayed around the effigies every evening, and every morning they realized that they had survived yet another night. They started to think that the mountain spirits were flattered by their prayers, or at least somewhat touched by their situation.   Later in the season, the family realized that some Wandrels were still blocking the riverine exit of the mountain range. They decided to push their luck a little further, and to move deeper toward the high plateaus. Still, they kept building their wooden statues, and they kept asking for forgiveness every time they had to set camp in the mountain range.   As they reached the inner plateaus, the family encountered tribes of Mountain Hounds, and even spent one night camping near them. Oddly enough, even if the canines didn't speak, they had a similar nightly ritual as the one that the nomads were starting to adopt. That ritual even involved some small wooden statues, decorated with the dark jewels found in the river.   In the end, the Circail tribe spent almost all the autumn in the green plateaus of the inner mountain range. They visited the Mountain Hound villages, and were welcomed with a hospitality that still surprises them. Even though communication wasn't exactly easy, the hounds showed their rituals to the nomads. They led them to the center of the mountain range, where the Shade King lived. They showed them the entrance of a large cave, close to the Cave. A cave that lead to the Shade King, the guardian of the mountains.  
What happened there ?
Some of the members of the tribe went in, others didn't. They were either too scared to get in, or were asked to set up a camp for the return of the braver ones. Sadly, Uain' was a kid at that time, and wasn't allowed to enter the cave. However, he told us what happened when the olders came back.  
Just tell me already !
Okay. Well, first of all, not everyone came back. Out of the fifty that entered the cave, only thirty three came back. However, the survivors told that they had spoken with the Shade King. Apparently, it was not speaking from a specific place, but rather from inside their head. Like, one's ears wouldn't hear anything, and yet one would know what had been said. According to the survivors, the Shade King was observing the tribe since they had entered the mountain range, and was flattered by the way they were respecting the nature surrounding them. After some pondering, He had decided to help the family. He would help the tribe to leave the mountain without being seen by the Wandrels, on one condition: some of them would have to stay with Him. They would not be hurt, on the contrary, but they had to stay.  
Why ?
Apparently, the Shade King wanted to better understand how human minds worked. What's more, He wanted to have them build a natural temple, some form of safe, hidden haven for respectful nomads. And now, we're finally coming where things are interesting for us. In exchange for agreeing with that, all the nomads who entered the cave were healed of every spiritual disease they had. Not only that, but some of them had some various curses and physical pain associated with ghostpowder. All of that was healed.  
What ? How is that possible ?
Not sure, Uain' had no idea. But they seemed certain of themselves. I suppose the Shade King has some power over Ghostpowder, maybe He can neutralize active Ghostpowder, by communicating to it ? However, Uain sounded really certain, and truthful about it.  
I don't really like to be asking that, but did you try and get in their head just to make sure that we are not moving toward some kind of trap, or something similar ? Even if, if that is true, the situation seems really hopeful, I can't help but feel that it is absolutely unsafe to rush toward some mountains for some gift of an almost mythical Shadow Creature.
Yes, we tried to look out for that. It's a bit harder to consciously enter one's mind than to subconsciously do so, but we didn't find any apparent anxiety while telling the story, nor any other memory that appeared to be concealed. I can't say that we know for sure where we are headed, but I feel like we can still give it a try, can't we ?

Cover image: by Pouaseuille


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