In a quiet corner of Ardoris, mostly unnoticed by the residents, a tiny graveyard can be found.
Apart from the occasional small child acting on a dare it is rarely visited, and it is a complete mystery who or what may be buried there. Rumor has it that the graveyard pre-dates Ardoris.
In any case, the inscriptions became illegible a long time ago, and all that remains in the way of information is a strange tale that has been passed down for generations.
Nobody believes it to be true, but it is nevertheless retold on stormy nights whenever strangers seek shelter in the local inn.
According to the tale, the oldest grave is the resting place of an ancient and powerful creature.
Many centuries ago after a prolonged and bloody battle, the creature was finally trapped and bound there by a powerful spell.
It was not possible to kill the creature due to its immense power, however it was hoped that over the centuries its power would gradually drain away.
A long time later when the battle was on the cusp of being forgotten from history, a mage was told of the creature and the nature of its entrapment.
The mage gave it some thought, and decided that he could take advantage of the creature’s predicament.
The grave that housed the creature was still in an open field at that time, and after travelling for two days accompanied by his faithful servant of many years, the mage arrived.
After his servant had set up camp, the mage offered him a mug of ale that had been infused with a powerful drug.
The servant fell asleep instantly, and the mage quickly positioned various artifacts and uttered numerous incantations.
Finally the moment arrived and the ritual was completed. At first nothing appeared to happen, but then suddenly a deep and powerful voice was heard.
“For what purpose do you disturb me, mortal?”
Cautiously the mage replied, “Oh great and powerful one, I seek the gift of true wisdom. In exchange I offer you the life energy of a human.”
The creature replied:
“I shall grant you the gift of true wisdom, but only if you offer me the person that you hold most dear.”
The mage could not think of anyone that he held dear, but his servant was the single person in the entire world that he despised the least, so he replied “Agreed. You may take the life energy of the person that I hold most dear, in exchange for great wisdom.”
“Very well. The deal is done,” replied the creature.
And indeed, it was at that moment that the mage acquired true wisdom as he felt the life energy drain from him. He had been wrong in thinking that he held no one dear.
In his last conscious thought he realized that in fact he held himself dear, and cared naught for anyone else.
Eventually his servant awoke and found a desiccated corpse wearing his master’s robes. He assumed that whatever ritual his master had set out to perform had gone horribly wrong, and decided to bury him next to the existing grave where, unknown to him, the freshly nourished creature had resumed its slumber.
Later, as the dutiful servant that he was, he procured a small headstone that he erected next to the creature’s resting place.