Hieroneous' Decree

The scroll says:

Noble Manriki,

Darkness lies all around; I know you will find the way. Allies can be found in most unlikely places, however, be wary. Not all of those who will offer you aid will stand alongside you in the final confrontation. Valor and bravery alone will not be enough; use your discernment to tell who your true allies will be. Your travels will take you across this world- breadth and length.

You will not lack adversaries- even this world will challenge you. Many will oppose you; enemies from the past will arise. Given time, the cowardly withdraw; the hero may indeed stand alone. Not every hero will fit your mold, Manriki. Few will match your measure. Those you call friend must be willing to go the distance. If they cannot, the road you take will winnow them out soon enough. Never fear, others fight alongside you, although you may never see. In the end, your tale will be legendary- however it ends.

And indeed, it will be all the more so for it will be one you have forged on your own. All you will do, you will have to do largely by your selves. If I could, I would support you in this endeavor. However, the situation demands that I do not directly intervene.

Know that this is not the will, nor doing of Hextor. And rest assured that those responsible do not include myself either. All who dwell in firmament or amidst hellfire, we have acted. As best we were able to, in any event.

I have set aside magic for you, so therefore, be assured. You shall not be without my support, though I may be distant from you. I task you with ensuring the survival of your entire world.

This is not a question of mortals having lost their way. No amount of fervent belief could have stove this off. Neither simple faith nor hope will see this world through, either.

Nevertheless, without faith and hope, all will be lost before the battle even begins. There is likely no way to simply overwhelm the foe’s might. Even if your strength matched what comes before you, you would most likely lose.

Therefore, you must use the gifts that mortalkind has always had. Ingenuity, tempered with skill will win out, as it has before. The foe has likely learned new tricks of their own; action is required along with strategy. Perhaps mortalkind can hide in far-flung corners of the world. This does not seem likely, however. You must know and remember that the enemy’s objective is simple. Destroy the works of divinity and mortalkind both without discrimination.

Will you shake and quail before the trial that comes? A lesser man, one not as valiant as you are would. Despair and malaise may be your constant companions. Keep heart; all is not as terrible as it seems.

Perhaps I forget who I am speaking to in light of the severity of the situation. Rejoice, Manriki; what lies ahead is the challenge that you seek. I cannot emphasize the magnitude of the great task before you.

Paths are manifold, as are obstacles, so how will you proceed? Some will say that this is the fault of the unrighteous or unworthy. You cannot allow yourself to be foolish enough to hear them. Of all there is, would you save only the righteous souls? Our longstanding, eternal conflict has separated us and made us unprepared.

While a tacit agreement to prepare for this eventuality did stand between us, something has happened that has caught us all by surprise. And this resulting blindness has left us unaware of subtler machinations. If the signs are to be believed, something has come back. Returned from places beyond legend and past anything you may know.

In the face of this, the most ruthless villain has trepidations. All is in jeopardy. None may ignore the plight of this world, perhaps other worlds as well. The quest ahead may call for tyranny and valor both, then. You will see the brightest light and plumb darkness most dire.
Many would-be allies lack your gallantry and dauntless spirit. Remain a shining beacon to these, for although they do not share your warrior’s zeal, they are no less useful to the noble cause before you. Perseverance will bring ultimate success as light is carried by dawn.

Not every challenge can be answered; not every obstacle can be overcome in the days ahead. Bravery, and its brother, valor despises the choices that lie ahead. With so many possibilities, who can pick out the best way? The answer to that is as simple as it is frustrating, I fear.

There is no one way to solve the problems at hand. No single enemy lies at the heart of the coming conflict. Opposition will come from all fronts. Your allies as well as you will be challenged; stand together and face the adversity together. Seek ancient wisdom; it will appear in the unlikeliest places. An adventure the likes of which never dreamt of awaits.

Your enemy is surely subtle, for the trouble is doubly so. Can you hold to the sacred vows you made to me? If your conviction is as strong as your faith, I know that you can. So be unafraid; the boons I’ve give you will only strengthen. Despair is repelled by greatness, of any shades in this time. Accept this fact and the tasks ahead will be somewhat easier. Do not let knowing this unsettle you; your integrity is yours. Although it is this world in danger, solutions lie beyond it. The combatants await, the stage is set; take your place, warrior. For now it is time for you to gird thy loins! Go forth and defend mortalkind’s- nay, all kinds’ rights to existence. The foe must be repelled, the way closed, once again.

Otherwise, all kinds go into darkness, to wake no more. You and your allies will be watched; show them no fear. You must keep hope, also; without it, there is no victory. Remember, the appearance of valor can be valor’s kindly uncle. We have separate tasks; I may not answer you at times. Fear not, however. I have entrusted you with this paramount mission with good reason; I know it is within your capabilities.

There is no room for more words; now action is called for! The time has come; now you must go forth and be triumphant! Drag Victory back from the jaws of most certain defeat. Should you hesitate in this, then all will surely be lost.

The back of the scroll says:

Forty-three legions march in disorder above.

The second enemy lies in the easiest place for your battle to begin.

The remainder of the army marches in formation there.

Woe betide that less than half as many of our captains are able to march in order.

Beware the peasant militia; they march like brave knights, but they lack the discipline of formation.

The captains of this army march in lines; protocol dictates they lead two man’s senses in brave knights.

Each captain marches in order according to his rank.

A first-rank captain takes the lead.

A captain led by his senses would obviously rank last.

Then it ends.

Hieroneous' Decree