August 23, 117 AC
Some people are smart. Some people are sexy. Some people are tough. I’m a tough one. I’m not an idiot by any means; I speak two dead languages, but I’m not nearly as up there as the leaders of this expedition. No, I’m just the one they ask when they need to disarm the booby traps. Even when we don’t know they’re there.
We’ve found a journal from the pastor of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Springfield. We think there’s some lost artifacts in there. He wrote about an urn that had a strange effect on the local populace. We think the urn might have magical power. In the centuries before the Cataclysm, magic was dormant, but every once in a while, hints of arcane and divine magics would be made manifest. Usually the people who encountered them were just written off as cranks. Usually, they were cranks. But the date makes us wonder…
November 17, 1999
Tensions have been growing within the congregation. The Evangelical’s Doomsaying has infected even us. There are people who think we’re rapidly approaching the end times. We have people that come to sit in the sanctuary all day. They don’t light candles; they just sit and stare at one of the urns.
August 30, 117 AC
We’ve found the old church. Springfield is just about the most dangerous place any of us have ever been, but we’re dedicated to divining the contents of this abandoned cathedral. The church was half buried in the mud and muck of a hundred years of magical storms, not to mention the rubble of when Springfield tore itself apart. My family was lucky. Florida was built on top of a mountain. The population was sparse and still versed in farming. They were able to defend themselves from the magical onslaughts of the Cataclysm and the ravening hordes of monsters that came after.
The people of this city, though. The rubble we’ve found… It’s like all hell broke loose. I would not want to have been here when the Cataclysm happened. I’m not sure anyone could have survived. It’s not the usual devastation that we’ve seen. It’s like a portal to a plane of utter destruction had been opened. Lucky for us, the church is on the river. Our boat is well defended, and we’ve tried to keep our presence quiet. The support structures of most of the buildings are intact, but the walls have been obliterated. The church, though, is eerily solid. The walls are intact, the paint is worn but still recognizable. Something powerful lingers here. We’ve definitely got the right church.
December 7, 1999
Mass today was interrupted by an ominous moaning sound. The Doomsayers say it’s the urn, that we’ve somehow angered it by not including it in our Mass. I threw them out. I’m moving the urn into the basement. It’s a valuable artifact; it dates back to around the time the Church began total proliferation through Greece. Still, if it’s causing this much trouble, something has to be done.
September 1, 117 AC
Getting into the basement was harder than we thought. The entire corridor was filled with junk - chairs, pews, statuary, furniture - it was a mess. I practically had to move the whole pile myself, one piece at a time. Old truck springs had been jammed into places in order to cause the whole pile to shift and collapse - and fling kitchen knives. The old priest's journal keeps guiding us on, though. I'll be glad when we've gotten through. No one else seems to mind, but the old church's creak sounds an awful lot like moaning to me.
Things are getting worse outside. The monsters that have been attacking us have been growing in both numbers and ferocity. Only the fact that we're so close allows us to continue on, but I'm not sure how much longer this will last. Our higher level members are keeping things at bay, but they're running out of strength as well. Most of the junior members are either dead or in the infirmary for the rest of the expedition. I've only lasted this long because I'm just naturally tough.
December 18, 1999
Damned teenagers. Some of the local kids have been talking about that blasted urn and one of them broke a window trying to steal it. I’ve publicly announced that I’ve sold it and that it’s already been picked up by a buyer in Los Angeles. Actually, I'm just sending it back to Athens. I’ve hidden it in the broom closet for now. We'd never sell such a valuable artifact.
September 3, 117 AC
At first, I thought there was no broom closet. The walls here in the basement are smooth and all the doors lead to little classrooms or meeting rooms. The expedition was beginning to run out of supplies. You can only bring so many weapons and crew on a boat of the size that we can still manage to operate. The remaining leaders of the expedition were thinking of pulling out. But I was close… I could feel it. Carefully measuring out the dimensions of the walls, I found what I believed to be a secret crevice.
This area is probably especially warded, but our Wizard died two days ago. I'm probably the only one who can survive trying to open it. I must get inside. I can feel the urn calling to me.
December 31, 1999
Something strange is definitely going on. I was watching television, trying to get a glimpse of the New Year’s festivities, but the news feeds keep breaking up. It’s 5:00 PM and we’ve somehow lost contact with Greece. I was really looking forward to seeing the fireworks over the Parthenon.
September 4, 117 AC
They went to great lengths to hide this chamber. They fully plastered over the doorway. They filled the hole where the doorknob once was with concrete. But the ravages of time have helped me. The concrete may still be strong, but the wood of the door and doorjamb have been slowly rotting away. Once I knew where the doorway was, I was simply able to pull it out. I was more than a little shocked (and sickened) when I discovered that they had sealed in some of their dead. The room was putrid and foul, even 100 years later. The juices from the decomposing corpses nearly exploded out at me from the sudden change in air pressure.
A runner came down to tell me the boat was under attack. We didn't have the forces to keep our encampment protected; we were pulling out. I had five minutes to get the urn out safely. I began studying the urn. It was in a protection circle, crudely and hastily drawn. Who knows where they got the instructions to build it? Almost none of their contemporaries believed it would work. The sounds of fighting grew louder. I could feel that five minutes was a generous lie, we had to get out of here NOW - but not without the urn. I reached toward it and touched the edge of the protection circle. I felt an alien presence in my mind.
SET ME FREE
I looked at my feet. The protection circle had been drawn inside out. It was designed to protect the entire universe from what was inside the urn. Screaming now. I could hear my comrades taking grievous or fatal wounds. There would barely be anyone left to get me out of here. The urn glowed menacingly.
SET ME FREE AND I WILL PROTECT YOUR EXPEDITION
I had no choice. I said OK. I wiped a line through the protection circle and it instantly crumbled to dust. I stepped forward to the urn and lifted the lid.The green glow seeped out of the lid and washed over me. The sounds of battle increased briefly, and then all was silent. I left the cathedral in search of my comrades. Across the banks of the river and floating in the water were my friends, my expedition. All were dead. All save me. And then they started moving again, with that same green glow...