Drenicus the Wise

Aside from Seeroth the Dark, there is no member of the Sacred better known in legend than Drenicus the Wise. Indeed, most scholars would readily claim that Drenicus is the best known of the Sacred so far as “facts” go as he is the only one known to have written a number of books and treatises, most of which have survived to this day (Seeroth is known for only one collection and most of this was lost well before The Darkhold). Some of Drenicus’ better known books include Responsibilities of the Humane Human, The Kingdoms of the Highest Heavens, and A History of the Demon Wars. Yet, none of these books have drawn as much attention as the Diary of Drenicus. While the former books are critical essays or technical historical treatises, the Diary of Drenicus is believed by many to reveal the writer’s inner most thoughts, dreams, aspirations, and reactions to his many journeys and experiences. Of the Sacred, Drenicus is the only one known to have peered into the Realms Beyond and, if his Diary holds any truth, into the darkest depths of the Hells and the highest reaches of the Heavens.

While the original Diary (a collection of six large books) is housed in the Black Hall Library in Ashtur, it has been reprinted a number of times and is only available in the wealthiest libraries in Drm, including the Valernus Library, Wondrous Walls in Mandl, and the Lost Library in Evelyn’s Keep. According to the Diary itself, the author began writing on the first of Leswax in the year 1954 in the Age of Glory, the Tenth Age. This would have been about a year before Drenicus, again according to his Diary, took a wife (inexplicably, her name and the names of their children were blotted out in the original text). The Diary recounts few of Drenicus’ adventures and recollections from the fabled Quest for Dracovomica to the days before his climactic and final confrontation with the Demon Prince of Winds, Cabernasus at Solacepoint. Prior to the rise of the Ministry two hundred years ago, the Diary was regarded by most scholars as the most reliable ancient document in the world, particularly for those interested in the accounts of The Darkhold. Recently, scholars – led by Xpa the Renown of the Wondrous Walls – have cautioned such a ready acceptance of the material. He cites that the text was written at a time when magic was like a disease in the world and that its practitioners were hardly trustworthy. Xpa also points to the material that focuses on the Nine Hells of Perdition, the Seven Heavens of Virtue, and other Realms Beyond, doubting the veracity of Drenicus’ claims. Finally, Xpa notes the clear despondency of the author in the latter portions of the text, apparently after his wife and children were killed during the Time of Chains in Quasii. The level of loss in the text suggests that the writer was a man in the midst of a terrible depression, whose “insights” can hardly be trusted. However, Xpa is countered by other scholars, most notable among them Duke Dentun of the Valernus Library. Dentun notes that much of what is written in the Diary, save the material on the Realms Beyond, correspond not only with many Elven Bards’ Tales and legends, but also with historical documents from Bainland, Burquebain, Mandl, and Valdeze. Dentun, as has become the norm, warns against whole sale ignoring of material on the basis of its occasional “larger-than-life” expositions and suggests that in the pursuit of “truth,” some scholars should consider that the world is a far more magical place than modern thought would suggest. So far, this debate has yet to expand into the learned community of nobles and merchants and most scholars are content to continue referring to the Diary of Drenicus as a reliable source. Much of what follows has been taken from the Diary and melded with legends and historical documents that correlate.

Drenicus was born to a poor family of light-skinned sapiens in the southern portions of the Golden Plains known as the Grey Forest, near present-day Evelyn’s Port. On the borders of the Empire, these people were not tied to the highly regulated life imposed by the Thrones of Thore Mire, but to the Mandlite religions of Celzar and Nemaria. Often threatened by gnolls and other monstrosities, the people maintained a strong faith in the gods of their forefathers, particularly in Celzar. This commitment to Celzar would remain with Drenicus even after he was called into Vhendimmoth. As was the case for the peripheries of the Empire, Imperial Sentinels routinely sought out potential recruits and found Drenicus at an early age. According to his diary, Drenicus and Apheli, his older sister, were taken from their parents when he was no older than six (although Drenicus does not say, tradition holds that Apheli was twelve). The two would become servants in the Imperial Fortress of the Darks in Fortens’ Keep, the capital of the empire. It is interesting to note that Drenicus does not provide a date for this occurrence. Although most scholars assume that this occurred perhaps 20 years or so before the Dragonhold, recent scholarship suggests that the time was much earlier, perhaps 30 or 35 years, placing Drenicus and the other Sacred in their mid 30s before they went on their Quest. Xpa points to this and similar glaring omissions as reasons to approach the validity of the Diary with care; Dentun, for his part, suggests that Drenicus simply could not remember the date as it was almost 4000 years since it happened when Drenicus wrote it.

In any event, Drenicus and his sister would be raised in the Imperial Fortress as imperial servants. Imperial servants were a great deal more than what most modern day people perceive of servants. They were not slaves, although they were indentured to the family they served. An imperial servant could often rise to great prominence and power within Fortens’ Keep so long as his master granted him great power; however, an imperial servant’s life was not his own and he had to receive permission from his master to marry, to have children, to learn, and so forth. Most imperial servants were trained in the arts of defense, in pleasure, or (as is presumed the case for Pandrila the Great) in both. Drenicus suggests that his sister became one of many imperial concubines to the Emperor of the time, Zytun II. Drenicus’ fate was to become a playmate for the sole heir to the Scepter of Vhendimmoth, Seeroth the Dark. Drenicus writes that there were few children in the Fortress (contraception was frequently used by the Imperial Family) and that Zytun’s wife, Sorellia, had died giving birth to their only child. While most scholars believe that Drenicus fate was one of happenstance and possibly luck, Drenicus himself believes that Celzar guided the hands of the Imperial Sentinel when he was joined with Seeroth for, inconceivably, the two developed a friendship that would last centuries.

Both the Diary and legend agree that by the time Drenicus reached adulthood, he was not an especially tall man. However, he was not weak or skinny. He is usually represented with squinting eyes and a bald head, although he is almost always represented as having a short, white beard and moustache under a prominent nose.

At what point Drenicus entered into Crin’s Academy is unclear for again, the author does not provide dates or any indication of his age. However, before he does enter the Academy, quite a few things occur. For whatever reason, Drenicus and his sister (with whom he kept contact) were given leave to continue worshipping the god of their people. This was highly unusual as the chief god of Vhendimmoth was Thore Mire. While there were plenty of worshippers of Celzar and Nemaria in the Empire (especially since the time of the Creeping Darkness), the Thrones continued to maintain official power. Although the Dark Emperors weren’t particularly religious men, they saw no reason to anger the Thrones, who had always supported the Scepter. While Drenicus does not state as much, it is believed that this flexibility was granted to him by his master, Seeroth. Drenicus would become a powerful priest of Celzar, although it is unclear if this occurred before, during, or after he entered Crin’s Academy. However, it is clear that he did not enter the Academy before Zytun II abdicated the Scepter to his twin brother, Sycolthor the Grand.

By 980 ADR, Drenicus would join Seeroth on the Quest for Dracovomica. In his diary, Drenicus writes that he was uncomfortable with the Quest. He and Seeroth had spied on Sycolthor’s meetings with various dragon slayers who had answered the Emperor’s call to track down and kill the Great Red Wrath, Morganshium Maximmuth. Seeroth convinced Drenicus and their two friends, Anninarcus and Pandrila, to steal the Dracovomica and use it to slay Morganshium. While Drenicus does not appear concerned about the end result of the Quest, he notes that he recalled feeling that he would never again see his sister. His fears, he writes, would prove correct for, after the Questers defeated Morganshium and discovered the truth behind the flight of dragons bearing down on Vhendimmoth, they would return to Fortens’ Keep in 982 ADR only briefly. Before Drenicus could find his sister, he and the other Sacred were magically removed from the city by Sycolthor. The group reappeared in the town of Mordrain’s Keep far to the north. Unable to use their magic to return to Vhendimmoth, the four were briefly consoled when they discovered that the Emperor had bequeathed to them powerful magic items. However, before the group could travel back to Fortens’ Keep, Sycolthor’s devastation spell destroyed the city and spelled the death of the Last Empire.

Drenicus, along with the other Sacred, would never travel further south than Quasii after the fall of Fortens’ Keep. It is unclear why Drenicus did not attempt to contact the people from whom he was taken when he was a child, but the Diary gives no indication. The Diary does elaborate that the Sacred decided to part ways for a time and that Drenicus spent the time away from his friends traveling the continent-realm. Drenicus traveled north, seeking to increase his dedication to Celzar as well as his power in The Word. For a time, Drenicus lived in Havenspeak and possibly Mandl, although he apparently took pains to maintain a low profile. According to his Diary, Drenicus continued to strengthen his ties to his god. He did not, however, take part in the well established church of Celzar in Havenspeak. The Diary is otherwise very vague until the time that Drenicus rejoins with his friends years later.

The Diary of Drenicus is the only text that offers any indication of when the Sacred made their journey into the Noon Woods. The Diary states that Pandrila the Great had established strong ties with in the Kingdom of Bainland and that the king Frythron Karthrike had just laid his father Corythron to rest. Corythron had finally succumb to wounds he had suffered in the battle against Taltotos Bloodbur and Bainland records hold that he died in 987 ADR. If this information is accurate, the Sacred became immortal before the end of the Age of Darkness. In his Diary, Drenicus writes that he was not particularly interested in the trip. Seeroth, he claimed, believed that they had survived Vhendimmoth in order to bring a new hope to the world and that immortality would allow this. Drenicus (and apparently Anninarcus) feared how this act of hubris would offend the god and affect their minds. Drenicus and Anninarcus were eventually swayed by Pandrila’s argument that with greater power and eternal life, they could play a role in ensuring that what happened to Vhendimmoth would never happen again. Of course, although the four bathed in the “waters” of the Unholy Pool of Immortality, only three escaped the cavern. Drenicus writes that he remained in the Twilight Forest of the Noon Woods for three days, hoping against hope that his friend would eventually emerge. When he did not, Drenicus writes that he abandoned the world and sought for meaning elsewhere.

In the Diary, Drenicus writes that he felt pulled to the north. He wished to be as far from the Noon Woods and the Wynding River Valley as possible. He claims to have spent some time in Ashtur, although there are no records of him even in the Black Hall Library. Still, it is in this time frame that Drenicus experienced one of the events for which he is most famous: his peering into the Realms Beyond.

The passages that dominate the third book of his Diary are among the most contested and debated. According to the text, Drenicus wrote these experiences down either while or shortly after they occurred, revealing that these sections were written well before the rest of the Diary. Xpa the Renown and others scoff at this notion, pointing out that Drenicus would have to kept the original parchments for almost two thousand years before he copied their information into the rest of his text. They also doubt that Drenicus would have been able to write anything at all if the legends about the mirrors are true; the wonder and awe of being exposed to visions that are literally impossible in this world should have struck Drenicus dumb, especially if he were witness to sights like the Procession of Perdition or the Stairway to the Seventh Heaven. However, Dentun suggests that Drenicus’ power as a Sacred would have limited the awe-inspiring power of the mirror and what he would have seen, if not eliminated the threat altogether. Dentun also remarks that Drenicus was both a wizard and priest and could have found the means to keep the parchments in good condition for the future. However, not even Dentun and those that support his theories can explain Xpa’s greatest contention.

The Diary of Drenicus purports that the writer was drawn to Branedeth Horde where a mirror of the realities was kept. Tradition and fact agree that at the time and likely until the end of The Darkhold, Branedeth Horde was a major temple dedicated to the Dark Sovereign, Dauth Alman, and that his greatest redeemers were housed there. Why these redeemers would invite a cleric dedicated to their god’s greatest adversary to peer into their mirror of the realities is a question Xpa believes needs to be satisfactorily answered in order for any credibility to be offered to this portion of the Diary. What could the redeemers, much less Dauth Alman himself, hope to gain by revealing so much information to Drenicus about the Realms Beyond? None, not even Duke Dentun, have offered a meaningful explanation for this question.

Drenicus claims to have peered into all of the known Realms Beyond. Indeed, he claims that he was even able to peer into the realm of Glidian, the personal abode of Celzar himself. The only god he claims to have seen is Dauth Alman himself, although he does note that he did behold Asmodeus, the Overlord of Hell, and the Virtue of Justice in Heaven. It is clear from the text that Drenicus leaves Branedeth Horde filled with a great fear for the world should the forces of darkness ever overwhelm the light of the world. However, in the original Diary, there are entire pages torn out from this section, as well as some blotted passages. There are no hints as to what is missing, although it seems to follow after Drenicus has experienced the various existences.

The Diary of Drenicus stops entirely at this point until it picks up again in the Age of Glory. There is much speculation as to what Drenicus did during this two millennium gap in his Diary. It is known that both The Kingdoms of the Highest Heavens and A History of the Demon Wars appeared in Burquebain at this time and would slowly be promulgated into Ashtur, Xyl, and eventually Mandl. As a result, most scholars presume that Drenicus was conducting research and either expounding upon what he saw in the mirror or else simply exploring the history of the world and his own beliefs about the Heavens. Most are prepared to accept that he spent some time in Burquebain, although there are no records of him forthcoming from the Republic. What is certain is that Drenicus eventually moved south, back into Mandl, where he resumed writing (or, as Xpa suggests, “rewriting”) his Diary.

At what point Drenicus determined to marry is unclear, although he clearly knows his future wife when he begins writing again in 1954 AG. He says that he meets her near Havenspeak and that he ultimately meets her family. He also indicates that he does not reveal his true nature to her, concealing his immortality and his associations with the well known Pandrila the Great in Bainland and the now infamous Seeroth the Dark in Valdeze. She believes him to be a humble, independent priest of Celzar (not unusual at the time) and a farmer. The two married in the spring of 1955 AG.

Mystery has ever surrounded the identity of this woman. Her name is inexplicably blotted out through the entire text as will the names of their children, of whom there were believed to be four. What is known is that Drenicus determined to relocate his family to Quasii at the behest of his old friend Anninarcus the Grim. The two sensed the growing evil in Drm, and the Vast and the northern portions of the Wynding River Valley had heard the whispers of coming war. According to the Diary, Seeroth the Dark had appeared in Drenicus’ home unannounced, frightening his family and revealing at least some of his true nature to his wife. Clearly, Drenicus had long since been aware that his old friend had escaped the cavern and their friendship had been renewed, albeit with certain limitations, including leaving Drenicus and his family out of escapades. Drenicus writes that he was angry at Seeroth for breaking this agreement and that he deafened his ears to the other’s insistence that greatest conflict Drm had yet seen was fast approaching. Drenicus writes that he feared more for his family than he did for the world and that their protection was paramount. Between 1961 and 1965 AG, Drenicus and his family moved to Quasii and what they presumed was safety. He writes that he is confident that Seeroth and Pandrila (clearly he did not assume Anninarcus partaking in further “adventuring”) could handle the threat of T’Oth Maldran. This indicates that Drenicus was well aware of what the world faced with the return of the demilich. Some, like Duke Dentun, speculate that Drenicus had known for some time about the inevitable Darkhold and that the missing pages and blacked out passages in the Diary were in reference to this and other events. Whatever the truth, Drenicus was not destined to save his family.

By 1970 AG, The Darkhold had smothered all of the Lands Under the Crown and reached into the Lands Beyond the Chain. In a reprise of his activities in the Demon Wars, the Demon Prince of Winds, Cabernasus returned to Quasii to finish what he started thousands of years earlier. Quasii became a drunken bloodbath. None were safe from the intoxicated madness of those who fell to the Reveler’s power, not the Dothan of the time and not Drenicus’ family. According to his Diary, the writer’s family fell into a drunken madness as Drenicus watched impotent to do anything to stave off the god’s power. Drenicus realized that he had to respond directly to Cabernasus, who had bodily manifested in the ruins of the Temple of Winds. After calling on the other Sacred, Drenicus stormed the Temple and, with his allies, confronted the Carnal Prince. In a tremendous battle, the Sacred managed to drive Cabernasus away, but it was too late. When Drenicus returned to his home, his family lay dead, killed either from the wine they drank or from a maddened, self inflicted wounds. Only one child remained, although its gender has never been determined. Driven into grief-stricken rage, Drenicus writes that he was to blame for he knew what was coming, what darkness was capable of doing, and that he did nothing. When Seeroth called the Sacred to gather powerful adventurers from across Drm, Drenicus did not hesitate to join him. He placed his remaining child in the Grim Towers. Of this act, Drenicus writes that he did not want to leave his remaining child behind, but that he had to right the wrong he had created by casting Cabernasus back into The Abyss.

Drenicus would participate in many of the greatest adventures of the Heroes of Noon, but none of their adventures would be as impressive as his final journey. Throughout The Darkhold, Drenicus sought out carnal priests and their master, offering no quarter and certainly not expecting any. Always, Cabernasus, in a gleeful chase apparently, escaped before they could banish him back to The Abyss (something they accomplished with all the remaining Demon Princes save Cabernasus and Ostensis). The Heroes had managed to acquire a number of Spheres, including the Sphere of Paths (or Realities or Planes depending on the source). In the winter of 1990 AG, the Heroes learned that Cabernasus had taken refuge somewhere near Mandl where the group hastened. However, Drenicus, after communing with Celzar, learned precisely where Cabernasus was hidden. While he told his remaining allies (Pandrila had already fallen to Hallucimain and Arien Shadow was lost to the Sinking Sands of the Great Kharsis Desert) that Cabernasus was sure to be hidden near Thorn’s Keep north of Mandl, he said he wanted to see his child one last time before joining them. The others did not think to question Drenicus nor did they notice that he had taken the Sphere of Paths. While the others made their way to Thorn’s Keep, Drenicus writes that he did return to Grim Towers to see his child where he would leave his Diary. This would be the last passage before Drenicus went to face Cabernasus in Solacepoint. The final confrontation between Cabernasus and Drenicus is one of the greatest tales across Drm. According to the stories told by those who were near the ruins of the temple in which Cabernasus took refuge, Drenicus confronted the god and swore to avenge the murder of his and many other families. Cabernasus laughed in response and offered Drenicus a drink. The battle raged from that point onward. Drenicus was clearly outmatched by the god (who, according to Dentun’s rankings, was a third tier being, just shy of the great, fourth tier) and, even with his powerful weapons and the aid of celestial servants, was swiftly overwhelmed. Although the Demon Prince of Winds probably didn’t know that Drenicus had the Sphere, Drenicus must not have wanted to risk revealing it until the proper time for, if he failed, Cabernasus would have had the Sphere and untold woe would have threatened the world. Finally cast down, Drenicus saw his chance. Before Cabernasus could claim victory Drenicus revealed the Sphere of Paths and called on its power. Even as Cabernasus was dragged screaming and writhing into The Abyss, he called on the remainder of his divine might and destroyed everything within 100 feet, including Drenicus the Wise. By the time the Heroes of Noon realized what had happened and made their way to Solacepoint, what was left of Drenicus had long since been blown to the four winds and only the Sphere remained.

It is said that Seeroth the Dark returned to the Grim Towers where he took Drenicus’ child and his Diary after The Darkhold. The disposition of Drenicus’ child has never been determined, although it is possible that the child lived well under the guidance of Seeroth the Dark, wherever he is. What prompted the Last Emperor to make the Diary available to all is unknown. Needless to say, aside from Seeroth, Drenicus is the best known and beloved of the Sacred. Many wonder what the world would be like now if he were still alive.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.