It is my hope that this book survives to tell the world of the subject of its title, namely the mysterious city of Stragosa and the people that dwell within it, but if history is any indicator I am indulging in a futile exercise of vanity. The city has existed for an unknown period of time, but no records exist of a settlement in that northwestern corner of Gotha, either at the Parliamentary University of Port Melandir or anywhere else in the Throne to my knowledge.
Reports coming out of the city indicate the ruins are very old, and perhaps with an unknown number of layers of ruins beneath the surface. Is it possible that a city so unknowably old could escape notice for all of recorded history? I think such things impossible, save for either divine intervention, malign urgings, or sorcery. Human nature indicates curiosity would discover such a place and make a note somewhere for it to be found by others were it not somehow protected from such pryings. Which does beg the question: why now? What powers have allowed this place once hidden to be discovered in this time, and to what end? Has it happened before? I’ve a notion it has.
Perhaps such questions, too, are futile to ask but I intend to ask them all the same. If this book ends up like doubtless so many others on some pyre for containing dark secrets not meant for man to know I will rest easy in my grave knowing that I lay my fingers upon fate and tried to move her. I am on a mission to document Stragosa as it is and was in the past without obfuscation, that others might understand it clearly.
For me to accomplish this with any efficacy you must trust in me, my intentions, and my ability to accomplish the task I have taken up. I, Narcisse Lamothe, was born in the lands Bouclair in Capacionne and raised by agents of the Guild Dextera Inflammatio, as my father was among the paragons of that order of magicians. I was issued a stellar classical education to rival the finest noble tutelage in hopes that I might follow in my fathers footsteps, but I was instead taken by the arts and moved to Port Melandir to expand my education. There I excelled, completing the Trivium and Quadrivium in a mere two years, and earning the title Master of the Seven Liberal Arts. For another year I taught basic courses to the newest students while pursuing my own interests, primarily the studies relating to the human mind and human behavior both individually and in groups.
As my year teaching there came to a close I realized that I could either remain there and make a good life for myself instructing others, or I could accomplish new feats in the studies of my passion. I decided on the latter, and so headed to Stromburg where I had several former students and companions who knew me well and could assist me in preparing for my journey. It was there in discussions with a good friend of mine, Robert of Stromburg, that the topic of Stragosa first arose and an interest turned to a drive to find answers.
Tales drift across the mountains of Stragosa as it is; a melting pot of cultures from every corner of the Throne and beyond it. No small number of Rogalian and Gothic Noble Houses have representatives there, but I hear tell of a Prince of Capacionne, a Princess of Hestralia, and even a son of the Padishah Emperor of Sha’ra. All dance upon the graves of thousands, perhaps unknowable millions that came before them, and so Night Malefic walk more commonly there than any other land on God’s Earth. And the reason so many come from so far and bear so great a burden of black sorrow? An artifact known as the Miracle, a slab of stone known to return the dead to life.
I come to this place with no preconceptions, and will record every aspect of my significant encounters with the people, entities, and places of Stragosa as I experience them to the best of my ability. I expect I will encounter individuals of every class and culture to garner their unique perspectives on the present state of the city. I will seek out those who have seen it at each significant event known to us, from its discovery and first settlement to the present day. Further, I expect if stories have traveled as far as the University of layers of ruins beneath the first, there are those delving into those ruins I could speak to in order to discover elements of the cities history before our involvement I would doubtless wish to encounter. Beyond that I will of course record any events of significance I experience in my time there, in order that this text may be not only a record of second hand tales, but a primary source written by a critical academic.
That said, I write this before I cross the mountains, and cannot say what adversity I will meet once there. They say the mountain pass is frozen over at this time of year, but I will not allow this to stop me. I have been told there is a trail guide that knows of a goat path they have used in previous winters to escort travelers to the city on foot. Though I am loathe to leave my carriage behind, adventure waits for no man and I will not be left behind for want of creature comforts.
One last note, and perhaps a somewhat morbid one. If you are reading this text and it comes to an end with no conclusion, only an abrupt stop with little in way of explanation, you must assume I have passed before completing my work. Stragosa is notoriously dangerous, awash in monsters, heretics, and wicked souls. If I fall to any such beast and do not complete my work, I ask you pray for my soul, and that someone else might take up the torch and finish my work. Let curiosity and a sincere desire for truth drive us into a more complete understanding of the mysteries of the world and our fellow man.