In the six years following the events of the first Altaera campaign, the world has changed drastically. The sorcerer Chance has established himself as the Emperor of Umbria, radically altering the nation’s political power and otherwise casting out the traditions of the old empire, undertaking a national revolution. Alhorvale has returned to life, entering no treaties or pacts with the human kingdoms save one: the ritual delivery of magical armaments to the armies of every country, in exchange for a promise to refrain from war. The four great noble families of Umbria, disenfranchised by their new sovereign, have gathered to form a rival state, while the Greymen have emerged as a substantial military force to claim the territories that compose the Grey Kingdom. Religious panic has spread across the world the light of Halos has been seemingly extinguished, with streaks of day and night interlocking across the sky to form the Twilight. Clerics of Halos appear to have lost the ability to commune with their deity, while inversely the activity of Scourge cults has drastically increased. In order to combat this, the reformed and expanded branch of the old Umbrian order of Halosian knights has been rebranded as the Knights Memorial, operating out of the holy city of Memory.
Atta, having completed her pilgrimage to the six Great Temples of the world, has heard word of the holy city’s construction and resolved to investigate it herself. Mar has stopped to see the city as a curiosity while traveling northward with a friend. Val has come to the southernmost city she has ever seen in pursuit of her lost sister, while Fable and Velken have followed the trail of the famous cleric.
Through a combination of luck and guilt-by-association, the five are assumed to be traveling companions of Atta, and invited to an audience with Jacobi, grand master of the Knights Memorial. He attempts to request the cleric’s assistance in dealing with a fresh outbreak of bizarre and likely cult-related deaths, yet is repeatedly interrupted by the arrival of important guests: first Able, the self-proclaimed representative of a society of mages, and later a Giftbearer, appearing empty-handed and out of season.
Jacobi informs the group that the influence of this suspected cult appears to be worldwide, but the knights have found that its worst effects appear to be concentrated in the southern portion of the continent, particularly in Old Umbria. The name “Guisehelm” has also been reported, perhaps as a leader or central false god of the organization. Atta lends credence to this belief, recalling that the word has circulated in religious texts (albeit with dwindling frequency) for over three hundred years, most anciently in relation to a person. Although impossible to confirm, the group suspects the outbreak to be the work of an immensely powerful dark cleric.
Able provides more specific details, stating that her organization (“the Veil”) has been thrown into internal chaos by this Guisehelm’s emergence. She claims that a number of her colleagues have entered into an alliance with this figure, lending the suspected cult the additional power of what are quite possibly the world’s foremost sorcerers. She is able to confirm, however, that Guisehelm is in Old Umbria, and furthermore suspected in the capital city of Stonesmouth. The location is an unsurprising but ideal one, as the Knights maintain a very weak presence there due to governmental opposition. Able also implies that the presence of her colleagues prevents her from acting overtly, and that their preventative measures have rendered most of her arcane tools rather useless. Atta’s assistance is requested in dealing with this threat, as she is considered something of a spiritual hero whose strength would be greatly appreciated in combating Scourge influence (while, to clarify, by no means being the sole and only hope). Atta accepts, and a variety of deals are struck amongst the prematurely assumed companions. Either through exchanges of favors, national obligation, or simply sharing a road for the short term, the five agree to travel together, and set out for the Old Umbrian border.