Taras writes "At one time the Bakluni painter Al-Yasin was among the most reknowned and acclaimed artists in the south of Aerdy. He was famed for his landscapes and his renditions of religious scenes, many of which still awe viewers hundreds of years after his death. Later in his life, the painter underwent a change, becoming more eccentric and withdrawing from the world, until he finally disappeared, leaving behind five scrolls, which may have recorded the final journey of this visionary painter.
Author: Taras Guarhoth
The Scrolls of Al-Yasin
by Taras Guarhoth (email@example.com)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Several hundred years ago, when Aerdy was still strong and ruled all the way to the Fals Gap, the painter known as Al-Yasin came to the Sud Graufult from the lands far to the north and west. He came from the lands of the Bakluni, but rarely offered even hints about his past, or his journey into the south of Aerdy. What is known is that he converted to the faith of Pholtus, and followed a very strict version of it's teachings fanatically in his daily life.
Among the followers of the Imperial Pholtine churches, Al-Yasin was considered to be too strict and too Orthodox. He even refused to allow himself to be seen in public, going about in full, hooded robes, with a veil covering his face and gloves over his hands at all times, even in the hottest of weather, based on an obscure passage in the Book of Arnd. Despite this, he was tolerated in polite society because he was a brilliant painter, and his works grace cathedrals and the homes of nobles from Pontylver to Irongate even today.
As he aged, he retreated from society to an isolated tower in the Glorioles, refusing to let anyone but his servants inside to speak to him. He continued to paint, though, and some of these paintings from his isolation do show up among the galleries of the nobility, although not as frequently as his earlier paintings. His works became darker, with hints of corruption and evil. Most of the works from this period of his life have disappeared completely, though, stolen from the homes of scholars and nobles, and never resurfacing.
It is widely believed that his isolation and strict religious beliefs drove Al-Yasin mad, and he probabily threw himself from a mountaintop, although his body was never found. The truth of his fate is unknown. All that was found was his final work, a set of five painted scrolls in his studio at the top of his tower.
After the presumed death of Al-Yasin, the five scrolls were sold, each to a different collector, noble, or scholar, and ended up scattered across the Sud Graufult. Over the intervening years, they have dropped from public view, being passed along in trades, and rarely remaining in one place for long. It is believed that all five of the scrolls are still to be found somewhere in the Sud Graufult, but their exact locations aren't known.
The five scrolls each contain six different paintings upon them, which when taken together seem to detail the journey of a heavily robed figure through the mountains to a remote valley, and from there through some ancient ruin and into a set of caves and tunnels, descending far beneath the face of the Oerth. The last scroll ends with the figure entering some kind of dark underground temple, with an omnious idol and a glowing portal between it's legs. Each of the scrolls is signed below the final illustration with Al-Yasin's name in the curving script of the Bakluni.
The First Scroll of Al-Yasin
The first scroll in the series, this depicts the start of the journey. The first picture depicts the inside of Al-Yasin's tower, with the robed figure prostate before an altar of Pholtus known to have been well used by the eccentric painter. The figure then leaves the tower and crosses several vallies and peaks within the Glorioles. This scroll is the most highly sought after of the five, for it depicts stunning vistas of the Glorioles, and some of the mountains and vallies can be pinpointed on a map easily.
The Second Scroll of Al-Yasin
Beginning in an unknown valley, this scroll shows the robed figure coming upon a ruined structure and searching for a chamber that has it's floor covered in runes and glyphs, which the figure copies down. He then climbs out of the valley and makes his way up the peak of a mountain looming above the ruins.
The Third Scroll of Al-Yasin
This scroll starts out with the figure atop a mountain peak, carving unknown runes into a set of stone tablets. The figure then descends into a forested valley and makes his way to a pool of water, from which he is chased by indistinct and unseen creatures through the woods to the mouth of a cavern, which he enters in the final painting on this scroll.
The Fourth Scroll of Al-Yasin
Picking up the journey in the caverns, this scroll's illustrations show the robed figure, still carrying the tablets in his backpack, making his way through natural caverns dripping with water and ichor deeper into the groud. The final picture shows the figure descending an ancient stairway spiraling deeper into unknown and murky depths.
The Fifth Scroll of Al-Yasin
The last scroll known to be in the series, the first five pictures on it depict a journey through catacombs carved by inhuman hands, the walls covered in strange hieroglyphics and pictures, and bizarre half-seen statues in niches. The final painting shows a shadowy temple, with a large statue at one end of it depicting what looks like some unknown fiendish entity. The previously mentioned glowing portal can be seen between it's legs. In all six, the robed figure clutches a pack containing the tablets from the Third Scroll.
The Sixth Scroll of Al-Yasin?
Despite the fact that a sixth scroll has never been found, it has been theorized that a sixth scroll was created, and disappeared with Al-Yasin, or was intended to be created. The only evidence for this is that the first picture on the first scroll depicts the start of the journey, but the sixth picture on the fifth scroll does not depict the end of the journey. Collectors of Al-Yasin's work would surely pay good money for the sixth scroll, if it did exist, as would scholars who wish to study it, believing that the journey depicted is a real one.
Note: CthulhuHawk, Sud Graufult"