A/N: Since the Exile/Avernum series is so huge, disclaimers will be by chapter. Those familiar with the games will note that I am mixing things from the games, as I find the 6-person party of the Exile series allows for more intraparty interaction, while the sidequests of the Avernum series provide for more adventure. Thralni and all other members of the First Expedition, the caves of Avernum, Pergies, the lizardmen (who we will later come to know as slithzerikai) are property of Jeff Vogel and Spiderweb Software. I'll put them back in the game, unharmed, when I'm finished. Sigrid and the scrying brooches are mine (well, not entirely, see if you recognize them when you see them again).

Some names are destined for the history books, some are fated for obscurity. Yet it can be that even those whose names and lives were lost to the mists of obscurity can have had an impact which changed the course of history.

The miner near Pergies was one whose name had been forgotten. He had discovered the network of caves deep below the surface--how he had gotten down so far was anyone's guess; how he had survived to return and relate what he had found was another. And now five months had passed since, with great fanfare, the First Expedition descended into the caves which that miner had discovered.

There would never be fanfare for Sigrid--a simple apprentice mage in those days, dressed in the blue robes that marked her rank, bound for the year of spelled silence which honed the mind, preparing it for the esoteric study of magecraft. Important people like Thralni, like Karzoth, like the heroes of the First Expedition should not be bothered with needing to find a way to get reports back to the surface, and so it had been devised. Five simple-looking brooches had been devised, seeming to be no more than a fastener to close a cloak, yet each linked directly to the pools in five marble basins which Sigrid kept watch over.

As events played out--what the First Expedition saw, Sigrid watched, and kept her notes, written in the careful handwriting of the young who have not yet learned to hurriedly scrawl, but careful and neat--the letters matching each other in size and roundness almost perfectly.

Another cave. Only the one brooch still functioned, four pools had gone dim. There had been a rather long journey through twisted passages with waterfalls. Not huge waterfalls, perhaps, but the scene had been nearly enough to make Sigrid lose her lunch while watching. 'Perhaps,' she reflected, 'it was easier for adventurers. They saw such terrible things that a stomach-jarring trip down a waterfall must be nothing.'

Not that Sigrid thought the life of an adventurer preferable to her own. Before the other pools had gone dim, she had seen how the others died--demons, dragons, lizardmen with horrible two-tined spears--only one in ten was still alive of the First Expedition. And now they were in another cave, and a strange lizard ... she watched as the last surviving members of the First Expedition turned to stone under the gaze of the lizard, and then this last pool, too, went blank.The last of the First Expedition is dead, she wrote. They were slain by a lizard whose appearance seemed to turn them to stone. With the deaths of all of the First Expedition, who were surely the most talented explorers that Empire has known, it seems the only conclusion is that these caves are entirely unsuitable for settlement. However, perhaps a use could be found. she wrote. She paused, biting the end of her quill, as she remembered a neighbor who had had a rather unwholesome fondness for ... She pushed that thought away, and resumed writing, For those soft crimes, it has often been said that death is too harsh a punishment, yet the dogs return to their vomit when released. Perhaps if they were placed somewhere from which there was no return, the security of Empire would be enhanced, while mercy might be shown to those who threaten our very way of life, even if they shrink from the capital offenses.

And so it was that Sigrid, the forgotten mage-apprentice, set into motion the creation of Avernum.