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Many songs have been penned about the all-entrancing ruby known as the sacrifice of the steadfast, but two rang clearest in the minds of that band of explorers as they scaled Skull’s Peak that bloody year.

The first such song is the tragedy of a man who, for all the faith he had, may well have been a boy. And that boy, having forgotten his wife, lay with another; and the fates punished him dearly for his transgression, for from that union was made his bane: a baby girl. And that girl, though forsaken by her true family, found nurture and care in the arms of the cook. And that cook, who surely deserved better, met her untimely end when the girl sacrificed her to the ruby, thus becoming God. And that God, who was as wicked as she was just, slew the boy for his crimes.

The second such song is the tragedy of Frederick, a man who was more a machine -- or, as the lyrics tell us, a machine who was more a man. Frederick was tasked with the protection of the Free City Gyro, when it still glad above all, but through his schemes and his failures his home was struck from the heavens, only to be spared from absolute desolation by the love of God. The fates punished him dearly, erasing his mortality and turning him to a dragon-lord, condemned to watch over the Free City for all eternity from his Scorian lair. Seeing that he might himself play God, Frederick blessed this wonderful world with a ruby of his own creation, and challenged all the mortals of all the realms to scale Skull’s Peak: for if they, in their hubris, would climb higher than the airships fly, and if they, in their hubris, would give up all whom they have loved, they too deserve to lose their humanity.

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