When Val had earlier scrutinized Lorel's room from the outside, his keen observation had led him to the discovery of a diary carefully stashed inside the bedside table.

Given that the room was Lorel's personal space, it was logical to conclude that the diary belonged to him.

As for why he was keeping a diary, it wasn't too hard to come to a conclusion.

In this era, the absence of mobile phones and similar technology meant that people often resorted to more traditional means of recording and remembering important information. Some even treated it as their hobby.

Not to mention, in a world devoid of digital notepads, diaries served a crucial function. They were more than just repositories for personal reflections or the indulgence of those who kept diaries as a hobby. Even individuals who did not habitually jot down their thoughts or experiences found themselves relying on these physical mediums for recording critical information. This was especially true for details too vital to risk forgetting—plans, contacts, secrets, and in the case of someone like Lorel, potentially incriminating evidence or clandestine activities.

Thus, stumbling upon Lorel's diary was potentially akin to discovering a treasure trove of insights into his mind and activities.

'A diary can be a window into the workings of a person's life during an era when sensitive and private information was typically locked away in the pages bound by leather, hidden in the privacy of one's quarters. Going through Lorel's diary should prove worthwhile,' Val thought as acting on the information he possessed, he opened the drawer of the bed side table and pulled out the diary.

He didn't open it immediately, thinking that he might activate a trap, causing the diary to get destroyed.

For Val, this diary was not just a collection of pages; it was a key that could unlock many mysteries surrounding Lorel and perhaps even broader secrets of the dark cult he was a part of. He couldn't afford to lose it. So he couldn't help but treasure it and behave cautiously.

He first used his skill to make sure it was fine to open it.

After he confirmed it was safe, he began flipping through its pages with a growing sense of urgency. As he went through the pages, his eyes widened and his stoic and calm expression shifted to one of surprise. The content of the diary revealed a myriad of wicked and shocking secrets.

Written in the first person, Lorel's entries began with a recount of his past.

"I, Lorel, hail from the once-esteemed house of Vanthorpe.

"I was destined to inherit my family's legacy as the eldest son. However, fate dealt me a cruel hand.

"My father perished in the last Eternal Winter during the war with the Empire.

"In the wake of his death, my stepmother, driven by greed and malice, conspired with officials of the Strongbone Stronghold. Her goal was to usurp the inheritance my father had left behind, a fortune that rightfully belonged to my mother and me. She first sourced a deadly poison from the officials themselves, those who were supposed to uphold justice yet were easily swayed by the lure of wealth and power.

"She then used this poison to meticulously and covertly assassinate my innocent and easy-going mother. My mother, unsuspecting of the evil that lurked within her own home, fell victim to this sinister plot. I, devastated by her sudden death, began to suspect foul play. My suspicions eventually led me to the truth, but by then, it was too late for any form of justice or retribution. 𝐟𝗿𝐞𝐞𝘄𝐞𝗯𝐧𝗼𝘃𝐞𝗹.𝗰𝗼𝐦

"Upon discovering that I had unraveled her nefarious scheme, my stepmother acted swiftly and ruthlessly. I was brutally attacked, and rendered unconscious by a blow to the head. In my helpless state, I was wrapped in a sack like mere cargo and tossed into the frigid river. It was intended for me to become nothing more than feed for the aquatic monsters that lurked beneath the surface. I closed my eyes in resignation.

"But fate, it seemed, had other plans for me. The icy embrace of the river was not to be my end. I was rescued from the clutches of death, only to be introduced to a world far darker than I could have ever imagined."

"I was saved by a peculiar and eccentric fellow. A crackhead if I may say, who later revealed himself to be a follower of Draugrath. He extended an invitation to a world beyond my wildest imaginations, a world where I, a normie, didn't need to be on the losing and painful end of the stick. Desperate for vengeance and power, I inquired if his path could lead me to retribution against those who wronged me.

"'Yes,' the cultist affirmed without hesitation.

"It was at that moment, driven by a burning desire for revenge, that I forsake humanity and pledged my allegiance to Draugrath."

Lorel's diary unraveled further into the abyss of the cult's dark world, each page steeped in mystery and horror. As Val continued to read, he was drawn deeper into the sinister underbelly of the cult's activities.

The diary detailed the cult's structure and the hierarchy within. The cult, named The Shadowed Brethren of Draugrath, operated in layers of secrecy and complexity. The lowest ranks were mere pawns, their primary role being to lure potential followers into Draugrath's grasp. These initiates often had no idea of the true nature of the cult or the depth of its depravity.

The mid-ranking members, to which Lorel quickly ascended, were tasked with more ominous missions. They were responsible for creating abyssal portals, gateways that bridged the realm of the living with the abyss. These portals were key to the cult's agenda, serving as conduits for Draugrath's influence to seep into the world.

The highest echelon of the cult was comprised of the Dark Priests. These elite members presided over sacrificial ceremonies, kidnapping rare and unique individuals to offer to Draugrath as tributes. These ceremonies were grotesque rituals, where the veil between worlds thinned, and the abyss's dark energies were at their most potent.

Lorel wrote of an invitation he had received to participate in one such ceremony. "I have been honored," he penned, "to partake in a ceremony of great significance. It is scheduled for the early days of October, on the 3rd, at the witching hour. The location is aptly chosen - the Land of the Dead, a place where the veil between realms is naturally thin."

The purpose of this ceremony was monumental and chilling: the descent of Draugrath into the real world. It was a pivotal event for the cult, one that would mark a significant shift in the balance of power between the darkness of the abyss and the world of the living.

Lorel's anticipation was palpable in his writing. He described the preparations, the gathering of necessary artifacts, and the careful selection of the sacrificial victims.

Val closed the diary, his mind racing with the implications of what he had just read.

The existence of such a cult, operating in the shadows and plotting the descent of an abyssal entity, was a threat of an unimaginable scale. The ceremony, set to occur in mere days, posed an immediate and dire risk. Val knew that action had to be taken - the Shadowed Brethren of Draugrath had to be stopped, and their plan to bring Draugrath into the world thwarted. The stakes had never been higher.