Those that travel the desert speak of the wondrous and bizarre creatures and events that they encounter. Some of these chance meetings are commonplace amongst travelers, while others are rare enough to be discussed in hushed whispers around the evening fires for years to come. One thing only is certain - that the nature of the Wastes is as ever-changing as the sands themselves.
However, these fairy stories are simply too fantastic to be believed.
Some say that our people came from the sea and that the sea kept us safe when the great fires roamed the winds. I don't know how much truth there is in this, but I do know that the Great Salt is a strong lure to humankind. The ocean seems to reach out with watery tendrils to draw creatures to its bosom. Too many travel the sands along the edge of the large water.
The Vault Dweller was the one who selected the location of our village, behind a large, dry valley. The surrounding lands are barren and of little interest to the casual traveler. Often, the best way to remain safe is to be in a place that excites little interest in the eyes of others.
Many places left to us from the beforetimes hold objects that, while once common enough, are now quite rare. Some of these rarities are of unusual beauty and usefulness. However, other places hold only the legacy of violence and death. These areas should be shunned by the wise - the foolish are warned of their hazards. In many cases, it is not always clear what kind of place one has stumbled upon and in those places of unknown risk, the need for even greater caution is tantamount.
People beyond the Great Bridge, which separates our village from the world, seem to find immense satisfaction in collecting scraps and leavings from the time before the great fires. Somehow, this link to the past gives them comfort. Our Tribe is different in that we gain our happiness from forging new beginnings and we gain our security in relying upon our abilities, rather than artifacts from a time gone by. However, for all that, to travel the Wastes one must adopt, to some degree, the ways and objects of those who make their homes there. The things of the beforetimes may poison your soul if you rely upon them - but because they will help you survive, they are needed.
I have noticed that those of our tribe who would travel beyond the Great Bridge of our village share similar qualities. They seek paths beyond the trails trodden from village to pasture, and to field and back. More than that, those restless souls that survive and return to us seem to have an inner focus that gives them strength in time of need. This focus, I am convinced, is what separates those who return to us from those, who return only to the bosom of our ancestors.
In small communities, such as our village, neighbors know one another and share a sense of responsibility for the common good. It seems that the more people who accumulate in an area, the greater the tendency is for those people to become fractious and prone to violence. No greater proof of this tendency is needed than the glowing craters that now exist where once overcrowded cities stood. Beware of too great a concentration of people in any one place - it makes us more dangerous to one another than ever.
Know that our tribe is not alone in the Wastes. Many strange and dangerous creatures live just beyond the Great Bridge. Some, although of unusual visage, are friendly to our kind, but most are best treated with caution. If you travel the Wastes, remember the exile of our revered ancestor, who was cast out by his own kind from the Vault of the Holy 13. Indeed, many of the fearsome creatures almost defy description, but the most monstrous by far, and the most dangerous, is man.
Many of our people listen to the travellingmerchants as they spin fantastic tales of entire cities still as large as those from the beforetimes. As though these wanderers had not already stretched the bounds of credulity far enough, they go on to tell those who would listen that these cities are filled not with people, but with strange creatures that barely resemble us. They say also that these creatures were once men, but are no longer; instead, they're cursed to spend their years as monstrous creatures. Strange are the things that I have seen, and true enough is humankind's self-brought curse of radiation.
The tools of destruction were too heavily relied upon in the beforetimes. Fascination with the wares of death's pleasure must have consumed our forefathers, judging from the destruction they wrought upon one another and our home. The nature of mankind has not changed so much since then that weapons are unnecessary. I, however, hope that our people continue to find more utility in the tools of life, rather than the instruments of death.
I have heard tales that some are trying to resurrect the past. Not only do they seek to reclaim lost technology, they also seek to reclaim lost ways. I fear following in the footsteps of the past. I fear that the ways we dealt with our problems, and one another, in the past did not lead humanity to a better end. Some of the paths these people follow would best remain lost. I am afraid of reviving too much of what was.
Our young hunters and warriors have much to learn about the world around them. The Wastes are vast and unforgiving. Teaching will give our young ones knowledge, if they heed my tired words, but only time will give them wisdom. I pray that the spirits give them the time they need.
Most of our village's hunters wend their way through the trackless Wastes by following the wind, sun and stars. Other swear they can find their way by watching the movements of animals and insects. But there are a few - all too few - who increase our Tribe's understanding of the world for future generations. The maps that our hunters and traders have created are just as much a part of our Tribe's wealth as the hides of the prized Golden Geckos upon which the maps are painstakingly drawn.
One can save us. The call of the Vault Dweller's blood must run strong enough in one who would reveal themself as the Chosen One. Far and far must the Chosen travel to save our people. New, built on the bones of the old, conceals our future as well as our past. Only the One can bring the spirit of plenty bactto our Tribe. Only the One can sift the prize from the grip of the dead sands. The Chosen must bring out salvation - or we will surely perish.
Truly, you are the Chosen One. It is to you that we turn as our Arroyo - our village, our home - faces its hour of greatest need. In all the years since our ancestor, the Vault Dweller, founded Arroyo, our people have known hardship many times. But never before has our village suffered so long a period of trial. The wells are almost dry, crops wither in the fields, the old and the young alike sicken, and our brahmin are dying.
We have one hope, Chosen One - a object spoken of in the sacred text of our ancestor. It is the birthright of our people, the Garden of Eden Creation Kit, the wondrous GECK. Only that can save us now.
Listen Chosen, and I will tell you a tale of your people, that you may learn the promise of the GECK. When your ancestor was cast from the Vault of the Holy 13 over 80 years ago, he and others who would escape the tyranny of the Vault of the Holy 13 traveled north. For months they journeyed through the beast-haunted radioactive Wastes left from the great burn in the beforetimes, to distance themselves from the Vault. Finally, they came to a fertile valley nestled behind a deep gorge, our Arroyo. Here they settled, and our people prospered on this land. The Vault of the Holy 13, which your people had left behind, was remembered only in the shrine of your ancestor. The Vault Suit, the holy Vault Dweller's Survival Guide, and other sacred artifacts were nearly forgotten but for festival days.
Now, though, things are different. Your people suffer, and the Elders have turned to the holy Vault Dweller's Survival Guide for help in these dark times. The sacred text mentions the Garden of Eden Ceation Kit -- an amazing device from the beforetimes that can turn any land into an earthly paradise. We cannot last much longer without the salvation that the GECK promises. Although the Holy 13 abandoned our ancestor, they cannot turn their backs on us now.
You shall wear the mystic Vault Suit of our ancestor with the holy "13" emblazoned upon it so that they will recognize you as the rightful heir to the promise of the GECK. You must travel the Wastes to find the Vault of the Holy 13 and then demand the GECK. This is the only way our people may yet be saved.
I believe in you, Chosen One. However, others need evidence of your worthiness to be our emissary to the Holy 13. You must brave the Temple of Trials to prove yourself to those, who would question my choice of you as our savior. I have no doubt that you will show yourself to be a worthy champion for our village.
Once you pass the Temple trials, you will need wisdom that only experience can give you. There is no time for you to learn all that you need to know on your own, so I will to give you what help I can. I have read the holy Vault Dweller's Survival Guide as well as other tomes saved from the fires of the beforetimes. Our village's own record, the Book of the Elders, also contains great wisdom. When our people's wisdom may help you, I will offer it. Our ancestors and I will guide you as best we can.
Fear not, Chosen One - the strength of the Vault Dweller runs strong in your veins. I know that you shall not fail us. Your quest begins.
The story of the Chosen One is an example to our people. The Chosen One's travels and adventures in the strange lands of the Wastes beyond the great bridge may seem strange to you. Indeed, much of what the Chosen encountered was bizarre almost beyond telling. But listen, and I will tell you a tale - a tale such as has never been told of one from our village. Listen, and I will tell you the story of the Chosen One.