Elaejia (prime)/2023-05-20 - Lost in the Mist (Player-Run Storyline Arc)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Lost in the Mist

Author: Elaejia Silithyr Loenthra

OOC Note: The Lost in the Mist player-run storyline took place between April and May of 2023. It was written and conceived by the players of Uniana and Teveriel Anduin, and this page is a consolidation of Elaejia's experience in that arc.

Commissioned art of Elaejia Silithyr - Arts Graphic Prints. Copyright: User:LUNATUNES

Evening One

Gilded Talon Consortium Announcement ~ On the evening of Charlatos the 10th, there will be a mandatory fleet inspection of all vessels moored in Mistwatch that fly the under the Gilded Talon flag. Please have your ship out and make sure to inform one of the chairs that you are participating in the inspection. We will begin half past eight in the evening.

Storyline Event Recap: After an inspection of some of the ships moored in Mistwatch, the group retired to the newly opened Spirit of the Mists for socialization. Then an agent of the Gilded Talon found Lord Anduin and informed him that a ship from the fleet was over their arrival time by an entire day. The Gilded Talon is asking all allies to keep their eyes on the seas open for the "Carmine Triumph" a merchant-class carrack vessel, crafted of pine with a dark red wash along the waveline. Captained by Seveintine Marest, it is rumored that they may have hit bad weather after departing from Loenthra.

  • Elaejia hears about the loss of the Gilded Talon vessel, and makes a note to keep abreast of the details of this event as it unfolds. Heavily involved with intercity trade, the Silithyrs have a strong interest in understanding the perils and risks of the business.
  • Aboard the deck of the Spirit of the Mists, several Elves from around the western City-States are curious as well, and offer to assist in the search effort.
  • Elaejia learns that a shipment of items she was herself expecting is among those lost with the Carmine Triumph. She and Aendir attempt to increase the likelihood that their items will be recovered by offering a large reward.
  • Elaejia begins her own contribution to the search by seeking information from her network of informers. Several letters fly among the interested parties.

To Elaejia, from Gwynek

11 Olest. 5123
Dear Elaejia Silithyr,
I am Gwynek, member of the Gilded Talon Consortium, seeker of the Carmine Triumph and its cargo. I was wondering if you could furnish further details about the vase or other antiques? Physical description, provenance, etc. Further - are you aware of any connection between these antiques and the Ilyan Cloud - it's crew, or it's merchants?
Thank you for your time.

Letter to Gwynek

In the Elven language, it reads:

14th Olaesta, 5123

Master Gwynek,

Firstly, allow me to render my thanks for your assistance in this matter, which is of course very important to my family.  I am as anxious to discover the fate of the Carmine Triumph as the Gilded Talon, and with luck recover my shipment.  This is the description of the vase for which my fiancee has offered a reward provided to me before the lot was packaged - 'a vase of fine porcelain, traced with labyrinthine patterns in cobalt.'

As to its provenance, that is shrouded in mystery -- doubtless to the delight of the sellers, who were sure to mention this at every opportunity during the negotiations.  The full lot of missing pieces were intended for an exhibition at the Illithien Aerie entitled "Ruminations/Fixations" and all had some thematic relation to using art to look at once inward and outward.  I will give you an example of the flights of fancy that surround the vase--

This tale concerns a couple, star-crossed.  A collector owned the vase, and his lover became convinced that by re-creating the labyrinth under the right conditions and following the path, she could unlock a great power or ability within her mind.  She traced it so many times upon the vase that she memorized it, and stole away in the night, obsessed.  Her lover followed her trail and, desperate to save her from her madness, sought to understand it by tracing the labyrinth himself.  He visited seers who insisted his lover was lost, but refused to believe, insisting he saw her in the stars, until finally he saw his lover's impending death in his fevered dreams.

He lost all but the tiniest spark of hope, and waited for one last night, tracing the labyrinth.  Finally, there at the end, he unlocked the promised power of the labyrinth, finding her body at its heart, too late, and her shade, which scorned him -- she had never loved him.  He looked back upon the fruitless journey, regretting all, but in spite of all, could not give up his love.  He traversed the labyrinth beside her venomous shade until, finally he too succumbed within its dark embrace.

As you can see, it is pure nonsense, though a pretty piece of fiction.  I am curious to understand what connection to the Ilyan Cloud you feel may be in play?  I am unaware of any relationship between any of these items and the Cloud; as you may know, the Cloud was the first foray by my House into trading with the west, and as I recall, the wares were selected for maximum appeal to that audience.  I fear such esoteric pieces as these were likely excluded from the Cloud's holds.  However, I shall endeavor to find leads in that vein if you believe it may bear fruit.  

Councilor of the Ilyan Syndicate

Evening Two

Gilded Talon Consortium Announcement ~ Still no word of the Crimson Triumph, the Gilded Talon gathers the manifest for review. The consideration is that if the vessel has been claimed by pirates that some of the cargo will no doubt start showing up on the black markets. Join us to review the cargo manifest at 9:00 pm EST on Friday, 3/17. We will be meeting on the lower deck of Spirit of the Mists. You can reach the ship by heading to the Mistwatch portmaster (#31493) and go gate, go gang.

Storyline Recap: Those present continued to consider ways to track down the missing carrack, the Carmine Triumph. After reviewing copies of the ship's manifest it was determined that the only traceable goods would be a series of antiques. An agent of the Gilded Talon has been tasked with following up on the Loenthra side to retrieve bills of lading with the exact description of the items.

Lord Yavs was present and suggested that his understanding is that the ship is indeed lost to the depths as well as the crew, but it was not the doing of Ghezresh. Many remain hopeful given that the crew is skilled, the ship had lifeboats and Ghezresh is perhaps a most unreliable narrator. Even still, there is a policy by the Gilded Talon that ships not returned to their port of call within a two week window are considered lost and thus if no sign of the ship turns up a memorial will be held next week. Those who attend are asked to bring pearls to leave in honor of the lost crew.

Evening Three

Gilded Talon Consortium Announcement ~ Memorial for the lost ship, Carmine Triumph - Participants are encouraged to bring tokens of pearl to return back to the sea.

Storyline Recap: With no sight or word of the missing carrack, a memorial was held for the crew of the Carmine Triumph. Families, friends, dockhands and neighboring crews were there to honor those who are seemingly lost to the depths. Chair of the Gilded Talon Consortium, Teveriel gave a statement of condolences along with a pledge to fully compensate the families of missing crew. Yanias, the first mate who stayed ashore to care for her sick loved one, gave a brief eulogy about what it means to be a part of a crew. Carew offered kind words and a fitting austere dirge to mark the sorrowful evening. Those gathered returned pearls back to the sea and received pieces of amber jewelry, an Ashrim tradition that promises safety for those who take to the ocean. In a desire to return to normalcy after so much bereavement the Gilded Talon is hosting their first ever OCEAN fishing contest next week with prizes being silvers, a fully unlocked survival kit, a custom gown, and an indigo orb.

Evening Four

Gilded Talon Consortium Announcement ~ In a desire to return to normalcy after so much bereavement, the Gilded Talon is hosting their first ever OCEAN fishing contest next week with prizes being silvers, a fully unlocked survival kit, a custom gown, and an indigo orb.

Storyline Recap: The fishing contest was a success and bass seemed to be biting! Syari and Yardie both took prizes for winning individual rounds. During a third round when bass suddenly seemed elusive, Vandraxas, the agent of the Gilded Talon was anxious to reach Teveriel with some unsettling news.

Vandraxas discovered through a close acquaintance that Yanias is not who she has appeared to be. Taking a direct approach for answers, Teveriel instructed the group to visit her home where she was to be tending her sick partner only to find that the details of her residence had also been a lie.

Next Tuesday, the Gilded Talon will be scouring documents of what contents were on the ship to help determine what may be driving her deception. See everyone on the deck of the Spirit of Mists at 9pm.

Evening Five

Gilded Talon Consortium Announcement ~ Reviewing the bills of lading in detail to determine the exact cargo on the lost carrack, the Carmine Triumph. It's going to be a night of surprises.

Storyline Recap: After being presented with the bills of lading and matching them to the original manifest it was determined that one slip regarding a crate full of antiques was absent. Aendir Silithyr, the financer, spoke up and stated that a crate of antiques was coming from a member of the the Silithyr family. Particularly of interest is a vase that his fiancee Elaejia, a benefactress of the arts was hoping to form an exhibit around at the Ilyan Syndicate's base of operations at the Illithien Aerie.

Though there was suggestions that the natural of the vase might be borne in superstition, there is nothing mystical about the ten million silvers Aendir is putting up for information leading to its return. It was suggested that those willing to locate the missing might search either the Library Aies, the Museum Alerreth or even some of the leads gathered by Vandraxas to uncover more details about a cobalt-hued labyrinthine vase or even about Yanias, the suspicious first mate.

  • Elaejia and Aendir share a bit of dark rumor and superstition surrounding the vase, but Elaejia states she does not believe it. She says their interest in its return is only due to her intent to display it and other works from the collection in an exhibition, and speculation on eldritch provenance will attract more viewers. Aendir is more circumspect and states that he assumes no responsibility for any who choose to handle the vase.

The Quest - Prompts & Vignettes

* As part of the structure of the player-run storyline, participants could choose to search for clues through pursuing leads, researching at the Library Aeis, or studying at the Museum Alerreth. Clues were revealed via interaction with a Discord bot. The dark grey sections below list the clues as revealed to Elaejia in this manner

Leads - 19th Oleasta, 5123

"I was a medic on a ship based out of Loenthra with Yanias a few decades ago. They came to us with immersion foot. I had never heard of anything like it outside of marching armies and even then only in the worst of conditions - walking for days upon days. We were out at sea and conditions were clear. Still confuses me how that could have happened. Where were they walking?"

Elaejia hissed with a combination of pain and frustration, lifting her hand from the table and massaging the stinging pain from her palm with her left hand.  The young medic shrank back with an uneasy mixture of confusion and alarm on his face and swallowed before offering, "Wo-- would you like me to exam--"

"No, I am well," Elaejia muttered, curtly.  "And you are certain you can think of no reasonable places Yanias may have contracted immersion foot when she served with you?  It is crucial that you think carefully," she said with subtle emphasis.

The medic began to shake his head immediately, though he hesitated, pinned by her gaze.  "N- no, Lady Silithyr, tr- truly.  As I said, I did think it odd at the time, but this was decades ago.  Even though I thought on it then, I could not see any reasonable way it might have happened.  The ship we were on then enjoyed good weather and was sound-- it's not as if Yanias was bailing out a stinking hold for days on end, and we hadn't put to port in weeks."

Elaejia scrutinized him briefly once more, but decided to let the matter drop.  It was already likely the man would talk about this peculiar interview in the taverns.  "Fine," she bit out,  "I thank you for your time.  Do let me know if more occurs to you, and recall that there is a substantial reward in the offing."

Nodding quickly, the elf agreed he would certainly think on it, promising to contact her if anything came to mind as he respectfully backed out of the salon.

Rising from the sapphire marbrinus armchair, Elaejia paced around the salon, unconsciously flexing her right hand against her thigh.  Most of the other sources she had contacted, both home in Loenthra and about the docks here had turned up little and less.  The time spent seeking each of them out however, had taken its toll.  She felt a weariness that seemingly no amount of rest could alleviate, but she could not stop herself.  The thought that some form of bandit or pirate had once again laid waste to her plans infuriated her.

These western Nations abound brigands, be they here or over the DragonSpine.  I should have expected this after the first time a piece of my own artwork was nearly lost to the wilds on its way to the Freeport.  Next time, I shall be sure to--

A scratching sound distracted her from her reverie and she froze, casting about the room, pulse racing, before realizing it was coming from her own fingernails against the fabric of her trousers.  Shaking her head ruefully, she murmured, "Now you're leaping at shades and shadows."  

Despite her chagrin, a shiver tripped up her spine as she recalled the other lead she thought she had followed, and how the elf's voice had taken on an unnatural timbre that had shocked and frightened her...  Then she had realized she was alone at her desk, gazing into a brazier that had long gone cold.

She took a deep, cleansing breath.  Now was not the time to give in to fancy and allow her thoughts to be hijacked by ridiculous stories.  Walking to the bookcase, she pressed the tome that revealed the passageway to the Aerie's workshop and arcane library.  She was through chasing ghosts and would focus her efforts on what information she could glean from books, and from the the others. 
  • The stories from her leads are as perplexing as they are upsetting. Elaejia begins to feel increasingly paranoid as word of her inquiries spreads. She resolves to lower her profile and search for information on the missing artifacts among books and busts.
  • She receives a letter from her friend Rohese on another research topic, but one whose answers may be found while she searches.

Research - 23rd Oleasta, 5123

You follow up with some leads from a variety of sources. As you listen to one story, the voice of the source becomes hoarse for a moment. Then words from a language you've never heard before spill forth in a dark utterance. When you look around again, you find yourself along and feeling exceptionally haggard.
You see an outline of a door on a distant wall. After you blink, it's gone.

A similar geometric pattern was tiled in the middle of a canal bridge in Ta'Loenthra. It became rather a popular tourist destination, and over time the rumor spread that those who traced over the pattern found the key to unlocking great talent within themselves. Unfortunately, one late summer evening the bridge was so crowded that it buckled under the weight and collapsed. Another bridge was constructed a few meters away but no longer had the unique pattern.
You stare at the lines in your palm, seeing a circular pattern form briefly.

The heels of your boot click steadily against the marble floor of the museum as you walk creating a rhythmic tempo in the large hallway, the tall ceiling creating an echo of your steps. Suddenly a trill of laughter comes from an adjoining room, followed by a hearty chuckle and salacious murmuring. As you head into the room a group of elves stand gathered around a large painting obscured from view. One of them takes notice of you and whispers to another, suddenly the whispers cease and the group turns to look at you. The crowd divides and allows you to see the painting, a family of elves nude and painted in dark greys and chalky blues. They each stare off in their own direction. Drip drip You barely notice. Drip. Drip The sound of water, a faint trickle now seeps from the painting, spilling viscous paint down the pristine white wall and onto the floor. Just before it reaches your feet you look back up to the painting and realize you are in another area of the museum, alone with a metalworked labyrinth of silver before you.

Queen Cadhla is considered a skilled and shrewd tradeswoman who has never considered a market she didn't want to master. It is rumored that she was instrumental in opening trade routes between the east and the west for this reason. Prior to her urging of this monumental proposal was the maiden voyages of the Ilyan Cloud to the west. It was suggested this was to evaluate whether the growing human population might someday pose a threat to the Elven Kingdoms on the eastern side of the mountains.
Drip, drip, drip.

The dripping of water echoed through her mind and she stared sightlessly at metalwork silver labyrinth upon the wall before her.  Her right hand reached out and delicately caressed one of the maze's billets, tracing its length and connection to the others.

Drip, drip, dri--Hthditdidtthth!

A high-pitched avian trill filled her mind and violently tore her from her reverie.  She blinked and snatched her hand back as if burnt.

Concern, distress, anger, escape -- the ground fell away as she-he-they leapt into the air, powerful wings beating --

Elaejia stumbled backward from the display, overwhelmed by the diluvial torrent of emotions and images that swept through her being.  They constricted her heart, sent sizzling energy through her limbs, made her feel strong, fast, lighter than air.  Panting, she reached for the skeins of mana that thrummed around her, automatically weaving them into...

Into...  Her eyes finally focused on her surroundings.  Into...  She allowed the weaving to fall from her stiff fingers, flexing them nervously.  

She was alone in the Alerreth Hall.  She had known that all along, hadn't she?  She remembered entering it and her eyes lighting immediately on the silver display.  She remembered the spark of interest and triumph she had felt, and her quickened pace to examine it, to read its placard.  Now she could not bring herself to glance in its direction.

The vision.  What was it?  A painting.  A family of elves.  Nude elves, each staring in a different direction, heedless of one another, painted as if through a veil of blue-grey mist.  The dripping sound -- bringing it to mind send a shudder through her body, wracking her adrenaline-soaked muscles -- The painting had seeped water, smearing the paint and running it from the canvas down the white walls of the hall--

A feather-light touch, ghosting through her mind.

"Rauka," she thought, pushing gratitude through their link, "The stories were not pure fancy after all."

Through the link, Rauka contrived to convey a sense of a vulturine shrug.  Her companion had been growing increasingly displeased with her activities and focus on the search, displaying this with a combination of irritating distractions, and drastically increased violence when accompanying her on the few skirmishes in which she had partaken.  All things considered, his assistance in those situations had been satisfying, if startling.

"Water again," she thought, casting her mind back to the newer tale brought back to her by one of her sources.  The pattern of the vase was supposed to have been inlaid on a bridge over one of Ta'Loenthra's canals, and in their madness to unlock the secret of the labyrinth, a great crowd of elves had caused it to collapse, plummeting into the cold waters below.  

"Whatever the power of this pattern is, it is linked to water.  The bridge, Yanias' trench foot, the Carmine Triumph's loss, the painting..."

A surging wave of weariness swept through her, and she put out a hand to steady herself against the wall, the icy marble sapping the warmth from her body.  Rest, she needed rest after the shock of these events. "Well.  If it is water that weaves these threads together, perhaps I can take some inspiration from the Crystal Baths,"

Taking a steadying breath, she slogged through the Alerreth in the direction of the Aerie.

The Post - 28th Oleasta, 5123

Pushing aside the stack of tomes and notes, Elaejia set the small box upon her desk and pressed her signet to its blister of polychromatic wax.  She formed the fingers of her free hand into an invocation to the spirits of flame, heating the ring just enough to impress her crest.  She inspected the seal for cracks, and then turned away from the desk to bustle about preparing for the walk to the couriers.  

Weak morning sunlight filtered through the windows, and from his perch near the window, Rauka trilled an inquisitive note.  Gathering her coin purse and mantle, she paused.  

"It is time for you to go scavenging, I suppose?" she said, pushing a lank lock of hair behind her ear.  She pushed open the sash, motioning to the sky outside, but Rauka only turned his head to examine her through one red-ringed citrine eye.  

She frowned but continued getting ready, pulling on yesterday's tunic.  No time to waste dithering over what to wear.  "The letter!"  She gasped and rushed to the desk, but the box still stood there undisturbed.  She checked the seal for cracks.  "Ha, of course I sealed it, yes, I remember now."  Using a thumbnail, she scraped a bit of the wax from the grooves in her ring.

Shrugging into an ebon longcoat with a high concealing collar, she glanced back at Rauka.  "It is time for you to go scavenging, I suppose?"  She stepped toward the window to open it and stopped.  The window was open.  "The letter!"  She gasped and rushed to the desk, but the box stood, undisturbed.

Reply to Rohese

 28th Olaesta, 5123
My dear R-,

As ill-luck would have it, I too am researching something which defies prosaic scholarship, so your inquiry comes at an opportune moment.  In my own pursuit, I have been pulling many threads and seeking leads through various connections outside the Shining City, and so found it a simple matter to append inquiries in the vein of blood magic.

My sources in the east yielded little, which did not surprise me as I suspect many of them of deceit.  However, those we have cultivated in the west were able to supply two items of note from records kept in the township of Wehnimer's Landing which I here enclose -- I believe you are acquainted with Lord Kul'shin, and his report on events of some years ago in the west may be of use to you.  I suspect your skill as an alchemist will render some of his more rarefied musings toward the end clearer to you than they were to me.

The second item I believe will be more useful to you in your quest for understanding - the manifesto of Grishom Stone.  It reads in the main in the manner of madness, but you may 
find some insight in it, and if one ponders the final pages long enough, I believe they may resolve into something coherent.

The tomes of the Aerie are of course open to you.  The collection we inherited was rather more robust than one might have expected, and contained no small number of esoteric treatises.  In my own research I have found surprising resources here, from legends captured by the Aiv'thylines of Loenthra, to inquiries penned by Illistim's own Avelleurs.  Aendir has moved much of his personal collection to the Aerie as well, and you may find the notes he has made thus far on the materials of blood marble and baystone of some use.

I close with a note of caution; my inquiries have certainly drawn some attention -- I am sure there are jealous eyes cast in my direction.  I will do all I can to shield you from their gaze.  

Affectionately yours~

* Interventions and Restoratives of Epochxin Affliction
* Beyond the Arkati

Dawn/Breaking - 2nd Ivastaen, 5123

After spending a few hours pulling and reviewing tomes in the Aies the words start to take on almost an unnatural pattern before your eyes. Sentences coil and writhe briefly before you look away. It must have been just a trick of the eyes but it leaves you feeling exhausted.
You hear the distant sound of tolling that grow into a thunderous cacophony. The sound shakes the very ground you stand on and you cover your ears to protect yourself from the overwhelming noise.

Art therapy as a tool is rarely considered controversial, however some of the methods employed by certain institutions have come under scrutiny in Ta’Loenthra. One asylum that once relied heavily on art therapy as a means of visualization for their cognitive behavior therapies had to suspend the program indefinitely. This was after several pieces from infamous residents went missing and one summer in 4531 when several acts of violence were committed that had connections to one of the art therapy patients.
After walking for what seems like hours, you find yoruself standing still in the same spot where you started.

A series of carved driftwood panels are set on a bronze shelf. The plaque on the front of the shelf explains that a unicursal pattern in a labyrinth design is not divided into any quadrants but rather follows a singular pattern or path.
After walking for what seems like hours, you find yoruself standing still in the same spot where you started.

After spending a few hours pulling and reviewing tomes in the Aies the words start to take on almost an unnatural pattern before your eyes. Sentences coil and writhe briefly before you look away. It must have been just a trick of the eyes but it leaves you feeling exhausted.
Someone in a dark hood approaches you and pushes up against your shoulder. Under their breath they laugh, "It is already too late."
A light knock at her chamber door followed by Wilver's familiar voice, his tone tentative and concerned.  What had he said?  It was hard to make out.  Why was he mumbling...?  He usually prided himself on his elocution.

A piercing thread of pain accompanied the opening of her eyes, and she quickly slammed them closed again.  "Wilver...?" she croaked, voice hoarse.  "I don't remember catching a chill..."  

A series of thumps and scraping noises rumbled through the room.  She risked opening her eyes once more and saw her bureau edging closer to her in fits and starts.  This made no sense, so she concluded she was dreaming and relaxed.  She closed her eyes again and reached for her coverlet but found her entire body stiff and deeply uncomfortable, because she was in fact not in her bed at all.  She was scrunched uncomfortably in her desk chair, feet tucked beneath her thighs and fast asleep, arms wrapped around herself and head lolling as if a corpse.  She could barely move.

"My lady, what... in... the name of... have... you done?" huffed Wilver irritably and he shoved and forced his small frame into the room, heaving the door against the weight of the bureau which had been dragged in front of it.  He was surprisingly strong for such a small gnome.  The thought amused her.  She felt a giggle blossom within her and begin the unfamiliar trek outward.  

"And where have you been?  We haven't seen y--"  Wilver's alternating patter of grousing and solicitious questions stopped when he finally made it into the room and he saw her there, tucked into the chair like an ancient mummy.  The giggle finally wended its way out and she shook with it helplessly.

"I can't move," she managed, "Not one bit!  I can't even feel my feet, they mightn't be there at all, would you please check on them for me?" she snickered, tone rising with more than a little hysteria.  "Perhaps they've gone on without me, we were walking for so long, but there was no way out, you see, so."  She let out a peal of laughter then, but the movement was hard, and breathing was difficult.

Wilver's horrified expression finally managed to cut through her mirth.  As he hurried over and painfully unwound her from the chair, rubbing the feeling back into her legs and feet, the fog slowly, slowly lifted from her mind.  He guided her to her bed and called out for Garaet to brew a tea.  He kept up a continuing stream of questions but, since he left no time to answer them, she supposed they were rhetorical.  She gently cut in, reaching to take one of his small hands in hers.

"Wilver, I--  Thank you.  I am already feeling much improved.  I don't know what..." she shuddered,  "I think I just need to rest, truly rest."

"You certainly do!  Not least because we must travel across the mountains tomorrow!  I really do not understand what you've been doing holed up in here.  If it weren't for that fiendish bird, I wouldn't have even..."  He launched once again into another stream, but allowed himself to be motioned from the room as she waved him off and pulled the coverlet over her head.

"Travel?" she thought and then groaned, "Spirits... The Art Exhibition.  Vornavis.  Right.  Well... Perhaps I can find some answers there.  There are precious few more leads to follow here, and at any rate, the change of scenery will undoubtedly be good for me."

Response from Rohese

In the Elven language, it reads:

5th day of Ivastaen, in the year 5123

Dear Elaejia,

Thank you so much for your prompt and very thorough response; I expected nothing less from my dearest friend.  Your notes and the tome you kindly sent are proving to be extremely helpful as I now have a much better understanding of what I am undertaking.   I recall the incident of the Epochxin Affliction to which you refer, having been asked by the Mirror at the time to ascertain something of its nature, which involved a rather unsettling conversation with the one known as Cruxophim.  That said, I have been spending much of my time in the Library of Biblia of late trying to learn more.  I have actually written directly to Lady Rashere and Lord Kul'shin too in the hope that they might be able to assist me further but you have helped me enormously.

All that aside, your opening and closing paragraphs have given me cause for concern.  If there is anything I can do to assist you in turn, please do not hesitate to let me know.  Do not feel you have to compromise your good name and position in order to shield me.  I am more than willing to defend the reasoning behind my research, should it become necessary, and in turn serve as a character reference for the Silithyr family.   You may call on me at any time.  My fondest regards as always

Your friend,

Resolve - 14th Ivastaen, 5123

"When the canal bridge collapsed...a lot of people died. Drowned, but not in the normal sense because they were holding each other under the water. The bodies all had nail and clawing marks across the neck, shoulders, and arms. They were fighting to keep each other down."
You cough and your mouth fills with blood. The overwhelming taste of metallic copper nearly chokes you as you swallow. The sensation leaves as quickly as it came.
Jarveil's smiling expression was far too keen as he handed her the envelope and package waiting for her.  He spied, Elaejia thought as she snatched them from his hands, running the pad of her ring finger over the seals, checking for cracks.  Finding none, she offered him a narrow-eyed nod before spinning on her heel and hurrying from the airship depot.

The cradle of silken threads in her mind shivered into her awareness.  She paused and looked skyward, seeing Rauka's dark shadow soaring high above her.  He tucked his wings, making a lightning fast dive toward something unseen before suddenly spreading his massive blue-black wings and reclaiming the sky.  She closed her eyes and nodded wearily.  Yes... I know.  You're right.  But being vigilant against these paranoid fancies grows harder every day.

The several days she had spent in Vornavis had been a balm, and she had spent most of her time there idling among the local artists, which restored her spirits.  Then on Feastday morning, she had stumbled into a lead that chilled her to her core.  Another tale of the canal bridge collapse all those years ago in Ta'Loenthra, this one a gruesome description of the state of the bodies, and the dark implications of the injuries all those poor drowned souls had sustained.

Immediately, the salt sea air of the freeport became sour and thick in her throat-- It grew worse over the day until she could take it no more.  She contracted the Chronomages to send her back to the safety of the mountains.

That I should feel safer in the Shining City is pain enough, she thought ruefully, But missing the Exhibition's closing announcements adds insult to the injury.

She forced herself to adopt a slower pace as she returned to the Silithyr manor in Highpark.  She deliberately unlocked the door and strode straight to her drawing room, ignoring the paranoid urge to inspect the doors for signs of being forced.  Sitting upon the settee, she first opened the reply from Rohese.  Scanning it quickly, a slight frown creased her brow.  What had she written that had caused her friend concern?  She cast her mind back, but could not recall the particulars of her letter, which only troubled her further.  

With a shake of her head, she turned to the oilcloth parcel, tugging the strings to reveal a sheet of green parchment and a festive giftbox.  A green parchment from Lady Green, she thought, amused.  Opening the letter to reveal the clematis letterhead of Cairnfang Manor, she read -- "...delighted to share that your piece, "In the Dark," was selected by our judges for Best in Show..."

She blinked and smiled to herself, feeling a mixture of bittersweet emotions - pride, frustration, bitterness, regret.  It was an honor, of course, but one she had missed enjoying due to her preoccupation with this maddening mystery.  I do not know where the nexus of all these paths through the waters of the Loenthran canals will be, but I will not go willingly to the depths.  If water is the commonality, then I will remain firmly in the mountains -- if the artifact is found by another, I will find some way to secure it.


Your legs feel leadened, your feet shoot a stinging pain up your calf with each step. How long have you been walking? Before you can answer you take another step to the left and then without questioning continue on your trek. The sounds of waves crashing grow closer and suddenly your feet are submerged into cold water. It would almost be refreshing save the infinite tiny grains of sand beneath your skin slipping away as roughly as a sliver of jagged glass. The receding waves leave behind imprints in the water, long rectangular doorways that brim with light on the other side. A sleeper wave suddenly overtakes you and drags you out into the dark water, the doors opening as you fight against the riptide. 

An endless labyrinthine library. 

A balcony looking out into cloud-covered mountains. 

A hellscape of undead and flying monstrosities. 

Blackness envelops your vision and your lungs begin to fill with water as a hand wraps around your wrist. A modulated feminine voice seems to push back the water, “How unusual. You should not be here.”

A letter imprinted with a talon cradling a rippling wave

Trusted friend, 

Please forgive me for my own knowledge is vague but I received a letter requesting that we gather tomorrow evening at ten in the evening upon the Spirit of the Mists. While I am approaching this invitation with caution I am hopeful that this might offer some insight or conclusion to our shared investigation. 

Captain Teveriel Anduin Vaalor
  • The investigators gathered at Lord Anduin's request, once again upon the deck of the Spirit of the Mist. He received a mysterious letter indicating there was another party taking part in solving the mystery, and they offered to share their findings.
  • After a short while of the investigators sharing their meager findings and questions, Umaren appeared with substantially more information than they had learned.
  • Umaren reveals that the vase served as a key to a door that opened to another realm or valence, which is linked to ours by some connection in the waters off the eastern coasts.
  • She hypothesizes that the Carmine Triumph was mistakenly sent through such a door by Yanias, but without the return key, they would never be able to return.
  • Umaren further reveals that she and her unnamed organization located and "neutralized" the vase.
  • Elaejia is outraged that the vase's power was extinguished after all that was sacrificed to obtain it. The other investigators turn on her, accusing her of knowing more about what would transpire during their research than she had let on.
  • Elaejia retorts that she experienced the same travails as they did, but their ire is unassuaged and they demand to know why she wanted the vase so badly. Elaejia shows no remorse and refuses to satisfy their curiosity. She dejectedly gives the now-useless vase to a bard, who proceeds to reveal a loresong locked within the artifact, but she does not stay to hear more.

Full Finale Log of the meeting with Umaren the Academic

Umaren just arrived.

You see Umaren the Academic.
She appears to be a Loenthra Elf.
She is very tall. She appears to be in the prime of life. She has large intense frosty blue eyes and alabaster skin. She has gently waved, platinum blonde hair with bangs that fall to either side of her brow. She has a sharply-contoured narrow face, a thin nose and long pointed ears. Located below her left temple is a faint triangular scar.
A heavy-lidded eye gazes out from its centered position on her forehead, its pupil studying the area as it contracts and dilates.
She has an elegant black-plumed wren flanked by two wild purple iris blossoms tattooed on her wrist.
She is in good shape.
She is wearing an angular onyx sigil on a fine gold chain, some cloud grey satin robes with a series of ovoid-shaped cutouts along the drape sleeves, a slender onyx ring set with a yellow sapphire, a soft black leather satchel, and a pair of back-laced black leather boots fettered with etched gold buckles.

(Umaren arrives in steady steps along the gangplank, her grey satin robes pooling about her feet and nearly concealing each movement.)

You narrow your eyes.

(Teveriel's hand strays to the hilt of his sheathed blade before returning to its neutral position clasping the other at his back.)

Uniana leans to her right slightly.

Vandraxas raises an eyebrow.

Umaren casually observes her surroundings.

Tylanthriel glances around the area.

(Umaren eventually settles her neutral gaze upon Teveriel and nods.)

Speaking evenly to Umaren, Teveriel says, "You must be," his gaze drifting to the woman's forehead, "the one who requested our audience this evening."

Lissaya glances suspiciously at Umaren.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren knowingly says, "And you the Lord Captain Anduin of the Gilded Talon Consoritum, that of which has lost the carrack known as the Carmine Triumph."

You glance between Teveriel and Umaren.

Gwynek glances at Lissaya.

Lissaya nods reluctantly at Gwynek.

Speaking in Elven, Teveriel carefully acknowledges, "The same, and I find myself wondering what else you might know."

Umaren smiles in a fashion that is almost smug. "Most all here who have given a piece of themselves for the truth. I would consider you allies."

Gwynek shoots his hand into the air, waving it frantically, then uses his other hand to raise it even higher, his entire body wiggling with excitement.

Speaking flatly in Elven to Umaren, you echo, "Given?"

Lissaya shifts her weight.

Lissaya takes a drink from her whortleberry vodka.

Speaking coolly in Elven to Umaren, Teveriel asks, "Does our newfound ally have a name?"

Speaking in Elven, Umaren asks, "Is that not what research asks of us? Time? Space? Stacking knowledge atop pillars that already existed?"

Gwynek cocks his head at Umaren.

Speaking in Elven, you quietly say, "Something is indeed missing but I would call it stolen."

(Umaren pulls a hand close to her body, just touching the onyx sigil about her sternum as she offers in a concise fashion, "Umaren.")

Speaking in Elven to you, Umaren asks, "Is that something that can be replaced? Or is it priceless?"

(Umaren moves her hand towards her black leather satchel and lifts the flap.)

Umaren removes a labyrinthine glazed cobalt vase from in her black leather satchel.

Gwynek hisses.

Syari blinks.

Lissaya takes a few steps back.

(Elaejia gasps quietly, putting a hand out onto the rail for support.)

Auwilei just arrived.

(Umaren adjusts the glazed cobalt vase in her hand, turning it with great care as the details shift before you.)

(Teveriel's eyes widen and then narrow to slits as he regards the vase.)

Auwilei glances anxiously at Umaren.

[Spirit of the Mists, Deck]

Twine-strung crystals wind around one sailless mast and then another, bathing the mistwood deck in a cool glow as they swoop down to catch on a brass-cast, segreant wyvern figurehead. Painted a muted ocean blue hue, slatted chairs look out to the misted sea, arranged alongside a marlin-carved chest on the firepit-inset foredeck. Twin stairs with curved, glimaergless-inlaid railings ascend on either side of a cabin featuring stained glass windows in a coastal motif. You also see the Tylanthriel disk and a ruby-crested greater bearded vulture that is flying around.

Also here: Auwilei, Umaren, Miss Lissaya, Lady Uniana, Legionnaire Tylanthriel, Gwynek who is sitting, Lord Teveriel, Syari, Lord Vandraxas

Obvious paths: down, out

(Umaren presents the glazed cobalt vase with an outstretched hand. The vase seems to be crafted from stone with a wide mouth opening that reveals the unfinished interior. The exterior has been carved with an intricate pattern resembling a spiraling labyrinth. All of the rows are perfectly even in thickness and distance between the next, creating a dizzying layout across the piece. Painted a vibrant cobalt then locked in with a glaze, the space between the ridges has a shadowy quality that creates an illusion of great depth.)

Lissaya trembles as if a cold chill just ran up her spine.

Auwilei takes a few steps back.

Speaking urgently in Elven to Umaren, you ask, "How did you find it? And who are you?"

Speaking monotonously in Elven to you, Umaren asks, "Is this what you had stolen from you, Lady Silithyr?"

Speaking to Umaren, Teveriel demands, "How did you come by that?"

Gwynek quietly asks, "Could you put it away?"

Umaren offers you a labyrinthine glazed cobalt vase. Click ACCEPT to accept the offer or DECLINE to decline it. The offer will expire in 30 seconds.

You blink.

Uniana gazes with interest at Umaren.

(Elaejia seems hesitant to touch it but reaches out a slow, slightly shaking hand.)

(Gwynek averts his gaze from the thing, raising a hand to keep it from his sight.)

You accept Umaren's offer and are now holding a labyrinthine glazed cobalt vase.

Speaking in Elven, Auwilei says, "You shouldn't..."

Auwilei glances between Umaren and yourself.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "I work with a group in Ta'Illistim that is dedicated to the knowledge of truth," her voice hangs for a moment as the vase leaves her grasp, "in all things."

Speaking in Elven, you distantly say, "This wasn't what was stolen, but it may be the first step to recov..ery."

(Umaren looks on impassively at the vase, the eye on her forehead blinking wildly for an instant.)

The vase seems to be crafted from stone with a wide mouth opening that reveals the unfinished interior. The exterior has been carved with an intricate pattern resembling a spiraling labyrinth. All of the rows are perfectly even in thickness and distance between the next, creating a dizzying layout across the piece. Painted a vibrant cobalt then locked in with a glaze, the space between the ridges has a shadowy quality that creates an illusion of great depth.

There is nothing in the vase.

Syari glances at you.

Speaking cautiously to Umaren, Gwynek ventures, "And is that what your eye behold? truth in all things - no matter its origin or hostility towards... sanity?"

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "I highly doubt that vase will offer anything else but a tragic tale of the creation. We could not permit the magic within to open any more gateways and so it has been neutralized."

Teveriel gives a sidelong glance at you.

(Elaejia leans heavily against the glimaergless railing, cradling the vase carefully.)

Speaking in Elven, Auwilei uncomfortably asks, "Gateways?"

(Teveriel frowns and resettles his gaze on Umaren.)

Gwynek glances at you.

Syari says, "So its a magical artificat."

Gwynek glances at Umaren.

Syari says, "Artifact."

Syari coughs.

You glance sharply at Umaren.

Syari says, "Or was.."

Speaking in Elven, Umaren neutrally says, "That is how we discovered it and the others like it. It is also how I prevented you all from falling away indefinately last night."

Lissaya gazes blankly at Umaren.

Speaking in Elven, you thickly repeat, "Neutralized..."

A pained expression crosses Gwynek's face as he grimaces at Umaren.

Auwilei looks thoughtfully at Umaren.

Speaking in Elven, you insist, "But then surely you learnt of what it could do. What it offered."

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "We took what study we needed from it but it would be...unethical to allow it to do more harm."

You narrow your eyes.

(Umaren brings her hands forward, her fingers just slipping from the deep sleeves of her grey satin robes to grasp each other.)

Speaking to you, Syari says, "Perhaps it was better that it was neutralized, look what it did to us."

Lissaya nods slowly at Syari.

Speaking in Elven to Umaren, Teveriel asks, "You claim to bring knowledge yet leave us with more questions. What of the Carmine Triumph? Her crew?"

You frown at Syari.

Auwilei glances apprehensively at you.

Syari shifts her weight.

(Umaren studies the faces of the group before speaking.)

Speaking heatedly in Elven to Syari, you say, "If there was any point to all I -- we -- went through, it has been obviated."

Gwynek peers quizzically at you.

(Elaejia turns her gaze back to Umaren, her gaze hot and accusing.)

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "They went through a gateway. The path is locked on this side and that vase and the others like it are but keys. They may have yet survived depending on where they ended up, however, to turn they would need to find a key in that world."

Speaking in Elven, Auwilei incredulously murmurs, "A point to it?"

Uniana glances uneasily at you.

(Teveriel stares at Umaren wordlessly for a long moment.)

Speaking in Elven, Teveriel flatly says, "Lost, then, in the truest sense of the word."

(Umaren remains silent, looking on flatly.)

Syari slowly empties her lungs.

Speaking in Elven, you disgustedly say, "Locking a door that was not yours to close, stranger."

You frown at a labyrinthine glazed cobalt vase.

(Teveriel clenches his jaw and slams a weighted fist on the nearby railing.)

Syari asks, "We could have died Elaejia. Then what?"

Gwynek glances sharply at you.

Syari sighs.

Speaking coldly in Elven to Syari, you say, "It is as the stranger said. All knowledge has its price."

Speaking in Elven to you, Umaren says, "One thing we were not certain of was if you actually knew what the vase was and intended to use it. Now we have the truth of that."

Speaking pointedly to you, Gwynek asks, "You quite rejected the idea of gateways some weeks ago. Was your disbelief not so strident as you let on?"

You raise your chin slightly, bolstering your courage.

Teveriel glances at Gwynek.

Syari says, "No knowledge in my opinion is worth the price of death itself."

Speaking quietly to you, Gwynek asks, "Or, in many of us nearly losing our minds and bodies, you've deemed them fit enough for some purpose?"

Lissaya glances between Gwynek and yourself.

Trembling ever so slightly, Auwilei stares at you and balls her hand into a fist.

Speaking in Elven, you flatly say, "It is no longer important, is it? You've all been made quite safe after all."

Speaking quietly to you, Gwynek says, "I reject that."

Speaking in Elven, you pointedly say, "I endured the same trials as you."

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "Some prolonged rest and meditation might see those of you who connected yourselves to the pathway relieved of the impressions, in time."

Speaking in Elven, you icily say, "You saw a library. Mountains. Monstrosities."

Speaking in Elven, Auwilei hisses, "But you expected them."

Speaking quietly to you, Gwynek asks, "Oh - so your conspicuous lack of care should be contagious among us?"

Gwynek stands up.

Speaking in Elven, you quietly say, "You know little of what I care about."

Speaking neutrally in Elven to you, Teveriel asks, "For what, Lady Silithyr? What was of such great import?"

Gwynek attends to his leather hat, making the hat as presentable as possible.

Speaking evenly in Elven to Teveriel, you say, "If your man had done his duty and protected his cargo, none of this would have occurred."

Vandraxas hangs his head.

Umaren ponders.

Lissaya looks at you blankly, at a loss to express herself.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren interestedly ventures, "I wonder."

Teveriel gives a sidelong glance at Umaren.

Gwynek glances between Uniana and Teveriel.

Speaking in Elven to herself, Umaren reasons, "Possibly."

Lissaya cocks her head at Umaren.

You turn away with a dismissive sniff.

Umaren nods briefly.

Speaking in Elven, you coolly say, "If any of you feel wronged, consider what drove you to continue once you grappled with the truth."

You frown at a labyrinthine glazed cobalt vase.

Speaking mildly to you, Gwynek objects, "Yes, and if you feel smug blame is the only way to wash your conscience, consider what made you a villain."

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "The truth is not to be fought with," in a surprisingly gentle tone, "it is there to be unwrapped slowly. Like a present. Or a gauze about a foot healing from immersion foot."

Teveriel stares at Umaren.

Teveriel lets out a long, contemplative breath.

(Elaejia turns her gaze aside from the vase, closing her eyes hard in an apparent attempt to master her emotions.)

Auwilei looks thoughtfully at Umaren.

Umaren casually observes her surroundings.

Speaking in Elven, you murmur, "This is of no use to me or anyone now."

You glance around the area.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "If there is no other truth I can gift you all this evening, I will be taking my leave."

Speaking in Elven to Umaren, you ask, "How came you to know of it?"

Speaking in Elven, Umaren asks, "That piece or the technique used in the broader collection of pieces?"

Speaking in Elven, you impatiently say, "Both, either."

Gwynek removes a sheet of silver-edged paper from in his canvas haversack.

Gwynek offers Teveriel a sheet of silver-edged paper.

Teveriel cocks his head at Gwynek.

Teveriel accepts Gwynek's silver-edged paper.

Auwilei glances between Gwynek and Teveriel.

Speaking quietly to Uniana, Gwynek says, "Lady Chair."

Uniana cocks her head at Gwynek.

Speaking quietly to Teveriel, Gwynek says, "Lord Chair."

You narrow your eyes.

(Teveriel hurriedly scans the sheet of paper before flickering a glance between Gwynek and Elaejia.)

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "We took an interest in the happenings of the canal bridge when we gained reports that the markings led to unusual behaviors after the collapse. When we traced the origin of the design we started to connect other lines. An Ardenai ship that had ransacked a Loenthran vessel carrying a wall-hanging with a similar method."

Gwynek quietly says, "Thank you both for your hospitality. I'll return to my quarters. I find the duplicity of some of this acquaintence difficult."

Gwynek attends to his leather hat, making the hat as presentable as possible.

Lissaya frowns at Gwynek.

Uniana frowns at Gwynek.

Speaking tiredly to Gwynek, Teveriel says, "A rest well earned, Captain."

You turn away with unconcealed disgust.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "And then there was the first piece Yanias came across. She had a hard time opening the gateways, she must have traversed miles upon miles before finding the right door."

Auwilei nods slowly at Umaren.

Gwynek just went out.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren solemnly says, "It went to a party even our eyes have not been able to find."

(Umaren's face remains unaffected while the eye at her forehead blinks in agitation.)

Chrysain just arrived.

You see Chrysain Iliathor Vaalor the Herald of the Dawn.
He appears to be an Elf.
He is taller than average. He appears to be very young. He has piercing ultramarine eyes and sun-kissed, unblemished skin. He has waist-length, thick titian hair gathered from the temples into a half-ponytail. He has a well-defined, oblong face, a thin-bridged nose and well-muscled shoulders and arms.
Chrysain's form radiates flames of sunlit marigold, the air around him faintly crackling as it lashes out into nothingness.
He has an old battle scar across his abdominal area, and a scar across his neck.
He is wearing a brilliant golden topaz sunburst symbol inlaid with blue lapis, a long cerulean silk cloak with rays of aureate rising up from the hem, some loose augmented chainmail girded with steel plates with a tawny silk pourpoint richly brocaded in a gold-threaded floral motif underneath, some slim charcoal wool trousers woven with metallic threads, and some umber leather boots tooled with elven scrollwork.

(Chrysain finishes draining the last of his glass and sets it down.)

Chrysain glances around the area.

Speaking morosely in Elven to your glazed cobalt vase, you say, "Its journey was not meant to end yet."

Lissaya gives a sidelong glance at you.

Speaking in Elven, Chrysain curiously asks, "What might that be?"

Chrysain raises an eyebrow in your direction.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "We stopped observing her until she opened the wrong door at the Loenthran docks. We studied the ash there and determine the fire was like our own element here. Then something unusual happened, she attempted another door and it somehow caused the carrack to go through a doorway, not her."

Lissaya murmurs, "Those poor people."

Teveriel closes his eyes for a moment.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren offers, "We believe that this technique has a direction connection with the element of water, specifically water from our eastern coastline."

Uniana's eyes narrow, and her expression darkens as she swiftly averts her gaze downward.

Speaking heavily in Elven to Chrysain, you say, "It matters little now."

Speaking venomously in Elven to you, Auwilei says, "Let me know when your exhibition will be."

You glance at Auwilei.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "In any event, we were able to locate her and collect and study the item prior to it coming back to the rightful owner. Or purchaser, as it were."

Umaren nods faintly to you.

Vandraxas shudders.

Speaking flatly in Elven to Umaren, you ask, "Just this vase then?"

Lissaya shifts her weight.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "The model of that technique has been used in a dozen or so pieces. We are aware of nine of them, including those that have been destroyed. It is possible that there are some collectors who have such pieces and may not even realize."

Speaking in Elven, Umaren indifferently says, "But, we will find those as well."

Auwilei glances sharply at Umaren.

You hold your breath.

Chrysain looks thoughtfully at Umaren.

Speaking in Elven, Umaren says, "The magic it still holds is telling as is the connection to water."

Lissaya glances between Umaren and yourself.

Umaren smiles plainly while the eye set on her brow mellows, the lid resting midway.

Speaking in Elven, Chrysain confesses, "I feel as if I've arrived at the theater just in time for the tail-end of the final act."

Speaking interestedly in Elven to you, Chrysain asks, "Nevertheless, may I see it?"

You blink.

Speaking knowingly in Elven to Chrysain, Umaren says, "Truth is an unending tale, Master Herald."

Chrysain gives a short little hum of surprise.

Speaking heavily in Elven to Chrysain, you say, "You may keep it."

You offer your glazed cobalt vase to Chrysain, who has 30 seconds to accept the offer. Click CANCEL to prematurely cancel the offer.

Chrysain glances between Umaren and yourself.

(Chrysain turns the glazed cobalt vase over in his hands, a look of wonder on his face as he traces the myriad lines.)

Speaking in Elven, Chrysain says, "It may yet have a tale to tell."

Speaking in Elven, Chrysain simply says, "Let us see."

Speaking evenly in Elven to Umaren, you say, "You say you will find the rest. Perhaps, but perhaps not."

Chrysain sings something in Guildspeak that you don't understand.

The glazed cobalt vase seems to respond to the magic of Chrysain's song.

The glazed cobalt vase seems to respond to the magic of Chrysain's song.

Chrysain squints as he begins his verse as if struggling to adjust to a dimly lit room. The melody is low in pitch and slow in tempo, sung in a minor key that lends it an eerie quality.

Speaking in Elven, you flatly say, "Good evening, and I thank you all for your kind assistance."

A misty dark veil passes across your sight and a world of shifting shadows and endless darkness opens up before you. There is a rush of wind followed by your vision returning to normal.


A New Day - 19th Ivastaen, 5123

Elaejia allowed herself the indulgence of slamming the villa's door behind her as she strode in, rattling the windows.  She stopped short, listening.  No movement from upstairs followed her fit of pique.  Small favors.  She put a hand on the settee beside her, closed her eyes and drew a slow breath, focused on the feel of the velvet beneath her fingers.  

Untold months, money, and more -- wasted.  That accursed meddling scholar had put an end to every possibility that might have been with one fell swoop.  Elaejia thought of all the preparations she had made, the samples she had gathered to test interactions, the tomes, halls, and leads she had scoured for clues.  Thinking back even farther-- the facilities at the Arboretum.  All for naught.  She fought to suppress the desire to take out her frustration on the furnishings, and wrenched her justaucorps from her shoulders.

Without warning, the door opened again and young Garaet bustled in, laden with packages.  He froze momentarily when he saw her but recovered quickly and ducked a clumsy half-bow, impeded by his burden.  "My lady!" he chirruped as he hurried past toward the stairs, "Just bringing some paints and brushes for his lordship!  Master Wilver sent me halfway around the world being that so many shops here in the city are closed!  What a curious thing, don't you think?  I do hope the tea shop opens soon, I dread to think what will happen when..."  His patter faded as he disappeared around the landing.

Nonplussed, Elaejia's anger faded slightly.  She flicked her eyes upward, distracted-- Halfway around the world, indeed.  The scholar had confirmed that there were still other artifacts out there, that there had once been nine, and that they were created in different places.  Not all for nothing after all - it meant she could expand her research outside of paths that led only to Ta'Loenthra.  That the vase was the first she had located and was now lost was an irritation, but it was also a valuable experience.  She had learnt much of use for whenever she uncovered another opportunity - not least that she would need a second key before she made any effort to use the first.  

Next time, I will not be forced to allow others to involve themselves, she thought, recollecting the deck of the Spirit of the Mists and the hardened expressions that had surrounded her.  No, next time I will not complicate matters by failng to secure the item personally, she thought.  It had been a risk, but a calculated one.  The reactions of the others had been extremely illuminating, if regrettable.  But where to start... If the water of the eastern coastline is linked somehow to this other place, perhaps there is a doorway left open somewhere in the sea...  Her musings continued as she draped her long justaucorps over the settee and headed upstairs.

Loresong - a labrynthine glazed cobalt vase

(Chrysain's bardic magic unfolds before your eyes and you find your mind filled with a vision: You find yourself standing in a long dimly lit hallway. Despite the low light the area feels clean and clinical.  Two figures in folded-cuff white linen tunics walk together murmuring to each other as they pass thick doors with small rectangular windows that provide a view to the contents within. They stop at one door in particular and a female voice explains,  "This one is younger. Prone to dissociating, disorganized or absent speech, violence and, " taking a small paper from within her pocket and unfolding it,  "he has an obsessive motivation to draw this image."  The other figure nods with confidence.)
(Chrysain's song continues: Giant windows allow the winter sun to come through into the room where a solitary figure sits in front of a pottery wheel. His hands move with a hypnotic synchronization over the clay that spins on the wheel.  A piece of pointed flint dances along the surface, carving out a labyrinth pattern with almost an unearthly ease. Behind the seated artist is a male elf in the folded-cuffed white linen tunic; the sound of his quill against paper scratching becomes a thunderous cacophony as you lose focus of the vision.)
(Chrysain's chest rises and falls with concerning rapidity as he builds to a complex melody. Labyrinthine in the rising and falling notes of varying pitches and mixing in major and minor key tones, he creates the feeling that something has gone wrong: Before the vision fully forms you only hear voices in the dark , "Where is he?"  A voice asks, filled with an obvious trepidation. A female voice responds uneasily,  "we have several orderlies on the grounds looking. We are still unsure of how he got out."  As your mind's eyes begin to paint a picture, you are standing in a cell with two folded-cuff white tunic-wearing figures, a large dark with a rectangular viewpoint open behind you. A rug has been peeled back from the stone floor to reveal a repeating labyrinthine pattern carved into the ground. The crude surface suggests it was done with an object not suited to such work.)
(Chrysain's song continues: The same long hallway returns, windowed door ajar as a female clad in blue wool takes items out of one of the cells and places them in a crate marked  "NOEND."  Each painting, sketch and carving seems to carry the same unending pattern of a spiraling maze where each of the spaces between the lines are an equal distance apart.)
(Chrysain circles back to the low, slow-tempo melody of the introductory verse. Just as suddenly, he falls silent with a haunted expression, seemingly leaving the song unfinished. After a pregnant moment, he fearfully whispers, "NO END." As if breaking free of a trance, he gives his head a vigorous shake and glances around.)