Letter to the Argent Mirror (and Patriarch)
Correspondence immediately following the public audience in The Argentate of Ta'Illistim Keep in Fashanos 5115 Modern Era. It is a "slice of life" piece. The Argent Mirror letter has since become public. It was over a month before the Elemental Confluence wreaked havoc on the weather, which led to the savior Alusius betraying us all, anchoring the nexus and ripping open instabilities across the continent. What follows those letters are other slices of life from Xorus in his various guises pressing his advantage and playing with the down wind consequences of these incidents.
- 1 The Elemental Confluence
- 2 Return to Sunder
The Elemental Confluence
Letter to the Argent Mirror
May it please the Mirror,
In the past few decades there has been unprecedented chaos upon our continent, with threats to the world and existence itself unknown since the Age of Darkness. The Dark Lords of Lornon have shown an aggression upon mortal soil unheard of throughout the history of civilization --- whether the Spirit of the Past toying with us in the Vishmiir, the warlords of the Dark Alliance wielding their hordes, or the attempt by the Jackal to forge an unholy gate so that he might walk the earth unhindered. Whether we speak of beings of Shadow or the Vvrael, there is always a single point in common, and always from the same part of the world.
Your Reflection may be aware that the Eye of the Drake was destroyed in the final struggle with the Vvrael. It was an immensely powerful artifact that sealed the most terrible interdimensional rift in existence. Flow storms were tamed for thousands of years, portals were suppressed, and incursions by malevolent beings of all kinds were warded against. There is nothing surprising in the rise of darkness. It is no coincidence that the world suddenly became vulnerable as the Veil weakened. With its destruction we can only expect more violations from beyond the pale, more unexpected upheavals, more threats by the incomprehensible and utterly abysmal.
It is our understanding the Argent feels the West is in a darkness which no light may ever reach. There is no denying the sense of this judgment. While the far north has the most dangerous unhealed tear in the fabric of reality to ever exist, the northwest by Darkstone Bay has become a maelstrom of extra-planar instabilities. There is an unstable portal to the dark moon in a ruined castle that anchors an unending flow storm. There is a valley that became unmoored from our existence and settled itself underground hundreds of leagues away. There is a mountain warped with tremendous manipulations of time and space, vanishing for thousands of years, only to return now and become the epicenter for all of our recent traumas.
Unfortunately, these threats have always originated in a lawless region, where no civilization could suppress their malice. The Turamzzyrian Empire recognizes it as a haven of dark magic and the worst of foul religions, but they are war torn, and lack the experience or wisdom for treating affairs regarding other planes of existence. Whatever the differences in ideology or philosophy between our people, one thing that has never been in question is the irresponsibility of allowing mere mortals to make such decisions. Within decades we might expect the humans to claim the Drake's Shrine, which they would undoubtedly call "Koargard," a travesty whose recklessness would be dangerous beyond imagination.
Your Reflection need not hear any pleasantries asking for aid to the West. There is nothing in the west that merits salvation or special kindness. The Elemancers may as well burn it all to the ground. But it would be better still if they stopped for a moment to discern the dangers in the flows and rifts. There can be no distinction of east and west in these situations, only our world and the infinite possible horrors of the Abyss. If it is not worth risking Illistim blood to assess, the threat may still be acknowledged. What might be done instead is call upon the Faendryl ambassador. If they were to investigate the heart of darkness, which to them would be nothing, they would burden the responsibility for whatever comes of it.
By my hand,
(12 Fashanos 5115 M.E.; Status: Public)
Letter to the Patriarch
(OOC: The bottom of the letter is a tip-off to whomever to misdirect the letter to the Ur-Daemon cult. It is not actually intended for the audience seemingly being addressed. It was sent at the same time as the letter to the Seneschal, which occurred immediately after an open meeting at the Argentate, where Lylia Rashere caused Myasara to become irrationally angry at the idea of scholarly aid for the Landing because of the interplanar and mana storm dangers posed by Melgorehn's Reach. Lylia was unaware Myasara's husband was kidnapped and her guardsmen murdered in the Star of Khar'ta incident. About a month later the Confluence approached, which in principle should have been prevented by the Eye of the Drake, which Xorus is speaking about in the prior letter. While this would undoubtedly have still happened, Alusius would have failed if they listened. His warning is later vindicated in Return to Sunder.)
To whom would receive it,
The Argent Mirror has become as irrational as many had expected. Myasara has ceded all interest of influence or power in the West, regarding it as hopelessly lost in "darkness." The Council of Thrones seemed ill at ease with her state of mind, but it is doubtful they would try to force her abdication in the immediate future. The Faendryl Empire would find no significant resistance to pressing further influence in the northwest. Unfortunately, human meddling in the planar disturbances of the region is inevitable, and their superstitions regarding "dark magic" may come at a high price.
There is a hidden portal on the northern side of Darkstone Bay in a monastery overrun with monastic liches. These were once monks of Kai who guarded the gateway. It would seem they were hiding the work of the Sage Uthex Kathiasas. He was working in a shadow realm he called "the home of broken lore," which some consider to be the surface of Lornon and others another plane of existence. I suspect these interpretations are not contradictions. It might well be both at the same time, extra-planar experiments from the First Age.
Uthex was working with forging extra-planar entities from energy, "power given physical form," much as many of us suspect the verlok were fashioned by sorcerous arts. There has long been esoteric lore that Eorgina and Fash'lo'nae were engaged in extreme planar magic on their moon while the dragons were distracted, not only conjuring major demons but spiriting away forbidden knowledge, if indeed any of the legends from that time are true at all. "The Broken Land" may be a pocket reality formed from material within the moon, allowing them to hide works of transmogrification magic from whomever would have stopped them.
There is a dome on the surface that is constantly draining power from its surroundings with dark essence flows. This would have been the mechanism Uthex used to incarnate flesh from spirit, "spirits born of death," giving a quasi-immortality to those who reside in its reach. The intriguing thing about this artifact is that there may be little upward limit on the power of the entity. It might be possible to fashion beings as intrinsically powerful as "gods" while retaining control over them as one would a golem. It is in equal measures necromancy and demonology. Marlu himself may have been made as a servant of the Dark Queen.
The plane itself is somewhat unusual, material but strikingly artificial. I am not convinced it is an expanse as one might expect of a material plane, but rather a hollow sphere that spins fast enough to give the illusion of gravity. If it is truly coexistent with Lornon but sealed off, this would explain its tolerable conditions, and why the dark gods seem to be absent. The gate appears to be "natural," which is to say completely accidental. It may have formed when some other gate was sealed in antiquity. At the moment the site is controlled by a Sheruvian monastery, apparently refugees of the Estrion incident, and the remnants of an obscure human death cult from several millennia ago. The Order of Voln is aware of it. It is only a matter of time before human intervention deprives us of an invaluable resource.
By my hand,
Lord Xorus Kul'shin
Harbinger of the Kron'khaal
(12 Fashanos 5115 M.E.; Status: Secret)
The Alusius Incident
(6th Olaesta 5115 M.E.; Status: Public)
Citizens of the Shining City:
I was witness to the scandal in Solhaven and the ritual that spawned it. The sky itself ripped and the lands were rended with unhealing tears in the heart of being. It was only possible with the abuse of Illistim knowledge, a conclusion drawn by no less than a member of your own Veythorne family. The folly of such poor judgment hardly need be repeated. It was foolish to allow a mortal to wield such power. What most of you do not know, however, is that our betrayal was not even unexpected.
While the Mirror felt it was unnecessary to command her own attendants to the meeting in Icemule Trace, it was there that Alusius first confessed his true motive in the choice of the human province of Vornavis. He called it "ideal" due to its history of "valencial stresses," which may be confirmed by all who were present, as well as my own objection at the time that he would rip the veil throughout the continent. Without the presence of Illistim scholars, he may as well have said nothing.
It was not only preventable in the final days, his involvement was never required at all. The royal court was warned of this issue over a month before the Aelotoi first began selling his snake oil. What is the price of not listening to your own blood? The fabric of reality has been gashed to the marrow. Our fate is now bound with the confluence forever, a world destroying elemental planar intersection. Its power will be used by whomever wishes to tap it, regardless of the inherent dangers.
If your queen was so insistent on abdicating her responsibility, she should have passed on the burden as we requested rather than enable a madman pursuing his own deluded ideas of godhood. What follows was bequeathed to the Seneschal on 12 Fashanos in reaction to the Mirror's willful disregard of the instabilities surrounding Darkstone Bay. It is a sad testament to irrationality that the blood in the waters between our peoples should so profoundly have clouded all common sense.
By my hand,
Lord Xorus Kul'shin
"The Elemental Herald"
Descendant of Ashrim Captives
(attached is the full text of the letter to the Argent Mirror)
Return to Sunder
Ur-Daemon Cult Correspondence: Regarding Star of Khar'ta
(OOC Context: "Return to Sunder" storyline when Grishom Stone used a predictable mana storm flare up to cause an Ithzir invasion by opening a large portal with his blood magic. No one really understood what was going on yet, they just knew Stone was talking with the Ithzir. The Hendoran Outpost vanished in a rift. Xorus is somewhat inaccurate in this letter, he is trying to twist the arms of his colleagues. They are somewhat less than supportive the past couple of decades, he wants resources for his Broken Lands work.)
The following is written in the voice of Rhoska-Tor with invisible ink and waxed with a black claw signet, the surface of the parchment covered with a mundane inquiry to the Clerisy for tomes regarding the Ithzir language. It burns with black flames when reaching its true destination, until the charred remnants reveal only the underlying script in blood red relief.
Harbingers of the Abyss:
In my quest for the final prophecy to awaken the Older Ones, shrouded in this land of the silver mist, I have felt the presence of the gale force of Inar'ru. It is my impression it has fallen into the possession of a human blood mage, a clever murderer of women and soul siphon called Grishom Stone. He is heir to the dissolute order of summoners who ushered forth the Shadow. He has yet to treat with us directly, but he watches through vacant eyes. He speaks without revealing himself.
Those of you who know the fate of the shadows are aware of the warlock Melgorehn's folly. Violent essence storms have flowed from it, the aggravations of a terrible artifice, well beyond the pale of mortal power. When I aided the ill-fated Alusius with my silence last year, the veil was wracked with a severity yet to be grasped. With the reckless power of this mountain now unhinged, without impedance, other worlds have begun bleeding into our own.
This is beautiful in a way that speaks to the soul. In the tempest was a voice calling upon the nomads of the Sea of Fire to sacrifice blood in homage of this sky god. He requires more power to pursue his design, whilst the powers that be are distracted by Ithzir interlopers. With the relics leveraged upon each other this Stone was able to vanish a fortress. Upon the sacred blood of the Ageless and the darkest dreams of the Old Ones, I call our most unholy synod to rule for acquiring these artifacts for our own wishes. If the Eye of the Ashrim is as useful with the work of Uthex Kathiasas, these Sheruvians will soon be more trouble than they are worth.
By my hand,
(6th Olaesta 5116 M.E.; Status: Secret)
Sheruvian Cult Correspondence: Regarding Ithzir Mentalism
(OOC: This is pulling on the archaic lore for the crystyl forest in the Broken Lands, though the kiramon lore is backed up with modern documents. The "indigenous" parts of the Broken Lands were cross-planar infestation entities, and the crystyls in particular coexisted on many planes and locations simultaneously. It was only possible to communicate with it mentally, but if you could it was a huge store of information. The kiramon are crystal hoarders. They use them for expanding their hive mind. Xorus is trying to manipulate the Sheruvian cult in the Broken Lands, which he has to deal with since he is in the area to study the work of Uthex Kathiasas. They happen to be obsessed with Melgorehn's Reach, and because of Grishom Stone's past, he is planning on the possibility of bribing them with the soul of Estrion. Stone was speaking a Tehir dialect to the Ithzir, reminding Xorus of the Tehir shaman Akhash. Slightly later, the Ithzir acquire the ability to speak Common, undermining the civilian prong of his gambit. It becomes clear that there is no possibility of alliances. The Ithzir are conquerors. Breachworms, riftworms, and temporal warriors invaded. It went unnoticed Grishom Stone had previously used sky portals to invade with demons and death worms.)
- (1) Letter to Wehnimer's Landing - Proposal To Aid Ithzir Communication
Citizens of Wehnimer's Landing:
When the barrier between worlds weakened and revealed our ill-fated fortress, I witnessed clusters of crystals in their volcanic wasteland. These were strikingly similar to the crystyl forest in the Broken Lands, which is a trans-planar entity that coexists in many worlds simultaneously. Irrespective of whether it would be possible to speak with these Ithzir specifically, or whether those outcroppings were crystyls at all, it is quite possible our own forest infests one of their many island planes.
It is impossible to communicate with it without the mind, but as you are undoubtedly aware the Ithzir are gifted mentalists. With a dreamstone amulet (or perhaps even a carefully tuned crystal amulet) we might be able to acquire their language, or speak with them fluently through the crystalline entity as intermediary.
While this may fail in the immediate attempt, there are other options for interlocutors. There have been suggestions of speaking with the Loremasters and searching Library Aies for aid with the Ithzir language. It is strange to me that one would seek a desert to find water, but I will admit the Shining City has isolated oases. If you wish to speak with our visitors immediately, I would suggest seeking the aid of the society of The Silver Rod. These are the savants of House Illistim. The Watchers of the Eternal Eye are also far more likely than the Loremasters to have studied the Ithzir. One might even inquire with the Erithians at their embassy in Linsandrych Var.
By my hand,
Lord Xorus Kul'shin
(11th Olaesta 5116 M.E.; Status: Public)
- (2) "A Modest Proposal" to the Sheruvian cult in the Broken Lands
Bringers of the Jackal:
In regards to the inquiry of your hooded associates in the workshop, there will always be more Aelotoi who can be tortured. There is too much potential for furthering the night-bringer of terror in the dreamscape for you to ignore my proposal. The Ithzir are powerful mind warlocks, with much to offer your dark arts. I would advise you to harness one of the kiramon defenders in Darkstone Castle, and bring it through the portal with a host of harbingers. The insects use crystals as the conduit of their hive consciousness. Isolating one in the Broken Lands will force its singular awareness, enough in any event to commune with the crystyl without much difficulty.
If the infidels in the town bring the attention of an Ithzir seer within the Broken Lands, your harbingers will be immune to its mind powers. It will be severed from the weaknesses in the veil and you may experiment on it as much as you wish. With the use of the kiramon and the mind of the seers, the crystyl may yet become a most dangerous weapon, one my order will have great interest in using in other ways.
Regarding the other matter, I am of little help. I am unaware of any of our brethren in the Erudites of Nydds. While I wish to meet with the Watchers of the Eternal Eye, and perhaps the Grandfather can even be asked directly, you may want to speak with the Sheruvian Order. Kidnapping a Celestial Cenobite has its own merits, and after all, they will not refuse the cooking in your kitchen. I would avoid eating the Ithzir. Their blood seems to be bursting with riftworms under the present conditions.
By the Night's Terror,
(11th Olaesta 5116 M.E.; Status: Secret)
Blood Cult Plaguebringer Moral Panic
(OOC Context: Children with blue blood were rescued from yellow cocoons in Slither Creek in The Graveyard, where there were magically augmented versions of the local snakes. Xorus is somewhat disingenuously trying to get everyone to kill the children so they cannot be used for ritual magic, and seeding the idea that the Hendorans might be corrupted and should be abandoned. It went seemingly unnoticed that Grishom Stone had previously transformed children with blood magic in red cocoons to turn them into winged fiends that attacked the town, and that Mayor Walkar got the town warded against the red sky portals using a pact with Estrion. Shortly after this letter other cocoons with children were used to open a portal to this specific Ithzir world. It widened the next night and allowed a floating Ithzir obsidian pyramid to enter, which was shot down with pylons and sunk in Darkstone Bay. While Xorus does believe the children are being slowly transformed into Ithzir, he believes they just learned this method from Grishom Stone. One boy later exhibited telepathic and telekinetic powers, addressing Xorus by the translation of his Ur-Daemon Cult title. Memories were being collectively experienced telepathically. The boy demonstrated mind control powers.)
The impression I draw from these interactions with the Ithzir is that they regard themselves with a collective identity. More individualistic than the hive mind of an insect, and yet with no special regard for individuality. Such would be the way of their religion. It is quite possible they have no need for conquest, seeding the valences with their own blood. In the transformation of the physiology of their inhabitants, all worlds become reborn as organs of the Ithzir. The blood cult which suffers no others.
These orphans are most likely plaguebringers, and by now, so too may be the soldiers of the outpost. I would call for extreme prejudice on this question, in light of such hostility without malice. The Ithzir will require no legion of their own and no gateway to another world if they are able to make us in their own mirror.
Lord Xorus Kul'shin
(15th Olaesta 5116 M.E.; Status: Public)
Regarding Ithzir Blood Magic: An Immodest Proposal
(OOC: There was a blood ritual where six yellow cocoons, containing blue blooded children, floated hundreds of feet up into the air. Melgorehn's Reach shot moon beams at them causing them to crack open. The children interlocked their limbs to form a twelve pointed star, and then they were obliterated as this turned into a red star sigil which opened up into a portal to this particular Ithzir plane. Xorus was quiet about recognizing that Grishom Stone has done this before, the Ithzir had been probing his mind since he told them Aralyte killed Althedeus using their language. Most recently, they had made him re-live getting badly damaged by the flow storms of the Drake's Shrine, possibly because it is a place of great power considering Bekke re-lived absorbing a great amount of elemental energy once. The focus at this point was on the curator Vynessa asking us to plan for closing *and* warding against the portals, while others focused on using Aralyte's soulstone to rescue the Hendorans, which Lylia consented to knowing it would at least temporarily drain it. It is an analog to the eye of Ith'can that was charged with the blood of the dead Ur-Daemon on Teras Isle a year earlier. The monolith Xorus is speaking of on the Reach had changed its appearance, now with a krodera and veil-iron orb artifact, with some unknown function. Xorus suggested shifting the mountain out of existence with its warding mechanism would only cause massive earthquakes and end the storm early. Pylasar went with the Raelee/Bekke plan, using plinite powered pylons to shoot the pyramids, waiting for the portal to close with the storm.)
Citizens of Wehnimer's Landing:
I was intending to express my concern with the methods being proffered for sealing the portal to the Ithzir world. While the collapse of a powerful gateway is in itself exceedingly dangerous, and indeed can cause its own essence storm, the hazards of such an endeavor in the middle of a storm is an invitation for chaos. The Darkstone Castle storm itself has been anchored for decades on the unstable portal to Lornon. In spite of twenty thousand years of our research, the Faendryl are incapable of sealing Maelshyve. The southern wastes themselves were most surely wracked into their everlasting aberration by the collapse of the Ur-Daemon portal.
However, the curator has rightly pointed out that the issue is truly not even the portal itself, but rather warding it so that another cannot be opened. There are quite a few ways to destroy a portal. Plinite. Veil-iron, krodera. The soulstone method of the madman Alusius. These will ultimately fail, even without a horrible backlash. Thousands of years ago, when the Sages killed their fellow Uthex Kathiasas, they sealed the gateway with runes of warding. It was too dangerous to collapse that portal.
This, too, will fail. With all of that doomsaying finished, I will get to the point. It is my sole interest in this world to study the various branches of forbidden knowledge, so-called "dark magic", and the secret orders or dark religions who skulk the night in search of power. Witnessing the ritual that opened this portal with its twelve-pointed star, I could not help but be struck by how this was not Ithzir magic at all. It was the kind of blood magic I have known from the summoners of the Arcane Eyes. Lord Grishom Stone has floated such cocoons far into the air in the past to transform children into winged monstrosities whilst raining fiery vathors from sky portals.
Glethad would have said as much to you all on this matter, I imagine, if he was not whisked away to be used as a sock puppet to speak with the Ithzir. And since this Lord of the Emerald Sun has not deigned to speak with me, in spite of the Ithzir probes into my mind, I will give you all my advice for warding the world.
Seek Estrion. There is a powerful shaman called Akhash, the Tehir Spiritcaller who broke that beautiful troll curse on Drangell, who is capable of drawing the spirit of Estrion from Darkstone Castle. They have warded such portals before, when Stone sought to destroy this town. That being said, Estrion will undoubtedly wish us to kill Sheru, which would be possible if we caught him up in the storm. Indeed. I suspect this ancient monolith that has phased into existence on Melgorehn's Reach is the regulatory element that suppresses the celestial alignments from shredding the mountain. Sheru might be baited into the moon chamber with the soul of Estrion.
The devastation that would follow is far greater than any words could express. So, we might simply betray Estrion by trapping him in a soulstone, which I would make a gift of to my associates in the Broken Lands. The Sheruvian cult is quite irritated with the way the traitor stranded them. They happen to be obsessed with Melgorehn's Reach as well, but after all, what is the worst that could happen? Regardless, Grishom Stone will be unable to open more portals, until he breaks the wards. Again.
- Lord Xorus Kul'shin
(18th Olaesta 5116 M.E.; Status: Public)
The Piracy of Plinite
(OOC Context: The Hall of Mages denied Magister Raelee's request for high quality plinite, which under Pylasar's plan would be used to shoot down floating pyramids, while letting the portal close naturally with the storm. The Brotherhood of Rooks showed up with Rysus offering to steal a cache of stolen plinite from pirates, which turned out to be real except the ship was also loaded with imperial mages. Xorus is telling the truth. The logs show the two groups in separate waves, with the marksmen shooting arrows into the mages. However, he was floating other interpretations as well, such as a rogue group of mages were bringing the plinite to us anyway. Or we walked in on a pirate mutiny. The Rooks took the chest and returned it to us a few nights later, except one of the piles was missing. The plinite was used in modified pylons to blow up the pyramids until the portal closed on its own, which as Xorus noted would have been dangerous to collapse early, but at the risk of allowing them to anchor themselves here and merge our worlds. The mana storm was more violent than they have been before, with the background mana bursting into flames, which was seemingly more damaging to high level spellcasters. The Reach burst with a cascade of red energy at one point that ignited the Dragonsclaw and town. Likewise, as Xorus had warned earlier about this plan, the pylons exploded at the peak of the storm. The infused mana in the plinite was instantly converted into a horde of elementals, which may have been formed by the storm earlier as well rather than bleed through from the Confluence. Allegedly a very large sea-blue eye was seen in the sky when the portal was closing, and when it did the Hendoran outpost was suddenly in our world again. The night before there was a rescue attempt to the Ithzir plane Kol Tar'sken using the soulstone, where the environment clearly showed all of the unusual background effects recently seen from the Reach. Roughly 30 Hendorans out of 110 were saved in an uncorrupted state, including Sir Thadston, while the rest were slaughtered along with Ithzir seers and archons. The fortress was badly damaged the next night when it returned.)
Upon reflection I have decided there is no special interest in withholding my insight into the raid on the high seas. When we left sight of Wehnimer's Landing and passed beyond the horizon of the Reach, it was not terribly long before we encountered a ship flying the crest of the County of Torre. It was difficult to discern our precise location, but if we were beyond Darkstone Bay, we still could not have been far from it. Their ship was clearly an imperial transport seized by pirates, and indeed was carrying a treasure trove of plinite, for which I was merely present to witness and discern its authenticity. Lord Brieson will find me beyond reproach.
Many of you have expressed concern that the mages aboard this ship may have been imperial magisters. I would like to ease the burden on your consciences and assure you, yes, the Frontier's Heart was used to slaughter members of the Hall of Mages. And by the gods, there were no survivors. Your fellows murdered all of them. I am quite certain they were not merely hiring an escort of cut-throats as I witnessed these factions fighting with each other.
I would speculate that the vessel was seized out of Maelstrom Bay by the Bayrunners. However, the pirates were not formidable enough to defeat the mages on their own, so the volatile wares were safely locked behind a massive steel door with rune wardings. The Brotherhood of Rooks were perhaps the contracted recipients of the stolen plinite, as there is little reason for such a ship to be this far north. There were what struck me as clearly being mercenaries on board as well as the pirates, so I imagine Rysus was informed of the trouble by his hired hands, and took the liberty of using some fine upstanding citizens under the flag of Wehnimer's Landing to spare himself the expense of paying the middlemen. Regardless, Rysus has acquired the means of stopping the Ithzir, which the Empire was willing to allow conquer us all.
- Lord Xorus Kul'shin
(21st Olaesta, 5116 M.E.; Status: Public)