Lylia and Aeavenne's Faendryl divination lecture and demonstration
Editor's note: According Lylia and Aeavenne, this lore is not yet fully canon, though it has been submitted for consideration. In any case, this event occurred at the Faendryl Symposium with a Faendryl Ambassador present (GM PC), and so can reasonably be considered a "real thing" in-game. This occurred on June 8, 2015.
[A Silk Pavillion, The Gathering]
Swathes of rich claret-hued silk cover the walls of the pavilion, leaving the sides airy yet secluded. Several cushioned sofas and chairs covered with ebon brocade have been placed about a rich wool carpet. Hanging from the peaked ceiling are a trio of clear crystal lanterns suspended from dark steel chains. Set in the center of the gathering space to ward off the chill is a small marble firepit with a patterned basket of sticks sitting to one side. You also see the Durakar disk, the Xinza disk and a small ebonwood table with a polished silver platter on it.
Also here: Sparegris, Lord Rekarth, Lord Japhrimel who is sitting, Waddler, High Lady Allereli who is sitting, Dame Aiska, Lady Lylia, Iriaschel who is sitting, Durakar who is sitting, Taluric who is sitting, Xinza who is sitting, Karluth who is sitting, Surleigh who is sitting, Lord Xorus, Lord Melkhiah who is sitting, High Lady Maetriks who is sitting, Lord Demyse who is sitting, Ambassador Tredohal who is sitting
Obvious exits: out
A loud voice cries out over the city, "A demonstration of Faendryl divination is about to begin in the pavilion outside the rotunda in the embassy area. Anyone interested is encouraged to go there now."
Lylia says, "Good evening."
Lylia says, "Tonight, we welcome you to learn more of Faendryl divination practices. Such traditions have been with us for millennia and are still vibrant today. We present Igaeshian reading and smoke seeing to you as both culturally significant traditions and as a source of fascinating insight."
Lylia explains, "To believe a fate is ineluctable is to acknowledge that it controls us, a concept that is anathema to Faendryl goals. We are rulers of our own destiny, surely. To that end, these readings provide a glimpse of the most likely future if no other action is taken."
(Lylia paces as she talks, clearly warming to her subject.)
Lylia says, "Our greater destiny as a people may be assured, but Igaeshian reading and smoke seeing satisfy our desire to see how the bright threads of our specific fates are woven into this glorious tapestry. We know our destination, yet it is natural to seek knowledge of the paths we take to reach it."
Lylia says, "You may believe these readings to be true portents as so many Faendryl families, including past Patriarchs themselves, have. You may see them as tools to further introspection and enlightenment. You may simply take them as examples of a colorful cultural heritage."
Lylia says, "You need not even be Faendryl to understand the power and beauty inherent in Igaeshian readings and the charm of smoke seeings."
Lylia continues, "However you view them, we are pleased to teach you more of the arts of Igaeshian reading and smoke seeing as traditionally practiced. We present this demonstration to familiarize others with some of the signs and symbols of the art, with our history, and perhaps with their own futures."
Lylia says, "The Lady Aeavenne de-Gael Faendryl will be speaking to you of the history of Igaeshian reading and smoke seeing."
Lylia says, "I shall return to discuss the specifics of how seers practice their art and explore the ways in which smoke seeing and Igaeshian readings differ."
Aeavenne softly says, "Igaeshian readers interpret portents within smoky residues left by trapped demons in vials. Does this sound simple to you? I assure you, there is some risk involved though the benefits are innumerable."
Aeavenne softly comments, "Of course, I am an empath so the risk is not mine."
Aeavenne softly says, "Igaesha are demons from the Lorae'tyr valence. The Enchiridion Valentia describes them as lightly hued mist-like creatures that typically group together in clouds."
Aeavenne softly says, "Individual Igaesha are able to travel, to contract or expand to accommodate any space and they can pass through most objects, even those that do not appear porous. They can have an acidic effect."
Aeavenne softly says, "I understand that members of the Clerisy that studied these beings observed that when they passed through glass, the glass smoked and a residue remained behind. At some point in our history, the different patterns left within the smoky residue were recognized as offering a glimpse into that which would or could happen."
Aeavenne softly says, "It is hypothesised that Igaesha, being of the Lorae'tyr, have fewer temporal restrictions than we do. When they leave evidence of passage, their tracks lead from the past into the future and it is this effect that Igaeshian readers attempt to harvest."
Aeavenne softly says, "To complete an Igaeshian reading, a specially prepared glass vial surrounded by a metal frame is used to capture one of these demons. Obviously, it requires a sorcerer with sufficient command of demons to make them captive. The querent poses their question while holding the vial."
Aeavenne softly says, "The formless mist-like demon remains within the glass vial for a period of time and when it escapes, the smoke-like traces of their passage are interpreted by a skilled reader. Most readers will have an incantation set to notify her when the Igaesha escapes as the images in the smoky residues will fade shortly thereafter."
Aeavenne softly continues, "Igaeshian readings have proven time and time again to offer often complex and far-reaching insights into those matters of great importance. For this reason, these readings are typically more costly and lengthy than the more common smoke seer readings."
(Lylia holds the smoke-filled glass pendant aloft as Aeavenne talks, giving you a good view of the pendant's cloudy contents and its metal frame.)
Aeavenne softly says, "The skill, experience and impartiality of the reader can strongly influence the outcome of a reading."
Aeavenne softly says, "Here is a case study, wherein the reader showed a severe lack of impartiality."
Aeavenne softly says, "Our people have a recorded copy of a prophecy provided to Qwhinn Laurentiu Faendryl. I am sure most in this room are aware of his fate, but few are aware of the divination record found on his estate following his assassination of Phorien Endric Faendryl, Patriarch XXI."
Aeavenne softly adds, "The Igaeshian Reader, in this case Qwhinn's aunt Firhrisya Laurentiu Faendryl, had recorded three symbols resting between the positions of Family and Rule. The first, the Oculoth, was interpreted as benefiting from a rival's downfall as it was combined with the Gate, symbolizing change and the Chalice which was interpreted as gaining favour."
(Aeavenne begins waving her hands in the air as she tries to describe the symbols.)
Aeavenne softly says, "Historians are said to believe that it was the portents described in this reading that encouraged Qwhinn to proceed with the assassination. Unfortunately for the Laurentiu family, a later review of the divination records revealed that the Chalice had clearly been reversed. Given its location down in the lower portion of the vial, this reading should have been interpreted as an omen of a possible execution the near future for the querent."
Aeavenne softly says, "The likelihood is that the Laurentiu desire for power influenced the interpretation of the reading by Firhrisya and ultimately lead to their downfall."
Aeavenne softly concludes, "One should read what is present, not what one wishes to see. As you are likely aware, most to all of the Laurentiu family were put to the sword following their ill-fated grab for power."
Aeavenne softly begins, "Smoke seers might be considered the 'poorer country cousin' compared with the pomp and pizazz associated Igaesha readers. A Smoke seer will similarly interpret symbols and such to derive meaning held in wisps of smoke from rather more common sources than that of an escaping demon."
Aeavenne softly continues, "I understand that seers have argued through the millennia as to whether the art of Smoke Seeing predates that of Igaesha Reading. Sadly, no records exist to confirm or deny this. We do know, however, that Smoke Seers brought a well-established art with them to New Ta'Faendryl."
Aeavenne amusedly says, "I personally believe that the images in smoky residue formed in a glass vial from a fleeing Igaesha must have been recognized by one who was first trained as a Smoke Seer, but I would be pleased to discuss the matter further with any who wished to debate."
Aeavenne softly says, "Smoke readings do not require expensive, specially crafted vials, nor the capture of Igaesha. Candles, incense, smudge sticks; these are the most typically used tools for a seer."
Aeavenne softly adds, "It is said that some seers prefer certain scented oil imbued candles, plant combinations prepared by specific means, or only the highest quality incenses. These are preferences of the individual seer and I have been assured that a simple candle or basic smudge stick will work equally well."
Aeavenne softly notes, "That even the methodology undertaken by an individual Smoke seer may vary from that of another. Some will have the querent pose the question before lighting the smoke source. Others have the querent snuff the candle and will read the smoke patterns that thus emerge."
Aeavenne softly says, "It is the reader who then interprets the symbols and patterns observed."
Aeavenne softly says, "It must be recognized, however, that smoke readings lack the connection to the Lorae'tyr and seem to more commonly offer readings on a smaller scale than that which may be achieved from an Igaesha Reading. Smoke readings perhaps offer a better glimpse at the near future for an issue that is close to the querent."
Aeavenne softly says, "These readings may be kept on record by a specific household, but are rarely preserved in the official archives as the Igaesha readings are. For this reason, smoke readings are less expensive and less difficult to obtain. They are more commonly used by lesser families for day to day guidance though many of our more significant noble families are known to happily use Smoke seers for appropriate queries."
Aeavenne amusedly says, "I wanted to tell you about one questionable family of Smoke seers who would only work with a smoke source made from the bundled hair of the querent. Their readings were notorious, sadly more for the baldness of their customers than for their accuracy."
Aeavenne softly concludes, "That just goes to show that when venturing into divination, it pays to research the quality and reliability of the reader you choose, whether through Igaesha Reading or Smoke Seer."
Lylia murmurs, "Just so."
Aeavenne softly says, "Lylia will now tell us more about the interpretation methods."
Aeavenne turns to face Lylia.
Lylia says, "Thank you, Aeavenne. That was most illuminating and quite eloquently put."
Lylia says, "Just as languages use words with meanings we all understand, seers have created a vocabulary of symbols that have clear meanings to students of the divinatory arts."
Lylia continues, "While a full dictionary of symbols would span many volumes, some appear so frequently and deal with such universal concerns that they are known even among novices. You will undoubtedly encounter some of them tonight."
Lylia says, "And our host's kind words notwithstanding, I am decidedly a novice."
Lylia says, "Symbols have evolved over millennia. Some are close to their original meanings, while others have shifted greatly."
Lylia continues, "For example, the Banner remains a portent of battle, but the Pearls mean cooperation or accord, a meaning that may have arisen from the connection of eloquence and persuasiveness to 'pearls of wisdom.'."
Lylia says, "Symbols have fairly consistent meanings across Igaeshian and smoke divination, although some are more commonly seen with one type of divination than the other. Whether this is due to differences in the medium itself, divergence among readers, or Igaeshian caprices, we do not know."
Lylia says, "If signs are the words readers use to tell a divinatory tale, then positions are this language's sentences. Just as certain words may look alike in isolation but take very different meanings in context, so can a symbol appear in a certain location yet portend different futures."
Lylia says, "In all cases, the source of smoke or the center of the Igaesha vial represents the questioner. Thus, all symbols proceed from this source and therefore from the querent's concerns."
Lylia gently smooths the skirts of her gown, coaxing away the wrinkles and restoring the naturally elegant drape of the silk.
Lylia notes, "Here is where smoke seeing and Igaeshian reading diverge most sharply."
Lylia says, "Smoke seeing has a..."
(Lylia waves her hand vaguely as if searching for the right words.)
Lylia says, "Narrative flow that Igaeshian reading lacks. Symbols appear not all at once but over time as the source smolders. Like a story, a smoke seeing has a beginning, middle, and end defined by the order in which the symbols appear."
Lylia says, "At any rate. With Igaeshian reading, the order in which symbols appear is not always possible even for Faendryl eyes to see, so position, not sequence, becomes more important."
Lylia explains, "Different readers use different traditions of positional readings, and there is no single method that is preferable. To return to our language analogy, it is the difference between those who might say 'the music was stirring' and 'stirring was the music.'."
Lylia remarks, "The meaning is clear in either case."
Lylia says, "One of the most common means of positional reading is to note where a sign appears. A low position means a matter of smaller scale, while a symbol appearing high denotes a message of greater import. This is true in both smoke seeing and Igaeshian reading."
Lylia continues, "Similarly, a sign that is closer to the source is more closely linked to him or her than a more distant one. A Ring appearing near the source, for example, could mean marriage to one you already know, while one appearing farther away may mean you have not yet met your intended."
Lylia says, "Igaeshian readers sometimes take positions a step further and ascribe value to arcs surrounding the vial. Divided into nine segments, each governed by a different influence, these arcs lend further meaning to the signs they contain."
Lylia says, "Understanding the nuances of signs and positions is a fit subject for decades of study."
Lylia quips, "While some of you might wonder if I could in fact talk for decades, and I probably could, I shall not."
Lylia says, "Instead, let us see readings in practice and learn what we may of both the divinatory arts and the future."
Lylia says, "It is customary to read for the host at a gathering first."
Lylia asks, "If you would wish it, that is?"
Tredohal says, "I would be honored."
Lylia says, "I have a collection of vials prepared with thin glass -- inexpensive as Igaeshian vials go, but good for a faster reading."
(Aeavenne surreptitiously points at Lylia and winks at Tredohal, softly whispering, "ask her to do it")
Lylia says, "If you would be so kind, then, to hold it...and concentrate."
(Lylia waves her hand over the vial, peering at it closely. Some of it might just be for show, but it's hard to tell.)
Lylia says, "Sometimes the Igaesha inside takes its time making its escape. You must watch them. Igaeshian readers at home, of course, have cantrips to tell when an Igaesha leaves its glassy prison."
Lylia asks, "Ah. There we are. I believe it has fled. Might I see the vial, please?"
Tredohal says, "There you are."
(Lylia turns the vial until it's facing her the same way it was facing Tredohal.)
Lylia asks, "Ah, the Albatross. Birds presage travel, and that is no surprise. See, though, how it is placed high?"
Tredohal says, "Ah, I see."
Tredohal peers at the vial.
Lylia says, "Your trip home shall be a swift one, it seems, and you are...yes. Hm."
Lylia says, "Note the Pentacle here, to the right in the arc of Rule? This trip of yours, it is more than a cultural venture."
Lylia gazes with interest at Tredohal.
Lylia says, "You are earning a great deal of Patriarchal favor, it would appear, and many eyes are watching with approbation."
Lylia asks, "The Haywain...you have worked hard to reap these rewards, too, and you have more work ahead of you still. Perhaps -- even a meeting with the Mirror as you are here?"
Lylia says, "And the Pearls presage a surprisingly cordial meeting at that."
(Lylia gives Tredohal a speculative look from beneath lowered lashes.)
Lylia says, "A very interesting reading altogether."