Ta'Illistim Crystal storyline

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Posted by ETANNIDOMHNAILL (Nilandia) 6 September 2009

>Tucked into the pages of one of the books resting on the table inside Vectrus' sanctuary is a small stack of parchments. By their slant and fluid calligraphy, they appear to be authored by someone more familiar with the Elven script.

Greetings to you, Sir Vectrus.

I shall endeavor to provide you with as much information as I can manage concerning the recent activities of the creature known as Nershuul in Ta'Illistim. As some months have passed and I have been more concerned with Solhaven in the interim, my chronology of events may be a bit off. I hope this shall be of use to you.

In the earliest days of Olaesta, a crystal was discovered in the Wraithenmist to the east of the Shining City. This crystal was surrounded by a large amount of undead which were finally defeated to allow a better look at it. It was large and spoke of a hunger for flesh and blood. While active, the crystal was very dark and reddish in hue. This color shifted to a dull and lifeless hue when inactive.

The next night, the scholar known as Avelorre arrived from the Aies, saying she had been tasked with studying the crystal. Using a device she had borrowed from her sister, she discovered a sort of writing on the crystal and took an etching back with her to study. Most concluded that the writing was of an old and exceedingly rare language.

Soon after, Avelorre performed some sort of ritual, some guessed to 'speak' with the crystal, which became active again and more undead appeared. The undead were cleared and the scholar took a sample of the crystal to study.

It was discovered that the crystal was a device of some sort that can be controlled remotely. Avelorre's father, a flow mage of some standing, found a way to go inside the crystal. A group of local citizens accompanied him, where after dispatching undead and bashing through obstacles, the heart of the crystal was discovered and destroyed. Thus, the crystal became inactive and it was brought to the Aies for further study.

I should note that there is a somewhat non-corporeal entity within the crystal, what appears to be a young human boy clad in a black robe that hides much of his form. Most unique to this figure is that its skull is misshapen, and patches of skin smoothly cover where its eyes should be. This entity is satiated and somewhat stabilized with offerings of blood and flesh, at which point it becomes helpful and at times submissive. It was with this method that we were able to learn that the child called its master Nershuul.

Avelorre said that the scholars had been in weekly contact with this child and clarified that it is merely a consciousness, a control mechanism given a measure of sentience, tasked with gathering the components to create more undead as well as making more of itself. Nershuul would sometimes meet with the entity directly inside the crystal, sometimes communicate from distances. Avelorre mentioned that it was theorized giving it some consciousness would let it fulfill its purpose more efficiently.

Though the entity within the crystal claimed it had not been successful in replicating itself, undead that appeared to be identical to that which poured from the crystal when it was active attacked the Sapphire Gate on several occasions even after the crystal was deactivated. It is possible that more crystals exist, and if they also had the task of replicating themselves, there is little telling how many there are.

Also of note within the crystal was an orb. It was difficult to ascertain its composition, but shadows roiled within in patters most resembling a thick oil. A powerful aura surrounded it, mirrored in faint sparks winking into existince in the oil-like interior every so often. Most notable is that six depressions ringed the orb, positioned as if suited for a six-taloned hand.

Following the study of the crystal, a report was released. I was able to obtain a copy, which I transcribed into my notes. I am attaching it to this report.

Around the time when the crystal appeared or shortly after, it was discovered that a member of an organization known as the Watchers of the Eternal Eye had captured the creature we now know to be Nershuul. After a lengthy captivity and application of information extraction measures, the creature divulged the story of its involvement in the struggle for the Griffin Sword. I have provided you with a copy of that story for your perusal.

With time, however, the creature managed to escape and disappeared into the city. Officials were none too pleased and began disciplinary proceedings against the Watchers, who instead disavowed knowledge of the creature. They claimed the person who had interrogated the creature was a rogue member and turned over what they claimed was all they had concerning the matter.

Some time later, an Illistim named Rohese encountered a figure in the streets of Ta'Illistim. She told me that it was the ogre that was very shortly later to be discovered as the creature Nershuul's host body. When she encountered the ogre, she noticed he had an odd, rasping cough, and offered to find help for him. Her offer was coldly rebuffed and he accused her of being weak and berated his own 'dependency.'

The Guard was obviously concerned about Nershuul still being loose. I imagine patrols were increased and wardings strengthened. It was not long after that a creature fitting Nershuul's description was located in a depot for the Watchers of the Eternal Eye. Details of its capture can be found in the report on the creature's dissection that has also been provided to you.

During the creature's dissection, Avelorre invited us in to meet with her master, Sivathas Avelleure Illistim. There, we were able to observe the creature. Having seen both that creature and the one from last night, I was struck by how very similar they appeared. It was enough to make me wonder if Nershuul was the only creature of his type.

Sivathas was somewhat brusque, but he was not prepared for visitors. He did desire some verification that the creature was indeed Nershuul and asked if any of us had known him before. I spoke up, as I had come across him during the struggle for the Griffin Sword. I had only known him when he inhabited the body of a giant, however, and could not speak for sure as to whether it was indeed him. Instead, as I am a mentalist, I offered to examine the body for residual memories of shared experiences, allowing another manner of corroboration.

Sivathas agreed and provided me with a dreamstone and a glimaerstone to help with the mental probe. Upon examination, however, I was met with an utter lack of response. I attributed this to the length of time since the creature's death, but just before my link with the body faded, I was met with a sense of desolation so potent I began to doubt whether the body had ever been alive to begin with, much less whether it was Nershuul. I should also report that Avelorre informed us that members of the Silver Rod also examined the creature, but found its mental state to be completely alien to them, and they could not draw any firm conclusions.

The Illistim scholars were certain Nershuul was dead and being researched. Some people raised doubts about that conclusion, and the scholars were at turns frustrated or offended by the implications. Some said they would revise their position if concrete proof was given, yet we mostly had suspicions and prior experience with Nershuul to go on.

Some claimed that Nershuul was far too cunning to be captured in the manner in which he was taken. They said he would never have been without a host body. The scholars countered that Nershuul would have been weak from his torture and could not take another host so soon after having to leave his last one.

Others countered that, since Nershuul had taken an ogre as a host, a creature most out of place in the city, he must have had assistance from somewhere. If he did have help, they could have helped him find another host or at least find a secure place to hide.

It was further mentioned that Nershuul was tortured by a member of the Watchers. Why then, they asked, would he return for something like shadowglass orbs? Why go back to the Watchers? I asked Avelorre of the significance of the shadowglass, and she told me shadowglass can be used in many rituals and spells as a reagent.

Many other doubts were raised but none were enough to persuade the scholars to reconsider their position. The questions now appear like they may now be moot, given last night's events.

For your reference, I shall include excerpts from a document co-authored by the scholar Avelorre, a brief treatise on Illistim society and government. It should help provide some background information on various people and organizations involved in the events. The document is currently available in full in the public section of the Library Aies.

Avelorre is a member of the Nellereune family. She is a Walker of Lore and takes a keen interest in insects. She helped perform some of the dissections of the creature's body, and was particularly excited to study its three brains.

Sivathas is, as mentioned, a member of the Avelleure family. He is Avelorre's Master and sends her out to study certain subjects or events. He specializes in sorcery, particularly necromancy, and directed the dissection of the creature. Both he and Avelorre were also involved in the study of the crystal. I am not certain of his rank, but I would place it at Teacher of Lore at the least.


>(Excerpts of the treatise may be found below)

Avelleur - The Avelleur line would be of little import as it is most unlikely to brag of its accomplishments - a thing which instantly sets it apart from most other families. The family rarely visits the courts except when specifically summoned for, and does not engage in the normal dalliances and frivolities that invariably flitter about every royal court. However, the Avelleurs have a long history of quietly announced magical breakthroughs, mostly in the field of sorcery. Their most prominent family member is known as "The Nameless Necromancer", a man whose research was recently used to create the Planar Shift spell, and to which they only recently avowed as being part of their bloodline. Their most important collective role to date was brokering the peace between House Illistim and the Faendryl during the disastrous events of 5105, when a rogue Faendryl sorcerer unleashed a scourge of demons within the walls of the city.

Nellereune - The Nellereune line is renowned for its revolutionary advances in magical items, having catalogued, found, and produced an astonishing variety of devices - Nerathas Nellereune Illistim was one of the lead researches on dreamstone amulets after the destruction of Maelshyve, leading to the construction of the common crystal amulets we know today. Alerreth Nellereune Illistim was the first to distill the pure form of veniom, and his first experimentations with airship control and design lead to the founding of modern flight practices today. After Maelshyve and throughout the modern era, many family members of the Nellereune line continually work on the wardings throughout the city which protect it from magical attack while seamlessly blending in with the surroundings.

Walker of Lore - the second rank denotes the transition from a pure student to one who aids a Dedicated of Lore - nominally as a research assistant based on the student's interests and strengths. If a student shows exceptional talent, they may be assigned to an Elder or even a Master of Lore. A Walker of Lore might specialize in alchemy, floral studies of the southern DragonSpine or lost nomadic tribes of the eastern plains, their field of interest is limited only by their raw ability and the availability of certain Elders.

Teacher of Lore - The Teacher of Lore has reached a level of dedication where they are trusted within their chosen field of specialty to teach others. They often spend many a year transferring to the different collegiate institutions of the Loremasters, discussing at length their field of research and learning from other teachers. This position is often where most Loremasters, if they ever do so, choose to marry, as the time spent apart from a potential love interest when they were students kindles affection when they reunite once more. This is also the rank where most Loremasters tend to stop their progression, as some naturally love to teach and spread the wealth of information they've amassed so far. Teachers of Lore are given further access to the Aies' non-public wings.

Dedicated of Lore - The rank of Dedicated of Lore is the first transition into a master of knowledge - it marks the true calling of the elf who walks its path, as they have chosen a field of specialty and will pursue it wholeheartedly. The Dedicated of Lore are given nearly full access to the Aies, save for a few ancient wings walked only by the Masters. Teams of Dedicated Illistim elves with similar research are formed during this stage, directed by either an Elder or a Master. The Dedicated are also afforded a few research assistants if they so wish, taking a single or several Walkers of Lore under their wing. The goal of this rank is to once again permeate the bearer of it with similar knowledge of his or her chosen field, perhaps breaking any rigid molds they see their field in and allowing them to see view ideas from a different perspective.

Watchers of the Eternal Eye

The Watchers of the Eternal eye, for the most part, are a group of Illistim scholars whose sole goal is amassing of knowledge that the Masters of Lore otherwise ignore or deem too hazardous to collect using current resources. Often times, the Masters of Lore are unwilling to pursue a subject with as much dedication as they would another - deeming it too much on the 'fringe' of practical research to be noteworthy of study -- this is usually where the Watchers pick up the threads. They are somewhat radical in their methodology, lending to the fact that most of those within this society consider Fash'lo'nae a patron. Their research into history has produced some very amazing surprises - such as alternate bloodlines of certain families and certain acts committed by important higher ups, all with the necessary proof to be credible. Such revelations put them quite at odds with some families.
Crest: an open eye set against a black pyramid

The Silver Rod

The Silver Rod is mainly interested in the expansion of mental magic, which is a fairly ignored field of magical study among the Illistim. They rose to prominence only recently in 5103 by using their combined knowledge to track down a psionic which had been harrowing the local thought channels and attacking several nobles remotely with powerful mental attacks. Their accomplishment attracted a number of new members, including several prominent Masters of Lore.
Crest: a silver rod encompassed by a pale circle


>(Report of the crystal may be found below)

Field Analysis: Crystal shard.
Locale: Wraithenmist.
Reason: Numerous disturbances involving undead.
Elemental Analyst: A. Nellereune.
Alchemical Analyst: I. Evellere.
Spiritual Analyst: R. Mithunyth.
Mental Analyst: D. Ferrelore.
Sorcerous Analyst: S. Avelleur.

Elemental Results: Inert, unresponsive after extraneous testing.

Alchemical Results: Volatile when mixed with components found in the outer plane known as 'The Rift' near Aenatumgana. Inert with all others. Separate report being drafted outlining details of results.

Spiritual Analysis: Strong leech effect when exposed to certain spiritual spells -- absorbs and reconstitutes the mana from said spells and reconstitutes them into what is presumed to be the basis for undead manipulations.

Mental Analysis: Vague traces of telepathy and transference patterns imbued in the mana matrices within the stone. If enough power is instilled in the structure, these could be functional.

Sorcerous Analysis: The shard might as well be a necromancer, the patterns and even the sigils carved on its surface are suffused with all the telltale energies used in the creation and manipulation of undead. From what little I was able to unravel from the small shard given to me, it has an incredibly efficient command structure for the undeath it spawns -- I'd really like to study this in whole as this small a sample is insufficient for my inquiries. However, this ensorcellment is so rigidly infused within the crystal's physical structure it could theoretically be turned against it to cause a rather phenomenally catastrophic backlash.

General Notes:

Given the ability of leeching mana from the surroundings and at spells directed at it and the ability to remotely transfer templates of undead creations fueled by the necromantic power deeply infused within the mana foci inside of it, the use of this crystal is abundantly clear: military, strategically placed within a certain area to remotely receive commands from whoever controls it and disperse undead that can also receive such commands. It still reacts negatively to the new Nellereune runic patterns developed in 5075 and even better with the Avelleurian ones developed in 5105 so long as they are coupled with the newer wardstones and circles of protection which are in use in a majority of Ta'Illistim -- as such, there is little threat to the city directly. However, it is recommended the crystal be deactivated and brought in for study under close supervision and the usual restrictions.


>(Report of the capture and dissection of the creature may be found below)

Report on specimen 5718295.

Researcher: Sivathas Avelleur Illistim.

Overview: Specimen has insanely complex physiology and foreign biology. Inherently magic in makeup, with mana matrices suffusing the entire core of its body. Possesses a 'tri-brain', a structure resembling a butterfly visually, with three brains spreading outward like spokes in a wheel. The three lobes are joined by a central cortex, linking the triad. The 'fingers' are lithe and agile, with a number of joints that seem to flux based on the creatures needs.

The creature was killed by a precise blow to its main body by a lance, which shattered the linking cortex to its three brains. There is minimal damage from the slew of spells and swords which accompanied its demise, mostly cuts and bruises along its smooth, leathery skin.

The stinger appears to be tipped in thousands of tiny enchantments, each one unique and wholly undecipherable at the moment. From a cursory examination, the stinger has three tines -- each is laden with incredibly strong enchantments relating to the manipulation of the mind, but each also has foci for elemental, sorcerous and spiritual magic, allowing mastery of all spheres. This stinger appears to have been used on the spine of its victims, sending forth tendrils of essence to 'hook' into the mind of the victim and then manipulate it like a master puppeteer. In the case of a host which is already dead, these connections allow it to instill the various mana types into the body in order to partially heal dead synapses and allow the corpse to be animated in a very precise and natural manner.

There also seems to be a delicate balance as the creature not only attaches to the host, but also feeds off it and sustains it via a cyclical exchange of mana, which in the case of a dead host, makes the body appear more 'alive' than merely an animated corpse. In a living host, it serves to keep the host from dying due to the shock of the parasitic intrusion and the forcible takeover of vital body functions.

Living Hosts and Dead Hosts: Given the examinations we have performed and the incredible amount of information to digest in the stinger (see report reference numbers 925712 through 925750) we've come to the conclusion that a living host is NOT the ideal condition for the parasite -- the cyclical exchange of mana when the creature is connected is overblown by the natural pulsings of mana throughout a living host's body -- much as mana regenerates in a living elf, but not a dead one.

This constant pulse degrades and erodes the connection between host and the parasite, until the creature is eventually forced to disconnect or be overwhelmed with an extremely dangerous pulse of mana. A dead host is much more preferred, as the creature can slowly and efficiently bring the cycles in synch with its own.

Host Examination:

Shortly before the arrival of the creature's corpse, the Guard brought in an ogre -- its skull was hollowed out in a precise fashion, and it appeared to have been dead for no small amount of time. When examining it, it appeared to have been sapped, completely, of most of its internal liquids and inherent mana. Its nervous system appeared to be completely and utterly burnt out -- literally, the structures were charred when we examined them.

We believe this to be one of the creature's first victims, however, it was likely in such a weakened state from its prolonged capture and torture, that instead of establishing an even, balanced cycle of mana, it merely sapped away the remaining energy in order to restore itself. It could do nothing but drain away the necessary fluids and mana from the corpse in order to strengthen its own body -- we surmise that at this time, it could likely not have taken a living host, or if it could, the moments it could control one would be mere minutes, at most. Some of its flesh was altered to appear more 'humanoid' than ogre, giving rise to the theory the creature can manipulate the appearance of a dead host slightly.

Defense:

Taking small samples of the creatures skin, stinger, eyes and brain matter, we are confident to say that the warding circles in place within Ta'Illistim, both Nellereune and advanced Avelleurian patterns, are efficient in deterring, detecting, and preventing movement of the creature should it have passed by one of the wardings. Given the recent triggerings of the Avelleurian wardings in section 5a, 7b and 5c of the city, we believe the wardings significantly weakened the creature before it was found and killed.

Capture:

The creature was recovered in a storage house of the Watchers of the Eternal Eye. The Sapphire Guard was dispatched to conduct a routine investigation and interrogation of the members of the Watchers who presided over the area as they required more information on the rogue Watcher whom allowed Nershuul's escape. They were soon drawn to the sound of glass breaking deep within the warehouse, where they found the creature within a crate full of shadowglass orbs. Both the Watchers and the Guard moved to subdue it, and a fierce battle ensued, eventually one of the guardsmen lancing the creature through the tri-brain.


I trust this information will be of use to you, sir. I stand by to answer any questions you may have.

By my hand,

Nilandia Liserna, servant of Solhaven