Archmage in the Alchemists

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These events spanned multiple towns and areas in the game as part of War of Nations and are mostly commonly referenced as the V'reen events.

Part One: The Arrival

6/10/2003

Lady Wyvenaveil and her lord "the archmage" who have recently set up near the Citadel in the old alchemist's building, which would begin the Archmage in the Alchemist's saga and is known to most as the V'reen Morphs.

To summarize these older messages, what basically happened was, Wyvenaveil appeared in town and apparently enlisted the aid of some of the locals to clean up the alchemist's building about the Citadel. This was the first appearance of Wyvenaveil. We don't know much about the Archmage or his assistant, other than the fact that they supposedly resided in Ta'Illistim before moving southwest.

Then she reappeared, attempting to buy a large quantity of grot t'kel potions for her master. Not having enough potions on hand to fulfill the order, she had to wait for a shipment. The log of this encounter can be read on the boards here.

However, Balinworn and others, not fully trusting the town's new neighbors, decided to pay off Lomara to delay the delivery of the order for some time, after Wyvenaveil had left for the evening. After that, they paid a visit to the Archmage's residence and attempted to get a peek inside, but were only repelled (and burned) by the wards set up by the mage.

When Wyvenaveil returned, she was upset that the order hadn't arrived, but apparently couldn't do much about it. Instead she went furniture shopping, then a few of them went for a walk in the Citadel gardens.

Part Two: The Mission

6/10/2003

The Archmage himself stepped out from his lab and gave us some of his "precious" time. His name is High Lord Lirou

He's been hired by none other than Emperor Aurmont to study the Mandis Crystal, for what purposes I'm not sure. I voiced the belief that the Emp was going to take on Jantalar, and he might have agreed to that or might have been agreeing to someone else not sure. He only spoke elven and was rather slow on the answering uptake. Ah well. Thats it.

Rail

[Editor Geijon's Note: They would not be very successful in this mission...]

Part Three: The Fall of the Archmage and Wyvenaveil's Death (LONG)

6/17/2003 by Rail

You'll have to pardon this post in its choppiness, but I should be in bed now. ;)

I'm not sure if there was a large explosion or not, I was in the commons fletching and kind of distracted by other things as well. What did catch my attention was seeing a list of locals dying fly across the screen. I dropped what I was doing and ran to the Alchemist building to find the entrance in shatters. The door, that had slain so many, was on the ground, shattered. I entered then into an odd nightmarish dream, of seeing friends dead and morphs of them killing and attacking those not. I saw immediately a morph (some sort of dark vile goo that can change form)of Lirou and also Wyvenaveil. Wyvenaveil's morph ran south, I followed and was attacked by her/it. When she did not respond to my communication, I destroyed the abomination.

You swing an ancient rolaren krolvin falchion at a Wyvenaveil morph!
AS: +331 vs DS: +83 with AvD: +36 + d100 roll: +97 = +381
... and hit for 141 points of damage!
Incredible blast shatters head into a red spray.
A Wyvenaveil morph collapses into a quivering gelatinous mass that finally stops shaking.
A luminescent aura fades from around a Wyvenaveil morph.
The bright luminescence fades from around a Wyvenaveil morph.
Roundtime: 5 sec.

Shortly after we all began to explore the ruins of the building, while continually fighting off these morphs, which assumed our own identities and abilities. My own morphs proved a pain to others with a bad habit of spike thorning.

What we discovered was a home torn to shreds by clawed hands and the apparent death of Archmage Lirou of Illistrim and the terrible execution of his assistant Wyvenaveil.

Here is the room description in which what I believe is the last remains of Lirou.

[Alchemist, Destroyed Workroom]
The grey rock floor has melted and reformed, creating long concentric ripples that radiate from a central blast point. A shimmering crystal rests at the blast point, almost completely obscured by the dense, searingly hot smoke drifting slowly off its surface. Glistening blobs of red and blue corundum rest imbedded in the stone, each placed within the shallow valley between two of the floor's ridges. You also see a wide hole in the ceiling and a stylized male face sculpted into the wall.
Obvious exits: south

Upon looking at the face of the man sculpted into the wall, it was decided that it resembled the Archmage Lirou.

The stone face's mouth is wide in a cry of horror, displaying deep hollows in the carved cheeks, and the etched pupils of its almond-shaped eyes are dilated to their fullest conceivable extent. The slim, tapering eyebrows curve downward in dismay, yet the straight, regular features are still idyllically handsome in their execution.

As for the glowing crystal in the center of the floor...

The evenly faceted crystal is as large as an apple, and waves of hot, dark smoke drift constantly from its surface without any apparent cause. The surface of the crystal is faintly iridescent, like a slime of rainbow-hued soap bubbles atop polluted water, and some part of that radiance seems to spread into the nearby smoke, surrounding the crystal with an aura of strange, shimmering energy. A core of dark radiance seethes constantly at the heart of the stone.

It is then that another gruesome discovery was made, upstairs in a bedroom...

[Alchemist, Bedroom]
This simply furnished room holds a massive bed, still covered with faded green sheets. Shredded papers, broken quills, smashed inkpots, and other ruined tools of a researcher's work have been scattered over the floor near the sandstone desk standing opposite the bed. To one side is a tall wardrobe, doors ajar, which contains several cloaks, a few fine robes, and a decapitated human corpse.
Obvious exits: north, east

Further examination of the body revealed such...

The corpse is sprawled half in, half out of the wardrobe, and the dead woman's wrists are permanently lashed to the upper rack with mithril chains. Barely even a stump remains of her neck, and shards of bone poke grotesquely from the collar of her dress. Dried blood obscures the purple pansies embroidered on the dead woman's frock.

During this time, other clues were found throughout the building, such as bloodied handprints, or footprints clawed and not, in the dust on the floor. A mysterious chest was found locked, when unlocked was empty. It did shimmer oddly, before a black essence, morphs we believed, exited it. They also exited other objects like the chains around the body's wrists. There were also artifacts spread throughout the house, of which one lass by the name of Morah, collected. These objects drew the spirit of who we realized was Wyvenaveil, to Morah, who could only communicate through gestures and thoughts.

I was in my forgetfullness, unable to record all the artifacts, as most have show descriptions. I get ahead of myself, though. The spirit spoke only to Morah and directed us to the Gardens in the Citadel, by the statue of Aeia at the pool. It was in the gardens that Wyvenaveil often went to relax, to enjoy the quiet scenery. It is where we met her on occassion, and also where we first met and last met the mage Lirou. Upon arriving there, after some effects involving the artificats (which were belongings of Wyvenaveil), her spirit became visible briefly with a rested and happy appearance. Her soul, unable to find peace after such a gruesome death, did find it when we took her items to the garden where she had rested and enjoyed so.

-Rail

In reference to the artifacts found or rather the person who found them, the player of Morah is a very noble and unselfish person. While she found the near majority, if not all of them, she gave away all but one or two items, as keepsakes. In my opinion, she gave my character one of the more interesting items....regardless, I respect her greatly.

Following after the peace finding of Wyvenaveil's spirit, Antinymous,(is there anywhere this guy isn't?<wink, jes kiddin', he's a g'd fellow>), sang the items found seeing if any imprint of the history of what occurred was left upon them...loresongs he did find. I regret to say that I neglected to record his loresongs, they were thought up on the spot and quite magnificent. I hope someone else can post them for everyone else. What follows are the items, which most have a show description, but I forgot to record them. Again, hopefully someone can post with these descriptions.

First off, was a piece of torn vellum, having belonged to the mage. On it was written the following:

...in proper quantity, then the 3rd effects significantly less. (Check study of 5053?)How long have these barbarians been sitting on top of a treasure trove? W. could find out, but that would bring notice -- not good. Enough trouble already, broken door etc. Answer in inner library, but how to get? Too dangerous. Not willing to risk W. so must find another way. Warping of mana flows in conjunction with c. should It was cut off...

When sung to, it revealed thus:

Antinymous says, "Although the resonances of the page have been shredded by passing time, a sense of deep worry infuses the vellum. The image of a young, plump-faced human woman passes through your mind, accompanied by the same concern a craftsman feels for a good tool. Briefly, an image of the garden around me flickers past, and a sense of scorn accompanies that fleeting, fading glimpse, along with renewed concern. Like a shimmering river, the streams of mana spread out before me...but, as I sense the flows of mana, the last tattered echoes inside the page are washed away, and the vellum lies quiescent in my hand."

We then turn to a cloak and robe belonging to Wyvenaveil. These two items describe what occurred tonight, the rest of her items describe more Wyvenaveil's own feelings and longings, not to mention her brief stay in River's Rest.

Items

A hooded verdant green linen cloak marred with bloodstains and scorch marks

Antinymous recites:

"Faintly, my song draws forth a resonance from the cloak. Like the robe, it is not a true loresong, but fleeting echoes not fully bound into the fabric. The image of the garden around me doubles, briefly, and I glimpse the translucent figure of a man gazing at the statue, and I feel your my fingers slip down the linen, rubbing the fabric, testing its reality, before I lose the echoes."

"The feeling of my song drawing the echoes in the cloak together is like the feeling of donning gloves of spiderweb -- the echoes come only together for a moment, and then they fragment again, never to be restored. The sound of an explosion rips through my mind, followed by a blast of heat along your left side, and I feel the fabric of the cloak singing as if it was the fabric of your body. Distantly, I hear an elven voice cry out, "Look -- look, at what the blast did to the floor!" but
everything spins away, and the vision falls to tatters."

"The faint echoes drawn forth by my loresong bring me the image of a floor, and the soft echo of feet pacing. A woman's voice whispers, alternately in common and in Elven, "He lied... he lied... he lied... he lied..." and my chest fills with a sense of betrayal and heartbreak. As the sound of her soft whispering blends into the dwindling resonances of the cloak, I lose track of the vision, and it is gone."

"Delicately, my song weaves together the last fading resonances within the linen, and splintered, confusing impressions race past me. There is the image of a golden crystal in an enruned circle, and then black energy explodes outward in a flash of worse-than-death. The frightened human woman reaches toward a man who is not a man at all but a statue, even though he should not be, and then she runs, because there are four things that are not statues at all, even though they look like
twisted mirrors of her mentor. My heart races wildly as they strike, and blood splashes down... I lose control of the resonances completely, and the linen loses the last fleeting echoes forever."

A bloodstained white silk robe

Antinymous recites:

The resonances conjured for me were not quite those of a true loresong, but those of an echo of a loresong-- something that touches your mind only once, then fades, leaving nothing but mundane cloth behind. You see the image of a young human woman lacing herself carefully into the robe and staring into the mirror, a moment of vanity and worry mingled with one another. Echoes of fear and terror enter the song as your magic touches the bloodstain -- but you can understand save emotion before the vision splinters and is gone.

Touching only the cloth, my loresong calls the last fleeting echoes of pride and anxiety forth. Briefly,I see a young, plump-faced human woman drawing herself up deferentially to march into her mentor's study, but then the vision fades again, and I feel more of the echoes leach out of the fabric.

The magic of my voice brushes over the bloodstain, and the resonances I receive are simply too broken, dischordant, and confused to be properly understood. Stumbling toward the wardrobe, she reaches inside and clutches at the robe like a drowning woman clutching at a rope, something safe and familiar, but there is blood on her hands and now there is blood on the robe, which terrifies her, and then everything splinters away from you as the last fading echoes of fear break my song."

What is odd, is that at no time did the Morphs exhibit the intelligence to capture Wyvenaveil, chain her to a rack in her wardrobe, and the eventually behead her. It is a curious question indeed. On to her personal items, these items reflect the character of Wyvenaveil.

A delicate silver and opal brooch

Antinymous says, "I managed to spin together only a small section of the tattered resonances. Briefly, I feel a hand touching the brooch, a finger tracing the trillium flowers etched thereon, and I hear a woman's voice whisper, "My people," in Common, and then, "My people," in Elven. After that, I lost the echo, and I know it will not be restored."

Hrm...I swear I saved more of these. Again, I'll ask for others to step up and post what I haven't yet. However, I did save the two things which held much importance to my character and to River's Rest. It turns out that Miss Wyvenaveil was a sketch artist. Below are two sketches that she created that survived the destruction of the explosion and the monsters that followed there after. After their description follows what Antinymous sung:

A creased black-inked sketch

Faint black lines running over the page create the image of a graceful human statue standing in the middle of a pool of water. The leaves and flowers of an elegant garden surround her. Superimposed over the flowers of the garden, faintly gleaming silver lines depict a tall, sharp-featured human man gazing at the statue. His brow is wrinkled in concentration, but his eyes are filled with peace.

Antinymous recites:

Awe, pure and simple, flows into me from the final resonances of the sketch. The radiance of the flaming violets briefly seems to halo the statue of Aeia over the pool, and the image is repeated again on the paper in front of me, completed as it never could have been by the artist's meager skill. A great sense of "what if..." fills me, frightening and inspiring at the same time, but, at the same time, there is a sense of loss -- as if I had glimpsed something more wonderful than anything else, and resigned myself to doing without it forever. A ripple skitters over the surface of the pool as I finish the verse, and I know the sketch will never resonate again for any other voice.

Of note, the sketch is of the spectral gardener, who after death for love of Aeia the Mother, still keeps the garden created in her honor. Wyvenaveil definitely was infatuated with her mentor/master Archmage Lirou.

The second sketch...

A tearstained red-inked sketch

(the sketch was not originally tear stained, but the spirit of Wyvenaveil shed a tear that fell upon it)

Lines of carefully inked runes course over the top half of the page, but apparently the writer turned to doodling after suffering a nasty ink splash. The first small drawing depicts the face of a half-elven man and the face of a young female Illistim elf gazing at each other. The second shows a bouquet of flaming violets, and the third, barely squeezed onto the page, is the face of a human man. The man's ears are sketched in repeatedly, resulting in fuzzy, scarlike lines running over the rounded tops.

And what Antinymous found...

"Although the resonances are already fading, the last echoes of wistfulness, grief, and regret cling to the sketch. The strongest emotion clings to the half-elf's image, although it is not fully directed at the object of the painting -- jealousy, and bittersweet longing, and regret. Wonder and awe illuminate the depiction of the elven woman, but a similar regret to the first weaves around the image of the human man. With my impressions honed by your song, you see how the artist struggled to reflect the flames of the poorly sketched violets in the irises of the human's eyes.

As my song pieces together the last fragile remnants of resonance, destroying what it touches even as it spins it together for the last time, there is a sense of a fourth person's presence, as well -- one that was never actually placed upon the page, but filled the mind of the artist as she worked, just like it occupied her attention as she placed the original runes on the page prior to the ink spill. Brief impressions of hundreds of different people, most elven, flash through my mind, and the echoes of wracking confusion that follow are powerful enough to sunder my song. The sketch is only paper, and the final echoes are gone."

Note: The sketch is apparently of three of River's Rest inhabitants and one event surrounding at least one of them. The couple, the half-elf and Illistrim Elf, are two locals, whom Wyvenaveil could not hide her disbelief at a pure blood Illistrim elf being married and in love with a half-elf. (they can reveal their identities if they desire).

The man is non other than Railien, and he is associated with the flaming violet bouqet. One night, Wyvenaveil asked Railien to forage her some flaming violets, he did so and she made a bouqet from them. Later on, the violets died (she admitted this in a daze, when an explosion occurred a few days ago and she was severely injured). Railien on the very day of Wyvenaveil's death, had procured her more violets, which she again, made into a bouqet. While a quick glance at the race of Railien will say "half-elf", I play Railien as a full blooded human, who will quickly snap at anyone who calls him otherwise. To further reinforce this belief, at one point in his life, he cut and rounded his own ears, scarring them in the process. (feel free to glance at him in game for the proof). When Wyvenaveil first met Railien, she called him a half-human, for which he growled at her in return. (I believe Alahnna got mad at him for doing so). Henceforth, Wyvenaveil respected Railien's statement that he was just a man...and so she sketched such in her drawing.

(this sketch, Morah was very kind enough to give Rail with no strings attached, yikes, she's nice!)

Basically, what resulted from all of this was a tragic love story of a human desiring to be what she could not, loving a man she realized that she would never truly have a chance to have. As for the building itself, we do not believe everything is done and done. We expect more to happen...but for now, I'm off to pass out.

I hope some folks can post and fill in the details. As for the building as well, there is a strange mildew everywhere...amazing for that it just appeared so suddenly. Its yellow, not red. ;) Almost each room has several beautiful and neat details to it, that one can miss if they do not expect all the items within. There are also lots of hints that the Archmage was attempting to summon a demon or at least, something off wordly, and using a home made mandis crystal as some form of constraint upon it. There's an odd room of bloated and mutated dead creatures in cages...as well as other hints and clues spread through out the building. If silver isn't tight, its worth coming over simply to stroll through the building and enjoy.

Rail

The last words of Wyvenaveil:

A faint, spectrally thin voice whispers, "Faendryl, I charge thee, by what you carry... tell them I am sorry..."

You feel a faint touch upon the hem of your cloak.

You feel a light touch on your shoulder.

The page lies still and inert in your palm.

A single spectral tear materializes from midair and lands upon the sketch, spotting the image permanently.

Both sketches ripple faintly in your hands, as if a breath of wind passed over them, and then are still.

Almost too thin to be perceived, perhaps more imagined than sensed, you hear a voice whisper, "Please..."

The thin, distant voice whispers sadly, "Peace..."

Although the spectral voice loses strength with each passing second, you hear a faint whisper of, "The only place where..." but it trails off into inaudibility.

Again, the spirit's fading whisper reaches you: "...a place where... peace..."

A barely perceptible sigh of relief shivers through your senses.

For an instant, the image of a plump-faced human female shimmers in the waters of the pool, with long-lashed blue-grey eyes and honey blonde hair. In the next, the image is gone, but a palpable sense of relief remains in the air.

The rest of the loresongs, as revealed by Antinymous (so far):

A vaalin and water sapphire necklace

"As delicate as lace made of true spiderwebs instead of treated spidersilk, I weave together the fragments of lost resonances, but I sense only a fleeting resonance of wonder and pleasure at the necklace's beauty."

A delicate blue spidersilk scarf

"Only the faint, dissolving echoes of pleasure in beauty, combined with a faint impression that someone will approve of the hue, greet my questing loresong. After that, only spidersilk remains."

A bracelet of silver wire leaves surrounding lavender shimmerglin sapphires

"As the song weaves together the final echoes inherent in the bracelet, I receive no emotional impressions except enjoyment. Briefly, I glimpse a male elf's aristocratic face, and there is a sense of deference and pride as I feel another person's hands close the chill metal gently around your wrist. Illuminated by the burning violets, the shimmerglin sapphires sparkle faintly to my eye, and the last impressions clinging to the bracelet dissolve into that sparkling radiance and are gone."

A wilted blackened violet

"No matter how skillfully I try, too much time has passed. The resonances clinging to the violet are too tattered and fragile to piece together, and they dissolve without giving me the chance to understand anything about them."

A crimson blazestar shard

Two charges of an unknown spell, from an unrecognizeable sphere.

Show on the robe:

One of the reddish-brown bloodstains has the distinct shape of a small, slender-fingered hand. You also notice a small enchanter's mark. (4x)

Show on the brooch:

Five polished moonglae opals have been set in a graceful arch across the top half of the circular brooch. The bottom half has been etched with three flawless trillium blossoms.

(Unremoveable) writings found within the alchemist's:

>read page
It reads:
...and vicious, much knowledge can be gained with careful study -- but is that not always the way of knowledge? You must take risks in order to learn," Master Lotundu wrote, and this is the constant struggle we face. The quest is far too important to forsake -- yet the danger is incalculable! Tomorrow could bring victory, or peril, and only the toss of a die and the sweat running down an alchemist's brow knows which it will be. The task..."

>look page
A complex diagram consisting mostly of triangles set at various angles within circles covers the crumpled page. Among several dotted lines and arrows, a number of elven words spot the page.

>read page
It reads:
Correspondence of Water and Air

Application of mana

Triple the frequency of the pulse

Infusion of earth

The rest of the notes are in some sort of unintelligible personal code, which, while utilizing the runes of the elven language, is meaningless upon inspection.

>read third tome
It reads:
Living Electrical Catalysts

>read fourth tome
It reads:
On the Inherent Potential of Established Catalytic Dependencies

>read tome
It reads:
Investigating the Air Sprites:
Studies into Elemental Illusion

>read second tome
It reads:
Willbreaking

>read book
It reads:
Living Gateways

>read second book
It reads:
The Goad, the Chain, and the Flame

>read third book
It reads:
The Meaning of Memory

>read volum
It reads:
The Mortal Components of Fleshweaving

>read second vol
It reads:
Studies Under Starlight:
An Examination of Prophecy's Applications in Demonology

I believe I know one person who has several items that will reveal more under singing, and I've heard of at least three other items picked up by unknown personages that may also be informative.

Part Four: Shapeshifting Monsters

7/9/03 by Rail

Over the past few weeks, peculiar creatures with unsettling shapeshifting abilities have been travelling through the human empire. Their hostile nature is apparent, as they quickly and readily attack without provocation. The dwarven clans report that these shapeshifters have been seen in both Zul Logoth and upon Teras Isle, and the halflings speak of attacks in Icemule Trace and the far-off outpost of Pinefar. The elves, too, have experienced their share of the plague -- there have been sightings in Ta'Illistim, and, less frequently, in Ta'Vaalor.

Because of their polymorphic abilities, these monsters have been nicknamed "morphs". Some call them "v'reen morphs" instead, "v'reen" being a reference to one of the oft-repeated sounds they make, a peculiar keening that seems to be the morphs' method of preparing to cast a spell. When in their natural state, they appear to be human-sized blobs of blue gelatin. In this state, they can flow freely through earth, stone, water, snow, and ice. While their methods of reproduction are not known, these peculiar creatures have been observed splitting into two from one and combining into one from two or more. They melt out of spiderwebs, sometimes turn spells back on their casters, and watch out for one another's welfare, often pausing in a battle to tend to their fallen comrades. They have some ability to summon other monsters to aid them, some of which are lizardlike and some of which are powerful canine creatures.

When they take on the form of another being, they shift in size to accomodate its dimensions, as well as changing to match its form. In matching a being's form, they obtain its strengths, weaknesses, and skills, as well as taking on some aspects of personality and habit. They seem to prefer taking the forms of the intelligent races -- humans, elves, dwarves, giantmen, halflings, krolvin, hobgoblins, gnomes, and so on -- but people have reported sighting shapeshifters that have taken the forms of livestock, domestic pets, and even wild animals, such as bears, rabbits, birds, and, in the north, mammoths. Reports from Wehnimer's Landing indicate that the morphs disdain the forms of the undead.

While it is difficult to track the routes of creatures that travel underground, the current evidence suggests that there are two different origin points for the spread of the morphs -- one somewhere in the County of Torre, and one somewhere in the Barony of Vornavis.

From both locations, the morphs have been travelling northward and spreading to the east and west; the only point of major southern spread reported is in the eastern lands, where the monsters seem to have crossed Lake Fear in order to plague the townspeople in the outlying villages near Ta'Vaalor. While harmed no more or less than normal beasts would be by magics of heat or cold, they do show a distinct preference for cold locales over hot. Large groups have been particularly noticed in the DragonSpine mountains near Krinklehorn, in Gossamer Valley on the route to Ta'Illistim, and in the frozen environs near the trading post of Pinefar. Traders daring the Sea of Fire report that the nomadic people living there seem entirely unaware of the incursions, and that the great desert seems entirely free of v'reen morph activity.

These guidelines have been given in Nydds to help people avoid the v'reen morphs:

1) Stay in groups of three or more people. The morphs seem to avoid large gatherings, and prefer to prey upon those travelling alone.

2) Look carefully at people you encounter, and speak to them before coming near them. While a v'reen morph may bear a striking resemblance to someone else from a distance, the creature's true nature can usually be determined with a good look. They do show an uncanny ability to echo back words, but no speech more intelligent than a parrot's has yet been reported from a morph.

3) Light a fire. The morphs dislike heated areas, and will be less inclined to approach.

4) Due to the bursts of cold released, it is strongly recommended that no weaponsmiths forge rhimar in any area suspected to contain v'reen morphs.

5) Report all suspected v'reen morph activity to the proper authorities immediately, and warn those around you if you encounter one of the monsters. With an enemy that can take the forms of friends, family, and loved ones, it is critical that people band together, or the creatures will divide and destroy them.

Part Five: Empires Investigate

TENSIONS RISE BETWEEN HUMAN EMPIRE AND ELVEN NATIONS (7/23/2003) by GM Jharra

V'reen Morphs Continue To Ravage Continent

It is every parent's worst nightmare. Calling her child in from the darkening yard, a mother spies not one, but two children racing to greet her... both with subtly distorted forms, and both utterly silent except for the strange, high-pitched keening they emit. She cannot bring herself to slam and bar the door, because her true child is still outside somewhere, but these creatures have no knowledge of motherly love, and they are only here to consume the parent as they have already consumed the child.

This image of horror has been played out hundreds of times through human and elven lands alike as the v'reen morphs savage innocent citizens. Halfling settlements, giantman villages, and dwarven cities have reported attacks as well, some seen, some only suspected -- people vanish overnight and are never seen again, but v'reen morphs taking on their likenesses flow up from the ground to terrorize people hours or days later. Preying upon isolated, unsuspecting victims, the morphs sow fear wherever they manifest.

Some insight into their origin has come from Lord Morgult of the House of Kestrel. The Hall of Mages dispatched Lord Morgult to investigate a disturbance in the flows of mana that occurred in the area of River's Rest, a backwater village in Torre long known to harbor smugglers and pirates. According to Lord Morgult, an elven mage known as Lirou inhabited this region for some time prior to the first appearance of the morphs. According to local inhabitants, Lirou claimed that his presence was sanctioned by Emperor Aurmont, and that he was researching the Mandis Crystal to aid the Emperor in case Baron Hochstib of Jantalar should turn rogue and attack the Empire. Supposedly, this was sanctioned by his home city of Ta'Illistim as well. Lord Morgult confirmed that there was a crystal within the elven mage's destroyed workshop that outwardly resembled the Mandis Crystal, but reported as well that the artifact was obviously flawed, as its incredibly weak anti-magical effect encompassed only a space of ten feet or so, and as the crystal did not display any of the Mandis Crystal's other known properties. After discovering that the crystal could not be moved from its location, Lord Morgult erected a protective shield over the area and left to report to his superiors. Apparently, the morphs were created or released in a magical accident related to the crystal's creation.

Lord Morgult's report has been of great concern to the nobility of the Turamzzyrian Empire, and, some whisper, to the newly coronated Emperor, Aurmont Anodheles. Ever since the magical catastrophe that created the Wizardwaste, the use of magic has been strictly regulated within the Empire by the Hall of Mages. Since the Mandis Crystal is technically a possession of the Emperor, having been loaned to Baron Hochstib by the late Empress Mynal'lyanna Anodheles, then elven research into the artifact's workings would suggest that the elves meant to destroy or replicate the Mandis Crystal. Neither option suggests peaceful intentions. If Lord Morgult's report is accurate, and if Ta'Illistim supported Lirou's illegal experimentation, then this may be taken as an act of war.

Thus far, Ta'Illistim has denied all knowledge of the elven mage Lirou. Although elven diplomats have expressed their desire to settle this matter peacefully, they have also implied that "Lirou" may be a fiction concocted by the House of Kestrel in order to redirect blame from its proper position, and expressed their distaste at being used as a scapegoat. Alternately, they point out that Lord Morgult is a junior investigator and may have misunderstood the evidence, or may have been misled by the scurrilous natives. Unsurprisingly, the Hall of Mages is most displeased with these accusations.

Determining the truth of the matter is particularly difficult because River's Rest is currently occupied by a powerful krolvin force. For representatives of the Turamzzyrian Empire, dealing with the marauding v'reen morphs is more important than fighting off krolvin, and any evidence suggesting elven involvement may already have been destroyed by the invaders. Although the Imperial Navy has engaged and destroyed much of the krolvin fleet, a portion of the group is firmly entrenched upon the isle, representing a serious danger to anyone who would investigate Lirou's destroyed workshop.

While nations wait breathlessly to see how this crisis will unwind, some of those who are least involved with the diplomatic situation are suffering the most heavily beneath the brunt of the threat. Barely an hour passes in Icemule Trace without the report of another v'reen morph materializing from the snow. While the forces of Jantalar storm the gates without, the morphs steal people away from within, and the cost to this small halfling town has been terrible. An aura of gloom seems to shadow this normally-joyous gambling retreat on even the most sunlit of summer days.

For the safety and protection of Icemule's residents, a voluntary sunset curfew has been suggested, and the mayor has also advised that no one travel alone even on city streets so long as this threat continues. The outpost of Pinefar has also suffered grievously, and there is even talk of closing the buildings in Pinefar and abandoning the place entirely until some way is found to deal with this devastating menace.

Part Six: V'reen Attacks

9/19/03 by Assarious

Multiple instances of invasion by magical beings...

Perhaps Pheyrmerrin's efforts, recently, to curb the population of morphs in Icemule have shown promise, but in Pinefar tonight, v'reen morphs were spotted in large numbers just south of Mount Aenatumgana. The morphs themselves, encountered first by returning rift hunters, took the forms of adventurers Barttonium, Eleana and Lourraine. A majority of those resting in the Trading Post were also made dead by a few morphs that managed to appear within the Greatroom itself. Such variety of abilities proved catastrophic for the small force attempting to belay whatever the morphs' agenda as killer weeds were seen coupled with cone of lightning and energy maelstrom attacks. Ironically, the Reknowned Healer Myrefalcon found several morphs healing each other, hindering the attempts to dispatch them. Later at the Pinefar Voln Shrine, Myrefalcon was heard to curse the gods for his ill fate, feeling responsible for the several deaths as the morphs attuned to his likeness.

Almost in accord, undead spirits beseiged the confines of the cemetary around Wehnimer's Landing more commonly known as just, "The Graveyard." First appearing in the bog area, commonly inhabited by manner of ghoul and dirge, shadowy warrior spirits appeared along with their lesser mercenary spirits. Shortly thereafter, massive numbers of undead appeared outside the crypt. The more populated region of the Landing responded in like with retaliation greater than against the v'reen morphs. On a more meloncholy note, the majority of deaths accumulated from the attack resulted from the fall of rescuing Clerics and Empaths as well as those adventurers merely seeking a sense of fun and excitement from an area of unusual danger. Such are the people, upon hearing rumors of the undead disarming rescuers, selflessly stay in a safe area, unwilling to lose their assets on behalf of any benevolence towards others. Numerous groups of unidentifiable undead arrived as heavy calvalry, flanking a pitched battle outside the crypt building. The addition of these undead nicknamed, dark forces and vengeful spirits made short work of a battle, turning the tide against those defending.

Nearly half an hour passed in the Landing before hope seemed to return to its inhabitants. The undead invaders in the Graveyard were slowly shrinking. Upon the destruction of the remaining dark force, the battle refreshed. Before any sense of victory could be grasped, a refreshed unit of spirits arrived on the battlefield. Soon haunting spirit apparations were again tearing a decisive gash into the graveyard. Fortunately, by then, revived adventurers had analyzed the strategies of the undead and successfully routed the remaining offenders, once again clearing the area outside the crypt as a relatively peaceful locale. Perhaps on another more disgruntling note was the witness of several adventureres attempting to take advantage of the situtation by falsely describing returned weapons or asking for hints as to what the recovered items were. One fellow Wehnimerian even went as much as to comment on the scale of the attack did not fall under a true invasion and was merely a "surprise party." Others mocked the hard earned symbols of Voln by manipulating their names in a bit of uglier humor as to their use during times of distress.

All in all, it proves fortunate that, once again, the combined efforts of a community may disband such negative aggressions. The Pinefar Trading Post and City-State of Wehnimer's Landing are once again free, liberated from foriegn attackers bent only upon destruction.

- Asarious sun'sera, field reporter

Part Seven: V'reen Morph Nest Destroyed!

9/21/03 by Carabele

Pheyrmerrin finally was able to banish a queen morph when another nest of morphs was found in Pinefar last night.

The night began with numerous morph attacks all over the IceMule and Pinefar environs, including many within the town of IceMule itself. Search for the nest went on for many hours, with it finally being located in Pinefar by Khaitiff and Daina.

Pheyrmerrin was then led to the Pinefar Lodge by Mekthros and an excursion was organized into the nest under Khaitiff's lead. Once inside the nest, the queen was located and held in her natural shape by Mange keeping her stunned. The queen was very powerful and others had not much luck in trying to keep her down. Luckily Mange was able to manage the feat.

Then the Faendryl sorcerer did his work with his magic circle and magical component powder, banishing the queen back into the valance from whence had come. The shadow fragment appeared, as had with the morph on which Pheyrmerrin had previously run an experiment to test his method. But this shadow fragment was much more determined to remain bound to this world. It took the combined group, with all their casting of light spells, something on to a half-hour to finally dissipate the shadow fragment, the last blow against the darkness being made by Murp with a final cast of sunburst.

After the fragment had been vanquished, silence filled the cavern, as all the morphs banished out of this valance. But then the cavern began to crumble, and the group fogged out into safety before its total collapse.

-Carabele

Part Eight: Triumph Over the V'reen

10/1/03 - Officials

Ambassadors went out from Icemule Trace on the twenty-first of Imaerasta, carrying an important message: "It is over. The v'reen nests are destroyed. Those who have fled can reclaim their houses and their land. You can reassure your families and your friends. You can return to your normal schedules. It is safe now."

Unsurprisingly, no one in the Turamzzyrian Empire or among the elven cities believed these claims. These were halflings, after all, and halflings from a gambling resort on the edge of nowhere. The ambassadors went back again, all carrying, in essence, the same reply: "Your faith is touching, but we'll make our own judgements. Only we can decide when it will be safe for our people. Tend to your concerns, and we will tend our own." With diplomatic tensions stressed to a peak, it would be folly to trust to the word of a group of halflings, after all. It would show weakness... and weakness is something that nations at conflict can ill afford.

So, while halflings returned to their homes, humans and elves glowered at one another and waited for another strike. And as halfling parents sent their children skipping back to school and as halfling trappers ventured once more beyond Pinefar, military expeditions outside Ta'Illistim and Krinklehorn cautiously went in search of their shapeshifting foes. They found nothing except earthquake-shifted ground and the untended hulks of abandoned buildings.

In elven lands and human lands, after dangerous areas were confirmed to be safe once more, the people did not worry overmuch about the cause, save those few who darkly prophesied the respite to be merely a slackening of the storm. Most returned gladly to their homes, burying their dead with tears and then going on with the joyful business of being alive. Some discovered that icy climes were not to their liking after all, and they moved to warmer locales, determined to spend the rest of their lives away from snow and glacier melt.

In Icemule Trace, the citizens attribute their renewed safety to a most unlikely source: the art of a travelling Faendryl sorcerer and the adventurers who aided him in his magic. Once despised to the point of being cast into prison, the sorcerer in question -- Pheyrmerrin Azlantor -- is now a hero of the city, if he should emerge from the Sorcerer's Guild. Indeed, while he was last seen at the Guild's gates on the morning of Imaerasta twenty-one, he may have moved on since then, as Guild Master Stark has been quite sharp in turning away all inquiries to Pheyrmerrin's welfare or whereabouts. Rumor from the south has it that he may be in poor light with his homeland at this time, perhaps explaining his reclusive behavior.

Grief for their lost loved ones has dimmed normally ebullient halfling spirits. However, plans are being made by Icemule's town council for a ceremony of celebration -- one at which the dead will be respected, and at which the hearts of the living will be lifted. While the precise date has not been determined, it is known that those who defended Icemule Trace most rigorously against the v'reen threat will be honored and rewarded appropriately at that time.

Although the v'reen morphs came first from River's Rest, that distant human settlement was wounded less by the morphs than almost any other community that suffered v'reen attack. With other matters distracting people's attention, the House of Kestrel has not yet sent a full investigative team to River's Rest. The Kestrel-wrought barrier protecting the alchemist's shop from intrusion has been breached, but some aspects of Lord Morgult's magic remain... most notably and gruesomely, the corpse of a human woman named Wyvenaveil, which is arcanely protected in such a way that it cannot be cut from the mithril chains binding it into place. Headless, the corpse hangs, and those who intrude on its privacy avert their eyes to avoid seeing the congealed blood at the stump of its neck.

Outside River's Rest, few care what the denizens of River's Rest believe -- it is a smuggler town, insolent to Torre rule and Imperial law, and, lately, the town has been overrun several times by krolvin brigands. Nevertheless, there are those in River's Rest who say they know a thing or two about the v'reen invasion, and a thing or two about the woman named Wyvenaveil, who aided Lirou in his terrible task and brought the v'reen into this world. Some of those, if pressed, might say that they know Wyvenaveil's spirit lies at peace now... because a sigh drifted through the Citadel gardens on the night of Pheyrmerrin's triumph, and then there was a warmth on the skin like the touch of sunshine, even though stars glistened in the black sky overhead... they might say that, or they might just turn away, and shrug, and say, "It's town business." After all, no one else needs to know. It's River's Rest's business and no one else's, no matter where she came from. She was one of them, at the end.

And the siege, it seems, is over.

For now?

Part Nine: The Festival of Sorrows

The Festival of Sorrows was held in Icemule Trace on Volnes, 13th day of Jastatos in 5103.

It began with a beautiful ceremony to honor the halfling dead who had been victims to the v'reen morphs. The ceremony was conducted in the Chancel Nexus of the Temple of IceMule under the guidance of Temple Dean Duvalle Ilexvert. A Truefolk priestess of Lorminstra officiated over the ceremony, aided by a junior priestess and two acolytes, and a junior priest of Gosaena and another junior priest of Laethe.

They spoke of the beginnings of the Truefolk, and called the dead "home" into the memories of their loved ones. A blessed seed was given to each of the halflings who had lost a loved one, as a sign of life continuing even as memories of sorrow remain.

After the temple service, the ceremony moved to City Hall where Councillor Larchus honored two halfling adventurers with the halfling title of "'Fahar dyur Kontiquaela", meaning in common "Bane of the Child-Stealers". Then several non-halflings were honored with the halfling title of "Ka'Fahar'a dyur Kontiquaela", meaning "friend who isn't Truefolk" yet is as well "Bane of the Child-Stealers".

The Faendryl sorcerer Pheyrmerrin was to also receive this honor, but it was learned that he had been arrested earlier in the eve by several of his own kind. Apparently he had broken the laws of Ta'Faendryl by not reporting to his kind on his findings with regard to the summoning of the v'reen, and instead choosing to help the halflings with that knowledge. It was noted by Guildmaster Stark that Pheyrmerrin seemed to have expected the arrest and did not attempt to oppose those Faendryl that came for him. (See post 474. -ed.)

After all the honors had been bestowed, there was drinking in the Honeybeer and some games by a halfling merchant and his assistant for those who wished to partake.

Iscikella

See Also