Ysharra had awoken harshly, and even minutes later, leaning over her writing table, her heart still hammered with the whispered memories of dreams. She took another long breath, and listened- the house was near-still, though just over the sound of her pulse she could hear the shuffling of movement down the hall. The necromancer had not yet returned to bed, still working on his research in the salon, by the candlelight, so he could watch the flames dance over the shadowed graves and mausoleums visible through the windows there.
Silently, the half-elf slipped into a nearby chair, and retrieved a few sheets of vellum from the table's stationary box. Stretching back, she removed a small, glass bowl and a vial from her sample case, and deposited them into the writing slope's reservoir. She traced a few fingertips over the bowl's arc, until some wriggling tentacles popped out of the water's surface and tangled with her hand, allowing her to lift the small octopus out of his home. She brought the tiny creature over the glass vial, and made a few coaxing clicks under her breath. The cephalopod quivered, and with great accuracy shot out a jet of dark brown fluid into the waiting vessel, where it mixed with the amber-hued liquid within. She tapped the vial with her quill while returning the octopus to his bowl, and before long the ink took on a vibrant celestial hue. Thus prepared, she began to write, her dark blue eyes scanning over her work in the pale Lornon light coming in across the spring night. The only interruption came from the scratch of her quill on the vellum, and occasional soft, squishing noises from the octopus in his domicile. Soon enough, she had three letters drafted, blowing carefully across the looping, messy handwriting until they were ready to be sealed.
At first, she thought to leave them until morning, when one of the household staff could take them to the Landing for her, but another glance down the hallway left her with the impression that he'd be at least a few hours more, and she was none too eager to return to her haunted dreams. So instead, quiet as a temple mouse, she shrugged into a long, grey robe, shivering as the silk passed over the agony that was her back. Barefoot, she crept out the villa's rear entrance, sneaking silently past the ring of sepulchers that bordered her home. She padded through Ravenswood, the neighborhood's ambient sounds of the running brook and rustling noises of stirring wraiths and ghouls masking her movement. She detoured over to the large mausoleum, thinking that in the moonlight, she looked as much a ghost as any in Luukos' debt nearby. Atop the tomb, a nesting pair of ravens perched, the pale-feathered female raising her head to quork wearily at the ranger. Ysharra stretched, gaining the mausoleum's roof with a nimble climbing leap, and knelt to give her friend a few caresses. Under her stroking hand, she could feel the hard outline of the two eggs beneath, and the simple, tactile sensation did much to calm her nerves. The dreams, the faces that hide within those mists, pulled back a little, into their shrouds, when confronted with symbols of life, renewal and expectation.
Before long she was on the move again, out of the graveyard and into the surrounding Trollfang, picking up speed as she turned south. Soon she was running, long legs taking her swiftly across fords and low hills, past confused swamp trolls and hobgoblins until the Trollfang gave way to the marshes surrounding Vornavis. A hint of grey twilight peaked over the bay's tumultuous waters as she walked through the streets of the freeport, and as the sliver of light passed over her, the scars lining her limbs standing out in stark relief before vanishing again. Lornon was still clinging to her precarious throne in the sky as Ysharra approached her first destination, a dark, somber stone house in Ebondrift. She tried to focus on the sound of movement again, thinking the Magister probably slept as poorly as she herself did, and might share a cup of tea, but she gave up the idea, knowing that Raelee, if awake, would likely be working or reading. So instead she slipped the sealed missive into the house's mail drop. She regained the streets of Solhaven, turning to the southeast. The growing dawn crept across the fluted columns as she moved into the small garden, and for a moment, her skin, with all its pale white spider-web-like scars matched the veins crossing the marble shrine's alabaster surface. She had no time for a true contrition, but it would be unthinkable to be so close, by foot or by heart, without making a gesture.
Ysharra bowed her head and murmured under her breath, and at the whispered spell's conclusion, writhing, thorn-laden vines crept up over her legs, arms, and shoulders, moving alongside the silken robe to cut into her skin, leaving more lines to join the traceries already there. The brambles stretched and shuddered over to the altar's pale surface, providing passage for the river of crimson to pool upon the white marble. Ysharra bit her lip as the thorns dug in, before long, her cries of pain lingered over the otherwise silent garden. Ysharra bled until the loss buckled her knees, and slid down to the altar's foot to wait for her skin to start to knit. Fresh agony came as the morning's breeze whistled through the columns, brushing over her rent skin like nettles. Shuddering, she let the dreams come back, letting them work their spectral woes into the weave of pain. Visions of a young woman, clutched within her brambles much as she herself was now, came first. Ysharra had kept the girl away from the other two, using all her ranger skill to secretly fill the island administrator with euphorics, so when the questioning came, she was too taken by giddiness to avoid answering. The rending thorns gave her nothing more than superficial wounds and then later sleep, but her companions would hopefully never know. For that deception, now, Ysharra paid in blood and sorrow. More memories twinned to this night came after, of an elven girl laid out across a table in Feystone Inn, pleading with Ysharra to stop. A red-haired thief, sobbing while Ysharra's fingers tightened about her throat. And behind them all, a face that was a curious, distorted reflection of her own loomed, pale hair streaming out across the visions entire. Ysharra's breath caught, and with the nourishing inhale, her senses returned, the images banished once more. Oh, Baerd, I am sorry, so sorry...
As the sun rose upon the day, Ysharra made her way back, trying to not notice the stares of the early-rising tradesfolk of the Landing while she delivered her two other letters. After all, it wasn't the first time most of them would see her covered in blood, leaving little crimson footprints in her wake. It certainly wouldn't be the last. She would go to her own garden now, out in the Dancer's halls in Vipershroud, and there feed the orchids their own special repast.
The missives sat in their receptacles, waiting for their intended readers; Magister Raelee Svala, the Chronomage Guild Hall, and the Mist Harbor merchant Jebariah. Their contents, on the whole, were similar requests for information and ideas.
You may have heard about recent events upon the Mist Harbor archipelago. There have been a number of incursions by several threats, but the Krolvin forces are what I wish to ask you about. We have found out that they have been transported with an unknown device that is powerful enough to move a whole ship of them to the waters near the Harbor docks. I recall you once telling me about one of the Imperial Drakes using a similar power to move entire battalions, and wondered if you might have a theory about what we could look for, in order to keep the kral from being able to use this method, or if there would be anything we could use to redirect them. Say, straight into the Eye of V'tull, I hear they don't like the heat so much. I have also written the Chronomage guild and the transporter jewelry merchant Jebariah, to see if this is anything familiar to their realms, as well. I look forward to your thoughts, as always, you never fail to gift me with perspective.
Yours in Service,