12/22/2019 at 3:30AnonymousEveryone
Elemental Balance, part 2: Restoring the Ratio
As the Ascendril began to experiment with the sudden changes in the elemental balance, two things were immediately discovered: First, that the elemental channels they created were now being flooded by an excess of shadow. And second, that those very channels used to bring forth their control of the elements were now being used to funnel dangerous levels of that shadow into their own bodies. These two factors came together into a quick, detrimental outcome for the Ascendril, as both their powers were beginning to fail them, as well as their own bodies.
Meanwhile, the Duamvi residing upon Sapience were quickly made aware of the effects from the further anchoring of shadow upon the plane. They took to the Grand Flame for refuge, but the movement delayed little in the erosion of both their bodies and their symbiote, for soon their skin began to blacken and flake away. Pain wracked them as, slowly but surely, the spirit holding together their forms was overcome. Concerned citizens of Enorian soon joined them, offering aide however they could, though it proved to be little solace.
Archmage Oonagh of the Ascendril, acting in his capacity as Cardinal of Enorian, stood before the Grand Flame and offered up a fervent prayer to the Gods of Spirit on behalf of his city. Slyphe, the Maelstrom, soon arrived in answer to the plea, though a countenance that could only be called sullen was plain across Its face. The Immortal knew that It could do little to stop the slow, debilitating affliction that wracked the Duamvi, yet It imparted what little relief It could to the suffering victims. The Maelstrom explain that this problem was beyond Its power to solve alone.
It was then that Iernos, Eidolon of Spirit and tutor for the Ascendril brought forth a previous conversation had with Archmage Oonagh in the previous weeks. After the more recent discoveries in Mournhold relating to the study of both glyphs and aegises, the pair had toyed with the possibility of making a dangerous trek into the underground ruins of Kelsys, a trip intended to discover more information on these archaic, magical practices. Remembering this conversation, Iernos was struck by sudden inspiration.
In a time long past, the ancient Naldareth of Kelsys established a bastion of discovery and knowledge within a structure known as the Silver Spire. There, they focused their research unto the various elemental planes, eventually devising a method of establishing physical links to each. For centuries, these delicate links remained stable until the Midnight Age when they were tampered with by the Spellshapers of Ayhesa. The resulting cataclysmic surge ruined the city of Kelsys and created the massive, raging vortex that lies beyond Mournhold.
Iernos' plan was simple, but dangerous: with Slyphe's help, the Ascendril and their allies would dive down the center of the vortex, to the elemental links that awaited them at its base. Once there, the mages would then study the structure of the links and learn how to replicate this lost art at the Ascendril's lighthouse, their guildhall within Enorian. Through this, the Ascendril would be able to continually release minute amounts of each element into the atmosphere to restore the balance that the Artificer had upset. Although the overall density of ambient elements upon Sapience would increase, Iernos posited that would be far preferable to the current situation.
The plan was not without its risks. Even if they survived the raging currents of the elemental vortex, the process of establishing stable links within Enorian would require an impeccable precision. Amidst all of the risks, chief amongst them was the possibility that another vortex might appear, and reduce Enorian to the same ruin that Kelsys had fallen to so very long ago. Iernos was careful to outline this risk to the Ascendril and the citizens of Enorian. As he took in the details of the plan, Archmage Oonagh spoke with steadfast resolution: it was the Ascendril's duty to uphold the balance, they would not stand by without trying. And besides, he croaked with a joking grin, if an explosion should happen, the Ascendril have never been opposed to theatrics.
Other Enorianites voiced their own support; they would do anything they could to save their Duamvi allies. With their plan of action now decided, the members dispersed, each leaving to make their own preparations for the coming task. It was decided that they would reconvene the following week, within Mournhold.
The week moved quickly by, and soon enough Slyphe made Its presence known, and announced that the time for this expedition was at hand. A massive host joined Slyphe along the coast of Mournhold, their numbers indicative to the importance of the task ahead, members of both Duiran and Enorian alike: Aloli, Amarita, Belgarion, Church, Eliadon, Giliand, Hallis, Iernos, Iesid, Isia, Jakir, Jeromy, Lexen, Lirael, Melantha, Oonagh, Phoenecia, Rasani, Rhine, Stine, Swara and Zynti. They were also joined by Kenuunga and Yegroti of the Enchanter's Society, who offered their expertise for the treacherous journey in exchange for a claim to any relics found that might give them insights into the crystal aegis.
Trident clenched tight in Its fist, Slyphe dove headlong into the raging, elemental vortex that rose up from deep within the ocean, the Maelstrom's weapon splaying the destructive energies safely around it.The mortals found themselves effortlessly pulled along in Slyphe's wake, finding a small pocket of safety at Its back as they slowly made their perilous descent down into the heart of the vortex.
Slyphe's mirthful laughter soon transitioned into an intense concentration as the group descended farther and farther. As the group continued to grow closer and closer to the vortex's origin, the energy that warped around them began to grow more and more violent. Stray energy first lashed cuts upon the God's flesh, then opened deep gouges in turn, and soon began to scour the very flesh from Its bones. Not even Divine regeneration could keep pace with the damage Slyphe was weathering. The Maelstrom called out hurriedly to the mortals now, beseeching them to see to more of their own protections, and withdrew a portion of the energy that It had been using to shield them from harm.
As the God narrowed the band of Its protection to focus on Its own survival, the group of mortals began to be assaulted by violent, rogue surges of energy. Several members of the group were knocked away from safety and Rasani was quick to utilize her Templar training to pull each one back. Meanwhile, Melantha and Zynti focused their Zealot arts and created psionic barriers to deflect the surges whenever they could to offer respite. Likewise, the raging elements began to insidiously seep into the body of both Immortal and mortal alike, corroding their resistances away. With their Luminary teachings, Stine and Swara called upon their guardian angels in order to leech the elemental corrosion from their allies, and reduce their susceptibility to further damage. As the journey downwards continued, the Ascendril chose instead to conserve their energy for the task awaiting them at the bottom.
At last, they broke through the bottom of the vortex and came before what little remained of the once magnificent Silver Spire. There the elemental links floated several feet above the group, spread out equidistant to each other while they spewed their violent energies upwards. Although the destructive force was less severe beneath the vortex's origin, swirling currents still coursed across the ocean floor and obscured vision with a constant stream of sand, rocks and debris. A wearied Slyphe planted Its trident into the seabed and created a small island of safety as the God readied the mortals for their next task.
The Maelstrom handed out strong fishing ropes to each of the Ascendril, instructing them to secure themselves to one end of this lifeline. They were told to form pairs with another that was not Ascendril trained and give them the other end of the rope in order to pull the mage back to safety. Kenuunga and Yegroti of the Enchanter's Society took lifelines for themselves, disappearing into the murky currents to search out what ancient Naldareth secrets were there to find.
Tethered to their lifelines, the mages Amarita, Belgarion, Eliadon, Giliand, Hallis, Iernos, Isia, Jakir, Lexen, Oonagh, Phoenecia and Zynti approached the links repeatedly and analyzed the structure of each one bit by bit. Their vigilant partners pulled them back to safety each time, and through their collective research efforts, the Ascendril quickly gained an understanding of how to recreate those very links, and replicate them inside of their halls. The enchanters also soon returned, their search yielding success in the form of an armful of magically preserved scrolls.
As they prepared to return to the surface, there was a brief break of clarity in the cloud of debris and sand enveloping the area. Sprawling out along the seabed, the group caught sight of the great domes of Kelsys, now reduced to shattered, watery tombs for the lives lost in the cataclysm that destroyed them. The waters roiled around the Maelstrom as It gazed upon the ruins of Its childrens' city and a seething anger replaced the God's boisterous attitude that was matched only by the sadness in Its voice. Then, the moment was gone and the once-city was obscured again.
The ascent to the surface was a far smoother trip - no longer fighting against the upward current of the raging vortex, Slyphe led the group of mortals swiftly back to the shore of Mournhold. They soon disbanded, and the Ascendril hurried back to their lighthouse - their mission today was not yet complete.
With their newfound knowledge, the Ascendril gathered at their Master Crystal and began the process of recreating the links under the direction of the Archmage Oonagh. Water was first, and proved so simple that even Slyphe was surprised with the swiftness of the Ascendril. Fire likewise proved no true challenge, even as Ethne arrived to offer up Her assistance. Air proved reticent to the connection and success was found with more difficulty than those before it. The element of earth also proved its stubbornness at first, until the attempt took a very sudden, very dangerous turn. A harsh chant filled the air, punctuated by a dry, hollow laughter that intercut the rhythmic words. The connection to this alien place began to widen as some entity within it tried to wrest control of the spell, attempting to widen the bore. Whether the intentions of this unknown being were nefarious or not is still unknown, and only the quick action of the Archmage managed to prevent an escape, or an incursion, from the earthen plane onto our own.
The sudden and forced abortion of the last elemental link immediately sent the Master Crystal into a series of unstable fluctuations, upsetting even those links that had already been secured. The crystal rattled dangerously in its enclosure as violent lashes of energy scoured the room and all of those present within it. Quick thinking once more saved the Guildhall, and perhaps even the city now, from disastrous end, this time the plan coming forth from Iernos. With his aide, Oonagh and the other mages weathered the magical assault as they quickly solidified a connection to Spirit, enveloping the Master Crystal with it and stabilizing it - ceasing its volatile quakes and binding together the elemental link in turn. A peculiar change overcame the Master Crystal then, as the elements infused its structure, strengthening it, yet also rendering it unable to produce crystals suitable for the tones of Crystalism.
Spiraling eddies of the elements rippled outward from the lighthouse like a drop in the cosmic fabric of the plane, a bright glow amidst the southeastern sky. Each wave of energy brought new intensity to reality as the dominating shadow was slowly pushed back. A sense of balance had been restored to the elements upon Sapience, though they hung thicker, more pungent, in the air than they had before. The density of elements had been increased, everything in life and death seem more vibrant; shadows starker, winds stronger, fires warmer, even water more refreshing. Only earth, whose connection could not be safely made, remained unaffected.
As the elements settled into place, the Duamvi began to recover rapidly, their bodies no longer under constant assault from the overbearing influx of shadow.
In the days that followed, the Ascendril Order and the Sciomancers both discovered their old spells could not function in the newly dense magical atmosphere.
After consulting with Nevithor, Shadow Warden Tatia led the Sciomancers to double down upon their control of Shadow. Though the practice carried great risk, its power was beyond compare, and therefore beyond rejection. They had even learned to stabilize a singularity's existence - something only once considered in wild theory.
Archmage Oonagh, alongside Iernos, would discover new ways of channeling the elements, wielding spells more powerful than before. Now, with the new knowledge they had acquired, even Air was at their grasp. Iernos also shared the discovery of a fulcrum of power - a bridge between planes knotted together through Spirit - the culmination of their research into planar boring.
Despite the wildly different paths each of mage guilds took, both discovered a useful effect of the new density of ambient elements: Simple spells and cantrips, still potent in their effects, could now be done with ease without having to channel from the elemental planes. In addition, research notes given to them by the Enchanter's Society lead them to rediscover the secrets of the Naldareth's magical glyphs.
The Enchanter's Society of Mournhold had also made other exciting discoveries. The research they had uncovered had unlocked the secrets of the crystal aegis - an ancient defence structure once pioneered by the Naldareth. Furthermore, they had deduced that the increase in ambient elements across Sapience had made the art of Enchantments easier than before - now even those people without formal training in magecraft could conduct their rituals.
Though a semblance of normality had now returned to Sapience, it remains to be seen what other effects the increased elemental density would have upon the continent. Earth, too, remains imbalanced to the rest of the elements and many wonder what move the Earthen Lord will take to address it.
Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 6th of Severin, in the year 485 MA.