Events post #305: The Second War of Night, Part II

7/15/2022 at 23:13
The Second War of Night, Part II

In the wake of Sterion's conquest and the subsequent murder of its Minotaur population, news of the rift's breach began to spread. Trepidation gripped the land with the anticipation of a second War of Night and the knowledge that Sapience barely survived the first. In place of despair, however, there was hope, and resolute determination.

The Shadowguard, formed by Kagura of Spinesreach as a neutral, globally-inclusive point of communication, saw its numbers swell as the cities of Sapience began to rally for the imminent incursion of Shadow into the Prime Material. Dozens flocked to stand vigil over the rift at Sterion, chief among them Ardent Riahl of the Sciomancers, who doggedly sought to quell the inevitable dissent and disagreement that would come from so disunited and dissimilar a coalition.

No less than six Gods had visited the rift, each of Them grave in tone and uncharacteristically united in Their message: that Shadow would come, and that the breach could not be closed. The best anyone could do, They advised, was to prepare for war, and perhaps slow the oncoming tide. With preparations underway and vigils being held, Duiran, under the guidance of Runemaster Olto, strove to do just that.

Inspired by a suggestion from Esrytesh Sibatti dur Naya involving Shamanic songlines, the Runemaster posited that with enough power focused on the effort, it might be possible to confuse the planar pathway between Shadow and Prime and slow the encroaching darkness in a labyrinth. The Councillors turned to the Dendaric Guardians as a potential source of that power, and in the following weeks an audience was arranged.

The meeting that followed was something that had occurred only a handful of times in living memory. Responding to the calls for aid, the Guardians attended the Ancient Valley in person, accompanied by their voices. While the Duirani made their case and gave their plea, the primordial spirits spoke of how the worship and sacrifice that had once been commonplace had declined. Demanding an unspecified price in exchange for their power, some of the Duirani hesitated, wary of promising a cost they did not know. Sibatti, Illikaal, and Aisling held no such qualms, immediately stepping forward to spill their blood in solemn oath. The Guardians gave their accord, and a bargain, a promise of future aid or service, was struck.

Returning to Sterion, the Runemaster set the Councillors to the task of establishing spiritual totems through the village, one each for Srahda, Griash, Rhulvok, Kree-sa, Takaros, and Vo'acha. For days they toiled in the act, first erecting the totems and then empowering them with a monumental amount of sacrificed corpses.

A week hence, Olto was ready to put theory into practice, but was troubled. Songlines, he explained to the gathered Councillors, were an accumulation of memories, the histories and traditions and cultures of a place. Tapping into their magic held some similarities to the Sentinels' Ancestral Communion, and the Duirani would need to form a similar resonance with the memories of Sterion. The scope of their task, escalating beyond simple travel and transport to obscuring the very link between planes of reality, would require a communion so deep and vast that he did not believe it possible without aid.

He turned to Iesid Mulariad then, the Champion of Lexadhra. Who better, the Runemaster posited aloud, than the Goddess of Memory Herself? Prayers went out and the Indelible soon answered, arriving in Sterion to give Her response in person. Foregoing Her usual insouciance given the gravity of the situation, She spoke instead of the Minotaur, an ancient people, an enduring people, a people charged with an ancient duty to guard Shadow's rift. Moved by whatever it was She sensed, She agreed to assist, informing all present of Her intention to gather the collective memories of all the Minotaurs, and take that fathomless weight of history into Herself, that she may act as a filter for the gathered mortals to safely do their work.

She settled Herself on the ground and bid Iesid to do the same, and began Her own communion, while Iesid beat a steady rhythm on a ritual drum brought for the purpose. Pale mist surrounded the area as the Goddess worked in silence, Her eyes rolling back in Her head as the full tide of memory past was drawn into Her. As the ritual drew to a conclusion, She began to sing, Her lilting notes a manic, indecipherable recitation of generations uncountable, of distant past and recent bygones, of the ancient dead and those recently interred.

Staggering under the force of so much history, the Goddess climbed unsteadily to Her feet and turned the swath of swirling mists on Iesid, imbuing him with so much of that accumulated past that a single drop more would have destroyed him. After She had left to rest, Olto instructed them on their next step. By praying to the Guardian Totems and receiving the spirits' protective blessings, coupled with the gift of memory, they would be able to commune with the dead of the area and create more potent songlines.

They fanned out and toiled for an entire day, praying, blessing, and empowering the songline totems while Shamans planted them in the ground. When over twenty stood in the area of Sterion, Olto called them back for a final prayer. Calling out their praise for the Guardian Spirits of Dendara, a web of green flame soared into the sky from each totem, coming together as a single web of Dendaric energies. As it settled, the encroaching shadow stretched out to an impossibly thin strand, its approach to Prime temporarily stalled, confused and thrown off course by the songlines.

Relief was palpable as anomalies ceased to emerge from the rift. But they, and everyone else, knew it was but a temporary reprieve.

~ ~ ~

In Enorian, the Unbound had commanded the city to prepare for war, impressing upon them the gravity of the situation and counselling hope. At a meeting before the Grand Flame, Qayanehe, the Djinn Keeper of Lore who had remained on Prime following Jezriel's ascension as a Seraph, proposed that the city construct bells to ward off the shadowspawn. Damariel confirmed that the Shrine of Bells in Sterion, while ineffective against Ohlsana Herself, was a potent defence against the shadowbound, crafted ages prior to protect the village.

In conference with the Djinn, and with the aid of recovered memories from the Indelible, Ethne agreed to travel to Rahiela to learn the ancient art of bellforging. Ever one for action over words, She departed through Her volcano without fanfare while Enorian hurried to amass coal, wood, and iron in anticipation of Her return.

~ ~ ~

In Bloodloch, the Thronekeepers met to discuss the coming battle and their part to play therein. Upon learning of a proposal to contact Dejaani, the Albedi entity of Spirit and the Sun, Thronekeeper Whirran made a daring proposal to the Empire: to forego any and all alliances in favour of fighting on their own terms. Bloodloch's government found themselves in agreement, and the Sanguine Fist began making their own preparations for war.

On the advice of Abhorash, recalling his own triumph over Ati, the Shadow, in the first War of Night, the Bloodlochians began establishing shrines in and around Sterion. Deploying troops of their own to secure the area, they set to work as the Progenitor promised to devise a way to use his blood in tandem with the shrines in order to beat back the shadow.

~ ~ ~

Meanwhile, the Goddess of Corruption descended on the Isle of Despair, gathering Her followers closer. Attired for war, She instructed Rijetta Alhazrad, Asaraii, Feirenz Ourborian, Legyn, and others of Her faithful on the severity of the breach. With little fanfare - but an unexpected aggression - She granted those closest to Her the ability to wield Her jade fire. a measure that would be found to disperse shadow creatures to little but motes at a great expense of will.

~ ~ ~

In Spinesreach, the Lion held the largest share of vigils at the arch, while the Syssin worked to banish encroaching shadowspawn and the Sciomancers delved into all their ancient research in search of ideas. Inspired by their recent work on elemental composition and the creation of the Blight, the Spireans conspired with Litrix to begin work on developing their own ordnance. With the aid of the Ascendril, that work continues...

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 25th of Niuran, in the year 503 MA.
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