8/13/2022 at 20:07
The Glacian Experiment and the Ascension of Teani
While most of Spinesreach found themselves occupied in the newly established practice of fieldwork, eagerly archiving and collecting samples to fill their preservation vaults in the event that repopulating the world is needed, Litrix took the opportunity to go on an excursion of his own. Journeying north into the southern Tundra, the Xorali scientist battled through blizzard and wind, discovering to his chagrin that the advance of the rot had caused a number of freak avalanches. Despite leaving the region in turmoil, the unnatural weather patterns had inadvertently laid bare a secret in the ice: a bunker of some kind, buried until now beneath massive drifts of snow.
Enraged ice wraiths patrolled within, and cloying shadow lingered in the newly-reopened tunnel. Concerned for his safety, he reached out to Teani Stormwill, requesting her aid as a veteran Sciomancer. Despite an initial brush with death, Teani made short work of the wraiths, and the two ventured into the tunnel to explore further. Finding their progress halted by a massive arch, their attention was drawn to a frozen corpse laying beside the opening mechanism, apparently having perished before finding their way in. Teani used her shadow magic to scry for surface memories and, after some experimentation with the strange mechanisms and encouragement from Litrix, managed to open the door. Also discovered was the message "Y-5", lingering in the final moments of the deceased's thoughts. Neither knew what this meant, and they pressed on.
Further they descended, and it became clear that they had stumbled upon some long lost Ankyrean facility, not entirely unlike the other laboratories and bunkers scattered across the tundra. After dispatching more wraiths, their progress was curtailed yet again, this time by a pair of venantium doors, before which laid a deceased Ankyrean, completely frozen in ice. Teani remarked that the facility must truly be ancient based on the corpse on the ground before her and, spotting a strange earpiece that the unknown Ankyrean was wearing, she quickly used that same shadow magic to devour the ice encasing the body. The moment her hands made contact with the device, the doors swung open with a sibilant hiss of shattering sleet on ancient stone, granting them entry into the laboratory proper.
Inside, they found a number of peculiarities, among them various machinery worn down by age or frozen by the ice lining the chambers beyond. Tattered parchment spoke mysteries of catastrophic failure and investigations, yielding little more but questions. Yet another monstrous doorway confronted them in what seemed to be the nexus of the facility, this one decked out with a series of dials and levers suggesting the need for a password to advance. A blank plaque provided to them an infuriating riddle, and it seemed that progress would come only by exploration and deduction, two things for which Sciomancer Stormwill was renowned.
She took to the task eagerly, first examining a weatherworn crossword puzzle which, after some discussion and brainstorming with Litrix, was solved quickly, all the solutions beginning with the letter "V". Uncertain of its position in the door's password yet, they moved from the Archive chamber to a room labelled 'Stasis'. Residual shadow clung to the location, making it difficult to see, and giving Litrix a pronounced sense of unease. Attempting to clear the gloam, Teani leeched parts of it into herself but overdrew, her wind warping under the rapacious element's assault. After a brief period spent recovering, she purged the residue from herself and found a rhythm of leeching and purging that finally prevailed, revealing a strange message on the walls: "My squaree and my doublee aree thee samee as mee." Once again demonstrating her proficiency with word games and puzzles, she deduced that the password's second and fourth letters were "E".
Thus armed with "Y-5", "V", "E-2", and "E-4", only two letters remained. The pair returned to the plaque riddle, and time passed in frustration and discussion as they worked together to puzzle out the answer. After getting nowhere, realisation dawned amidst confusion as it seemed that Litrix and Teani were seeing different lines. From there, the answer quickly slid into place and the final two letters of the password were revealed to be "M" and "A", in positions four and six respectively. "Vemeya," Litrix grumbled. The Kalsu word for freeze. Teani quickly manipulated the dials on the door and, with held breath and hope in mind, gave it a firm push.
The door swung open into a wide chamber, demarcated as 'Cryotheory'. At its centre rested a large pod, connected to machines and devices aplenty. A sudden compulsion overcame Teani and, powerless to resist, she reached out and touched the device, which despite age and atrophy, whirred enthusiastically into motion. Ambient shadow and freezing cold worked as one to ensnare her and the jaws of the pod yawned open to emit waves of icy steam. Within moments, Teani found herself completely incapacitated, frozen solid in a block of ice.
Panicking and afraid for her life, Litrix made several attempts to free her to no avail, and it seemed she was stuck. Teani, however, was not ready to give up yet. Though her body was frozen, her mind was sharp and active. Exerting all of her will, she managed to bring forth a single tendril of shadow, urging it to begin eating away the ice holding her in place. Slowly, painstakingly, the darkness worked against the frost, and, despite falling unconscious several times in the process, the glacial prison at last yielded, shattering in a spray of icy shards.
Yet even with her newfound freedom, something was not right. Ice still crawled in her veins as darkness surged about them. Litrix looked on in horror but Teani wore a look of strange calm even as another sheet of ice formed to surround the aged Ankyrean machinery. Teani closed her eyes, her thoughts drifting under helicals of black ice and bitter cold and gloaming darkness, images of the frozen tundra flickering in her mind. The shadow and the cold collided in transformative union, each breath she exhaled now tinging the air with frozen motes as her body, swept away in a current of winternight, transformed to something other, something greater than before.
Tundral gales rose, icy winds raging in protest at what had occurred. Gone was Teani, and in her place stood Teeh, a frozen manifestation of winter's dark heart: a Glacian, under whose command the ice and the shadow were forced to yield.
Still fearful for her safety, Litrix examined Teeh for signs of harm and, finding none, asked her if she was all right, shivering all the while due to the roiling waves of cold emanating from her newly-rimed figure. Answering in the affirmative, Teeh simply stated "it's not cold anymore," seemingly oblivious to Litrix's bulging-eyed protests. Excited by Teeh's completion of the long-forgotten Ankyrean experiment, Litrix suggested she return home to assuage the worried Spireans asking after her, while expressing his interest in attempting to replicate the process in future.
Penned by my hand on Falsday, the 23rd of Chakros, in the year 504 MA.