Spirean Legacy, Part III: Shadowbringers

It was just part midnight upon the 10th of Celes, year 0 AC that the Sciomancers convened under the glass dome of their guildhall – a time most befitting their solemn assembly, for they were gathered to contemplate the final steps of restoring shadow to the realm.

Nevithor, the Shadow Tutor, addressed his guild, revealing that while they had successfully bound a substantial amount of shadow essence within the lattice of their Master Crystal, this was merely the portion that was scattered across the Prime Material Plane. To achieve full restoration, their gaze had to extend beyond the familiar confines of their world, into Czjetija, the Plane of Shadow itself.

Uniquely attuned to the Crystal, Nevithor could sense the rest of the essence in Czjetija, straining against the planar barriers as if desperate to return to wholeness. This next endeavour would be their most dangerous, the Shadow Tutor warned, but progress must continue unabated by the restraint shown by those too afraid to venture into the darkness – such is the way of the Sciomancers.

And thus, they would throw wide the gates.

In the guild’s courtyard, under the vigilant gaze of night, the mages – Kagura, Sheryni, Boube, and Wjoltyr – forged a circle of potent wills. Their efforts were further supported by Evlentesh’s power, standing sentinel outside the circle. Arrayed in a protective cordon were the Revenants and other valiant warriors: Haleth, Llancarfan, Nebula, Oridez, Whirran, Virelen, Lirou, Bosphor, Tina, Pietre, Tekias, Mileta, and Aliyah. They were the bulwark against the unknown, prepared to shield the world from incursions or, if fate so decreed, to confront the very mages they protected.

With Kagura, the Shadow Warden, at the helm, the Sciomancers channeled their collective might, weaving a tapestry of magic to rend the veil into Czjetija. The initial breach was but a hairline fracture in the continuum of space and time, yet through unwavering collaboration, it grew, expanding its maw into the unknown. Shattered horizons dappled the landscape on the other side of the planar portal wrought by joined wills, offering a myriad of cracked mirror viewings into a realm ruined by ylemnic devastation. Czjetija resembled nothing more than elemental ruin forced apart at seams hastily defined by the backlash of primordial force tamed by ambitious hands.

Pinpricks of violet manifested in the broken gloam, signaling the notice of lesser beings bound to the fallen Empire Ever Dark; their knowledge traveled across indeterminate distances, a hushed whisper of locals witnessing foreign faces from unimaginable distances. It didn’t take long for them to begin to swarm through the rift onto Prime. At first it was only small monsters, but as the gateway continued to widen, deadlier and larger creatures strode through. One and all they were cut down by assembled fighters.

The circle of mages, aware of their growing fatigue, adeptly passed control among themselves to sustain their arduous task. Each individual took their turn at the helm, guiding the group’s collective power to maintain the intricate spatial manipulations. Amidst this concerted effort, Nevithor issued a warning: he sensed the approach of something large and urged the gathered to prepare themselves, poised for the possibility that this might be the long-anticipated essence they sought. A hand thrust through the ancient dark of shadow’s planar demesne, its amorphous constituency forced to adherence by the indomitable will at its heart. It pried and tugged, widening the border with every desperate, destructive motion. The timeless, buzzing static of alien interference filled minds as the unknown entity drew nearer towards this newly wrought rent, the edges bordered with lurid frost.

A single, nebulous eye – violet, imperious, hateful, and cunning – peered into the surroundings from the other side of the gate. Ozeroth, Firstborn of Ohlsana’s Endless Spawn, Bringer of Tragedy, Perpetrator of Planar Atrocity, stared out from the abyss. With the ease of one borne from darkness, the Firstborn seized immutable control of the circle of joined mages for himself, the mages helpless to resist his superior will.

Ozeroth, satisfied with his hold upon those gathered, thrust his hand through the boundaries – into Primal reality – in an effort to begin anew the desolate conquest of Czjetijan mandate. Bound to his will, the four mages were helpless to resist as Ozeroth drained their reserves to aid in his planar crossing. Within the horrifying depths behind this magical window of shadebound spellcasting and concentrated mana, Ozeroth looked out upon the Prime Material, his insubstantial being writhing in sickly anticipation.

The unfolding horror swiftly shattered Nevithor’s typically stern and composed demeanor, propelling him into a state of panicked urgency. His commanding shouts pierced the air, directing the gathered Revenants to perform their ultimate duty: the immediate termination of the mages. It was Whirran, the High Priest of Loss, who first acted, cutting through the thick shroud of disbelief that had enveloped the onlookers. With decisive, solemn resolve, he purged all shadow from Regent Sheryni in one swift, merciful strike. His actions set a grim precedent, and one by one, the other mages met a similar fate, each released from Ozeroth’s insidious grip through the somber finality of death.

Skulking about as if a thief in the night, an ephemeral haze of shadowy essence seeped from the portal and touched down upon the tundra. Its creeping river of utterdark slithered serpentine towards the gates of Spinesreach.

Straining against the boundaries of the Master Crystal’s imprisonment, the essence ensconced within its faceted depths battered against the physical limits of the arcane edifice. Employing cunning rather than force, the inert Immortality suddenly leapt to life and seeped out of its containment through the shade cast by the crystal’s enchanting glow. Gathering into a churning vortex of immaculate, dark deism, the essence seeped then through the glass roof and departed elsewhere.

Shadowy streams of godhood coursed through the cold streets of Spinesreach, eliciting screams of shock and astonishment as the population witnessed raw Immortal essence rampage across its streets in an inky flood of utmost potential. Rising akin to a wave large enough to dash a village upon seaswept rocks, the ancient power manifest in the city’s streets crashed down upon a lone, exotic figure only so recently acquainted with the Theocracy’s views and lifestyle – Tepevra, a Caentoi from Bonro displaced onto Sapience during the Monomachy.

A sleek, masculine figure arose upon the swell of manifest shadow, his self-assured confidence present even in the throes of impending ascension. Cosmic murk and Immortal power suffused his dark pelage, creating a midnight canvas upon which only oceanic eyes peered out. Royal purple, commanding sable, and glimmering silver entwined as a cocoon meant to spur on Divine metamorphosis, ensnaring the lone Caentoi within a morass of exalted power and ancient prowess.

Ravenous and unforgiving, the shadow-spun shell of primordial power collapsed in upon the Albedi native, rendering him naught but elements and ideas to sculpt and reform as befits the whim of Immortal necessity. Dark and light clashed, the glut of spirit upon the Prime seething indignantly at the trespass of shadow so recently severed from the Prime. In a display of fundamental violence, the darkling essence lashed out and distended, warped, seeking to foster the growth of its new shell even as it warred with its equal and utter opposite.

Reality yielded to the passage of warring forces, dusk and dawn blossoming in the sky in a union never meant to occur. Raw power exuded from their brutal enjoinment, the interminable loom of Creation’s first elements spinning wildly in the face of such constant, baleful friction. Order asserted itself. Balance reigned. The rancour of mindless, essential forces found cessation, though the brilliant light wrought by regional imbalance soon ebbed away to a normalcy not seen since before the Midnight Age’s final saga.

Ribbons of atramentous murk streamed across the sky as the fragile shell of nascent power sloughed away, its opaque gloam dispersed to reveal the product of desperate, needful convergence. Arvelis, the Jackal’s features gazed down upon the realm of Sapience, His eyes alike to twin voids that devoured every detail, each gambit, all ploys, any intent, the goals of the ambitious and the determined stride of those who longed for greater heights, ever and always measured ‘neath His cunning eye. He cast that gaze towards the shadowbound gateway looming over the Theocracy, its size now casting the gloom of impending apocalypse across a Tundra not yet recovered from its first brush with rotten dissolution.

Arvelis’ lips moved, though His words were not for all to hear – they manifested as a static hum in the mind, a gnawing tooth digging into the psyche alike to Czjetijan tongue. “You have done well,” the Jackal remarked. “I shall sort out the rest of this, as befits the warden of Shadow.” Striding upon an unfurling carpet of witching hour’s black, the newly born God drew nearer to the worrying threshold and seized upon the intrusive murk leaking from its other end.

As if Ozeroth were but a child and He a firm paternal figure, Arvelis denied the hideous, horrifying Firstborn ingress into the Prime. By will, by hand, by sheer Immortal might, Incarnate Shadow firmly thrust the ancient Firstborn back into the seething embrace of Czjetijan dark as if moving a chess piece from one part of the board to another. Betraying shock for this trespass upon his dread dignity, Ozeroth made an attempt to seep through the portal once more. Inky smoke sizzled upon the empyreal vault as he made his second attempt, his power turned to the single purpose of escape – to terrorise the Prime, to consume and devour and begin anew a conquest abandoned.

Arvelis jabbed a finger forward, lancing the amorphous, eldritch horror upon one of His shining claws – a firm, effortless reprimand to a Being lesser than He. Immortal Ambition laughed at this, a clever smirk peeling at His Caentoi shell’s lips. The Firstborn shrank back from the offending digit as if further contact would ensure the visitation of grievous suffering, astonishment and fear in equal parts setting his liqueous constituency to an uneasy calm. Seizing upon this shock, Arvelis grasped one side of the portal in the skies and simply folded it as if it were a scrap of parchment. His hands moved at a dizzying, dexterous pace, the existential tapestry knit by His every motion as He closed the gate to a realm now under His purview.

The God of Sapient Shadow and utmost Ambition turned His head to examine the realm at large before His eyes fixated upon the Theocracy. He stepped forward towards His own shadow, making of it a gateway that conveyed His Immortal form unto the city below.

To those gathered, the Jackal confirmed His retention of the memories of the man whom He had chosen as His vessel, a figure many knew personally and fondly. Simultaneously, He held no recollection of His predecessor, Severn, except through the experiences of His vessel. Arvelis, with a hint of amusement in His tone, offered to entertain three questions from the assembly, cautioning them with a sly remark not to let Boube squander this opportunity.

Kani, quick like a rabbit, managed to restrain the ever-eager Kobold before he could blurt out anything rash. Meanwhile, Regent Sheryni, stepped forward to pose two of the three questions to the newly ascended deity, receiving His answers in turn. In an unfortunate turn of events, Whirran, who arrived late and unaware of the three-question limit, inadvertently squandered the final query by speaking out of turn, eliciting a wave of frustration and disbelief among his peers.

The tension of this misstep was quickly overshadowed by another unexpected development: the entrance of Grand Crusader Benedicto Silverain. Having traversed across the continent from Enorian, the Templar’s presence immediately brought a tense air to the gathering. With a blend of determination and righteousness, Benedicto confronted Arvelis regarding a transgression committed by His vessel, Tepvara. Amidst a crowd of wary Spireans, many of whom viewed him with enmity, he boldly demanded the return of Yanda’s cloak, a relic which Tepvara had absconded with during a sojourn to the southern city.

The Jackal expressed a fleeting admiration for the Templar’s audacity and ambition, yet nonchalantly dismissed the demand, bidding him to return home empty-handed save for the tale of his valour. Following the Templar’s departure, Arvelis addressed the city one final time, promising they would know more of Him in time, and left, striding through His own shadow.

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 18th of Chakros, in the year 1 AC.