Spirited Away

Near the close of the summer of 508 MA, the rattling of bones against wood could be heard throughout the balmy Western Itzatl. Suspecting that these sounds were connected to a recent vision experienced by many councillors, Durian was swift to respond. In short order, they questioned various residents of the rainforest and neighbouring Saluria, but discovered only descriptions of their elusive quarry. Described as a tall, masked figure in ritual garb, the mysterious traveller was said to have already departed over the mountains with their fungus-laden staff as a walking stick.

The following week, the council once more heard the rattling clatter of bones and wood – this time from the nearby settlement of Salma. Prowling the streets of the fledgling empire, those of the Heartwood once more sought their quarry, speaking first with the architect Linette and then with the mages congregated near the forum. The distracted scholars made mention of the traveller’s search for someone that could speak with spirits, though admitted he had no way to help them and had sent them on their way. Duirani councillors immediately rushed throughout the nearby Ithmia and its adjoining regions, searching high and low for the mysterious figure that continued to be the topic of much conversation.

On the day of autumn’s arrival, the figure made their presence known. A masked Aslinn mystic claiming to hail from the Jalaja Rainforest sought entry beyond the Karnagh’s gates within Abelaas, though her attempts were swiftly rebuffed by the Horn of the Vale, one of the last mighty Minotaur. By the time Runemaster Olto emerged from the gate, most of the council had gathered to watch the exchange that soon ensued. Claiming to have been sent by a spirit known as Asheira, the foreign bonecaster insisted that she heard a disjointed song coming beyond the threshold that denied her. Those onlooking stewards of Primordial Life were soon flabbergasted, for the shaman went on to claim that her patron spirit was a Guardian of Dia’ruis. Floored that an outsider could somehow know the name of their sacred ward, the council swiftly moved to the confined secrecy of the Great Oak and pressed the mystic for further detail.

Senvet explained to the awestruck council that the plane of Life was connected to Albedos and accessible to the tribes of her region. Before Dia’ruis, she assured them, Dendara had struggled on with as much tenacity as Duiran was familiar with themselves. She made mention of an Albedi link to Dia’ruis: a sacred mountain at the centre of her homeland that served as a bridge to the vital plane, allowing would-be tribal leaders to ascend and seek wisdom or judgement. For years beyond memory, the Aslinn claimed, her people had helped ward off the hungry dark on behalf of their own great spirits and their own region of Dendara. With deep reverence, she recalled the story of the plane’s renewal: a silver light flickering across the mountain for but a night, its radiance alarming many mystics. Runemaster Olto and the present councillors concluded that there must have been surviving pockets of Dendara that were isolated from the known Guardians, associated with the distant continent much the same way as the Basin of Life was associated with Sapience.

Soon, the mystic set to work on a symbolic rejoining of their Guardians, beseeching the Shamans for aid in a ritual tending of sacramental mushrooms. Quick to assist, Runemaster Olto and those present Praadi gave of their own blood alongside the Aslinn, which swiftly transformed into an inchoate patch of mushrooms. Throughout the next two weeks, the council tended to the patch at their foreign guest’s direction, feeding it fish guts, other mushrooms, and even the corpses of the fallen as war erupted between the Heartwood and Theocracy.

In a lull between engagements, Senvet gathered the council around a now fully grown patch of mushrooms and distributed the precious toadstools in preparation for a spirit journey. Upon consumption, the council underwent a series of enlightening visions that united them with the lost Guardians of the Albedi continent. The Grand Library was unable to obtain a sample of the sacramental substance, leaving much of the ensuing experience’s details a mystery, but its conclusion ushered in the modern practice of the Runecarver. Employing superstitious jinxes and bountiful fungal shamanism, these priests of death and decay pay respect to Guardians both old and new in Duirani culture.

Penned by my hand on Kinsday, the 2nd of Niuran, in the year 508 MA.