As the Free City of Delve began to recover from the calamities that had visited it over the months prior, trepidation and unease yet lingered in the air. Though the valiant efforts of Enorian, Bloodloch, Spinesreach, and Duiran had come together to drive back the storm of misfortunes, Delve still remained defenceless without the newborn eld’akathi there to protect it against future strife. Kull Ervenn made an ominous proclamation to the world in early Niuran, reporting with immense regret that another had found the newborn first. The Prelate remained tight-lipped on precisely who or what had seized upon the newborn, instead entreating Sapience to join him and Councillor Rhav Maslak in a negotiation – with the hope that sufficient adventurer presence would be a significant show of force.
The appointed date soon arrived and Kull Ervenn gathered the world to the meeting place – a snow-laden overlook in the Dramedo Crags. Rhav joined him, and before long some forty adventurers arrived on the scene. Tensions were high – only Kull and the Council knew what to expect, the only clues taking the form of vague allusions and remarks about political plots. In minutes, the roar of engines thundered in the air and a long shadow fell across the snow-brushed peak: a Dreikathi airship had arrived, and the craft soon came to a rest above the plateau, its dozen cannons all swivelling to train their aim upon the gathering below. From the vessel emerged a wiry Vierkathi by the name of Hulok; in grandiose tones and with a bow, he announced his status as a representative of Xandrelle, ostensibly the ruling Polemarch of House Zaxandor and Governor of Greymarsh.
Little time was spared for pleasantries as the adventurers looked on in both surprise and suspicion. Rhav, urging calm, remained silent and visibly displeased. Prelate Kull refused to commence negotiations without proof that the Dreikathi contingent did indeed have possession of the eld’akathi, and that it was alive. Hulok acquiesced, the glassy underside of the aircraft becoming transparent and revealing the bound, but otherwise healthy, eld’akathi. Kull, still not convinced, pressed Hulok on why they should trust him, and what assurances he could offer that this very negotiation was not part of Andalso’s plot.
Unfazed, Hulok replied simply that House Zaxandor was not aligned with House Galthor, and that Governor Xandrelle was uninvolved with Axander’s (Grand Library note: we believe this to be the native term for Polemarch Andalso, the mistranslation used by Sapience having been proven inaccurate) ploy to regain favour. He assured Kull that Axandar’s fall was House Zaxandor’s rise, and that the negotiation was both in good faith and for their mutual benefit. Kull’s second question was more simple: “What are Xandrelle’s demands?” The Vierkathi representative, ever-brisk and calm, demanded the immediate surrender of pylon technology and cessation of its use. The Prelate refused instantly, offering instead the artifacts utilised in Axander’s plot – the implements which were utilised to bring about the death of Aiillassa.
Referred to as “Class III artifacts, reference PS-411, alias: staves of the sovereign”, Hulok expressed interest but remarked that these were not of equivalent value to the nascent eld’akathi. In addition to the relics, the Vierkathi made a second demand: hand-over of the stolen airship technology obtained following Polemarch Axander’s failed invasion of Sapience. While Kull and Rhav conferred in hushed whispers, the crowd watched in confusion, those old enough to remember the fall of Ashtan among the most suspicious and bitter, for obvious reasons. As Hulok partook of Sapient cuisine provided by a refreshment Goblin with a particular penchant for intrusion into public events, Kull finally agreed to these terms: the core, and the artifacts, in exchange for the eld’akathi.
Denying Hulok’s insistence that Delve turn over both things first, Kull deftly negotiated a staggered handover – the core, then the eld’akathi, and finally, the staves. The Prelate then turned his attention to the adventurers, making special requests of Feirenz, Benedicto, Xavin, and Lenoriel to visit Barakin with a contingent of their citizens to prepare the core for transport. Upon their arrival, Barakin alerted them to his plan for the core: to rig it with explosives and Sapient magic as an insurance policy to ensure the airship actually took its leave. With the aid of Lenoriel blocking its valves with clay, Linne manipulating its mechanisms with Numerology, and Legyn performing experiments with alchemical salt, Aloli’s magic cooled the pressure valve to ensure they would have time to transport it safely.
While Hulok and Rhav, along with most of Bloodloch and Duiran awaited the core’s delivery, scant conversation took place amongst the crowd, some few exchanges between the Councillor of War and Warleader Bulrok, and the odd question and enquiry from Qelres Misi and others. Hulok mused inwardly on the ploy by Axander to regain favour by destroying Delve, and how the Polemarch had fallen far after his failed invasion. Axander had secured the Governor position of Bonro solely by the interventions of his aunt, the Autarch – Thyxthaxia of House Nerethix. According to the Vierkathi, the Autarch had paid a great price for that familial aid.
Barakin soon returned to the plateau with the airship core and the exchange took place. Kull, playing his hand, alerted Hulok of the rigged mechanism, with Rhav confirming Delve’s intent for it to be used as insurance. Hulok, amused, simply shrugged and had the core hauled into the cargo hold of the awaiting airship. Keeping his word, Hulok gave the signal and the eld’akathi was released from its bonds. Kaleidoscopic light filled the air, dancing in whorl-like patterns across the Albedi heavens as the immaterial being deliquesced into the etheric currents of the world.
Moments later a veil of phantasmal light fell across Delve, the primal eld’akathi coalescing within the Twilight Cavern. In languid motions it shifted and shrank, perfectly filling the space in which it now dwelt. Like a web of sparkling stars, the mantle settled firmly into place across the Free City as though countless shimmering threads of will made real.
Satisfied and, moreover, relieved, Kull handed the bundle of staves to Hulok, whose examination was swift. The Vierkathi accepted this second prize and, still amused by the rigged core and the gambit by Delve to ensure Dreikathi withdrawal, he provided just that – ascending up the ladder and calling for the ship to depart. Amidst the great roaring of engines, the craft ascended higher into the sky and turned east with its questionable cargo, vanishing beyond the horizon after a short while.
As Kull returned home with Barakin and Rhav, a cascade of mellifluous chimes sounded out across Delve, the dormant portals of the Sapience Embassies blazing back to life as their strength was renewed by twilit ordination.
Spared from the worst consequences of misfortune by Sapience, and offered salvation by the most unlikely of benefactors, Delve stands, as it long has. The Will of the Helm has manifested, though the mysterious purpose of these eight eld’akathi – no more, no less, and occasionally whispered as divided along lines material and immaterial both – remains to be unravelled. Of greater concern is Drakkenmont, and the political schemes played with not only Delve, but Albedos itself, as the game board. Time will no doubt tell as to the nature of these plots…
Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 19th of Niuran, in the year 506 MA.
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