Feel like burning like a bright wizard? Being as green as a gobbo? Robust like an Ironbreaker? Bloodthirsty like a witch elf? Feel free to speak as them here.
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Ithilsyn leaned back in the gilded chair, crafted with ornate spikes that gleamed in the witchlight orb within the tent. Before her on the table was spread the sorcerer’s map, which she studied as she lifted her wine cup to her lips. Runes and notes marked sites of interest across the Blighted Isles, recorded on the dried thalken hide, revealing the locations of cities and settlements, paths, and rivers across the islands which they had found themselves. Ever shifting, it had been a triumph of dark magic that the black arks had made it through without being crushed between the clashing rocks, yet still they had.
She cast her gaze across a series of waystones shown to be over the craggy hills besides Mistwood and traced an invisible line between them with her finger. It was known that these had been placed long ago, across the span of the Old World, to channel a magical web around the lands. They were places of power, connected by a grid, yet instead of pure dhar which pooled in the dark places of the world, this power was something else. It flowed to the great vortex on an isle within the centre of the thalken continent of Ulthuan, channelled by the spirits of champions long dead, yet beyond death. Through their tireless work, the powers of Chaos were denied, and the world kept safe from a tide of countless daemons that had nearly ended it all before the Sundering that had divided Isha’s children.
The map was old, and well crafted. But it seemed incomplete somehow. Yet there were places that certainly deserved further investigation.
Caranordor and his Regiment had arrived recently, the delicate balance of power from the existing Druchii forces disturbed. Careful to ensure that a degree of influence was preserved, she had carefully negotiated the right to continue the work set out to her by Ghrond, the fortress city of the Black Convent, from which she had travelled what seemed now, so long ago. The sorceresses of the Nagrar Regiment would be hers to command, as would those of Drukae Khalir, under the combined Coven of Kar Khadath. A symbolic union, it was one also agreed to take into account the will of His Dread Highness, who had surprisingly pardoned the male sorcerers as long as they swore fealty and carried out his work. This prospect amused Ithilsyn greatly. For so long, she and her sisters had been sworn to hunt them down, and execute them on sight. For the Prophecy of Demise had predicted that one versed in dark magic, and the son of a sorcerer would overthrow Malekith. Their king was taking a gamble, but she knew that it was a calculated risk.
Placing her goblet down, she carefully rolled up the map and hid it away, before summoning three of her most trusted sisters of the newly-formed circle. Sylleth, tall and lithe with a palatable taint about her, Vashirinth, of Drukae Khalir’s old order, and Sildra, her sworn second, gathered before her and quietly listened as she described what had been discovered so far within the isles. On her mind were promises of arcane favours to those who had agreed to her position, but without claiming a degree of power of their own, the favours would be nothing to negotiate with.
Their work was to be subtle, too delicate for the untrained minds of the common soldier. Together, the four crossed over the crags of Golden Tor, its heights touching the low mist that clung to the isle. Eagles soared overhead as the sorceresses crossed the peaks, perhaps the world below looking much to them as the map had seemed to Ithilsyn. From their vantage point, the Coven could see a field below, filled with a great number of waystones. Already the Druchii forces had found them, the sorceresses of House Uthorin doing that they might to harness the powers that lay within. The site was clear of their cursed weak kin, save for the broken bodies of the dead that gazed at nothingness with glassy eyes. Walking into the field, Ithilsyn explained to the sisters of Kar Khadath how the waystones had been utilised by the thalken to channel energies to the vortex itself.
The field was interesting to them, the sorceresses taking note of the lay of the stones and the directions that visible lines of power struck through them. Here the great grid could almost be seen, the smell of magic hanging in the air about them, touching their skin like the light touch of a teasing lover. The lust of promised power was great, but this was not why she had brought them to this part of the island, no. Instead her mind was cast to a remote place, marked on the sorcerers map next to a hidden pool. It called to her like a distant voice on the air, promising secrets. Drawn towards their destination, the seeress led her sisters with determination through a forest thick with battle. Under the spell of their purpose, the Coven walked through the fighting throngs, slaying any who stood in their way with bolts of dark magic.
Eventually they came to the hidden pool, its azure waters clear as crystal. As serene and still as it looked, the Coven would take no chances. Before venturing any closer, the edge was tested for wards, which proved to be in place. Encouraging the sorceresses to test their powers, Ithilsyn left it to them to discover the strength of the protections in place and undo them. The waters bubbled violently as if in protest as dhar was channelled and weavings unravelled, until all was still. One by one the sorceresses waded into the water, swimming to the far side where near the entrance to a cave, she knew their goal would be.
Ithilsyn had been here before. Glancing at the crystals as the Druchii pulled themselves out of the water; she remembered the wary excitement she had felt upon finding them. She had been sent to test them and hence was granted the gift of being the first to taste the knowledge which they granted. The rush of power that had flowed through her was almost frightening, then after, a serene calm and an awareness of things that were previously unknown; secrets she was not even aware that she had not known had been revealed to her. And now her sisters would taste the same sweet wine of knowledge.
The crystals stood in a small circle, surrounding another in the centre. Dark in colour, there was something tempting about them to one who was drawn to the use of pure dhar. It would seem that they had been hidden here, but hastily, and charged with knowledge of the lore of the secrets of their weak kin.
First to go forth was Sildra, Grand Cabalist, and Ithilsyn’s second in command. Quiet and cautious, she had shown discernment and a trustworthy nature, and diligence to her work. Of course, to think that full trust could be placed in any Druchii was a foolish notion; yet Ithilsyn gave her enough whilst ensuring that she knew the order of things, and the consequences of stepping above her station. She had not needed yet to challenge her, and part of her hoped that she would not. Sildra walked slowly to the crystals, grounding herself as she held out a hand and touched them one by one. She swayed for a moment as the energies rushed through her before the vision washed over her sight; the harmonious net of power crossing the world disrupted, waystones being isolated and closed off. The potential of channelling the energy in any direction she wanted. But for what purpose? She stepped aside, feeling nauseous as she came back into herself, quietly contemplating what the crystals had shown.
Next up was Vashirinth. Ithilsyn recalled how when they had first encountered each other, this sorceress had arrogantly tested her will and character. The measure of a natural introduction between those versed in dark magic, Ithilsyn had seen to having her swear fealty to her and the Coven. After deciding to keep her close, Vashirinth had soon settled into her place and had proven to be capable so far. Repeating Sildra’s actions, the white-haired sorceress became still and silent as it was her turn to open herself to the raw power before her. Would it tear her apart? Ithilsyn smiled to herself at the thought, although any would think the gesture was approval. With a gasp she stepped away, describing how two towers were shown to her, wreathed in flames. One was the White Tower of Hoeth, the other as yet unknown. She felt somehow that it could be in Caledor. Throughout the vision, symbols danced, lines of magic twisted and snapped, as the wards guarding these mighty bastions of thalken pride were taken apart and unravelled by a Druchii hand. Vashirinth was convinced that the vision had shown her how to undo such wards.
Last to go forth was Sylleth. A strange one, this. Slender and elegant, quiet and graceful, Ithilsyn considered that she had made pacts to claim her powers, rather than the usual path of knowledge. This sorceress was too subdued, leading Ithilsyn to deduce that she was hiding something terrible. In time she would learn the truth, but for now Sylleth would learn the secrets from the crystals before her. She stepped forth into the circle, testing the shards as her sisters before her had. Yet when she came away, nothing. No reaction, no vision, just stillness, as if they had not reacted to her touch, or had barred her. She came away with nothing. Yet that in itself was a revelation.
And so their work was done, for now at least. The sorceresses made their way back to Mistwood, where the events that had passed would be recorded in the Black Tome. All happenings were accounted for, all arcane items recorded. Such small detail could be missed if not logged correctly, that might provide valuable knowledge when studied later, when all the pieces came together. It was a puzzle. All of this, so many secrets to unlock, so much power to claim and turn towards the hand of victory.
Soon their new powers would be tested. Come what may. Ithilsyn’s lips curled into a smile as she thought of all that was prophesised to be. A world in shadow, under the dominion of its true and rightful king.
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