Author Topic: [A journal entry out of time: Aethelwine Sothilde: Emotion.]  (Read 1497 times)

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Marcillene, I remember the day you entered my life. You quite literally fell on top of me. I didn’t know what to make of it exactly. Like a few peculiar things in the Realm, I accepted it – but never quite put questions out of my mind about it – as the auspices of his Royal Majesty the King. Indeed I have beheld many things, many little quirks that do not fit in to the laws of the City, manipulated them myself if not directly then indirectly, but such things are always a double edged sword. A gift and a curse. I dare not call you the latter, you came to me in my hour of need, and though at first you were honestly a drain, it took us losing each other to realise how much we had meant to one another.

I also remember that which you held in your hands, held out to deliver unto me. It was the Tome of the First Flame – and though we know almost everything about them now, I think that’s a statement yet of where we are to go. I believe in the Realm, Marcie, and I’ve been learning about these Architects, I think I was mistaken about their link to the Doorkeepers. Yes, we learnt more from the Royal Archivists after all, didn’t we? Ah, all part of the price we paid to realise House Sothilde. I remember every step along the way. Indeed, I remember the way you quietly whispered beside me: ‘Marcille Sothilde’... Ah, I rememberer the moment, when I first told you.

M: Congratulations, master!
     Wow... to be the successor to Amastacia...
     When did this happen?

A: Effectively, I am Lord Sothilde now, Marcie. But I don't know... I don't know how I should go about my name and station. I fear the Peerage of Ring 99 will come for me, to seek to bind me in their wretched ways.

M: Who cares about them... I think the other magi would flock under your banner!
     It would be a powerful symbol!
     At least... I think so.

Then I showed you Thaddeus, and you were lost in the moment of such delightful curiosity. Ah, and this was half a year ago, my love. Our friendship had blossomed, and we were Master and Apprentice again, after Hawthorne retired in the Smoulderpeaks.

A: I'm contemplating the move, and I felt I had to share with you to be worthy of making it. To sit upon the chessboard... together, effectively, with my most stalwart allies.
     And the more I glimpse into things, I can't help but feel this idea of 'fate' may in fact be binding me.
     That I am here to do something.
     That I must restore this Ring. That a House of Wise Wizardry is to be rekindled in this City.

M: That would be wonderful. Things used to be different... I... I can't remember how... It's so hard to remember sometimes.

A: My mother... sacrificed any chance at children for her pursuits.

M: Well, that can be disruptive for a lady magi, I'm sure!
     Probably less so for a male...

A: Sir Sothilde is the manifestation of her need for independence. Something that also resides deep within me.
     I am my mother's son. [A soft exhale, as he collects his hankerchief to dap at the edges of his eyes.]
     But I... I pity her, in some ways. I don't want to be like her, Marcie. I need to find a better way.
     She perished -- --- ----- ---------, ----- -- --- Breaking -- --- ------.

M: [She tries to follow his thoughts.] You want... children?

A: [A shake of his head.] I don't think I am worthy of children, Marcie. I just... I want to do that which she could not.

M: [She turns away with flushed cheeks.] Um, go on.

A: She did a great many things, but in the end, I feel she failed - well, almost. She would have failed if she did not envision ... if she lacked the vision to have produced me. Produced me through her will.

M: Contingencies.
     A powerful spell, but uh, you don't need magic to make contingencies.

 A: [A nod along.] I have to succeed, it's my duty. I will know more when I reach the Great Library.

M: Are those the colors of House Sothilde? Is that why you've abandoned the purple and greys of Warrenwatch?

A: I believe so. The colours from the manse. And our sigil is the chess piece.
     The Queen.
     I'm going to have to make my move eventually...

M: Are you going to take her name? Aethelwine Sothilde? It has a nice ring to it.

A: [He bows his head.] That is the move that will need to be made...
     Have you recruited anyone else into your House?

A: I just can't quite see the moment, yet.
     I've only spoken about this with just one person, my friend Saint Outis.
     He gave to me wise counsel, as he often does.
     I think he would be the Bishop of the House.

M: [She smiles. She seems genuinely relieved, and touched.]

A: I couldn't speak to you about this while hm... you had conflicting interests, otherwise I'd have shared this with you earlier too.
     I just need to think about the structure better.

M: I understand. It's... difficult to navigate, sometimes...
     But... I am not bound to obey...
     Only to not betray confidence and trust...

A: Hm, would you consider entering, independently, service to House Sothilde?
     It would be a different bond to our present one of apprentice and master, but our friendship would not change, I think.

M: [She swallows and glances to the nearby wall.]
     Yes... but perhaps there is another option...?

A: I've never asked you this-
     Would you seek to be free of your binding to Warrenwatch, if it could be achieved without causing you harm?

M: [She swallows.]
     [And closes her eyes.]
     They've tried, in the past. My former masters.
     So that they could be rid of me.
     When I was a child... I reached out my hand...
     I touched the heart of the tower... I saw Warrenwatch, for a moment. Knew her.
     And she knew me. And it... broke me.

A: Sometimes magic like this isn't about seeking to remove it, so much as fulfilling an unknown requirement that was wrought upon its binding.

M: [Her breathing quickens for a moment.] She pulled me back together...  Perhaps she thought I was part of her. Something to be repaired...
     My first Master... helped as well...
     Oh... I haven't thought about this... [Her eyes are still closed. She begins to tear up.]

A: [At the sight he leans in and gently wraps Marcille in a light embrace.]

M: She... he? Bound me with spells to ensure my secrecy. I was just a street urchin, Master...
     But... I was so wound up with Warrenwatch... that it was much more potent than intended.

A: [A gentle pat upon the back, less words and gesture seeming to share the sentiment of 'there, there'.]

M: [She lifts her arms and wraps them around Aethelwine.]
     [She rests her cheek on his chest.] I don't know if it can be removed. And... it's part of me. I think I will always be bound to Warrenwatch in some way.

A: [There's the slight frown as he listens but he remains silent in the moment and offers a quiet nod.]

M: But... perhaps the geas can be transfered... adjusted?

A: Hmmm... [Another nod, this time one of conviction.]
     Perhaps, Marcie. Perhaps. Something healthier.

M: I've thought about this... I'm not always an idiot.

A: Something that doesn't wipe your memory and mind like you were some kind of... construct.

M: It's more like...
     A book being put back on its shelf.

A: With a chapter removed?

M: Do you remember every chapter of a novel or manuscript?

A: Yes, even the ones that I don't want to.
     [And with those words he exhales a sigh and breaks the embrace.]

M: Oh. Well...

A: But-
     I am who I am. And that's me.
     I guess I can appreciate that you have a binding of more magical kind that makes you who you are, but if we can make it healthier for you, I think we should.

M: [She nods]
     I wouldn't mind... as long as it doesn't hurt me... or Warrenwatch.
     It's... I love her, in a way.

A: I wouldn't want to hurt either of you.

M: [She gives an awkward, apologetic smile.]

A: Warrenwatch means a lot to me, and she does keep coming back to me... fate they say.

M: ... and I keep coming back to her.

A: It's kind of poetic.

M: They tried to send me away. But uh, I'd keep ending up inside.

A: I even tried to leave myself, when I pursued the path of the Ex-Wizard.
     Only to have her return in my darkest hour.

M: You can tell me about that sometime.
     I think there's... there's a lot that I need to learn. Beyond magic.
     Beyond wizardry... haha.

A: [A nod.] Mmm... yes.
     There's a lot I have to teach.

M: I've grown a lot... I can even command three magic missiles at once now...
     Master Ebersol... Well... he was absent quite a lot... and did not instruct me very much. But his instructions were useful.

A: He was the best teacher in this City.
     And he left us with a good lesson.
     Don't go it alone.
     So yes...

M: So uhm... what now?

A: House Sothilde is the future of the Wizard Warrens. I just need to ensure I make the move as mother would have wanted. Perhaps I shall raise the responsibility of governance onto the House itself, kind of like the difference between a president and their Council.
     The Court Wizard would be the president. The Council the collective rulership, amongst whom one is elected or claims presidency.
     But these are concepts of companies being applied to nobility, I will need more appropriate terms.
     First amongst the Council.
     Similar to how in the 99th- there is the Banner House, First amongst Peers.
     I think however-
     I think I have a new task for you, given my secret revelation this day.
     Scout out talent. Who would be worthy of joining us?
     We need to know.
     Who can we trust?
     That kind of question needs to be explored. Don't be obvious about it.

M: That's difficult, but I'll do what I can.

A: House Sothilde is a House of Wizardry and the Truth. But remember, always, that the aegis of the Truth is secrecy.
     Where my mother failed, I will not. We must ward ourselves under auspices of the King and the aegis of the Truth.
     [He motions to the chessboard.]
     We must understand the board, above all.

M: There's other pieces... The King, the Queen...

A: The pawns.

M: Powerful, important, and yet, vulnerable.
     The entire game hinges around protecting one, and deploying the other strategically.

A: I fear if I reveal myself too soon, I will be bound to one of the Peerage's houses.
     Effectively, check-mate.
     Or check, at best.
     Married off... [Shudders.]

M: Well, you could always get married first...!

A: [Shudders again.]
     [Then with a slight rasp.] Y-you're not wrong... all moves must be known.
     Even if they are not... Desirable.

M: Is there truly nobody you wouldn't mind having as a wife? Even if it was just a show marriage?

A: I'll have to make the move at some point though. This is a matter of inevitability.
     [A gulp at that question.]
     Ah... Marcie... I ... don't ... feel comfortable with that question.

M: Oh? [She looks up at him for a moment.]
     Sorry. I didn't mean to impose.

We distracted ourselves with talk of bees, then the Knaves who were being a threat to you.

M: It's... I don't know who I can rely upon.

A: Yes, knaves can be anyone.

M: All my dealings... are just matters of convenience. Temporal. They need my help with something, I need their help with something, and as soon as it’s done... we go our own ways.
     I guess that's not ideal...

A: Well.
     The only exception seems to be you and I.
     I know I ceased being your master for a period, but I did not cease being your friend.

M: [Whisper] Thank you.

A: [A soft gasp -perhaps of delight - at the quiet words, he smiles faintly.]
     [Whisper] Aw, you're welcome Marcie.

M: It was... confusing. Difficult. Painful.

A: I... was selfish, but Marcie... I had to be. I was feeling so lonely in this tower and with its power.

M: It needn't be...

A: After all it seems to have been what befell Magus Ebersol in the end. He strove so far, and reached such great peaks, only to find himself alone.
     Yes, it needn't be. I've learnt the lessons now. House Sothilde is the answer, we just need to execute the next move very carefully.

M: [She wraps her arms around herself and nods.]

A: Hmm...
M: [A few moments pass. Marcille looks up at Aethelwine with a playful grin.] Should I call you Lord?

A: Well, that would give it away too, dear Marcie.

M: Just "master" then... in public.
     And in private... [She brushes some of her wavy hair back and grins.] Aethelwine. Aethy?

A: Ideally you could just spend - [He pauses.]

M: Too much? I'll maintain as much decorum as you want.

A: Aethelwine is fine. Though I won't stop you from calling me Aethy, but, hmm...
     I guess if it's just you and me you can effectively call me whatever you like, within reason.

M: Oh, really? [A mischiveous, yet playful expression comes over her face.]

A: [A tilt of his head at that.] Well, within reason... means not to abuse that privilege. Few possess it.
     Especially when I do make my name public.

M: Hah hah. Alright. It's just for you and I.
A: The only other nickname I have is 'Royal Kenku.'

Then out of nowhere, or so it felt to me, you asked me a question.

M: Are you happy?

A: That's a sudden question, Marcie.

M: Well...
     You said you were lonely, adrift... uncertain of your purpose...
     I was lonely because I isolated myself here, Marcie. I couldn't find allies with whom to share the boons of my tower, of my Ring, despite all my efforts.

M: It is difficult... I see them come through here. Bonds are forged in Ring 99, reinforced in 95...
     The chains are fixed by the time they come through here. They don't want or need another link in them...

A: Hm... I'm feeling a lot better though Marcie.
     I liked it best when you became my friend rather than my apprentice... my dependent.
     Are you okay with the Truth, even if it is blunt - and with the knowledge that it is history and does not reflect where we are now?

M: I don't know.... but I am ready to try.
     How can one truely know if they are ready without knowing exactly what they're ready for?

A: [He offers a solemn nod to that.] Well, honestly, Marcie. At first when you were my apprentice initially, still bumbling around and very much my dependent, you did little to alleviate my loneliness. You became just another... burden.

A: [He pauses, gauging Marcille's reaction.]

M: [She nods, taking it in stride.]
     I'm sorry... it's...

A: Then I had that strange issue with Cory-Coriander and then I spent time with Saint Outis and he helped me realise my state, I had been in denial. I thought I was stronger, that I didn't need anyone else.

M: I... was a lot of trouble for my former masters... I think they tried to get rid of me...

A: [A soft exhale.] Well, you were learning. You had a lot to learn, I do not begrudge you that.

M: I was confused, lost... but also hopeful? I thought maybe I could impress you...
     I wouldn't make the same mistakes again...
     But in the end... I was still an unasked for apprentice.

A: It's fine... I ... it was good being a mentor figure, it gave me perspective.
     And it has been incredibly rewarding seeing you become who you are now, since having seen you bumble about practically begging to learn how to command a second magic missile... again, sorry if this is harsh.

M: It's fine. It's true...

A: I feel like I've seen you mature - as if in the matter of, hm, months, you've gained years.
     I think part of it was Magus Ebersol's method, I don't know for certain...
     But you were in a bad way as well, I recognise that, and I think that during that time we had become closer than we had ever been during our initial time as master and apprentice.

M: It was you, too...
     [Marcille fingers the what-if fastened to her pack's shoulder strap.]

I see it in my eyes even now Marcillene. My ward, a gift to you, something you would cherish, and at a later point played a key part in even confusing you into thinking your name was my own. That latter thought brings me a quiet smile though it was never truly pleasant dealing with you transitioning as the staff-tower changed hands. I hated it so much when you fed into the delusion that stupid Catsby had bound you after we'd already worked our Abjuration, when all she had done was summon you. That silly wretch and her slaadi. I know the Truth though, deep down, inside of you, you wanted it – it was a strange creature comfort for you, it wasn’t a conscious want, no you wouldn’t abandon me so, but it was a primitive one and yes, there was a residual magic there. But Wyndelius revealed it all – he called them, and not wrongly, your perverse fantasies. Such, is the truth, Marcille. You said you could handle it and one day I shall have to share it with you. Wyndelius, Wyndelius, oh Wyndelius the Wise. Did you note I would never take the epithet of ‘the Wise’, Golfaldus’s apprentices wished to grant me the title, and though I’ve refused they might yet seek to insist it. I cannot possibly be wise, because it seems to me that there is a certain level of egocentric nonsense, of conceit for one to think they are possessed of wisdom. No, wisdom is the thing we strive for, it rests upon a pedestal ever beyond our grasp. But I digress, let us return to that moment we had together.

A: Well, in answer to your question Marcie. I feel I'm in a much better place now, that I'm ready to make Warrenwatch and the Wizard Warrens what I had set out to make it, at last.

M: [Whisper] I was terrified...

A: And I'm glad to have you beside me. [A perked brow at the quiet words.]

M: [Whisper] Ebersol was ... not a good man... He reminds me of ... in a lot of ways.

A: [Whisper] Marcie, now that he's gone I should also have you know that Magus Ebersol had a contingency of dealing with you permanently to free you of your binding.

M: [Whisper] He barely spoke to me...

A: [Whisper] Hm... he did not consider you one of his two apprentices as per his ideal.

M: [Whisper] There were... murders... and... they were planning... I t-tried to ... [She chokes on the words. She curls her hands into fists.]

A: [Whisper] Murders - do you mean the Council or Order?

M: [Whisper] I... I can't.

A: [Whisper] Hm...
      [Whisper] It's a shame...

M: [She clutches her mithril shirt over her heart and turns away.]

A: [Whisper] But I won't force you. Though if you ever wanted the freedom from that burden, we could attempt utilising enchantments to bypass restrictions. I'd rather not do anything that could hurt you though, especially after yesterday.

M: [It takes her a while for her breathing to return to normal.] Maybe.

A: Well... no matter, I guess you saw a side of Hawthorne that I did not.

M: What about Acathos?

A: I am working on changing the locks.

M: He still has access to the tower... and he is now High Thaumaturge.
     I guess he worked some manner of curse on a man who attacked him.

A: It's an issue, but hopefully not a grave one. The Nephzarim are likely to be the first who'd want to ----- ----- ----- ---- ---- --------.

M: Alright, alright...

A: In conclusion, Marcie. Thank you for being here. You belong in Warrenwatch, alongside me.
     In the future...
     I am going to defend you and her with all the proper dedication that I should. I'm sorry for the past, but I benefitted greatly from the break, and the loneliness that had crept into me.

M: [She leans against Aethelwine and rests her head on his chest.] It's fine. Everything's fine, Aethelwine.

A: [And he wraps an arm around Marcie, comforting her with a faint smile.]
     Let's keep it that way, Marcie. We're in this together.

M: We are... aren't we?

A: [A solemn nod.]

M: Will you help me with the ruins of Ring 86? I want to understand them... I don't want to be handed translations.
     Not right now... but soon.

A: Yes, I'd enjoy that. There's... well... besides my mother's tragedy. There's also another tragedy that I want to avoid... and that's the one that befell Royal Court Wizard Kolir.
     My power continues to grow, I gain new mastery and progress towards furthering capabilities every day... but that also means more and more reason to be wary and cautious of it, and of avoiding ... the sort of pain that drove him into his fate.

M: Let me know how I can help!

A: [A nod.] I'm glad to have your help, Marcie. I will not hesitate to ask of it in my hour of need.
     For now. [Offering Marcille a gentle pat upon the shoulder.] I think I need a nap. But let's see about those translations sometime soon.

M: Alright!
     I'll do... those other things. And figure out what to do about the Knave.

A: Hm, I'll also think about how to deal with the knave issue. [A motion again to the chessboard.] Remember what it means to be Sothilde, Marcie.

M: Marcille Sothilde... [She muses.]

A: We --------. We --- ----------. We gain awareness of the board and we play the game in a way --- --------- ------ ---------.
     [Blinks a few times.]

M: Oh, I wasn't... haha.

A: [Then turns away, a tinge of red to his cheeks.]

M: [She pats his arm.]

A: I ... I'll hm, think about things and how to move forward. See you later, Marcie.
     Stay safe now.

M: [She watches him with a bemused glint in her eyes.]

A: [A faint smile.] Good night.

I did feel like a Kolir though, Marcie, when I lost you. I still feel lost without you but as time wears on, or whatever it does in the Realm – as bereft it is of seasons and the change of constellations – my body aches, dear one. I carry your bones and they weigh me down, the physical strain keeps the mental pain in check, forces it out, but it’s taking a toll. I’m doing it wrong, aren’t I? You were so much more than your bones, your body. Your mind and your magic, your soul, these things were you too. And now, I ask these questions – how do I define you? The you that was, and now, as I knew her, is at least presently no more. Is life truly so ephemeral, Marcie? Is there no point in making bonds like the one we shared, that it will always fade away? That one will leave the other, one way or another?

They’re deep questions, and though I wish you were here to help me seek their answers. Perhaps I could not do so, that I’d not find the impetus were I not in the state and place I am in. I’m going to figure it out though, Marcille. I don’t know how they do it in other worlds and other realities, but I know in this one, there’s things that I have the power to create and restore. And look at me, I’m not a Kolir – I’ve not created ruin or laid waste to entire populations, though I won’t lie I did have the brief thought of exterminating the entire Recondite people for stealing you from me. But you know that type of deranged behaviour has never been my way. Ah, I’ve just resorted to willingly carry your bones to kill my back, to go through the motions of pretending you’re still with me, I’m self-aware – but I’m also the Magus who wore a sleeping nightgown uncaringly through formal function to casual stroll. That’s just who I am, and it’s a statement of not being bound to unnecessary conformity. So I’ll take you with me, to where we need to go, my love, and I’ll do what we need to do to set things right.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2020, 11:15:30 AM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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I have to tell you a horrible little truth, Marcie. I didn’t get to tell you before they stole you away from me. Back when you were resting after our return to 99 and before I took up my family name, Ib’javi the Unbound visited Luke and I in the Merchant’s Guild Hall. She, she called me mother, Marcie. I think that’s my weakness, I think family, friends, these bonds, they’re my weakness. Because after she called me that, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her, yes I know she was a terrible, magnificent monstrous despicable cat, but... she was my daughter, at least so she thought, and you know, they all blamed me, and oh I suffered for it but wasn’t she just like any of us, trying to find her place in the cosmos. How could I not relate?

The daughter visits

Ib'javi the Unbound: Mother... mother...
     Did you summon me, mother? Yet again... yet again...
     Oh, how sweet it is to gaze upon your face!

Aethelwine: [He pushes back against the bookshelf in shock.]

Ib'javi the Unbound: To the one who gave me life, once more do I see and once more do I marvel...

Luke Danebluff: Awhh hello

Ib'javi the Unbound: I owe you such a debt, Aethelwine Silver... such a debt that I can never repay...

Aethelwine: I... [He freezes up facing Ib'javi, he swallows.]

Ib'javi the Unbound: For you have given me everything...
     For this, I will spare your life when I burn the rest to cinder...

Luke Danebluff: uhhhhhh can I not be burnt to cinder to?

Aethelwine: [He frowns as he just listens in shock and horror.]

Ib'javi the Unbound: Of course, Luke, my dear, of course...
     [Ib'javi the Unbound's Bluffing Skills are Good.]

Luke Danebluff: uhhhhh ok.

Aethelwine: I... I ... appreciate the gesture... oh, Ib'javi. [He manages a polite, courteous nod.]

Ib'javi the Unbound: But I've come for a different reason...
     I know what you're planning, Aethelwine..
     What you've been planning, and failing, to do...
     I will give you one warning.

Luke Danebluff: What has been planning?

Ib'javi the Unbound: Or I will happily kill my own mother, hm?

Luke Danebluff: [He looks to Silver] Care to explain mate?

Aethelwine: [He freezes up and nods.] I - yes... yes... we shouldn't be that way with our mothers. [He speaks quickly.]

Then when they took you from me, Marcie, when they took you from me. When they asked me to help, I couldn’t bear the thought. I never wanted my daughter to die. She was just meant to be taken to the Department of Corrections. I deputised Eliphas, I gave him the beacon to call forth the Modron, everything was set to go as planned and I couldn’t – no I wouldn’t be a part of it, I had priorities, Marcie, I had to do what was right for you. They’ve not even followed the plan, Luke killed her, he killed Ib’javi. In some reality, he’d be a hero, maybe even the Dorvant he was happy to call himself, but it was never meant to be that way. Some part of me wanted to see them all suffer, wanted to see my daughter victorious but that part of me, I know, was just my misery in losing you. It wasn’t rational and its faded, and in the end, though I only wished for her to be corrected of her bad behaviour, as any good mother would want, I guess I remember her too. She said I gave her everything, Marcie. In her own way, she loved me.

I suppose there is a bit of Merredith ‘Merry’ Velstra in me. That trait of being willing to forgive the failings of your dear ones, but I never quite do without trying to awaken them to their follies. You're a testament to that, after all, Marcie. It's what separates me from those with blind faith. I trust very little, I barely trust myself. And so I have adapted to uncertainty, to a world where oddities are the regularities. Do I worry sometimes that the things I see are a product of my own creation, sometimes, of course, but often the razor that is my mind cuts away as ever, the true from the false. If nothing else, this is the skill in this City I have been perfecting.

It doesn’t make it any less worse, any less harrowing. Indeed, just this day, an apparition came before me, a vengeful spirit who at first I thought was you. But it was not, no, some strange amalgam is what it was. Trying to play upon my emotions, trying to distract me, trying to corrupt me, trying to tempt me away. It failed. I know you, Marcie, I know you would not say such things as it did; you were your own person and though I know not why you trusted them, know not why in the end you were caught up in whatever conflict unfolded with those retainers and that Recondite filth, I have such faith in you that I know you just did what you thought right and I can’t blame you as you would not me. I have the feeling now, Marcillene, that I may have triumphed over emotion – not completely, but I feel better attuned to it, having suffered the extremes. I do not think I will ever love another, no, what love I have in my heart remains only for you, Percy, and Sophie. And perhaps yet, the Art.

There is a peacefulness to knowing what you love. Because home is where the heart is, and so long as you know where that is, you will be home. I will retrieve your heart, Marcille, I do not wish for violence, and I know she holds it knowing that I will come for it. Because she wants something from me. I suppose it is time to see what that is.

There’s more too. The Rememberers. Those misguided failures. They’re trying to...
« Last Edit: May 13, 2020, 02:38:43 PM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

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I don’t like it, Marcillene. I don’t like it one bit. No, not at all. In fact, I hate it. Yet, that realisation is a curious one, because I feel so in control of hate now. I do feel I’ve mastered this thing, emotion. Not by departing from it, or removing myself of it, but by embracing it so thoroughly that I can wield it. It feels good, Marcie, just a little bit, you know. Like when you take in a breath of fresh mountain air after being cooped up in the tower for a whole tenday. But what is this that has me riled, Marcie? It’s the realisation that someone or some thing is trying to play me for a pawn.

Quote from: The whispery voice of Knave of 99, Copper Faced is heard as you receive a message:
M-Marcie...Please forgive me for what comes next. Th-The truth we sought has been found. A n-new home...found. [A low sigh] I wish you could see it. Do not worry though. Th-there will be more joining you soon...


How dare they, Marcie. Mimicry. This is not the kind that one can ever find flattering. It is not flattery. It is blasphemy. It is mockery. It is defilement. It is outrage. It is unacceptable. Someone else is calling to you. Someone is pretending to be me? It’s waking me up, of course, to the realisation that I should not be talking to you like that, out aloud. It’s not like I do it because I think I’m actually talking to you. It just calms me, I’m self-aware, I know you’re gone, but it just helps. It helps to deal with it.

And yet, I quake at the thought of all of this. I don’t want any of it. I want none of it. Am I afraid? Of course, I am afraid. I am terribly afraid. I am so immensely afraid. I’m absolutely horrified. Terror of terrors, Marcille.

I don’t know what to do. Why is it the strangest thought that I have, that somehow, it just feels to me that you were my guardian. That you kept me hale, in so many ways. And now I have to somehow stand against the horrors, long envisioned horrors that they may be, alone. And I just feel weak. Incapable.

It’s like there’s something haunting me. Manipulating me, or trying to.

I can get through this though. Are they testing me? Trying to see if I will break? And who are they? Part of me does not want to know, because part of me already knows the miserable answer.

I suppose only time will tell.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2020, 04:07:51 AM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

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on: May 14, 2020, 10:54:03 AM
A curse.

That is what it was. As I carried your remains it had begun to take hold of me and in my grief I had not even realised it. Then when I collected your heart, the other side of it came to me. Borne of that same dark ritual of necromancy that had you reanimated but also something worse. I dare not recollect what precisely happened when the doctor gave me your still-beating heart, Marcille. But it was not warm and I knew in the moment what I had to do, I had to burn it. I am not sorry, because Wizardry is for the Wise; I had to let go or risk losing everything. What followed would both vindicate my decision and demonstrate the nature of the curse. It would reveal why these apparitions were occurring. I was being haunted, but was it you? It felt a lot like you, but it was tainted. Dark and sinister. A spirit seeking to drag me down with it into the darkness.

It began when I asked William Thorne of the Eryngium Courts to grant me his holy energy. I did not expect NOR WANT him to respond immediately, and definitely not on the spot there in the middle of Ticker Square with a spell but he did. And then and there, it was done. Your bones exploded on top of Thaddeus, that necromantic energy that must have been absorbing all of my dark emotion reacting to the positive energy of his flames of Light. After having burnt your still beating heart, I was at peace with the moment – I knew the risk of holding on. Of course, I must double check with “Aiseth Corvus”, apparently that’s the Thriceborn Apprentice’s name, but perhaps such inquiries are not worthwhile. I think I need to try and become positive, I need to cultivate positive emotions to counteract everything that has come to pass.

One thing about all of that stood out though and needs to be remedied: some wretched mundane interrupted William’s ritual of cleansing. Not just by speaking, but by raising the blade against him. I think this is the last straw with fetid mundane madness corrupting the way of magi; both wizard and sorcerers! I think it is time for the learned, the arcanist, the magus, the worthy innatist, and even the wise witch to enact Covenant. But that is neither here nor there and it is a distant budding thought.

Marcille explodes in the Square.

To focus: after the mundane struck William, the necromantic energies coalesced and cursed me into a ghastly figure between life and undeath. Could this have been something that had afflicted “Aiseth Corvus the Thriceborn Apprentice”? There’s a strange thread being woven here and I am starting to see the hidden strands of the bonds of magic that exist between all who practice it in the Realm. I was aided to the relative safety of the Stonebuilder’s quarry where the doctor began performing what was not just the removal of the curse upon me, but an exorcism. A ghastly spectre - and though it felt so much like you, I know it was not truly - was drawn out of me. You, I mean IT, had become attached to my very soul.

Greater Spectre: Aethelwine...
     Save me...

Saibhon: COURAGE!
     Saibhon Dumein turns undead.
     It is a /lie/, Ser'mez.
     A taunting of the curse that has afflicted you.

Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile
Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile

     See Aethelwine....
     Just like we used to do together...

Those words were my weakness, Marcie. They bore so deep into my heart and soul. A reminder of the things we'd do together. Magic missiles. Such perfection, even in the hands of a dangerous spectre.

Aethelwine: Wait!
     Please wait.
     Stop it, if that is you, stop it.

Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile
Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile

     This monster...
     He tried to separate us...

Saibhon: I am -- I am /fine/, permit --

Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile

Aethelwine: Stop it, if that is you, stop it!

Saibhon: ME, O curse, cease these wretched lies.

Greater Spectre: [It shrieks]
Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile
Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile

Saibhon: You are no apprentice!

Eupraxia: Mmh. It sure seems like her.

Greater Spectre casting Isaac's Greater Missile Storm
Greater Spectre casts Isaac's Greater Missile Storm

Saibhon: You are the avatar of /vile necromancy/, borne of /Fetid Want/!
Saibhon Dumein turns undead.

Greater Spectre: Aethelwine... he has to die...

Aethelwine: Why are you not listening?

Greater Spectre: If he dies... I can come back...

Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile

Saibhon: Such Want I have ENDURED, for the Redemption of this world. You say so, spirit?
     Is that what /she/ would say?

Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile

Saibhon: If so, you -- MNGH!
     Do not ken her!

Greater Spectre: Give me your life... I have to live...

Eupraxia: Mmh.  Even locked in a cage you can't stop preaching, Dumein?

Saibhon: I shall do /no such thing/.

Greater Spectre: Aethelwine... let me kill him... let me kill him, my dear Aethelwine...

Would you have ever spoken those words to me, Marcie? Maybe in the infinity of possibility you would have in certain contexts and situations, but would you have done it like this? Of all the things you could have said to me, you were so filled with wanting to kill someone? No, I do not believe it. It was not you. Not the one I fell in love with.

Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile
Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile

Saibhon: Spit your slings and arrows, specter! /Necromancer's creation/!

Aethelwine: Why, if that is you truly you, Marcille. Why? STOP THIS!

Saibhon: FIE. [He stumbles, under the onslaught.]

Greater Spectre casting Magic Missile
Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile

     Yes, good...

Saibhon: It is not /her/!
     Be rid of it, Aethelwine.

Greater Spectre casts Magic Missile : *spell countered by* : Edwin Gimble casting Magic Missile

Saibhon: I have drawn it forth. BANISH it.

Greater Spectre: Too slow do you die...
     I will go faster...

Greater Spectre casting Haste
Greater Spectre casts Haste : *spell countered by* : Edwin Gimble casting Haste

Aethelwine: I am sorry. I think you are wrong...
Aethelwine Sothilde casting Combust
Aethelwine Sothilde casts Combust

Greater Spectre casting Haste
Kanna: I won't let you...!
Greater Spectre casts Haste : *spell countered by* : Kanna Vauntz casting Haste

Aethelwine Sothilde casting Magic Missile

Greater Spectre casting Haste
Greater Spectre casts Haste : *spell countered by* : Kanna Vauntz casting Haste

Greater Spectre: [She cries]

Aethelwine Sothilde casts Magic Missile

Greater Spectre: Please.. no...
Greater Spectre: Aethelwine...

Aethelwine: Wait, no...
Aethelwine Sothilde uses Negative Energy Crystal

It was the deepest regret, that moment. When my own magic missiles struck that spirit - it felt like everything around us froze in time and it was just you and me, no, not you, but it felt like you and that's why it was regret, remorse, and pain. Like I had sent those magic missiles deep into your heart, Marcie, that I was the one to deny your chance at life. I tried to draw negative energy out to reinvigorate it, after that eternal moment of despair, but it was too late. And in the end, I know it was for the best. It never did listen to my words like you always did. But that doesn't lessen any of the sensations that coursed through me, and yet do.

Saibhon: It is /not her/.
     Ser'mez, that was /never/ her. It was a cheap, vile, dirty trick.
     I am sorry.

-- With the spirit shattered... --
-- The dark curse over Aethelwine slowly recedes, retreating up and over the buildings.. to some place far away... --

Aethelwine: [He gazes at the spot formerly inhabited by the spectre.]
     [A dampness gathers beneath his eyes.]
     [Then he just lets go, and weeps. He weeps and weeps.]
     [Sob, sob, sob.]

-- A man's wailing, violent and without pause, fills the air of Ticker Square --

Saibhon: Tch -- [He embraces Aethelwine, shaking his head]
     It is done. I am sorry, ser'mez, it is done.

Aethelwine: [And with time his tears run dry, his sobs become whimpers, his voice hoarse and silent.]

But Marcille, the very thought that you could have been with me again, it hurts. I know that would have been the path of darkness and madness, but that thought was in its own way comforting. You could have been a passenger sharing my body, I’d suffer the decay for you. But the cost, the cost was far from worth it. And it was never you. Though I weeped and weeped, so consumed by the thought, I know in the end that those were the thoughts of a desperate man who was hanging off of the edge of reason being pulled at by the forces of dark temptation and falsity. I have resisted, Marcille, I have overcome. And I hope that as a result, you are out there somewhere, proud of me. I have closed the door upon yet another nightmare.

Now, I just need a moment to breathe.

I have earned it.

The Exorcism of Aethelwine & the Departure of Necro-Marcille
« Last Edit: May 14, 2020, 11:14:38 AM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

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A. & M.

Yours sincerely,

Aethelwine & Marcille

I look upon that seal, and my signature, whereupon you too are bound in a hidden ink and I realise how funny it is, that the things we do reflect our reality in subtle and at times hidden ways. 'Aethelwine' but also 'Marcille', because you were actually with me, you were bound to my soul, clinging on, and I without realising it was a party to that reality. Sadly though, it was a product of fell necromancy and a hex that was designed to destroy me. I had to do what I had to do about that, Marcie.

I find myself in a curious place though, Marcillene. I feel I am in between Awoken and Native. A rare place to find oneself in the Realm, I think. Yet a wondrous place for perspective. This was always something you had a delightful take upon, as someone who would drift in and out of time – how many eras had you seen and sampled, forgotten yet experienced? You were a statement of what’s happened with or in time. When it came to matters beyond the Art though, we found ourselves to be far too unknowing. We were in courtship, a thing we put together from the books we’d read, and a thing that never interested me in the slightest. But you changed that, you made me more like you, and I made you more like me, and we were coming to some kind of equilibrium – my fervent pursuit of wisdom, your light-hearted hopefulness oh how ‘everything...[smudged and stained parchment and words]...everything is fine’ that ever hid the deepest of collywobbles, our shared curiosity and passion for the Art and Truth, enveloped in the embrace of mutuality, a dedication to one another and our home, all bound tightly together by promises made.

I spoke to a magus in the tavern, told her the tale, about it all, and to me she remarked, that we were practically married. So I think I shall accept that dedication, as we move on.

It is not like I have not suffered loss before and moved on. But I think the difference this time is, that I feel a direct sense of guilt and involvement in how it came to be, even if the circumstances were beyond my control. Whereas Sylyn chose her own fate by making such a grotesque statement and taunt again House Orza when she announced the end of Percy Peacock, and then went on to meddle with the affairs of Velstra Vale with Adrian, getting caught up in all that mess by her own volition. Then Lori went to Ticker Square, not just against my advice but also began to mingle with those who worked for the one who wanted to eat her, I could not begrudge her any of that, the desire for freedom, to spread her wings, she had truly earned it but she took those risks herself and as a brother I only wanted to see her happy. But you, Marcie, though you made a terrible error of judgement, though you relaxed when you had no right to be relaxed, you did everything for me – for us.

Amongst my wishes is the wish that you and I had spent some more time considering what the Faun had said. It spoke such wicked words of prophecy, and though we did give it some thought, we did not examine the situation well enough. We could have spoken about contingencies, of things we could and would do if the worst came to pass. I’d rather have had you paranoid and alive, than what reality has come to serve us instead. And part of me also wishes you’d just have left the poor doggy alone, that you walked away. It’s not like your act of loyalty to the Peerage did us any favours in the end, they all turned upon me when you died. But I’m not trying to be a Lord Custodian Visimar here, or a Hawthorne ap Ebersol, or even the briefly claimed Baron Fynn. My name is Sothilde, and we are the Warrens, but our focus is not ruling, or sitting atop the graveyard that is the Peerage Ward, it is learning, growing, obtaining mastery, and ultimately grasping at a greater awareness and understanding of Reality.

But I remain dedicated to you. There was a fell curse upon the bones I carried, and I fed it with my dark emotions, it preyed upon me, it began to seep into me in the worst of possible ways. When the mendicant brought to me your still beating heart, I don’t know why I expected things to have gone positively, that I’d feel good with that part of you back in my hands. I was so lost in despair, I was so desperate, that none of my senses alerted me to the eldritch nature of a heart left to beat unnaturally so. I feel the fool, but my only redemption was that I burnt it, I destroyed it, I cast it out of my heart, I drew out the infection before it could take root. Then the cremation cleansed the terror from beyond: an entity of profound evil that sits upon the Fourth Board. I do fear for the doctor though, I think something is amiss about him; he was far too relaxed about certain phenomenon. But that’s not for me, he’s not someone I can help, it’s too much of a risk and I have enough to deal with as it is.

So let’s look at the situation we have now. Without your bones, I will not be able to raise you in your avatar of the Archwizardress of Abjuration through my intended mastery of necromancy, and there is no doubt in my mind that that is for the best. After all, you sacrificed that terrible future of yours for me, and what a fool I would have been to undo your choice. It does also mean that I cannot utilise a Phial of Miraculous Waters to bring you back either, which is certainly one positive avenue closed to us. It is also true that the dark spectre haunting me has been undone. I know, in truth, it was a fragment of you though corrupted it may have been, but the cost of keeping you inside of me was to lose myself to an affliction that I am sure you would never have wanted me to bear.

So I look now instead to our predecessor. Her Foundry. Purer powers, beautiful arts, along the lines of Animancy, Invocation, and the schools of Creation and Restoration. There is also the fact that I still hold onto a small receptacle of sanctified ash from your cremation. If you remember the vista that we have seen, there are secrets of the Ash yet to learn. There is something about this substance that speaks to the core of the condition of life in the City, though I fear that journey is a distant one yet. It is also the one I would most like to share again with you, in time. That which lies beyond Baz’eel.

Yet to move forward I must make new friends and find new supporters. It is a daunting thing, if I am to be honest, but I need allies, I need people to walk with me through the Realm and its obstacles. To share with them all the things I know and together pursue all the things that we do not. You are irreplaceable, but maybe there should be a ‘House Sothilde’ at least in spirit, comprised of those of us who are unified by the things we believe in and the pursuits that matter. Because even though I shall see you return to me that we may share the vistas we promised one another that we would, for the mean time I still have to live my life. In a world without you.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 01:14:41 PM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

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Maerdelain: The ordeals are over, at least for a time. This is a time for recovery, to tie loose ends, a time for writing books and scheming the future.

Those were the words spoken as we who walk in Amastacia’s Wake arrived for the first time, together, at the Grand Observatorium. At least the ones I want to remember right now. I remember a lot more, of course, but they’re terribly bittersweet and I want to focus, so not now. Sentiments can wait for another time.

We were in the process of tying loose ends, that is part of what House Sothilde was about, though much more has happened since then – since you died. The Warren of Golfaldus opened with his nine apprentices debuting in the wider world of these Rings – I showed you the place, well, no, I guess I carried your bones and in my grief presented the sights to your ... lifeless skull as if you could see it all yourself. The apprentice was kind enough to permit me my... my self-comforting behaviour, my delusion and desire that you were seeing it all with me. My senses have completely returned now, curses and dark influences lifted, and I don’t know how to feel about that episode of my life. I was carrying you(r bones) because I didn’t want to lose any options but my, I was, well I certainly wasn’t in the right mind with some of what I did, that’s for sure. I hope you somehow think I was doing the right thing, I hope that you will see it as the dedication it was by someone who did not know what else to do, and I’ll tell you the whole story about all of that – just remind me to share.

But for now, focus. I have suffered of late because of a lack of standards in place for the management of arcane phenomenon in the Realm. There is simply no order, and I’m in no way defending the flawed Arbitration, because what I mean here is order through understanding not arbitrary rulings and that of their N-------c---------Synod. I have spoken to William and I am satisfied with his contrition but I shall not accept a repeat of what led to your (bones’) sudden departure from my care and the aggravation of the dark curse upon me when his ritual was interrupted. What comes next is going to require a great deal of what defined me in my earliest days, but this time with experience and wisdom. It would be my greatest joy to have you here in a more present state to share this with me but I have no choice except to content myself without, for now.

It shall begin much to the tone of Maerdelain’s words: a time for writing books and scheming the future. I have a sufficient number of case studies now to complete my research on Mundane Madness, and the issues with the so-called ‘mundane’ world people like to delude themselves that they're living in. The following, each in their own way are exemplars of those who lack arcane understanding wreaking havoc and madness upon the world:

     Doctor Dalidande Mench
     Henrig "Big Schwanzy" Schwanzmeier
     Jendel Stutterstep

There is also that Silver Hat mercenary who interrupted William Thorne’s Ritual of Sanctification and the mundanes who instigated and then activated the destruction caused by Catsby’s Concluding Catastrophe.

Another thing I am left to ponder in the aftermath of everything that has happened is, well, my latest inquiry: love. What of love, Marcie? What is it? When I asked you that question, the truth is, I didn't have a comprehensive understanding of it myself. Do we say it is some kind of energy, some kind of power that can be manipulated? A substance? Or is it just something (a mental state for example) we induce within ourselves, a foundational relationship between self and subject/object/another self or even the self. I do like the idea of it being some kind of energy and perhaps in certain glamours and enchantments it can serve a reagent, for the psychic energy it contains. But for us, Marcie – was it worth it? Yes, I know, I keep coming back to this. Because isn’t the end product of love always misery? I’m only venturing in so far as the theoretical here – I don’t personally think it to be true, not necessarily anyway and I think in your last moments maybe there was some comfort there for you knowing that you were loved. No, that’s not true, you were probably denied any chance of that. I know not the specifics, but I know there is little point to dwell upon what is done and then what was done after that – it’s the senselessness of the Realm that I so abhor, my truest enemy.

Perhaps the best love, or rather the one that can never disappoint you, is a purely intellectual thing. You were wrong to love material possessions, Magebristle, Warrenwatch – both of which were not only taken from you but one of those was never what you thought it was at all. Though I think simple love like that, especially of something that can’t be taken away is, or rather can be, productive. Productive in the sense that it provides fulfilment, doesn’t it? Or maybe it’s just comforting, because it certainly is comforting but it’s also limiting and tends to be a product of a troubled reality. I think ‘love’ essentially comforts though, it’s part of what makes it what it is: it fulfils the one possessed of it. I do know for certain that for you it was productive to love me, but for me, was it productive to love you? I think for me, it was better to have always just loved Sophie, and the Art and to have otherwise placed limitations on my love for you but a part of me also thinks that would be a very cowardly thing to do. Do I regret loving you, is the inevitable question of this line of thought isn’t it? And to that the answer is no, not at all. After all, I remain dedicated and through this dedication I intend to explore a greater element of Reality, together – that is, shall see what the power of love can achieve, hm?

I’ve mentioned it myself now though, the love of the Art, and of Sophie - these are intangible things, lifeless and not inherently reactive. Yet this is a context within which the power of love is perhaps the most potent and in its own way manifests a sense of mutuality that say loving an equally non-reciprocating thing such as a broom does not. Because it causes a sort of reciprocation reflected in the outcomes that this love produces. That is to say I believe the love of one’s Craft, of one’s Art, is what defines the true masters and those who achieve the greatest heights in their respective fields. Take any magician, then take the one who loves their school of magic, and behold what wonders the latter is able to achieve with the same (or less) expenditure of energy as the former in enacting their spells. It’s what separates the grain from the chaff, and it gives us the cream of the crop. To be the best – of anything – is to love what you do. And that much was true of you, Marcilline. Oh, Master of the Magic Missile.

All of this also raises a problem for me. A problem I shall be investigating. I need more responses to my inquiry, yet I wish not to taint the type of responses I receive. I must have only the things upon their mind, not infected with the processes of my own.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2020, 03:29:07 PM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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Well Marcie, I’ve returned to public life now. For the mean time in the 99th, because the state of the Wizard Warrens is a bit unclear right now and I’ve not been able to reach out to all of the Warren of Golfaldus yet; I need to though. I feel they are the true Wizards of the Warrens Henriette spoke of, and we need to work together to remind the Realm what the true Art is all about.

Ninety Nine, or as some call it nine-nine has never appealed to me and I’ve never belonged here. Though my name should promise me a place in the Peerage Ward, the reality is that I don’t fit in and I don’t have the strength to change that, not by myself, not right now. Ticker Square is fragmenting, it is an interesting time for them. A bit of factionalism and in-fighting has resulted in the aftermath of these ‘Copper Torc’ from the outer Rings invading and destroying the Merchant’s Guild Hall. There was always some posturing but the Guild Masters tended to present a unified front at all times regardless – nobody for example would stand in Tchammorar’s way, and I doubt that will change now, he’s certainly the most potent for more reasons than one. It does mean it will be easier to connect a political influence of Ticker Square with a specific Guild Master, and this will help the people of that place enact change in the direction that suits and hopefully betters them as a collective. I think it will be a more dynamic place as a result, but a lot more dangerous too. It had always been a haven for the newly Newly Awoken – perhaps this is an opportunity for me. Perhaps I could offer the alternative I have always represented, I am after all the author of only real guidebook and welcome to this City, besides Glynetha. Hmm... that’s an idea isn’t it, Marcie? Glynetha Twill and the Cabinet of CurioCity... yes, she was the one we were honouring in the ‘Race to the City of Gold’, and her books played a formative part in my own development here.

Still, I know I have lost touch with the people of the City. Whilst I remain acquainted with a number of individuals, the only true friends I have left are Maerdy and Kethy, and well, we’ve been distant. I think they took rather unkindly to my carrying around your skeletal remains, but mostly, it’s a me thing, I became a recluse, I retreated from the world. The Nine of Golfaldus hold me in high regard, and I do not want to fail them – perhaps I should start there. There is also a fellow named Luther, we’ve become friends in letters. I suppose this state is not different to anything I’ve been through before, I’ve picked myself up, like you used to say ‘magehand yourself by the strap of your boots.’ But we decided not to end our journey in Baz’eel, we certainly could have, peacefully, happily even and now there’s only three of us left in Amastacia’s Wake – I am sure we can do it, at least to glance upon the secrets I need to see to do what I have to do.

But the Rings have changed me, they’ve opened up my horizons and I know I won’t be content staying in the one place ever again. That was also the dream though, I never really told anyone, but I wanted to recreate Silver Tower in the Warrens, and from there all the world would be connected to us. In the grand scheme of things, we can see that the 93rd once served as a landing pad for visitors from abroad. Speaking of the Rings, there’s a fabdubious lady, named Madame DuRange who’s coming to town. You’d have loved what she has to show and share, a Ringless Troupe of Magnificent and Mysterious Theatre, and she’s got all the showmanship of the magicians of old, sharing sights and sounds and other experiences from Rings 173 to 8. I’m going to make myself enjoy it Marcie, not just for me, but for you and I’m participating as well. Re-enacting the story of Ji Xin the Conqueror of Enigmatics, the ancient mystic who tamed a dragon to his will. I hope we succeed, but hope’s not good enough. So I’m going to write that letter to Glynetha as well. We need every advantage. Oh and it should be grand, because they say the last time Madame DuRange visited, great change was left in her wake. And it might not be what everyone will like, but it should be wondrous. My own prediction is that with the Copper Torc having rebuilt the bridge of Ring 101 – something I will see if I can inspect for myself, though that act will come with a sorrowful memory – that the path towards some of the exterior Rings might reopen again. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Oh, and one last thing. Someone shared a few words of encouragement in parting after sharing an inquiry. A fellow named Thaltas, he’s one of the Eventide, perhaps they might make good fellows as well, alongside this Circle of the Bell. Anyway, he left me with this little gem:

Aethelwine: Well, if that is all, I think we shall be seeing each other in the future. To bright new beginnings, Thaltas.
     [He raises his cigarette, noting Thaltas's glance then he offers the briefest half-smile as he flicks the cigarette away, it morphs into an ephemeral magic missile then dissipates entirely.]

Thaltas: [The elf takes a moment to admire the small, curious display of smoke. Then he gets up, taking the longbow with him.]

Aethelwine: I'll let you in on a secret. The cigarette, it's -- --------. But, I smoke this -------- stuff as it calms me and reminds me of my beloved.

Thaltas: "A pleasure, Master Sothilde. ...May I ask if you would divulge her name?"

Aethelwine: Of course, her name is Marcille. Marcille Sothilde now, née Riley.
     Alas, I... well. [He swallows then exhales.] She's no longer with me in the world of the living.

Thaltas: "Oh, but she is with you."

Aethelwine Sothilde: [He looks as if a touch more hopeful at that, his countenance through his eyes a hint more lively.]
     Well, that's what I tell myself too. In my thoughts and in my heart. It's a little comfort, I guess.

Thaltas: "Look to the sky, when it is dark and Selune hides her face behind a cloud. Look for your beloved, for she will sit as the brightest star among others who joined her in the path to eternity."
     "One day, you will take your place beside her there."

Aethelwine: [A quiet nod along.]

Thaltas: [His eyes remain on Aethelwine for a moment longer, as if in silent consolation, then he turns to go.]

Aethelwine: Oh, to know, to know... what awaits. Be well, my friend.

Thaltas: "She looks upon you, each night. So live well, Master Sothilde." He nods. "Sweet water, and light laughter, until we meet again."

It’s a little comfort isn’t it? That you are the brightest star looking down upon me each night. To have such thoughts in our mind, regardless of what the reality is. But I’m not content, I’ll simply content myself for now with such things. Because I know as well, that belief has power, and that the Realm and Reality itself is nowhere near so stable as to be merely what-you-see-is-what-you-get. One thing at a time though, dearest. Wizardry is after all, for the wise.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 12:28:56 PM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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Ticker Square has voluntarily, completely consensually welcomed some remnant – probably a volatile extremist offshoot cadre who were too busy killing innocents to return to the Cube in time – of Arbiters into their innermost defences, can you believe it Marcie? Well, of course you can, you, like I, never really had much confidence in the people of Ring 99. The impending expectation of war may lead people into desperation, but the thing Ticker Square does not realise is that voting in these remnants is akin to voting in Ib’javi the Unbound into their homes. They are effectively trading a singular, industry-focused, power-hungry, soul-thirsty, world-destroying, empire-building mastermind of a cat for a force of hungry persecutors looking for any excuse to mete out ‘justice’. And I know firsthand these things involve a lot of pain as they manipulate the letter of the law to serve their whims rather than any true concern for its spirit and the betterment of all. They bound my fingers and toes even when I was an Ex-Wizard, they forced upon me culpability of the 93rd Scroll even after hearing my testimony proving my innocence, no, I have no faith in these ‘people’. They have already set up a public gallows in the Square and apparently prosecuted someone.

Don’t get me wrong though, I respect and follow the Hundred Scrolls myself, as well as I can, for within them lie fragments of the Truth and so I pursue my own translations and learn what I am able; only ever gleaning mere scraps that the covetous Arbitration might share. I do believe in the necessity of maintaining order in the Realm and even now I stand against tearing open seams and unravelling the reality of the City as well as the interference of planar interlopers. Because this world is ours, we ‘mortals’ and 'dreamers' of the Prime Material, be it either as blessing or curse it matters not. It is ours to make of what we will, it is ours to stand against the horrors, and it is ours from which we may make and claim the destiny of mortal kind, in light of the Truth – our bastion against the infinite Nothing. Rather unrelated, I suppose that’s also what Nestirtye is, except it’s even more of an exclusive club. It’s become a topic again in the limelight, Nestirtye, remember my lecture? Speaking of which the word is Kethy and Maerdy have not been seen since a tenday before the first attack by the Copper Torc. I find it extremely doubtful that they somehow perished in the collapse of the Merchant’s Guild Hall and I also find it very unlikely that they’ve made for Baz’eel without me, which means they may have retreated into the Prospector’s Hall or maybe delved a bit too far into the Planes. It is a bit worrying, even though we have been mutually very aloof since the day I brought your remains with me into the Guild Hall – the day that would also mark your sadly public cremation. I don’t want to lose them, Marcie, that would mean the end of Amastacia’s Wake... I’ll reach out.

Back on topic, my issue with the Arbitration is not at all the Hundred Scrolls, nor is it the Cube which I admire greatly and truly enjoy the perfection and symmetry of its internal structure. No, it is the nature of its operation designed to serve their own purposes heedless of the cost – a hypocrisy when you compare this to the words they use against all magi. They have after all unravelled entire Rings themselves, extinguishing all life within. A Purge they call it, one of the many disastrous powers at their disposal. I also do not trust this Synod that guides them, nor the way service to the Cube seems to indoctrinate and potentially even mentally coerce or dominate its servitors. It reminds me of the methods utilised by Glydaxia the Flawless – that thing that made itself a god and transformed its worshippers into crystalline beings. I don’t think I ever had the chance to tell you about Glydaxia though, and how I personally brought about its end through a ritual I devised – a small god undone, I admit, it is one of my greater achievements that even I prefer to keep swept under the rug simply because of the implications. Elizabeth mentioned something about the Synod though, when she was suspected of being a doppelganger after her return through the miraculous waters but I don’t entirely know what that was all about nor the outcome, except that she did make it out, didn’t she? This might be a topic to raise with House Velstra, to find out what exactly happened to Elizabeth Frick, She-Who-Thinks.

Back in the public eye, people have been commenting how my countenance has improved, at least since they last saw me. It is true that I have gone through the worst now as I adapt to life without you, Marcie. I have come to know the extremes, of love, loss, hatred, joy, accomplishment, failure--all of it. I think these are things necessary to not just build perspective but to master emotion as I had set out to do, one way or another. You were my catalyst, my ultimate test, the one I chose and accepted and I had several times the chance to give up but I didn’t. The end result I think is equanimity and I have come closer to it, because I do not think removing oneself from emotion is an end result nor is it desirable. I am enjoying this middle ground and hope to avoid the highs and lows of my past from here on out. But I do not doubt that there are yet successes and failures to come, and with it joy and pain and everything in between; I only hope to embrace it with equanimity. All that is left of me now is my dedication, I am refined, purified, closer to my ideal self now. I hope you see me dance, my Marcillene... because I have begun to. And yes, it all begins in the mind; the truest power of the practitioner, their true mark of distinction.

Next time, let me elaborate upon such things as my latest project, the Covenant, but first I must find out what is happening with our fellow companions.
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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Well Marcie, contrary to how I concluded last entry, I’m not going to elaborate on the Covenant because it’s a secret, it’s a secret nobody knows about and that’s the way it will have to stay because the Arbiters are messing it up simply due to their presence. Whilst I do not necessarily mind their existence, they are stepping all over my toes and crushing my groundwork in Ticker Square. There is no easy way for the Covenant to come into being so long as they are occupying a vital part of its constituency, but nothing is impossible... I’ve also reached out to Glynetha, I think it is time she assumed her mantle as Guild Master and the contract we brought together be recognised as it has averted war with the Consortium. Otherwise, I want my horse. I never wanted a Guild Master anyway, if I had my way I’d have opted for the horse, in retrospect I should have insisted on that when I put my name down on the Ringrunning Company register.

What’s worse though is that Lykaon, one of Golfadus’s apprentices, and apparently the now-serving Court Wizard (it’s gone, Marcie, it’s all gone – the truth about the position is self-evident, I was the one who made it what it was, me, this is not even ego, it is objectively true but I do so want to see Warrenwatch again, I just want to lie down in the bed that I made and just give in to all the memories of home... but home is where the heart is, alas, alas) has gone on to commit atrocities against the Realm, abusing his magic and assailing Ticker Square in response to Arbiter occupation. It is folly. I know it makes a statement, but it is not the way of a True Magus of the Wizard Warrens. Will I be happy when he is subject to the Rite of Shackling? No, not at all, however this is what makes the Arbiters worthy of existence because I do believe some of our ‘contemporaries’ are mad and undeserving of the title of wizard or at least that of a True Magus such as we. It is troubling, but I will share with you the truth, I would like to observe this Rite of the Arbiters, it is the way they forge their Conduits. The order of the Cube is wondrous, there’s so many secrets they hide away inside... but not for me, I’m no longer an Ex-Wizard, the best I can do is stay beneath their gaze and quietly watch and learn.

I’ve also begun my search for Maerdy and Kethy. I hope they haven’t gone too far, but if need be I’m going to have to find a way to make it back to Baz’eel. I’m going to confess that I can’t even make it to Velastra Keep alone as it is because I am hopeless without your help. I need someone to dig, and I can’t teleport through. I dislike this weakness, I guess I’m going to have to learn to be even more self-sufficient or otherwise find companions to join me. Oh well, I’ll deal with that after I’ve exhausted the opportunities for inquiry here in 99.

Of 99, it must be said that this war with the Copper Torc sounds like it may have been avoidable. I think Angvald had something to do with this. Oh, on that note, Frederick of the Truthseekers seemed to have returned from what must have been drunken stupor. I think you may have met him, he was the self-professed Hound, not a good man by any measure, but to me he was faithful and good – as he once said, a hound is man’s best friend as much as it is a predatory animal, the aspect he is to you depends on how you treat him. Alas, he’s gone down the path of Beodda of all people, forfeited his life in strife with House Orza – of all the things to protest and stand against it was some of their usual nonsense about infernalism or diabolism. Hm, perhaps that act redeemed him in the end, but at the same time, I regret not seeing my old friend again... before he perished. I never did write back to him, nor was I in the mind to trek over and find him. Oh well, what can you do, that’s life. But don’t you worry... after I have Kethy and Maerdy back, we’re going to gaze upon the Ash, and in the Ash there will be Truth and then, and there, I shall know what I must do.

Friends, when we first signed on as companion's to run the rings, there next to the Doorkeeper, you knew the colors I wear. Still I wear them, because they cannot be taken away.

These chains cannot be broken by my mortal hands. This Hound is kenneled. I am surrounded by men of disgusting nature, whose very presence taint me. I fear should I stand as Boedha stood, I shall fall as he fell. For Annabella, I cannot do that.

I kneel where he could not - But I will never forget the times we spent together. I hope that in the future we might do so again, as friends and brothers in arms once more.

Seek the truth, brothers. Know that the man you knew still lives, but know that the colors that he wears are what you face.
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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on: June 29, 2020, 09:40:37 AM

There has been a breakthrough of sorts in my search for our companions. Although it is hardly conclusive, being mostly the theory of the songstress Ghaela Stellrum; an elven woman who had been investigating their disappearance. According to her, Kethryl and Maerdelain have utilised the knowledge of the Great Library of xxx xxxxx xxxxxx xx xxx in order to open their way to Nestirtye; the elven Nowhere place. Whilst it is true that Kethy and Maerdy were once upon a time seeking answers pertaining to this place and it is believable that this is where they have headed given the rationalisation that they had the means (yes, the wealth as great if not greater than any Guild Master), the power (Maerdelain being a talented and learned arcanist and practitioner of ‘seam siphoning’) and the desire, on top of the knowledge of the Library. The issue I have however remains, and that is that surely they would have attempted to contact me before departing from the City to a place from which they will not be coming back, especially given our intentions to continue onwards deeper into the City together.

I do not believe they would abandon me so callously, so when I heard this shocking line of thought I was filled with an eerie sensation, it was a strange steely resolve. And I think it was highlighted by the fact that Ghaela seemed more offended by our companions’ departure from this world than I (assuming she is correct in her assumptions). I have to share it with you, because the songstress was possessed by an extraordinary moment of emotion, one that I could not help but be consumed by; in a good way!

Ghaela: Think on this very carefully, mage. *She says, her words beginning to lose their seemingly endless patience.* A duo, who is so deep into the rings that they've reached this Grand Library, suddenly vanish from the face of the world. They are as rich as the former Guildmasters of Ticker Square and as high profile as everyone knows them,  every step they take... suddenly, they vanish from the world, never to be seen again? Think. Where could they have gone? The way of the first pilgrims, perhaps?
     The knowledge is there- and if it were within my power, I would have it BURNED! *Her volume raises, nearly to a scream, jabbing a finger to the ground.*

Aethelwine: [He shakes his head, over and over again, physical protestation to this reality being painted verbally.] They would have told me, somehow. They would have reached out. They would not abandon me. To have let me know that they would not join me deeper into the City... at least they would have... written. [He falls abruptly silent as Ghaela's voice crescendos.]

Ghaela: Well then sup deep my pain and bathe yourself in my tears; they've gone the way as the rest of those lowly /rodents/, to partake in the same selfish ideology that damned us all to begin with!

Aethelwine: [He grits his teeth, seemingly giving in to the emotion emanating from Ghaela, as if it were an infectious thing... his brows bent in this righteous outrage, his eyes squinted as he nods solemnly.]

Ghaela: I pray that you fail, Aethelwine... not to be spiteful, but to shield you from pain. The truth is bitter and consumes the spirit like fire to wood... and once you learn, you cannot look away from it.
     My words do not do it enough justice- it is one thing to describe a wound, it is another to feel it. And feel you will, should you seek that knowledge.
     Wash your hands of them and dispose of their memory, they will do you no good.

Aethelwine: [His features and body language slowly revert to the innocent-seeming yet courtly posture that usually marks his presence.] I thank you for your counsel, Ghaela.
     I have not finished my search...
     Perhaps they have written.
     I have not visited Baz'eel in so long, and if... as you say... They took the path of the library...
     It is not beyond me... To read their passage, maybe they left something for me... but if they did not... I will remember your words.
     Cowards. [A nod.] In my time of despair...

Emotion, one way or another it is the key to my work and I know this to be true now, Marcie. As I stood there blasted back against the window when Ghaela erupted, I felt the intensity of her outrage and oh was I consumed and delighted by it. To bear witness to such a manifestation of rage, the sensation of being wronged was empowering because it only solidified my confidence in my own relatively newfound mastery over emotion  – though that idea brings me some trepidation, as if it is a fragile mastery that could falter at any time.

The patterns of communication with Ghaela were also curious, in that we would speak about a topic without actually speaking about it. It’s the telltale sign that the speaker respects the auspices of his Royal Majesty the King. Notice how she warns me about gazing upon the Truth, as if learning about it would forever harm me. How foolish, she reminds me of the Kethryl of Arishaul who tried to prevent me from reading Kolir’s journal – another case of tel’quessir thinking they know better. Such behaviour only hides the truth within them, that it is their own fragility that makes them want to hide away the Truth from others just because it might be difficult to deal with. They do not know me, I who have made the commitment to bear through the greatest of horrors, of the utmost unknown in order to inoculate myself against it, in order to overcome and rise above it. She also seems not to realise that I may already know what she thinks she knows that I do not.

No, we have already learned that truth, Marcie. We have accepted it, and we realise that this world is from whence we must go forward, not backwards. The Rememberers had their chance – now they are but a repository of knowledge, a collection of memories preserved and attended by those who have outdone them. Their order is a kind of library that I am thankful for but their intentions between this world and the last are obsolete. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I will always remember my sisters Mildred and Angharad, but more important are you, and those whom have put their faith in me here in the City – and it is for all of them that I shall serve the castigation of the Realm.

I hope you’re not being tortured too much. I hope you’re not wallowing away. I hope you’re not like that spectre that was haunting me, that you have not lost who you are. And even if Maerdelain and Kethryl have abandoned me... I have not abandoned you. Madame duRange should not be far off now... I’m going to prepare myself for the future trials through the City as I partake of her Mystery Theatre.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 11:34:31 AM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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[Musical accompaniment to set the mood of this piece.]

I have stumbled upon a realisation, Marcie. It is the realisation of the formula for Veritaserum. I name it a realisation, for it is not quite an epiphany, nor is it so simple as to be implicit awareness. No, it is a damnable realisation for it comes at my own cost. I have faltered under distress, I have let things get to me – but I am not perfect. (Did I ever tell you, a child in the Peerage Ward once spoke to me those words, 'You are not perfect.' It was no ordinary child though). Perfection is like wisdom, ever that which rests upon a pedestal, beyond us, the thing we ever strive towards. And so I learn, and so I shall share, with you, my realisation.

It comes in response to a letter. A terrible little letter, Marcie. And you know how important letters are. After all, one of my classes is entirely about writing and deconstructing the perfect letter: ‘The Art of Letter Writing, unclassified.’

Lifted wall and broke our earth
Slaves taken, children beaten
Even they had men of worth
Even they had one less cretin

Deep down within crumbled hall
He fled and wept his coward tears
Cold blood spilt; warlords dozen standing tall
Warm blood spilt; a great host with few fears

As'sitia and Git'inaya bled
Ha'toshi taken; now Szka'zul slaughtered too
Canals choked with rust and red
And still he lives, Truthseeker untrue

You join the dead in a time soon seen
Signed; Imperial Deathclaw Ta'maine, Who Walks Between

It... it drove me into the darkest of places, Marcillene. I am alone now (well, there is always Persephone, but we are more or less, facets of the same person) and I am so very afraid. I am mocked, I am a joke, some even have the gall to call me the Least Fool, and even now I find myself incapable. For who was it that closed the treacherous seams of RECKLESS RASHBY, in her CONCLUDING CATASTROPHE? It was not I. It was not I, nor you. No, you collapsed under the debris of a building and I could not stand against the horrible slaadi, I lost consciousness against the onslaught of their chao malificarum. And that damnable Ruul, that thing that corrupted Cynthia and held no iota of responsibility. Of all people HE, he was the one to close the portals, to undo the catastrophe like it were another one of his parlour tricks. I, I was powerless, incapable. And it gets to me, I think, Marcie, that I am alone, the same that I have ever been: weak? And now, now some wretch of the worst kind threatens me. I find from the notion, only misery. I want ... Marcie, is it true? I want power because I am wanting of power? Is this what happens when one is pushed to the brink, no... no. I cannot let that be. Because Wizardry is for the Wise, and I do not do what I do, for power. I will try, I will try to do what I can without becoming that which I stand against. Power without purpose is nothing-Nothing.

So, Veritaserum – the Serum of Truth. The formula is revealed in my response:

Dear Imperial Deathclaw Ta’maine, Who Walks Between,

     Well, what a little piece of poetry you’ve sent to me. Out of the blue, from a hint of green, for a fellow terribly yellow. I would sigh and I would be sad, and I am but it’s not the first time I’ve been.

     I fear you are gravely mistaken if you believe I have anything to do with your loss. When it came to that farce, that terrible lie, that monster who led people to damnation – it was a surreal nightmare. Somewhere, by some power I was pulled there, but I never wanted to be there. It was never somewhere I was meant to go. I wanted none of it, yet I was there, and there I bore witness to this Lord Trystan Moonspear and of him I saw some dark truth. Some inexplicable power wield even before this Prince of Nothing bore his dark crown. If you want justice or vengeance, it is him you seek.

     Of all the things I am, I am but a scholar. You seem to think I am not an advocate of the Truth; something that extends beyond empires – of man, of Sibilant, or any other. It is the truth of the very Realm, and there is only one way to gaze upon it. It is to look far and beyond and deeper into the City. At its centre – and from there we will know. We will know. The thing that lies there. That’s the ultimate revelation. I don’t know the basis for you to think I am untrue but perhaps you think I’ve somehow overlooked something, some aspect of the Sibilant Empire. But I’ve had no hand in the destruction of your people – I don’t even think you are the true enemy.

     And I don’t know you. Somehow you think you know me, but you don’t. You know nothing about me, very few know me true. But you must have heard some rumours – there’s a lot of those. Most of them untrue. Perhaps it was that in the time of Luke Danebluff I told a few stories, to sate his ego – yes, he who would call himself Dorvant. But I am no Daring Sword, I have never been. I mean, how can an entire world exist on the foundation of four heroes overthrowing an empire and from it giving rise to a king – and that’s it, that’s all there is. Something’s off, maybe you know, maybe you don’t, maybe don’t care. I just find it frustrating, and on top of that being condemned – for all the things I can’t speak about openly? What you want from me is very useless though, it’s senseless, it’s pointless, it’s meaningless, and it’s just outright depressing.

     I’m sorry you think that I am worth your time. You’re a poet though, and that seems rare. So I can do nothing short of return to you the favour of writing back. Perhaps you shall see a truth of my character, that I take things seriously, and that I do not dismiss anything out of hand. That I do not know everything, that I am ever committed to learning. Ah, well, this world is so full of senseless loss, and again, I’m sorry for your own. I won’t go on to make any further assumptions of you. But I’d like to hope you aren’t in favour of senselessness as well.

-   A.S.

I broke, Marcie. I let slip things that this creature was undeserving of. To think I revealed so much in the height of... yes, you can guess it, can’t you, Marcillene? It’s emotion. The height of emotion. Emotion is the Veritaserum. Incredible, isn’t it? The gift that keeps on giving is this examination, this dedication I’ve undertaken into the power of emotion. Prior to this, the formula for Veritaserum was much more obvious: intoxicants, in particular alcohol. It loosens the tongue, it removes inhibitions, it makes one susceptible to revelations and revelation itself. The mind poison is not something I have utilised though, not on purpose, though I think I did once encourage a deep Ringrunner to drink well, and drink deeply at the bar of Towertop as they retold many a tale of the secrets deeper within. Secrets at the time beyond my reach, for it was one of the ten thousand years I spent locked behind the Eryngium Courts.

But Marcie, I am of course the teacher yet. This is a lesson in fact, in the Art of Letter Writing. The subtleties and intricacies of which might fly overhead beyond the awareness of many like any other ephemeral shooting star. But I like to weave my spells with a touch of finesse, you know. This ‘Imperial Deathclaw Ta'maine, Who Walks Between’, I know it is a threat. I know it wants something from me. I know it is more than it seems. Even as I wrote I knew the likelihood it was less a lizardman and more the typical sort of monster that surrounds us. Wearing the skin of Man. A changeling, a knave, or just some wretched thing seeking any excuse, as ever they do, to partake of their violent delights. I, the target of their violent ends. Oh, the terror, the nightmare, Marcillene... and I thought, oh I thought to myself. I thought of you and I thought of your misery. I thought of how some nameless, faceless, nothing would come for me, for no good reason. Just like that idiot Recondite thing, it took your life, it stole away your breath and it died swiftly after as the toll for it violent delights – meeting its own violent end. I saw the image I’d never seen, of your final cry, and yet your torture would not stop at that, would it? You would be desecrated. That hateful b-bitch would tear out your heart, carve away your flesh and send you against of all things the stupid, useless gates of the Peerage Ward. The Peerage Ward – I hate... no. No. I do not hate. Oh who am I kidding, Marcille... I hate them all. You should never have trusted them, none of them. I failed you. Did I not urge caution, did I not emphasise how wretched that place and its ‘people’ are? Did I grow to comfort you too much after what you felt you had to do to the Green Mask? Was I meant to fill your mind with fear instead? To cultivate in you a healthy paranoia? For at least paranoia might have kept you alive even if it would have made you miserable. Well, no matter, I just know that I have a mission and nothing can stand in my way. So I will give in to the paranoia that you could not. I am undeserving of peace, I am undeserving of calm, I am unworthy of being soothed – my balm is gone, you are but a memory. So I will suffer, and I will suffer well. I shall take paranoia – the emotion that it is – to an artform, Marcille. I shall not accept a fate so abysmal as your own, but ... I am still here. I will fix this. I will fix everything. Everything.

Oh but I do owe you a lesson or two. So I wrote back didn’t I? I let loose from my grasp, things I’d held close and away from the gaze of all save the few, the trusted few. It has become a liability now. But it is still within my control. I wrote back to it, as if it were a lizard. Yes, I can’t be sure after all, that it is not. Though there are few lizards who write poetry, and I think I heard that Ks’k, that Emissary who held Magebristle and one of the few who might actually read and write may have been eliminated. Magebristle – alas, I fear I cannot salvage her for you – but maybe one day. Let us not digress though. So I took the accusations of this Ta’maine to heart, how dare it decry me for not holding the Truth to the highest esteem! So I became defensive. Emotion does that, Marcille. It is powerful, understanding that truth. And even as I wrote, I left ambiguity. After all, to be green is to be envious, and anything with violent desires will carry such in its heart. But I am a bit blue, and a bit yellow, mix those colours and you get green, but that is not something I am – it is something I could be, but not what I am. Understanding, not power, is the pursuit. If only you kept your magic missiles in check instead of panicking and laying waste to a hundred hounds.

But I have a plan, Marcille. True paranoia is after all irrational, and I am not that. I shall not simply trust nobody and leave it at that. I know what I must do, and I must do it also for myself. And for the mean time I must make my dedication to move beyond Baz’eel. I’ve even yet been dawdling. All I need is a shovel. A shovel is all I need. Such heavy things, shovels. But I’ll do this, I’ll break through these Rings and I shall break them all yet. And I will do it alone, if I must. They may all laugh and mock me, and the shadows are always at my back, and all those other things that delve in secrets. But I have work to do. And if I know I cannot go further, then I shall work my magnum opus. You will be the key, my love. In this, I have resolve.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2020, 12:49:44 AM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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on: September 16, 2020, 12:28:31 PM
I revisited Silverspike, Marcie, as I do on the odd nostalgic occasion – Percy and I... There’s so many names there, almost every single one of them that I recognise in some way, and many with whom I had some association. It’s led to remind me that I cannot truly hold hatred in my heart. The world cannot steal from me this part of me, and nor will I let it embitter me to lose sight of a plight that is inherently shared. I said I was alone, but I am not – we are all in this together, one way or another. And so I shall not be like ‘Wyndelius the Wise’, yes, your first master, the very same who is the Least Fool. He dared to tell me that this is the lot of the wizard, to be like him, a man who is but a shell of a man, drinking away his intellect, drowning his sorrows as they say, yet containing within him a loathing of all: a misanthropic failure of a drunkard. I pity the fool, it must be said. And I will not be like him. If I am to pay the price with more misery and disappointment, if that is the cost of being superior, if that is what I must sacrifice for not giving up, if it is what I must deal with to overcome those fetid trappings of the City so enjoyed in the 99th  then perhaps more the fool I, but at least I shall not break and I shall yet keep my promise.

Another thought is that I should have recognised emotion as the veritaserum it is much sooner than I have. I realise of course this is the benefit of retrospection, and so now I partake of introspection on the matter whereupon I find many moments in my life where emotion was the key to the truth.

One of the most notable was with Hawthorne and Coriander in the Spinning Groat: I was being ganged up on, though we discussed life, philosophy, and of course the status of arcane community and the state of civilisation in these Rings in a time prior to any declaration of Certamen. As the discussions heated and became clear argument, I had let loose a sentiment that I did not even realise I harboured within myself: it was the first time that I confessed what I thought of Ring 99 and its ‘people’, and Hawthorne’s response was unlike his later very disassociated self, very human. He rightly demonstrated my conceit, albeit indirectly, by in contrast showing within himself an empathy and connection to his fellow man: he was a Ticker (well, not really, to him everything was only ever a means to an end) or so he stated, and he spoke platitudes of how he identified with the people of the Ring and how this was his home and how I had grown aloof and detached. Rather amusing of course, when he went on to alienate himself a thousandfold more than I ever did after we flipped the coin. Still, that was the moment a truth of myself unveiled itself, one that had hidden itself from me.

I have since gone on to meet others. Remember Thaltas? He answered my inquiry on the question of love with such poetry and hope, his words as ever carrying upon his tongue the lilt and insight of what marks the best aspects of the elven people. He feels like a relic, of a bygone age, and I fear for him, when in eventuality he must contend with the Truth. Yet, at the same time, I think I should like to be there when he grasps it, to see how one such as he would make sense of it all and determine the place he should take. I am indeed very curious as to what this being who delivered unto me a romance of stars – that you are up there, shining down upon me – would have to say when his eyes open anew. Yet as ever, we cannot be so convinced of that thing thrust upon us as the Truth is what it seems to be, and it is much like my dear friend Saint Outis’s picture – we are only ever working with a sketch. A viewable, workable sketch though we hope it to be – in that way, it is much like magic itself, enough for us to utilise it as our path towards realising our full potential.

In any case, it is a rare thing of late, but I have come to name this quessir, Thaltas, a friend. He has bestowed upon me a great token wrought of his own art, and the impression it leaves is nothing short of heart-warming and inspiring.

So before the triumph over the Little Labyrinth, stood amidst the foggy swamps I remember, a moment:

Thaltas: "I wish a word with you, Master Sothilde."
     "You must know that we of the Tel'Quessir are not given to haste nor decisions upon the hour. Perhaps there is something of that in yourself too. ...Particularly that of my own kind, the Ar'Tel'Quess, it is /our/ way..."
     " the sole protectors and inheritors of Corellon, to be a beacon of excellence for our brethren. Each thought weighed with a feather of truth, each decision turned and turned over until it bears a seed for with which to be planted."
     "...Such is the way of our acquaintance, for which it is my hope that it shall blossom far beyond mere courtesies and banter."
     "If you recall when you told me of your beloved's passing, and I entreated you with an assurance that she is above us among the stars, watching?"

Aethelwine: [He nods slowly.] Yes. I recall - perfectly.

Thaltas: "Indulge me then, for a moment, a small tale. You see, in my travels I had come across a fine specimen of bitternut oak. Among its brothers, it would have once been taller, once stronger."
     "But not anymore whence I chanced upon it - a sickness had befallen this honorable tree, and I found myself in a moment of passion, and took it upon myself to relieve it of its suffering, and to give what was taken... a fresh purpose."
     --He pauses here, and delicately removes a small object from a pouch at his belt, which he presents to Aethelwine.--
     "May this bring you hope and light anew, in your darkest hours, Master Sothilde."

Aethelwine: [The magus blinks at the offering. Quiet, curious, and for the moment lost in this gifting.]
     [He snuffs out his cigarette, the illusory thing that it was, never quite there in the first place and takes into his hand this carved wooden star, exhaling a soft sigh and a faint yet meaningful smile.]
You honour me, Thaltas. I... [For the moment, a rare moment, the magus finds himself without words.]

Thaltas: --He returns a slight smile of his own, glancing quickly to the marsh below.--

Aethelwine: I thank you. For not just this gift, but its promise. [A pause as he gazes over the gift now within his hand, rolling it over to study its every facet.]

Thaltas: "Hold it high, to where the stars look upon you, and you will find Corellon's Light to warm your heart."
     --He falls silent then, for a moment he too, seems bereft of words in the moment.--
     "The Long-Lived keeps its promises."

Aethelwine: [And so he holds up high this five-pointed star.]
     [You hold the delicate star aloft and instil in lesser men a sense of star struck wonder.]

Thaltas: --A faint smile, as he watches the golden light suffuse the mage.--

Aethelwine: [A blink of surprise and delight.] Thank you. I... did not expect anything so... deep and meaningful. You are a rarity, Thaltas. In a Realm of darkness and despair, you, yourself a beacon and this that you have imparted upon me... is something I shall cherish.

Thaltas: --He places a fist over his heart, and bows low.--
     "I see your despair. And I feel it. I wish to.."
     "...I share your pain. But the Light will fill this darkness. It must."
     --A slight shift in his voice indicates the river of emotion within the elf, so he turns aside, remaining stoic.--

Aethelwine: [He sets the five pointed star then into his robe, bowing his own head in turn.] I have only one last dedication in this world... and it is the Truth. But I will not give up on friendship either, not now. And though I have been calling you friend, I had not in turn realised the impact of my words, until now.

Thaltas: "May you never feel alone among friends, Master Sothilde."

Aethelwine: [A faint, distant sort of smile.] And nor you, mellonamin.

Thaltas: --He watches the waters below in silence for a few more moments, savouring the moment.--

Aethelwine: It was worth waiting for this moment, but I encourage you now to seek your reverie as I must mine respite. Perhaps in time I shall show you my home in the Wizard Warrens - and further within and deeper in the City yet. It is there where the answers lie, and if I hit a wall in my inquiries...
     I intend to complete my magnum opus and uncover the Truth I need.

Thaltas: --He nods gently.--
     "I will be with you every step of the way, should you need me."

Aethelwine: I should enjoy your company upon that hour, though I must tell you that a magnum opus is the accomplishment of an entire life's pursuit - and though I shall work to unravel all possibilities, I cannot say where it will take me.

Thaltas: "I am prepared to give my life for this pursuit. That is all that awaits."
     "I do not believe there is a path home, and so I will die for this cause."

Aethelwine: [A shake of his head.] Please don't say that, my friend. [He clutches onto his locket.] I have heard those words before...

Thaltas: --He glances to Aethelwine, then away.--

Aethelwine: It is not too late to make your own home... It is not impossible... to carve out from the nightmares, a sanctuary.

Thaltas: "My spirit dies the longer I remain here, my friend..."
     "But for those whom I love, I remain a while longer."

Aethelwine: You will come to know a Truth, and from it I think you shall find empowerment and renewed purpose yet.

Thaltas: --He looks to Aethelwine questioningly, but then simply nods.--
     "Show me the Truth then, of my Awakening."

Aethelwine: Because I think life becomes all the more important when it is so fleeting... so tenuous... as it is in a place like this...

Thaltas: "Perhaps, my friend."

Aethelwine: [A shake of his head.] Perhaps I shall, but it cannot be now. Instead I will leave you with the words that were brought upon me as I witnessed one who Remembers destroyed before my very eyes:
     "To seek the Truth is noble, but to hear prematurely is a bitter poison.  Knowledge is a tempting draught, to slake your aching thirst..." [His voice having risen to a peak, his courtly tone enunciating as of some greater being, briefly possessed, before it returns to his usual timbre.]

Thaltas: "Wise words, then."
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 09:56:32 AM by Aethereal »
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

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Well, Marcie. I did not give up on friendship. My parents named me Aethelwine, in a language that comes to me and leaves me from time to time the meaning of my name is noble friend. I feel that if I gave up on something as vital to the core of my being as this, I may as well cease to be who I am.  No, I am glad I remain who I am, through all the travails and troubles I’ve had, through all that I have suffered, I have not broken. That is in itself a triumph – though in works of fiction, a character is also tragic, if they do not change. No, reflecting upon my life in the City of Rings, I have absolutely changed. Stolen from me is my innocence, sublimated in the crucible that is existence is my naiveté, and slowly through my ceaseless Inquiries I am freed as well of so much ignorance. Perhaps such is the fate of all who grow and age –  but knowing this fact in and of itself does I feel ward me from becoming jaded and bitter because I see in others that which I would hate to become myself. The Least Fool chief amongst them, yet there are many others who I pity just the same as the fool. I do have plans upon that position, though I dare not speak of them. No, the hour will come in time... and I shall have at last my triumph, and my revenge. Yes, it’s true, I have also changed – or rather, I had always intended to never forget all the slights against me... I may have let them trample over me, I may have let the serpents slither all over and constrict me, but I never forget. Each dish shall be served to the mode of Gazpacho soup. But worry not, my spirit is hardly vengeful, I will forgive those who deserve it and I still do believe that the greatest revenge is one’s own success. My energies will be spent ever towards the positive, not festering in the dank pits of the negative; there is after all far too much of that about.

Nonetheless, it is a friendship reinvigorated with a fellow who these days declares I am the reason for him being the way he is. That is a very impressive compliment, to be sure, coming from Angvald. You see, he credits me for his becoming such an ardent Truthseeker – so possessed of endless theories as he has come to be – since the day we met upon Silverspike and I encouraged him to make his plea to the skies and his Ancestors and then that visitation we witnessed together when I led him through to our Wizard Warrens and back home. With him though comes Eupraxia and what remains of her Breakers, and now before you get angry at me, know this – I have not forgiven her, just go back to what I said about not forgetting. I am not a cruel man though, nor am I spiteful, and each slight must be weighed upon the scales of Justice and awarded only what is most evenly due; nothing more and nothing less.

So it is with Angvald and the Heron I have uncovered new findings. It seems that a path to the Mistlevale Keep has opened up, such a marvellous and storied place it is – remember my lecture upon it in and the Lady in Warrenwatch? I wish you were there to witness it with me. So full of magic and lore, truths and tragedy – oh it is such a glorious sight, I think my new friend Thaltas must surely reach it one day. But for now it seems I move onwards still, indeed with Angvald I have at last returned to Baz’eel. All it took was a few months of utter misery and all the time I could afford in researching a way to bring you back... whole and not undead. But life must go on and I take to heart what my quessir friend has said, it is after all important to stay positive because life must go on even after loss and despair and I think the truth is, you would not want me to be miserable.

The Trek back to Baz’eel has come with familiar sights and other portents. For one the Vizier is coming to the outer Rings, and one of the Satraps announces on his behalf that the Gates of Baz’eel are opening, that indeed we shall soon chance to venture beyond the 55th Ring. Finally, I shall find the secrets of Ash, which I feel strongly to be the key to my works to come. I wonder what the 99th will make of the ashfolk though. I think it shall be the first time many of them will ever have seen one, let alone their nobility. I suspect if they announce what the Heron thinks they will announce, the Peerage will cut them up and loot their diminutive albeit extravagantly wealthy cadavers, but that would be such a terrible shame. No, I certainly hope that will not be the case. I hope people like them. I like them myself, such lovers of civilisation and oh so amusing in their efforts to be philosophers and intellectuals, although some of them are most definitely possessed of wisdom.

Another thing, there was a great storm in the ‘peaks. Though I suppose that’s not an overly rare sight, I could not help but remark how the weather all over the Rings has been so ill. Another Darkening comes to the 99th, I think and I am rather glad to be away from it. The Whispers speak of the passing of Wakefield, this displeases me greatly. Why? Because I had the good thought he was behind some of the death threats I was receiving and meant to deliver upon him just desserts. I did say I was taking paranoia to an artform wasn’t I? My theory was that if some lizardman-thing was after us, surely someone as ah... hmm defective as the detective would not last long. Therefore, since he prevailed, he was sending deranged poetry my way in order to threaten the Truth out of me. He wanted to see me publish the rest of my Tales of the Daring Swords with accuracy and factuality - which by the way was truly always my intention despite my acquiescence to 'Vunco' or as he sometimes had it 'Dorvant'. But now, I feel even less inclined. I still will, of course, but I am going to have to acknowledge the stupid lizardfolk I imagine. One must please the murdersome people if one is to carry on, I fear. Though I shan’t be rewarding threats with Truth anymore. No. They cannot get their way in ways that I do not condone.

Oh yes, ‘Sir Peter the Trustworthy’ is back at it. I suppose he actually never quite stopped being at it and has been involved with Eupraxia and company this whole time. He’s said that Kethryl and Maerdelain left a parcel for me, so I suppose that’s something I could have accessed a lot sooner if I had enough motivation to leave the Warrens – but the very thought of having to collect a shovel and shovel myself wasn’t very appealing on top of everything else I was dealing with. I do think I needed the break from everything though, some quiet time to my studies, reflecting upon it all, and prognosticating the future as well as my place in it. Aside from this it seems my old charge, Warrenwatch, is in good hands, the best of hands – hands that I chose as ever I do, and hands that beat some sense into Angvald with it. It still feels like home but I’m not sure in this current timeline that it’s a very positive place for me. All the memories I have of the bed I made have soured and not only fermented by fomented into the depressive. It’s a mark of all of my failure and it’s a reminder of an age of servitude and attracting the worst kind of attention: power-grubbing maniacs, misfits, and covetous creeps. I feel so free now, without burden save that of the heart, even if it comes with being homeless... oh well. I’d rather be homeless and happy than have a bed of my own making but forced to take such terrible measures to uphold its sanctity. And anyway, in the latter stage as we made for Baz’eel, the only thing holding me to it was your own attachment to it.

We’ll tie up the loose ends one day though, Marcie. Don't you worry.
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.


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I’m never satisfied though and I like it that way as ridiculously contradictory as that sounds, because it’s a fact. I am a seeker of wisdom, and  similarly to the hunter who becomes nothing without its prey, so too am I without the pursuit of ever greater illumination. For no matter what I learn I know there is always more to learn and I dare not settle, Marcie. This is something my sister Sylyn knew well about me, oh how she saw through me like few ever have since. But you and I, we did make that promise to one another, that even if we were to be together, we would not settle. That did not mean that we would not take roost within our home, the Wizard Warrens. So much for that though, so much for all of our plans. Because what are plans that never come to pass save broken dreams and unhappy endings?

None of this is relevant though to where I have now come. Angvald said that an Architect was to be born in Baz’eel. Well, we’ve come and now we’ve gone and it’s not happened. Just another lie, or a half-truth, made to push him along. There’s not enough questions being asked amongst the Unbroken either – that’s what we’re calling ourselves, the Unbroken – even with me amongst their number. I suppose the name is fitting and fair at least. I’ve been beaten and bent out of shape but I have not broken. There’s some poetry in there with the things we’ve witnessed more recently. This, the crucible that makes us who and what we are.

Oh the things we’ve seen and overcome. We’re being followed though, watched, observed. Angvald calls him his caseworker, which I think is an irony beyond his comprehension but no small source of amusement when he blurts it out in that manner. He seems indifferent though hopeful, this caseworker, and I can’t help but wonder why. And what is it that he hopes for? Who’s side is he on? It seemed at first that it had something to do with Angvald’s loud mouth and I notice he only appears when the topic at hand grows too close to home. Most recently though he has expressed some terrible things. It feels like he is breaking, because all beings have a breaking point and given what he is, knowing that some of his kind have gone rogue before I do worry. Why did he so suddenly grow melancholic and nihilistic? He reminded me of me, so long ago in that mode. When I had peered upon the Crystalline revelation within my tower. I did not like it. I do not like it. Not at all.

Casting aside such trepidation, I have to think to myself, how Jendel would have loved being here right now. Here stands a fellow archaeologist of his, of a heritage not dissimilar – oh if only he could hold on, if only he could have at least reached Baz’eel and met its people. But he broke and he wanted my people - innocent people - dead and for that I cannot wholly forgive him as I will always have a soft place in my heart for my fellow scholar, the practitioner and those whom I have ever called my arcane brethren. Because though some amongst them like any other would turn towards derangement, there is no greater dedication, there is no purer alignment to the Truth and Enlightenment itself than the Art when pursued under the light of wisdom. Alas, Jendel the Archaeologist, were you really the greatest of us Truthseekers? No, I fear you were not. Because the Truth is a terrible thing and it demands much of the mind to contend with.

So that is where I am now. Stranded as we are, so far away from the place we Awoke. And there seems no way to return. Have we traversed just distance or time too and what is their relationship, distance and time in a place like this? The weather here is far worse than anywhere else though we are sheltered from it all in this little haven. Though we can hear their Whispers upon the bronze ears, there is simply no way to respond. I hear them though, I hear them all. Mostly the same as ever, and peculiarly some call for me too. The young apprentice Alfyn, to whom I never responded again... though I take with me his last letter. I heard his voice, he looks up to me and sings of my praises. The thought of being such a figure to the apprentices of this world brings a tear to my eyes, a terrible tear it is. Will I never get to respond to him again? Oh, I can’t dwell on this notion, it’s all dark emotion.

So stuck here I have to ask, why am I here? And why would anyone want to be here? “There must always be a kingseeker, just as there must always be a king.” Cycles, blasted cycles. And what is it all counting down to? A great tide and the end of Everything? No, there are too many lies to maintain for that and I have already seen the Truth, enough to know how this works. The Arbiters of the Hundred Scrolls have departed this timeline though, and who besides me even cared or noticed? It was all just a relief for them all and it was because of their departure that Reckless Rashby could arise in the first place. And after that, the impotence of the Architect and that wretched Ruul’s declaration – ‘no consequences, no consequences!’ There are always consequences, you imbecile.


Well, whatever. I’ve been writing and writing and now I need to sleep. At least here, I can do that, in peace. But tomorrow is another day.
'Even life eternal is not time enough to see, all the folly and despair of poor Humanity.' - To Life - A Shoggoth on the Roof

It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.