[IXIA, CAELLINRAH TOWERS; SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 (WR)]
Before the end of the week, three magical circles had been constructed around the infested tower. They meant to contain the burgeoning energies within and to weaken the undead monsters that would spill out. For their efforts, casualties were light despite the “outbreak”. But any loss of life or limb was of serious import to Choir Caellinrah – Shaed-ling verathas, Shaed-ling veridun, Shaed-ling veradas!*
They were in the middle of constructing the fourth circle, with Elven sentinels eying the infested tower’s windows and door, when the contingent from the Order of Patience arrived, bristling with weaponry and suspicion that was decidedly not the Ixian norm.
They were led by none other than the Gate-keeper Warden, a Cambion who regarded the scene with a severity akin to the sharpened steel that hung from her belt. Though she was far and away from it physically, her charge was the maintenance and the guardianship of the only way into Ixia: the Gate of Patience.
As surprise spread across the Elves, the sentinels guarding the tower turned to face the newcomers. However, they were commanded to remain at their posts by a priestess of high rank. She immediately moved to meet with the Order of Patience, with a personal guard and a tall, foreign Elf.
“Welcome to Choir Caellinrah! Sleeping Winter, I presume?” the priestess spoke with a smile that befitted a banquet rather than the containment of dangerous magics. “I am Alassiel Caellinrah, Twilarch Heirophant in Avorah’s absence”
The Cambion responded with a curt nod as she surveyed the individuals before her and her forces, as if determining the manner and the method of dismantling them should violence erupt. Sleeping Winter’s eyes settled on the foreign Elf – he did not appear to be subservient to the priestess or any other individual. More importantly, he was familiar.
“Magnus von Dammerlicht”
He returned her demeanor with a gaze that was more stoic than severe, being a soul that had endured much in recent times. “Warden. It has been several moons since the cells”
“A precautionary measure for all who enter Ixia, Patriarch Magnus. Everyone understands, of course!” Alassiel did not physically get between them but her voice was enough to break the spell between Magnus and Sleeping Winter.
The Gate-keeper Warden turned her attention to the priestess. “Your messenger has informed me of the situation, though I suspect that much has changed since then”
“No, no – the situation remains contained”
“Then why have you called for the Order of Patience? This is Crown business, not ours” Contrary to her words, her tone seethed with a distinct lack of patience.
“Because of your talents, naturally!” Alassiel flashed a winning smile. “And of course, your proximity. We were aware that you were on your way to the Gate and close by. The strength of the Order is well known to we of Caellinrah – it is all that stands between Ixia and the savagery of the outside world!”
Sleeping Winter paused long enough for the priestess and her guest to understand that the Warden was unimpressed by her geniality. When the silence was almost unbearable, the Cambion gestured that she was to be led to the tower’s perimeter.
Magnus and Alassiel shared a glance after they turned around. As it is with such things, they arrived just in time to see the wraiths and the banshees spill out of the tower in a maddened frenzy. The only warning they gave were the howls of the tormented dead.
The battle was a vicious one and the undead tore through sentinels and magical circles at a rate that was yet unseen. At the end of it however, the living had put the dead to rest. The strength of the now broken magical circles and the support of the Warden and her forces were all that stood between the Twilight Elves and destruction. Now the battle was over, healers were lending assistance to the wounded and the dying in no small amount – Caellinrah were known for their love of magic, after all.
A bloodied Sleeping Winter strode to the priestess. Alassiel’s priestly robes were marred with claw marks and crimson.
But for once, the priestess found herself at a loss for words.
Magnus had acquitted himself nobly in the combat using Witchery and he answered for her. “Warden, this attack is unlike anything I have ever seen or encountered, even when my house lived in the death-ridden Corpse-Kingdom. However, I am well aware of its nature and its source”
Sleeping Winter raised a hand up to give him pause. She immediately summoned two of her runners. “You are going to Z’akil. And you are going to the Gate. Both of you will tell them what you saw here”
The Gate-keeper Warden turned back to Magnus. “Apologies. Continue”
Magnus flinched little during the battle, but he trembled with barely contained fury as he spoke. “I have never seen it myself, but I know of this phenomenon – though I did not expect it here, nor do I understand how it comes to be here.
This energy is similar to that of a Soulwell, a nexus of necromantic and spiritual energy. A gateway into the realms of the dead”
“Where did it come from?” Alassiel finally managed enough composure to whisper a question.
“Freehold – from the people who all but recommended the destruction of the Dammerlicht… of all I held dear” Magnus almost choked from his hatred.
Sleeping Winter nodded with an understanding beyond what a single sentence could grant. She had been there at least once and had seen both the virtuous and the sinful within that town, though there seemed more the latter than the former. It was not her place to judge and enact judgment, but if she had her way–
Their palaver was interrupted by more howls, more maddened screaming. Sleeping Winter nodded to her runners and drew her steel, moving her forces between the undead and the retreating Choir Caellinrah. They only needed to last until reinforcements arrived, but it was a tall order and weeks in the making.
When the undead horde streamed out of the tower, she cracked her neck and spread her stance. She would let the wraiths and the banshees come forth unto her waiting blades.
She was patient, after all.
*See the Celestial Church of Ixia in the Ixian Religion page