Divinity Lore Event I (Icathia)

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The Tower

by ShadowKnight1224 (edited by CupcakeTrap)

This lore event follows the May 28–29 Featured Matches. Icathia lost to Bilgewater 0–3, so this is something of a “crisis” event.


Preface—Zomo and Korzari

This lore preceded the Featured Matches. In it, a Marai priest and an Icathian monk came to blows in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the new nexus. They each faced international criminal charges, and their respective factions fought to keep them out of jail, while pinning the blame on the other.

They are a study in outlandish contrasts—and strange, subtle similarities. Zomo, Seer of the Coral Temple, is a distinguished old Marai priest who renounced his high-born family to pursue his divine vocation. Korzari is a young Icathian cultist, born in Piltover as Jane Bluefield, whose love for mathematics abruptly shifted from “talking about math” to “math talking to her” and brought her to Kor, the Sky-Spire, and a sect of Icathian monks. Zomo has become an itinerant explorer, returning to his temple periodically to expound on his latest enlightenment in the solitude of the depths. Korzari, meanwhile, lives mostly in a cramped monastic cell, where she covers the walls in overlapping layers of multicolored symbols which she nonetheless will describe in a disconcertingly calm and rational tone. The stately old priest who lives a wild life of itinerant mysticism, and the wild-haired, fire-eyed young monk who periodically (it is said) publishes well-formatted academic papers in Piltover under various pseudonyms.

About a week ago, Zomo entered a deep meditative trance at the edge of an oceanic abyss, surrounded by schools of multicolored fish that swirled about him seemingly in tune with his thoughts. And at about the same time as Zomo closed his eyes and began chanting a hymn to the spirits of the Deep Dark, Korzari wandered out of her cell, absentmindedly breaking a pencil and then magically mending it over and over again, and asked the abbot for a traveling allowance and access to some old aquatic enchantments from the archives. And Zomo’s serene mindscape began to warp around the frightening figure of a black-purple-yellow demon brandishing a broken staff passed around ten octopus-like tentacles.

When the nexus emerged, Zomo awoke from his trance and proclaimed thanks to the spirits of his great ancestors for banishing the demon. He saw a radiant host rising up from the abyss, bearing ghostly apparitions of ancient Moonstones that went dark centuries ago, now restored. He was so taken by the sight that at first he did not see Korzari, face wrapped in something that looked rather like a flattened squid, and a third eye painted on her forehead. (Many cultures paint such things. But this being Icathian magic, there was a crucial distinction: this painted third-eye sometimes blinked.) And her presence was corrupting the spirits, warping his cherished, honored ancestors into monstrous caricatures.

Korzari herself saw a mana-vortex spiraling down into the abyss, where a Void-mouth drank it up with burbling sounds whose melodies contained deep secrets of the cosmos. Or so it seemed—but this Marai was erasing the sound with his bleak temple-aura, keeping the secrets from her.

It was not long before they came to blows. Each called upon their supernatural patrons for aid—and to their mutual surprise, those patrons answered quite loudly.

Zomo chanted an invocation of Reshu the Conqueror, ancient king of the Marai, which gave strength against evil when spoken by the pure of heart. Zomo had seen this chant empower Marai to perform wondrous and valiant deeds. But he had never seen  Reshu actually appear, his trident in hand, haft scored with the bite marks of great sea-beasts, and demand that his enemies come before him to face their destiny.

And Korzari answered with a prayer to Agh’Nin, the Bringer of Obliterating Joy, a jubilant shout that a delicious soul was here to be feasted upon. It was, in practice, a curse, which bled away a powerful enemy’s thaumic field and consumed it. An effective spell. A potent spell. A dangerous spell. And a somewhat unpredictable spell that sometimes left the caster much the worse for the effort. But outside of the ancient legends, Korzari had never heard any claim that one who chanted this might suddenly hear a voice cry out in Old Icathian WHAT A DELIGHT YOU BRING US, FAVORED DAUGHTER! and then see an enormous toothy grin stretched out in ribbons of quivering jellyfish-flesh descending from the stars down through the churning waves.

When Zomo and Korzari awoke, they remembered nothing further. They were at the Institute, badly wounded.  And they learned that the abyss where they had fought had warped into a thaumic singularity hundreds of meters across, utterly impenetrable and quite possibly unstable. Even the League marshal who came to charge them with crimes against Runeterra’s peace and admonish them that they were to answer before a League tribunal sounded distantly impressed. Summoners could speculate as to how this disaster might have occurred, but their most viable theories involved magnitudes of magic beyond the reach of all but the most skilled Institute-trained Summoners.

Icathia and Bilgewater quickly took an interest in these two, and intervened in the pending prosecutions. The way that the governing law is structured, fault will fall primarily on one or the other. A tribunal of arms upon the Fields of Justice will decide which way it tips. The victorious faction will have sidelined a valuable enemy asset, and acquired one of their own.

Decision—The Void-Wraiths

Not everything in the Void is Icathia’s friend. Since its construction, the crystalline tower that is Icathia’s base of operations in the dispute region had been subtly attuned to a particularly dangerous overlap of Void energy and Death magic. The explosion of the thaumic singularity at the site of Korzari and Zomo’s battle has released an enormous shockwave, and the tower has picked it up like an antenna. During the surge, the entire structure became a resonant gateway, and through that gateway have come Void-wraiths. For once, it’s Icathia that’s being haunted.

The twisting tower that housed some of Icathia’s most gifted minds, floating soundlessly above the sea, resembled a nightmare given solid form. Purple crystal and metal shifted in perpetual motion, floors becoming walls becoming ceilings becoming floors. Windows gazed into darkness, then into stars, then into water. Stairs that went nowhere and everywhere at once, hallways that twisted on themselves, recursive rooms that went on forever, doors within doors and corners that never stopped turning.

Icathians navigated the tower with faith. You walked, and the Void took you into its currents.

That is to say, usually you walked with faith. Today, an Icathian named Yazar was running with faith. And, as it happened, with scissors.

Yazar dashed down a prismatic hallway of mirrors, brushed past a dozen alternate versions of himself, and nearly fell down an infinite stairway. He caught himself, rounded the corner, and saw the corridor leading to the central chamber.

He burst into the room at the heart of the tower, and saw Jorozo the Exalted looking up at a massive crystal rotating in space. Its facades sometimes reflected light, sometimes reflected dark, sometimes reflected the Void between, a sheet of indigo-black, slit with countless yellow eyes.

Yazar caught his breath, and tried to think of how to explain this. His already muddled concentration was not made any clearer by Jorozo’s voice.

“Amusing. It’s interfering,” Jorozo said in a deadened tone, gazing into the crystal. “The nexus. Its resonance is reacting with something here.”

Yazar looked down at his hands. One held a pair of shears. The other held the midnight blue fronds of an Icathian sandvine, whose ends had splayed out into red and yellow tendrils.

Sandvines, properly grown and enchanted, could be used to interpret extradimensional resonance patterns. They would bend and twist over days to form a shape that could be used for a divinatory incantation. The subtle turning of the stalks could contain quite a lot of information.

It was possible for magic to rip the vines apart like this. If aligned precisely with a powerful and unstable leyline, over the course of months they could unravel entirely.

“Exalted One,” he said, walking slowly forward, his breath still ragged, “a portent.” He held out the vines.

Jorozo turned and looked down at the vines. He fixed Yazar with a stare that silently asked him to explain why he shouldn’t be fed to something with a lot of tentacles and eyes for barging in with plant clippings.

“These were planted yesterday,” Yazar hissed, shaking them.

“That’s imp…” Jorozo stopped himself before he said something that Icathians quickly learned not to say.

Jorozo paused, and reconsidered his words. “They were planted here? Not beside the nexus?”

Yazar nodded frantically. “Yes. No. I mean no. They were planted here. In this tower, Exalted One. They’re aligned with this tower.”

“We’ve been chasing a rogue pattern,” Jorozo said. “Most complex, most unusual.”

“These,” Yazar said, shaking the fronds, “say the pattern isn’t ambient. It’s resonating through the entire tower!”

“We’ve been searching at ambient amplitude…” Naqi muttered, from the other side of the crystal. Her many eyes beheld the crystal’s arcane emanations.

She shook her head. “No, no…stupid, stupid, stupid!” She snatched up a blood-etched tablet, its tiny symbols flickering faintly, and smashed it on the ground. She seized a blank tablet, and carved it with a nail. In place of tidy columns of thumb-sized symbols, she drew six massive sigils, each the side of her palm, gouging the stone deep.

She held it up to the crystal. She licked her lips, and began to chant. But she’d not even finished the first syllable when the gray tablet turned black as night, and burst into fleeing tendrils of oily smoke. She coughed, and fell to her knees.

“Death,” she wheezed. “Death magic. … But the formulae give null-dimensional solutions! We solved two subpatterns! One elemental, one pure Void! The base waveform can’t be Death!”

Yazar wracked his memory. “Isn’t there a second-order super-imposed solution matrix? With the Zaunite algebra. You solve it in a trance, and you take a pen with ground-pyrikhos ink…”

“You try those spells if you want,” Naqi retorted. “I have enough voices in my head as it is.”

“The dagger?” Jorozo ventured. “It’s the only object aboard that I remember was imbued with Death.”

“Did you SEE that?” Naqi hissed. Her forked tongue flared through her fangs, as she pointed up at the place in the air where the tablet had exploded in her hands. “And you want to align an artifact with that?! This whole tower is a conductor!”

“Bring it to me and I’ll do it,” Yazar insisted. He hesitated, then spilled what he’d be hoping to keep to himself. “Korzari sent me some of her notes from the Institute on second-order matrix algebra. Maybe I could—”

And the thaumic singularity beneath the waves exploded, casting a column of boiling ocean up higher than the tower’s peak.

The tower rumbled. A feeling of vertigo seized those inside that could still feel such mundane things. Then, a wail. Drawn-out despair, then anger and pain. Icathians looked about them. They were used to feeling presences around them, but these were different. From the walls, spectral hands emerged, wearing ancient Shuriman armour, Demacian steel, black Noxian iron. The faces of the dead emerged from the floor-ceiling, reaching for the Icathians with their cold, ethereal grasp. Their gaunt faces were twisted, some with spite, others with righteous fury. The tower screamed. Icathians ran across the hallways, spectres wept purple ectoplasm. Some wards were broken, while others held.

Minutes later, in a meeting room, the senior cultists had finally managed to find each other.

“Do we even know what they are?” one asked, his raspy voice struggling with the words.

“They’re wraiths!” one exclaimed in surprise, his form shifting in and out of reality like a heartbeat. “Touched by the Void!”

“Void-wraiths? But why here?”

“I think,” Naqi said, her many eyes blinking in turn, “that they were accidentally summoned here when the nexus’s resonance had an adverse reaction to the Sacred Dagger That Ends The Enemies Of The Faith. I think it latched onto it and then moved to the broadcast spire, where it acted as a beacon for these creatures. Judging from their armour and the fact that I recognised one of them, I think they’re the unquiet dead that we have… ended, in the name of the Void.”

“And they are looking for vengeance,” another said. She drew a double-bladed sword that she grasped by the middle with both hands. The curved blades resembled a cross between a crescent moon and two scythes fused together. “Inconvenient.”

“But if they are blessed by the Void,” Jorozo interjected, his hair moving on its own accord, “do they not hear its call?”

“They might, but they retain their free will… for now. We could change that.”

“It’s too risky,” another Icathian said, her clawed hand grabbing a waving blade firmly. The metal sighed, as if bored, then shed a drop of lavender liquid from its tip. “Wraiths, Void-blessed or otherwise, are too unpredictable and emotional to be allowed to roam the tower freely. We must banish them.”

“They know… they hear…” an Icathian Seer whispered from his position by one of the windows. “I sometimes See their… fractured thoughts. Their minds may be shattered, but they can still hear… better than most of us.”

“Can they even be reasoned with?”

“Void willing,” the Seer replied, his hollowed eyes sparking once with violet energy.

“Ask the other mages. Let them make the choice.”


Summoners—What to do with the Void-wraiths? Either banish them, ensuring full control of the tower but losing out on important information, or attempt to convert them, learning their valuable information but risking potential mishaps in the future?

Talon Kat Vote Here

Discussion thread: Lore Event I (Icathia)

Voting will close no earlier than Sunday, June 5, at 5 p.m. Pacific.


Resolution

by ShadowKnight1224

Icathians were a diversely talented people. Many of their number claimed that in order to be worthy of the Void’s caress, you needed to have a spark of genius. While the truth of that remark was still to be seen, it was undeniable that Icathians always seemed to have an answer to every problem. The Void-Wraiths had thrust the twisting tower into turmoil, yet it had only taken Icathians a day or so to contain them and minimise their damage. During that time, there was supposed to be a lot of deliberation about the proper way of dealing with them, with Summoners and other high-ranking cultists weighing the positives and negatives of attempting to convert them versus simply banishing them.

In the end, they had all but unanimously agreed to help them heed the Void’s call.

Icathian rituals were an ingenious blend of new and old, of almost-forgotten traditions and “inspired” innovation. After an entire day of careful design, Yazar, the young acolyte that had brought the omens before the Void-Wraiths came, volunteered to perform the ritual. To speak with the dead, to give them lucidity to reason, Icathia would need to achieve certain specific goals, and to do so, they needed certain… special ingredients.

The last breath of a murdered man, to give the dead a voice. A pinch of ash from a cremated horror, to lend the Void a presence. Twelve gray candles burning with a cold white flame, to give the dead their due. A few drops of liquid Death, to evoke the proper resonance.

Yazar opened a tiny flask with a dropper. There were whispers at the edge of his mind. He couldn’t quite understand them, but there was a sense of encouragement, of urgency. His meditation techniques had taught him to cleanse his mind of thought. There is no I, there is only the Void. He deposited a drop of a liquid as black as night on each of the cardinal points of his magic circle. The circle’s lines, painted in whisperleaf oil on the purple floor, moaned as if in pain, then hissed as the essence of Death quickly tarnished the oil, turning it just as black.

A gift of life, to gain their favour. The athame was raised high and then brought down swiftly, mercifully, onto the struggling creature. It had been a fine horse, and its vital essence would intoxicate the dead with its sweetness. Yazar petted it as it died, hushing it gently until it stopped moving. The sacrificial altar collected the blood through a myriad of tiny canals on its surface, which extended across the floor to surround the magic circle. The inside of the canals had been painstakingly coated with an ointment of medicinal herbs and the waters of a healing grove, so that it preserved the blood fresh and retained its vital properties until well after the ritual was finished.

There was a pressure in the air, magic accumulating in the room. Yazar cleaned the athame in a bowl of Void-blessed water. The blood, instead of dissolving and tinting the water, was instead hungrily devoured by the liquid. Good, Yazar thought, a sign of the Void’s favour. He removed the athame from the water, the shimmering metal drying instantly. Yazar stepped into the center of the circle.

“Restless dead, heed my call!” he cried out, slashing the palm of his hand. He gathered some of his blood in his fist, then scattered it all around him onto the magic circle. The blood screamed upon contact with the Death-infused lines, but it served its purpose. He had their attention.

A woman appeared before him, on the other side of the circle. Her translucent form was still bedecked in the ancient bronze of Shurima. Her hand clutched a short sword, engraved with ancient sigils. “Speak, warlock,” she declared curtly. Her eyes shone with a wrathful red light, her hair glinted like faded gold.

“You have felt the Void’s touch!” Yazar exclaimed, heart beating fast in his chest. If the circle did not hold, or if she was more powerful than they had calculated, he was probably dead. “We share a common master. The Void has claimed us, just as it has claimed you!” he declared, trying to avoid letting those incandescent eyes burn a hole in his mind.

“The Void has slain us, deathcaller!” she shouted back, her voice echoing with the unnatural depth of the grave. “Let us have our vengeance, so that we may all return to the final embrace. Let this madness end!”

Yazar looked at her fraying form, heard the despair in her voice. He had no answer.

The Void-Wraith’s eyes burned into his mind. He felt the room dimming around him, his body weakening. She was killing him through sheer rage. Yazar took a shuddering breath and mentally grasped at the whispers. Void preserve me, he pleaded. He had been a faithful servant, hadn’t he? He had done everything people had asked of him. He felt his knees weakening.

Endure, human. The dead are beneath you.

I can’t… she’s… so angry…

Her rage is futile against the Void. All lights perish.

What do I… tell her… ?

Hope is a candle flickering in the dark. Extinguish it.

Speak through me… Master…

Surrender your will to the Void, human. The Herald of the Timeless Night is with you. Death cannot still My words.

The magic shifted in the air. He was running out of time. He gave into the whispers. “The madness can end,” he spoke softly, eyes rolling back. His voice deepened, taking on the profane distortion of forces beyond the veil. “Let it end, Shirannah of the Burnished Sun,” it spoke through him, his body floating and convulsing in the air. “There is no final embrace for you, warrior. The land has forgotten your steps, the sky has forgotten your breath, even the dark has forgotten your name. Only the Void remembers.

The spectre gazed upon him in silence. The magic in the room was being held at its peak, a crescendo that never ended. Yazar’s body shivered and twitched in midair, his eyes oozing pitch-black mist. The Void-Wraith stared expressionless forward, a cascade of memories and thoughts running through her pieced-together mind. And then, understanding. The light in Shirannah’s eyes dimmed in intensity. As the cultist twitched before her, she dropped her sword. The ghostly material dissipated as it fell, until it had disappeared entirely. Her gaze shifted from red to violet. She nodded.

“There is no place for us,” she muttered. “Not vengeance, not rest. Not even oblivion.”

The magic in the air dissipated with a pop. The black lines of the magic circle turned ashen gray. Yazar ceased convulsing and fell, unconscious. The ritual room’s door opened, and Naqi entered cautiously. She approached the defeated Void-wraith. “There is a place for you, sister,” she said, extending her hand. “The Void welcomes all. There will be oblivion for you and your kind, in the end.”

Shirannah turned to Naqi, then extended her hand slowly. The two could not touch, not really, but it was the gesture that mattered. “What does the Void wish of us?”

Naqi smiled. “Your memory, sister. What do you remember?”

The spectre lifted her hand and gazed at her armour. She stopped to stare at the engraved sigil in the armband. “Courage,” she said. The sigil glinted briefly, as if acknowledging her for speaking its name. “I was part of the royal guard. I died defending the emperor from assassins.”

“Icathians?” Naqi asked, taking notes in an old, weathered journal.

Shirannah nodded. “Your people have forgotten the times before your Prophet. In my days, Icathia had as many threats as we had ways of stopping them. It was more than warriors with strange weapons, more than twisted beasts, monsters from beyond and dark sorcery. It had agents for every purpose. My brother died to an Icathian death-arrow, shot from across an entire city. The assassins I faced myself could swim through the worlds as if they were water.”

“Worlds?”

Shirannah focused, pulling the right word from the whispers behind her mind. “Di-dimensions, you call them,” she said with difficulty. “When I slashed with my blade, they were not there. When they were stabbing at me with knives made of nightmares, they were there. When there was a wall in the way, they were not there. They were on the other side.”

“That’s…” Naqi began. “Phaseshifting? Riftwalking?” She scribbled frantically. “Done by mere mortals? Unheard of!”

“The others, they know more,” the Void-wraith said. “I will speak to them on your behalf.”

“Thank you,” Naqi said with a deep bow.

“Beware, scholar, that the others may also know less, and hate more,” Shirannah warned her. “I can feel their rage. Even in the embrace of the Void, it will not fade. While they may not assail your people, they will watch and wait.” She paused, her gaze becoming distant. “The dead have nothing but time.” After a moment, she returned to the present, and looked at Naqi again. “If Icathia faces challenges that speak to my kind, we will step forward. This bond that you have forged runs in both ways. You may influence us, but we may also influence you.”

The Void-wraith turned to the unconscious Yazar, black blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. “He is a Vessel, now. Any of us could step into his mind and speak through him, with the lucidity that you have granted me with this ritual. There may be other Vessels amongst your kind, now and in the future.” Shirannah began to fade slowly. “May you find what you seek.”

When the spectre dissolved once more, Naqi began to transcribe her notes. She was still writing when Yazar awoke.

“Did it work?” he asked, looking around. “My head is killing me.” He wiped black blood from his nose and chin.

“It did!” Naqi replied excitedly. “We have accomplished something truly amazing today,” she said, eyes glinting with passion that bordered madness. “The knowledge these Void-wraiths have is a direct witness account of a past we thought had been buried forever beyond our reach. Even if only a fraction of what she told me is within our reach, it will be a significant stride to recover the Icathia that was lost in the Rune Wars.”

There was an echoing wail, and a sound like a heavy mechanism activating. “Are they releasing them?” Yazar asked, incredulous. “So soon?”

“We cannot afford any delays,” the other Icathian replied, tidying up her journal and her bunch of loose papers. “There is much to do, acolyte. Our work has barely begun.”


 

Iref of the Shadows and Marakh were taking a break. The preparations for the ritual had taken their toll, particularly when it came to entering a trance and contacting dark entities for guidance, but it was the sort of thing one could get used to. Reframing reality was, after all, an Icathian specialty. Iref and Marakh were the sort of friends one could only see in the fringe-places of Valoran: the Institute, Icathia, perhaps Bilgewater. Marakh’s Demacian heritage was not only plain for all to see, but his trafficking with extradimensional entities had exacerbated his features, from his glowing golden eyes to the halo of dim light he seemed to have about him. Not the kind that people would easily identify as an Icathian, yet a devoted one nonetheless. Iref, instead, sported the classical jet-black Noxian hair, down to his shoulders, and was eerily quiet in a way that made people nervous.

Meals in Icathia were the sort of thing you had to scarf down before it became sentient and pleaded for mercy, so most of their breaks were spent grounding their sanity with tales of their lives before the cult, hopes for the future and latest happenings.

This time it would be no different. At least, until they were interrupted by the mechanical noise.

“Are those…” Iref began, but a rush of wind in the room interrupted them.

Marakh was looking around, eyes wide with fear. “They’re here!” was all he managed to get out as himself. His body was impacted by an invisible force, shaking him like a leaf. When he opened his eyes, they were furious. “EVAN!” he shouted at Iref, lunging for him with unnatural swiftness.

The Noxian prided himself in his slipperiness and speed, but his friend’s attack had caught him completely unprepared. He was used to Marakh’s measured motions, not the snake-swiftness of an enraged spectre. Before his mind even comprehended the situation, he was on the floor, fingers hard as steel tightening around his neck.

“I trusted you!” a voice spoke through Marakh. “I gave you everything! I betrayed my country for you!”

For a moment, Iref thought he saw another face superimposed on Marakh’s. It was the strong jaw of a Demacian, young but proud. Like attracts like, Iref thought dimly as he clawed at his assailant’s arms. His vision beginning to darken, he saw a hint of confusion in Marakh’s face, which increased as he scanned Iref’s face with a puzzled gaze. The fingers loosened, slowly.

“You… are not him,” the dead man said. “You are not Evan.”

“No,” Iref replied weakly, between gasps.

“Do you know of him? He… looked like you,” the Void-Wraith asked tentatively. There was an indescribably forlorn, wounded look in Marekh’s eyes. “I just wish to know… why.”

“I’m sorry,” Iref rasped, slowly inching away. “I don’t know the man you seek.”

Marekh slumped his shoulders, staring at the floor. “I do not like this clarity. There is too much regret,” he said at last. “I like the purity of the rage.” He looked at Iref. “I hope he felt remorse. At least for a moment.”

Marekh closed his eyes and his body visibly relaxed. There was a brief look of confusion in his face, before it was immediately replaced by derision. When his eyes opened again, there was another being in control.

“So these are the people that invaded the motherland,” a woman spoke, looking around. “Pathetic.” She then looked at Iref. “You. You look Noxian. Did you betray us? What did they offer you? Gold? Magic?” Marekh’s eyes narrowed as Iref remained silent. “SPEAK!”

Iref gawked. “I… I didn’t…”

“Lie to me, I dare you. I always like it when recruits try to do that,” she said, and then laughed. It was brief and harsh.

“I… I didn’t want to die,” Iref replied, heart thumping in his chest. The honesty was almost painful to him. “I was a street rat. I knew how I was going to end.”

“You worm,” she spat with disgust. “You should have been honoured to die for Noxus, instead of living for its enemies. Would that you had died of the pox in the streets.”

Iref simply stared, focusing on breathing evenly. He felt like he couldn’t slip away, that the thing inside Marekh would find him even in the deepest of shadows.

The Void-Wraith looked around again. “I have seen enough. To think that I was murdered for this. Tsk. At least Demacians and Ionians have strength and pride.” She turned to Iref one last time. “You are not a nation. You are a disease.”

And with that, Marekh slumped again. After a few moments, he opened his eyes weakly. “What…?”

“I don’t think releasing the wraiths was a good idea,” Iref said raggedly, rubbing his bruised throat.

“I need to… keep them away…” Marekh whispered, rubbing his temples and wincing. “Queen of the Forgotten Sun, give me strength…” he muttered, tracing arcane gestures in the air. “Bringer of the Dying Light, shield me from the heathens…”

“I hope the others know what they’re doing.”

Iref and Marekh looked at each other with concern.

“Our Masters will protect us,” Marekh said. His hope sounded forced. “We must trust in the Void’s plan.”

Iref closed his eyes and slumped his back against the wall. “We don’t have a choice.” A wail echoed through the Icathian tower. He pulled a small steel flask from his robes and took a big gulp. He grimaced as the liquid burned down his aching throat. He raised the flask again. “To the dead.”

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