An Eyewizard’s Account
At the behest of Yudhishthira, Conclave leader, and occasional formidable red dragon Mage, the wizard Hycanthus has offered this annotated account of the siege of Cyrene:
My Lord Dragon,
Per your extraordinarily (some might say ridiculously) explicit and detailed instructions to me (instead of to somebody far better suited to this sort of thing), I have collected this recording for confirmation and inclusion to the accumulated knowledge of the Conclave despite how much it has taken me away from my preferred research (repeatedly). I have included a limited record of Coalition commentary (but I don’t see why). Additional communications captured by a Telepathy Helm are secured behind the customary spells of concealment (for whatever reason). I have included notations on aspects that our Conclave may wish to investigate and study in the future (which is the only thing I think we should be interested in).
Riven by some malevolent external force, the tunnel-entrance to Cyrene collapses violently into ruin alongside a deafening crash.
A pair of dark figures appear in the mountains overlooking Cyrene, twin silhouettes cast into sharp relief by the moonlight as they tread with nonchalant indifference over the newly sundered debris.
The fractal barrier surrounding Cyrene glows with renewed purpose, surging and swirling with radiant defiance.
(It appears that our work survived past its destruction! We should be commended for its resilience. I believe I was responsible for that part.)
Undeterred, the voice of Ama-maalier rises to an imperious timbre of command, intoning with utmost clarity, “Elud’hailqad.”
(I believe this to be a hitherto-unknown enunciation of their Terminus arts. If they can command such added abilities unknown to the studies of Sapience, what other hidden powers might they possess? Our records already show the assault upon Ashtan and the death of Gattan’lier as accompanying a devastating earthquake. Possibly hidden research? It may provide interesting avenues of study in the greater levels of destruction they seem capable of unleashing!)
The piercing tones of Gattan’bahar ring out as the Secret Storm joins the disquieting chorus. The two raise their weapons and step forward.
Countless writhing shadows churn to life, roiling about the Tsol’teth women in ominous waves of un-light, the haggard faces of Adrik, Mezghar, and Tynil visible amidst the gloam.
Ama-maalier utters an unspoken command and touches the tip of her sword to the blazing barrier. The shield flickers and the shadow stirs, blank visages coalescing in vague fascimiles of Taryius, Lii, and Iloisee before deliquescing and reforming anew.
Ammar, Zugath, and Krizal manifest in the darkness, twisted faces bound by ancient magic as the animate shade leaps forward as one abhorrent unit, hammering at the glowing shield in a silent frenzy of unrelenting blows. In moments, the barrier groans a sickening death knell before exploding in a shower of prismatic shards.
The figures of Silon’ukia and Terrin’tuuran appear, flanking the Dark Hate and Secret Storm as the Tsol’teth quartet look down over Cyrene from their mountainous vantage.
Morose silence descends, and Ama-maalier steps forward, beckoning her cadre of three to follow and observe.
Primal terror is all you know as the indomitable tones of The Dark Hate thunder throughout Creation, “Hwarak alshamar osang rach haahl! Kwarak alshamar osang rach haahl! In the name of the eternal darkness, you will all obey ME! Turn on your brethren! Turn on those you love! Slay them all! Hwarak alshamar osang rach haahl”
(Naturally, this is a demonstration of their Litany of Obedience at its fullest level. Histories demarcate it as the same Litany that devastated the forces of Seleucar when unleashed by Overlord Agith’maal. In any invasion upon a city – in this case Cyrene, rather than Imperial Seleucar – employment of the Litany is retrospectively obvious. With the clustering about their guards, their slaughter was assured. The Tsol’teth have probably observed usual responses and gathering points. Do you think the surviving cities have adjusted their tactics and forces accordingly?)
Enraptured by the dread litany, the guards of Cyrene fall to confusion, eyes filled with shadow and smoke. Imperial guardsmen, venerable monks, runic knights, and mountain archers ready themselves for battle, dashing troubadours crooning a baleful anthem in the Tsol’teth tongue all the while.
(Following the death of Cyrene’s defenders, the Tsol’teth appear to have focused their attention upon the Greater Eidolon and Guardian Dragon, Blu. My Lord Dragon, I suggest that if they show interest in you we take precautions to ensure you are not assailed. You have intimated some knowledge of the Dark Hate on prior occasions. Perhaps this could leverage at least a standoff? Not that I would like living in a volcano, but I would take it over death by rose-coloured fog.)
An ear-splitting roar thunders across Sapience as the Guardian Dragon attempts to resist the litany’s call.
Unfurling his mighty wings, Blu attempts to take flight but it is in vain: coils of living shadow twine about the draconic figure, suffocating the anguished, agonised howl he looses as captivity takes hold.
(Some Cyrenians attempted to make their guards return to the fold by simply shouting at them. Did they actually think defying the Litany would be that easy?!)
An eerie hymn lifted by the raised voices of a thousand nereids heralds a churning, frothing wave that rises from the depths to wash over and across Cyrene, leaving only a swirling mist in its wake.
(Assistance from their City’s Patron, no doubt. It didn’t help much.)
The unyielding tones of Gattan’bahar exude preternatural conviction as she calls out, “Begin.”
(In the interests of not drowning this record beneath the flood of deaths entering the hall of the Finality, although I am sure you would enjoy watching me write down every single one, I have removed what we all viewed via our attunement to the realms of death.)
The blazing tones of Sir Eril Rian-Moonshadow, Hand of Phaestus’s voice scorch through the air, “Cowards!”
(Frankly I have no idea why he would be shouting something so ridiculous. Their deliberate engagement was hardly cowardly. Unless he mistook cowardice for confidence.)
[Captured Communication] (The Coalition of Sapience): Penwize says, “The Tsol’teth are currently destroying shrines to Neraeos, and raising shrines to Tlalaiad. Not shrines of the meld, actual Divine Shrines.”
The unyielding tones of Gattan’bahar exude preternatural conviction as she calls out, “Victory is at hand. Do not falter.”
(Why the reinforcements from the Coalition did not act to damage or defile the raised shrines, or prevent the Tsol’teth from completing their work, I am not sure. Perhaps they were blind to the possibility? Or perhaps their battlefield commanders were not informed?)
Deadly intent is manifest in every word as Kaama’lier decrees, “By my reckoning, all of you qualify as non combatants.”
(Anecdotally, it appears that what the Tsol’teth refer to as their “Main Line Five” are superior in might and prowess to the lesser warriors. Defeat or death of any one of these is probably a much more difficult prospect. But in almost all cases, there was no recorded use of their Aeonics. It is extraordinarily powerful and potent. Why not use it? It’s not as if anything could go wrong.)
The unyielding tones of Gattan’bahar exude preternatural conviction as she calls out, “The sixth has fallen.”
The unyielding tones of Gattan’bahar exude preternatural conviction as she calls out, “Secure the city.”
Deadly intent is manifest in every word as Kaama’lier decrees, “To me!”
(This instruction to his fellow Tsol’teth led to them gathering at the Centre Crossing. Then they killed everybody else.)
(I am reasonably sure that it was near this point when the telepathic oversoul of Cyrene, and its associated channels, began to falter. Perhaps an indication of the city itself weakening?)
Plumes of smoke trail into the sky over Cyrene as the entire city weeps under the weight of protracted battle. In the ruinous aftermath, Ama-maalier and Silon’ukia descend from the mountains, pacing lock-step through the streets as they survey their newly conquered lands.
(The Dark Hate and Thirst seem to occupy an administrative role, rather than as soldiers or combatants. Although their personal ability is still by any measure quite absurd. I wonder what they would be like to study?)
Deadly intent is manifest in every word as Kaama’lier decrees, “Few qualify for processing. Failure is abject.”
(I wonder what they mean by processing. Many of their visages appear as union of Tsol with another race. Do you have insight, Lord Dragon?)
Lady of the Crossing Tesha al Ashtad, the Dawn’s Resolve shouts, “It was never about whether we succeed or not. The warriors of Creation have stood against you, will stand against you, and will always stand against you. You will never break us.”
(The Targossians then departed Cyrene rather than continue standing. The present Lady of the Crossing surrendered the Staff of Nicator to Gattan’bahar before leaving.)
Traversing Ministrickle Road, Gattan’bahar joins the parade of conquest, the three Tsol’teth turning their eyes upon the Icerune Crater. Ama-maalier simply nods.
Primal terror is all you know as the indomitable tones of The Dark Hate thunder throughout Creation, “Bring the Dragon.”
Acquiescing to the Dark Hate’s command, waves of living shadow drag the bound and captured form of Blu before the Icerune Crater, his once-majestic form diminished from the Tsol’teth onslaught.
Opening her mouth a mere fraction, Ama-maalier directs a portion of her might at the Guardian Dragon, her expression cold and remorseless as she imposes her will upon the helpless prisoner.
A wan, fatigued roar echoes across the City of Cyrene as Blu, the Guardian Dragon once more attempts and fails to resist the litany’s call.
Primal rage manifests in the Dragon’s eyes, a rabid frenzy absent of all conscience or mercy. The shadows binding him withdraw, and, drawing himself up to his full height, Blu swiftly manoeuvres his massive draconic form, bringing his immense tail crashing into the Icerune Crater, shattering the font with a single explosive blow.
His initial purpose served, the Guardian Dragon howls as he finds himself once more inexorably bound in shadows, shackled and ignored amid a nest of font fragments.
(They didn’t destroy the Font themselves?)
Apparently satisfied, the Dark Hate and her retinue withdraw to the Imperiate’s chambers. In their wake, the forces of Anzari-tarin dispatch their guards and begin to establish a perimeter.
(I have considered attempting to penetrate the walls of Cyrene and take records of what they are doing. However, I am also not an idiot.)
Primal terror is all you know as the indomitable tones of The Dark Hate thunder throughout Creation, “Conquered Overlanders, the Law is laid out. It shall be heeded.”
(She refers of course to new laws imposed by the Tsol’teth. I have included them below.)
1. We are all One in the Meld.
2. The Overlord will not be displaced without permission of the Genesis.
3. Unsanctioned procreation is forbidden, at penalty of immediate processing.
4. All will submit to mandatory assessment and training for the purposes of advancing the Meld.
5. Those without worth will immediately submit to reprocessing, for the betterment of the Tsol’teth.
6. No creation with the gift of thought will be formed outside the Meld.
7. The Forbidden Art will remain so, save for the burdened few.
8. The line of Gattan’lier will settle all cases where the law is deemed ambiguous.
(I have not included the shouted refusals. But what is the Forbidden Art? I am so very curious! And no creations with the gift of thought either. Are they still mad about that?)
With this, my record comes to an end (finally), and I will be returning to my studies (which I didn’t want to be taken from in the first place).
– Hycanthus of the Conclave