August 21st -- Evening -- Viseu
Magic crackled. Whether intentional or not, Krimml and Akesh Temple had become united by magic when the stones were laid within Akesh Temple. For years, Krimml had suffered near-constant windstorms since its portal stones had been laid down. Today though, all was still. Except the faint crackling of magic.
Three Walked On
Three walked the streets of Krimml. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Bellatrix. The gambler, a lady in green, greeted Bellatrix. With sobriety, she knelt before Bellatrix, offering a shield. Upon the shield rested a piece of parchment. The three walked on.
Three walked the streets of Akesh. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Franklin. The smith, a man in red, greeted Franklin. With mournful disposition, he too knelt before Franklin. Head bowed, he retrieved a box and left it before the ancient hero. The three walked on.
Three walked the streets of Krimml. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Rowan. The teacher, a man in blue, greeted Rowan. With much joviality, he knelt before Rowan. In quite a silly manner, he laid a manual upon the ground. A finger rested upon the manual. The three walked on.
Three walked the streets of Akesh. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Jin. The gambler, a lady in green, greeted Jin. Revealing a scythe adorned with emeralds behind her robes, she knelt before Jin, laying the blade upon the ground. The three walked on.
Three walked the streets of Krimml. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Thorgeir Mahtan. The smith, a man in red, greeted Thorgeir Mahtan. With a smirk, he knelt before Thorgeir Mahtan, laying a blade on the ground. Upon the blade rested a diary. The three walked on.
Three walked the streets of Akesh. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Ricard. The teacher, a man in blue, greeted Ricard. With a coy smile, he knelt before Ricard, offering box and book. The three walked on.
Three walked the streets of Akesh. A smith, a teacher, and a gambler approached Sevonne. The smith, a man in red, greeted Sevonne. With cheerful disposition, he knelt before Sevonne. Eyes twinkling, shield was laid before the young warrior woman. Upon the shield rested a silver scimitar. The three walked on.
August 22nd -- Day -- Viseu
As the sun was rising, the crackling grew louder, and in the dawning light, sparks shot out from the column of light striking the odd commoner dead. Attracted to fellow portal stones, the magic contained within the portal circles sought union with more portal stones.
Sitting on a small marketplace wall, Etain of Shadowdale and Sheena of Nivemus were comparing insects preserved within pieces of amber while they enjoyed a bottle of wine. In a moment, Etain found herself being knocked to the ground by some fool and, then, sudden blackness. Sheena meanwhile had fallen from the flailing legs of the other two, and unable to grab hold of anything secure while falling, landed awkwardly with a painful crunch and shriek. They both missed the electricity exploding upon their satchels of four portal stones each, which the stranger attempted to save Etain from. Unfortunately for Etain, she knocked her head on the street a bit too hard and had to be rushed to the healers. Unfortunately for Sheena, she had a bone sticking out of her leg at a rather unnatural angle. The hopeful good samaritan disappeared in shame.
Oro of Nivemus was trying to fix her broken sword when sudden nauseousness overtook her, followed by an intense white light, as magical energy sought out the fourteen portal stones she was carrying; so intense was the light that Oro found herself permanently blinded.
Elermos of Fallangard felt a burning sensation on his bum when his two portal stones were incinerated by the magic lightning, burning the seat off his pants.
Chaos is a Plague
Growing in strength, the magical column of light grew beyond the portal ring, causing the terrified to flee and the foolish to gawk in stupor, until being consumed by the light, never to be seen again. Militia frantically evacuated sections of the town and cordoned off streets, as alarm grew within both cities. It was not long until the column of light had entirely encompassed the recruitment center district and all those training within, much to the chagrin of military advisors everywhere.
As if the guards were not stretched thin enough, news spread like wildfire that militiamen and citizen alike had begun expressing symptoms of the plague, causing yet further panic. Citizens avoiding militiamen, fighting back, in fear of infection. Guards reluctant to clear certain neighbourhoods. Thankfully, no actual fires erupted.
And then it was over. The magic at least; the plague remained. With everyone blinking in disbelief, the light column had simply disappeared. Gone. So suddenly that there was even disbelief that there had been a light before, no matter how long the light had sat there previously. Confusion reigned. Particularly when the Akeshate architecture of the recruitment centers within Krimml, and the Krimmlois architecture of the recruitment centers within Akesh Temple, were noticed. Drill sergeants stumbling out of the buildings in a daze were dressed in rather foreign styles. Throughout the respective cities, even as confusion and plague reigned, the work of rebuilding commenced.
August 22nd -- Day -- Aureus
Ever since news had reached Brigdha that Garas had returned to Oligarch strange portents had disturbed her counsels. In Karbala the Magisters of the Grey University plagued her with foolish questions and hypotheses, the kind accounted wise by men whose knowledge is purely academic, and it had been with some relish that she'd begun her speaking tour of the provinces.
The Dubhaine roots in these lands were deep, a lifetime of service to the welfare of its people earning a respect few of her peers could ever hope to enjoy. Not a single door was barred to her, whether the hulking mansion of a wealthy magnate or the rude cottage of his swineherd, and Brigdha took great pleasure in addressing both as if their opinion mattered, outlining the threat posed by First Oligarch and reminding the people of their proud, blood-soaked history.
"Do you still remember the day your grandsires seized Ashforth? Or the day Gregor betrayed them? What of the day Oporto burned? I remember that day like it was yesterday! I remember the Perdanese butchering our kinsfolk whilst their Lords looked on, laughing and gloating! I remember burying my father in that sanctified soil!"
At this point Brigdha's eyes would blaze as tears born of tragedy and an intense pride in that shared past trickled down her cheeks.
"Who here's father stood with Rhidhana at the gates of Krimml?" and there would always be at least one, grizzled now with age and often bearing scars won in latter wars, "Good men. Staunch of heart. Sires to be proud of. Now sadly passed. We must never forget them!"
Thus it was that within a few short weeks the sentiment of the countryside had moved squarely behind the ongoing war. She knew not what sorcerous forces still sustained the rebel Duke - though his mundane alliance with Perdan hinted much - but he would need more than parlour tricks to overwhelm folk of Shadowdale.
Now her feet carried her southwards to Aureus, down the old merchant's road from Viseu on which in happier times she'd plied the caravan trade to Hamadan and Isadril. In those days the coffers of Negev had overflowed with gold and House Dubhaine had profited handsomely but at some point such things had ceased to matter to her, and though she rarely acknowledged it that point had been the day Aednadh was murdered.
The Dubhaine women had paid a heavy price for their noblesse oblige. The peerless Moira had abandoned her titles to fight demons in foreign lands, Rhidhana had fallen with the realm she loved, and then Aednadh had been murdered by a cowardly upstart. Oh he'd claimed it had been a fair fight - a duel of honour no less - but that little weasel Cymak had clearly poisoned her. Aednadh's own guards had attested to that and who was to be believed more, the bodyguards of a former general or a jumped up hedge knight who spent most of his time skulking away from battle?
Brigdha spotted a well-worn track leading to a nearby stream, still bubbling as it flowed down from the nearby mountains. This would be as good a place to rest as any and she turned her mount towards the sound of rushing waters. She knew eventually she'd have to let the pain of Aednadh's passing fade and with it the anger...
August 22nd -- Night -- Aureus
A light brunch put her in a better, more reflective mood. Although many years as an adept of the mysteries had taught her to control her emotions at will, the emotions themselves and their underlying causes still remained. Not least that fierce protective love which had caused her to raise not only her sister's daughter as if she were her own, but her granddaughter as well.
However Brigdha wondered if she'd perhaps shown more kindness to her sister's heirs than to her own. Her son Naevan was a good lad, handsome and strong like his father Bedhwyr. He could have been a great Lord in his own right if he'd been born to any other House but it wasn't the Dubhaine way to place such a burden on a mere man's shoulders. With the exception that was of her brother Cathal who'd gone against all custom and made a name for himself in the Colonies. She supposed every family had its black sheep.
Still, like most men Naevan's judgement was easily clouded by a pretty face and she didn't regret guiding him away from politics. After all, he had chosen to marry one of old Erik Eyolf's many nieces with all the potential for complications that entailed. Erfrayj had a sweet disposition which was just as well really, and Brigdha didn't mind her company though she'd have preferred a daughter-in-law with a bit more fire in her veins. Despite having lived in the Republic for half her adult life, Brigdha still found the Elven character difficult to fathom and many of their customs unnecessarily diffuse.
But what of her granddaughter Etain? By rights of inheritance she wasn't a Dubhaine at all, but neither was she a Serpentis, the fiery waif falling between the cracks of matrilineal and patrilineal inheritance. She loved the girl deeply, the only one of her household with the same appreciation for old books and the written word as Brigdha, let alone with the gift, but could she overturn centuries of tradition for the sake of sentiment?
As Brigdha sat pondering her feelings she was suddenly aware of great ferment in the High Firmament. Her first thought was of Oligarch and the unlearned maunts from whose meddling she'd saved Queen Catherine at great personal cost. What had that fool Garas unleashed now?
But no, Oligarch wasn't the focus, obscured though it was by a screeching barrage of aetheric chatter as the facies of the upper air took flight in terror. Slipping with practiced ease into the Flow between the higher realms, Brigdha stood revealed once more as the last Formatiin, limned with a might and wisdom in this richer reality she did her best to conceal in the mundane world. The hungering creatures of the surrounding aether fled and the twin columns of light in Akesh Temple and Krimml flared in unison, itchily tick tick ticking as they drew nearby aetheric energy to them.
The resulting explosion as the two portals aligned pulsed outwards from the two epicentres in perfect unison, before collapsing in that rarest of aetheric phenomenon: a Glaze. All around Brigdha the cowering Facies, those parasitic fragments of will and desire and memory who prey on mortal passions, were caught in the backwash, dragged unceremoniously to their extinction.
As the storm abated Brigdha took a deep breath of fresh air and pondered this unexpected turn. In her admittedly limited experience, portals didn't collapse of their own accord. So was this a premeditated assault? And if so what was its purpose?
Still, to have so much garbage cleared from the aether could only be a good thing!