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The Shadow of Wisdom, the Seeker of Tales and the Bloom of Serenity

When the Elder Gods left for the Void, the creches that housed the half-formed were sealed away, a last attempt to keep them safe from the hunger of the Soulless Gods. Many were simply forgotten in the ensuing aeons; their Divine guardians consumed by the Soulless, or Their minds turned to more pressing matters.

For some of Them, however, the creches remained of great importance – though foremost to the hamadhi, there were yet many of the Elder Gods for whom certain creches held not inconsiderable significance. One of these was Maylea, Bloom of Serenity, who had been present in one such creche at the time that Dynara left the First World.

The creche became for Her as fixed in Her heart as Those that She lost in the wake of Dynara’s departure. Until She was forced to leave, and as soon as She returned to the Basin, Maylea visited the creche at every opportunity – though She spoke little of it, for it nonetheless bought Her great pain to do so.

Chief amongst the half-formed who resided within that creche were Joasia, the Insight of Spring, and Hiureth, Seeker of Tales. Joasia had been a favourite of Kaenalye, Maylea’s lost sister-mate, and thus shared a deep bond with the Elder Goddess. When She visited, Maylea would tell Hiureth of the Basin of Life and all who resided there, and Hiureth would retell the tales to his siblings.

But there came a time when Maylea could not visit; wounded in combat against the Dreadform as She defended Zvoltz, the Architect, the Bloom of Serenity spent many years recovering from the fight and what came thereafter. In all this time, She did not visit the creche even once, too weakened to make the trip across the planes.

The half-formed are named so for a reason, and Joasia and Hiureth were especially young. So incomplete were they that sometimes they seemed to be naught but the very core of themselves. For Joasia this took the form of insight and wisdom, but for Hiureth the consequences were far worse. He was a teller of tales, but he could never tell a tale more than once; and eventually, in Maylea’s absence, he ran out of stories.

Madness took him even before he left the creche. It drove him single-mindedly to break free in a desperate attempt to find more stories – to the extreme distress of Joasia and their siblings. Fearing for her brother, the half-formed reached out with all her might to the Serene Goddess, begging for Her aid. At once Maylea came, to find Joasia deeply distressed. Suspecting the worst, for much time had passed, She left at once to track down Hiureth, beseeching Joasia to promise that she would stay in the creche.

It was a promise immediately broken. The Bloom of Serenity had placed all of Her focus on tracking Hiureth, and did not notice as Joasia slipped out of the creche behind Her. Unknowingly, She led Joasia right to her brother, whose mind had been warped beyond recognition through the damning combination of time in the Void and distance from his creche.

What Hiureth remained was a teller of tales – and so when he attacked the pair, it was not with claw or slash but with a prison of their own memories. He latched especially onto Joasia, who had never truly recovered from the abandonment of the Elder Gods, revealing in the process that Maylea had been followed.

Feeling Joasia’s distress over the bond between them, Maylea looked desperately for a way to save her. With relief, She realised that they had strayed close enough to the First World to open a rift, and expended much of Her power to do so. But Joasia had lost much of her mind, and was too afraid to make her escape.

Seeing no other option, the Bloom of Serenity cast Joasia through the rift and took her place in Hiureth’s clutches, feeling the weight of Her most painful memories pull her under as She managed to seal the rift. Disoriented, Joasia fell to the ground in a flurry of limbs, landing within the Toronada Tidal Flats.

The extremely distraught half-formed was immediately set upon by a large crowd of adventurers, who jostled Joasia for information. A few more compassionate voices called for her to be given space, but several did not listen, instead testing the half-formed’s reactions to various stimuli. She proved especially upset by roses and being touched, flinching and hissing from those who bought them near her.

Eventually, the crowd proved too much for Joasia; and feeling the spark of recognition for one group in the crowd, she huddled closer to them for sanctuary. Quickly realising her distress, Barrin led the half-formed to somewhere he thought she would be safe and calm – the Realm of his patron, Maylea. Little did he know that this would only serve to distress her further, for it reminded her too keenly of what lay within the Void.

Soon Kavindra, the Serene Goddess’s long serving priestess, came to see what the commotion was about – and felt the same tug of recognition that Barrin had upon meeting Joasia. Though she knew little of the half-formed, what she did know was that they should never be out of their creches for too long. Becoming immediately concerned, she asked Barrin whether he could take Joasia to one of the healing mounds on the ethereal plane.

With the help of Maligorn Shevat, who knew the way to one such mound, Joasia was commended to Daeiv Ma’Mornhai, to the purest of the two healing mounds there. The group sought the help of Paeridimon Willowshimmer, who managed to stabilise Joasia from her distraught condition, but warned that he could not keep her safe forever. The mounds had been made by the hamadhi, and only the hamadhi truly knew how to operate them. Though he remembered a long time past when Lady Lantra had used the mounds to stabilise one of the half-formed who had been from their creche for a short while, he was but a fae.

And so the group slowly grew in number, with people from every organisation of the basin joining as they endeavoured to get information from the calmer half-formed. But Joasia was still too ashamed of the promises she had broken, and it took some time for them to get any information from her. Things began to progress when Viynain Erid’in of the Lord-and-Lady Mysrai revealed himself, having been observing the proceedings in his dreamform. He explained that They had recognised something in Joasia – her bond to Maylea – which led Marcella n’Lochli of Magnagora to suggest they seek out other divine to see if They had any knowledge.

This led Ryboi D’Varden, High Priest of the Moon, to turn to the Silver Goddess for assistance. He sought the help of Elthadean Lunseer, who travelled to the healing mound to meet Joasia – and landed upon the clue they finally needed. Though Lisaera herself had not visited Joasia, Her sister Elfenehoala had – for She had been a dearly close friend of Maylea, and knew of the importance of Joasia’s creche to Her. Through his link to Lisaera and Her link to Elfenehoala, Elthadean recognised Joasia at once.

As soon as he had explained the link, Joasia crumpled with shame – and though she could not tell what had happened to her in words, she shared with them a vision of her final moments in the Void: as Maylea had thrown her through the rift, taking her place in Hiureth’s clutches.

Alarmed, Elthadean and the gathered adventurers immediately turned to any divine they could find. Several followers of the Aesthete immediately alerted Her to the plight, and She came accompanied by Darvellan, the Navigator to assist. Though many feared what would happen without one of the Second Circle to take on the half-formed, the God and Goddess bravely took to the skies to open the way to the Void.

With Isune’s strength lending Him aid, Darvellan skilfully opened the rift, revealing the battle between Hiureth and Maylea still in progress. Spotting new prey, the half-formed dragged Maylea through to the First World, speaking in stolen words from Her own memories. Immediately, Darvellan and Isune launched their assault, becoming caught in Their own painful pasts as Maylea managed to break free.

As Her children in the Serenwilde began to cheer their relief at their Goddess returning, Isune and Maylea fell into formation behind Darvellan, bolstering his strength and throwing off yet more of Hiureth’s painful assaults. In the end, it was the Serene Goddess Herself who dealt the final strike, as Hiureth reached out to the world around him to steal the last story he would ever tell. Conjuring Her bow, Pathfinder, Maylea delivered a fatal arrow made of prismatic light.

And though Hiureth had been lost to the madness of the Void and of his distance from the creche far before Maylea had even reached him, She collapsed in fatigue and sadness. Commended to the Serenwilde Forest by the Aesthete, She was finally reunited with Her beloved commune to rest and recover. Joasia was returned to her creche, though it was unclear if she would ever recover from the ordeal, and the Navigator left to investigate the strange mist that had drifted to the north in the wake of the battle.

Meanwhile, the Bloom of Serenity honoured her lost friend in the best way She knew; by telling Her precious forest the story of Joasia and Hiureth.

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