The Secrets of Iklara
Streams of colour blanketed the First World as, on the 7th of Estar, the year 461, Ashtariel, of a Thousand Hues, made Her Presence known amidst cries for Her Sibling Mysrai, the Thousandfold. Endless months had passed with cryptic messages passed to those who devoutly visited Her Fulcrux, most notably Captain Rolan Vessandril, Breandryn, Xypher Stormcrow and Eritheyl Ryseni of Gaudiguch, and the Basin soon grew accustomed to seeing the strange, alien creatures known as starry thelemor slinking hungrily down every road, in every city and commune. So it was perhaps of no surprise to the many adventurers witnessing these odd happenings, when the distressed Goddess showed Herself in panic, swiftly answered by Mysrai and — much to the shock of several aware of the tensions held between the Two — Her estranged Brother, Zvoltz, the Architect.
As Ashtariel flew towards Mysrai, a sudden, looming blackness rose from the Skarch, a place so oft the origin of innumerable wonders and horrors since the return of the Scarlet Goddess shook the First World. Where the veil between the Basin and a plane of mystery was thinnest, there appeared a rift once more, one that had been unstable since the Lady Ashtariel’s rescue — further weakened by the nights when steady incursions of thelemor never seemed to cease. Ebon stars blossomed amidst the many coils of a massive creature peering out of that rift with baleful, crimson eyes, its disfigured form writhing sinuously against a barrier while its target — the beloved Goddess who had captured the hearts of many — seemed inevitably drawn toward it despite Lord-and-Lady Mysrai’s frantic efforts to draw Their Sister to safety.
It was then that Lord Zvoltz’ face paled in horror, and He too rushed forward in an attempt to rescue Ashtariel, the Sister He had refused to acknowledge since Her violent emergence. Blinding flashes of lightning tore through the sky as a storm wrought of His turmoil swept the Basin, and for once, the Thousandfold and the Architect had a united goal, to reach Their quickly fading Sibling. Too late, They cried out in unison as She vanished, Her colourful figure swallowed by the blackness of an alien world where the Dreadform raged.
Struck with grief, Lord-and-Lady Mysrai turned upon Their Brother, shouting at Him as They sealed the rift that would allow the Dreadform’s release were it not tended. “GO”, They commanded, “We never want to see You again!” The Architect gazed upon the place where His Sister had been with an expression of devastation, and replied, “How our roles have reversed, Sibling. First you as Her murderer and I as Her jailor. Now the reverse.” With that, He turned away, “Only You will bear this burden now, and all the First World knows, as the Council of the Firsts once did…”
A jagged tear opened in reality, the darkness of the Void looming hungrily beyond as the Architect departed the First World, a single tear rolling down His cheek as He cast a glance backward, the sorrow shed evaporating quickly in a crackle of lightning as it sizzled toward the Peak below. A crowd had gathered in the Skarch where Lady Ashtariel vanished, the mirror that had been Her deliverance reacting violently to those who approached it — or touched it. Only for Kalas Ixion did this portal allow entry, one of the few who perhaps was linked to the strange world beyond through his time in the Night Market — a place so close and yet so far.
Bravely treading forth, Ixion entered, finding himself in the Borderlands, a place between planes where the Dynodeon and Merchants of Thelem warred on behalf of Lord-and-Lady Mysrai and Lord Zvoltz. It is there he learned the secrets of Iklara, and Moraevi, meeting with strange beings amidst purple dunes beneath a sky where the Dreadform raged in captivity. What did he discover? Moreover, what happened to Lady Ashtariel, and how is She linked to the Dreadform of Iklara? Only those courageous enough to seek the Night Market, then the mirror, will ever know.
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