The Empress’ Last Breath sailed into the Inner Sea with sails unfurled as Captain Teyitha Contelli revealed her proud vessel to the Basin of Life. Though mortals prepared themselves for combat, the good Captain made her desire for peace clear as she requested a parley, inviting all interested aboard to learn of her crew’s current quest.
As many from the cities were already aware, Teyitha’s crew had assembled various pieces of a Vernal God artifact, a compass which belonged to Ilaedron the Fair. The compass itself had been first thieved from the ship the Kelpie Maiden, and the map to its future whereabouts taken from the sunken wreck of the Emperor’s Glory found beneath the Rhizoda Mangrove. This lead Teytiha’s crew to find the remaining pieces: the cognito rock that served as its heart hidden within Hallifax, an avian pointer piece retrieved from Gaudiguch, and an unusually marked navigational plat found in Magnagora.
The eldritch compass itself was to lead to “your heart’s desire,” but a final passcode was required to activate this Vernal Artifact. For many generations, a sea shanty called ‘Ilaedron the Fair’ had been shared among pirates, its lyrics the method of decoding the elusive passcode, which was the name of Ilaedron’s lost mortal lover.
Intrigued and curious, mortals from every city and commune agreed to assist in deciphering the sea shanty to learn this passcode, and thus days of gruelling work combing through the sea shanty began. The pirates about the Empress’ Last Breath, as well as those that had gathered on land, had each assembled their own clues regarding the various lines of each verse.
Intrepid mortals gathered over a hundred such clues, bringing them before Teyitha Contelli as Uzriel d’Vanecu went to work sifting through them all. The weight of the task and the watery nature of the vessel together proved too much for the exhausted viscanti, who stepped away to allow another to pick up the impressive work he had begun.
Vexacion and Akyaevin focused on completing the work their fellow Magnagoran had begun, assisted by Illyria and Avaris, and as they made progress, more of Teyitha’s crew got further invested in putting their expertise with the song to work. Soon their efforts bore fruit as they deciphered the name “Shalidae” — the passcode that activated the compass.
Captain Teyitha Contelli called out to the Basin for any adventurers who wished to join them as they prepared to submerge the Empress undersea, and together the equally relieved and jubilant crew prepared to sink below the depths of the Inner Sea beyond where any other had dared tread before. Thus did they discover the dark fortress of the Namiraa Trench, a veritable maze of water and shadow-filled with all manner of terrifying and venomous sea creatures.
Even as many fell victim to the barbed octopi and the gargantuan worm that stalked the undersea labyrinth, the adventurers remained undeterred in their quest to reach the compass’s final destination. After much trial and error, the trench, at last, led to a strangely desolate lair where, of all things, a single nereid was bored out of her mind.
Calling herself Soriali, the nereid was delighted to see company and began to chatter excitedly, even as those present were drawn to the far more troubling aspect of the room: a macabre contraption resting atop a tall pillar, where an imprisoned figure was strapped in place. This torture device was called the Morokeche Seat, and Soriali had been asked to guard it for many years while protecting the song that would unlock the seat and free its prisoner.
None of this discovery made sense to Captain Teyitha, whose normally fearless appearance was now troubled as she asked, “Where is my son?” For reuniting with her son was her heart’s desire that had driven her to such lengths to discover the compass of Ilaedron the Fair. The nereid responded flippantly that he had likely drowned, but that she herself didn’t know anything of his fate.
While Gurashi comforted Teyitha, many more remained transfixed by the looming figure upon the Morokeche Seat. Pity and curiosity both drove the mortals to ask Soriali to sing the song that would free the seat’s mysterious victim, but Soriali warned she did not know what the result might be. Eritheyl of Gaudiguch reminded Soriali that mortals, too, suffered from boredom, and this response seemed to delight the nereid.
With so many of the sea creatures that plagued Namiraa now dead, Soriali decided she felt secure enough in completing the song that she could escape shortly after, leaving the adventurers to deal with whatever fallout ensued. Avaris made a last-ditch plea to convince the other mortals that nereids were not to be trusted, while others such as Uzriel and Sapphira dismissed those concerns out of hand. The mystery of whom had been left for dead in the Morokeche Seat was too great to resist.
And so Soriali’s song began.
Those who were familiar with the voice of the Enchantress recognized Her music immediately in the nereid’s melody, each rising note unlocking a manacle upon the Morokeche Seat. With each released shackle, a flood of memories from imprisoned figure reached out into the consciousness of all present, revealing Her to be a Goddess trapped within the Namiraa Trench for thousands of years.
It was Drocilla, the Enchantress who had left the Goddess to rot, and even as the prisoner’s memories revealed how Her once-friend had tricked Her into being imprisoned, Soriali’s song revealed a sense of regret and loss in Drocilla’s actions — though it was quickly rebuffed by the sheer bitterness and resentment emanating from the figure and Her memories.
Denied Her promised Rites of Abomination, the Goddess was given the mask of a Traitor but not the power of one, effectively shrouding Her identity from view as She was rooted in place upon the Morokeche Seat. Another Traitor was asked by the Lavender Mask to tend to their mutual problem, one who revealed Himself to the Goddess as Blooredi. Creating all manner of sea creatures in mimicry of His cousins, Blooredi instructed them to guard over the Namiraa Trench while promising the figure within that He would free Her once the time was right. Yet Blooredi, too, would abandon Her.
As Soriali’s song concluded with a crescendo of emotion, the circlet that had bolted the imprisoned Goddess in place snapped off. The nereid vanished into the Namiraa Trench just before the Lady of the Lagoons, the Elder Goddess Li-varili, stumbled out of the Morokeche Seat, beaten and bloody. Some present recognized Her as the Awakener of the nereids found in the Rhizoda Mangrove, long presumed dead.
Wild and feral, Li-varili expressed fear and distrust of all mortals present, first believing the shards to be the Elders that had forgotten Her. When Uzriel openly defended the Enchantress’s actions towards Li-varili as necessary, the newly released Goddess shrieked in anger, slaughtering him in retaliation. Tridemon would soon be slain as well for daring to equate the Goddess’s plight to that of Lady Carakhan in Aquagoria.
Overwhelmed by the onslaught of change that had continued during Her imprisonment, Li-varili fled to Her Fulcrux, where many mortals attempted to calm Her and inform Her of what had transpired during Her trials. Esei of the Glomdoring sent suggestive thoughts to convince Li-varili of the power of the Wyrd, enraging Li-varili and resulting in their immediate slaughter. Cheliyi and Vexacion explained the splintering of other Elders and the concept of Orders, to which Li-varili sneered. If the Elders had betrayed Her, why would they not betray mortals as well?
None were more surprised than the Enchantress to discover Li-varili living. A tense interaction ensued between the Elder Goddesses as Drocilla insisted that She had thought Li had surely been lost to the Soulless after so long. Fury and anger radiated from the exhausted Li-varili as She hurled insult upon insult on Drocilla, calling Her a liar and betrayer. Even as Li-varili attempted to enrage and provoke Drocilla, the Enchantress only looked pityingly upon Her.
Attempting to calm Her former friend and confidante, Drocilla sang the first strains of a lullaby, incensing Li-varili further: “If you will use your tricks on Me, then I will use Mine.” Waves crashed down on Drocilla, interrupting Her song as Li-varili vanished, screaming for all to leave Her alone as She retreated to the Havens. For a moment, a brief expression of anger marred Drocilla’s face, before She too took Her leave.
The pirates of Captain Teyitha Contelli’s crew whisper that an ill wind is blowing, and what that might mean for the turbulent Goddess released from Her eons of torment, or the Basin of Life that She has returned to, only the Fates can say.