The Pursuit of Your Heart’s Desire: The Search for Sister Sea

While Li-varili was tended by Lantra within Daeiv ma’Mornhai, the other Elders of the Basin of Life busied Themselves with the search of the missing Sea Spirit. Of those who searched, none worked more tirelessly to find Sister Sea than Carakhan, the Sculptor of Waves, whose fondness for the young being seemed to rival that of the slumbering Lady of the Lagoons. For like Li-varili, the Sculptor too had been present for the Sea’s first failed Awakening as Keltari’s mate, and Her own artistry was lovingly made manifest across the Sea’s vast waves of Lusternia.

Though Nocht’s formation had left a vague imprint on the fledging spirit, something appeared to be thwarting her trail. After months of attempted pursuit, the Sculptor called a meeting with the mortals of the Basin of Life within one of the coral bunkers She had fortified during the Elder Wars. Beside Her stood the Lady Even Bladed, who had for many years led Carakhan in Terentia’s Dagger, as well as the Lord Nocht, who offered His expertise in the realm of Awakening to this task.

Lantra had taken the compass of Ilaedron the Fair from the slumbering Li-varili and given it to aid Carakhan in Her search, for its needle was due to point to “your heart’s desire.” However, Li-varili had anticipated such an outcome and placed powerful charms on the Vernal artifact to prevent any besides Her from using its power. Carakhan believed that Li-varili had hidden a means of undoing these spells within the Awakener’s most treasured vaults, but again, their entrance was warded with a domothean barrier against any Divine interference.

It was the Silent Lord who suggested that mortals attempt to breach Li-varili’s vaults, for in Her arrogance, the Lady of the Lagoons might not have thought to prevent such lesser beings from entering Her most sacred of places. Nocht’s guess would prove correct, as mortals explored this strange and beautiful underwater place. Within, each room was filled with curiosities adoringly gathered by nereids as they awaited their Mother’s return.

Dozens of mortals puzzled over the various oddities within the Lady of the Lagoons’ vaults, witnessing visions of the Goddess that gave them clues as to the purpose of this strange place. Eventually, a statue imprisoning a joyous nereid named Klaia was found, and the means of an elixir to free her procured. Within the nereid’s hands was something unusual: a Pearl Tear of Li-varili, which radiated with a beauty unlike all other sapphire tears that the Elder had previously shed. This, it seemed, was the ultimate clue to undoing the Goddess’s spell upon the compass.

Xenthos offered the Pearl Tear of Li-varili to the waiting Sculptor of Waves, who realized the tear must be shattered to undo the seal upon the compass. Breaking it apart with care, the first beautiful memory that Li-varili had shared with Her crechemate, Keltari, was revealed in its aching sweetness; if the Sculptor reacted to the vision of Her long lost love, She said nothing, choosing to focus instead upon the task at hand.

Even though the compass now heeded Carakhan, whatever shrouded the Sea Spirit from view was too powerful for even its needle to find. The Elders reasoned that perhaps it would need to be charged with the spirit’s essence somehow, that its fine instruments might more keenly detect her. Manchal, once the tutor of the Aquamancers of New Celest, was tasked with showing mortals how to utilise the Thalassi of Lusternia to thus empower the compass.

Two of the three Thalassi had previously been caged in salt, rendering them untouchable. After some experimenting by the mortals, Manchal finally produced bottled sea essence – the very same essence New Celest had laboured a month to create in order to soothe the Inner Sea Thalassos’ troubled waters. Slowly, deluge after lightning-chased deluge unleashed by mortals with steadier hands than he, the shell encasing the Sea of Keph’s Thalassos broke apart. It was Tridemon of New Celest who placed the compass into the Thalassos’ waters, resulting in a shock of energy as it drained into the instrument, leaving behind an empty basin. The process was repeated at the Sea of Despair, with Nialla of Serenwilde placing the compass in its waters. Finally, a group made pilgrimage to the Thalassos of the Inner Sea, not caged but protected in the Sanctifiers’ halls, where all prayed as Avaris of New Celest placed the compass there last. And it, too, drained completely, offering its power to the compass.

At last, Cheliyi returned it to Carakhan within Her coral bunker. The Goddess sealed the compass Herself this time, ensuring that its needle would point due to Her own heart’s desire no matter who wielded it. She then handed it back to Cheliyi asking that all the mortals present work together to find Sister Sea, while She returned with Nocht to prepare for the formation anew.

Eventually, the compass of Ilaedron the Fair was so empowered with the essence of Sister Sea that no power could prevent it from finding her, and mortals raced off to follow the trail she had left behind. An arduous search ensued as they followed the visions the compass left behind, until finally, they found themselves at a strange chasm. Realizing they had to leap off of it to find Sister Sea in truth, the adventurers dove down below with no expectation of what they might find.

The result, indeed, shocked all present: the voice of the Elder Divine Keltari, the Sea-Bringer rang out, demanding to know why the mortals wished to take Their child, the Sea Spirit, away. Confusion was rampant, for it had already been revealed by Carakhan that the Elder Keltari had been long lost to Illith, the Leviathan — something Tridemon, one of Her followers, voiced aloud.

Suddenly dozens of “Keltari”s emerged, the fluidly androgynous Elder manifesting in both feminine and masculine forms as They each took arms, fighting the mortals who dared to take away the Sea Spirit from Them. As they were defeated, passages were suddenly revealed that led to illithoid assimilators, unveiling a fortress referred to as the Leviathan’s Cradle. It seemed the adventurers had stumbled on a long-forgotten sect of illithoid: a cult devoted to a task that had once been paramount to Illith, but now been reduced to nothing but a repeated memory. Its purpose? To ensnare the Sea Spirit as a lure for the Elders who most desired her, wielding the essence of Keltari like a weapon to draw her close.

Such suspicions were confirmed after the adventurers defeated the illithoid in psionic battle, at last confronting their leader, Encephalist Iloggoth, who stood possessively over the frightened Sea Spirit. Some, such as Uzriel, suspected that his was the voice that had called out to Li-varili in Her many dreams in slumber, enacting this lost fragment of Illith’s will. The sheer power of the illithoid’s psionic darkness had been the reason the Elders and the compass alike had first failed in their search, but now, she had been found. And mortals worked to ensure she would be freed.

A long, drawn-out battle ensued between the mortals present and the Encephalist, exhausting many present until at last the illithoid was overthrown, allowing for the Sea Spirit to be free from his influence once more. In that moment, Carakhan returned to reunite with the spirit that Her beloved Keltari had once sought to awaken into existence beside Li-varili, and with tears in Her eyes, the Goddess beckoned for the fledgling spirit to enter Her arms.

And with the Sea Spirit cradled in Carakhan’s arms, the Goddess began to sing a familiar lullaby, and the spirit relented into Her care like a lost child at last returned to her mother.