Death, Death, and Demise

Date: 10/09/2012 at 09:19
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Death, Death, and Demise

Screaming, the Holy Oracle of Prin clawed at her flesh, her ivory scales
stained crimson as she drew blood from her arms and throat. Light blazed
as a golden archway appeared, and the Guardian rushed through, a look of
panic plain upon her face.

Taking the shaking xoran in her arms, Urandesea whispered soothing words
and wrapped soft cloths about her body, crooning until the sobs began to
cease. The oracle's eyes stared wide into the near-blinding light that
surrounded them, and a hand clutched at Urandesea's wrist.

"Hark, egress in flux, the bescaled kin suffer," she uttered with
passionless clarity. "Cradled in the cold arm of the offspring, the
brood suffers in barren waste." Anger flared briefly in the girl's eyes,
followed by despondence as she murmured, "Death, death, and demise."

Before Urandesea could speak, the oracle's head dropped to the side, her
body limp, and she fell into a deep and dreamless slumber.

~ ~ ~

Several long days later, Urandesea stepped off a gangplank and into the
harbour along Sapience's eastern shore. Accompanied by guardians,
hunters, and one particularly mad but necessary priestess, she observed
her surroundings with grim resolve. Somewhere in this unknown land they
must find answers, she told herself. Someone would have to help.

~ ~ ~

The nearest settlement, Shastaan, was useless: its residents seemed
preoccupied with the business of making and raising children, petty
matters in the grander scheme of things. The xoran party moved on to the
major highway and headed northward, finding themselves in Delos.
Urandesea's sharp senses picked up the sound of voices, and with a
commanding lead she headed toward them.

In the lavish reception chamber of the tailor's union they encountered
siblings Sheetaa and Solfege Ashaela, jesters with the local Carnivalis
Institute. The Ashaelas readily admitted their own limitations in the
scholastic arena, but instead invited the xoran to their home city of
Cyrene, where scholars and learned sages were certain to be found.

There, at last, in the Heart of the Vashnars, Urandesea began to feel a
measure of hope take hold. After listening to the oracle's puzzling
words, Sir Verrucht Dawyn, Cyrene's imperiate, suggested that they
referred to the Vents of Hthrak, a barren wasteland surrounded by cold
mountains in the far north. Without hesitation an expedition began to

~ ~ ~

Kayeil Inamora-Vorondil paused at the entrance to the scathing
wasteland, adjusting to the heat and allowing the rest of the group to
catch up. They numbered thirteen in total: herself, the six xoran, the
Ashaela siblings, as well as Artanis and Cyrenians Fendo, Prydywn, and
Zinka. She had guided them here as they requested, but would they find
only disappointment? Nobody had ever heard of a xoran settlement in the
area, of that she was sure.

Soon the imperiate and Agrias de Feura arrived, having scouted ahead,
and delivered the news: just ahead lay the corpses of several xoran.
Urandesea marched onward to face the scene from the oracle's vision with
stoic fortitude. None recognised the dead, a scattered assortment of
male and female, elderly and youthful. Some of the bodies had been
ravaged by the local wildlife; some bore wounds of unclear origin. Were
they harmed before death, or after? And how did one exhibit signs of
frostbite in the oppressive heat of the surrounding wasteland?

Encircling the neck of each body, the explorers noticed, was a collar of
unknown material. Purplish in hue, it exhibited qualities not unlike
iron, but was no metal any of them had ever seen. Reverently releasing
the xoran from their cruel demise through fire, the bodies were burned
to ash and three of the mysterious collars retrieved.

Leaving with more unanswered questions than they began with, the
travellers returned south. Urandesea remains a guest of the Imperiate
while investigation into the composition of these collars continues, the
only clue to the origins of the mysterious xoran found in the north.

Penned by My hand on the 22nd of Aeguary, in the year 608 AF.