(Story written by Nyx, Quest crafted by Nyx and Ananasi Aleitros)
The slightly chilly air of the Tapestry slowly cools your thick minotaur frame as you rest there upon the dusky marble floor. You take a deep breath and relax, easing the weight of your equipment off of your limbs. They are nearly all healed from your run-in with the billowing weeds, but still ache a bit. Perhaps next time I won't take that plunge into Jester's Keep, you think. But then, wisdom has never been your strong suit... Just as your eyes begin to close, you think you hear someone giggle. Your ears perk up, twitching for a better listen and your hand slides ever so slowly towards your scabbard... where it bumps into something soft that squeaks. A tiny sprite glowing with deep indigo light leaps from your weapon, scrambles up your arm, and, before you can react, jumps onto your head. She grasps one horn tightly and swings herself around so that her madly grinning face appears directly in front of your right eye.
"Sorry about that, Kennet," says a voice from the shadows. "She enjoys running about now and again... Sitting still for hours on end isn't exactly her idea of fun." Nyx steps forward, slipping his hood back. "Plus I think she kind of likes you." The sprite clambers up onto the top of your head and, by the feel of things, finds a comfortable spot to perch. Nyx, grinning at the antics taking place, pulls a roll of ebon parchment from some dark spot near the western hearthfire.
"The Lady asked that I deliver this message to you. She agrees that you should have an amulet to aid your sight, but some things need be gathered for its creation." He unrolls the parchment and begins to read...
"Light brings sight to mortal eyes,
But things remain unclear.
Mystic lights may set such right,
Revealing what you fear.
Bring forth a light of hidden source,
Bring forth a light of thing unseen,
Bring forth the lights of life-held paths,
One for each, of total three."
Nyx looks up from the parchment for a moment. "It is my understanding that just as too many cooks can spoil the soup, too many mages can spoil a spell. You may want to avoid using too many balls of light to meet the requirements of the list..." He returns his attention to the parchment.
"Find these things of vision gone:
A ball of crystal, aura'd red,
Spectacles of being dead,
A steak of eyes without a head.
And last to wash the token clean,
Potions of powers waiting to pour,
Sights you wish to gain inside,
A spell for each, of total four."
"Not the clearest thing in the world, but that's mages for you. I do know that there are a few specifics that would make the creation process more likely to succeed. Just little tidbits I've overheard now and again, you understand... Specifically, the more powerful the potions you collect, the better, but those equivalent to a 20th level casting will likely be sufficient."
Nyx cocks his head and seems to concentrate for a moment. "It seems someone needs a hand..." He quickly re-rolls the parchment and tosses it to you. "Let me know if you have any questions. Come, little one, there is work to be done."
With that the sprite titters and leaps from your head. Though you can tell from the condition of her wings that flight is denied her, she still glides with some grace. Landing lightly, she then dashes over to Nyx's offered hand. He sets her back upon his shoulder.
"Good hunting, Kennet, and may the shadows guide your path." He waves, and is is gone...
Ananasi divested herself of all but her simplest clothes and weavings, removing jewels, boots, weapons to be lain aside. She knelt in the misty clearing and offered up her usual prayers to the Lady and to the dragons said to haunt this place, so close to her home.
"Lady," she murmured, "grant that I may succeed in this task you have laid before me." She drew a deep breath, trying to let go of the thought that she had never before attempted a weaving so difficult, and for someone else.
*Journeyman. You are ready. I am ever with you.*
The dark elf spread her hands out over the materials laid on the ground before her, considering. Kennet had collected each in service of his quest: A ball of dark crystal. Three glimmering lights, one red, one blue, one purple. The light of a lost soul, soon to be given a home. A single ray of moonlight. Various potions, and a stick of burning incense from dark N'Kai. How to proceed, how to weave all together into one coherent whole...She blew out a breath, and decided what would be done first. The scrying ball to be the center, of course -
She jumped as a hoof appeared silently by her side, and with it the rest of an enormous minotaur.
"You should know better than to interrupt a concentrating mage, cow," she chided affectionately. "Be patient - it's getting done!"
Kennet grunted. "True enough, my own spells go awry often enough. But I didn't want you to start without having everything you needed." He reached into a knapsack and brought out a great, lidded eye hanging limply on a bloody stalk, then winced as the cloth of his tunic rubbed on a newly acquired acid burn. "The beholder did not want to give this up."
Ananasi grimaced and reached for the thing, then changed her mind and murmured a small incantation to make it float. But as she turned away to offer cool water for the minotaur's wounds, the eye summoned the last of the rage left to it - no will to the eye alone, only hatred - and opened.
"DOWN!" shouted minotaur and elf as one, each diving for cover. The beholder's eye twisted and flailed in midair, caught in Ananasi's spell and unable to find the targets it sought. Across the clearing, trees caught fire, a potion exploded, and with a resounding crack the crystal ball shattered, as the eye searched.
"Not again, not AGAIN, fighting it the first time was bad enough!" Kennet growled, exasperated.
Ananasi's fingers moved in a complicated gesture, as she hissed "Noselacri!" at the eye. It went dark, and began flailing all the more madly.
"We have to move quickly," she said, striding to grasp the eye's stalk. "That spell will not hold for long."
"What in the name of the Three do you think you can do to keep it safe? And the Tynian-cursed thing shattered that crystal ball - do you know how long it took me to find that? Now it's ruined and the potion's exploded and you can't even do the weaving!"
Ananasi shook her head. "Actually, I have a spare potion, and an idea to do the weaving better than it would have been before. I didn't know you were bringing an eye, I was wondering what power would drive it all...As for the scrying ball, the weaving will be stronger with it thus. Besides," she flashed a grin at her friend, "it's all Fated anyway. It never would have occurred to me to break the ball on purpose."
Kennet raised an eyebrow at her, unsure if she were teasing, as she hefted the remaining chunk of the scrying ball and eyed its sharp edges. She pondered the thousands of tiny shards lying scattered across the clearing, then murmured a short word and gathered them all into a floating mass. She ran a wondering finger over the large chunk - a little less than half a sphere remained, with jagged sharp edges and places where the crystal had melted and run.
"This will be its prison," she said, "and thus the first weaving. I had not realized I would have to do it in stages." Crystal chunk floating above one hand and flailing blind eyestalk above the other, she brought her hands slowly together, closing her eyes in concentration. Kennet watched, curious, as a faint indigo nimbus appeared to surround the elven mage. The images of the eye and the crystal chunk began to waver; Ananasi's shoulders were shaking with effort as she finally pushed her hands together. With an almost audible snap, the beholder's eye disappeared, and the chunk of crystal dropped to the elf's outstretched hands.
Ananasi collapsed to sit on the ground. "That thing did _not_ want to go in there!" she said. Kennet reached cautiously to take the crystal, and looked curiously inside. Something glared back at him, awake and furious...He winced and looked away.
"It will stay? I do not want to be putting this thing around my neck if that means waking up one morning to find my head and neck separated because the eye got loose!"
Ananasi chuckled tiredly. "It will stay. It was not my weaving alone but the Lady's as well, there at the end. I called on her for aid and she showed me how to finish it. The rest will not be so difficult."
She held the large crystal chunk, now imprisoning the beholder's eye, up to the fading light. "Now for the second weaving." The light balls, crystal shards, and potions floated over at her gesture, followed by the incense and ray of moonlight. This time the weaving was different, complex and careful rather than a matter of strength. Shards floated into place about the central remnant, potions' colors flowed out of them to join the magelights in the shards' reflections; finally the incense and moonlight were twined together, flowing into the rest to bind it. Ananasi worked with her eyes closed, fingers moving only slightly, touching nothing - at least, nothing that Kennet could see. When she finished, the eye's prison was hardly visible behind a net of moonlight and ebon shards, floating above the grass. She opened her eyes, and smiled. "So. That went much better."
Kennet stared at it, fascinated. "It - it's beautiful, but kind of huge for an amulet, I would think ..."
Ananasi blinked innocently. "But you're a big cow." She relented at his look. "The third weaving will bind it all together tighter - it will still be a little large as amulets go, but quite wearable." She stood and stretched, stamping her bare feet in the soft earth. "Almost done."
She held out her hands to the last glowing light, which hung apart from them under the shelter of a great oak. To Kennet's surprise, she bowed to it, and it came gently to hover above her hand. "The light of a lost soul which you obtained in Tier Sh'Halen," Ananasi explained. "Normally I think the Lady would grant such a one its place in the Tapestry, but it has agreed to make its home here instead, guarding that which we make. It...found your quest a worthy goal."
The glimmering light grew, uncoiling gradually into a long, fine strand. It settled into place about the floating amulet, curling and curving over and under itself in complex patterns, ever shrinking. Slowly the weaving shrunk as the light-strand wove itself tighter in silence. Finally all motion ceased.
Ananasi moved to stand on the other side of the glowing weaving from Kennet, and spoke formally. "There remains but one thing, Hound of the Lady. Join your hands to mine, and give it its name, which you and the Lady alone shall know. I will help you weave it into this amulet which henceforth is yours and no other's."
Kennet stood, and as the elf's hands rested over his forehooves, sought within for the right name...
Short Desc: (Woven) moonlight and shards of ebon crystal
Long Desc: A strange silver light floats around ebon crystal shards.
Look shards crystal
Thousands of tiny, razor-sharp shards of dark ebon crystal form the weft of this weaving. Each catches and reflects the moonlight, but many of the reflections are strangely tinted: red, blue, and purple for the most part, with other colors here and there. Sometimes the reflections seem to cling oddly to the shards, flickering along the edges like a thin line of liquid fire to drip off the shard's point. The drops never touch, but disappear into nothingness. The shards, caught in the weaving, shift fluidly around a glowing center.
As you peer deep into the shifting sphere of moonlight and crystal shards, your gaze is caught and held by the shattered remnant of a tiny scrying ball.
Look shattered remnant scrying ball
You wonder uneasily what force shattered the ball. Half the sphere remains. Jagged edges glitter dangerously, while other parts of it appear to have been melted. The dark glass glows eerily from within with odd images distorted by the sphere's destruction. You startle as the back of your neck prickles, then flinch as you see a baleful eye glaring at you from within the blasted sphere.
The eye of a mighty beholder glares at you from its imprisonment within the shattered remains of the scrying ball. Reflexively, you move to throw the thing from you, then realize you should be dead already...The fluid weaving of crystal shards and moonlight surrounding the shattered ball, and the glimmering light webbing over it, appear to be keeping you safe. You wonder what you can see with the power of the beholder's eye at your command ... and what price it will exact, when finally the protections fail...
The reflections off the ebon shards dazzle your eyes if you stare too deeply, making your head swim. But they seem to be forming a pattern, one you can almost grasp. You glance up, breaking your concentration, and see a faint halo of light around the people by you. The color of the halo is different for each person, and over there, isn't that the outline of a person you couldn't see before?
Look light webbing
A faint strand of light webs around the woven shards and moonlight, glimmering and sparking oddly over the surface. It reminds you of those in the great tapestry the Lady tends: the thousands of souls each with its own place in the great Pattern. How was one of them lost to end here?
Threads of moonlight form the warp of this weaving, strong and sure and fine. They glimmer silvery pale among the ebon crystal shards. They seem timeless and unmoving, even as they shift and change in a slow cycle leaving nothing the same from moment to moment. Inhale, and you breathe the ethereal scent of incense rising from the chill weaving you hold.
If the scrying ball remained whole, doubtless these images would tell whatever tale you wished to hear. But now, broken and incoherent, if they tell any tale at all it will only be one to lead you to madness. Brief flashes of your past, your future, pasts and futures you cannot recognize of figures you do not know - you glance away, hastily, fear making you turn from what you might see. Even with its power broken, the shattered scrying ball and what it imprisons will show you hearts and mysteries few others see. Seek no further, for that way lies the Triat's oblivion.