After expeditioning to Northrend with Knight Benjamin Grandblade and Silversworn Renoris Feathersong to combat the chaotic numbers of the Scourge, the young aspirant Tanefrun Stormhelm was taken by the dark-winged Mawsworn; spirited to the Shadowlands. The first time the Silver Circle ventured beyond the veil, a rescue mission was mounted after rediscovering the two men after they had followed after the one they consider a daughter. Tanefrun's physical body and core soul were retrieved, but her soul had been fractured across the realms of death. It is up to the Silver Circle and the young aspirant's loved ones to find the fragments of her soul and put her back together, navigating these strange realms in order to do so.
After volunteering to lead the second expedition beyond the veil at the previous Council Glade, Silversworn Renoris Feathersong gathered those willing to join him at the village of Lightsong, Val'sharah, before preparing to depart. He explained to those gathered that travel between the waking world and the Shadowlands would be made much simpler with the use of the Enchanted Lavender Gate gifted to them by the Tirnenn the first time they were in Ardenweald. The only requirement is that within Azeroth, they must use it within a Fae Crossing.
Gathering the other volunteers, Renoris led them to such a crossing, activating the Enchanted Lavender Gate and allowing them passage to the realm of Ardenweald. They had passed through into a mushroom ring within a dense part of the forest, greeted by Knight Benjamin Grandblade and Silversworn Kelthos Moongale, both of which have remained behind in the Shadowlands.
Once all of the members of the Circle were settled after the jarring transport, Renoris instructed that the last place he had tracked Tanefrun's soul fragment in Ardenweald--which assumes the form of a spectral nightsaber--was near the area of Hibernal Hollow. The group moved forward, traversing through the forest towards the Hollow.
It was explained that at the Hollow the trail went cold, so the Circle resolved to asking the locals for possible aid. They ended up with the promised help of a tranquil soul named Telrathen, who was a Kaldorei druid of the claw in his past life. He agreed to help, on the condition that they venture out into the Weald and rescue the souls that were under his care, which have been taken by the gluttonous gorm--the insectoid problem that has been causing Ardenweald to wither aside from the anima drought.
The Circle promised their aid, and in turn, Telrathen offered the hospitality of the Hibernal Hollow should they require it.
#14643584 May 12, 2021 at 11:20 PM · Edited 1 year ago
The Circle had gathered at the camp they utilized during their previous expedition, a hollowed out remnant of a tree a stone's throw away from Tirna Vaal. Renoris had requested that they meet here, as it was closer to their objective of tracking down the new gorm hive than further south at the serene Hibernal Hollow. He relayed what Telrathen had tasked them with: rescuing the souls that were under the ursine soul's care, and exterminating the parasitic pests.
Departing not too soon after the informal debrief, the Circle was soon met with the desiccated remnants of Heartwood Grove, seeing the effects of the drought--and the insatiable hunger of the gorm--firsthand. It was a stark contrast between the deep, verdant wilds of Ardenweald, as all they witnessed were sickly husks of former life in this realm of death.
As they ventured on, members of the Circle had noticed small objects that glowed with a deep blue hue, which they deduced were small sources of anima. They collected what they could find, hoping that it would help them gain Telrathen's favor as he had state that anima was a very precious resource. The further into the decaying grove they explored, the more signs of gorm infestation they witnessed. Molted skins attached to withered trees, violent marks upon cracked bark made by powerful mandibles, disgusting clusters of eggs lining every nook and cranny.
The group paused for a moment to search for where the new hive could possibly be, as the decaying grove was quite vast and they did not know where exactly to start. In their search, more anima sources were found, along with an untouched wildseed, though at its last legs. Silversworn Luna Moonsaber was able to decipher a trail belying a struggle, pointing out that it led to where the hive could likely be. Their path was halted for a moment, as with their large collection of sparse anima along with a weakened wildseed, they had drawn the attention of a gorm feederfly, which was quickly dispatched.
After the short altercation was dealt with, the group followed the trail to where they happened upon the makings of a new hive along with four gorm; an enormous stag feeding on wildseeds, a feederfly guarding a new clutch of eggs, and two acidgullets--who siphoned the anima from the very souls that Telrathen had tasked the Circle to find. Combat ensued, and the Circle did not come out of it unscathed. At the cost of Luna's consciousness, the Circle had felled the multiple gorm and rescued both the souls and the remaining wildseeds.
They returned to Telrathen at Hibernal Hollow with the news of what they had accomplished, and he was greatly impressed; as they not only rescued the souls he asked them to find along with killing the gorm, but they had gathered precious anima and recovered lost--yet living--wildseeds. He thanked them for their great help and told them to take a day's rest, stating that he would make good on his promise and find where Renoris' trail had gone cold.
He requested that once a day has passed, to meet him within Tirna Vaal.
Making good on his promise, the bear spirit Telrathen awaited the Silver Circle's arrival within the homey village of Tirna Vaal, enlightening those present that he had found where Renoris Feathersong's trail had gone cold. He detailed that his tracking had led him to believe that Tanefrun was frequently visiting the Tranquil Pools and the surrounding area of Stillglade, elaborating that she has been acting as an ambush predator.
The spirit also warned that with the anima drought, the wildlife in the Weald would be scrappy and violent, driven mad with hunger as they have not had any anima sustenance in gods know how long. With details and warnings out of the way, Telrathen led the Circle to where he had honed in on the trail of the young Aspirant, starting at the outskirts of the Tranquil Pools.
Almost immediately, the group was beset with ambushed combat at every turn. First having to fend off a particularly hungry--and equally large--shrieker bird which nearly plucked Aythir Swiftspirit out of the gathering, three mangy and starving sabers which lunged at the arcanist Mythera Darkthorn to the point of making her lose consciousness, to having the flora of the wield itself rise up to try and take a nibble. In the midst of traversing the trail within the Tranquil Pools, the Circle had come across a fresh trail of corpses, all done in by a vicious predator; which they hypothesized to be Tanefrun, as the kills were fresh and there was a trail of blood to where Telrathen knew the actual trail to follow.
Once out of the Tranquil Pools and entering the tranquil woods of the Stillglade, Telrathen had deduced based on acute observations by the Circle that Tanefrun was not far. Going up the incline and following signs of a scuffle, they came upon the feral saber soul feasting upon a freshly slain runestag. They had found Tanefrun, and she was not happy about having her meal be interrupted.
Though there was relief at finally tracking her down, Telrathen remained confused. The question of 'why' was ever present; why did this soul contain so much hunger? Tanefrun did not suffer the effects of the drought, as she was never a resident of Ardenweald to begin with. It then dawned on him, after the clarification that this was a fragment, not her entire being, that the reason why she hungered was because she was incomplete. She wanted to complete herself, and she was doing so by feasting upon the creatures of the Weald which had anima.
As Benjamin Grandblade made the initiative to try and gain the feral saber's trust, Telrathen put a halt to it to suggest that they offer anima to the saber soul as a means of trust; all that she had focused on was food, and if they offered her food, they would be seen as not someone to fight back against, but to at least have her be wary of.
With only five small sources of anima left from what the group had collected from the gorm hive, Telrathen instructed that three additional people aside from Benjamin and Renoris could make an effort to gain Tanefrun's trust. Luna Moonsaber, Mythanil Briarblade, and Aythir Swiftspirit all volunteered, sitting down and cautiously offering the saber the small pieces of anima.
Equally as cautious, Tanefrun slowly approached each of them and sized them up, ultimately gently taking each source of anima from them. After she had secured her 'food', she darted off into the deep woods. The Circle, relieved that they had made progress with gaining Tanefrun's trust, left off with Renoris concluding that he would maintain a watch over Tanefrun's habits within the forest, and would summon them back to the Hibernal Hollow to let them know of any developments he found.
Having gathered the Silver Circle with an urgent message, Renoris informed the circle of an update in Tanefrun’s situation, one of dire importance. The ranger had spent the last few days tracking and observing the feral fragment of the young Aspirant's soul, keeping an eye on her patterns and routines. Yet a sudden and unexpected change in her habits sat as a cause for concern. After failing to appear at her usual hunting ground, Renoris attempted to track her current whereabouts, checking upon her den where he discovered a new and unfamiliar trail leading toward the Gormhive. Fearing for her safety around the ravenous gorm, Renoris, alongside Telrathen, explained the severity of the situation before leading them to follow the trail he had discovered.
Following the trail south, the Circle and its allies noticed the forest’s condition steadily worsen around them as they neared the Gormhive. Keeping an eye out for any signs of Tanefrun, Seldarine discovered a withered and drained wildseed which appeared to have the deep claw marks and ethereal fur of a saber caught off-guard and dragged away. With the circle coming to the conclusion that such marks were left by none other than a captured Tanefrun, they proceeded into the Gormhive outskirts with added urgency.
As they entered the desolate wilds of the outer-gormhive, the group could see the heavy infestation of gorm around them. The circle attempted to sneak by the gluttonous insects in order to avoid an unnecessary fight, though their urgency to reach the young Aspirant before her soul might be damaged or destroyed proved to ruin such chances as they clumsily made their way through the area. Provoking a group of three Gorm, the circle was able to quickly dispatch them after a brief fight- though only after a few of their numbers sustained some serious injuries.
Telrathen hastily led the group into the Wild Hunt outpost of Claw’s edge, meeting with an old friend of his- one of the Tirnenn of Ardenweald. Addressing the Circle’s Ardenweald ally and referring to him by his full name of Telrathen Stormhelm, the Tirnenn informed them that the gorm had been stirred by the influx in activity within the Weald brought on by the mortals who sought to aid it, gathering Anima to aid the Night Fae. Telrathen, knowing that such an increase in activity spelt the worst for Tanefrun’s captured soul fragment, led them further into the Gormhive in order to follow the remainder of her trail.
Entering into the scarred, desolate lands of the inner-Gormhive, the party quickly followed behind Telrathen who had caught the scent of Tanefrun amongst the chaos. To no surprise, the group was ambushed by two Gorm Stags and Rootstingers, drawn to the large group of intruders within their hive. After a larger skirmish which severely wounded more of the circle, the group had little time to recover after hearing the pained, desperate cries of a distant saber.
Rushing to the source of the sound, the Circle was met with the horrific sight of a fledgling Gorm Matriarch syphoning the Anima out of the young Aspirant’s form and feasting upon it. Without a moment of hesitation, the circle sprung into action in defence of Tanefrun’s soul fragment, drawing the Matriarch’s attention away from her. The Matriarch proved to be a formidable foe, yet the teamwork of the group along with the rage-fueled ferocity of others soon overwhelmed the Matriarch- who fell after a barrage of deadly attacks from the circle was finalised by the killing-arrow of Renoris himself. Rushing toward the cornered saber spirit of Tanefrun, the circle found her on guard and petrified. Not knowing how injured her soul may be and knowing he would not be able to get close to her in such a frightened state, Renoris instructed the circle to keep their distance before placing a foraged animacone onto the ground, hoping it may restore some of what the Matriarch had consumed. After a moment of hesitation, the frightened soul took the animacone from the Ranger before bolting off once again to safety. They had rescued her, but once again the circle was unable to capture the feral spirit of Tanefrun.
The wounded members of the Circle retreated to Claw’s Edge, too exhausted to weather a full trip back to the Hibernal Hollow. Yet the question remained… what could be done in order to rescue her?
Reconvening in the Hibernal Hollow after spending some time recovering from their expedition into the Gormhive, Renoris was left feeling confused and stuck. It seemed they had tried everything to gain the trust of the feral soul fragment; feeding her anima, and even saving her from true death, and yet the ranger once more had the trail go cold. The Silversworn present along with their ally, Benjamin, conversed idly within the Hollow as to what they could possibly do.
Their conversation was interrupted, however, as they noticed something approaching from in the distance and having situated itself nearby; it was Tanefrun, the feral soul fragment donning the guise of an ethereal saber, studying them curiously yet cautiously. The group reacted immediately, moving to appear as nonthreatening as possible so that the soul fragment would feel at ease, and hold no wish to dart away into the thick forests of the Weald.
One by one, Tanefrun's soul fragment sized up and familiarized herself with all who were present; Iraavos, Cayldiais, Benjamin, Renoris, Kelthos, and Seldarine. One by one, they each allowed her to get comfortable with their presences, ranging from letting the ethereal saber bat at the feathers on Kelthos' armor, to feeding her additional anima spores gathered by Cayldiais. Her reactions to Renoris and Ben were arguably softer in degree, feeling an unspoken yet familiar bond with the two men.
After some time, the crystal shard necklace that Ben had recovered from when Tanefrun was abducted in Icecrown, which initially belonged to her, began to glow softly as the soul fragment rested amongst the group. Not willing to force her "capture", Ben laid out the necklace in front of her and allowed her to interact with it as she pleased. Acting as a soulkeeper, or a crystal that can house souls safely, the crystal necklace safely absorbed the soul fragment as it lay in front of Renoris, getting gently pat by the ranger.
They had secured the first fragment of Tanefrun's soul.
Not too long after, Telrathen awoke and met the rest of the Circle within the Hollow, asking if they had recovered alright. He was reassured that they had healed to the best of their ability, and was told that they had rescued the first fragment. Telrathen was relieved at this news, and offered his thanks to the Silversworn for the aid that they had given whilst they had focused on this singular mission. He instructed them that if they needed to continue their search throughout the Shadowlands, that a return to Oribos would be a good idea.
The guardian spirit encouraged the members of the Circle to find him if they wish to return to the Weald during their stay in the Shadowlands. Before taking his own leave and likely seeing off the Circle once they departed, Telrathen--recalling that Benjamin knew of his mate, Kalthaessa--implored of the paladin to find her once they return to Azeroth, and to tell her that he loves her.
Reconvening in Oribos, the Silver Circle prepared to travel to the next realm of the Shadowlands, Maldraxxus. Silversworn Renoris Feathersong had elaborated that this was the only realm he could guarantee access to at the moment. Though largely unaware of the environment of this new realm, the members of the Circle were not fully prepared for what was to meet them on the other side of the anima gate. Upon their arrival, they were met with the sickly sight of bone and sinew making up the entirety of this realm of death. A far cry from the familiarity the forests of Ardenweald provided.
Already apprehensive of the realm itself and no doubt their apprehension extending to its inhabitants, the members of the Circle were stopped in their tracks of familiarising themselves by a bone-armor clad Kaldorei who revealed themselves to be Seledon Spirithelm-- a necrolord from the remaining forces of the true House of the Chosen. Conversation started out tense as there was little reason to trust this man. He reeked of death, and death was never something the Kaldorei trusted. A back and forth conversation ensued, Seledon asking the reason as to why a band of mortals suddenly appeared in Maldraxxus, and the Circle answering with their quest to find Tanefrun’s soul fragment.
The Kaldorei Necrolord revealed that while the drought has prevented any new soul from arriving in Maldraxxus, a ‘new soul’ had seemingly arrived and was causing quite a commotion in the ever-present battle within the Theater of Pain, gaining the attention of the gladiators of the different Houses. Though the Circle was primed and ready to storm the theater in order to retrieve the young Aspirant’s soul fragment, Seledon stopped them in their tracks laughing. He quite enjoyed telling them that one does not simply walk into the Theater of Pain, they would have to prove themselves as mighty fighters themselves in order to get noticed by the Houses and thus allowed to enter the bloodbath. Perhaps capitalizing on the Circle’s dire straits, he offered to aid them in the endeavours to prove their might in this martial realm of death. Smug and keeping his cards to his chest, the Circle had no other choice but to make him their ally in this strange and unwelcoming place.
Seledon extended his hospitality in this inhospitable realm by allowing their stay at the Renounced Bastille, an outpost run by members of his former House and aptly located in a forest… a forest of fungus and decaying material. It was at the Bastille that Seledon answered most of the questions that the Circle had, revealing that above all Maldraxxus is a realm governed by might in all forms. This realm of death was comprised of five Houses, now three, which their necrolord ally said they would have to go up against in order to gain access to the Theater of Pain. He explained that the current standing House of the Chosen was run by traitorous Necrolords under the Margrave Vyraz, and that only he and his other allies within the Seat of the Primus could be trusted. Instead of going against the houses themselves, they would engage in combat against the gladiator champions of each house with the goal of slaying them to prove that they were strong enough to fight within the Theater. Without any pause, Seledon had instructed those to gain their rest for they would go against the champion of the House of the Chosen within two days, likely expecting something that the Circle did not...
#14665837 May 25, 2021 at 03:22 PM · Edited 1 year ago
Awaiting the gathering of the Circle at the Renounced Bastille, their 'camp' in the midst of a fungal forest rife with spores and decay, the Kaldorei Necrolord Seledon Spirithelm commanded their attention for their plan. With a firmer and more militaristic air about him, he enlightened the Circle to the fact that the traitorous House of the Chosen was currently sieging the Seat of the Primus, and that this would be an excellent opportunity for them to pull off a pincer attack to not only defend their Necrolord allies, but to draw out the Chosen's Gladiator Champion. It was likely that he had anticipated this attack. Before departing to join the battle, Seledon noted how poorly dressed the young Shal'dorei, Seldarine, was dressed, and chastised her for it.
Seledon went out of his way for the living mortals to procure for them volatile healing potions, which would save them from near death. They would no doubt become useful later in the battlefield.
Riding through the decaying "forest", the group quickly approached the siege that was already underway. Without wasting any time, Seledon commanded them all to join the fray, picking off the multitudes of lesser soldiers that charged forth to the Seat of the Primus through the Iron Trench. Various bonesoldiers and flesh-sewn meatshields were what they were met with, practically a sea of them running and crawling their way to the Seat of the Primus. Easily cleaved through and defeated, the combat did not stop and the forces of the House of the Chosen immediately noticed that they were cornered from behind on the Iron Trench.
Hulking warriors donning bone-plated armor began to rush forth, battering the group and nearly rendering a couple members of the Circle unable to fight. They were soldiers the likes of which the Circle had never seen, brutal might coursing through their veins and truly showing what it meant to be a soldier of the House of the Chosen. A true back and forth battle of might and skill, each member of the Circle had honed in on their own singular opponent and fought until either of them met their end. One such warrior was overwhelmed to the point it had toppled over and nearly smothered Mythanil. It was a tough and bloody battle which the Circle came out still alive in the end, having weathered brutal weaponry and non-stop carnage, but the siege was not yet finished. There was a call to ready the ballistae, and Seledon barked out for the Circle to take cover behind the barricades and broken bone constructs. Bone-bolts with necromantic fire pelted the entirety of the Iron Trench, and rendered Seldarine down for the count.
Once the second round of ballistae fire was done, Seledon called out for the Circle to move forward; it was only a matter of time before their cover was destroyed. Luckily, the majority of the battle was being handled by the Necrolord forces of the Seat of the Primus, the ballistae rendered moot. However, one figure stood in their path; a towering berserker donning a Greatsword like a one-hander, and a flesh-sewn Shield. The Gladiator Champion of the House of the Chosen had challenged them to battle, and battle they did. Not tolerating how much butchering they had to endure, Mythera Darkthorn had ensured the Circle's victory against this powerful adversary by rendering the Champion's body immobile, allowing the Circle to butcher the Champion in turn.
The remaining forces did not need the Circle's attention. However, their attention was caught by the weapons that the Gladiator Champion had dropped from her grasp once she fell, and a peculiar set of Axes and a crude-looking Gun upon a weapon rack to the side. When they were each picked up by a member of the Circle, Seledon expressed familiarity with all of them. They were not ordinary weapons, but special weapons forged within the realm of Maldraxxus with extraordinary abilities.
Glynindra Breezebend had taken ownership of the greatsword, named Gladius the Marrowrender. Mythanil Briarblade had taken ownership of the flesh-sewn shield, named The Aegis of Carrion. Mythera Darkthorn had taken ownership of the crude-looking yet powerful gun, Xydoch's Deadeye. Kelthos Moongale had taken ownership of the twin axes with peculiar runes upon the metal, the Displacement Axes of Yendiesh.
After ensuring that Seldarine--after getting downed--was still alive, the Circle returned to the Renounced Bastille in order to rest up for their next challenge, the House of Constructs.
THE UNIQUE ABILITIES GRANTED BY THE LOOTED WEAPONS CAN ONLY BE USED ONCE PER EVENT. [If you forget the ability of your looted weapon, DM me and I will send you a screenshot for your reference!]
With their first Gladiator Champion defeated, Seledon Spirithelm awaited the arrival of the members of the Circle at Spider's Watch, overlooking the ever-busy House of Constructs before he elaborated on what their next mission would be. The Kaldorei Necrolord had the greatest time revealing to the Circle that their task within the House of Constructs would be--appropriately in theme of the House--building a Construct of their own.
Dismay, disgust, and outright shock were what Seledon received in return, and he expected as much, reminding the Circle that in Maldraxxus things worked differently, and they did not have the option to opt out of what he ordered them to do. He elaborated further, that the House of Constructs was the backbone of Maldraxxus' forces, and that it would be a smart move to use the House of Constructs' own weapons against them in order to draw out their Champion and thusly prove their might to the House if they were to defeat it. Largely begrudgingly, the Circle followed Seledon into the dumping grounds of the House.
Before even getting a chance to see what appendages and body parts the Circle could work with, the group noted the toolracks that lined the interior of the dumping grounds, a peculiar set of Daggers and a runed Hammer catching their eyes. Glynindra Breezebend and Benjamin Grandblade looked at the Hammer, ultimately the artisan trading the paladin the sword she had looted the previous mission, Gladius the Marrowrender, for The Forgemaster's Hammer. Seldarine Stardragon had picked up Lar'nodath's Fangs.
With the weapon-looting squared away, the Circle reluctantly began to work with Seledon's supervision. They had found a multitude of practical and wacky limbs and additives within the dumping grounds, finding tails with spiked balls at the ends, skeleton hands, strong humanoid legs, a jar of extra eyes which were haphazardly placed all over the construct, shoulder armor, a well-muscled Kyrian arm, Kyrian wings, and... a completely intact Kyrian head, which scared a large amount of the Circle. They opted to not use the head, with Benjamin Grandblade offering to return the head to Bastion in order for a proper memorial for the aspirant. The Circle had found a large abomination head with a metal-toothed mask, which they would save for last in order to avoid the risk of "waking" the construct with the dormant soul within. For some reason, the Circle added quite a bit of tentacles to the construct, along with a very, very fancy top hat. How it ended up in Maldraxxus, nobody knows. Somehow, the Circle had found an Iron Belly cannon, which they managed to shove into the construct's gut.
At last the time came for the head to be placed upon the construct, and for Seledon to awaken it. After funneling anima into the Circle's motionless creation, the construct roared to life in all of its misshapen glory. The group of Kaldorei had little time to celebrate, however, as scavengers finally noted what they had done and ran off to no doubt alert the House of Constructs of intruders. With little time to waste, Seledon readied the Circle for combat, and commanded the Construct to do so as well.
Slow and large footsteps heralded the arrival of the grotesquely built and gargantuan Gladiator Champion of the House of Constructs, accompanied by two weakly-sewn bodyguards. It had not yet seen the Circle, which they used to their advantage and quickly engaged in battle. After the two bodyguards had been dispatched, Glynindra used The Forgemaster's Hammer to raise one of them back into unlife, naming them Squidgy and becoming an indomitable tag-team. Unlike the last Gladiator Champion, this Construct was armed with a multitude of weapons and arms to hold them, and proved a difficult challenge to kill. Ultimately, after long and drawn-out combat, the Circle had dispatched the second Champion... and their Construct had lasted through the fight, after being incredibly well built. They had proved their might, and gained a very powerful ally in the form of "Thele'zaxus".
Seledon congratulated the Circle on a job well done, ordering them to return to the Bastille at their own time and to prepare for their next mission.
THE UNIQUE ABILITIES GRANTED BY THE LOOTED WEAPONS CAN ONLY BE USED ONCE PER EVENT. [If you forget the ability of your looted weapon, DM me and I will send you a screenshot for your reference!]
For the first time during the Circle's expedition to Maldraxxus, the Necrolord Seledon Spirithelm did not present the gathered elves with plan. What he did have was news, both good and bad. He enlightened the Circle to the fact that their plans of getting the Houses of Maldraxxus to recognize their might were succeeding, and while that was a good thing, they had caught the attention of the House of Rituals--which was a double edged sword. It was good in the fact that the House of Rituals recognized them as a challenge, but bad in the fact that they were planning the first move as a countermeasure to the Circle's efforts, as they wanted to recruit the young Aspirant's soul fragment to fight in their ranks.
Before Seledon could rally the Circle to move out, they were ambushed at the Renounced Bastille by five robed necromancers, all wielding melee weaponry. Those gathered sustained quite the beating, a couple members of the Circle becoming poisoned and bludgeoned, and Silversworn Luna Moonsaber getting gruesomely impaled from behind, the spear piercing her gut. Though caught unawares and at a disadvantage, the Circle and its allies managed to fend off the attack as the necromancers barely had anything in the ways of defense save for their ritual robes.
Seledon urged everyone present to quickly tend to their wounds, as the members of the House of Rituals had likely set up camp within the decaying fungal forest as a means to execute the ambush, and not wanting to linger long enough to become the victim of another. Once everyone had gotten to their feet, the Circle's Necrolord ally had everyone mount their lended bonesteeds and have them follow him as they rode off to confront the forward camp, the Circle's construct, Thele'zaxus, accompanying them. Combat quickly ensued, the Circle charging forward despite their wounds to dispatch the necromancers and skeletal acolytes before them. Quickly and easily dealt with now that they had not been caught off guard, Seledon ordered the Circle to follow him into the House of Rituals, as the Gladiator Champion was likely within and they could kill two birds with one stone.
Upon entering the final House, the Circle was met with the sight of an oddly 'refined' and grand House as compared to their venture to the House of Constructs. A multitude of necromancers and ritualists were practitioning together, spellweaving, and commanding newly risen thralls. But what caught their attention was something all the more grim and ominous. In the center of the inner grounds was a large ritual circle, in which six ritualists were focused on summoning a large Bone Behemoth. One of the ritualists was in the center and more ornately dressed, which gave away his position as the House of Rituals' Gladiator Champion.
The ritual had to be stopped. Seledon ordered the Circle to charge forth, to which the Gladiator Champion called out for the others to stave them off, saying that he would continue with progressing the ritual.
Despite such a giveaway warning, the Circle focused on the other ritualists instead, their attempts at carving them down only resulting in immediate counterfire from the farthest ones, necromantic magic sapping at the very life-forces of the Circle and rendering Silversworn Renoris Feathersong unconscious. Silversworn Mythera Darkthorn had noted the ritual circle was lined with focus runes, which she tasked herself with dispelling, ultimately destroying two of the five that were present. The Gladiator Champion was not fazed by Seledon's attacks, and continued with the summoning.
Unfortunately, the Circle had done too little too late. All of the remaining ritualists--the Gladiator Champion himself included--began to fall one by one, their life forces drawing towards the dormant summon. The ritual of summoning was complete, and the Bone Behemoth was empowered and sicced onto the group who was already reeling from the counterattacks. A giant construct of bone and unholy magic, this Behemoth donned three heads and a massive bonescythe, the cries of the siphoned dead ringing out in a deafening fashion as the Circle had an even bigger foe on their hands.
Realizing that they would forfeit their chances at entering the Theater of Pain if they backed out now, the Circle pressed on. Each combatant present did not let the terrifying odds stop them from their attempts to fell the unholy Behemoth, a multitude of the looted weapons coming in handy. The arcanist Mythera had brandished Xydoch's Deadeye for the first time, using the most unorthodox weapon for a mage in deadly fashion.
After what felt like a hopeless eternity of severing the binding magic from the Behemoth and tearing at its pallid bones, the Circle had finally defeated the powerful summon within the House of Rituals. Allowing everyone a moment to catch their breath, Seledon congratulated them on a job well done, and thus quickly urged everyone to follow him back to the Bastille as he carried the unconscious Renoris on his bonesteed. Encouraging everyone to get their rest, he reminded them all of their next and final mission: entering the Theater of Pain and saving Tanefrun's next soul fragment.
All of the Circle's preparations were complete, and led to this very moment. They started to gather on the outskirts of the loud and raucous Theater of Pain, the arena of bloodshed they had worked to enter since their very first steps into the rancid realm of Maldraxxus. Their unorthodox guide, Seledon, had not yet joined them, as he was busy speaking to three Remnant Eyes who held three pieces of weaponry. Once the Circle was ready, he motioned for them to gather around him.
Seledon enlightened the Circle to the fact that after their hasty departure from the House of Rituals, nearly escaping with their lives after felling the gigantic Bone Behemoth, the Remnant Eyes behind him had scoured the battlefield and found three magical artifacts that they could no doubt use to their advantage within the Theater of Pain; a powerful looking bone Stave, two twin Spellswords with plentiful runes upon the metal, and a "leather"-bound Tome that looked a little too "alive" to just be leather.
The Highborne Iraavos had chosen to wield Il'raviah's Tome of Awakening. With no other takers, the Elun'nora Mythanil chose to wield Sunder and Keening. Reluctant, the Hippogryph Rider Cayldiais chose to wield The Binding Stave of Phaz'rish.
Before entering the Theater of Pain, Seledon bid the Circle farewell. He was met with quite noticeable animosity after declaring such, but he elaborated that this was the Circle's battle, not his. He had helped them gain entry, but never promised his aid within the coliseum. However, he gave Thele'zaxus, the Circle's "lovingly" constructed Construct, to the Circle in order to have its aid. After urging them to enter, he then took his leave--likely hoping that he would never see them again.
Gathering in the center of the bone-laden coliseum, the announcer heralded their arrival, no doubt a band of mortals carving a path of carnage gaining the attention of a realm obsessed with such. He relayed that each champion of each House lay behind a corridor with their own respective chamber, the Circle need only choose which House they wanted to battle first. They elected to take on the champion of the House of Rituals, agreeing that the tactics they had learned against such members of that particular House were still fresh in their minds.
With their Maldraxxi artifacts in hand, the Circle had prepared as much as they could for their first challenge: a gangly lich of the House of Rituals who assailed the Circle with foul necrotic magic. After a tough fight against the House of Rituals’ champion, the might of both Thele’zaxus and the knight Benjamin Grandblade proved to be too much for the skeletal mage, and the Lich was torn apart by both blade and tentacle alike.
The Circle wasted no time moving on to their second challenge, deciding that the House of Constructs should be their next foe- hoping there would be far less necromancy involved. Swiftly moving through the Theater, the Circle entered the chamber of the Construct’s champion- a foul, rancid stench lingering heavily in the air. To their surprise, the Circle was met by none other than the same champion construct they had felled in their initial assault on the house of Constructs- though now rebuilt with far more stitchings and some additional limbs. Hungry for revenge, another battle ensued with the champion construct and two of its own bodyguards facing the Circle- though once again, the visiting mortal’s might proved to be too much for the Construct’s gladiator, and the Circle left it in pieces and its bodyguards fleeing the scene.
Left with only one House to challenge before Tanefrun herself, the Circle moved on to the chamber of the final of the three Houses- the House of the Chosen. A fittingly loud and confident gladiator met the Circle head on in a heated battle of might and steel, claiming her victory over the comparatively tiny challengers was assured. Yet with the added, chaotic strength of Thele’zaxus and his array of blade-wielding tentacles, paired with the focused power of the Circle, the gladiator was swiftly dealt with- her dying breaths honoring those that had bested her.
After felling all three champions within the Theater of Pain, the announcer congratulated them for even making it this far and thus, the final corridor opened. It was time to face the current champion: the militant soul fragment of the young Aspirant, Tanefrun Stormhelm. As they entered the final chamber, they were met with the sight of Tanefrun donning armor quite befitting of her role within Maldraxxus, almost making her look more like that of a Forsaken rather than a Kaldorei. Admitting she was looking forward to a real challenge, she held absolutely nothing back. Though the Circle feared that they were going to hurt her in irreparable ways, she taunted them with the fact that they simply couldn't hurt her. A silver-colored barrier forged itself around her, almost flame in nature, its origin coming from within her chest, likely where her heart would've been should she have been alive.
Tanefrun did not let up, but as the combat continued along with means of simply trying to subdue her rather than dispatch her, she began to slowly recognize how each person fought, which triggered memories of who exactly she was fighting against. Combat slowed, and she looked incredibly confused as to why the Circle was present in Maldraxxus, not remembering anything other than feeling her mind and heart going dark; no doubt referencing when her soul was split. Approached by Benjamin and tailed by Renoris, she was allowed a moment to truly let down her guard, reassured that she was now safe.
After a calm moment between father figures and surrogate daughter, the militant soul fragment of Tanefrun Stormhelm had been safely siphoned into the Soulkeeper.
Not wanting to celebrate their victory within the Theater of Pain, the Circle quickly moved to escape the coliseum with the reminder that their given time within the Shadowlands had come to an end, and it was time for them to return to Azeroth.
#14736550 Jul 01, 2021 at 08:56 PM · Edited 11 months ago
Rallying the Circle to return to Oribos, Silversworn Renoris Feathersong awaited the gathering of the other Silversworn within the Ring of Transference. He had explained that the next realm they were to search for one of Tanefrun's fragments within was Revendreth. Having squared away passage from the anima gate--a hard task, since the Venthyr he had spoken with were not the personable type--he led them forward through the gate for their second expedition to begin.
Exiting the gate and entering Revendreth, they found themselves within a stonewrought town filled with standoffish Venthyr who were incredibly tough to talk to. The Circle had little amount of information to go off of other than the possibility of another soul fragment's existence within this realm. After handling rude commentary from many Venthyr and clueless answers from pudgy dredgers, the Circle eventually found their way towards a Mistress Mihaela, who revealed to them that if they wished to locate a new soul--the existence of which after the drought was very unlikely--that they would have to make their way towards the Halls of Atonement, where the Avowed took residence.
Before departing this town which they later found to be named Darkhaven, the Circle deliberated on their means of travel. They could walk to the Halls of Atonement, but the path would be dangerous. The carriages that passed through could work, but they would likely not be able to fit them all and the coordination would be a waste of time. They resorted to talking to a Venthyr name Shadowrider Neralva, an incredibly rude stablemaster and handler of sinrunners. After some time of negotiating the possibility of him lending some sinrunners to them, he caved under the condition that they be returned in perfect condition.
With equinne mounts in their possession for their expedition in Revendreth, the Circle left Darkhaven with haste as they followed the stone path to where they were directed to find the Avowed. Their fast travel ensured that they would not get stopped in their tracks. Arriving at the Crypt, they encountered a tall, elegantly robed Venthyr who had choked out a dark-cloaked Venthyr, likely an attacker of some sort. Tossing the 'corpse' to the side, the robed Venthyr looked over the group of mortals and introduced herself as Cezara, an Inquisitor of the Avowed.
Cezara brought the Circle to safety within the Absolution Crypt, immediately asked by the group if she had seen an abnormal soul within Revendreth. To their surprise, she had an answer for them. Yes. She revealed that she had found such a soul, and to prevent it from getting taken advantage of, she took it into her care. She claimed that she had never seen such a soul harbor so much volatile wrath. When she revealed the soul to them, it was clear it was one of Tanefrun's soul fragments.
After questions were exchanged of what could be done to aid the fragment before it was safe enough to siphon into the Soulkeeper, the Circle and Cezara had come to an agreement that they would take care of the Depraved that yet lurked in the Halls of Atonement in order to retrieve crucial ritual materials for the Ritual of Absolution, which would absolve the soul fragment of the wrath that had festered and become exacerbated in Tanefrun's fragmented state.
Awaiting the Circle's awakening within the Absolution Crypt, the Kaldorei's new ally, Cezara, informed them of the task she had for them. As she explained not too long ago, the Depraved have taken ownership of ritual materials that do not belong rightfully to them, which are rudimentary for the Avowed's rituals for the spirits under their care. She explained that having these ritual daggers, tomes, and robes is one of the first steps of preparing for such rituals... along with killing the Depraved. Guiding the group to a magic-laden mirror, the Venthyr explained that the mirror offered safe passage between the Absolution Crypt and the Halls of Atonement, and that she awaited their safe return.
After going through the mirror and each member of the Circle taking that experience a little differently, they were met with the Avowed's small encampment within one of the stone enclaves within the Halls of Atonement. Beyond the pointed archways was the stone courtyard, where the Circle got a good look as to what forces they were to butt heads with. They witnessed the Depraved siphon the very essences out of tortured souls, ritualists surrounding a soul font with chained souls, seeing them bound to stones that were chained onto their backs, representative of something. With the Depraved not yet having seen them, the Circle quickly got to work.
They attempted to start looking for things within the main stone courtyard, starting to find Ritual Daggers and spectral chains within the bushes, along with a fugitive soul. Unfortunately their sleuthing was cut short as they were noticed by one Depraved ritualist and a tortured soul. The Silver Circle got no break, as their loud and explosive attacks against the Venthyr caused a chain reaction of combat, each passing group of the Depraved noticing the ruckus and joining in consequentially.
Eventually catching their breaths and checking their surroundings, the Circle was able to recuperate and resume their search. Tending to the fugitive soul, they found that the soul resigned themselves to the spectral chains, deducing that they would be safer within the hands of the Avowed. The group searched the large collection of corpses they had felled for other ritual materials, but they did not find much other than useless trinkets and pocket lint. After finding the previous Ritual Daggers, they started working on rescuing the other souls with the other spectral chains they had discovered.
Returning to Cezara, the Circle presented the Inquisitor with two Ritual Daggers, a somewhat torn-into Ritual Tome, and five rescued souls--the latter of which surprised the Venthyr a great deal. Incredibly pleased with the work the Circle had done, Cezara thanked the Kaldorei and took the souls into the Avowed's care, telling them to get their rest, for there was much that needed to be done.
Gathering once more in the Absolution Crypt, Cezara awaited the Circle to amass themselves before her. She detailed that the task she had for them was more arduous than simply retrieving ritual materials; they were to dispatch a Grand Inquisitor, namely a Grand Inquisitor Laurentiu. She explained that he had finally shown his face after hiding from mortal heroes within the Halls of Atonement, and thus directed the Circle to track down his Sinstone to make him vulnerable if they so chose, and to put an end to the power-hungry inquisitor once and for all.
Elaborating that in order to make use of a Sinstone they would need the aid of a Sin Reader, miniature gargoyles shaped by the Venthyr, the Circle managed to bribe such a one with the promise of anima in return on behalf of a void elf that had joined the Circle in their quest. The Sin Reader noted whose Sinstone they were to track down, and explained to those present that they knew where the Sinstone was in a general area of crypts, but were unsure where specifically it lay; the rest was a guessing game.
The group made quick work of deducing which crypt housed the Sinstone, as it was the one that did not open immediately. After the doors refused to budge, wipsy red magic formed a riddle upon the door that read:
“In Four Halls lay the restless dead, Peace by which their caretakers dread. Alongside the land, torn asunder, The murmuring screams howl like thunder. Sacred calling of Light abandoned for power, Searching the dead and the bones, they scour. Perverted rituals on consecrated ground, An afterlife of rest, these souls have not found.”
After deducing the answer of the place which the riddle begged, the doors to the crypt opened and the Circle retrieved Grand Inquisitor Laurentiu's Sinstone--but not before fending off three feral Ash Ghouls that were trapped within to guard the relic. Not escaping totally unscathed, the Circle took a moment to patch their more pressing wounds before continuing onward to face Laurentiu.
Grand Inquisitor Laurentiu expected the Circle's arrival, revealing he had been watching them from afar as they worked to locate him. He brandished four souls that were under his influence, looking incredibly worse for wear in spite of their amorphous appearances. The Sin Reader stopped him in his tracks, brandishing the Inquisitor's Sinstone and revealing his true name: Caeraad the Soulless. Around Caeraad's back formed a spectral version of the Sinstone, along with spectral chains that encircled him.
The Circle was able to take care of Caeraad quite quickly after the usage of his Sinstone made him all the more vulnerable to their attacks, but they were left with a shocking piece of information as Caeraad's last words taunted them all before he met his true death. “Cezara… that coward, using -mortals- to end me… How ironic, for she discarded many mortal souls in exchange… for power… to the Maw...”
Unsure how to navigate this information without solid evidence, Kelthos Moongale searched Caeraad's body and found a letter of correspondence between Cezara and Caeraad, cementing the information that she was once a Depraved herself and had abandoned Denathrius' forces. The Circle had come to an agreement that the next time they were to meet with Cezara, she would be questioned.
Laurentiu. I have nurtured you from the moment you were a soul placed into my care, advocating for your growth in the Ritual of Judgement. Since then you have been like a son to me, after I have named you. But I must confess. I have seen the gravity of the errors of our ways, shortly after the invasion of mortals into our pristine realm. Do not search for me. I only pray you evade the Master's gaze and come to your senses as well.
Having left their last meeting on a bit of a cliffhanger with Cezara not present within the Aboslution Crypt, Renoris addressed the Circle on how they could possibly confront the storied Inquisitor. With pensiveness and a guarded air about the group they awaited her return. Luckily enough, not too long after did Cezara return from her duties within the Halls of Atonement. She noted the Circle's presence, and could tell that they wished to speak with her which she surprisingly encouraged.
Confronted with the knowledge that the Circle was aware of her past within the ranks of the Depraved, Cezara resigned herself and asked the group of Kaldorei to follow her to enter a private chamber so that their discussion would not be interrupted. She revealed to the group that she had indeed been one of the Depraved, one of many who siphoned the very essences of repentant souls in order for power, and having cast many souls into the Maw for the same purpose. Cezara made it clear that she was not proud of her past, what with her presence within the ranks of the Avowed.
She besought the Circle to engage in a ritual to allow her to repent, not expecting their willingness as she was not owed any. Though largely apprehensive, the Circle more or less agreed to such, convinced by Knight Benjamin Grandblade's experience within Revendreth, and noting that since she had offered the group her Sinstone--a very personal and sacred artifact to each and every Venthyrr--that she was being honest and transparent in her request.
Gathering one of her Venthyr allies, Celora, and her Sin Reader, the ritual began. Cezara was named her true name, Alythea Nightstriker the Zealous, and manifestations of arrogance, egomania, and the like were summoned and quickly dispatched. As the ritual went on, the Circle was met with a horrific sight.
The manifestations that appeared to the Circle were not amorphous in nature, but clearly spectres of ancient Kaldorei with an ancient Eluniarian symbol upon their person. It was deduced that this symbol was of the first iteration of their order; The Silver Guard. By connecting the dots, it was evident that Cezara, previously known as Alythea Nightstriker, was a Highborne inquisitor of high rank within Azshara's Court, responsible for the ousting and execution of members of the Silver Guard, likely having executed the First Keeper as well.
The ritual was very taxing and ultimately, in spite of the traumatic and evocative images that were summoned because of it, the Circle had succeeded. Celora had approached Cezara and repeated that this was the first step of her atonement for her deeds in the afterlife, and the Circle had grown apprehensive to their enigmatic "ally". Though some were reluctant to keep working with her, they resigned themselves to one more ritual, involving the absolution of Tanefrun's consuming wrath.
In spite of the animosity borne of their last convening, Cezara awaited the Circle's gathering to begin the Ritual of Absolution. Entering the chamber and relieving Tanefrun's soul fragment of her chained position within, she led the wrath-consumed soul fragment through the enchanted mirror and began to explain how the ritual would work. She warned the Circle, as they would likely be interrupted by the remaining Depraved that lurk within the grounds of the Halls of Atonement.
Mythera, Mato'thryn, and Kelthos all joined Cezara in aiding the stream of anima that the Inquisitor would siphon out of the fragmented Tanefrun, the purpose of which being to siphon out the wrath that had festered within her. The rest of the group was tasked with either dispatching or soothing any of the manifestations of wrath that appeared as the ritual progressed. It would be no easy task, but the Circle--in spite of their hesitance to work with Cezara--was up to the challenge.
The ritual started out similar to when they made Cezara repent; manifestations began to appear. But with the work of the trio that channeled alongside the Inquisitor, the manifestations were somewhat tame initially and were easily dealt with. Only Renoris and Benjamin were those who attempted to soothe the manifestations when the ritual began.
As things progressed, more and more manifestations began to appear and the Circle almost became overwhelmed, but were able to take care of the remaining abberations. Unfortunately for them, the Depraved noticed what they were doing and rushed to put an end to the Ritual of Absolution. The group of five Depraved had their work cut out for them, however, stumbling over each other and immediately getting cut off by the Circle's group of defense.
Once the group of five Depraved were effectively met with their true deaths, Tanefrun's soul fragment--despite a good amount of the wrath within her being siphoned out--witnessed her father, Ben, get knocked down which summoned a greater manifestation of wrath. Instead of it being an amorphous being, it was as if it were a scene from her memories.
Tanefrun, within this wrath-tinged memory, knelt above the corpse of a recently slain Forsaken, the foliage indicative of Darkshore. Her eyes were wide and her hands were bloody, looking down at them and the first body she had slain. It was the origin of her deep seated wrath within the past few years, and the Circle finally got a glimpse. When this manifestation of memory appeared, the Circle entirely--including Ben, after getting healed back up--attempted to soothe the manifestation. Their efforts were successful, and Cezara was able to put an end to the siphoning of wrathful anima from Tanefrun's soul fragment.
After it all, Tanefrun's soul looked incredibly spent and weak... but she was not radiating such harmful energies any longer. Approached by Ben, she no longer held a feral look in her eyes, but recognition. Safely and securely, the Circle had retrieved the third fragment of Tanefrun's soul.
Their next stop was Bastion.
#14756734 Jul 12, 2021 at 01:17 PM · Edited 11 months ago
Reconvening in Oribos, Silversworn Renoris Feathersong quickly briefed the gathered members of the Circle of the next realm they were to enter: Bastion. Not knowing much, the ranger only explained that it was, supposedly, a much nicer realm than their previous expeditions of Maldraxxus and Revendreth. After passing through the Anima Gate which Renoris had secured travel through, the Circle was met face to face with such a realm. Rolling fields of golden wheat and peaceful skies, it was the first time the Circle had not entered a realm with ominous and foreboding feelings. Immediately, they were welcomed by a winged being who had later introduced themselves as Polymnia, one of the Ascended of Bastion.
The Circle got right to the point; they were looking for an incomplete soul, one who had not necessarily passed on just yet. Polymnia knew of such a one, and guided the band of mortals to the Aspirant's Crucible. It was there in this large, expansive marbled pavillion that they were met with a large congregation of Kyrian Aspirants, feathered Stewards, and Azerothian souls wandering the grounds. Though, one had stood out in particular, her form recognizable almost immediately. It was Tanefrun.
Before approaching the fragment they had been searching for, Polymnia was questioned on what Bastion's role in the Shadowlands offered each new soul that entered the realm. The Ascended explained that all souls within Bastion must walk the Path, facing their memories and shedding their mortal burdens to one day ascend as a Kyrian, aiding in the sacred purpose of safely ferrying souls to the Arbiter to then be placed in an afterlife befitting them.
The topic of forgotten memories created the seeds for discourse within the members of the Circle, some of them keen on forgetting some memories, others outright angry at the concept. Polymnia encouraged the mortal band to reconvene with the one they had lost, but stated that she was not ready to be taken as is. Her fragmented soul was weighed down significantly by the burdens of her memories, ones that grant her pain. She elaborated that she must face her memories and shed what pain haunts her before she could ever be siphoned into the Soulkeeper.
Quickly did the Circle congregate on the opposite side of the small pond where Tanefrun sat, awaiting her recognition of them. Slowly she realized that there were people on the other end, and after a little while she ran over in surprise, wondering why they were even here. The group realized that this fragment of Tanefrun's soul held her consciousness, no doubt affected even moreso by the memories she held. Tanefrun's fragmented soul revealed she did not remember much details of her capture by the Mawsworn and her appearance within Bastion, but did indeed get nightmares and "visions" of what she endured. The Circle at large expressed their concern and desire to stay alongside Tanefrun's soul during their stay within Bastion.
Polymnia approached the group, noting that they wished to keep in close quarters with Tanefrun's soul fragment. She revealed a map, offering the Circle a place to stay within the northern reaches of Bastion and telling the Circle she would send a Steward for them and would soon find them with the next steps of healing Tanefrun's spirit. She relayed that they should meditate on their purpose within this realm of death as they traveled to the enclave which she highlighted for them. Tanefrun took the map and began to lead them, curious as to what Bastion looked like beyond the Aspirant's Crucible and Aspirant's Rest.
As the group walked, Tanefrun's conscious soul fragment hesitantly asked what the group's travels were like within the Shadowlands, and what the other fragments of herself were like--as she had revealed ever since her capture and subsequent torture within Torghast, she felt empty. The Circle had offered a multitude of answers regarding both questions, none of them exactly reassuring.
The Circle entered a flowering crag that looked much different than the golden plains they had walked through, surrounded by glittering ponds and serene air. They arrived at the place marked on the map, reaching an enclave protected by a small pond. From beneath the water, stepping stones rose from the bottom to allow the members of the Circle to walk across the surface and enter the enclave. They were met with a cozy shrine of sorts where a Steward awaited them, playing a flute and greeting them all. They introduced themselves as Elpis, saying that Polymnia had sent them here to accompany them in this enclave.
The group was encouraged to rest and set themselves up within the enclave and prepare for their journey within this serene realm.
With having set themselves up in the enclave where they were guided to, Polymnia had reached out ahead of time and beckoned them to Aspirant's Rest, where they were to convene and discuss the methods of viewing and understanding the burdens of Tanefrun's memories. The Ascended relayed to the Circle that they would travel north to the Mnemonic Locus, which would allow the Circle to do such. Benjamin worried that the process would be intrusive for a soul that hadn't passed just yet, but Polymnia calmly asserted that there was no choice; it was the only way to gain intimate knowledge of these burdens, and for the Circle to truly understand the gravity of these memories; and thus, why they could not just siphon her into the Soulkeeper at that very moment.
After traversing to the Mnemonic Locus, Polymnia explained that all Tanefrun had to do was step up to one of the platforms in front of the mirrors surrounding the Locus, and it would tap into the core memories that her fragmented self had been so thoroughly attached to and affected by. Initially hesitant with reliving what she "dreamed" of whilst within Bastion, she looked behind herself at the members of the Circle for reassurance, and was promised she would be okay.
Once bolstered by her friends and allies, she began. As she attuned with the mirror, she entered a trance-like state as her memories took form.
Kneeling onto the first platform, the Circle witnessed the moment where Tanefrun learned of the death of her late adoptive father, Ashraf, a draenei Vindicator. The Locus mirror had projected this memory in the form of three-dimensional figures, seeing both Tanefrun and the Lightforged who had to give her the news of Ashraf's death. The palpable emotions of grief and vengeance affected a few members of the Circle who looked upon the memory. The memory itself shifted and showed the desolate landscape of Argus, along with a cloaked Tanefrun slaying demons to exact vengeance for her father's death. The projections of the demons turned their attentions on the Circle, and they were quickly dispatched.
The second memory was one all too painfully familiar for many of the Circle. This projected memory of Tanefrun was huddled within the inner cabins of the Moonspray, the ship that had sailed the Circle away from the destruction of the War of Thorns and to sanctuary in the Eastern Kingdoms. She was catatonic, and the sounds of the War of Thorns echoed within the memory. More than a few members of the Circle were plagued with the emotions of shock and anger that emanated from the memory, reliving traumatic scenes of their own, fabricated by the strength of what they felt.
The third memory took place within Terokkar Forest, where Tanefrun had tracked down the mutant warp stalker known as the Magic Eater. In this memory, Tanefrun was already beaten and bloodied, barely able to defend herself. The projection of the giant warp stalker turned its violent attentions on the group, its form radiating powerful void magic. A strong pulse of this magic radiated outwards, affecting nearly all the members of the Circle present. Those that were struck by this magical attack suffered altered visions of reality, each pertaining to their own memories that were thus warped to instill fear. None of these visions were pleasant. The memory came to a close after the Magic Eater dealt the wound upon Tanefrun's face that gave her her scars, and each member of the group present felt such upon their own faces as a phantom pain.
The fourth and final memory was of Tanefrun's descent to madness in the lands of Uldum, during N'Zoth's attempts of recreating the Black Empire. Initially, the Locus mirror could only project darkness. All the Circle could hear were the layered whispers of the void egging on Tanefrun's violence and hatred, and the futile cries for help within the Aspirant's own mind. The incredible fear and panic within this memory alone were able to take form as void manifestations, slowly forming in order to assail the group. This startled Polymnia, who immediately called to the Circle to shut down the Mnemonic Locus.
After successfully shutting down the Locus, Tanefrun's soul fragment was drained from the experience and was nearly unable to come to. She gathered herself with the help of her allies, and looked to Polymnia who reminded her of the ritual of facing her memories and that she should think about what she should do to prepare herself for it. The young Aspirant nodded, clearly contemplating it further after having experienced these core, traumatic memories once again.
Still recovering from and coming to terms with the arduous task that had been viewing Tanefrun’s memories through the Mnemonic Locus, the Circle gathered within Aspirant’s Rest at the request of Tanefrun herself. The young Aspirant’s soul fragment had been struggling under the weight and fear of her memories- no doubt exacerbated by coming face to face with them in such a direct manner- and after witnessing the suffering endured by the Circle’s members as a result of the impact of the Mnemonic Locus’ visions, Tanefrun wished to do something to quickly confront such memories and thus allow her to finally go home.
The young Aspirant revealed to the Circle that in her time within Bastion she had heard of a ritual designed to confront one’s memories and cleanse the soul of their burden without forgetting them entirely. This ritual was traditionally a later step in the Path of the Kyrian, but Tanefrun wished to complete it immediately so that no more suffering would need to be endured for her sake. Additionally, the aspirant wished to face it alone- feeling as though too many times had the others gotten hurt on her account. She wished to face this trial herself.
With their Kyrian guide Polymnia not present and entirely unaware of the aspirant’s plan, the Circle briefly discussed the situation, as well as many voicing their concerns for Tanefrun’s safety. They reaffirmed that she need not conduct such a ritual alone, and they were all prepared to endure whatever trials may lay ahead in order to help her and bring her home safely. Tanefrun was emboldened by this, but remained firm on her stance of completing as much of the ritual as she could on her own. The Circle finally agreed and settled that they would step in should the need arise but otherwise leave her to conduct the ritual and face her memories herself.
Setting out through the Aspirant’s Crucible to what was known as the Cave of First Reflection, the Circle entered a chamber filled with mirrors reminiscent of those at the Mnemonic Locus. Standing at the edge of the chamber, the expedition party let Tanefrun move on ahead, where she then faced each of the mirrors for a moment and reflected upon her memories and what she feared. Though it was clear that the aspirant grew more weary and troubled as she faced each of the three mirrors, no outward projections became visible to the rest of those gathered like they had at the Locus. Taking her place at the center of the chamber between all three mirrors, Tanefrun kneeled down and fell into a deep trance as she reflected upon and faced her memories. However it soon became apparent that the weight of her memories were simply too much to face alone, and the young Aspirant became overwhelmed by her inner turmoil as manifestations of her fears began to form within the chamber. Noticing that these manifestations- who all spoke in the cowering voice of Tanefrun herself- were not hostile, the Circle quickly ran to the Aspirant’s aid, each working to soothe the manifestations of her fears and set them at ease. It was of little use however, as the manifestations continued to form and soon threatened to overwhelm the chamber.
As such manifestations began to first form and take place, the Circle had heard a distant warhorn sound outside of the cave. Curious and concerned, Silversworn Kelthos Moongale left the chamber to stand watch outside and attempt to discern what was transpiring within the Aspirant’s Crucible. He soon saw that the crucible was under attack by dark Kyrian, reminiscent of the Mawsworn encountered by some members of the Circle on previous occasions and those that had first captured Tanefrun- though these were slightly different. Failing to remain discreet enough, Kelthos was quickly spotted and assailed by five of these dark Kyrian- two of which easily flew past the hunter and down into the ritual chamber itself, followed by a further one who also managed to slip past Kelthos’ defences.
With Tanefrun remaining in a stupor and Manifestations of fear still overwhelming the chamber, the Circle was now faced with a new threat who appeared especially interested in Tanefrun’s soul fragment. Knight Benjamin Grandblade and Silversworn Renoris Feathersong, fearing the worst and anticipating another capture of the young Aspirant, the two rallied the Silversworn that remained in the chamber to shift their focus from the manifestations to the defense of Tanefrun’s soul.
Those closest to the young Aspirant quickly worked to wake her from her stupor and pull her out of the ritual’s reflective state as their assailants neared, and soon after a brief scuffle ensued. One of the three dark Kyrian, then identified as Forsworn by Benjamin Grandblade, had been killed in the fight- but at his death the remaining two swiftly carried out what had been their plan from the start. Flying overhead the Circle and swooping down, one of the remaining two Forsworn grabbed the soul fragment of Tanefrun and flew out of the Chamber with her in tow. Once again, she had been kidnapped.
Distraught and enraged, Renoris Feathersong sped after the fleeing Forsworn- pursuing them until he disappeared from the Circle’s sight. The two Forsworn that remained at the entrance of the cave fled alongside the one which carried Tanefrun, leaving only the last of the five who remained cornered and cut off. Instructed by a suddenly seething and vengeful Ben Grandblade, the Circle opted to keep this Forsworn alive in order to interrogate them. After a brief and painful series of questions which offered no information, Ben placed the Forsworn under a mind control spell and brought them back to Aspirants rest where they would be questioned further to hopefully yield better results.
Tanefrun, as well as Renoris who had chased after her, were nowhere to be found.
Following the events of the previous day, Renoris Feathersong had returned to the Circle’s enclave with news of Tanefrun’s whereabouts. Gathered outside the entrance to their camp, Renoris stood by the side of Polymnia who had brought the Silver Circle and its allies together to convey what she had been told by Renoris, as well as update the Circle on what this information meant. Polymnia disclosed that Tanefrun had been taken to the Citadel of Loyalty- the Forsworn’s centre of operations within Bastion- where she was likely being held a ways into the citadel in order to have her memories exploited and overwhelmed, making her a tool of the Forsworn. Knowing haste was of the essence, the Silver Circle began to make their way to the Citadel of Loyalty in search of Tanefrun, where Polymnia began to inform them of the Forsworn and their ideology on the way.
After a tense journey filled with philosophical questions regarding the necessity of the Kyrian’s methods regarding memory removal, the rescue team finally arrived at the Citadel of Loyalty. Forming a quick strategy, it was decided that the Circle would proceed deeper into the Citadel stealthily, searching for Tanefrun while Polymnia would provide them with air support and ensure they were not overwhelmed by any ascended Forsworn. They pressed on, moving as quietly as they could- however despite their efforts they were soon spotted by a small group of 2 Forsworn aspirants and an Ascended captain. After a brief fight, the Circle quickly dealt with the Forsworn attackers before they were able to alert any others, and so they continued their search for the missing aspirant.
Pushing further, Knight Benjamin Grandblade was able to sense the presence of Tanefrun’s anima nearby, unstable and overwhelmed by fear from her memories. With the trail finally caught, the rescue team rushed on where they were quickly met with the sight of Tanefrun being subjected to a ritual at the hands of two ascended Forsworn. The soul fragment’s memories had been exacerbated and taken advantage of in order to be harnessed for the Forsworn's cause, plunging the young aspirant into a weak daze- overwhelmed by the fears that stemmed from her memories. Her soul fragment, once a vibrant sky blue, had turned dull and purple- much like the Kyrian who had joined the Forsworn’s ranks.
In what quickly became a rather merciless, vicious fight between the rescuers and the Forsworn (with many members of the rescue team fuelled by anger, most notably Benjamin Grandblade and Renoris Feathersong), the Circle spared no time in trying to swiftly deal with the two Forsworn who had conducted the ritual. Heavily outnumbering and- as was soon seen- overpowering the two Forsworn, some members of the Circle drew their focus away from the Forsworn in order to tend to the overburdened soul of Tanefrun. Taking advantage of the nearby soothing vespers found throughout Bastion, Tanefrun’s weakened, unstable state was mended to some degree however the damage done by the ritual yet remained. She would have to be aided further at a later time once she was truly free from the clutches of the Forsworn.
The circle continued to battle against the two ascended Forsworn, coordinating such an assault to deal devastating and vicious blows to the two Kyrian. Weak and near death, one hardly able to speak after having their throat bitten out by the teeth of Benjamin Grandblade, the two quickly surrendered for their lives. After a brief and nearly unanimous discussion, the Circle determined that their lives would be spared, Ben Grandblade angrily wishing the Forsworn to live with the regret and sorrow that would surely come after realising the extent of what they had done for their cause, and the suffering they had put Tanefrun through. It was at this time that Polymnia was able to reconvene with the Circle, where she acknowledged that the lives of the two Forsworn had been spared and thanked them for doing so. She informed the Circle that she would take the two away in order for them to be rehabilitated and see the error of their ways, so that they may hopefully rejoin The Path again.
With Tanefrun safe but weakened, she was escorted back to the Circle’s enclave to rest. She would need it, for she would soon have to undergo another ritual in order to fully reverse what the Forsworn had done and heal her soul before it was too late.