This was written primarily by one Sarcanna de Roux.
I trust Kirase more than I do de Roux. Tarquin’s warning rang through Aely’s head as she followed the familiar path along the lush grasses of the Mage district. Kirase hates my guts, but she’s at least predictable. De Roux is all niceness an’ manners, but I’ve seen her work. She didn’t know exactly what kind of “work” she’d be seeing, but hopefully a visit to someone’s apartment to talk about a book wasn’t going to get her bled dry on the carpet for a summoning. Besides, Yva Darrows had sort of cornered the market on “unhinged warlock shit”, and even she was fairly benign when it came to talking shop, if you had the stomach for that sort of thing. It was just when she was trying to perform unhinged warlock shit that things got sketchy.
Sarcanna de Roux’s townhouse wasn’t far from the University, but it was definitely in a different part of town. It wasn’t the arcane-laden finery of the area around the Blue Recluse, but it wasn’t the Slaughtered Lamb either. By all accounts, this block of townhouses was fairly straightforward looking, and Aely could easily see any of the professors from the university happily living there. She followed along the row until she came to the building with the appropriate street number, let herself through the little gate, and rapped firmly on the little door knocker. She noted idly that it was shaped like a proud Stormwind Lion carrying a ring in his teeth, which juxtaposed nicely with the sorts of magic that probably happened inside, and waited to see if the building’s creepy inhabitant was at home.
The door swung open on well oiled hinges, revealing a long corridor leading into the townhouse. Paintings hung between the doorways, small tables with a scattering of curios; sculptures of birds, crystal wine glasses, miscellaneous books. The hallway, however, was devoid of any persons. Aely blinked and glanced about and back down the hallway, before looking down. Holding the door open was de Roux’s void spirit… servant? It beckoned her with one claw once it had her attention, before turning and bobbing further into the hall. Aely shrugged and stepped into the house.
The spirit led her down the hallway, to the stairs leading up to the first floor. They ascended, and at the landing the spirit gestured towards one of the many doors leading from the landing. Aely stepped forward, gripping the doorknob. She looked over her shoulder to the spirit, who did its best approximation at a nod. She stepped inside.
The library appeared much bigger than the size of the townhouse would’ve suggested. Shelves lined all four walls, reaching all the way to the raised ceiling. Books crammed the shelves wherever they could be fit, and stacks on the floor made of those which did not fit. Ladders hung off rails, allowing access to the very top-most shelves. A great desk sat in the middle of the room, piled high with books, papers, inkwells and quills, paperweights and knick knacks; all the accoutrements of academic study with a dark twist. Candles cast guttering light from candelabra and a chandelier hanging from the tall ceiling. A stand in the corner stood draped in the crow-themed robes the warlock habitually wore – the crow-skull mask hanging off-kilter from it.
Standing on one of the ladders, about halfway up the rungs, stood the sorcerer in question: Sarcanna de Roux. Dressed in simple breeches, shirt with sleeves rolled up, and a vest, she cut a much less… intimidating figure than she did dressed fully in her crow-themed regalia. Her silver hair pulled back in a short ponytail, she had been in the process of reorganising a number of titles before Aely had entered the room. Turning at the sound of the door, de Roux looked down from her perch and smiled.
“Ah, madam Caltrains. How good of you to have come so promptly.”
The woman’s cultured tones gave no indication of her origins, instead merely marking her as one who had come from an expensive education. She slid lightly down the ladder and came over to where Aely stood in the doorway, dusting her hands on her thighs as she approached. With the same banal smile, she offered the paladin her hand.
Aely glanced at the proffered hand cautiously for the briefest second before grasping it in return.
If she had noticed the hesitation, she did not show it. Her smile widened to show the barest hint of teeth, and she waved her hand as if she was brushing imaginary motes aside.
“Please, madam Caltrains, in here you can call me Sarcanna.”
She turned and gestured to the study’s desk, piled high with parchment and thick tomes.
“I imagine you wish to get to the core of the matter with haste, but before I regale you with the details of what I have found, do you wish any refreshment? Tea, wine?”
Aely broached half a smile. “I’ll call ye Sarcanna if ye’ll call me Aely. An’ tea would be lovely, if ye dinna mind.”
“Of course then, Aely.” de Roux turned back to the door. “Librarian? Tea, if you would. The proper stuff, not what we generally serve to visitors.”
She faced Aely again. “Now; let’s get to it, shall we?”
Sarcanna walked to her desk, pulling the great chair out with a touch more ease than one would have expected. Before she sat down, she moved a smaller, dining room chair around beside her own, to allow an additional person to oversee what was displayed across the desk. Sitting down, Sarcanna scooted the chair in, placed a small pair of ivory and crystal optics on the bridge of her nose, and steepled her fingers over the mess of papers and inks. The paladin sat in the dining chair, putting on a pair of small, oval glasses of her own. They looked a bit out of place on her otherwise generally strong and capable looking frame, but Sarcanna pretended not to notice.
“Now; what I have found. First off, I have managed to successfully translate all the notes in all the papers you gave me. Like I surmised earlier, they are the notes taken in study of separate tome; the On Concordance Of the Shifting Ways. A copy of which I have as of yet been unable to get my hands on. However, I have been able to piece together a lot from these notes, and references to the On Concordance in other volumes I own.”
The void spirit Oriax returned carrying a platter; on which sat a porcelain teapot, milk jug, sugar bowl, and matching teacups. It placed the platter on a small stool, and began fussing about with cups and silver teaspoons. Sarcanna shuffled some of the loose pieces of parchment containing Arrens’ scratchy handwriting, pointing to examples as she spoke.
“At its most basic, the On Concordance is what is generally termed a ‘libram ex nihilus’ – that is to say, a work penned by either something from the Void, or by a mortal ghostwriting for such an author. Caltrains’ notes don’t make it clear which, but I would say at this juncture that is a moot point.”
Sarcanna pushed the optics back up to the bridge of her nose, shuffled the papers, and began gesturing to other writing – Arrens’ notes, supplemented further by Sarcanna’s translations and notes. The tea had apparently finished brewing, as the void spirit was pouring tea from the pot into the teacups.
“More specifically, the work is a manual, a guide for acquiring greater power of the Fel and the Nether, for denizens of our world and the Broken one. I would wager a large sum that the On Concordance was traded for by a mortal sorcerer of our plane from a being of the Nether. Quite a risky proposition; that may indeed be why this book found itself… without a scholar.”
The tinkle of silverware against porcelain interrupted de Roux’s monologue. The Librarian bobbed over to the desk, carrying two teacups. It handed one to each of the women, and retreated back out the door to… nowhere? Sarcanna barely acknowledged the spirit as she took the tea and had a sip, before continuing.
“Unlike most tomes of its kind, it appears that the On Concordance was concerned with the three main foundations of the Triad of Fel magic; flame, darkness, and the enslaved. The book was, or is, three separate volumes in one. Each devoted to one of the foundations, with instructions, rituals, maps, commands, and Light knows what else – all with the sole purpose of wringing greater power out of a conjunction of location, sorcery, and will.”
The paladin across from her paused slightly, teacup in midair, but aside from a hitch in the gesture, made no move to interrupt.
“Now, most of this I had to surmise based on my research on the title in other tomes I own that reference the On Concordance. Caltrains’ notes are entirely focused on one of the volumes; on the enslaving of Nether and Void entities.”
De Roux snorted in derision.
“The conceit of those who bind and attempt to control beasts with free will? With alien cunning and an infinite desire for revenge? I have nothing but contempt for demonologists.”
Sarcanna glanced up from the parchments to the other woman.
“No offense meant to you and yours however, of course.”
Aely nodded, with little emotion registering behind her carefully impassive face. “None taken.”
“So Caltrains’ notes are entirely concerned with the volume on demonology. It appears that the tome is concerned with a ritual which involves the summoning and binding of multiple Nether entities – no mean feat on its own – and then consuming them to fuel the sorcerer’s own ascension. Ascension which is not elaborated upon, sadly. I’m curious as to what the devouring of multiple demons would accomplish specifically…”
Sarcanna cleared her throat slightly, and continued.
“The ritual, such as it is, requires a locale of strong attunement to both the void, and the practice of summoning and enslaving the denizens thereof. This,” Sarcanna jabbed down at the scrawl with a finger, like a dagger.
“There are a few locales which fit these particular requirements. In Azeroth, there is the Altar of Storms in the Blasted Lands and the Burning Steppes, remains of covens in the Twilight Highlands, and certain hidden burrows and lairs in the ruins of the lands of Lordaeron.”
The pale woman drained the remaining tea in her cup, and placed it absently on top of a haphazard stack of dusty books. The void spirit Oriax manifested itself again, taking the teacup and returning it to the serving tray.
“In the lands of Kalimdor, there is the Mannoroc scar in Desolace, Demon Fall Canyon in the kaldorei forests, and Darkwhisper Gorge on the slopes of Mount Hyjal. Through the Portal in the Broken world, there is the weak barrier between the planes in the Netherstorm, the altars of Guldan in Shadowmoon, and the ruins of the necropolis of Auchindoun. There are also the other Planes of existence; specifically, the Plane of Elemental Fire.”
Sarcanna steepled her fingers again.
“Unfortunately, I cannot be any more specific than that. There is a lot of potential locations, and none of the notes taken by Caltrains indicate which he was interested in, or even what locales are more likely than the others. It appears that more specific research, or tracking, is required from this point.”
Sarcanna straightened the sheaves of papers and straightened her posture in her chair. Removing the optics from the bridge of her nose, she turned to face Aely.
“Despite not having a distinct answer for you, I believe I have provided you with new avenues of investigation. Now, there is only to decide what your next step is to be, no?” Sarcanna raised an eyebrow in mock askance.
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