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Author: Desolator Atherozan of The Heart of Ice
Atherozan comes awake all in one go, woken not by sunrise or by screams but by an odd, deep unease that prickles his spine. Even in Homeworld shaper intuition was legendary - the gut instinct, the hunch, the bad feeling about this - and here in Outworld, where the very fabric of reality is moulded to the shapers' wills, it pays to trust it.
He heads to his solarium, and checks the wards.
The runes are … not broken. There's no damage here, no enemy, no incursion. But they're creaking nonetheless, as if taking up the strain of something that has failed elsewhere. Dissonance, perhaps, in some other monarch's territory? But the Imperatrix dealt with that, after that vigorous conversation at the last Nexus.
A battle between shapers, perhaps, as it used to be ...
Atherozan spins a bowl out of the ever-present ice with one gesture; another fills it with ink, which immediately begins to freeze around its edges.
Start with the Sovereign, as the most likely target for an attack. He speaks the words of power. The ink bubbles, clears, and shows him a vision of fairytale towers. No; the Steadfast is fine, her territory still peacefully asleep. The Carrion-Queen? No; the Wyrdwood is quiescent. Who else has enemies?
Everyone, of course, but some more than others ...
Best simply to work through the list. The bowl flickers through tiny fish-eyed views of fantastical lands, bright and colourful as painted miniatures. Ah. There is - not damage, but concern. Others who are awake.
The Brightheart is arming in their flower-garden, as a captain of the guard gives urgent orders to the sworn Companions.
The Banshee Queen taps ash-pale fingers on the arm of her obsidian throne and calls for her sword.
The Guardian of Valtaria finishes braiding up their hair, the better for battle, and pulls on white gauntlets.
The realm that used to be Torment gives him pause. The great chains hang coiled at the fortress edge, but there is a silence in the valley that tastes bitter. The Wielder of Dragonsfire himself is unrevealed: is he with his dragons or his legion? Already gone in search of this strangeness' source?
No matter; the damage is not in the Archon's realm. Move on.
Atherozan calls up the image of the Wastes of Ash and Bone, or tries. The ink fights him, surface fizzing and bubbling. Blue flame limns the edges of the bowl. Finally, bending all his power to the task, the picture forms: the throne room of the great Necropolis, all gold and basalt, and down the centre of the marble floor a yawning crevasse, that even in the scrying-bowl radiates wrongness.
The image holds only for a moment, and then the bowl shatters.
The Heart of Ice deflects the rain of shards and ink with an upraised hand, and then stops. On the frosted flagstones, the ink is coiling itself into symbols. It is the kind of display that is trivial for a shaper; but he is not conjuring it, and there are no other shapers here ...
H̩̦ͥ̾͋ͣ͐̿͘͝W̶̠̰̔̒̏̏͆̕Ṡ̭̫̺̰̤͍̖͔͋͐̚E̶͚͖̜̹̥̳̬̓̐̀̚͠ ͕̼̦͙̯̦̰͚͋̇͗̚͘͟U͙͓̔ͯW̴̲̏͗͋̀̏͑̒̂ͭY̢̛͙̣̰̯͖͚̫͉ͮ̐̾͒͜ ̟̣̲̠͎͈̩̰̌ͩ̓ͫ͒ͭͩ͢ͅẈ̡͍̖̱̙̪̅́ͬͯ̉ͤ̍͂̇͞V̺̙̙͉̓ͤR̗̲̥͋̓ͦͪ̇̌̒ͅ ̲͉͔̯͖͙̫̂ͪ̇ͫE͗̓̎҉͍̮̦̮̻̠̘́Ḇ̡͈͕͔̪ͨ̈́ͥ̅͛͋ ̱̣͍̪͐͐ͭͦBͧͫͯ̏͑ͭ͜͏͎̬Ë̡̬̭̰͈́̈͐͆ͪ̚͜S̢̱͓̠̞͆͛ ̩̟̼͂͒ͦ̈ͪͬ͠͞V̺̳͙̄͛ͣ̉ͣR̼͍̠̭͇͈͖ͮ̎ͤ͑ͮ͡F̨͈̬͖̅ͨ͂̿S͍͈̳̑ͭ́̉͐ͅD̡̲̳̯͙̏̕ ̛̟̱͕̺̽̀ͧ͐ͩ̇ͬͪ ̠̮͛ͤͭͫ̓ ̱̹̩̘̣̳̼͚ͪ̈́͂̐͒ͮ͌ ̴͉̖͇͈̦͓̫̾͌͐͗̋ͨ ̸͍̰̗̥̺̙̳̑̒̚̚