“Greetings, Empyrean Overbeing. I come to you with news of use to yourself.” said Claude the Virindi, who still maintained that he was just another Isparian and the Archmage of Ayan Baqur. Nobody had the heart to tell Claude that his assumed disguise had never fooled even Ulgrim, let alone the adventurous visitors to Ayan Baqur.
“Greetings, Claude. What news do you bring this day?” Asheron wondered what it was that could bring Claude all the way to his island. It was rare for Claude to leave his self-assigned post as a magical supplies vendor.
“During my... studies... into Portalspace, with my fellow meat-bag mages, we managed to locate a small number of entities matching your general characteristics. We have heard that you seek such fellows, and wished to impart to you the knowledge needed to find said beings.” As Claude spoke, a small black crystal emerged from ones of his sleeves and floated over to Asheron. “This missive contains the location information necessary to access said entities.”
Asheron couldn't believe his luck; after what seemed like ages searching for his lost kin, Claude, of all beings, managed to find a small pocket of Empyreans trapped in Portalspace! And then came to tell him how to reach it! This was far too good to be true. Asheron carefully suppressed his growing hope for a moment and asked, “Are you positive, Claude?”
“Were they... alive, when you found them?”
“Inspection found them to have continued biological activity, but dormant... I mean, they seemed asleep.”
Asheron held the small shard gingerly while he continued. “And this message shard contains what I need to find them?”
“Query: Have I ever lied to you or given you reason not to trust this simple Archmage?”
Asheron suppressed a smile as he answered, “No, Claude, you have not.” He still wasn't sure if he should trust Claude, but he had gotten the Virindi's help in the past, and he had always been straight and to the point in those dealings. “Thank you for this. If I can free even a small number of my people, it is a great boon to me.”
“You are welcome, Empyrean Asheron... I hope this information serves you well.”
“It will, Claude, it will.”
As Claude floated back out to the courtyard and ripped a hole into Portalspace, Asheron set to drawing the needed information out of the message shard. He found the information surprisingly complete. In all his years of searching, he had never considered asking one of the friendlier, independent Virindi for aid. Now he all but cursed himself a fool for not doing so sooner. Portalspace was the Virindis native home, and none knew it better. Once this pocket of Empyreans was freed, he'd have to ask Claude for help in locating the rest.
As he walked to his Circle, deep under the castle tower, Asheron pondered the best ritual layout to carefully and delicately access this deep portion of Portalspace. He'd have to take several extra precautions opening even a small portal so deep into the swirling mess of Portalspace, especially if he didn't want to potentially disturb whatever was keeping those he wanted to save alive and asleep.
Two days of preparations, castings, and magical rites later, he was prepared to extract the group of Empyreans from their slumbering tomb. Asheron quickly reviewed the information, as well as his preparations and defenses, just to be safe. Once he was satisfied that he had covered all foreseeable problems he began the ritual itself.
For the first hour of the magical rite, everything went perfectly. It had been quite some time since he had manipulated Portalspace in this way, and he was pleased that all of the old memories came back unbidden. Then, unexpectedly, everything shifted; some outside force began assaulting the magical lattice he had created to stabilize the deep section of Portalspace so he could open a portal to it directly. Asheron triggered the first line of prepared defenses, and then the second, as the assault continued.
Asheron could not identify the force attacking his spells, but it proved to be quite powerful and was still unweaving his magics even through the now-disintegrating defensive magics. The tactics that the force used seemed somewhat akin to what he knew of the Virindi, but skewed somehow, like they knew exactly which threads of power to pluck from the magical latticework and which places his defenses would be the weakest. Asheron scrambled to keep the magics stable, but as he did, something else shifted...
As best as he could tell, later, he had managed to unweave the effect before any permanent harm could come to him or his destination. The effort, however, had left him unconscious on the floor of his own Circle, where his Guardians had found him and moved him to his chambers to recover. As soon as he was obviously awake, one of his Emissaries approached his bedside and waited to be acknowledged.
“Speak, Emissary. What do you have for me?”
“Lord Asheron, a large disturbance was detected in the local Portalspace field around the time of your rituals. We have received several reports that the portal network connecting the more populated areas of Dereth has destabilized completely.”
“A decent number of portals have failed, M'Lord.”
Asheron sighed sullenly. “I see. Thank you. Emissary. I'll attend to it immediately.” He slowly rose from bed and brushed the worst of the wrinkles from his robes. “Inform Queen Elysa that I'll be needing to speak to the Council, and get Prince Borelean and his wife for me.”
“As you wish, Lord Asheron,” said the Emissary. He bowed and left the room.
Asheron mumbled to no one in particular as he walked slowly to his library. “Well, I guess the rescue will have to wait until I can undo the damage and figure out what in blazes that was that attacked the ritual.”
“Perfect. All is going just as I foresaw...”