The walk through the storm is as harrowing as ever. You spend an entire day trudging through the wind and rain, struggling to keep your footing on the slick ground and straining to keep from being blown away. Your robe snaps in the howling gale, and somehow, underneath it, a pulsing roar you don’t think you’re hearing with your ears.
The towers of Banaedoor are just as you left them at the eye of the storm. Rubble is strewn about from the few shattered towers, and the wreckage of the elven airship still lies, broken, at the foot of Luke’s Tower. The pulsing roar of what you expect must be magic grows louder as the howling of the wind slackens, and you begin to feel the tranquility at the eye of the spiritual storm you felt first on Blacknose’s ship.
You head first to Luke’s Tower and study the arcane scrawl of the linked portal in the basement, adding it to your list of available destinations. You peek into the demons’ room, but the altar has been deactivated. No lukosian owns this tower, so the demons’ obligations have been fulfilled. You hesitate, then turn to head upstairs; installing demons here would negate your claim to Miriliclyn. Not a decision to be made on a whim.
You head upstairs, linger briefly in the laboratory on the top floor, then head out onto the roof. The docks of the aviary stand empty, and when you walk to the edge of their wooden planks, you can see the storm in its full glory. A wall of cloud and rain rages in constant motion, and you can see it in full panorama around the ring of towers that are the birthplace of the lukosians. Flashes of lightning arc between the clouds, and the rolling roar of thunder from bolts miles deep in the storm are clearly audible over the roar of the wind. And still, through it all, is the deep, pulsing beat of something more powerful yet.
But your mind wanders. Just one flight of stairs below are the secrets of the elven research into flight. And with one ritual, you can join Shadow Aerin and assist with her reasearch in progress on the border regions between life and death. The spells in the storm thrum all around you, but you have your claws into so much groundbreaking research, you suddenly begin to question your goals.
The freewheeling days of your adventuring are on hold, and you know you have to finally choose your area of research. So much has happened since a clumsy apprentice was banished to a desert island to die. Now you stand ready to make your name in the scholarly circles of the lukosians. You know who you are, but now you have to decide who you’re going to be, and the realization seems almost more harrowing than the march through the spellstorm. What do you really want? And where do you go from here?
As I sit on the edge of the tower, I wonder briefly if I know a spell to keep from getting struck by lightning, just as lightning arcs across the storm-swept sky. All of those elven notes on flying just down the stairs. Erroneus on many levels, likely, but holding keys to several new revelations. (Thunder reverberates through the towers.) Of course Shadow Aerin’sresearch is likely futile, but nothing is more fascinating, and potentially groundbreaking, than futile research. (The wind heaves a mighty gust, threatening to unsettle the robed wolf.) Then again, I could always redouble my research into the cleric magics. It would be particularly useful if I continue to keep Butch’s company. (Lightning flashes, encompassing the world in a brilliant flare.) The flying research would be applicable to more than just ships, of course. Such powerful magics could be used to… (Thunder.) Erwin seemed to be making headway in the research, even if his methods were questionable. I’m sure the reverse of it would merely be a matter of… (Wind.) The healing magic is such a different study from the rest. I wonder if… (A day passes, as Aerin’s thoughts flitter with the eratic storm. Lightning.) …fly whole towers even, and… (Thunder) …adjusting for proper inverse variations… (Wind) …there is crossover research from the school of… (Suddenly, a brilliant lightning flare accompanies a simultaneous thunderclap as the wind seems to swirl dangerously in the mix.) Aerin catches her breath, having the sensation that her consciousness has just expanded a thousand-fold in an instant. She leaps up from her perch and shouts aloud, “It’s all part of the same storm!”
Weeks turn into months as you plunge into the research and experimentation required to prove your hypothesis. You make frequent trips between Hye-Aerinaa and Banaedoor, performing most of your experiments and keeping all your notes in your own tower (which costs you a few days as you try and figure out its unfamiliar floorplan) while doing most of your experiments in Hye-Lukaa. Eventually, knowing that it’s overdue, you teleport back to Dravia and charter a ship to the lukosian libraries at Esselte, both to record your own progress and to see if there are any useful notes already archived there.
You do find some books you can use, and after memorizing the linked portal at the libraries, it becomes another stop on your circuit during your experimentation. Your now-regular trips to the library attract a pair of apprentices to Hye-Aerinaa: a young male named Rhyan and a clumsy female named Kayil who reminds you a lot of yourself just a year ago.
Eventually, the research pays off. Using your old staff of storms as a channel, you manage to draw pure arcane energy out of the background spellstorm to charge your own spells. After a bit of practice, you don’t even need to use your staff anymore, though your tampering with it has left it tangibly linked to the new source of your power. With one final stop at Hye-Aerinaa to set your apprentices on maintaining the tower and transcribing your research, you teleport back to Dravia to try and track down Butch and the others to start adventuring again. After all, what good is having the unbridled power of lightning and thunder at your fingertips if you’re not going to use it to fry things?