Restoring Harmony
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…And thus do I decree that Erbil, and the citadel within, shall henceforth be the stronghold of Alchemy. Let all who challenge the wise take note, that within these walls is the sanctum of Balance…

-Excerpt, Decree of Erbil, by Amar-Sin

The streets of the Citadel of Erbil were unfamiliar beneath the purple shod feet of Ruslav Diaghilev. He'd been instructed to seek out the Citadel by Elder Hayyan, but the only indication where he was supposed to go was the intrinsic pull from within him, leading him in wending circles through alleys. The Aether currents of this area were a hurricane of color, swirling and darting here and there. There was no doubt the Citadel was home to something important.

He could have at least told me what to look for… Ruslav thought to himself, as his feet were pulled down another side alley. He'd crossed this street four times since arriving, but he couldn't stray from his path. Hayyan's last compulsion was too strong.

His eyes were drawn forward, to an unassuming door at the end of a dead-end alleyway. There was no indication that this side street was any different from the others, besides a simple five pointed star inscribed in the baked clay of the alleyway wall. He reached out, and gently brushed the symbol, feeling the Aetheric currents flowing through the points of the symbol.

He walked forward, and placed his hand on the handle of the door in front of him. There was no lock, but there was a heavy set of Aetheric currents placed on the wood and metal frame. A dabbler might have called it a 'Ward', but Ruslav recognized the flow of the elements through the gossamer light threads of Alchemic control.

The flows were designed to discourage people from approaching and entering the door, but a simple nudge on the Ferric Aether dealt with that. He slipped the door open, and it closed softly behind him, the flow restoring itself to harmony. Ruslav smiled, having left little trace upon the currents within the door.

A dark skinned man sitting behind a desk just inside the doorway looked up from the large book he was reading. His bald scalp shone with a thin film of sweat above his deep-set dark eyes. His mouth was quirked up in a slight smile. His thin frame the man within tight fitting linen robes shifted as he stood up. "Can I help you, sir?" he said, in flawless, if accented Sumerian.

Ruslav nodded slightly, and approached. "Da, I have been instructed to appear here, to present myself to the body."

The man smiled a bit deeper, and his hand moved subtly, grasping something under the table, "Body? I'm not sure what you mean. This is simply my master's warehouse."

Ruslav reached in to the sleeves of his robe, and lifted out a heavy iron disc, with a stamped seal on it. "My master's seal."

The dark-skinned man leaned forward, studying the coin, before passing a hand over the stamped metal. His eyes widened in recognition. "Ahh. This is Elder Hayyan's. I suppose you could not have gotten through the door without the proper skills, either way."

Ruslav nodded, and replaced the coin in the small pocket in his sleeve. "Da, I understand."

"I am Adebeyo, apprentice under master Nipros. Thank you for not dismantling the currents in the door. Ferrics always give me trouble," his voice was mellifluous, obviously used to a more flowing language the common-tongue Sumerian used. The smile on his face was genuine, and lit up the young man's countenance. "You may go in, when you are ready, sir." He gestured towards a wall, and smiled a bit deeper.

Ruslav let his senses range out, and felt the illusory wall clearly. He nodded at the young man, and passed through the false section of wall, his feet crossing from hard-packed clay on to tiled floor.

…You're sure it's not too pretentious? I would hardly prefer to have Alchemists from all over the world come in and think we're just wasting money and resources on ostentatious displays of frivolity…

-Excerpt, Letter from N. Flamel to unknown recipient

Ruslav was stunned. He had seen many wonders in his time, including the experience of having the life energies forced back in to his body, but he'd never seen anything like the Observatory before. His mouth stood agape, the vaulted ceilings curving away in to the dark expanse of the night sky.

The apparatus before him slowly cycled in celestial patterns from all over the sky. Ruslav recognized one as the twin worlds of Arnos, in the far distant skies. He'd visited the worlds with the aid of a colleague in Kormulast, before meeting his encounter with Elder Hayyan.

The city of Evergrinding Salts had proven an ample ground for Alchemy to take root. Alagadda was, of course, still considered the primary breeding grounds for alchemic experimentation, but the rumors coming from the Great City had become unnerving. The Scarlet King, always eccentric, had moved from curiosity to cruelty in his novelties. There were whispers of people going missing in the streets, to disappear in to the halls of the Scarlet King's laboratories.

Ruslav's eyes tracked the movements of distant stars, the Aether flows around the observatory surrounding him, and changing the vista to match his eyes. The star maps changed and shifted, meandering through the Helg Cluster, down to the constellations. Ruslav barely noticed the young man walk out the entrance, absolutely entranced by the observatory in front of him.

A moment passed in silent wonder, before the dark skinned man from the entryway walked through the wall behind him, standing beside the awestruck alchemist. "Wondrous isn't it? When I first arrived, I could only stare at it, too."

Ruslav snapped out of his reverie, and looked over at Adebeyo, the Aether flows normalizing around him. "I did not notice you. My apologies. Who is watching the door?"

Adebeyo smiled, and looked at the observatory with distant eyes, "Journeyman Xian." He paused for a moment, looking over at the older, heavy boned man. "Do you need help finding someone or something?"

Ruslav nodded, and his clear grey eyes met Adebeyo's, "Da, I am here to meet with the Elders of the Thirteenth Circle."

Adebeyo's eyes widened, "The thirteenth? Are you certain of that?"

Ruslav nodded, and pulled a folded letter from his left sleeve, and opened it to the last fold. Two scrawled names were recognizeable among the Sumerian. "Ὀλυμπιόδωρος" and "नागार्जुन" which Adebeyo recognized as Elders Olympiodorus and Nagarjuna. He nodded, and bowed slightly. "I apologize, Elder. I had no idea that you had such pressing business."

Ruslav's mouth contorted slightly, beneath his bushy grey mustache. "I am no Elder. Not yet. I am simply Ruslav. Or if you're feeling formal Mister Diaghilev."

Adebeyo nodded, and gestured to a staircase to his right, "Please, follow me." Down the stairs was some kind of open-air lecture hall and they passed several tables laden with books, and various small apparatuses. Young men and women sat before the tables, presided over by several older Alchemists in robes of every color imaginable.

One of the presiding alchemists, no more than four feet tall, was floating on a small sphere of quartz, with a cushion on top. Ruslav could feel the Alchemic currents holding the quartz up. He'd never felt the Aethers as strongly as he did in this place. They were like a constant flood around him of every conceivable shade and variety. The short man's voice was soft, and fatherly "Remember, Astronomy is the science, and Astrology is the pseudo-science. We, as alchemists, know how to combine the two to create a true alchemical understanding as Astrologians…" the words faded away as they walked past the tables, and to a heavy door of what looked like some kind of obsidian.

Adebeyo laid his hand on the door, and concentrated. The Terronous aethers stirred around him, and a reverberation went through the dark glassy material. The doors parted, and Adebeyo stood back slightly. "This is a bit beyond me, but I wish you luck, Mister Diaghilev."

Ruslav smiled slightly, and nodded to the young man, walking in to the richly appointed room that served as a foyer for the offices of the Alchemists of the Thirteenth Circle. The walls were a soft sandalwood draped in tapestries. Each one showed a different Alchemist, performing some major feat of mastery.

Ruslav's eyes moved from left to right, as his feet glided over the thick carpeting on the floor. The philosopher's stone…the first transmutation…the prediction and ending of the second alchemic war…, he thought to himself, before reaching the final tapestry. It was old. Much older than the others, and only a few feet long. In it, were stitched a few runes that Ruslav couldn't recognize.

He concentrated for a moment, and the Aethers swirled around him in a dazzling concordance of colors. He felt a strange prickling sensation over his scalp, as the runes settled in to something more familiar. The formation of the College of Alchemy. Merlin forming the first compact.

"Beautiful aren't they?" A woman called out from behind a shallow desk along the far wall. Her ash blonde hair was giving away to grey in places, but her face was that of someone just past a very vigorous middle age. She wore robes of Sky blue, and she looked relaxed, as she stood from the chair.

Ruslav nodded. "My apologies. I do not normally get caught up looking at things." Twice in one day no less… Ruslav admonished himself.

"It's a common reaction. May I ask what brings you to the Thirteenth Circle?" Her smile remained pleasant, but he could feel the edge in her tone. His brows knit for a moment before he bowed deeply to the woman, as recognition set in.

"Elder Perenelle. I am honored to meet you." He straightened, and withdrew the letter from his sleeve. "My master sent in a letter to the college many months ago, requesting my entry. I was summoned by the Thirteenth Circle here, to answer for a response."

She strode forward, and took the letter from Ruslav, slipping a pair of spectacles over her ears, and on to her face. "Ahh, yes. Hayyan's request was highly unusual. He outlined your…condition in the letter, but we wanted to see it for ourselves."

Ruslav shifted uncomfortably, and nodded. "I understand."

She smiled again, a reassuring and warm expression. "Wait here for a moment, while I bring in the other members of the circle?" He nodded in affirmation.

…I am nearly certain my life will end after I accomplish this. I ask, however, that this man, Ruslav, be allowed my place in the college in my stead. He has all of my knowledge, and the will to enact my final project which you've all been briefed on. Beyond that, he is what we've always dreamed of. Takwin. Artificial Life. He is as close to a pure weapon against outside threats as we will ever get…

-Excerpt, Letter from Elder Hayyan to the Thirteenth Circle of the College of Alchemists

Ruslav sat in a spartan office, along with Elders Perenelle and Nicholas Flamel. Ruslav had endured several hours of questions, prodding, and alchemic examination by the Thirteenth Circle before being invited to the Flamel's office. "I couldn't believe it myself. Do you realize what you are, Mister Diaghilev?" The heavy wooden panelling of the walls conveyed a sense of warmth, and the light streaming in from the clear glass windows was a soft golden gleam from some artificial source.

Ruslav nodded. "I am aware of the conditions of my creation. Perfectly. Everything that Elder Hayyan knew, I know."

Elder Nicholas leaned forward, "So you're saying you could do it again? Takwin? Create life?"

Ruslav shook his head softly. "No. I cannot do this. Master Hayyan expressly forbid me from enacting this Alchemy ever again. I would not dishonor his wishes."

The senior alchemist leaned back in his chair, the heavy forest green robes he wore bunching around his thick forearms. "And why not? What's so wrong with it?"

Ruslav looked in to the Elder's deep green eyes with conviction, "To create life requires that one destroy life. It puts…an onus upon the creation. Elder Hayyan created me, whether he realized it or not, with a compulsion. While I have my own will, I will, or must, eventually obey this compulsion."

Elder Perenelle took in a breath, "God preserve…that's…." She looked over at Nicholas, who nodded. "I understand. Thank you for being candid. Either way, the other Elders have concurred that you've got all the knowledge, and qualifications to join the 7th circle, as Elder Hayyan wished. Furthermore, we're happy to convey the title of Elder upon you. Congratulations, Elder Diaghilev. May you walk in wisdom."

Nicholas beamed at the newly entitled Alchemist, and grinned. "Congratulations indeed. This is going to certainly light a fire under Henry though. He's been campaigning to have that Alagaddan join the 7th circle instead, and it's no secret he disagreed with Hayyan."

Ruslav bowed, "Thank you, Elders. If it is not too much trouble, I do not have lodgings in the Citadel tonight. Is there a place I could—"

Nicholas held up his hands, hastily cutting off Ruslav, "Of course, of course. We'd insist you stay anyway. We have to hold a congregation to have you installed formally within the circle. I'd like to invite you to be our personal guest until then, if you're amenable?"

Ruslav nodded, and bowed his head to the Elders again. "I would be honored. Thank you, Elders."

Perenelle smiled, and waved a hand. "Think nothing of it. May I ask you a question, Elder Diaghilev?" Ruslav nodded. "Why you? Not to sound rude, but you're from the far Slavic regions are you not?"

Ruslav sat back a bit, and took a deep breath. "Yes. I am from a small village, where I studied Alchemy from my first master, who was not part of the college."

Nicholas leaned his head on his hand, his eyes sliding over to the book case in the corner, idly waving his fingers in his free hand. "So you just…travelled across the entire world, to meet Elder Hayyan?"

Ruslav shook his head, his own eyes drifting to the small crystals lining the edge of the desk. "My master had sent me to Elder Hayyan for personal reasons. There was an accident, and I ended up being mortally wounded. Elder Hayyan tried to heal the wound, but to no avail. The next thing I remember, was waking up, with Elder Hayyan over me. He'd claimed he'd unlocked the secret of Takwin and quickly fell ill. He passed away several months later. I set off immediately for the College, as he wished."

The Elders exchanged glances, and Perenelle hesitated for a moment, before speaking, "Elder, did he…ask you to come here for something specific."

Ruslav fixed her with a heavy-eyed stare, the intensity of which reminded her indelibly of the conviction she saw in Elder Hayyan's eyes in the many years they'd worked together. "The Great Seal. It is time. Elder Hayyan believed it, and so do I."

Nicholas let out a quiet whistle. "Do you realize what this is going to do? Who this is going to anger?"

Ruslav nodded. "Da. I am prepared for this."

…We are out of time. We're missing one last key to the Great Seal. I'm not yet sure what it is, but I feel like its coming closer. When I find it, I will let you know. I don't know if you can get a message to him, but if you can, tell him to be ready…

-Excerpt, Letter from Elder Hayyan to the Thirteenth Circle of the College of Alchemists

Ruslav had arrived to the Great Hall hours before the meeting. The entire room was relatively simple, if spatially impossible. Far overhead, massive lanterns of golden flames lit up the entire hall. The walls were solid stone, and the ceiling was made from the largest timbers that Ruslav had ever seen.

The seats in the room were broken in to 12 sections, for each of the non-senior circles, and a general assembly for those not within a collegiate circle. In the center of the room was a large circular dais, with 13 chairs on it, and a single lecturn. The Thirteenth Circle would sit on the dais, and address the lower circles, with Ruslav's appointment being the last order of business. He himself sat in the general assembly, having not yet been formally recognized as a member of the 7th circle.

His brand new silk stole sat around his shoulders, indicating his title of Elder. Already, apprentices and journeyman were taking their seats. The seats of the First Circle were the most numerous, with the apprentices streaming in. The journeyman took their place in the seats of the Second Circle, followed soon by the Magi in the Third Circle. Ruslav recognized the dark skinned Adebeyo among the Magi of the Third Circle.

The fourth circle were the first to have the Elder stoles, its membership primarily the newly minted Elders coming up from the Third Circle. The next group to enter were the members of the Fifth Circle, the first specialized circle. Each of them were well versed in Evocation and the direct application of the Aethers as direct forces. Lord Henry had transfered from the Fifth to the Seventh circle years ago.

The Sixth Circle members were talking among themselves, somewhere around seventy members all specialized in the calling of entities and beings from beyond our reality. Among them were several Alagaddans, covered head to toe in their impenetrable robes.

Ruslav paid close attention as the seventh circle came in, and Ruslav only knew one by sight, Lord Henry who had apparently disparaged Ruslav's entry to the Thirteenth Circle. He narrowed his eyes slightly as the man came in, dressed in robes of deep mahogany.

The Eighth circle, specialized in Imbuing had the most members of any circle, around a thousand. They were followed in by the Ninth Circle who comprised the vast majority of scribes and instructors within the college.

The Tenth Circle, masters of signs and hermetics were followed by the 11th circle, the dedicated students of transmutation.

The second to last circle, the Twelfth Circle was comprised of the leaders of each of the lesser circles, and were in general contention to be promoted to the Thirteenth Circle eventually.

A flash of light emanated from the dais, and the thirteen members of the Thirteenth Circle stood with their croziers in hand, looking out among the collection of alchemists. The leader of the circle, and Eldest among the Alchemists strode forward, and held his crozier aloft. Another flash of light, and swirl of the Aetheric currents in the room, and the doors locked in unison. Hermes Trismegistus called the meeting to order.

Ruslav couldn't follow what most of the meeting was about, referring to internal matters within the physical college at the Citadel, or with minor issues of the council. Finally, Perenelle gave Ruslav a significant look from the dais, and Eldest Trismegistus spoke gestured towards the younger Alchemist. "Elder Perenelle, you have the floor."

She bowed slightly, and stood, smoothing out her robes. She approached the lecturn with joviality. "Elders, Magi, Journeymen, and Apprentices. It is my great honor to announce that we have an installation today. Elder Diaghilev, would you please join us on the dais?"

Ruslav stood, and took a steadying breath, his own crozier held loosely in his hand. He walked up the three steps to the dais, and strode across, his feet absolutely silent in the handcrafted shoes he wore.

Elder Perenelle gave him a deep smile, and turned to address the assembly once more. "This man, Ruslav Diaghilev has shown mastery of the art in all required areas, and in significant quantity to attain his rightful title of Elder. Please join me in welcoming him to this most august rank." A polite chorus of applause emanated from the assembled Alchemists.

"As an Elder, he would normally be conveyed to the Fourth Circle until a specialized area of the Art was shown to be in true mastery. In this case, and with the recommendation of the late Elder Hayyan, Elder Diaghilev has petitioned, and the Thirteenth Circle has acceded to his request, to join the Seventh Circle of Alchemy within the College of the Citadel." The assembly erupted in to genuine applause this time. Perenelle looked over at the seats containing the ten or so Elders of the Seventh circle, beaming. Most of the men and women there were applauding with the same enthusiasm of the rest of the crowd, except for Lord Henry.

A dark, ugly expression crossed the aristocrat's features, as he stood, his slender crozier held in his hand. The Aether currents swirled around him, as he channeled them to amplify his voice. The Aeronus and Fulminous aethers trembled as his voice rang out, "This is an OUTRAGE!"

The entire assembly fell silent, as Elder Henry strode out of his section, the other members of the Seventh Circle sat silently, in apparent assent. "This man, this…dabbler comes in here, and is immediately given a stole, and a place in our Circle? This is an outrage!"

Elder Perenelle looked unfazed, as she smiled at Elder Henry, "Elder Henry, you do not approve of the unanimous decision of the Thirteenth Circle?"

Elder Henry reached the stage, and stood shaking with anger, "I do not! And in the absence of Elder Hayyan I am the acting Eldest of the Seventh Circle. I demand we hold discourse about this…I have seen no proof of his skills! We have seen nothing of his abilities, or his masteries!"

Elder Perenelle looked over at Ruslav, "Do you have anything to say in your defense, Elder Diaghilev?"

Ruslav took a step forward, and nodded slightly, "I do. You have named me dabbler, pretender, and nepotee. I say the Thirteenth Circle has declared this untrue. Do you challenge their word as well as Elder Hayyan's?"

Lord Henry stood, and strode to the Dais, letting his long silver crozier thump on the wood. "I do. Elder Hayyan has not been seen for months, and now you come here, claiming to be his heir? I do not know what you have done to prove yourself to the Thirteenth Circle, but I certainly cast doubt on it."

Ruslav's brows knotted, "Elder Hayyan entrusted me to come here, and deliver a message after he died. The man saved my life, and bade me to come here, to join you, Elder Henry."

Lord Henry looked back to the Seventh Circle gathered in the seats, "While you claim this is true, and you've convinced the council, you cannot simply override our autonomy as a Circle. I, and my colleagues name you dabbler, and not fit to join our circle."

Elder Perenelle walked forward, "And we, as the ruling Circle declare that your claim has no merit. With a unanimous decision of the Thirteenth Circle you have no legal grounds, according to the Compact to refute his entry."

Lord Henry shook his head, and set his jaw, "I have one last option."

Elder Nicholas stood, and took a step forward, "Henry, you can't be serious?"

Lord Henry's face took on a purplish cast, and he held his crozier aloft, a slender rod of silver and malachite fashioned in to an ouroboros at its head. "I challenge you to the Circle of Balance." A murmur went up from the crowd as the words rang out.

The murmur rose to a clamour, until Eldest Trismegistus slammed his crozier on the lecturn's granite block. "Silence! There has been a challenge to the Circle of Balance. Elder Diaghilev, do you accept?"

Ruslav took a step forward, and nodded. "I do. May the wise prevail."

In the seats of the Third Circle, Adebeyo shifted slightly, not able to believe the person he met at the door yesterday was now challenging Elder Henry Percy. This was unprecedented. Beside him, his friend Allen gently touched his shoulder. "Hey, Adebeyo. I've got six alcesti that Percy wipes the floor with this guy."

Adebeyo smiled, and leaned back slightly. "I wouldn't be so sure. Ten that Ruslav makes him look like a fool."

…Sometimes, even the wise cannot settle things with words. Therefore, as part of this compact, we shall establish a procedure for determining who is correct. Barbaric? Maybe. But in cases where there is no resolution, whoever has greater mastery of the Art shall receive deference.
The Circle of Balance shall be the final arbiter between two alchemists…

-Excerpt, Compact of the Eldest and Most Wise Alchemists of the Arte

Ruslav stood in the cleared dias, across from Lord Henry, who held his crozier near the head, his hands tight around the metal. Ruslav's own crozier was held loosely in his left hand, leaving his right free to work whatever Aethers were required. "If you wish to end this peacefully, you still may, Elder Henry."

Lord Henry shook his head, his emotions calmed now, but still obviously determined to oust Ruslav. "Hardly. You show up out of nowhere, and try and force your way in to my circle. Never. I'm going to make you wish you'd stayed in Slavia."

Elder Perenelle took a step forward, and held up a hand. "Gentlemen. May the wise prevail. Begin." She turned, and quickly walked off the dais, sitting in one of the relocated chairs at the edge of the dais.

Lord Henry thrust his cane forward, gathering as much of the Fulminous Aether as he could from the currents around him. It came forward like a torrent, and he cried out, the energies coalescing in to a massive fork of lightning.

The chaotic stream streaked towards Ruslav, who held his right hand out, letting the energies within and without flow through him, the Terronous Aether responding easily to his desires. He mixed in the heavy stream of Aequeous Aether flowing over the stage, and gently swiped his hand across his body, the forked lightning streaking up towards the ceiling, and the energies harmlessly expanding in to a globe of light.

Lord Henry stared at Ruslav in disbelief. He took a moment to compose himself, and took a step forward, his hands falling to his sides as he gathered Igneous Aether. His crozier stuck fast to his hip against a metal plate, energized by the Terronous Aether. A cry escaped his lips as he shoved his hands forward, over and over. From his fingertips fire flashed out, the Igneous Aether nearly overwhelming, as the lights above them dimmed. A dozen globes of fire streaked out in unison across the stage.

Ruslav once again held up a hand, this time his left, as the Aeronous Aether flowed smoothly and without issue through his body once more, gathering the energies behind the fire and dispersing them harmlessly, in to the skies. The orb above them glowed brighter, as Ruslav channelled all the violent power Henry threw at him into it.

Henry let his hands fall to his sides, as he struggled for breath, straightening. "What are you, a coward? Fight back!" The Elder alchemist reached in to the ground, gathering Terronous and Ferric Aethers from all around them.

Ruslav narrowed his eyes. Something was wrong. The power that Henry was throwing at him was tremendous, yes, but something was off. Ruslav gently gathered the Aethers into him, to expand his perceptions of time, as Henry unleashed the stored energies.

Gravity surged around Ruslav, attempting to crush him to the ground, but…it was a fraction of a second after Lord Henry unleashed his energies. There was something else going on. Ruslav waved his arms in a slow circle in front of him, easily dispersing the energies around him, and up in to the skies, once again turning Lord Henry's destruction in to Harmonious Balance.

Henry's eyes bulged in his head, his frustrating growing with every motion. "Fine. You're from Slavia, let's see how you like the cold!" This time Ruslav focused on his hands, where the Aeronous and Aeqeous Aethers gathered in a torrent of power. They weren't gathering from the room, though. The Aether flows around Lord Henry were barely being tapped. Just below his palms, in the meat of his hands, the Aethers were flowing from somewhere else.

Ruslav reached out for the first time, with the Tenebrous Aether, the cold power of the vacuum beyond the stars. Lord Henry was pulled forward, the Aethers gathered in his hands being redirected up into the sky, as the small slits in reality behind his palms were dragged forward, and Henry along with them.

Ruslav strode forward, struggling to hold on to the Aether flows. Henry kneeled on the dais, his hands turned upwards towards the pull of the Tenebrous Aether that Ruslav had summoned. Ruslav pulled his hands together against the tide of power, and suddenly spread them, expanding the portals. The black light pouring out from the portals expanded until the entire room could see beyond the rip in time and space.

Beyond the dark edges of the portals, a figure could clearly be made out. Terrible and powerful and hungry the glowering visage of some malevolent entity smoldered as it looked at Ruslav. The cosmic abomination's eyes narrowed, and the squirming tendrils of one of its innumerable hands reached out towards the portal. Ruslav's eyes widened, and he slammed his hands together, the Tenebrous Aethers suddenly reversed, slamming the portals shut.

A thunderous silence fell over the collected alchemists. The entire Eldest Circle was on its feet, croziers in hand at the offense before them. Lord Henry fell to the dais, unable to support himself any longer.

Lord Henry shuddered, and looked at Ruslav in panic, "What…what was that?!"

Above Ruslav, a soft sound not unlike music emanated from the pulsing orb of white light. A newfound star. The Aethers within the mote of light emanated out in harmonious balance. The energies washed over the alchemists, all of them feeling the torrential power within.

Elder Perenelle smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling. "A prismatic confluence. I'd say that proves he's no dabbler, Henry. Apparently, you were not the only one who didn't want Ruslav within your circle."

Henry lifted himself to his hands and knees, and looked at the gathered circle behind him. "What the hell just happened?"

Around the room, the circles erupted in to chaos, as the alchemists from the Seventh Circle strode out to Lord Henry's side. One alchemist, an Alagaddan, laid his hand on Lord Henry's shoulder. "This isn't over, dabbler." The naked hatred in his eyes burned in to Ruslav's.

Ruslav shrugged, and fixed him with a heavy-eyed stare. "I will be ready when you wish to try again."

Lord Henry cried out, as his colleague gathered energy from the confluence, "Wait, what are you doing? Qy'phrenos, what is the meaning of this?". With a flash of light the group of alchemists in front of Ruslav dissipated in to the ether.

Elder Trismegistus strode forward to where Ruslav stood, and put a hand on his shoulder. "Well. This isn't good."

Ruslav sighed heavily, and rested his heavy Cold Iron crozier on his shoulder. "It is time to deliver the message I came here to give."

…The Great Seal. It was a theory of my late master. As the only remaining member of the Seventh Circle, and last heir to Elder Hayyan, I propose we put all efforts towards enacting the Seal. It will take many years to gather the required energies and allies, but if we do not start now, our world will forever be terrorized by the entities that consider human lives and fates a plaything…

-Excerpt, First address of the College of the Citadel, by Elder Ruslav Diaghilev, Eldest of the Seventh Circle

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