99th Ashan, 720
Wind the clocks back an arc, and Tio would have sworn that it was impossible for mankind to reach any higher level of power than lichdom. A lich was the ultimate form of magic possible; they possessed immortality, unrivalled etheric power, and could control an entire army with but a thought. They were as close to godhood as mere men could ever come. He had been just one of the hundreds of necromancers throughout history who had pursued that state of being as a way to obtain eternal life, and though he had never reached it he felt a great deal of awe and fear for those who did.
Then things had changed. Tio had seen with Auya that humans actually could obtain godhood, experienced the desolate chaos of Emea in far more detail than he had ever wanted to, and then ended up becoming an Immortal himself. He'd learnt that, as long as Emea existed, the only thing that was impossible was impossibility itself. Anything could be transformed, taken, given, bought or broken with enough power. But even so he still feared liches, recognising that even with his newfound divinity just one of them would still be more than a match for him.
Then he'd heard about what happened to Ellasin.
At first he didn't believe it. He trusted Nir'wei to be honest, but the idea that the Ellasin Dathlande, the single most powerful lich in existence; the one who had laid waste to the Seekers of old, had not only be defeated but stripped of her power was... impossible. He'd fought The Coven on numerous occasions, and the idea that their big bad boss lady could be laid so low scared him more than the idea of fighting her himself. If someone like her could be stripped of everything that made her incredible, could the same happen to him? He wasn't nearly as powerful as the other Immortals, in fact he was weaker now than he had been as a mage. If ever there was a vulnerable Immortal it was him.
That could not be allowed! His power defined him; without it he was nothing! He needed a defence against such a possibility, and to do that he needed information. Luckily however Nir had also provided a lead for him to follow. Ellasin was alive and in the custody of Faith, who was either responsible for Ellasin's soul-rending, or knew more about the other forces Nir had hinted at. Discovering that she was in Rharne wasn't as hard as he'd expected given her fame, nor did he expect Faith herself would be unreasonable. As long as Famula didn't take notice of him he reckoned he was in the clear.
And so with a hop, skip and a jump through Emea Tio found himself in the unfamiliar city of Rharne: home of Ilaren and her fabled lightning knights. After a bit of asking around he at last found himself at The Institute for Innovation. In an effort to start the conversation up on good terms Tio had decided it would be a wise to bring a present, and upon hearing that Faith liked baking thought that making a cake might be a good idea. He couldn't claim to have any experience with baking, but he was pretty good at alchemy. How different could the two be?
It was with the ill-deserved confidence of a man who vastly overestimated his own skills that Tio rapped his knuckles on the door of the chancellor's office, and the moment it swung open he all but threw the gift into the room. "Congratulations!" He bellowed cheerfully, grinning like a lunatic. "I don't think there's anyone else in the world who can claim to have defeated an entire army of undead! Nicely done! Can I come it? I brought cake; my own secret recipe."
It was technically a cake, in about the same way as a wild jaguar was technically a cat. Coincidentally it was probably just as dangerous to be near as a jaguar as well. The sponge had the consistency of rice pudding and wobbled about like jelly at the slightest movement, yet by some miracle of metaphysics was sticky enough to stay in a rough blob shape on its plate without spilling all over the floor. The smell of cinnamon and brandy, along with a hint of what smelt worryingly like gasoline, was overpowering, suggesting that the desert was somewhere on the scale between flammable and completely explosive. While the icing looked edible at first glance, closer inspection would reveal that under the correct lighting it appeared to have a metallic sheen, and on a deeply instinctual level something about the presence of the cake created the impression that it might, in some way, be alive. If Tio was aware of how deeply disturbing his gift was however he didn't show it, grinning and offering his creation as if it was a perfectly normal present.