One thing has been gnawing at me that I dare not share with the masters. Dare not share with anyone. The true source of the formula. It seemed too arcane, too brilliant for even a great alchemist to develop. Not that I couldn't likely produce something similar given enough time and resources, but my method, my language, would never be so... flawless. Even I can admit that.
I found the answer. It was staring at me all this time in the middle of the shrine. Clavicus Vile. A maker of deals, granter of wishes, and not one I would ever wish to be indebted to.
It seems this ruin was stumbled upon once before in a very similar fashion to how we found it. It is likely they were the previous owners of Vassir-Didanat mine. It's a well-kept secret that the mine is not particularly rich. It produces barely enough ebony to make it worth working at all. And these mer that came before us grew desperate. They called out to Vile.
A particular lack of wisdom and foresight it was that made them wish for an endless source of ebony. One must choose words carefully when dealing with Daedra. Although in this case it may have been better to make no deal at all. Regardless, some pact was made and the formula came to them. They must have successfully brewed it, for we found statues here dating back centuries. But suspiciously they kept very little records about their progress, or how they used it.
In truth, knowing this fact makes me somewhat uneasy. Sometimes I feel like I can hear the statue of Clavicus Vile whispering, or laughing softly to itself. But I made no deal with him. I am simply studying the result. He holds no sway over me.