“I’ve watched Gispara Ravensbark cast spells on several occasions, and I’ve never ceased to be amazed. The ancient gnome is almost nonchalant as she assumes a well-practiced stance, platinum ankh gently cradled in her left hand, her arm swinging loosely at her side.
“There’s a devilish twinkle in her eyes as she begins the incantation. The fingers of her free hand are a blur of motion, precision befitting a maestro. Then comes the somatic component: her utterances of ancient Elvish violating more than a hundred magocratic ordinances.
“But as with all spellcasting in Bemmea, mastery of the art is its own loophole.“
Archmages contemplate the machinations of old rivals and take elaborate measures as a precaution. Wizards of the middle ranks contend with peers whose meddling undermines ambition’s aims.
Even as they keenly watch for rivals’ schemes, most arcanists are laying out their own plans. Like puppeteers who never reveal how they string a marionette, the real satisfaction comes from how one masks the connecting lines, maintaining the illusion that an adversary is dancing of their own accord.
Bemmea is a cauldron of intrigue. It is a city of secrets and secret societies, of fraternities and guilds, of institutions of learning, and of apprenticeships with their own allegiances and vows.
There are plots and plotters aplenty.
Here then is a listing of some of the capital city’s most masterful mages, who are as often the pawns as they are the architects of some grand design.
Gelasien loves a room with a view. She’s not powerful enough to yet obtain a living space in the famed Kallimachus Spire, but she does have an apartment in the spire’s adjoining northwest support tower, connected by a skybridge.
The apartment is stylish and fashionable. Gelasien patronizes the arts. Even if Bemmea’s offerings pale in comparison to the high realism of the Seven Cities’ masters in sculpture and painting, they do reflect the city’s fascination with the fantastic: abstract representations of the elements make for a stunning mural.
If Gelasien continues to hone her skill, the Barsella-born illusionist might even attain a spot in the city’s most illustrious property, the ocean-front High Spires. Oh, to dream.
For someone who defines success by elevation, her ascended path is grounded in the trenches. By proxy and by favor, she has the allegiance of more than a dozen Feywarden officers. Many who patrol the Arbonesse border around Tintager depend on her patronage, which in the currency of Allain, compounding the influence she commands in Bemmea.
Gelasien’s “interest” in the Feywardens has not gone unnoticed. Malcot Ebonstaff and Feywarden Cothwidden have both called on her to assess her motivations and intentions. Both left her presence convinced the auburn-haired woman with a dusky complexion was a true patriot of Allain. They came warded against her enchantments, but they saw what she wished them to see.
She knows she may have to demonstrate her “patriotism” soon. Mages more powerful than that pair will be watching her carefully. Sometimes, the most powerful illusion is to undertake an action without magic.
Friends and Rivals: As a patron of the arts, Gelasien is enraptured with Imalian Jaskvitze’s style of storytelling. Imalian is not privy to Gelasien’s true designs on power, which is just as well for both, given their predilections. Gelasien has already picked a target to prove her trustworthiness. Prentervuul Ulst entrusted her with knowledge of his illicit activities. But she is willing to betray him.
Signature Spells: dark dementing (MHH), hallucinatory terrain, hypnotic pattern.
Attired in woodland greens, the broad-shouldered Glerung Ulberhast looks more like a forester than a conjurer. From the earliest age, he was taught to appreciate growing things, especially old trees with thick, course bark that have stood the test of time. Like him, they endure.
Glerung frequently takes contemplative walks among the cluster of trees in the small park that contains the Nefarious Fountain. Despite the park’s size, it most closely resembles the sheltering boughs of his birthplace, the Old Margreve hamlet of Whistlehallow Village.
Unlike his Margreve kinfolk, Glerung no longer abides superstition. To him, magic is a formula as definitive as mathematics. As enchanting as old wives’ tales and folk wisdom may sound, they can never be taken at face value. The hokum must be peeled away to get at the concrete truth beneath.
That is why Glerung has no romantic notions about elvish magic. It is a commodity to be acquired and used; no more dangerous than any other brand of magic. Of course, so long as the magocracy’s authorities continue to use propaganda and laws to discourage (and in many cases, outright ban) the use or possession of anything elvish in origin, the appetite for it grows more ravenous.
Glerung feeds that appetite. He provides that which is forbidden, a lucrative and dangerous occupation. When he gets wind of an item “in the open” (as he likes to describe elvish artifacts on the cusp of discovery), he assembles teams of adventurers to make forays across the border.
Glerung always sends two teams. The first is of trusted confidantes, mostly rogues, druids, and rangers who have more loyalty to a freshly minted coin than to the nine-star banner of Allain. This first team is fully aware Glerung will have other agents on the case.
The second is through an assumed identity, an approach that produces interesting results. Glerung poses as Adrastes Fochetto, the ascended chamberlain of the ninth level of the Order of the Sunrise Shadow. The society, which has a charter to study ley lines, is headquartered just west of the White Citadel. Robed in white with a brilliant gold stole, Fochetto cuts an imposing authoritative figure. Relying on the society’s veil of secrecy, he assembles parties of inexperienced adventurers.
Friends and Rivals: As Fochetto, he depends on the tiefling wizard Lol’usoth Tashuz for information on potential buyers. The bard Imalian Jaskvitze is a constant thorn in Glerung’s side; she has tried to horn in on many deals, always waiting until an artifact has been brought into the city before bringing the pressure of blackmail to get a cut.
Signature Spells: black tentacles, shadow realm gateway (MHH), stinking cloud.
Imalian is a female human bard whose grandfather was a troubadour back in old Illyria. She has the same fine features as him, an alluring beauty shared by many folks born of the Winewood.
Her father, who had the same vagabond yearnings, was content to stay on the move. The family lived in a mule-drawn wagon that made a circuit of the Seven Cities. They performed in coaching inns along the way, were street-corner musicians in the larger cities, and played supporting roles for established theater companies. Only later did the Seven Cities’ war with the Mharoti Empire force them from their homeland.
Her mother insisted they settle down, preferably in a place where their daughter might yet receive proper instruction as a spellcaster. They put their trust in their team’s lead mule, Adagio, who guided them on a seemingly impossible trek. They braved rickety paths through the Pytonne Mountains and navigated the dangers of the Mage Road until at last Adagio clop-clopped into Bemmea.
The family opened a shop in the city’s northeast quadrant that made and repaired musical instruments. Imalian was enrolled in the Academies Arcana.
Imalian performed in all of the city’s finest inns and taverns. But the stage she considers her own is the Toppled Tower in the northwest quadrant. To her, there isn’t a better spot. The open archways of the building’s arcade serve as an amazing backdrop to her performance, the lightning blue of the Outermost Sea visible beyond. (Plus, local lore claims that the ley line called Leviathan’s Road passes through the tavern; always a plus should push ever come to shove in a magical showdown.)
It took a long time for the family to gain acceptance. Imalian endured taunts, jeers, and accusations because of her elvish-sounding name and delicate appearance. The family eventually won over their neighbors with good cheer and delightful music.
Imalian hasn’t always used a smile and a jest to see her way through. Magical charms and social leverage are in her repertoire; she gets what she wants with influence peddling and by playing off others’ desires. She has yet to penetrate the tight social circle of Allain’s most powerful mages, but she’s angled closer and closer with every gambit.
Friends and Rivals: She was delighted when the illusionist Gelasien Kuskoom became her patron and her friend (without resorting to charms to be enamored of her). Her enchantments haven’t endeared her to everyone. The calculating Glerung Ulberhast finds the practice distasteful, and he thinks many of her accolades are unwarranted. She thinks that Glerung is hiding many secrets.
Signature Spells: compulsion, dominate person, fear…
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