Ah, the beauty that is the land of Merisyl. The forestlands, bayous and swamps of my childhood, teeming with life; an explosion of riches upon the senses. The great cities, full of all wonders and experiences that metropolitan life can offer a young man. But this is not what this domain is known for, is it listeners? Dragons. And Magic. Yes, yes, I too feel your building excitement for the coming tale. So come little simpletons, make yourselves warm by the fire, and I will tell you a legend of how Magic and the Dragon saved us all.
I think your unenlightened minds deserve to hear a real tale – my story. You will have to forgive me in advance, the Korthjach people are not known for verbosity, especially amongst outsiders. I shouldn’t apologize, since most others treat us with suspicion if not contempt. So, the flowering prose that you are accustomed to in such a chronicle of events will not be heard from me. And the standard wonder and awe of the Dragon and Magic or the Dragon’s magic or the wizard’s magic or the sorcerer’s magic or the mage’s magic or the magic ring or the magic sword will be absent. Don’t fret my small-minded friends; the tale will still have magic and all of the other necessary epic components; power, greed, betrayal, love - and a dragon. You will learn as we progress why this great gift of magic that pervades the land does not receive its due reverence from me.
You see it’s not so much that I rejected magic, but that magic rejected me. From the beginning, I had the magical aptitude of the common fly (no offense to flies). Even those spells directed on me seemed to have a lesser effect than expected by the person who cast them. My father always told me it was the person underneath that mattered, but it made me a pariah amongst the Korthjach of my settlement since our place was almost unique compared to others when it came to magic. Centuries ago, we came under the protection of a dragon, Synitin, whose magical prowess guarded us from all harm – or so the legends go. And legends are all we had, since no one had seen or heard from him in hundreds of years. As these legends go, when Synitin departed, he left an item of great dominance to one of my direct ancestors, which was then passed through the generations to my father, which gave the bearer a power to defend all those who would assail us. And following tradition, upon my father’s passing, The Artifact and the secret knowledge of its power would be bestowed upon me – the village magical eunuch. I hope the irony and foreshadowing of this is not escaping the feeble minds of my listeners.
To say that this displeased the village leaders, chief among them a powerful mage named Barrak, is a vast understatement. And since I was an only child and my father refused remarriage after my mother’s death, their only recourse was to assign to me every menial task available with hopes that my disillusionment with village life would prompt my voluntary exit. But that was not to be as I enjoyed my long trips into town to get alchemical reagents or magical supplies and my father provided me with friendship and education. So, what did Barrak and his accomplices do to persuade me to vacate my home and leave The Artifact to them? Why, they granted me riches beyond belief and the most beautiful young maiden as a wife and sent me on my way to be a prince in her castle, just four days travel away from my father and childhood home.
You see my dullard listeners, although the legends were quite vague as to The Artifact’s power except that only the bearer knew its true nature, it was obvious to Barrak that it was a magic he had to possess. So, upon my return from the city after one of my errands that were deemed necessary, all that was left of my home and my father was rubbish. According to Barrak and a few of his cronies, Synitin had returned as prophesized and reaped vengeance upon my father for great crimes involving the misuse of The Artifact, violation of sacred tradition and other such nonsense. Barrak’s legends and dragons notwithstanding, it was curious to me how the draconic destruction mirrored those magics that he had taken years to augment and perfect. Of course it was a crime for me to proclaim to all those who would listen that my father had not died from retribution of our demigod protector, but from a greedy mage who could not stand that power would fall into the hands of a magic inept. Luckily, some elders had pity on me and instead of death; my banishment was the punishment chosen.
So, let me now get to the part of the story where I overcome my childhood adversities, learn to use magic and become the greatest wizard in all the land. If one of you simpleton listeners is a bard, you could perhaps regale us with the appropriate tune to symbolize the years of study and training. And then, with my newfound prowess, I defeat all of my evil enemies and restore my good name!
Instead dear listeners, let me tell you how I’ve come to embrace my magic “ailment”. I have read the tomes that speak of how to strengthen this power and have it project an aura around me. I travel and adventure across the land that I may gain the experience and knowledge to defeat any magic user. I train myself as a warrior so when my opponent and I are on equal ground, where the arcane is void, I will be able to cut him down as a butcher does a pig. Do not fret gentle listeners, I am no naïve fool and I will not be overly harsh. I understand that magic can cure the sick, feed the hungry and warm the cold. We Korthjach do not see good and evil the way most others do – as absolutes. Truth is hard to fathom at a glance and justice should not be swift. But, those kind teachings that I learned have faded in my mind and all that is left is the knowledge that there is too much magic in this land to suit me, and I will judge those who abuse their arcane power and mete out punishment appropriately.
And so, now to the denouement of my tale, my cozy listeners. Come closer to the fire. It is but embers now and its warmth is waning. Will my journeys and battles imbue me with the fortitude necessary to overcome the dominance of Barrak and The Artifact? Will he have forgotten me after the years I have spent away or will he be waiting for me with a smile on his face? I wager you this; his attitude will matter not once I’ve approached him. He will feel the dampening of his magic, for my power will have grown from a sliver of sunrise peaking over the horizon to a noonday blinding. And the air will reek of the stench of the feces and urine that fill his loincloth as the realization hits him and the waves of fear rack his soul. Yes listener, this will be the epic saga of how magic lost and the great mage’s throat was slashed as he was forced to watch his own disembowelment. You will tell your children before they lay down to sleep so they may dream peacefully.
In Loving Memory of...
Dave Jolly played Svent in the original Merisyl campaign - the first to playtest the Mage Slayer class and the Korthjach race (both much refined since).