Spellbound Glory


Boss Frost

Original poster

There has been a major settlement on the Hilt of the Dagger River since
before recorded history. The current metropolis, Sharn, has existed since the formation of the original Five Nations, about seven hundred years after humans rose to prominence on the continent. For more than two millennia, the towers of Sharn have grown, rising thousands of feet into the sky. This vertical expansion has given the metropolis its title: The City of Towers.
A riot of architectural styles and designs play through the city's impressive skyline. From its deepest foundations to its highest spires, Sharn displays the history of the continent for all to see. Heavy, oppressive goblinoid architecture provides the base for much of the city, its stonework reaching back to a time when humans did not exist on this continent. Atop this ancient foundation, the periods of human civilization stack one on top of the other as the city reaches for the clouds.

The City of Towers can be as impressive as it can be oppressive. The same skyscrapers of stone can make one person laugh with excitement and another weep from the size and weight and impossible heights. Whatever emotion the city inspires, the place remains a bustle of activity at all hours of the day and night. With a tremendous array of cultural, culinary, and commercial delights to sample, and its position as the gateway to Xen'drik, Sharn attractsvisitors and adventurers from around the world. It is a hotbed of activity, known in equal measures for its wonders, its crime rate, its amazing amount of corruption, and its genuinely exciting atmosphere.

Sharn rises from the cliffs overlooking the Hilt, a wide bay at the mouth of the Dagger River. This inhospitable outcropping of rock allowed the city to grow in only one direction—up. The ports at the base of the cliffs load and unload cargo and passengers from seafaring vessels, raising and lowering goods and travelers alike on massive lifts operated by ropes and pulleys that travel through the neighborhood of Cliffside. This working class region is built into and upon the steep cliffs overlooking the river and bay. At the top of the cliffs, the rock walls seamlessly blend into the earliest stonework laid in ancient times. Here, the city and its amazing towers really begin.
The City of Towers is rumored to sit atop a massive lake of molten lava. Those who work in the bowels of the city, a subterranean region known as the Cogs, claim to feel the heat rising off the lava streams, but few have ever gone below the great furnaces and foundriesof the Cogs to seek for the fiery lake itself. In the Cogs, heat and magic cooperate to allow workers to process ores and other raw materials needed to sustain Sharn's industrial machine.

Also within the depths, ancient ruins, labyrinthine sewers, vertical shafts, and forgotten chambers pile level upon level, climbing higher and higher until the inhabited regions are reached. These higher levels, made up of towers growing like trees in a forest of stone and brick, contain most of the city's residents and visitors. Poorer members of society live in the deeper portions of the towers, while those above gain wealth and status the higher up they live. The uppermost levels feature open-arched towers, balconies, bridges, and platforms that form a strange lacework of "solid" ground high in the air. Above all of this floats the neighborhood known as Skyway, where the most affluent citizens live and play.

Sharn is situated within a manifest zone linked to the plane of Syrania, the Azure Sky. The manifest zone primarily enhances spells and magic items that permit levitation and actual flight. Outside the zone, most of these items either grow weaker or lose the ability to function altogether. Without the zone, the city's great towers and spires would crumble, its transportation systems would collapse, and the neighborhood of Skyway would plummet to the ground.

Sky coaches slowly move from tower to tower, transporting people. Other ways to get around the city include walking (almost every tower can be reached by multiple bridges that connect the platforms and walkways at different levels), lifts that ride up and down and side to side along magical strands of light, and magebred animals trained to carry passengers within the city's limits.


Our story begins indoors, however. It is raining in Sharn... not a very rare occurrence, considering the city's geological location. The rain flows down from the higher towers, dirtying itself before it reaches the bottom-most dregs of existence. However, even in the slowly waning hours of the day, many still remain active, including the students of the Archmage, Oloril Taletreader.

Situated on the upper parts of the town, the rain was still clear - refreshing - though many individuals steer clear of the heights of Sharn, for the swaying towers and the long vistas of life so high up is dizzying - disturbing to many. Still, a great deal make their lives up here... and several more meet their deaths.


The home of Oloril Taletreader is elaborately beautiful, attesting to the man's status as a very, very old elf. Every inch of the place is meticulously carved with such stunning beauty, the heavy wood of the furniture of elven craftsmanship, that even the smallest bit of it would catch a fortune on the market, if any thief were stupid enough to steal from a wizard... doubly so for one of such power.

Such power, in fact, that the place is modified completely by magic - each student's room a pocket dimension leading from the same doorway, unlockable by their various keys. The library, kitchen, and study extending from the same sort of doorway, though activated by password.

It is no wonder that the archmage is credited with being one of the greatest Conjurers of this age... and the one before. The elf... so old that his tattoos are fading, wrinkles upon the elf's face... hair, whitened. The feeble old man has lived longer than any elf ever should... and yet, he still keeps the grace and wit of someone a great deal younger.

Of course, this story isn't about him. It's about his apprentices...
"This is the fanciest house I've ever seen," Atinir remarked loudly to himself. He was inside of his extra-dimensional pocket for a room, and whilst still feeling the heebie-jeebies of being within a tear in reality as his living quarters, he was surprisingly accepting of it. Oh sure, the thought of death terrified him, but if his last days would be starving to death in this kind of comfort, he almost felt he could accept it. Almost.

The room was elaborate, almost overly so, with the finest elven crafted furniture made of woods older than the dirt he trailed in. His bed was lush, covered in silks and linens he could have only dreamed of touching. There was a large vanity with a massive pearl-coloured bowl for washing, and an armoire of the darkest cherry wood he had ever seen. All of this was as if whatever deity out there that had his life in their hands had decided to cut him some slack, just this once.

If only that were truly the case.

Rolling out of bed, Atinir let his feet slide into large jack boots with the ease of practice, and strutted about the room as he went about gathering his things. He couldn't believe he had been one of the few magic-capable fellows to be accepted by the famous Oloril Taletreader, an elf of years that shouldn't be counted. He still had his wits, and almost acted as if he was a young man. But he was still something of an old, angry codger. Of the dozens that had come seeking him for training, only a few had remained to continue. Those that had left, hadn't by choice; they were, for the most part, the charred remains at the bottom of a newly-formed crater. Or the skewered remains at the bottom of a spiked pit. Or the excrement of large, lizard-like creatures. Yes, creatures. Plural.

And Atinir put up with all of this, because even with death being a very real and possible ending for this path he had chosen, death was a very real and possible ending in his every day life. As a matter of fact, it was almost a given, and that every day life wouldn't yield the experience that this kind of training would. As a matter of fact, if he survived this apprenticeship, he was sure almost nothing out there would be able to kill him without at least him being able to kill it back. First. Before he died. And maybe in time to find a person that could heal him.

All of that counted on one thing, however: his survival. Of training. Well, it wouldn't be the first time.

That Oloril Taletreader is a right-true bastard, he thought sullenly. And Atinir knew he was laughing about it all.

Finishing with the leather straps of his studded armour, Atinir fixed the weapons belt onto his hips. He was just going through the motions now: he secured the rapier in its' leather frog harness dangling just above his left thigh, and the dagger just above that in a more traditional hip sheath. He reached for the opposite end of the belt for the hand-axe (mostly a tool, but a tool that had saved him on more occasions than he cared to remember), and patted down the rest of his body for his daily accoutrement. The rest of his adventuring gear (including a crossbow he was particularly fond of) was stuffed inside of a backpack, in a storage room off to the side of the main room of the home; he really hoped he wouldn't need it for today. Satisfied, he made for the door, special magic-key in hand.

Before stepping through the potentially-fatal rip within space-and-time, he made two or three religious hand-gestures. And shut his eyes. And repeatedly told himself, I'll be fine, I'll be fine, I'll be fine...

SUMMARY: Atinir gets dressed whilst pouting over the very real possibility of dying, and heads into the main room of the old elf mages' home.
It was the smell of ancient pages that drew him here. It felt like home, minus the watchful gaze of his old tutor, and with significantly rarer books. A small stack lay to one side as Rogan sat slowly reading the text, it was what he did most of the time when he could. Not only did it stop thinking of the high mortality rate in the 'wider world' as his tutor had called it. He wondered how there were so many people when so many died every time they left the old wizard's home. IN a city of this size hundreds had to die every day.

He shook himself day to the page before him, but it was useless. He had the feeling they were going to be sent out again today and thus his bag lay ready in his room and his spell were prepared. With a sigh he closed the book and placed it on a small cart. No doubt it would put itself away. His joints clicked as he stretched, and with a loud yawn he stood and walked towards the door, opening it just as one of the other apprentices walked out of the door which lead to all of their bedrooms.

"Mornin'" Rogan said sleepily to Atinir. "Think theres time for breakfast before we get called?"
"Oh, ye gods!" Atinir nearly shouted as he stepped out just a moment ahead of Rogan who, through no fault of his own, had effectively snaked up on him within a foot's reach. He held a clenched hand over his chest as he turned to face the young man, another of Oloril Taletreader students. He had vaguely worked with him before, but he didn't know much about him.

"Good morning,"
Atinir responded slowly, regaining his composure as he rested his left-hand on the hilt of his sword. "There better be time for breakfast, or I bloody well won't be answering any kinds of summons til' I'm bloody well-ready." He paused as he considered exactly what Rogan had said just a second ago, and peered closer to the other young man.

"You think he's going to call on us again today, don't you?"
Atinir's reaction cause Rogan to jump back raising his arms defensively "Waoh..." he exclaimed as Atinir regained composure. Then listened as the other replied. "Just got one of those feelings. Wait... I've seen you around,don't think we've been introduced yet though. Names Rogan." he held out his hand in greeting.
Aton never slept. Not in the euphemism of it, either - the lad literally never slept. He never could... he'd lay there, attempting to go to sleep... and sleep would never come. Memories of his past swirled about in his mind... of his home... of his studies... of his family...

...Of his death.

Always, when sleep never came to him, he would get up and create a new mask. He had a good few of them now - a variety of animal masks, colorfully painted and tribally decorated... they went well with the colorful, garish clothes he normally wore - it made him look like a bright, abstract painting. He preferred these clothes, though it was often that he was mistaken for an actor or an illusionist. When this happened, he was sure to play up the part of actor.

Though this was untrue. His magical art was a great deal darker. The manipulation of life and death is more comfortably handled by clerics and divine orders than those who wield the powers arcane.

With a sigh, he finishes his new mask. A jaguar-head, colorfully painted so that even the toothy roar of the wooden 'creature' wouldn't be a frightful thing to look upon. He raises it, placing it over his own head, making sure it fit right.

With a nod, he secured it in place and fearlessly stepped through the room-portal... he didn't much like it. It felt a lot like having one's entire body in a suction, as arctic wind blew about that even chilled his undead bones. He shivered mightily as he walked through the other side.

"Oh." His young-sounding voice echoed through the wooden mask. He hadn't expected to see people standing right outside, and was momentarily startled. "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there." He apologizes, bowing his head slightly to them. "You're... Atinir and Rogan, yeah? I... don't know much about you save your names and specialties... thought it might be handy information to have. Sort of pathetic of me to shy away from social interaction, but I guess I can hardly be blamed, considering the stereotypes of arcane magic-users..." He mumbled this rant, mostly to himself, though his echoed through the open mouth of the panther-mask like a speaker-phone.
Zanigar puts on the last piece of his armor, his helmet, and takes a look at himself in his mirror. Satisfied at last after hours of meticulous shining of his armor, the House Orien mage opened his door to find three lower classed students standing there. Stamping his armored foot, Zanigar proclaimed, "What in the name of Siberys are you doing just standing in front of the door?! Might I remind you that we ALL must pass through this single door? Now if you don't mind, I'd like to leave my room." And with that, Zanigar pushed his way past the others and walked towards another doorway. Upon speaking a command, the door glowed momentarily. Zanigar then opened the door, revealing a room full of books. Closing the door behind him, the House Orien mage entered the library, picked up the book on Transmutation he'd been going over the day before, and sat down in a large chair. Opening the book, Zanigar began reading through, eager to be done with his training.
Atinir was about to respond to not only that first fellow Rogan, but to the latest fellow to bumble in on their uncannily-timed gathering before the magic door when suddenly that big doofus clad in armour stormed through. He squinted hard at his back as he headed into the library and turned back to the other two.

"I don't think I like him." He said as he harrumphed, crossing his arms. He then shot a glance over his shoulder back to the library door, and dropped his arms to his side. "Just, uh, don't tell him that."

"Ahem, yeah, anyways, ah, my name's Atinir. Yep. Came in a few weeks back. Haven't died yet! Woo! Obviously you two aren't dead yet, either. 'Cause it seems like that old elf codger's not even really wanting to find a true inheritor or anything! He's just toying with us! I'm telling you!"

Thankfully, his voice had dropped to a conspiratorial whisper as he finished that last part. And he had leaned in close to them.

"Anyways, I say we eat something before the next lesson or mission or test or whatever involves starving to death, or eating a snake plucked from our dreams, or... or... well, something else awful."

He took the initiative and started ahead of them, maneuvering for the kitchen and/or dining area. Either or. Food was bound to be found in one of them.
Rogan scowled at Zanigar's back as it disappeared. Not like this was the first time there had been congestion at their shared door. Hell Rogan had opened the door to another apprentice changing before now.

Chosing to ignore him Rogan turned to follow Atinir instead.

"Thats a nice mask." He said to Aton. "You make those yourself? I've seen you around with them. Though I do spend most of my tie in the library..... Mr..." His tone was as ever formal though pleasent as you might find a court retainer using, or a diplomat. "Aton... isn't it?"
Aton was not as discreet with his displeasure. "Asshole!" He called after the rude apprentice, before regaining his composure. "Ahem... 'scuze me." Obviously, undeath had made him a little more bold when it came to loose lips, but it had it's advantages.

"Yes. I've already eaten, but I will gladly join you in the kitchens." A lie - he hadn't had to eat since he died. But there's not a single reason he should reveal that to his companions yet.

The young man knocked on his 'head'. "Yeah, I make the masks myself. Figure I should wear something colorful to set me apart from my school's other members... that, and I have reasons to not reveal my appearance. It would prove difficult for myself and my family." True enough, at least where he was concerned. Wealthy families often had their sons and daughters taught some sort of magic, but keep it secret from the other politicians and rival families... a trump card, so to speak.

"The Master was walking around with a big smile on his face yesterday. I fear that whatever he has us do, it'll be tough."
"Tough, tough, always tough!" Atinir whined, his mouth full of crusty, freshly baked bread. He had found a basket full of still-warm buns and rolls, and had helped himself to it greedily. He couldn't find any butter, or fat, or honey, so he satiated himself greedily with what was at hand. He intended on finding some cured meat later, anyways.

"Why can't we just have a time for study hall, with that old cranky fart giving us a few pointers before telling us to run along, we'll be graded later! NNNOOO. He says something cryptic, and then we have to kill a giant armoured lizard. That breathes poison and spits acid. And bleeds fire."

He sighed after swallowing another mouthfull of bread, and picked up the basket to pre-empt Aton and Rogan, bringing it over to them.

"So it's Rogan and... uh... Atan, is it? Aton? Sorry, I'm not so good with names. Here, try the bread; I don't think the old fart baked it, but it's good!"

And maybe we'll eat all of it before that rude-ass in the library comes out. Haha!

Rogan nodded, he could understand someone having to keep their identity hidden. A sobering thought was he and Aton could have met at some noble gathering or another and Aton could even recognize Rogan but be unable to say so.

"I hate to think' he said as they entered the kitchen, "Wonder how many of us need to buy it before hes satisfied"

He was half joking and a smile played on his lips as he took a roll from the basket offered by Atinir. "Though if he was smiling it can't be good for us, and I think its safe to say there are few enough left so that we're going together on this one."
"Even if we weren't teaming up, I'd suggest it just for survivability. I have a hunch that's what the Master was attempting to teach us the entire time... it's just that we didn't quite get it, or were too proud. It's a pity, all those deaths. Surprised the Master is getting away with it, actually. I figure it's because he's both elven, and an Archmage. Getting away with stuff like this must be child's play."

Aton sighs slowly, shaking his masked head in shame. "Of course, I figure had we been a little wiser, it wouldn't be down to us... what is the count now? Nine? Yourselves, the rude man, that monstrous sorcerer, the elven youth, the devout one, that jerk-bard, the gnommish woman, and myself... yikes. What a group."

"...Oh! You're a... Transmuter, if I remember right..." He nods to Rogan. "And you're one of the best Evokers we've got..." He thinks about it for a second. "We might have a pretty darn good chance of survival no matter what we're up against. We've got a good mix of specialties... maybe a little planning once the... 'lesson' - and I use that term loosely - is given... we'll be able to make it through no problem, I think." Leaving his own specialty out of the mix. If they didn't know, then he'd have to apologize later. It's not the sort of thing one lets drop in polite conversation.
Teaming up? Increased survivability? That's a--

"Great idea!"
Atinir triumphantly announced in response. Of course, Atinir had already thought it up sooner, weeks ago in fact, but he knew from personal experience (having been trained at a Warmage College, after all) that wizards, mages, and other folks of the spell-casting variety had a propensity towards the haughtier spectrum of personality flaws. At the very least, they were fairly confident in their abilities; Atinir certainly was. The key difference between Atinir and them, however, was that he knew when to swallow what little pride he had left in order to save his own ass.

They didn't.

And in the off chance they did, well... It's not his fault that one of the dwarven bards from two missions ago had 'accidentally' tripped on one of Atinir's feet as they fled from a nest of beyond frightening, giant buzzing things. Things just worked out that way.

"Yes," Yeeeesss! "No matter what comes next, we pool our resources. Er, well... Should it be just us three, or maybe we should go talk to big-and-grumpy back over there, too?" He threw a thumb in the direction of Zanigar.
Rogan was chewing so it took him until after Atinir spoke for him to empty his mouth. "I thought he was just out to get us killed." he commented "But anyway teaming up will give him a run for him money, and may as well include grumpy, can always use him as bait."
"Well, let's go talk to him," Atinir said cheerfully as he bounded across the room not totally unlike a cockroach would when scurrying about to get from one hiding place to another. He approached the library door and stared at the doorway before muttering the magical words, and it opened, revealing Zanigar doing whatever it was he was doing; Atinir wasn't really paying attention.

"Hey! We just came up with a decent-enough plan. It involves not dying. Want to tell us your name so we can be sort-of chaps, and then we'll let you in on our plan?"
Without looking up from the book he was reading, Zanigar replied, "My name is Zanigar d'Orien, of the main branch family of House Orien. I am an armored mage specializing in Transumation, though currently, my martial prowess far exceeds my arcane abilities. As for your plan, so long as I am included as one of those who won't be dying, I will hear you out. After all, my mission is far to important to my lord for me to die now." Reaching the end of the page he was reading, Zanigar turned the page and waited for a response from Atinir.
That was a mouth full, thought Atinir as Zanigar turned the page in his book. He watched him for just a split-second longer before he realized, oh wait, it was his turn to say something.

Better make it good.

"Oh," was all he suddenly blurted it out. It was said in a rather chipper tone, however.

"Well, I'm Atinir, and the fellow with the mask here is Aton, and the other fellow there is Rogan. We're all unanimous in that the old elf isn't trying to apprentice us so much as he is trying to kill us, so we figure, let's set aside our pride and work together from this point forth. Sort of like, a united front, of sorts!" He nodded satisfactorily; he was quite proud of that word combination.

"We also figured, there was strength in numbers. And now we know you're something of a... well, you say yourself, you have some martial prowess, eh?! That means any beastie out there that likes to say hello in person will have to say hello to you first! If you catch my meaning, of course. But you won't be alone in all that effort!" Atinir rested his hand on the pommel of his rapier in a very exaggerated way.

"I'm pretty good with a sword myself, if I do say so... Err, myself. So! What you readin' there? Hear anything about what the old codger might try to kill us with today? We're all certain there's going to be a today, too, in case we didn't tell you. Or you didn't feel that preemptive itch down the back of your armor."
"You're a transmuter too?" Rogan blurted out, "Well than means we have a balanced transmuter force. I'm more focused on spells, though a have been known to get some mage armour going and I'm not exactly useless with a sword."

He was beginning to feel better about this teaming up thing.