Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wizards Three and the Apportioning of Loot

Amid the works constantly updated in the Library-University of Tharkad-Keln is an encyclopedia of famous, or infamous, mages. In its pages, one may find the likes of Kulu, Urthona, and of course, Yzorddathrexes.

Among the lesser--but no less interesting--arcane practitioners are the three wizards from the tavern tale "The Apportioning of the Loot." While we'll not concern ourselves with a recitation of that tale here, the strange events in the life of its principles are worthy of consideration, if for no other reason than they underscore the dangers of the thaumaturgical arts.

Kodos Nharn: Youngest of the three wizards, Nharn was a voluptuary, or (self-proclaimed) aesthete of worldly pleasures. He and Elberond Turms had quarrelled over a wand of exquisite workmanship and obvious sorcerous potency, and might have come to violence over it, had not Yrrol Othus interceded with a compromise. Turms got the wand, and Nharn two other items--a scroll and a jeweled bracelet. The bracelet he sold to pay off the debts accrued from his extravagant lifestyle. The scroll he kept, as he found it to be an item unchronicled in any catalog of arcane antiquities he consulted.

It was only seen once by anyone other than Nharn, as far as is known. A servant reported it to be a painting of an audience room of a sort, well-appointed, wherein a voluptuous, darkhaired woman in diaphonous green robes reclined on a great couch upon a dais. She was attended by beautiful youths of both sexes, also attired in diaphonous tunics. There was a sorcerous aspect to the painting in that, the servant averred, it looked like a scene from life somehow frozen in time rather than an artifact of brush and paint.

Nharn took the painting to his private chamber and it was never seen again. Nharn seldom emerged from his chamber thereafter, except to call from something from his servants. It was said that sounds of feasting and merriment, and strange music could be heard coming from the room, and sometimes unmistakably, more--primal--sounds of pleausure emerged. Yet no one but Nharn was ever admitted to the room.

This went on for a year. Then, on the night of midsummer, in the small hours, a beautiful, darkhaired woman emerged from the room. In a strange accent, but unmistakable tone of command, she released the servants from their duties. Then, she disappeared into the night. Nharn's creditor's took the house and all his belongings, including a weirdly realistic painting of a thin and dissipated Nharn, lolling drunkenly on a great couch, surrounded by sunken-eyed youths. This last item was purchased at auction by an anonymous collector, and has never been seen again.

Elberond Turms: A wizard of middling talent, but of some renown for his highly developed sense of fashion. Thanks to his wit and style, Turms was frequent a guest of the nobility. Turms was given a wand of exceedingly fine make from the haul. This wand increased his abilities several fold, and with its powers, combined with the patronage of his social connections, Turms established himself in Zycanthlarion. Turms was quit successful for many years, and the wand was seldom out of his hands. He was seen to talk to it at times, perhaps even argue with it. This eccentricity did little to harm him socially, but not so an ill-considered comment made publicly.

Perhaps under the influence of too much Trosian wine, Turms compared himself favorably with Yzorddathrexes. Though the archmage had not been seen for centuries, his Eidolon Tower still appeared above the city, and at intervals its base appeared in its streets. The tower and its master evoked a good deal of superstitious dread. Fearing sorcerous retribution for the insult, high society began to shun Turms, who soon turned to mind-numbing drugs to ease his own anxieties. First ostracized, then reclusive, Turms had vanished from Zycanthlarion altogether within months of the comment. A ragged street mountebank meeting Turms description (if one allows for the ravages of self-abuse) drowned (or was perhaps fatally bitten by a river-shark, accounts differ) in the town of Eelsport, after a lengthy argument with the fancy scepter he gripped tightly, even into death. Zycanthlarion society is still divided on whether the great Yzorddathrexes ever redressed the insult or not. The wand presumably lies in an unmarked grave still held in a moldering hand.

Yrrol Othus: Oldest and wisest of the three, it is said, Othus was not given to weaknesses of carnality, vanity, or over-ambition. To Othus, the supreme pleasure of the arcane arts was in acquiring knowledge. He chose from the treasures a potion--transparent in color, but given to producing prismatic eddies and oil-slick iridescence when shaken or swirled. The substance in the vial is now know by alchemical sages to have been phantasmagoric ahlzo. Uncharacteristically rash ingestion of the liquid led Othus to be able to perceive the noumenal planes and their denizens intersecting our own world unseen. Leading to even greater disorientation, he began to perceive the seething, chaotic maelstrom which arcane philosophers hold forms the multiverse's substratum. Alternately driven to horror and ecstasy by these visions, Othus eventually sought out the Harlequin Mage, and with that insane dwarf as a guide is said to have descended into a green-lit subterranean realm where the roiling, gelatinous dream-fragment of a dead, chaos god-thing was to be found.

No one knows, of course, what became of him, but two schools of thought predominate. One holds that he was there subsumed into the insane godhead and exists now only as a ephemeral fancy in that unfathomable mind. The other theorizes that he retains his form and individually and stays as the deity's sole worshipper, receiving its whispered, incoherent pronouncements for eternity.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting story tied to that piece from the Moldvay BD&D!

Trey said...

Yeah, I've had the thought of doing riffs on several old school peices of artwork, but this is the only one I've got around to yet

Unknown said...

You beat me to the punch on this one. I had a notion to create a setting entirely based on the works of Erol Otus. I still may do it, but I'll be hard pressed to equal the story that you came up for this piece. :)

Trey said...

Thanks! But don't let me stop you. I think setting based on Otus' art would be a really cool idea.