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SEVRIN LORE: The Narwhal

When the people of Sevrin speak of narwhals, they might be talking about the small, tusked whales that summer in the shallow waters around Sevrin’s northern islands.  More likely they’re referring to Narwhal Harbor, a legendary seaport on Stormwall island, and the pirates who once ruled it.

Like many island cultures, Sevrin has a history of piracy.  It is particularly suited to raiding parties of several small ships–the famed Narwhal “pods”–which could disappear into rocky coves impassible to larger ships. But large-scale piracy was also practiced, with some pirate lords commanding fleets of well armed vessels.

When Eldreath rose to power, he seized control of Stormwall Island, Sevrin’s only deep-water port.  He razed Narwhal Harbor, the dock city, in a stunning and brutal display of magic that also burned every pirate ship in the harbor down to the waterline.  He placed Timmony Blackheart, the most powerful and brutal of the pirate lords, in charge of the ancient stone keep (most recently known as Muldonny Manor) and paid him handsomely to hunt down his former comrades and competitors.

This action won Eldreath considerable approval and support from rulers of other lands, many of whom sent ships and fighters to help this law-abiding lord consolidate his rule over the pirate islands.  Any foreigners who  might have harbored a secondary agenda and ambitions of their own soon learned that Eldreath was not inclined to share power or territory.

Some coastal raiding continued, however, and even after several generations of Eldreath’s reign, the Narwhal tradition ran deep.  The adepts’ rise to power was in no small part due to a fleet of raiders, fishermen, and merchant seamen who formed a blockade around the island to ward off any who might come to the sorcerer’s aid.  Once the battle was won, the adepts wisely put the raiders to work as sanctioned bounty hunters, thus giving rise to the Gatherers.

SEVRIN LORE: Ravens' Blood

Those who are wise in the ways of magic see little  difference between “green” magic–that which is meant to help and heal–and the “black arts.”  Few would argue that one was good and the other bad.  They judge magic and those who practice it by three central values:  intention, result, and balance.

Balance is a vitally important concept, for an herbal potion that cures can also kill.  Intention matters for several reasons, not the least of which is the importance of focused will to the study and practice of magic.  Like a sword, magic is neither good nor evil, but the intentions of the sorcerer or witch are only the beginning of the tale. The result of magic determines the nature and value of its use.

One of the old magical traditions, now fallen into official disfavor, was called Ravenwing. Its practitioners were priestesses as well as witches, and they sought the will of their goddess through ritual and potion-induced trance.  The potion was concocted primarily of a tiny black mushroom known as Ravens’ Blood. Ingested, it created a state of mind that allowed the priestess to “fly” between the lands of the living and the dead.  There they would seek to know the future or find answers to troubling dilemnas.  No one but a priestess dared to drink Ravens’ Blood. The girls chosen for this life spent years training, building up a mental and physical tolerance.  Those who lacked this preparation would either die of the poison or go mad.

Of course, the adepts dismiss the entire cult as mushroom-induced madness, and the practice of Ravenwing is strictly prohibited.  It’s not an issue of great concern to them, for Eldreath all but obliterated the Ravenwing order during his rise to power; in fact, his (cynical and entirely self-serving) campaign against the “black arts” gained him considerable support during his early years.   But rumor suggests that a single woman survived the sorcerer’s purge, and that she has been quietly training  a successor.

SEVRIN LORE: Ravens’ Blood

Those who are wise in the ways of magic see little  difference between “green” magic–that which is meant to help and heal–and the “black arts.”  Few would argue that one was good and the other bad.  They judge magic and those who practice it by three central values:  intention, result, and balance.

Balance is a vitally important concept, for an herbal potion that cures can also kill.  Intention matters for several reasons, not the least of which is the importance of focused will to the study and practice of magic.  Like a sword, magic is neither good nor evil, but the intentions of the sorcerer or witch are only the beginning of the tale. The result of magic determines the nature and value of its use.

One of the old magical traditions, now fallen into official disfavor, was called Ravenwing. Its practitioners were priestesses as well as witches, and they sought the will of their goddess through ritual and potion-induced trance.  The potion was concocted primarily of a tiny black mushroom known as Ravens’ Blood. Ingested, it created a state of mind that allowed the priestess to “fly” between the lands of the living and the dead.  There they would seek to know the future or find answers to troubling dilemnas.  No one but a priestess dared to drink Ravens’ Blood. The girls chosen for this life spent years training, building up a mental and physical tolerance.  Those who lacked this preparation would either die of the poison or go mad.

Of course, the adepts dismiss the entire cult as mushroom-induced madness, and the practice of Ravenwing is strictly prohibited.  It’s not an issue of great concern to them, for Eldreath all but obliterated the Ravenwing order during his rise to power; in fact, his (cynical and entirely self-serving) campaign against the “black arts” gained him considerable support during his early years.   But rumor suggests that a single woman survived the sorcerer’s purge, and that she has been quietly training  a successor.

SEVRIN LORE: Eldreath

For over 200 years, the sorcerer Eldreath ruled from a tower that stood on the current site of Rhendish Manor.  His reign was brutal and absolute, but it also saw a flowering of arts and science unprecedented in Sevrin history.  Ironically, it was this very advancement that led to his downfall.

Twenty years ago, alchemists from all the islands of Sevrin united in a single goal:  To end Eldreath’s reign.  The sorcerer was presumed slain when the alchemists brought down the tower around him.  The battered corpse of a tall, white-haired man was embalmed and put on public display in a sealed glass coffin.  It remained on display for several years, slowly drying out until it was no longer recognizable.

Of course, some people have pointed out that the corpse was never recognizable. 

Eldreath’s death is accepted as official fact, but the possibility of his survival is raised by children frightening each other with midnight tales, and by conspiracy-minded folk of all ages.

Little is known of Eldreath’s life before his rise to power.  Most agree that he was born on the mainland and came to Sevrin as a young man.  Already a powerful sorcerer, he downplayed his innate magical ability and apprenticed himself to one of the most powerful wizards on the main island of SevrinAfter his master’s unfortunate death (and the theft of the wizard’s books and magical tools), Eldreath moved to another apprenticeship.  He was an ideal student:  quick to learn, respectful, popular with his fellow apprentices. 

Eldreath was handsome and engaging, with a light-hearted, self-deprecating manner that effectively cloaked his ambition.  He moved up through the ranks of Sevrin’s magical hierarchy with an ease that, in retrospect, was in itself suspicious.  But at the time, no one suspected that the diligent young man who seemed so ideally suited to a wizard’s discipline already possessed raw power beyond that any of his master could command.  Eldreath’s innate sorcery was the living equivalent of gunpowder, and his training provided flame to fire it and the knowledge required to focus it into effective weapons.

As a young man, Eldreath was obliged to spend much of his earnings in support of the children he sired upon a succession of women.  At the time, this behavior seemed, at worse, slightly irresponsible, but any mention of his active social life was more likely to inspire indulgent smiles than disapproval. Only after he assumed power, only when people began to understand that Eldreath’s magic was something far beyond Sevrin’s understanding of wizardry, did they realize that he was trying to pass along the gift of sorcery.  

Some of his children did, in fact, possess a level of sorcerous ability.  Several of them were instrumental in Eldreath’s rise to power; some gained infamy of their own.  Since all of these sorcerers trained as wizards, the two became entwined and in time tainted Sevrin’s attitude toward magic-wielders of any sort.

After Eldreath’s downfall, the most powerful alchemist formed a ruling Council of Adepts. One of their first acts was to hunt down and destroy Eldreath’s offspring, down to the youngest child in the third and fourth generation.  It is believed that Eldreath’s bloodline is extinct, but rumor persist of sorcerers who escaped Sevrin before the Adepts’ purge.

SEVRIN LORE: Muldonny

Seven powerful alchemists known as adepts rule the islands of Sevrin.  Rhendish rules the largest island, which is also known as Sevrin.  The island next in importance–or first in importance, depending upon whom you ask–is Stormwall Island, which is ruled by the adept Muldonny.

A plump, fussy, middle-aged man, Muldonny is reclusive to the point of paranoia.  He seldom leaves his double-walled fortress and permits no one to enter the inner sanctum but a few carefully selected visitors.   Not even servants and guards are permitted, only the clockword constructs he builds with his own hands.  Even then, Muldonny is not a trusting man, and he keeps alchemical weapons on hand in the remote possibility that a clockwork guard might malfunction.

Anyone meeting Muldonny today might have a difficult time equating him with the warlord who played a pivotal role in the overthrow of the sorcerer Eldreath.  He is aware that his warlord image would be tarnished by his comfort-loving appearance, and he limits his visitors to his fellow adepts and visiting alchemists. Among his peers, his reputation is as bright as ever, and he is widely regarded to be the most powerful of Sevrin’s adepts.

Stormwall Island is the center of Sevrin’s contact with the Known Lands.  It is the only island with a deepwater port, and all goods and travelers enter Sevrin at Stormwall.  In times past, the fortifications of Stormwall held off invaders, and Muldonny’s vast stone fortress is still considered the cornerstone of Sevrin’s defense. 

The adept rules the island through a team of senechals and prefers to spend his time in study and research, but the mere fact that he lives is enough to make the people of Sevrin feel secure and ambitious foreigners regard the islands as unassailable.

Muldonny is passionately interested in the old races, the elves in particular.  He collects elven artifacts and has a vast personal library of learned tomes and travelers’ tales dealing with elves.  He has never actually met an elf, though this is a personal and private dream.   A few of his fellow adepts know of this interest and worry about what it might portend.

SEVRIN LORE: Alchemy in Sevrin

Alchemy has been practiced in the Known Lands for hundred of years, but knowledge of this tradition reached Sevrin about fifty years ago.  In its infancy, Sevrin alchemy was a central part of the plan to overthrow Eldreath, the sorcerer lord.  This early focus determined the course of Sevrin’s approach to alchemy.

In the southern lands where it originated, alchemy is as a philosophy and spiritual tradition in addition to being a practical art.  Personal transformation is considered to be the goal of wise men, and the notion of “changing base metals into gold” is a metaphor, not a literal quest.

In Sevrin, however, the search for alkahest, a universal solvent, became a search for alchemical weapons that could melt metal armor, burn with unquenchable flame, or cause noxious fumes that could stun or kill.  Such weapons won Sevrin’s freedom from Eldreath and discourage other countries from attacking, but the price has been high. 

Corin, a small island at the northern end of the chain of islands that make up Sevrin, is a casualty of those early experiments. Once a thriving community of fishing villages, small farms, and busy market town, it is all but deserted.  Most people of Sevrin believe that Corin was destroyed by Eldreath’s sorcery. 

Since the overthrow of Eldreath, Sevrin alchemy has diversified.  Some adepts still focus on weapons, others lead the search for medicines that will cure ills and prolong life. Others focus on metals and craftsmanship, building clockwork machines that have become Sevrin’s most profitable export.  These machines range from toys to safeboxes,  from devious traps to musical instruments, from  animated statues to small hand weapons.  Two adepts, Rhendish and Muldonny, are famous for their clockwork guards.  They jealously guard the secrets to these creations, however, and keep these metal servants strictly for their own use.

SEVRIN LORE: Carmot dwarves

Sevrin’s alchemists are fascinated by the discovery of substances in living bodies that are also found in rocks and soil:  iron, copper, zinc.  A certain race of dwarves, the Carmot, also have trace amounts of carmite in their blood and bone. 

This rare mineral attracts energy like a load stone attracts metal. Of more interest to sorcerers and alchemists is its volatility; it readily binds with other substances and in doing so, releases energy. Carmite can amplify many potions without altering them.

As a result, Carmot dwarves were hunted nearly to extinction. The long reign of Eldreath, the sorcery who ruled Sevrin until he was slain and replaced by the Council of Adepts, was infamous for its attrocities against the dwarven people. Sevrin’s alchemists point to this grim history as one of the reasons for Eldreath’s overthrow, as well as an argument against the use of magic.

In truth, alchemists have a keen (if secret) interest in the Carmot dwarves. Gatherers funded by Sevrin’s adepts travel throughout the northland, investigating rumors of dwarf settlements and tracking down individual dwarf adventurers.  For a Carmot dwarf, there are few places more dangerous than Sevrin.

The Carmot have several distinquishing characteristics. Even among dwarves, their affinity to  stone is remarkable.  The high contents of mineral in their bodies allows them to find minerals in a manner some elves describe as “like a pig sniffing out truffles.”  Some Carmot have the ability to stoneshift: to cut, shape, or move stone through the use of magic.  

Carmot dwarves are natural chameleons, able to shift the color of their hair and skin at will.  Their natural coloring is gray, and when they are not colorshifting, they appear to be sculpted of stone.

Though skilled miners, Carmot dwarves are also fond of travel, trade, and adventuring. They tend to be curious, lusty, charismatic, and possessed of a wry sense of humor.  Carmot enjoy associating with other races. If you find a Carmot dwarf in mixed company, he’ll usually be the person in charge, even if he’s not the nominal leader. 

Carmot are taller than some races of dwarves. A few can pass as short, muscular humans.  Humans find these Carmot physically attractive and occasional liaisons occur, but there are no half-dwarves.

A persistent legend speaks of the last king of the Carmot, an ancient dwarf who has sent his many sons throughout the northlands to reclaim old settlements and find lands hospitable to new habitations.  Most humans dismiss this as a tavern tales. They probably shouldn’t.