|The Origin of Magicka
According to legend, the drakes were the first race in Andurin. They slept in cold caverns, swam in still oceans, and flew in dark skies long before the advent of Men. It is natural, therefore, to conclude that drakes were the first wizards in Andurin; their considerable talent for magic is well known. Drakkari commonspeech is extremely close to the Elder Tongue. It is said that the drakes overheard the gods as they formed and shaped all of creation. This explains in part why drakes and their ilk are so adept at wizardry. The Elder Tongue binds all mortal creatures to speak true—except for the drakes; they alone have the cunning to lie in the True Speech....or so the legends say.
The Seelie Court (who are also known as the Sidhe and the Fae) also have great aptitude for the Elder Tongue. They were probably the second wizards in Andurin; only the drakes know what the land was like before the coming of the Ffolk. A Fae presence predates human existence in what is now Damrosil (in southwestern Telluria), on Arator and Silmataurea by several dozen millennia. It is said that in the ancient times, the fairies once lived openly, visible to all.
Fae love magicka and have an uncanny affinity for enchantments. They take great delight in unusual or elegantly-wrought spells and artifacts. The most powerful magical items now in Andurin were undoubtedly wrought by the Fae in ages past...those that survived the Sundering in any event. Their enchanted swords are still prized above all others, save for the Twelve. It is said that the fabulous blade of King Falconedge, for instance, was made by an ancient prince of the Seelie Court, and given to him by a Ffolk maiden.
The Fae are also masters of illusion. Faerie glamour, it is said, is almost impossible for mortals—even magicians—to recognize. There are countless tales of the Fae using their glamour to disguise themselves or trick hapless mortals.
Long ago, before the birth of the elves, it is said that the Lords of Faerie withdrew from Andurin and the visible world. Why they left and just where they went is unclear. There are many stories of the Fae sailing into the west, or withdrawing deep into the woods and far beneath the ancient hills. The realm of Faerie is now largely inaccessable to mortal men, and the Fae only rarely venture forth. Those mortals who have claimed to visted this place tell fantastic tales of a strange land where time has no meaning, a realm filled with unending wonders.
A governor from Brynnel named Halius once attempted to invade a Faerie wood; each time his troops entered the trees, they would march barely a bow-shot before finding themselves back where they started from. Few men since have repeated the governor's folly.
Of the Fae, only the lesser faeries have remained behind in the mortal world, and it is said that their time here is waning. The faeries here are wilder and are more neutral than their nobler cousins. In addition, they are extremely reticent, and have rarely had direct contact with people. They use their magic to dazzle and frighten all those with whom they are unfamiliar. The great faery queen Titania and her court kept the ebon drake Noxostratos at bay for centuries, and was later feared by Fhaardi barbarian raiders who ventured into what is now northwestern Damrosil.
It is not clear who had dwelt in southwestern Telluria before the coming of Men, nor how long they had been there. Some evidence remains of a primitive pre-human society; a dark, furtive race built the prehistoric dolmens, cairns, barrows, and stones which still dot the landscape. Contrary to popular belief, druids did not build these things—though they did venerate these places. It is not known what magics these pre-human races used, if any. Little is known of them; they seem to have been fairly primitive. Some have suggested a great human kingdom existed alongside the Fae, although there is little evidence to support this.
Traditionally, Men had little experience with wizardly magic; they relied exclusively on priests and shamans for all sorcery. The rare wizards that were encountered were greatly feared and of considerable power. In general, though, wizardly magicka was the domain of non-humans, such as the dread hags which prowled the Barren Wastes and the depths of the Shadowed Wood in eastern Silmataurea. The enchantments of the Sidhe were held in awe and often feared by others—although relations between the Fae and mortal races, particularly those of Men were not always hostile. Sometimes, a Sidhe and a human would mate; those few born with a talent for magicka usually had some faerie blood in their veins.
Tarquinas and the Republic of Thae
The Tarquinians of antiquity were renown for their command of magics. Legend has it that a Tarquinian farmer was plowing his fields one day when a tall man miraculously arose out of the ground from one of the furrows. This man then proceeded to teach the farmer the very first wizard spells. The Tarquinian wizards assembled an early demonology, and were said to be able to call up spirits and bind them to service. Tarquinian wizards were famed for their use of familiars. Tarquinian wizards were also good at divination: they could foretell the future from examining animal entrails (haruspicy) or observing lightning strikes. In fact, divination in general was sometimes described as "the Tarquinian Art."
The early Thaecians, in contrast, had little aptitude for and almost no tradition of wizardry—they distrusted and hated the Art and all its practitioners. These people were extremely religious by nature, and like other Men of their time, relied on priests, druids and shamans exclusively for any magicka. Their antipathy toward magicka is reflected in an ancient Thaecian term, veneficium, which had two meanings; first, use of the magical arts, especially sorcery employed to harmful ends; and second, the act of poisoning.
From the beginning of its history, Thae was ruled by the distant Tarquinian kings. And while the Tarquinians were not particularly repressive, they naturally had very bad reputations because of their fondness for sorcery. When Thae finally gained its independence, many of the Tarquinian magicians were killed or driven off.
After the founding of the Republic, Thae underwent a dramatic period of political expansion within the ancient world. As Thaecian power and imperialism grew, many foreign influences were brought into the region—including foreign sorcery. Most free wizards in the Republic maintained low profiles: magicka and its practices was a punishable offense and still viewed unfavorably by more conservative citizens. Under the laws of the Republic, necromancy was occasionally practiced in secret, but it had no place in the religious life and was subject to severe legal penalties.
But many Thaecian citizens slowly acquired a taste for sorcery, and would pay handsomely for new and exotic trinkets or exciting magic spectacles. It became rather fashionable among the aristocratic classes to have a slave who knew some amusing or helpful magic. During the Republic most wizards were foreign-born, and of low station. Few Thaecian citizens actually perfumed magic themselves; free wizards were presumed to have had some foreign or Tarquinian blood in their veins. Women wizards were rare but especially hated; there were nonetheless some powerful witches in these days, perhaps most notably Veranis of Nura.
The Rise of the First Empire
After the Republic was abolished, the Thaecian Empire increasingly tolerated wizardry. Despite the reservations of the Imperial Legion and the antipathy of common soldiers, mercenary sorcerers were frequently deployed on the frontiers, and proved invaluable in campaigns on Naranduil and Aramin. More and more, Thae accepted and relied upon magicka; this eventually allowed for the creation of a wizardly institution sanctioned by the Empire: the famed Imperial Adepts.
Much of the old Thaecian distrust for magic resurfaced in the earliest years of the Empire. Emperor Coriolanus had something like 2,000 magical scrolls destroyed in just one year alone. Both the Emperors and the Legion feared the power of alien wizards—and not without reason. In the reactionary spirit of the early Empire, all sorcerers were frequently driven from Thae, accused of harming the land or Emperor with their evil spells; the most famous example was probably the expulsion of Nestorides and all his apprentices by Emperor Marius. Nocturnal ceremonies to invoke the infernal deities, the making of wax images and the tying of knots to cause pain, death, or sexual impotence, and of course the manufacture of poisons (employed to speed up the supernatural processes) were offenses punished by crucifixion or being thrown to wild beasts.
However, the Emperors almost always reserved the right to exclude their own personal sorcerers from expulsion or persecution: even Coriolanus was known to consult astrologers. And as the Empire grew older and even more powerful, its influence extended across half the known world—which included the sorcery-steeped east. A series of inconclusive wars with Xarsh had demonstrated the sorcerous power of the Magi. Slaves from other lands, in particular those brought from the wilderness of Aramin and Vathar had already brought a considerable body of magic learning into the Republic, but the annexation of several eastern kingdoms introduced into Thae numerous mystery cults, the art of astrology, and new and exotic magical traditions.
It was the conquest of Pyrrha, however, which marked the single most significant shift in Thaecian wizardry. Pyrrha the old, with its nighted pyramids and sphinxes, was an ancient land that boasted the earliest recorded use of magicka by Men. Millennia before the rise of Tarquinus, the sorcerers of Pyrrha were indisputably the most powerful wizards on Andurin. But by the time of the conquest, the pharaohs were all dead, and the glories of ancient Pyrrha had faded; it had not produced a truly great mage for centuries.
Nonetheless, Pyrrha proved a seemingly inexhaustible storehouse of magicka; knowledge of sorcery and sorcerers themselves flooded the Empire. The old and cosmopolitan city of Alexandretta was a crossroads of eastern and western magic traditions, and was soon established as the center of sorcery in the Thaecia. Pyrrhic books on magicka (both genuine and fraudulent) were quickly translated and made readily available to eager readers. Magicka soon became a fashionable, if nervy, pastime for many citizens.
At the height of its power the Thaecian Empire enjoyed an unprecedented level of prosperity—which had its downside. Despite the incessant warnings from the priestly class, traditional Thaecian values of duty and reverence lapsed in favor of new and exotic ways. And as the aristocratic families of Thae decayed, the Imperial court became more and more decadent. The mad emperor Jurianus tolerated a wife who openly practiced sorcery (among other vices); this folly provoked his assassination.
The Imperial Adepts
Increasingly, the Emperors dispatched mercenary sorcerers to the frontier. By the reign of Perius (over 1500 years before the Invoked Devastation) sorcerers were freely welcomed into the emperor's own palace; from then on no wizard feared plying the trade within Thae.
The assassination of Perius initiated a terrible period of turmoil within the Empire. At this time Thae's borders were overextended, and for several centuries, its frontiers had slowly retreated before barbarian invaders. The economic strain of maintaining the sprawling Empire proved extremely burdensome; high taxes and a series of economic crises led to famines, labor strikes, and general internal unrest. A gnollish revolt broke out in the east which demanded sudden and massive redeployment of Imperial troops.
During this period, the succession of Emperors, never painless, became especially contentious; the Emperor was more-or-less made by the military. The most powerful amongst the Legion vied amongst themselves for their own chosen candidates; these internecine struggles occasionally approached civil war. At one time no less than five different Emperors were declared.
It was out of this period of crisis that the Imperial Adepts were born. The emperor Lineaus, fearing for his life, appointed his personal wizard Octavian as the first Adept. Within a decade twelve other wizards had been so named, and the next, another dozen. The Adepts were charged with upholding the rule of the Emperor; they swore solemn oaths of loyalty to him. They originally attended exclusively to the Emperor; their spells were to shield him from harm or spies. The deranged Emperor Corontitus insisted that no less than three dozen such protective spells were to be constantly in effect on his person; the Adepts wove spells day and night to fulfill this command. None of these spells seemed able to prevent his assassination; history records that Corontitus reigned for a scant eight months before being murdered.
Despite this inexplicable lapse, the Adepts soon came to serve not only the Emperor and his family, but Senators, generals, governors, and other important figures. Their ranks were swiftly expanded; each new Emperor seemed eager to create positions for new Adepts. Harried Champions amongst the Legion soon considered the Adepts invaluable in their numerous wars. Although the common soldiers generally hated all sorcerers, they at least came to respect (and fear) the offensive capabilities of the Adepts.
When the period of turmoil was finally over, the Adepts were at the height of their influence—more than six hundred years after their inception. The Adepts had played a decisive role in stabilizing the Empire, and shoring up its borders against encroaching barbarian and monster tribes. At their apogee the Adepts were formidable wizards, with considerable sorcerous power and learning at their disposal. It is sometimes said that the Adepts had knowledge of over a thousand different spells.
It was during this time that the Adepts unleashed their most famed achievement: the Nine Colossi of the Limites. These were nine 50-foot tall bronze statues, formed in the image of Marnes, Thaecian protector and god of war ((OOC: NE Thaecian Aspect of Martreus)). The Adepts were able to animate these monstrosities: it is said they bound a powerful spirit within each metal housing. These Colossi were placed at the limits of the empire, and were able to fight and defend their posts. In Arator (in what is now southern Calabria), the wildmen were terrified of the Colossus that towered over Demerian's Wall.
The Adepts were originally accomplished Abjurers and Diviners; they used these and other magicka to protect the Emperor. Despite their triumph with the Colossi and lesser automata, the Adepts were not especially skilled enchanters. Such skill was never deemed really necessary; Thae's numerous victories had brought a wealth of wondrous items into the Empire, as well as foreign wizards who could always be commanded to produce more such devices. Many Adepts were accomplished Transmuters: in late antiquity, a large and esoteric body of writings was exclusively devoted to alteration magic.
But the Adepts rapidly developed an abiding interest in the school of Conjuration/Summoning: many of these spells entered into Thae by way of ancient Pyrrha. These spells came to dominate the Adepts' repertoire, while the other schools of magic fell into disuse. Conjuration spells appealed to a distinctly Thaecian quality. The Adepts, like any Thaecian citizen, were accustomed to having the entire world at their beck and call. Using magicka to compel other beings to fight and toil for them seemed a natural and desirable development. The Adepts used their sorcerous might to impose their will on monsters, both terrestrial and extra-planar, and a tangled series of pacts and bindings were soon formed.
As the Empire neared its twilight, the Adepts became increasingly corrupted and ineffectual. Many neglected their oaths of loyalty to the Empire, and were more interested in promoting their own personal fortunes. And the Adepts' Art, always derivative, suffered a steady decline; there were fewer and fewer magical innovations, and more dependence on the legacies of the past. Many Adepts devoted their limited abilities to composing pedantic commentaries and pursuing esoteric theories. As the Adept's personal abilities waned, they increasingly called on extra-planar powers to buttress their depleted magics. And increasingly, these powers originated from the lower planes, from fell denizens of Andurin such as the abomination Dagoth Ur, and from a dark and nameless evil known only to its hidden worshippers as the Great Lord of the Dark.
Worshippers of the Lady
Toward the end of the Thaecian Empire, the weak Adepts relied markedly on diabolic aid. This process was greatly accelerated by the decline of the Empire, as demonstrated by a new series of setbacks on its frontiers. Invasions from the Kargs ((OOC: ancestors of the Omai)) were becoming more frequent and more debilitating. Rather than ceding the territories outright to these invaders, the Emperors undertook a massive series of administrative reforms. Yet despite these efforts, the withdrawal of the Imperial armies spelt inexorable doom for the Empire.
In -240, the Empire was divided into two halves, the Northlands (in what is now Morrowind) and the Imperium, each ruled by a co-emperor. This was a fairly desperate attempt to reorganize; it bought the Northlands at most an extra century or two of life. Of the two halves, the Imperium was clearly the more powerful; troops were steadily removed from the Northlands to the Imperium, where they were needed to quell internal dissension. Those mercenary troops that remained in the Northlands were usually underfunded, ill-equipped, and badly trained. Thus the pressing demand for more and more powerful magics.
By this point the Adepts were almost totally dependent upon the power of extra-planar creatures, and were increasingly calling upon vile things for assistance. Fell and terrible fiends, eager to extend their influence on this plane, and always desirous of corrupting mortals, were only too glad to fight for the Empire. The Dark Host of the Nine in particular heeded the Adepts' summonings, and were infamous for their ability to twist the wording of pacts to their own infernal benefit.
It soon became unclear who was master of whom; many Adepts were destroyed by things which were ostensibly their servants. Some Adepts turned to fiend-worship, and became demonolaters in order to gain powerful magic; other Adepts bargained with their own souls in dark and unsavory rituals. In at least one instance, an Adept was forced to call up fiends to rectify a botched summoning. The Adept Androntitus of Larium called on a lord of the Sixth House, but the darkling prince was able to burst his confinement and wreck havoc. Desperate, Androntitus conjured three powerful devils to combat the menace. Between these unholy forces, Larium was utterly leveled in one horrific night, and Androntitus dragged wailing down to the pits.
Despite such disasters, the use of diabolic aid was undeniably effective, and sustained the Northlands unnaturally for many years after the Empire by rights should have fallen. Foul and terrible fiends shattered wildman and Karg hosts alike, and struck horror into all who beheld them.
In the Northlands, the large and growing Hurishtii community was, to say the least, outraged and repulsed by this turn of events. Worship of the Lady, which never took root in the Imperium, found fertile ground in the Northlands—despite the efforts of the Empire to eradicate what was considered a subversive movement. In fact, despite the persecutions, the faithful of Hurishta flourished in the Northlands. A century before the division of the Invoked Devastation, the Northlands had declared official toleration of her worship (and also that of Oneiros, Almaril, Elantra and Tevesh). The Hurishtii, however, were not appeased: they viewed the continued summoning of fiends as but one more sign of the Empire's irredeemable condition.
Martek, the Archmage
In the year -80, the Adept Martek, seeing the writing on the wall, converted to worship of the goddess. This event was a crucial turning point in the history of wizardry, for Martek was one of the last powerful Adepts, and his dramatic conversion occurred while he was at the height of his powers. Martek wielded the greatest of magics, and had developed several spells of his own—the most famed of which is probably an arcane version of the divine spell wrath of the heavens.
The conversion of Martek is generally seen as either a cynical (though shrewd) attempt to preserve political support for wizardry, or a sincere and dramatic personal revelation. In any case, after this moment, Martek zealously undertook his own private reformation. He began seeking out the most powerful Adepts in the Northlands, presenting them a simple choice: convert to worship of the Lady and rebuke all diabolic aid, or die. Several Adepts resisted, and were destroyed in turn. Martek was cunning and patient, and spent several long years trying to convert Adepts and drive fiends from the mortal plane. Eventually he gathered a band of nine converted Adepts, who formed the group known as the Decad. The Decad continued Martek's work, and actively sought out other Adepts for destruction, claiming their apprentices as the Decad's own.
In -58, Horatius, the emperor of the Northlands, converted to worship of Hurishta. He outlawed all pagan religions and disbanded the Adepts. Most of the unrepentant Adepts still living in the Northlands returned to the south, to the Imperium. Those few that remained did not stand long against the Decad.
Contrary to popular belief, Martek did not found the Order of the Silver Quill. The Order appeared only long after his death, which happened in 148, almost a century and a half after the Invoked Devastation. Martek died battling the ifrit lord Khalitarius—who was somehow barred from the mortal plane and forbidden to return for over three thousand years.
The last Adept in the Northlands died during the reign of the Empress Suvrael. Following the example of Martek, no other member of the Decad took on new apprentices. And with the rise of the temple of Hurishta, fewer and fewer people became interested in wizardry. Those few wizards that did persist, however, were invaluable to later magicians, for they preserved much sorcerous learning from the First Empire.
The Empire of Thae met its end in a great conflagration, when the Invoked Devastation struck, twelve years later.