IN THE SHADOW OF THE SPIRE
CHARACTER BACKGROUND: RANTHIR
You were born in the slums of Deeptown, the city which lies in the center of the Southern Pass. You lived in squalor and poverty, but whenever you could scrounge together a few copper pieces, you would go to the Storyteller’s Guild and buy the stories they had to sell. In this way you become educated in the history of the world, and you also developed an overwhelming passion to pursue the magical arts.
When you were eight you ran away from home. Showing a unique perseverance, you managed to stow away on one of the merchant caravans running from Corinthia to Isiltur. In Isiltur you found your way to the fabled Academy and presented yourself for training.
At the Academy they didn’t take this dirty, squalid urchin seriously. But you stubbornly persisted until, finally, one of the Masters took pity on you and submitted you to the Academy’s tests.
He was hoping, perhaps, that with a failure you would finally be convinced to go away. Instead, he was amazed to discover the raw talent you possessed. You were given a room and your instruction began almost immediately.
For many years you were the darling of the Academy – a prodigy with seemingly limitless promise. But as you got older, your interests become more eccentric and idiosyncratic. You became obsessed with arcane archaeology and sought out, often at exorbitant expense to yourself, whatever artifacts you could find. These other interests distracted you from your magical studies, which became somewhat arrested at the most basic levels.
In your early twenties, with the Masters of the Academy frowning ever more heavily on your pursuits, you began funding your own archeological expeditions. You eventually became convinced that the lands around Isiltur – possibly the entirety of the Borderlands – were once ruled over by a Kingdom of Dragons. You had found extensive evidence in both ruins and cultural artifacts which virtually confirmed this to be true.
But, nonetheless, your theories were not in favor. You became more and more isolated in your pursuits.
Then, while studying several marble busts of draconic countenance, you made a startling discovery: You had shifted your vision onto the ethereal plane in an attempt to test a device which you thought might let you study the interior structure of the bust, but what caught your attention instead was what seemed to be a meaningful “drift” in the normally chaotic eddies of the etheric currents.
Over the course of several months you took ethereal readings at disparate locations. What you discovered was that the entire ethereal plane seemed to be flowing in a definite direction. The pattern eluded you for awhile, but eventually you realized that what it most resembled was a whirlpool of sorts.
You presented your findings, but were again ignored by the Masters (who had now largely come to the conclusion that you were a hopeless crackpot). Even those who acknowledged the legitimacy of your conclusions dismissed the phenomenon as some sort of temporary and unremarkable aberration.
You believed, however, that this was a finding of dramatic importance. You decided that, since the evidence clearly pointed at a meaningful etheric flow heading towards a definite point in space at the center of the etheric whirlpool, the best way to obtain further proof would be to discover what lay at the center of that whirlpool (and was presumably causing the effect).
The resulting expedition was a solo affair which took you southwest, towards the Mountains of Mist. Indeed, tracking the ethereal currents brought you to the mountains themselves. Climbing the foothills was an endeavor in itself, but somehow you managed to struggle over them and up into the mountains – still following the eddying currents of the ethereal plane to the best of your ability.
After weeks of study you concluded that the epicenter of this effect was, in fact, beneath the mountains. It took you several more weeks, but you eventually found a large cave near the epicenter.
The last thing you remember is descending down into the darkness, confident that you were about to find the answers that would vindicate you at long last…
LIFE IN ISILTUR
Here’s the copper piece tour of Isiltur: Since the end of the Elven War fifteen years ago, Isiltur has been the one and only gateway for trade between the Five Empires and the Borderlands. It was wealthy before — now it’s overflowing with riches. The terrain around Isiltur, and throughout much of the southern Borderlands, is hilly and verdant green. The city itself is known as the Spired City, due to the fluted towers which are the primary form of architecture.
Isiltur was originally founded by Arathia as the Isil trading post in 220 YD (more than five centuries ago). When Barund invaded Corinthia in 473 YD, taking the city away from Arathia, Isil declared independence as the City-State of Isiltur. The Battle of the Southern Pass lasted for seven days before the Knights of Barund were forced to withdraw, badly battered by the withering hit-and-run tactics employed by their enemies in the Deeps (the rugged and virtually maze-like terrain which surrounds Deeptown).
In the three centuries since Isiltur declared its independence, it has gradually built a reputation for its magical arts – fostered in large part by the generous patronage of its royal family. It is home to the Academy, one of the few true centers for magical learning in the world. Many of its “spired towers” are, in fact, home to wizards and spellcasters of all varieties.