Tuesday Tales, Part XVI: Avril Daniells and the Rout of Gwennhill

Gwennhill is a small town in Caxton near the Braelin-Seren border; in the early 700s, it was most famous for being the closest village to the volatile border.  During the moon of Reaping in 689, a brigade of Serenite soldiers crossed into Braelin and found their way to Gwennhill. Looking for a quick foothold into enemy territory, the soldiers stormed the small village, capturing it with little resistance from its approximately 150 citizens.  Immediately following the takeover, however, the Gwennhill council met in secret and agreed to send three youths on horseback to Esos to warn of the invasion.  The trip was expected to take at least two days, and the townsfolk knew there was little hope that Gwennhill would survive long enough to be saved, but at least the Crown would be forewarned and could take measures to defend the rest of the country.

The Serenites quickly set to raiding the town’s food stores and began to tear down homes and shops in order to garner the materials needed to construct a fortress. On the first night of Gwenhill’s occupation, the soldiers gathered to celebrate their conquest.  From the villagers they demanded wine, women, and the town’s best musician, to entertain them as they reveled all night.

The townspeople of Gwenhill selected a young musician, Avril Daniells, to act as bard to the soldiers; her talents were renowned throughout the town and the villagers assured the Serenites that she would be very well-suited for what they wanted. Daniells entered their camp alone and began at once to perform for the rowdy soldiers as they drank, fought, danced, and built bonfires out of the remnants of the buildings they had destroyed earlier that day. Slowly, as the night progressed and Daniells’ songs continued to flow seamlessly one into the next, the soldiers began to calm down; slowly, one by one, they fell asleep, until at last nothing could be heard but the sound of snores, sleepy murmurings–and Daniells’ fine, soothing voice. The young musician continued to sing, song after song after song, keeping the Serenites entranced.  For days she never paused or broke her tune, until on the evening of the sixth night the Braelinese army reached Gwennhill and captured the sleeping army.

Unsurprisingly, Daniells was and continues to be celebrated as a hero, with the story of her skills reaching even the farthest corners of Braelin.

Tuesday Tales, Part XIV: A Continuation of the History of the Silver Fern

Aubrey Purdom was a well-known tinker in Caxton, enjoying the height of her prosperity from the years 1025-1032.  Purdom was famous for having created some of the most coveted rune-inscribed items in the country–and for her refusal to craft the same item twice. Many believed her to be a genius, calling her “Gifted of Silver”; others believed her to be eccentric and dangerous. In the year 1033, Purdom suddenly stopped producing magical items, claiming to have been given a task by the Silver God itself. Locking herself away from civilization for two years, she reemerged at last in the latter moons of 1035 with a finished masterpiece.

During her self-imposed exile, Purdom had created a scepter unlike any that had ever been seen before.  It continuously and endlessly leeched the magical energies from everything within a ten mile radius.  While the world was very impressed with this bottomless magical pit, it also became immediately apparent that the scepter posed a huge threat to the safety and well-being of everything and everyone around it, since its secondary quality was to create a kind of anti-magic field extending an additional fifty miles past its primary radius, thereby covering most of Caxton in a magical dead zone.  The scepter’s power was such that even the Caxton Wall was adversely affected.

Naturally, the Order of the Silver Fern was called in to take care of the situation as soon as possible. Brigadier General Mage Morris Arkell and three subordinates, Brigadier Mages Galvin Lomas, Rhoda Persell, and Violet Collman, were dispatched to handle the matter. After a thorough inspection of the scene, it became clear that only one solution was feasible: to overload the scepter in the hopes that it would destroy itself.

Together the four mages joined together in a ritual designed to release all of their magical energies simultaneously, knowing that undertaking this action meant that none of them would return from the Black God’s realm. Embracing their duty to honor their oaths, the mages said one final farewell to their friends and families before completing the ritual, releasing all of the magical energies in their bodies and permanently severing the link between their bodies and spirits. The intense release of magical energy created a pillar of green light, which extended upward as far as anyone could see; reports from that time indicate that the pillar was visible even from the far shores of Zikari. The result of the release was immediate, as the compressed magical energies within the scepter stabilized and its draining effect stopped.

Purdom, who had fled into hiding, was found and apprehended shortly thereafter in a cave in northern Blacknall.  In Esos, she was tried before the monarch and sentenced to death for every life that she had robbed through her work–a total calculated as twenty-two deaths. After her sentencing was complete, a memorial was held in honor of the fallen mages.  This memorial, now known as the Vigil of Light, has been observed in Caxton every year on the third of Thawing.

Tuesday Tales, Part XIII: The Trials of the Silver Fern–Orrell Wyndstrom

The Trials of the Silver Fern: Orrell Wyndstrom.  Orrell Wyndstrom was a notorious and much-feared shaman in Braelin in the year 92. He was most well-known among locals not for the large tract of land he held, but rather for the rumor regarding his servants and vassals.  It was believed that Wyndstrom had built his manor atop the ruins of a once-thriving village that Wyndstrom himself had destroyed, down to the very last woman and child. Many said that, by raising and controlling the bodies and spirits of these victims, Wyndstrom had managed to hold, maintain, and defend his lands for close to a century.

The founding members of the Silver Fern, as part of their decades-long task to prove the worthiness of their Order, chose to investigate Wyndstrom’s actions.  To their horror, they found that he had been desecrating the villagers’ corpses while undertaking experiments geared toward finding a way to extend a Human’s natural lifespan. The three mages decreed that Wyndstrom’s practices directly violated of the Code of Magic they had set forth to guide the actions of magic-users in Braelin, and demanded that he cease and desist his practices so that the spirits could rest in peace at last. Wyndstrom refused, hunkering down in a fortress guarded by legions of undead soldiers

In response to his stalwart defiance, the members of the Silver Fern laid siege to the castle.  After ten long days of battle they finally broke through the front of undead and attacked the keep.  Wyndstrom had gone into hiding at the top of the tower; and there it was that the Silver Fern mages found a shell of a once-powerful shaman, barely holding on to the simulated life for which he had been searching so long.

Once the undead had been cleared out and the mages had begun the process of restoring the affected lands, Wyndstrom was taken to Esos for trial.  There it was decided that simple execution would not do justice to the deaths and suffering he had caused over the course of the past century.  Instead the judge ruled that Wyndstrom must live out the remainder of his life imprisoned in Esos, slowly watching his magical energies drain away and his body decay as a result.  The judgment was carried out; all told, it took seven long years for Wyndstrom to pass on at last.

Tuesday Tales, Part XII: The Founding of the Order of the Silver Fern

The founding of the Order of the Silver Fern.  In the earliest days of the year 81, High General Knight Victoria Raynsford approached Queen Abbigale Robbins to request the chartering of an order that could provide magical support for the White Lotus’ operations.  At first, Queen Abbigale was hesitant; although she agreed that it made sense to assign mages to help the knights in battle, particularly powerful mages could—and often did, at that time—pose a very specific and dangerous kind of threat to society.  After several long discussions with Raynsford, however, she finally granted her permission to create a “trial” organization of mages.

At the queen’s command, criers throughout Braelin carried the announcement to the furthest corners of the country: The Crown was seeking talented, respectable mages to serve and support its interests as part of the new Order of the Silver Fern.  Interested persons were to report to Esos in order to participate in a weeklong tournament taking place from the 10th through the 17th of Springrise.  (This, of course, is where the Carnival of Magic originated.)  The victor of the competition would be appointed to the position of High General Mage, while the individuals taking second and third place would become Brigadier General Mages.  After this point, Queen Abbigale decreed, it would be up to these three mages to prove that the investment of time and money had been worthwhile.

Records from that time indicate that a grand total of 479 mages flooded into Esos in order to participate.  After seven days of fierce competition—including melees, tests of knowledge, strategy games, sample battles both with and without non-mages, and tests of magical endurance, among other contests—three winners were crowned: Desmond Neilson in first place, closely followed by Lita Saunders and Alyssa Grey.

Over the course of the next two decades, these three worked together and with the aid of the White Lotus to establish laws against illegal casting, to bring dangerous magical practitioners to justice, and to contain unstable magical experiments.  They did their job well and faithfully; and it became increasingly clearer to everyone that the Order of the Silver Fern had become essential to the continuation of Braelin’s growth and security.  As a symbol of the Silver Fern’s success and to commemorate the issuing of the order’s permanent charter, Queen Abbigale ordered the construction of Glasscourt in western Stemma, declaring that henceforth it would serve as the headquarters of the Silver Fern.  At the same time, Brigadier General Mages Grey and Saunders were given leave to recruit five additional mages into the organization as Brigadier Mages; Halvard Fane of Blacknall, Sancia Caxton of Stemma, Shayne Spicer of Stemma, Eva Corby of Hawksworth, and Frances Quintin of Southlight.  In turn, those five recruited still other mages, who became known in common parlance as “royal mages.”

Tuesday Tales, Part V: High General Mage Kayton Geary

The Order of the Silver Fern was founded many centuries ago, and has since represented the premiere order of magehood in Braelin.  The Order is led by a single mage known as the High General Mage.  In 1208, the previous High General Mage, Richard Geary of Stemma, retired to his family’s estate after forty-one years of dedicated service to the Crown.  In his stead, King Darien Odell appointed Richard’s son, Brigadier General Mage Kayton Geary, to the position of High General Mage.  The following is what is commonly known of his life and lineage.

Kayton Geary was born to Richard and Helen Geary, a well-to-do Stemman couple.  Geary was the younger of two children; his older sister Irene was set to inherit the family manor, which her mother maintained.  This left Geary to forge his own path in the world, and it just so happened that, as a young boy, he showed an incredible knack for magic.  His father, Richard, often boasted that, at eight years of age, his son could cast circles around many of the royal mages he knew.

Geary’s magical studies benefited from the fact that his father was then serving as the High General Mage of the Order of the Silver Fern.  Being exposed to the Order at such a young age continued to foster Geary’s growth as a mage, and by the age of thirteen the boy had been accepted as a royal mage.  Continuing to study and to shame his peers with his outrageously fast progress, Geary had become an obvious candidate for the Order by age fifteen—he was already far ahead of many of his father’s pupils.  Within five years after his promotion to the Order, he was made a Brigadier General Mage, a position he occupied from ages twenty to twenty-three.  Shortly after Kayton’s twenty-third birthday, Richard—a remarkably long-lived mage now approaching his sixty-fifth birthday—retired as the High General Mage.  Upon the announcement of his intent to retire, Richard suggested to King Darien that his son act as his successor.  Darien decided to follow his wise and proven advisor’s counsel and appointed Kayton Geary as the new High General Mage.

Geary has served King Darien for three years now, and has seen his share of battle.  When he was first promoted to his positions, many scholars, advisors, and fellow Brigadier General Mages questioned the young man’s capabilities as a leader—his life had been too comfortable up to this point, these elements argued, making him into nothing more than a sheltered and privileged noble with an unusual flair for magic.  However, one legendary display of magic was enough to silence these malcontents, if not forever, than at least for the time being.

Nine months after accepting the position of High General Mage, Geary was paying a routine visit to the Caxton Wall with a few of his trusted bodyguards when a particularly bloody fight flared up between the local Braelinese forces and an exceptionally large and well-organized army of Serenite raiders.  Seeing many of the foot soldiers falling in battle, Geary ordered that great gate be opened just wide enough to allow him—and him alone—to pass across.  The sentries did as he said, and then proceeded to watch in awe as the High General Mage petrified the entire two-hundred person Serenite force and then struck each of them down simultaneously with a rain of solar blasts.

News of Geary’s remarkable deed spread like wildfire across Braelin, and respect for the new High General Mage tripled practically overnight.  Since that battle, Geary has put on several displays of wide-reaching and impressive magic, but none of these have come even close to matching his performance during the so-called “Battle of the Sun.”

Richard and Helen Geary have retired to a beautiful manor in western Southlight; Irene Geary, now married, still oversees the maintenance of the Geary family manor in Stemma.  While nobody questions Kayton’s power and skill as a mage anymore, his detractors still exist, watching him from the fringes at Court or murmuring about him in the back-rooms of certain Esos taverns.   He was given an unfair advantage, these people say, due to his father’s influence and situation.  Among some of the royal mages, too, there is sometimes a certain sense of jealousy and gentle anger in considering all that he has accomplished.  Yet most people find it very difficult to hate him, for his friendly and relatively casual—some fans say “charming”—demeanor.