House Feylyn is the eldest of the Great Houses of Magic. The wizards of Feylyn channel the power of Wyvic, the root of the World Tree associated with the natural order. It is often referred to as ‘the Root of Balance’.
Wyvic is strongest in places where green things grow and life is abundant, and the root absorbs a portion of this immense life energy, transferring it to the Wizards of Feylyn. With such power at their command, few things are beyond the masters of House Feylyn. They can re-knit even the most grievous wounds, commune with nature to a point where they may shape or command it - even calling upon wild beasts for support. It is rumoured that they may also be able to use Wyvic to take new forms at will, drawing on the power of the wild to transform themselves into fierce creatures. None have witnessed this, however, and lived to confirm such conjecture, so it remains a guessed-at whisper for now.
The symbiotic relationship between man and beast forms one of the central pillars of House Feylyn’s belief structure, and many wizards of the House are attended by animal familiars to honour this bond. The first wizard that will be released from House Feylyn: Mother Yulia - the Bride of the Moon, is just such a Wizard. Accompanied by her loyal friend, Vushka the Grizzly Bear, Mother Yulia is a potent Wizard that has been in the service of House Feylyn for over fifty years.
Few adversaries can stand against the bestial onslaught of Vuskha and the magical assault of Mother Yulia for long; such is their combined fury. She has personally bested over thirty Wizards in the great arena of Magic at Tovenhal, a record that few can match and none yet exceed.
House Durant was founded by a council of honourable Wizards preoccupied with the protection and safety of their fellow man. Durant wizards channel what they call the ‘Root of Protection’, also known as Aknihr. It has drunk deeply of the strength of the soil, even unto the core of the world, and has an affinity for stone and minerals.
Durant Wizards know few equals in matters of defensive magic. They can surround themselves in shields of near invulnerability, and imbue true-forged battle gear with the power to deflect blows, blind enemies with dazzling light, or befuddle aggressive encroachment. This is not to say they are lacking in offence however, for a Wizard that can call upon Aknihr has the power of the very earth to drawn upon. Durant masters have been known to shatter steel with their bare hands or to cleave citadel gates in twain but with a single blow – such is their overwhelming might.
The Wizards of House Durant see themselves as the guardians of the common folk, and as such commit their lives to the service and protection of the Mellorian people. One such Wizard is the first to be released from House Durant, Luther Draxos – The High Warden of Tpvar. It was Luther who single-handedly defeated the Demon Ornias and broke the back of the Diabolist insurrection in G’Barr. Alas, the corruption of the dark one’s touch claimed the flesh of his right arm, and a great deal of the Durant Master’s power.
Many Wizards would have been felled by such tragedy, but the will of Luthor Draxos could not be quelled. In recognition of his mighty service to mankind, he was gifted a new arm of pure energy by the Masters of House Travium. Taking up his Warhammer once more, Luther has taken command of the Fortress of Tpvar, where he trains the Durant orders in warfare and tactics. Though his power is now unquestionably lessened, his skill with defensive magic remains undiminished, and it is his strength alone that shields the brave soldiers of Durant from the terrors of the northern mountains.
House Acedia is unlike any of the other great Houses of Magic. It is, in actuality, merely a front for a cabal of Mellorian citizens whose desire is no less than the extermination of nine-tenths of their race. They fight not for the glory of their House but to undermine and destroy the society that has raised them. They are a nest of vipers, hiding behind a façade of piety.
Wizards of House Acedia draw power from the root of the World Tree named Kanekos – sometimes called the ‘Root of suggestion’. They weave this power into their spells to great effect: inspiring an ally to acts of bravery or making a foe question his very reasons for opposing House Acedia. The power of suggestion is akin to drops of water that over time build into an ocean; eventually it cannot be resisted, and one has no power but to comply.
Deception plays a key theme in the mind of Acedians. What is seen and what lies hidden behind plays out again and again in their actions, their magic, and even there very thoughts. The first Wizard to be released from House Acedia, Friar Sarpeth – the Voice of Dark Wisdom, embodies this dichotomy like no other. Sarpeth is a giant of a man, yet is renowned through the world for gentleness and humility rather than strength. The people flock to his sermons and hang upon his every word, giving him far more credence than their supposed masters.
Yet this is little more than a carefully cultivated act. Sarpeth is a powerful Wizard and all those that look upon him are affected by his magic. Where they see a gentle soul, a cruel tyrant hides behind his fair-seeming guise. Sarpeth calls people to him with promises of a better world; yet he wants nothing more than to bring the oblivion of death to all of them. He judges that only the strong shall survive the day of reaping, and when he wields his flanged mace, buttressed by the magic of Kanekos, who can lay claim to be stronger than Friar Sarpeth of Acedia?
House Travium is probably the most powerful of all the great Houses of Magic. Travium Wizards call upon Ghyr, the ‘Root of Power’. It is the root of the World Tree that is closest to the purest form of magic, but also the most dangerous to wield. The energy released by Ghyr can only be controlled by the most precise wizards; the slightest error in channelling this energy could mean the explosive demise of the casting Wizard.
Thankfully for the other great Houses, House Travium does not seek political gain from this advantage, nor do they often involve themselves in the dealings of the city-states.
The Wizards of House Travium do not accrue power to gain prestige, lands, or titles. They gain power for its own sake – to one day gain enough to breach the barrier between realms and to be the first to step through, into the unknown.
Subtlety is not a concern for House Travium Wizards. They believe all problems can be solved by the application of ever-increasing amounts of power. This rather straightforward mind-set is embodied in the first Wizard to be released from House Travium: Amara – the Unfettered.
Amara was sold into slavery before she could even walk. Ghyr had blessed Amara with great strength, and this was eagerly exploited by her owners, without them ever realising the source of her abilities. Amara performed the tasks of three male slaves, double her age, yet for the greed of her masters even this was not enough.
When a cruel overseer tried to take one liberty too far, a wave of rage exploded from within her; the innate magic released broke the chains of her fellow slaves and she led them in a bloody revolt, eventually escaping to the South and into the waiting arms of House Travian.
Years have passed and now Amara is a Master Wizard of the House. The limits of her powers have yet to be fully tested, but she remains unsatisfied in her heart. Amara understands deep down that she is not yet powerful enough to break every chain, everywhere. Only when she has the power to bring freedom to everyone in Mellorian, will she consider her Mastery complete.
House Myrke enjoys the greatest wealth of any of the great Houses of Magic. While their rivals sell charms, protection, or look to landholdings and donations to generate revenue, House Myrke has built up fabulous riches because they are willing to do the things that the others consider beneath the honour of Wizardry.
When a crime has been committed by someone beyond the law or when judgement has been passed and there is no one to carry out sentence, House Myrke will be called upon. This has made their name synonymous with dark acts, so they are shunned and feared by the society that needs their services so badly.
House Myrke’s success is built upon the root of the World Tree named Shemk, which is also named the “Root of Fear”. It draws energy from the strong negative emotions, and the Wizards of House Myrke amplify this, directing it back at a chosen target. A victim is confronted by their own worst fear made flesh; or is paralysed by the guilt of a past crime, long hidden from others. All men know fear, and thus all men are vulnerable to the magic of House Myrke.
As they are shunned by Mellorian society, most Wizards of House Myrke travel under a heavy, hooded cloak, seeking to intensify the disquiet they inspire in people. The first Wizard to be released from House Myrke, Hephescus Zantt – the Seeker of Sins, does not share this view. He believes that recognition of an approaching fear inspires the greater terror. Zantt has laboured to make sure that his gaunt visage is well known, never hiding his involvement in the grisly work of House Myrke, ensuring that his arrival is met by a wave of panicked hysteria.
Hephescus Zantt, like his House, is not an evil or vindictive man; merely pragmatic. Shemk has gifted him with a supernatural ability to determine the sins his quarry have committed, and to force them to confront their past. Few survive this trial - most taking their own lives within minutes, but they are the lucky ones. Those who try to resist his sorcery for long will invariably suffer madness from his torments, only to be left alive as a warning to others that judgement is coming.
House Qing is a conundrum to the other great Houses of Magic. It is merely five years old, yet has already been granted great House status. The rival Houses cannot determine the root of Qing’s power, and their greatest minds labour ceaselessly, trying to unravel this mystery.
The truth is at once simple and yet impossible for them to comprehend. House Qing does not wield the magic of the World Tree; they source their power from a different and far more dangerous source. The Masters of Qing have struck a bargain with an ancient entity, one that offers great power but demands a costly price. The magic of House Qing allows them to subvert the power of other Wizards and add it to their own - this is why the other great Houses are so alarmed at their rise.
The masters and acolytes of House Qing are not Wizards in the true sense, each gaining their power through the ‘bargain’. The first ‘Wizard’ to be released from House Qing: Lady Xiu Bao – the Emissary of the Jade Lord, was one of the first to make that fateful choice.
Xiu Bao’s magic seems outlandish to the Wizards of the other great Houses, but it is no less potent. She wields formidable powers of domination - the ability to compel the actions of others. When her magic is bolstered by the stolen power of another Wizard, this becomes far more terrifying, for it allows her to increase the duration or the number of foes affected. The other Houses have made it a priority to attempt to capture the Lady and draw out the knowledge from her by any means necessary.
Lady Xiu Bao is aware of their intent, however, and delights in using herself as bait for overconfident enemies. The power she claims from them exhilarates her and she has become addicted to the sensation. It is the only thing that provides respite from the pain Xiu Bao suffers as part of the bargain that she struck. The loss of her right eye was bad enough, but the lump of jade that now resides in its place - the source of her power, is a constant source of agony. Such is the cost of the bargain House Qing agreed…
Although a relatively new force within Mellorian, the Diabolists have existed in countless guises within the wider world for many aeons. It is stated in most religious orthodoxy that when the world was formed the forces of creation and of entropy fought a titanic battle for dominance, only to slip into an eternal stalemate. Both sides continue to seek a final victory, but the efforts of entropy, in the guise of the Great Wyrm of Darkness, are beginning to bear rotten fruit. His mortal followers, the Diabolists, are at the forefront of these gains.
The Diabolists are a disparate and secretive group, all walks of life and all classes of people are represented in their unhallowed ranks. Lords and ladies, middling merchants, and even menial servants can be found at ritualistic bloodlettings. All share one common thought: that they alone may be raised up in their service to the Wyrm, and each person is therefore willing to commit acts of wanton destruction in order to gain this boon. The shedding of blood and the taking of life is nothing to them, for they are the truly damned.
One such benighted soul is the first Wizard to be release from the Diabolists faction: Suleiman, the Thrice-Cursed. Suleiman is perhaps the most infamous Diabolist in the whole of Mellorian, for in truth they usually take great care to avoid detection. Not so this insane disciple of the Wyrm - Suleiman revels in the terror his name and works inspire in the populace.
Many murders and acts of slaughter have been attributed to his coterie of debased lunatics, and the people of Mellorian cry out for justice. Suleiman means to continue his reign of evil until one of two events occurs: his apotheosis to demon-hood or his destruction whilst trying to attain it. He intends to spill enough blood in Mellorian that even the Great Wyrm takes notice, though even within his damaged mind, Suleiman knows that he is a long way from gaining the attention of his monstrous God.
Suleiman does not care how many throats he must cut to gain favour: all he knows is that blood must flow in the name of Darkness. He has sold his soul to many masters, and soon his marker will be called by one of them. Suleiman’s only chance is to leave his mortality behind, and to earn this he must wreak havoc in the land.
The Order of Malleoch has existed for only a century, but its name is already legend throughout Mellorian. Created as a bulwark against the rising tide of darkness in the land, the finest warrior-mages, hunters, and trackers were brought together with a single purpose: to eradicate the servants of the Wyrm of Darkness wherever they were to be found. They have discharged this duty with honour and more importantly, with enthusiasm, since the day of their founding, and countless Witches, Warlocks, and Diabolists have been felled by their hand.
Wizards of the Order draw upon Vanathar, the Root of Sanctuary to power their spells. Vanathar is an offshoot of Aknir, the Root of Protection, and therefore the Order maintains close links with House Durant. Many of the greatest members of the Order began their career affiliated with Durant, so the bond between the groups is strong. Vanathar grants the power of the heavens and the earth to act as a barrier to the forces of darkness made manifest in the world. It is a power of graceful celestial bodies and places of natural stillness and tranquillity. It is anathema to the entropic force of the Wyrm and its servants and so is a potent weapon in the arsenal of the Order.
The Wizards of Malleoch are all powerful warriors and keen scholars of diabolic lore, keen to uncover any advantage, however slight, versus their great enemy. Many of them have been training since they were young, shaping their body and their mind to combat the horrors unleashed by a Diabolist cult. This is the case of Otremia Rathe, Fist of the Heavens – the first Wizard to be released from the Order of Malleoch. Otremia was raised by the Order since birth to be a living weapon against the darkness. Despite her youthful looks, few living hunters can claim more Diabolist kills than she can, for she wields a tremendous power that few can hope to rival.
Otremia is not blessed with a huge range of spells, but those she has are almost unstoppable: she can call on the power of a falling star to shatter her enemies to a bloody pulp, or to open a magical doorway between two places. Otremia has been honed into one of the greatest weapons the light can field against the forces of darkness. Some question if one woman can be enough, but those who question have clearly not met Otremia Rathe…
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