Three characters from The Grey Mage who are important to the backstory of The Ap’Lydin Chronicles have now had pages created for them under the “Characters” menu at the side. You can go there to check them out, or click on any of the below links:
In this the fourth and final preview for The Grey Mage, we meet the Spellweaver cadre and their leader, Lord Saegras li’Aelsar.
As Liderial labours under a brutal occupation, the free remnants of the Eldara nation hold court in distant Aderial. Without a King, the Eldara look to the Spellweaver caste for leadership. The greatest and most influential Spellweaver of them all is Saegras li’Aelsar.
Saegras may be powerful, self-assured and convinced of Eldara exceptionalism, but he knows to acknowledge assistance when it is offered. An alliance with the Archmage Kelloccio put the resources of Qarld at Saegras’ disposal, a pact that would be vital when the time came to liberate Liderial.
Until then there were other pressing matters. Troubling news had come from the wild lands of Goriinchia, where a group of unaligned mages had taken possession of a Soldara ruin. Saegras and his fellow Spellweavers were alarmed by this development. There were Soldara secrets that could be dangerous in the wrong hands and when it turned out that these mages were led by Cassian, a known former pupil of the madman Rive, the situation became more serious. The Spellweavers journeyed to Goriinchia intending to remove these mages, one way or another.
In our previous post on the setting of The Grey Mage, we met Cassian the Grey, leader of the unaligned mages who refuse to choose sides between Rive and Kelloccio. Now we turn to his second in command, confidant and lover, Vanaja of Tarishtia.
The Infinite Caliphate looms large in the anxieties of the people of Carurlonia, and its territories seem to stretch on forever, so much so that few realise that beyond the Caliphate, to the west, is an empire that rivals it in size.
The Tarishtian Raj has long been at odds with its neighbours, who regard the faith of the Tarishtians as a primitive form of idol worship. This belief was tested in a disastrous invasion where the forces of the Caliphate were shattered. While the faithful of Qarld is not ready to admit the existence of the Tarishtian Mother Goddess, the grandees of the Caliphate are wise enough to admit that something powerful dwells within the Forbidden City.
Wars as such ended between Tarishtia and Qarld, but raids and border skirmishes continued. After the Forbidden City itself was breached Qardleeans became aware of an assassin in their midst, one named the Vengeance of the Goddess, with a hatred of Qarld and all it stood for.
Few would have guessed that such an assassin was a young woman, scarcely more than a girl, orphaned by Qardleean raiders and using her newly discovered talent for the Art to wreak havoc across the lands of the Caliphate.
Eventually, she chose a target beyond her – the great wizard Kelloccio. Though Ralomish by birth, Kelloccio lived in the Caliphate as a guest of the great sorceress Fatima al’Naif. It was indicative of Kelloccio’s great charisma that he was able to turn Vanaja from an enemy into an ally and so she joined his retinue at the same time as another wizard, Cassian, arrived after breaking from Rive.
When Kelloccio would not allow Vanaja to continue her private quest of vengeance against her perceived foes, Vanaja left the wizard, taking Cassian, her new paramour with her. It was to the Tower of the Magi in Goriinchia they went. Here Cassian promised Vanaja the power to see her dream of revenge come true.
At the time that The Grey Mage takes place, two and a half centuries before the Heirs of Lydin, two great wizards stand opposed to each other and other practitioners of the Art find themselves forced to choose a side.
In the frozen wastes of Skurj rules the great Archmage Rive, also known as Rive the Unholy, or Rive the Unspeakable. With his unspeakable armies and his unfathomable power, he casts a long shadow on the world of men, and his might has proved unassailable.
Only one wizard dares stand in opposition: Kelloccio the White, champion of the Resistance and protector of the innocent. Kelloccio’s ally, Fatima al’Naif, puts the considerable resources of the Infinite Caliphate at Kelloccio’s disposal, but even that might not be enough to stand against the might of Rive.
But what of those who would stand apart? What of those who would choose neither the darkness nor the light?
Those who have chosen neutrality in this great war have retreated to the wilds of Goriinchia, and taken up in an ancient Soldara ruin. Here they pursue their own agendas, without the complications of Rive and Kelloccio’s conflict.
The most powerful of them, and acknowledged first amongst equals, is Cassian the Grey. Of privileged upbringing in Lerid, Cassian speaks little of his past, but rumors abound. It is said that he once served with Kelloccio, but more ominously that he was originally the favoured pupil of Rive.
Whatever the truth of these stories, Cassian is now a man who looks only towards the future and places the pursuit of knowledge above all, particularly knowledge of the Art. What secrets he is searching for in this tower, however, are anyone’s guess…
The Grey Mage is almost complete, so over the next few months I am going to do a series of posts that will preview the story that the novella will tell.
250 years before The Heirs of Lydin, the lands of Emparia are a different place. The Ran-Tyrons hold the crown, unchallenged by any rival, and the lands of Goriinchia are a primitive, barbaric place. The faith of the Horned God does not yet exist and Goriinchians themselves feel no unity amongst themselves above that of their own tribe.
A group of foreign mages has taken up residence in an ancient Soldara ruin, a ruin which has become known as the Tower of the Magi, thanks to the current inhabitants.
It is into this world that will enter our protagonist, and one familiar to readers of The Heirs of Lydin: Aelzandar.
Though centuries later he may be known as the great and powerful Archmage, during this time Aelzandar is nothing more than an escaped slave, having spent years under the brutal yoke of the Qardleeans after fleeing his own homeland.
With the Qardleeans in pursuit, he flees to the Tower of the Magi, hoping to find refuge there…
In our next preview, we will look at the new character of the Grey Mage Cassian, and his followers.
Since the unification of the petty kingdoms centuries ago, the Kingdom of Emparia has been dominated by a number of great noble houses. What follows is three of these houses.
The Ap’Lydins form one of the newest noble houses of Emparia, having been raised to nobility only in the last generation. They claim descent from Lydin, a legendary Goriinchian folk hero and were once a prominent clan in Goriinchia. During the Wars of Pacification, they made the mistake of rising up against the Prophet-King Ygarak and the family was driven into exile in Emparia.
The entire Ap’Lydin family was destroyed when their small settlement was razed to the ground, leaving only William Ap’Lydin, son of Duncan, who was raised as a squire in the household of the Earl of Genio. William was later knighted and had two sons, the eldest of which attained the title of Earl of Genio during the Emparian Civil Wars. The brothers split during the civil wars, with Earl Caradoc Ap’Lydin staying loyal to the crown and Baron Alusine siding with House Morcor. With Caradoc’s death at the Battle of Goriinch Hill, Alusine, as regent to his young nephew, formally pledged the entire family to Henry’s cause.
After the wars Alusine and his wife Eleanor were murdered by cultists of the Horned God, and Alusine’s children were spirited out of the country for their own protection.
The current Earl of Genio is William Caradoc Ap’Lydin, grandson of Sir William.
“To the End”
House Bauer has held Tyronsville for centuries, and their decision to side with the de Morcor family early in the Emparian Civil War proved fortuitous, allowing them to maintain their fief under the new regime.
Tyronsville saw some of the worst fighting of the war, as they were battered by Kalen Tyron, the so-called “Black Duke” of Georgeton. It was House Bauer’s tenacity and courage in holding off the Black Duke’s forces that was pivotal in the Battle of Tyronsville.
Harold Bauer was the Earl during the war, and he had two sons, the eldest of which, Alfred, has now succeeded him as Earl of Tyronsville. The younger, Augustin, acts as a special envoy for the Crown. Despite their fearsome reputation during the war, many of the other families treat House Bauer as little more than provincial bumpkins, and Alfred’s dissolute lifestyle has done little to remedy that situation.
“Only the Righteous Prevail”
House Morcor sits securely on the throne of Emparia. For centuries, the de Morcor family held Alariat as a feudal fief under the Tyron Kings, but during the Emparian Civil War they seized the crown for themselves.
The war had its origins in a feud between the de Morcors and a cadet branch of the royal house which soon escalated and merged with other grievances. At Goriinch Hill Duke Henry defeated King Alusine in battle but many did not respect the outcome of that battle as definitive and the war continued.
After thirty years of conflict with Tyron pretenders, Henry de Morcor died with the throne securely in his grasp, leaving his only surviving child as unquestioned monarch.
Amaryllis de Morcor, Henry’s daughter from his second marriage is now Queen of Emparia, her older half-brothers having perished during the war. The titular head of House Morcor is her cousin, Haakon, the son of the elder of Henry’s two younger brothers. Haakon has no children of his own, however, and would be succeeded by Leon de Morcor, Baron Morcor, the son of the late King’s youngest brother.