Putting this here for posterity as I just found it after a LOT of searching.
A high-fantasy mage I created for an RPG.
Name: Talavar DuMonde
Overall Appearance: Tall and slender, but well-muscled, Tal is a handsome man who hides his attractiveness between an often over-straggly beard. His one good eye is a striking blue, whilst the other is milky white with blindness. At times, he elects to wear a patch over his blind eye, but over the years, he has gotten used to it and any sense of shame or embarrassment he once knew has gone. He wears mainly dark, earthy colours – as befitting a Brown Dragon Mage, but occasionally will push the boat out and wear something with a splash of colour. He has a red silk shirt that his late wife made for him when they were first married and he wears this for all major occasions.
His smile, which is quick to come, is warm, impish and more than a little wicked at times.
Occupation: Talavar DuMonde is presently a Tenth Circle Mage, representing the Brown Dragon Mages of Redstow Keep. He is, by law and by right, the most powerful Earth mage alive today. He’d rather be a librarian. But you can’t choose your destiny.
Home: Grand Mage’s chambers, the Spire of Cthon, Redstow
Personality: Talavar has many of the same traits as other Brown Dragon Mages: he is solid and reliable, dependable, sensible and other words that end in ‘ibble’. He also has a wicked – even earthy – sense of humour. Perhaps his most defining personality trait, however, is his sense of compassion and empathy. Talavar is a good judge of men, with an inherent ability to judge everyone he meets on their own merits, never once giving in to preconceived ideas about how someone should – or should not – be perceived. As such, he has employed a number of non-noble borns in positions of comparative power within the city of Redstow, a move which caused a ripple of startlement to wend through the city.
He has his moments of melancholy, although these are never prolonged.
Personal Effects: As is the way with many of the Brown Dragon Mages, Talavar’s personal effects are few and far between. He has nothing to remind him of his childhood apart from the occasional bad dream and any number of scars he picked up whilst surviving any way he could on the streets of Redstow. His most treasured possessions are his wife’s wedding ring, which he wears on a chain around his neck along with a locket containing a lock of hair from each of his three daughters.
Over the years he has amassed a huge library of books, something which isn’t unusual for a mage. What IS unusual is that he has a number of works of fiction. He loves to lose himself in the written word and likes nothing better than to sit in front of a fire, a glass of finest Redstow brandy in his hand, his daughter dozing in the chair opposite whilst he reads her tales of high adventure.
Background Sample: Talavar DuMonde was born into comparative luxury. The only child of Captain Hebden DuMonde, captain of the city guard and his young wife Marissa, Talavar was spoiled, fêted and otherwise treated like a valuable treasure by his doting parents. Success and riches were going to come to this boy and his father was eager to ensure it.
Despite his tendency arrogance, Captain DuMonde was a good man. His compassion for those less well-off and less able than himself was ironically what brought great misfortune down on his wife and four-year old son when he lead a party up to a nearby farming community who had been suffering attacks from the beastmen in the north. It had been a mercy mission; the intention had been to deliver food and medical supplies to the community and it could be argued that this part of the mission succeeded.
What DuMonde had not expected had been a return of the raiding party. He and every last one of his soldiers were slaughtered and burned along with the villages inhabitants.
Marissa DuMonde would not accept that her beloved Hebden was dead and went into a free fall of denial which in turn resulted in her gradual descent into madness. When the General of the city militia visited them, Marissa denied that they needed any charity, accepted the General’s offer of a smaller house in the city away from barracks, where she and Talavar had been living with her husband and took his offer of several gold for ‘essentials and maintenance on the house’. Captain DuMonde had been very well thought of in the armies and it saddened the General to see the grief that the man’s death had caused.
Talavar had not wanted to leave the luxury of the captain’s house in the barracks, but had settled down with surprising ease in the new house, and for a time, it looked as though he and his mother would somehow manage to survive without Hebden’s strong, reassuring presence. It didn’t stop the little boy from crying himself to sleep every night, however, and he yearned for his mother’s insistence that Hebden was still alive to be true. He knew, though, that deep down, his father was dead.
At the age of eight, Talavar should have begun his schooling, but by then, Marissa was already demonstrating her slide into insanity. She would sit all day at the window of the house, which was starting to fall apart around their ears, staring out into the street and muttering under her breath. Talavar was left to more or less care for himself, which he accomplished by running around the streets with a number of other unfortunate youngsters. As a group, they carried out tasks for merchants, such as rat catching, or errand running, and were more often than not rewarded with food or other such items rather than money. It was this which was largely to stop Talavar from suffering the same fate as his mother, who died when he was nine from malnutrition.
Alone in the world, skinny, unhealthy and illiterate – and by now forgotten by the militia, Talavar had held his mother’s hand as she had died, then had taken what was left of the gold – not much – and a few personal possessions that meant something to him and had taken to the streets. It was assumed, when Marissa’s body had been discovered, that the boy had simply run away. He had been home so rarely that some people wondered whether he hadn’t died already.
He continued to run with the urchins for several years. When he was thirteen, he experienced a spurt of growth that saw him tower head and shoulders above his street-wise friends. The General of the militia saw him once and was plagued for days about who the underfed, skinny little street rat had reminded him of.
During these years, Talavar was the happiest he had ever been. Born with a wise head on his shoulders and with the same depth of compassion that had seen his father’s untimely demise, ‘Tal’ as he was more commonly known became something of an older brother figure to the younger children and he in turn found himself wanting to ensure their continued safety. It had been Talavar who had found the abandoned warehouse and had brought the children in out of the cold. It hadn’t been much – but to the twenty five or so youngsters who lived there, it was home. Talavar maintained a certain leadership over the children, who gave up all the food and money they had made by running errands (and through the occasional, less-legal means, such as pickpocketing) to their unofficial leader, who made sure that the money was wisely spent and the food evenly shared.
At sixteen, Talavar knew that he could not remain here in the warehouse with the children forever. He had, for some time, felt a calling, although he did not understand what it was. He would wake in the night, drenched in sweat, his head filled with the most terrifying dreams in which he found himself variously drowned, burned alive, pushed from the highest rockface or, the only dream he bizarrely found any comfort in, buried alive.
The stirring of the latent magic that Talavar DuMonde possessed did not go unnoticed. When he began to experience the Dreams of the Elementals, all of the Colleges were alerted to the presence of a young mind awakening to the possibilities of magic. For the most part, the College intake was of youngsters from privileged backgrounds whose parents sent them to the College in the hope that they could find the magic. Most of them didn’t get beyond the first year of the training. Without latent magic, a child could progress no further than a basic understanding of the workings of magic. They were sent home, never in disgrace, but never to become mages. Those who remained had to undergo years of intensive, sometimes lethal training in order to progress through the circles of magic.
Once in a while, however, a child would demonstrate ability without having been sent through the College. At this time, the Colleges would send out scouts to locate them and assess them for training suitability. It was highly competitive: a young mage’s talent was rarely set in stone during the quickening period and whichever College found them first often became the College they studied at.
Talavar was located by a sixth-level mage of the Brown College by the name of Laucian who was startled to discover that the ‘child’ he had been seeking was practically a man, who carried himself with an unconscious grace, a set of pride to his spine that spoke volumes about his personality. At sixteen, Talavar was considerably older than most of the first circle Acolytes and was illiterate to boot. Unsure that the boy would even want to come to the College, Laucian nonetheless approached the tall boy and made the ritual offer.
“This is what I have been waiting for,” had been his response and the young man had agreed to travel to the Brown College with Laucian for assessment. Before he had left, however, he had made sure that ‘his children’ were well organised and prepared to go on without him. The obvious gentleness and love he showed for this gang of dirty little urchins touched Laucian’s heart and he suspected that he had found somebody special.
Talavar had travelled to the College and on assessment had been found to be in possession of quite considerable magic talent. He was enrolled as a first circle Acolyte and for two years had to suffer the embarrassment of being not only the oldest and the tallest amongst the others, but also suffer the humiliation that came with illiteracy. Despite these setbacks, he quickly proved himself to be an apt pupil; intelligent and questioning, even-tempered and well-liked by his peers and his tutors alike and he progressed swiftly – far more so than anybody had anticipated.
At the centre of the College sat the Grand Mage, the tenth circle Arch Mage duly elected by a council of his peers who sat in session daily. For each College, one tenth circle mage. The ninth circle usually consisted of around twenty or so mages who had survived this far, the eight probably about fifty and so on down to the hundreds of youngsters who scurried around the College grounds and who formed the bulk of mages in both the Colleges and in the world.
Some mages, despite how hard they tried, never progressed beyond the third or fourth circles. Some were killed trying. Some, like Talavar, progressed with alacrity. At the age of eighteen, he had reached the end of the Acolyte training and became an Adept, apprenticed – much to both of their pleasure – to Laucian, the now Eighth Circle mage who had found him two years previously. They were to spend three years travelling the world and in that time, Tal found the father figure that had been missing all of his life. He loved and respected Laucian and in turn, Laucian grew increasingly fond of the quiet, pleasant young man who by now resembled his dead father so much that when they had travelled to the city, more than one head had turned when he had walked down the streets of his childhood, convinced that they had just seen a ghost.
At twenty five years old, Tal had progressed to the Sixth Circle, something not known since the meteoric rise of one of the former Grand Mages, who had attained that lofty position at the unlikely age of thirty two. It was widely anticipated that Talavar would progress to the Ninth Circle if not by the time he was thirty, then soon after. But it was at this point that his progression slowed and at which time he had considered seriously leaving the College.
He fell in love.
Her name was Shyala. She was the daughter of a candlemaker from the city and she had captured his heart during their first meeting when he had travelled there to purchase supplies. Captivated by her beauty, Talavar had dared to linger to ask her name. When she had softly told him, eyes lowered as was proper, he had gazed upon her small, dainty frame and vowed that he would marry her. He courted her with an intense passion for over a year before, red faced, he finally begged her father’s permission to marry her, which he was granted.
Mages were not forbidden from marrying, but it was an acknowledged fact that once a mage married, he – or she – would cease to demonstrate any furtherment in their learning. Laucian had tried to dissuade Talavar from marrying Shyala, but had been met with such vehement anger that he had been startled. He had argued that he was quite capable of being a husband and father and continuing his studies.
Talavar and Shyala were married simply and quietly and, with the permission of the Grand Mage, she came to live in his chambers within the sanctuary of the College. As he had promised, Talavar had continued his studies and even the birth of their twin daughters, two years later when he had reached his twenty-eighth year, did not detract his continued development of skills and abilities. Almost ready for his test that would allow him into the Eighth Circle, he would often sit awake at night, one of his beloved daughters in his arms, his eyes moving from his wife to his other daughter, marvelling at how he had been so lucky.
It had been a foolish thought, for soon after, Talavar was to suffer a run of luck so bad that it almost saw his death.
A year had passed and shortly after he had taken and passed the assessment to become an Eight Circle mage at the age of twenty-nine, Shyala had announced that she was expecting another child. Talavar, whose love of his children knew no boundaries had been thrilled and during his wife’s pregnancy had ensured that she and the nearly two-year old girls who were the absolute light of his life wanted for nothing. All the time, he was studying hard and carrying out his duties with diligence. And then he was delivered a hard blow.
Laucian, who had comfortably settled as an Eight Circle mage and who served as a tutor in the College, had fallen ill with the wasting sickness and had passed away. Talavar had grieved for his former mentor far more than he had ever done for his own parents, losing himself in the temporary madness of grief as he tried to come to terms with the loss. Shyala had nursed him through those dreadful days, pushing the twin girls on him. They would chatter away at him in their baby voices until the black air of depression would lift and he would hold them close to him, tears running down his face.
The grief passed after a few weeks, however, and Talavar and Shyala were distracted by the birth of their third child – another girl – whose entry into this life was troubled from the start. Born prematurely, she was not breathing when she was born and it was only due to the timely intervention of the midwife, who was also an accomplished herbalist, that little Marissa survived at all.
Shyala, however, did not survive. She lived three days after Marissa’s birth and then, despite the best efforts of the healers, the beautiful young woman had passed away, her husband at her side.
Alone in the bed he had shared for six years with his wife, Talavar became a hard, cynical man whose only redeeming quality was the absolute love he had for his three daughters. The twins, Charis and Megan were now two and little Marissa, who was wet-nursed through her early years had overcome all odds and was a healthy, bonny little baby. Everything Talavar did he did for them. Every penny he had went into ensuring they were cared for and every moment he had spare he spent with them. Gradually, he began to wear himself out and, halfway through his studies, decided that he no longer wished to progress through the ranks and wanted to spend time instead with his children.
A year after Shyala’s death, Talavar had taken the girls, bid the College that had been his home for so many years farewell and had returned to the city where he had grown up. He was able to find a good house in a decent area and for nearly four years, the little family lived in happy contentment. Talavar never found another wife. Shyala had been the absolute centre of his world and he suspected he would never experience that kind of love again.
And then tragedy, which had seemed to curse Talavar all his life, struck.
First of all, plague had swept through the city: an evil, nasty illness that took hold without discrimination. Young and old, poor and rich, it mattered not to the illness, which rendered its more unfortunate victims dead in days. Those who survived were forced to endure several days of gut-wrenching agony, fever and even, in some extreme cases, bleeding from the eyes. Some survived. Most did not.
At first, Talavar had considered taking the girls and following those who had chosen to flee the city, but realised with a sinking heart that it was too late. Plague struck the DuMonde household soon after, taking first Megan and then her sister, both bonny, pleasant little seven year old girls. Ill himself, Talavar had nursed them to the last and then he too had fallen victim to the plague.
Fifteen days of his life remain forgotten to him but for odd flashes of memory. Of Marissa, six years old, just as he had been when his mother had died, laying a damp cloth on his fevered brow and begging him to hold on. Memories of the most excruciating, agonising pain that flared through his gut and ripped through him with relentless cruelty. He lost weight at an alarming rate and dipped so far below the surface of death that it looked like he would be lost. He had experienced the eye bleeding and the optic nerves in his left eye were destroyed, never to be regained.
When he recovered consciousness, he was in a warm bed, a familiar bed. He realised, as awareness returned, that somehow he had been brought back to the College. Weak and still in pain – but no longer plagued, Talavar had opened his eyes to half a world of darkness and to see his little daughter sitting by his bedside. She too had lived, indeed, had escaped the illness altogether and had turned to the only place she could think of for help.
At first, he had been angry: he had not wanted to return to the College, but the days went on and he realised that there was far more to the story than his little girl had let on. He came to understand that in her terror, Marissa had somehow forged a connection with the College and had communicated her need for help. Never ones to turn their backs on a beloved student, Talavar and Marissa had been brought to safety by magical means.
“It is similar to the quickening period you yourself underwent as a boy,” the Grand Mage had said to him. In all the years that Talavar had been at the College, he had never once met the Grand Mage, who was an elderly, stooped woman. That had come as a surprise. “Marissa’s fear was the conduit to the awakening of her abilities. We even now are looking to enrol her in the school – with your permission, of course, Arch Mage DuMonde.”
Arch Mage. He had chosen to leave that title behind, afraid, perhaps, of what it had meant. He had chosen to turn his back on his powers and his knowledge, but it had welcomed him back without question. He had agreed for Marissa to undergo schooling, for he knew that whilst he would see much less of her, she would at least be safe and secure – and close by. He would also soon return to his own studies and became a fully fledged Arch Mage of the Ninth Circle on his thirty-sixth birthday. Humbled at his own success, Talavar never forgot where he had come from, and now with access to the city councils and the unique political power they wielded, he had set up a number of safehouses in the city where the children of the streets could find sanctuary and safety – and also, with careful design and planning, an adoption process that saw many of them placed into new homes. Talavar became known for his compassion and kindness and was well-liked and popular amongst the Ninth Circle Council.
Little Marissa, now seven years old, adored her father and he, in turn, ensured that he spent as much time with her as his duties allowed. Her schooling was progressing well: she was not displaying anywhere near his own aptitude, but she was still young. He continued to dote on her and their relationship solidified.
When he was thirty-eight, the old Grand Mage finally passed away and Talavar, much to his alarm and surprise, was elected unanimously to the position. From humble beginnings as a street urchin, Talavar DuMonde had become one of the most powerful mages in the world.
And that was just the beginning.
* * *
Things had happened far faster than Talavar DuMonde could ever have believed. Even now, three days after the pronouncement of the High Council that he was to be appointed as the High Mage of Redstow Keep he was still reeling from the shock. He had known, of course, that the appointment was a very real possibility, but he had assumed – wrongly as it had transpired – that his age would ensure that one of the other Ninth Circle mages who presently sat on the Council would receive the accolade.
He had somehow spluttered out stuttering words of gratitude, accepted the position with gracious thanks but had begged of the Council to explain their reasoning. It had been almost embarrassingly simple.
“You are the most powerful of the Brown Dragon Mages alive today, Master DuMonde,” one of his fellow Ninth Circle mages had explained with unfailing patience. “You are young and strong and ambitious. You are a good man and a leader of others. You have the respect of the people of Redstow for all the work you have done with the street ra…the orphans and besides.” The old mage had broken out into a friendly, affectionate smile. “There was only one mage who did not vote for you.”
That would have been him.
The formal announcement had been made to the college some three hours previously and a feast of outrageous proportions had commenced. Talavar had sat in the seat of his predecessor feeling slightly dazed and more than a little weary and had managed, somehow, to keep smiling. All he really wanted was to go to his chambers and perhaps sit by the fireside with a glass of fine Redstow brandy and one of his many books.
Then he remembered that his possessions were in the process of being removed from his former chambers and re-installed in the sumptuous chambers of the Master.
He was relieved, then, when the Chancellor approached him and bowed low. “Master DuMonde,” he said, crisply, straightening. “I beg private audience with you. There is a ritual that must be undertaken now that you are Master of the College and that ritual must be performed before moonrise.”
Talavar had received a brief, terse note from the Chancellor that morning stating that there would be a few administrative matters that required immediate attention following his inauguration as College Master and it was with eager agreement that he rose from his seat and followed the elderly man down the main corridor to the sweeping staircase that led to the Master’s chambers. The Chancellor led the way and, on reaching the heavy oak door that led to the office and sleeping area that was now Talavar’s, took a key on a chain from around his neck. “This is now yours,” he said, solemnly, handing it to the other man with great seriousness in his eyes.
With equal seriousness, Talavar received the key and bowed low to the Chancellor. Of all those in the College, the Chancellor alone received a similar level of respect to the Master. Artur had been Chancellor for as long as Talavar had been a mage and over the years he had developed the deepest respect for the old man.
“You do me great honour, Chancellor,” he said in his soft voice.
“And you likewise do me great honour, Master DuMonde. Please do not bow to me, it is not seemly for the Master of the Brown Dragon Mages to prostrate himself before any other. Apart from royalty and other Masters.”
“As you wish, old friend.” Talavar straightened to his full height and raised a hand to scratch at the beard on his chin. “Shall we take this discussion inside?”
The briefest of smiles touched Artur’s face. “Indeed, Master.”
Something akin to a boyish, wicked grin came over Talavar’s face as he unlocked the door and pushed it open. “Then enter, Chancellor. Enter and welcome.”
He gestured to the Chancellor to enter before him, but Artur shook his head. “I would not steal this moment from you for anything, Talavar.” He reached over and lay a hand on the taller man’s shoulder. “You have suffered much for your art and you have given much to the city of Redstow. This honour has been bestowed upon you. Enjoy your reward.”