"White Wanderer, Icerobes, Third Archmagus, Lightningbearer... All such wonderful titles I've collected over the years. Well, that meddling piece of scholarly crap Federkiel has finally gotten around to consulting me... or at least this orb, whichever I'd prefer... on my fascinating person. Refreshing change from having to deal with people on my same level of power... yes, yes, you can start with the questions now.
Picture description: The famous Xarl Bluestride, dressed in the typical xazure tunic. The color was in fact named after him. Image drawn by Faugar.
Who am I? Xarl Bluestride, Archmage of Xeuá...
such a nice word, that. Wonderful language,
anyhow, I'm a notorious wanderer, both conversationally and worldly, and I
visited this place about... what was it... damnation, but I need to keep better
track of this kind of thing. If I remember properly, I visited
Caelereth between the years you presently
reckon as 634 before Santhros
and 618 of the same connotation. If you have to ask why I'm being included in
this compendium thing, I
believe you're one of the people I always felt the unbelievably strong urge to
turn into a pile of electrocuted ash, but tolerated anyway. I'm evidently held
as the third greatest Archmage in the history of Ximax... something about the
teacher always greater than the student, or some such. That, and while that
pointy-eared elfling Khaelvan was a quite a
prodigy... it's hard to beat out the quite literal lifetimes of experience I
have on him. Evidently it's impossible to think of me without thinking of
Ximax, so that's the area I'm always put in,
and in any case, you can stop cringing at my words, Master Firefeet. If you
like, you can edit them from now on." - Xarl Bluestride.
-- Transcribed by Palnun Mindfire, Archmage of the Violet Tower, who incidentally looks a great deal like her ancestor, a Mr. Nyur Farsight.
Appearance. Attempts at consulting the Orb of Bluestride regarding Xarl's appearance inevitably ended with such phrases as "unbelievably attractive studmuffin" and "too good-looking for the good of humanity". Well, attempts at consulting records were far more useful.
Xarl Bluestride was approximately 1.8 peds tall, and weighed an unknown amount; no accounts save particularly speculative fiction have any weight guesses within ten (blanks) of each other. He is generally conceded to be of thin stature, in any case.
His skin was his most remarkable feature; it gave the impression of having been soaked in blue dye for an hour, and then being bleached for approximately a week so as to dilute it. His face and hands were typically the only other portions of his body to appear; by all accounts both had their fair share of white scars and burnt points. His hair was white, and kept approximately two nailsbreadths long at most times; naturally it was allowed to grow during travels. (Or, as Xarl would have said: "Well, what did you expect? That I carried a barber's shears along with the eye of newt?")
Xarl typically wore white, silver, or blue robes, so as to properly complement his own color scheme, usually stained with dust, mud, blood, or simple discolored patches depending on the locale and availability of fresh water. His staff, resembling a crystal-bottomed spear, was never far from him, and was evidently preferred by him to the White Staff, which he said "seemed to always be trying to persuade me of something."
The overall effect always seemed to be someone on the borderline between wise determination and a mild psychosis. The Orb of Bluestride has been the occasional subject of artwork; the most famous painting being the one done by the contemporary artist Erelen.
There is very little information on the history of Xarl, due to both his short
time spent in Santharia and his own
closed-mouthedness about it. However, the following represents what is known.
Unknown Time: Xarl Bluestride is born in an unknown place. Evidently as a young man he was quite a expert at the kind of magic we know as Xeuá; he repeatedly has referred to it as Parian Magic, but there seems to be no connection, namewise, between the term Parian and any term listed in the Compendium as of yet.
U.T. +30: The heavily schooled mage-adept is cast into something analagous to the Etherial Void after a botched attempt at a teleportation spell.
U.T +30-634 b.S: During this time, which we are given to believe is long indeed, Xarl travels from world to world using the raw force of his magic, gaining what he describes as "my most unique complexion'"and a wealth of magical knowledge. Some Ximaxian historians believe that Xarl had somehow discovered the secret of immortality, lost since the time of the Chosen, during this period; it is the opinion of Archmage Mindfire that if he'd discovered it and administered it, he would probably be a far more happy person. He has occasionally made references to "his curse" in seeming jest, but the chronicler notes that he seems somewhat morose after this is mentioned. In any case, this all is very thin speculation; all that is truly known is that the Archmage developed his bluish skin tint during this time as a result of prolonged exposure to the Void. To qoute him on the matter: "I should be grateful that's all I got from it... there's far worse to be found between the worlds."
634 b.S: The Archmage is first sighted at the Seven Schools of Magic at Memnoor. After gathering a few particulars, including the fact that there was once another, far more rule-bound school of magic far to the north, he returns to the Void for a brief time.
633-630: Xarl is sighted in several small villages and a few cities, noteworthy among them Thalambath as the starting point, a long intermission, then working through Varcopas, acting as a spittle-fishing voyage's mage for passage to Chylikis, from which he disappears for a fair portion before being seen again in the dwarven Kor Donion, followed after another month or so until arriving in Naios, and at last reaching Caelum.
630-628: Xarl, upon finding a young elf by the name of Khaelvan who is gifted in the sorcerous arts, starts teaching him the basics of his magic. However, he is repeatedly brought up short by his lack of knowledge of Wind Magic, which Khaelvan shows the most aptitude for. After he possesses the fundementals, and is given the half-nickname, half-title Stargaze by Xarl, the two set out for Ximax as something of a "trial by fire".
628: On their way they are forced to test out their skills, first on a dark elf warband wandering the Shivering Woods, and then a very hasty re-development of the spell "Breathe Water" as the seasonal waters rushed over the floodplains. Also, along the path they find many fragments of various something-or-others that seem to have been either magical or made with the express intent of killing people; Khaelvan fills Xarl in on the history of Ximax's fall. Xarl spoke on their reaction at seeing the city. "When we finally reached the splinters of what was left of Ximax, we both were very, very depressed. Think soul-attached-to-a-rock-and-thrown-in-a-deep-black-pool depressed. The outer rim of the city had evidently been pounded by catapults and ballistae, the inner city was like walking through a mausoleum, and everywhere were black scorchings and vanished woodwork; mute testimony to the efficiency of magical fires. And yet, we still held our hopes up slightly with the periodic pulses of power emanating from the city's heart."
Upon their arrival, they are treated to a rather stark sight. The Eleven Towers still stand, though the outer walls of the Academy are beaten down by the elements, both natural and supernatural. In the center still lay the Shield Dome, in rather poor repair; only the ward of Fire showed any signs of efficiency.
Then, as they left, they were assaulted by a fair-sized force of Volkek-Oshra, demanding to know why they were defiling the Tomb of Magic, and, as Xarl adds, "Keeping enchanted pointy objects ready should our answers prove incorrect, or if any of them were feeling ornery that day. Luckily, that day didn't seem to end in a Y, because none of them felt the urge to disembowel us for the hell of it."
The Oshra elder Narmatuk attempted to convince Xarl that his (now admitted) cause, that of rebuilding the city, was hopeless. Not only were the vast majority of the Eleven Staffs missing, the dwarven disciples of Ungur Firehands had long since departed Ximax, and without their powers of the Earth, any attempt at rebuilding would be disastrous. (But there's nothing that orcs embrace more fiercely than a noble cause... heh. -Xarl)
628-623: During these five years, Xarl, Khaelvan, and the same small subclan of the Oshra gathered as many of the ex-wizards, or in the majority of cases, descendants thereof, from the surrounding area. The ruins of the Eyrie Tower, the guard-fortress of Ungur's Pass, yielded a tunnel into the catacombs that were being inhabited by the Brown Tower's (for the most part still living) ex-inhabitants, who were willing to try their arts again with assistance. A farming village near Diamond Lake hid a large contingent of the descendants of the Ximaxian humans who had been saved by their own powers; by now, a fair portion of their children were showing the beginnings of magical power, and their parents, who had long since been quietly, secretly taught their arcane art by the previous generation, questioned their own secondhand, rudimentary knowledge of the Art and were all too willing to fall behind Xarl's flag. One day, a small band of elves emerged from the Shivering Woods, and again offered their allegiance to Ximax's flag. And, on the side, to Khaelvan, who was by now gaining a vast appreciation of all forms of magic, and possessed more power than most of those he met, save for the Oshra elder Narmatuk, and his omniscient bastard of a teacher. With these assembled, the Refounding begins...
622: The Refounding continues; of note is the major ceremony where six of the seven remaining Staffs are once more claimed by the de facto Archmagi; Xarl claims the title of Xeuá, Khaelvan Wind, Narmatuk Fire, the elder of the Diamond Lake village, Jerim, claims Water, Nyur Farsight, who had been living in an isolated hut near the aformentioned village, claims the staff of his forebear; the Staff of Mind. The leader of the dwarves, Dhelmak Firehands, claims Earth... and the Staff of Ximax, the gift of the elven denomination to the Refounding, is left unclaimed at Xarl's insistance. (Well, it would have looked kind of stupid if I had taken it, and the kid would have been overwhelmed... he needed a couple years more to acquire a proper hatred of the job. - Xarl)
621: The School is rebuilt enough that the Six Archmagi send out letters to various authorities of Caelum, Naios, and Milkengrad asking for their assistance in sending youngsters showing an inclination towards magic to Ximax...
In the fall, the First Class of the Ximaxian Institute of Magic, numbering fifty-seven, arrives in the renovated city; Xarl delivers the speech at their initiation (see Quotes)
620: Fifty of the original fifty-seven choose to take a second year, along with another sixty new Initiates. In a magical search, the Rainbow Staff is located by Nyur, with the considerable assistance of Khaelvan. Xarl begins to become somewhat bored.
619: Xarl calls a council of the Archmagi, in which Khaelvan is granted the title Archmagus of Ximax; the Yellow Staff is passed on to Khaelvan's student, Naera Feathersheen.
|Image description: The famous Orb of Xarl Bluestride, representing the last remaining token of the third-greatest Archmage in Ximaxian history. Picture drawn by Erelen.|
618: Xarl, by now bored out of his mind with his bureaucratic duties, creates
the Orb of Bluestride with
help from Nyur and Amel Shimmertouch, the new Archmage of Metamagic. Shortly
afterwards, he leaves for the south, and is never seen again...
618 a.S: Rumors abound Xarl will return. No dice.
700 a.S: Rumors abound Xarl will return. Still no dice.
718 a.S: Rumors abound Xarl will return. Dice not in evidence.
818-XX18: Rumors follow a similar pattern; exemptions to the general setup are documented.
1000 a.S: Rumors abound Xarl will return; people beginning to doubt existence of dice.
1500 a.S: Rumors abound Xarl will return, people now quite sure dice are lost.
1618: Rumors abound Xarl will return, Orb of Bluestride politely inquires as to whether the people lost the dice or their marbles.
1659: Rumors are beginning to abound again, and once again Xarl's phantom within the Orb has become rather short-tempered with all the people asking; as before, it answers as it always has, when asked when Xarl will return: "Time will tell. Only time will tell."
Importance. Xarl's importance to the history of Ximax cannot be denied. While scholars can debate all they wish about the inevitability of the School's resurrection in some form, there is no doubt that Xarl was the impetus behind the school's swift reconstruction, simply because he lacked the intelligence to know it was impossible, and possessed the wisdom to know the opposite. As Khaelvan wrote in his memoirs:
"He was a great man, yes. Always that one step beyond
comprehension; always just beyond reach. And yet, he was still a man. A fellow
mortal, who simply saw something we didn't, and possessed the uncanny ability to
simply make problems disappear. Then, just to prove his mortality, they'd circle
around and stab him in the back, but such is the lot of life. His true skill
rested in his knowledge of what drove people; the hope in the eyes of humanity,
the light of the elven soul, the determination
in dwarven bones, and the honor in the
orcish heart. To quote him; he didn't know how
he was going to do it, but he knew who to make help. (I laugh as I write this,
because while I may have become a master in my own right, I am always and
forever will be his student.)"
Beyond that, he is the wellspring of something crucial to the
School's existence second only to magic itself:
speculation. There are enough dissertations on Xarl's purpose in
Ximax' refoundation to fill a small room, and
the transcripts of gossipesque conversation over the years would fill a far
larger one; approximately the size of one of the Towers. And, as his history
states so explicitly, there hasn't been a century that's passed without a rumor
he will return. As to when that will happen, noone can say.
Quotes. The following excerpt holds the first lecture of the Archmagus of Xeuá Xarl Bluestride to the classes of 621-618 b.S. They are assembled in roughly chronological order, with some allowances made for the sake of relevance. These treatises center around the personal experiences of magic, and as such have also been placed in abridged and edited book form under the title: "Wizardry: The Aura, the Will and You" (not required reading, but almost every Initiate reads it just the same).
Initiation Day, 621 b.S.
The following poem was recently discovered in the vaults of the White Tower of Ximax, part of a page from what may have been a journal of the archmagus Xarl Bluestride. It offers a rare look inside the wizard's mind:
IN THE CORNER
Information provided by Xarl