Loremageddon 2019, Day Twenty-Six: Spellmavens, Schielmanckers, Phantom Reliquaries

Hello, readers–we’ve arrived at Day Twenty-Six! Indeed, it’s the final sixth of Loremageddon, and we’re in for more mystical lore as well as a quick look at the squat reptilian people called Schielmanckers. No need for more setup–join me below the asterisks, if you’d be so kind.

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Snippet #1: The Spellmavens of the Janik Desert (World: Creation’s Fringe)

An isolated region offers many chances to hide, at least for a woman with the right talents. The reclusive Spellmavens have long used this to full advantage, though with shifting sands and passing eras that safe-making seclusion has also come to look like imprisonment. The order’s records mention past eras when magic’s current flowed across all the Janik desert, but it’s difficult to imagine those days; it exists now at only a few points scattered throughout that waste of fine sand and jagged rusty rocks.

Thus, most Fringers, let alone most offworlders, will never meet a Spellmaven. The order’s mid-ranking members spend most of their time studying within one of the five primary enclaves, and never emerge into public. The lowest ranking may be sent on errands to a distant settlement or the aloof spectacle that is the Zephyrous Bazaar–not under their own power, of course. The Spellmavens maintain a good stock of enchanted relics which naturally include transportation; a simple wooden craft with a tarp at its top and a cushioned hull is the most common.

As for the order’s own appearance, they wear loose-hanging clothes cut to each member’s preferences. Older Spellmavens often like robes or matronly dresses for the sense of authority they convey, but there’s no mandate for such. Radiant blues and greens are most popular: direct rebellion against the desert’s barrenness. Over time, a Spellmaven often reworks her outfits to better reflect her own taste: more elaborate scrollwork along the shoulders or waistline, animist imagery on a bodice or galloping over skirt-hems, and so on.

All Spellmavens are women from their respective species; the order believe that femininity comes from spirit, not birth. Transwomen are welcome–provided they have mage-talent, of course!–and the Spellmavens are happy to help these new sisters with their transitions in whatever ways they’re asked to. The most powerful Spellmavens–as with any mage-order, this status has far more to do with talent and ambition than age–undergo a series of individualized trials called simply “The Five Trials Arcane”, of which there are five (the Spellmavens are a pragmatic bunch) and if they succeed, gain the title of Arch-Spellmaven or just “Archmaven.”

From this point onward, the new Archmaven may establish and run her own enclave or else is free to live separately from the rest of the order. This helps slowly expand the number of current-active locations within the Janik desert, letting the Spellmavens spread out, while keeping those locations under their own control.

Snippet #2: Schielmanckers (World: Creation’s Fringe)

Schielmanckers are a squat species of amphibian-descended people. Their name comes not from themselves, but an archaic Kalingsprache phrase whose meaning history stole. Indeed, the Schielmanckers are indigenous to Kalinger. Averaging four feet in height, Schielmanckers have minimal sexual dimorphism; Schielmancker men are slightly taller than women–an inch on average–and feature more pronounced torsal spines. Aside from their glistening skin and blood-red tongues, these spines are the Schielmancker species’ most distinctive features.

That skin is seamless and most often pale in color, though some Schielmanckers gain more saturated palettes upon adulthood. Black or dark blue stripes are common, but not universal. Because of their body chemistry, Schielmancker clothing includes many odd combinations. Certain organs, such as the lungs and heart, generate far more heat than those of other species, and in consequence the Schielmanckers rarely wear shirts.

However, their extremities chill easily, as do their reproductive organs, and so a mixture of isolated sleeves and pant-legs with what can only be called a “crotch pouch” are common. Wealthy Schielmanckers may flaunt their status simply by wearing a full set of clothes–this in itself means they can afford the climate-control enchantments needed to avoid broiling in their own warmth!

Despite their unimpressive size, Schielmanckers are a feisty people whose average psychology (a finicky concept with any sapient species, of course) most closely resembles that of humans. With the right gear, their steady hands and quick reflexes make them excellent skirmishers. Along with the Latren-Laprani, they’re the most common soldiers alongside humans themselves, generally relying on crossbows and long two-handed spears to counteract their own limited reach.

Otherwise, Schielmanckers can do any job a human can which doesn’t require a human’s stature, and these two species make up about ninety percent of Kalinger’s population.

Snippet #3: Phantom Reliquaries (World: Creation’s Fringe)

Whether plunging through a mess of branch-like obsidian growths over streams of liquid metal in the depths of the Uncanny Marrow, crashing a sealed airship through a worn-down segment of plating to dodge a rock in the gaseous space above the Fringe, or badgering their mage to open portal after portal just to see what might pop up on the other side, adventuring parties may encounter a phantom reliquary at any time. If they survive the inevitable guardians, a reliquary’s treasure could pose the greatest danger of all.

An ill-understood phenomenon–more so even than most involving the Fringe!–these pocket dimensions vary widely in aesthetics. A reliquary famously explored by the Transverse Mordants–an all-necromancer group of mortal adventurers known for dark humor, black magic, and impeccable style–featured glistening ultramarine stone and razor-sharp silver edges on every corner, pillar-base, and doorway. A labyrinth, its sections constantly violated the laws of physics. Two doorways led to bridges across the same tumblehome chasm. The bridges sat just fifty feet apart, one somewhat higher than the other.

Past each door, however, it took traversing five different stairwells and working through over fifty rooms of traps and violent entities during four grueling hours to move from one door’s bridge to the other! Naturally, each bridge accessed a completely different section of the reliquary. The Mordants–who all lived to old age and eventually elected to die of it–wrote that they felt they were always watched, always seeing silhouettes they couldn’t catch with sight, spell, or even plane-warping magic.

When they reached this particular reliquary’s end, they found an altar crafted from ten interlocking blades of that same silvery material, each puncturing through others in multiple places. Cages and lattices of the same construction filled much of the room, obscuring blue tapestries of a silky substance which hung in recesses at either side. Through the narrowest gaps in the blade-cages, the Mordants saw glimpses of a lightning-lashed plane where grim specters glared out at them.

But upon the altar itself rested a greatsword so immaculate, so exacting in its craft, that the Mordants thereafter deemed every lesser sword an unwitting heresy. Bearing a black crossguard with gold inlays to supplement it, it was easily eight feet long, yet handled better than a longsword half that length. Its grip appeared to be wrought from pure blue diamond underlaid by white-stone spines encasing the tang itself.

Its double-edged blade could shear the very altar on which it rested with but a brush where the Mordant’s own weapons chipped and were themselves cut on trying the same feat. And, as they looked upon its engravings, each Mordant swore they saw scenes unfolding within scenes–a small reflection on a sword blade wielded by one of two dueling, inhuman figures swelled upon the sight into an army arrayed for war, then the gleam in a general’s eye became the charge itself in full. Simply staring at the weapon warped the mind, forcing it to see in ways it shouldn’t.

Though ensnared briefly by this perfection, the Mordants had strong wills–by mortal standards, at least–and forced themselves to retreat, leaving the magnificent blade to await a wielder whose mind could master its compulsions. All reliquaries have a single pattern in common: they always contain some artifact perfectly suited to one party member. However, while other stories claim discovering a relic which, like the alien greatsword, was so flawless it enslaved the psyche, only the Mordants’ account was confirmed for truth.

On her death bed the Mordant’s Marrowscour leader, Chinag Vud, said simply: “I should’ve taken the damn blade with me anyway. I’m no less ensnared by it; I simply lost the chance to wield it in the bargain.”

Like the few such reliquaries recorded in legend whose treasures were left in their depths, that Bladed Labyrinth has never been seen since.

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That’s it, Day Twenty-Six wrapped up! I hope you’ve all enjoyed this one; I certainly had good fun with it. Otherwise, leave any thoughts you’d like down in the comments, likes on the post itself are always appreciated, and share this lore with any you think might enjoy it. As ever, I maintain my outpost on Twitter.

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