An earlier version of this article originally appeared at the Old School Heretic Blog.
Any sufficiently developed system of magic is indistinguishable from technology. Wizards are masters of technologies, sorceries and magics that they have explored directly, personally, extensively and in great depth. They have developed many of the Public Access spells found in the various databases, they have designed and released the schematics for a vast array of devices and processes into the datasphere both freely and in some encrypted fashion. Wizards may or may not belong to an Order, but they usually have a few students. Many have personally founded various specific Schools and after a time they all tend to withdraw from Polite Society to become anchorites, hermits, or to otherwise pursue their peculiar aims and personal ambitions in solitude, leaving behind a body of work, a legacy of techniques, journals, spells and more. Twelve Mad Wizards of Riskail were previously introduced, and one in particular, Lorshal, was given a bit more detail. Each of these wizards will be further developed and revealed in future installments, including details of their spells, sigils, artifacts, etc.
Twelve Insane Geniuses of Riskail were introduced in a prior post, and while some of them are undoubtedly wizards, sorcerers or foul cultists and they have an incredible amount of sophistication and dedication to their chosen pursuits, they lack the devoted focus of a true Adept. Each of the Insane Geniuses will be further detailed and developed in future posts just like the wizards above.
Adepts are those individuals who have become consummate masters of some specific discipline, technique or skill. They are the acme of their chosen field of endeavor or the undisputed authority in their area of knowledge and study. These are the people who have driven themselves and dedicated their every effort to becoming the absolute best in their field. And the competition can sometimes be quite fierce. Previously the Umbrarch of Mishtang was introduced and now it is time to reveal a selection of Twelve Bizarre Adepts of Riskail.
Twelve Bizarre Adepts of Riskail
Tall, thin and unprepossessing, Etreev'yar rarely comes into any settled area for very long, preferring instead to remain in the outback and the jungles, the rainforests and arboreal regions favored by his beloved charges and adopted children: the chimpan, rangs, rills, and other simianoids who've come into their own distinct forms of sentience and culture as a direct result of his trickery and tinkering with their intrinsic genes. Instead of converting them into imitation humanoids, Etreev'yar discovered and unlocked the potentials within the various types of monkeys, lemurs, apes and related species. Respected as a genetic prophet and the honored outsider who played the trickster-shaman's role in awakening them unto themselves, Etreev'yar is much loved and respected amongst the majority of the species whom he has aided and abetted in developing into their own cultures. Of course not all are equally impressed with the token human in their midst, and there are those who doubt that he has unlocked their genes so much as defiled them with human genes, despite this having been disproven countless times before. Some people, even non-human people, desperately need someone to blame, and the allure of a feral golden age of animality is a powerful myth amongst some of the younger members of the ape-clades and clans. Whole villages have rejected rational knowledge and sought ways to regain a form of ecstatic frenzy, going wild and seeking to return to the existence of their ancestors. Many chimpan sorcerers and shamans agree that this is a war for the collective soul of their people, a war that they will not allow anyone else, not even Etreev'yar, to interfere with under any circumstances. So far he has abided by their decisions, but once a meddler, always a meddler, and it is only a matter of time before Etreev'yar interferes. The chimpan know this all too well.
A designer of great distinction whose genomic profiles are still very much in demand amongst genartists across the Known Worlds, Moorshai is the patron genemistress of three distinct Houses and countless sub-clades, lineages and possibly several clans as well. She unlocked the secrets of life in ways that overthrew the prevailing wisdom of her mentors over a thousand years ago and her fame is such that one can barely discuss genart without invoking her name. Several hundred sects have declared her a saint, but none of her lineage will permit such a distinction to be made, as per her root-form request and the on-going directions received from her uncounted surrogates and inheritors deep within the womb-cysts and bio-bunkers where she has been endlessly reborn to continue onwards with her work, a far-flung legion of melancholy designers of life seeding and shaping whole ecologies out past the perimeter of the Known Worlds. Judith Moorshai is devoted to life in a way that few can grasp or hope to understand, and she works tirelessly, ceaselessly, continually to expand the dominion of the living out past any known or established boundaries as though driven to stave off some virulent form of extinction that seems to be dogging her very heels.
It was Moorshai who made Rand of Samaldan the man he is today, infecting him with the Legioform bioconsensusware that made his Legion possible. Perhaps this is why every instance of Moorshai is accompanied by an instance of Rand, two eternal polar opposites caught up in their perpetual dialogue concerning life, death and the meaning of existence which Rand will do anything to protect. Anything.
A traveler in both time and space, Hugh is a freelance teleporter who walks across the face of countless worlds as easily as a gymnast tumbles in mid-air. Known for his signature dark gray trench coat and unruly mop of blonde hair, Hugh is a nomadic personality who rarely visits his friends unless he is in trouble with agents of the Sorrinon'n Empire or some other Great Power. No one really knows where all he's been, but on occasion Hugh has been contracted to deliver small parcels or messages to distant places that otherwise might have been cut-off. He was notorious for being the only person to have made it into Talibarr and back out again during the 500 year+ isolation of that system. Hugh is always going places, but not always the sorts of places he'd prefer to go to – he has become aware of outside influences upon his traveling ability, and this troubles him. So Hugh has taken to hiring a number of specialists and scholars to study the situation and help him to do something about it. So far the results have been inconclusive, except when they've been terrifying, but that tends to precede a massive explosion or other disaster that tends to get marked down as a weird 'coincidence.' A freespirit and vagabond, Hugh has become disheveled, erratic and slightly paranoid as this has gone on and he is looking for any sort of answer to his predicament. He is growing increasingly desperate and has begun to distrust his abilities, going so far as to avoid traveling as much as possible. What unknown things are waiting for him out there in-between all places?
Forgotten and faceless, Bartoldo Edrukassivar was once a great actor, a thespian and performer of tremendous virtuosity and skill, a true master of his craft and a wonder to behold in whatever role he took upon himself. But all that ended the day that his face was stolen and he was left bleeding in a burning theater by a rival who took the precaution of catastrophically expunging Bartoldo's memories. He should have died in the fire, but he didn't. His career died, but he went on living, after a fashion. No longer able to function on the stage with his usual verve and elan, and as a man without a face, Bartoldo retired from the theater and sought out solitude and solace far away from the footlights and greasepaint of his chosen profession. The scars of his body healed, and in time he was able to revise the nanofection in his face to give him any number of faces except his own. Apparently his rival was possessed of a twisted sense of humor and made sure that Bartoldo's own face would be erased from his person permanently, using a proscribed nanocytic vector that hadn't been seen in centuries just to eliminate his features, a vector that went so far as to reprogram and encrypt Bartoldo's very DNA in such a way that there is no way to restore his face, not even by cloning, and any offspring he has will likewise be faceless. Some suspect that the Faceless Lords of Zevaq were involved, as the disfigurement afflicting Bartoldo is so similar to their own voluntary facelessness, but this hasn't been confirmed and the Lords of Zevaq have extended every courtesy to Bartoldo including any help they might offer in his hope for some form of restoration, which mitigates some of the suspicion. There are also some rumors that Navarre might have had something to do with this matter, but as with all things having to do with Navarre, there is precious little in the way of any clues to validate the connection.
Beautiful in the way of a timeless statue transported from the deep vaults of some forgotten and buried Metropolis, Velotte DeruSchaal never appears as the same woman twice, not even to her myriad lovers or companions. Icy, alluring, a true femme fatale, to say that Velotte is not what she seems would be an insult to the intelligence of a rock. A flickering flame that dances gracefully and languidly across the interlinked canvas of a thousand biomechanical bodies, Velotte is a laughing nymph-like serial consciousness that only fleetingly recalls what it means to be human and only pretends to be vulnerable or accessible as it suits her subtle and devious schemes that she never fully reveals. She always works through her consorts and agents, those enamored with her beauty or besotted with her psychotropic kisses, the dashing heroes and would-be saviors of countless worlds have come to her defense only to be used to further some inscrutable scheme of this evil woman. Death haunts the eyes of this seductress and agent provocateur who is in direct competition with the Immortal Lady Blue Herself. Some claim that Velotte is either a rival or a daughter of Blue or perhaps she has dedicated herself to foiling and spoiling the plans of the Azure Lady for whatever reasons one cares to conjecture upon. But no one really knows, except perhaps for Blue Herself, and she isn't exactly very forthcoming. All that is known for sure is that Velotte is extremely convincing, enticing and charming in oh so many ways. She has most people doing her bidding with little if any effort, thus she is always seeking out those who can resist her, as though somehow she needs to bend them to her will, corrupt them to her cause, or twist them to fall in love with her or serve her, just to prove that she can do so. Velotte is very convincing, extremely determined and relentless in her pursuit of whatever – or whomever – it is that she wants at the moment.
A master painter who works in a variety of media including mimetic-pigments, soft-digital and psi-active nanobrushes, as well as a variety of mixed-media. He wants to get back to his sculpture work, but never seems to make it, as another painting 'comes to him' before he can get very far with his massive and disorganized collection of found objects. Edmund is a natural geopath, someone with an acute and deeply personal connection to locations and locales that goes far, far beyond anything that a common geomancer would consider feasible, let alone possible. He literally sees distant landscapes and, falling into a trance-state, he paints them. But to say that Edmund paints is such a crude disservice to his talents and his complete mastery of his own unique artform. Edmund creates images that are alive with an undeniable electric intensity, a ferocious sense of place that transcends all rational and reasonable interpretation to become porous, from time to time, that a viewer might find themselves drawn into the painting – literally – as the paintings of Edmund can sometimes become actual portals, the very real thresholds to other places and other times that various admirers of his work have found themselves trapped within, become lost, or had the opportunity to explore.
These spaces and places that are revealed by Edmund's paintings are not always Known Worlds, nor are they merely alternates, parallels, other planes or timelines. In fact Edmund's paintings have elicited a great deal of heated debate within the Academy and amongst several cliques of collectors and curators who are squabbling over just where some of these places actually are, and what all this might mean, both existentially and in terms of the work's ultimate financial value. From time to time various patrons or supporters of Edmund will put together a team of experts and mercenary-types to explore one of Edmunds' more recent paintings, while others work secretly in the background, sending covert agents to infiltrate some of the more identifiable or registered paintings that open onto realms, planes or cosms that suit their nefarious purposes and cryptic schemes. And of course there are those specialists who've gotten used to being called-in to extricate people who've gotten themselves drawn into one of Edmund's paintings that are on display in various galleries. It's just one of those necessary measures that the curators make sure they've taken care of before unveiling any of his works in public.
Krevare of Seregoy
A consummate narcissist as well as master genartist, Krevare has the singular distinction of having been censured by the Genelords of Cathelia directly, personally and with all due malice as well. Many were surprised that he was able to survive long enough to placate them, however he managed to do that is an equally amazing feat. Krevare is a man full of himself, arrogant, haughty, condescending to others and possessed of a staggering intellect that might have been enough to qualify him as an Insane Genius, except for his peculiar and singular mastery of his own genome. Where Krevare transcends ordinary insanity and brashly pushes past mere blasphemy is in his having made an integrated artform of himself. Krevare is his own living, breathing, immortal and unique masterpiece. He has made his own genetic sequence the very core and root stock of an entire interconnected hyper-ecology that has taken over an entire world and is in the process of taking over its entire solar system. Literally every living thing on Seregoy is directly derived and developed from Krevare's personal biology. Everything.
The legendary supreme commander of the Grand Expedition to Anjaquay and a hundred thousand other exotic planets, continents, planes and stranger regions, Lucindrallita Vasquen is the coresib of an entire clone-derived lineage of Vasquens, all of whom are directly modeled and trained to be the best possible version of the woman who was – and still remains – an explorer and adventurer par excellence. Very few large-scale exploration operations or missions go into the field without at least one Vasquen-clone on their staff. The children of her lineage are much sought-after as members of expeditions as well, but as they live within the imposing shadow of their mother's legendary exploits, they come a great deal cheaper and far more eager to prove themselves than the coresib clones who know who they are and have proven themselves already a hundred times over before they are even allowed out of the staggered compounds that the lineage maintains as a training ground within the Alhambra Ordekai solar system which they discovered and claimed and maintain as an independent system-state outside and beyond the various Houses, clans, etc.
Some few are lucky enough to qualify to train with the Vasquen lineage. A very select and elite few have earned the right to marry into the lineage, but as per tradition, their identities are protected and blocked from public access. It is the children of these rare and exceptional unions that have produced a number of incredible athletes, field-scholars, explorers, and at least one rogue, or so the rumors go.
Originally an architect of great reknown, Kalt was imprisoned in Drekatta where he had originally been hired to design the ruling Junta's Palais du Dominion. Tortured by the fascists and betrayed by the pseudo-socialist underground who violently pried the secrets of his schematics from his brain and then left him to rot in the dungeons beneath the Presidential Fortress, Kalt became somewhat unhinged for a time and became something of mad man. In a fit of rage at how he had been treated by everyone and everything since coming to Drekatta, Kalt went cold, quiet and ruthless as a spider. He managed to murder everyone in his way one by one, carefully, quietly, discretely, until he was able to escape from the bowels of the Presidential Fortress and make his way into the heart of the Jaikurrim Conurbation where he set himself to the task of becoming a sort of counter-revolutionary cum assassin. Within three years he was running the most extensive intelligence gathering operation and bureau of assassination in Drekatta which he used to destroy all other factions amongst the Drekattans, including every would-be warlord who thought that they saw an opportunity to assert themselves. Eventually, Kalt's mind cleared and he came back to his senses and in the midst of his ruinous campaign of terror and absolute destruction of all the political mechanisms of Drekattan life, he had an epiphany. Having successfully destroyed every single one of his enemies and all that they held dear or clung to for identity, Kalt was left as the last man standing in the power vacuum that his mad crusade had created. He was the de facto King of the World, should he but claim the title. He had amassed power, wealth and influence far beyond anything needed to overthrow the regional authorities or their challengers and his network was growing rapidly beyond Drekatta, and possibly beyond his control as well. It was then that Kalt made a fateful decision. In the course of a few months Kalt ceased to exist as a distinct individual. The name Kalt was cleverly and masterfully converted into a title, a dangerous honorific that marked any but one specifically approved by Kalt himself for a grisly and painful demise that often extended back upon their lineage or relations. The title of Kalt was not an easy one to earn, nor to maintain. But then anyone who sets themselves up as a quiet, patient mastermind who directs a portion of a massively interconnected intelligence network that operates outside of any other power, jurisdiction, boundary or allegiance shouldn't expect to have an easy time of it. To this day, over seven hundred years later, Drekatta has no official or recognized government and anyone attempting to establish so much as a trade union has a tendency to disappear, when they aren't posed in some grotesque manner as an object lesson. Drekatta remains in a state of prosperous and vibrant anarchy, managed and directed from behind the scenes and the networks that have evolved from this place have spread far and wide across the Known Worlds and beyond. And Kalt? They say that he still lives on, an old man on his mountain, surrounded by veiled Solmiri concubine-assassins and a host of other beings especially bred, designed or engineered to serve his schemes, plans or ambitions which are farther reaching and more deeply penetrating than even the AI have been able to forecast. They say he plays games with gods from other timelines, wages silent or cold wars across a vast swath of planar layers and might even be engaged in a covert conflict with an Outsider civilization, but all that is rumor, innuendo and the idle fiction of the ever-conjecturing susurrus of the media. Only Kalt truly knows what lurks in the darkest recess of his vast enterprises.
He was his world's most accomplished Oupir-hunter, an exterminator of the unlawful undead, a man of great accomplishments and unrivaled reputation who had repeatedly gone bravely into the worst places imaginable and against the steepest odds came out again, successful, victorious, intact. Until that last encounter. In one careless, unguarded moment, the briefest instant of fleeting pride in his having vanquished a particularly horrid and challenging foe after the longest and most hard-fought campaign of his career, Valjjio dropped his formidable defenses. He never saw her strike. Three hundred years spent as a Kitain, a hunter-killer of the illicit undead trained by the Masters of the Art back in Kapht and on Lourdes as well, tried and tested in the catacombs of Trudoth and Kuud itself – none of it mattered in that one terrible, beautiful moment where Valjjio, unrelenting scourge of the dead crossed-over into the grim unlife brought to him upon the lips of a woman he thought that he had lost forever. The master hunter still hunts, but now his efforts are aimed against those whom he once counted as friends, allies and colleagues as the greatest of them all has become corrupted and turned against everything that he once served diligently as the best there ever was. These are grim times for the Kitain. Even the cloned Banes sent after Valjjio have failed to execute the traitor. Who will – better yet; who can – stand against such a monster?
The Calligrapher-General of PoTalva. Thaidu displays a mastery of calligraphy that goes far, far beyond merely making elegant symbols, he breathes life into his art and can animate his sigils and glyphs to serve him as an army of potent sorcerous symbols, images and sketches. Surrounded by his calligraphic servitors ensconced in a fortress-monastery carved directly in the sharp-cliffs just below the High Tombs of Yuddoth, Thaidu wages a never-ending battle against the various forces of illiteracy and the viruxive dyslexia that seek his destruction with a machine-like malevolence.
A talented and versatile shipwright who has sailed across many a sea in his younger days. Tarskim was born to low-caste parents within the Aedruve Isles deep within the Emerald Veils of Sheervala and it is a matter of record that he sailed out from his ancestral hovel on a raft which he continually modified and repaired all along the way out past the Dragonfang Atolls and across the world-girdling oceans of Sherlassa to find his way through the vast multi-world river deltas of Pan Quan before finally arriving in Riskail the master of a huge bioluminescent steamship that has since given birth to a flotilla of pliable aquaforms that he has taken to developing into various forms of living watercraft that he then trades out to sea-farers who gain his favor. Money means little to Tarskim, whose very hair is a nest of constantly renewing pearls, but a good story could bring you a boat that will grow into a great ship, if you spend the time tending to it. And woe be to any who take a boat from Tarskim and fail to do right by his fosterling. Sharks are kinder than the wrath of this old man of the sea and his telepathic bioships. Even the Matriarchs of Pan Quan do not incur his wrath lightly.