Dragonriders of Masai
High above the peak of the dead Mount Xhan, a pire of cooled and shaped igneous rock holds aloft the city of Urzis. Know the world around for its beautiful architecture: peaked rooves and massive walled courtyards with an abundance of ivy. Twice a year, in midsummer and fall, the ivy blooms with a beautiful purple and white flower said to signify the continuation of life in the Breath. Since Urzis is so removed from the Skycity network, few outsiders have seen this beautiful display in person.
|Outcasts and Mages Alike|
It is said that before the Breath, Mount Xhan was considered a place of self-imposed exile by its inhabitants. The primarily Kitsune populace of the island were welcome to like-minded travelers integrating to their community, so long as they behaved themselves and acted in accordance with their ideals: the pursuit of knowledge in all waves of magic, and how they might be used as one. Physical form was no limitation, any humanoid or beast with the want to learn was accepted. They simply had to keep a hard copy of their findings and freely share this with the rest of the people on Xhan. However, should a traveler seek only knowledge without freely giving back to the people, they would never find the constantly moving home of the Urzian people.
They saw the Mountain as a source of the knowledge that they sought, in that such a powerful force of nature surely had some divinity to it, and that the massive residuum wells that dotted Xhan could come from that very same source. Each being of their people helped further their knowledge in some way, and at the head was the Archmagi, a creature of immense power and keeper of all knowledge. While the Archmagi took many shapes, it was always assumed it was the same being, as all knowledge was retained from one to the next. They never spoke; all information was either written or communicated via hand gestures. Some speculated this was because even a mere word would damage those surrounding them.
The mountainous island itself was both beautiful and dangerous; the Urzians were always moving their camp. Lush bamboo forests were often cut back by flows of magma, burned to the ground to grow back once more in the next season. Deep clear wells of water and residuum dotted the landscape, only to dangerously explode in a plume of raw arcane force when doused. Though a harsh landscape, the mountainous island held to a regular cycle: eruption and growth.
While the Urzian’s kept to a constant roam around the side of Mount Xhan, they had one constant: the Athenaeum. Hidden in plain sight at the top of Urzis’ sister isle, the Athanaeum was a deadly climb to those who did not know the way. Sheer cliffs, razor sharp stone and pockets of volcanic glass did much to dissuade travelers from even attempting the climb.
|The Casters of Xhan|
As more like-minded travelers came to Urzis, the need for structure arose. Masters of their School of focus took on a flock of initiates and there was a Master for each school of focus. This included:
Each Master reported to a Magi—encompassing several schools as a Universalist, Elementalist, or Divinist—and each Magi reported directly to the Archmagi. Masters and Magi were directed to take apprentices but this was a rare occurrence; vigorous specifications were to be met. Only once did the Archmagi take an apprentice.
They found her stranded near the top of Xhan during a particularly bad blizzard, her body cold and nearly solid at the edge of the volcanic basin. They took her into their camp and warmed her body, surprised as the first person to remove her headdress was turned to stone. Without another thought, the Archmagi nursed her back to health and quickly took her under their wing. Jayanthi, was a devastatingly powerful mage of the arcane, quickly learning from and surpassing both Master and Magi alike; her hunger for knowledge was nearly insatiable. When she took the official title of the Archmagi’s apprentice, some worried that her thirst was dangerous; she knew of magics that were far more powerful and dangerous than they had collected before. Some whispered that she would leave once she had what she want. But that day never came.
It was through her guidance, however, that they named some Magi as Chroniclers, sent to travel the world in search of knowledge. It was from her that Linkstones, Books of Message, and Amulets of Memory came into being, each a way to communicate back home. She fought bitterly with the other Magi and Masters to make her dream a reality, but they quickly came to see the benefits of letting their numbers roam.
The day the Breath appeared in Urzis was a day of great calamity. Instead of the usual seaside mist, swaths of miasma licked the shore and horizon. From the relative safety of the Athenaeum, the Masters and Magi desperately tried to come up with a way to combat this.
Ever surrounded by an air of calm, the Archmagi stopped them, collecting the books of the Athenaeum with a wave of their hand, and directed them towards the summit of Mount Xhan. Jayanthi, sensing her mentor’s change in demeanor, argued bitterly with them all the way up the Mountain, urging them not to take any hasty action. At the edge of Xhan’s basin, currently roiling with volcanic activity, the Archmagi looked upon their students and gestured out to the basin. A glowing bridge of force out to Xhan’s center appeared, and hesitantly the people of Urzis began to file onto it. Smiling, the Archmagi looked down to their apprentice, gently kissing her forehead. Witnesses say that the volcano shook as they did so, but Jayanthi knew what truly happened— her form disappeared soon after, whisked away by teleportation magics. Making their way to the center of the Urzian mages, the miasma beginning to swirl up Xhan’s sides, the Archmagi began to chant, words as hot as the magma below them. Joining in, the Urzian people began a ritual that would rise the cauldron of magma into the sky, forming the basis for their Skycity. As Xhan erupted, the column of magma shot straight up, surrounding the people of Urzis in a protective cocoon. It is written that the inside of this cocoon was strangely cool, like a winter morning, and that the Archmagi themselves was surrounded in the roiling magma, taking on a terrifying nearly elemental form.
The pyre rose until it was high into the clouds. Then, opening as the petals of a flower would, the magma cooled and expanded into the city that is Urzis. At its center, the Archmagi’s elemental form cooled as well, hands curling into a pose of thought. From his chest, a quick growing vine flourishes and then blooms—the Jackmanii, a beautiful purple and white flower. From here… there is little else to do but rebuild.
|A Post-Breath Athenaeum|