Profiles in Magic, Volume 20 (book)
Profiles in Magic, Volume Twenty
Mortom Saist: Knowledge is an Endless Sea
Heritage Monographs, the official press of the Moon Mage Guild, is proud to present the twentieth volume in the extended Profiles in Magic series. The information within these volumes, painstakingly culled from transcripts, magical scrying and field research, has been compiled by a dedicated staff of scholars and Guild representatives.
This installment of our ongoing Profiles in Magic series posthumously recounts the life and achievements of Mortom Saist, esteemed Council Member, Guildleader and politician. Arguably the most influential voice representing the Moon Mage Guild, Saist's victories in the political arena are unprecedented. His recent death is indeed a grievous loss to the Guild.
Chapter One: A Friendship Forged, a Friendship Lost
Born in Therenborough to a wealthy family, Mortom Saist was given a formal education which included topics typical of a student of his well-to-do upbringing, such as literature, poetry and economics. He excelled at all his courses, but it was his innate ability to parlay and abjugate that shined the most. Even at an early age, Mortom was often the child who was able to defuse a fight with only a few well chosen words - and occasionally the one to instigate them with the same glib phrases. His youth and early manhood spent practicing his ability to subtly affect those around him, he soon rose to the head of his classes, and achieved an excellent position working for a merchant prince in Ilithi.
It was in Shard that Mortom finally met his equal in argumentatives. Through chance, a young Halfling Moon Mage named Kendadee entered one of the merchant's shops while Mortom happened to be there for business, and almost instantly, they engaged wits. Some say that it was Kendadee who was the first to truly anger Mortom; others claim the reverse. During his life, Mortom never dissuaded any of the rumors on this initial meeting of his life long friend, enjoying the attention and mystery it created. One thing is certain. It was Kendadee who formally introduced him to the Moon Mage Guild, and Mortom fell in love instantly. At the age of twenty-six, he joined the Guild.
Kendadee and Mortom were inseparable. Both were quickly ascending the ranks of the Moon Mages, exalting in the amount of lore and history of that Guild, and joyously scanning the skies night after night. Aided with the gift of foresight, both became even better at using their wit and oratory. Yet despite their similarities, they were still distinctly different. Mortom had a spoiled upbringing, and had no shortage of vanity. Kendadee was seventh in a family of ten children, and many were the nights he had previously gone begging for food. While Mortom's gift of persuasion was a natural aptitude, Kendadee's was one born of survival. Occasionally, these differences defined their areas of study. Kendadee - having never cared for nor owned any fine possessions - was more impressed with the lore of the stars. Mortom, on the other hand, was infatuated with fine artifacts, not only for the magic they contained, but for their craftsmanship.
This driving desire of Mortom's often led him to the most remote of areas in search of objects to sate his fascination. More often than not, Kendadee joined him, if only to support his beloved friend. During a particularly violent storm in a nameless place far to the northwest, Kendadee spotted a structure, lit by the flashing of lightning just as the winds buffeted away the covering vegetation. After pointing it out to his friend, they guided the caravan toward it for shelter.
The structure proved to be an ancient library. Having not felt the presence of the living in perhaps centuries, the books therein were untouched, and many were rare and exquisite volumes that had long been thought lost. Among these tomes was one that Mortom had been seeking to locate for years - a pre-Empire grimoire known as "Thee Mottl'd Tyxte." Excited over this discovery, Mortom carefully extracted it from its place on the dusty shelves and proceeded to use various magics to test it for traps and curses.
Kendadee urged Mortom to wait until they had brought the library's contents to a more hospitable - and less remote - location before beginning study. Such was Mortom's obsession that even Kendadee's impressive skills of persuasion were of no use. As the storm ravaged the outside of the library, Mortom began to read.
What occurred next is unknown, as Mortom was the only survivor and was loath to speak of it. With Mortom's death, we may never know what really happened that night. Upon morning's breaking, a saddened Mortom stepped from the steps of the library, a now partially intact version of "Thee Mottl'd Tyxte" under one arm, leaving behind not only the remains of his best friend but those of the entire caravan's crew, horses and yaks. A month later, at the memorial services for his dearest comrade, Mortom spoke these now immortalized words:
"Scholarship is limited by our physical bodies, as well as how much our minds can take, yet knowledge is an endless sea that we try to navigate with our frail forms. It is that task, the eternal quest for information, that we as Moon Mages undertake. As vast and limitless as the star- filled sky is the lore that is available to us."
"We seek to fill our minds like a crystal glass is filled with wine, but is this not tantamount to disaster if we seek this to all exclusion while our hearts are already filled with love and friendship? Our lives are too short to destroy what little joy and value we find in our years."
"I speak not of giving up the fight for truth and knowledge, but today I am remembering my dearest friend, Kendadee, at this ceremony. I can not claim to have even a fraction of the available lore to humanity, but I can claim to have known camaraderie. To have known joy and love. And I can claim that I have lost that in exchange for one minute increase in knowledge I have gained."
"Dear Kendadee, my friend. I would trade all that I know to have you here if only to let you berate me for failing you so. Dear Kendadee, may you walk among the stars until I am there with you again."
The tome which Mortom had recovered was placed under high security at the Palace in Throne City, and he refused to even stay in the same room as it, such was the pain of losing his friend.
Chapter Two: A Life Turned Calm
Though Mortom Saist never developed another friendship as close as the one he had with Kendadee, he and Erzebet Crowther became fast friends. Having always been suspected of having some Tezirite ties, this came as no large surprise to anyone. A changed man since the library incident, he still occasionally joined Lady Crowther on her forays to excavations and research sites. After one particularly large expedition, however, which Grandmaster Taramaine himself had joined, Mortom suddenly announced his refusal to join another Guild-sponsored trip. Despite being still young, Mortom stayed true to his word, and effectively retired from such journeys, staying in Shard and devoting his time to studying politics and magic.
His talent with oratory helped most assuredly in this regard, and some rumors claim that he had the ear of the Ferdahl when it came to judgments on the Moon Mage Guild even though he had no official status as a Ilithi politician. Still, no one can deny the man's skill with words, and he was often asked to sit in on sensitive debates - sometimes in the guise of being merely a scribe - and consulted by the Guild representatives before any decisions were made.
Years passed, and Mortom was eventually offered a position upon the Council of Moon Mages. He refused, without explanation nor elaboration, but immediately took to private chambers to consult the stars. The next day, he requested and was given a Guildleader position, and took up training students in the Great Tower in Shard.
Even in his status as "semi-retired," rumors abounded about the Guildleader. One was due to his penchant for mirrors, and he often kept several near his desk. While not unusual for someone having always been known to be rather vain, one of the more popular tales was that this selection of mirrors were in fact fragments from Tezirah's original scrying device. So widespread were these tales that occasionally a daring Thief would steal one, hoping to make a few extra coin from some greedy Moon Mage. Whether these mirrors truly were scrying devices is unclear, but considering the lack of security and Mortom's general nonchalance regarding their time-to-time loss, this is unlikely at best.
Chapter Three: Adrift on an Endless Sea
Short weeks before Mortom's death, he requested an audience to speak. The Moon Mage Council was more than pleased to give him this, and gave him this opportunity at Council Member Jonela DeRaeis' coronation.
"My peers, comrades, students and teachers. I have had a long, grand life. Through that life, I've held in my hands some of the most powerful artifacts Elanthia has ever known. I have gazed upon the fondest of friends, though they are lost to me now. I have taught some of the most promising minds that the provinces have to offer. I am thankful for all of these things."
"Time yet turns for me, as it does for all of us. Tiv, I thank you for your knowledge of herbs and health, but even that will not suffice forever. I have to say that I look good for my age, but that is as much illusion as any conjured veil of magics. Most Humans are not so lucky to reach this number of days that I have. My days left are limited. Knowing this, I wish to use a short moment to bid farewell while my health still permits me."
"Lady Erzebet. To you, I must speak fondly, for nothing less would do. You are a wonder, Lady, and do the Crowther family proud."
"Tiv, my longtime friend. Your humble ways are a lesson to us all."
"Finally, to you a handful of words, Gylwyn. While you were not my student nor my daughter, I am as proud as any teacher or father could be. You will do this Guild an honor as long as you are among its members. I entrust you to remember my last wishes."
"When my time has come, I will find myself free of this eternal search for knowledge, adrift on an endless sea. Perhaps I will even see old Kendadee again, and I find comfort in this. Think not ill of me when I am gone, my friends."
Indeed, not long after giving this farewell address, Guildleader Mortom Saist passed into death within the very halls of the Guild he'd served for so long. Gylwyn was present at this sad time, so it can not be said that Mortom died alone. A man of vanity, his last request was to be preserved within a magical sarcophagus, keeping him lifelike and forever staring at the stars which epitomized his life long quest for knowledge.