Profiles in Magic, Volume 5 (book)
Profiles in Magic, Volume Five
Mizuhari: Without Doubt, Without Fear
PREFACE:The official press of the Moon Mage
Despite this unswerving drive to create the most accurate writings about the Moon Mage Guild's history, time has conspired against learned scholars everywhere. Recordings from the days of the Seven Star Empire are mostly gone, making notation of those times difficult in the extreme. We were lucky in finding several diaries of those days, including the notes of Rietyl Thumai, one of Jares Braun's advisors, and a student pledged to the ways of the Crystal Hand. It is this last collection that we delve into in this Profile book, specifically examining that young Monk's meeting with the fourth signatory of the Lunar Accord, Mizuhari of the Crystal Hand.
Chapter One: The Timbleton Incident
Roughly one hundred years after the signing of the Lunar Accord, a group of right-wing Celestial Compact members instigated a notorious series of events. Conspiring against the political structure of the Empire itself, the Compact had the backing of the majority of the Moon Mage council despite the fact that the guild itself was technically still in its infancy. Among the reasons for this coup was the inadequacy of the current Emperor, a Halfling by the name of Mamni Timbleton. During his rule, Mamni had managed to antagonize the Ferdahl of Ilithi with repeated inept displays of what he termed "foreign policy." Equally lacking when dealing with the Dwarves of Kwarlog and the barbaric peoples of the Outlands, the Emperor further strained the already tenuous diplomatic ties that the Seven Star Empire had with surrounding cultures.
Perhaps what the Moon Mages found most insulting was Timbleton's reputed dismissal of the abilities of those seers. Often holding lavish and expensive parties where he would showcase whatever bizarre attractions he could, Timbleton would publicly mock the Guild -- though in the privacy of his chambers, he would place nothing less than his full faith in the mage's whispered portents. It was these private consultations that the Celestial Compact took advantage of, and only after Mamni realized how badly he had placed the Empire in debt and danger did he seek swift and deadly retribution against the Moon Mages.
The Council of Moon Mages fell beneath the unstoppable power of a focused Imperial inquisition and was disbanded, leaving the Progeny of Tezirah's representative Ona Crowther handling most of the affairs of the Guild for several years. While most Tezirites were overjoyed at this sudden monopoly on the direction of the guild, many other members began to question their allegiances as well as the innocence of Lady Crowther. Many young students, feeling betrayed, turned their backs and joined the College of War Magics, returned to their Sect halls, or simply retired prematurely. Even members of the Crystal Hand Monks, who had always been known for their unflinching discipline and devotion, began to trickle away from the Guild and return to teachings in other lands.
Among those monks with shaken faith was a young Elothean named Bashila Pertil. He had no special standing except for being a bright student of better-than-average note in the Throne City Guildhall. Having been very proud of each and every achievement of the guild as if it were his own, the Timbleton Incident and its aftermath tore him apart emotionally. Unable to keep these feelings in check even with his training, he packed his gear and left to wander the world, seeking answers to his nagging doubts. It is during this journey which he kept a precise journal of his travels.
Chapter Two: The Dying Man
Bashila traveled north to Asharrah'tigran and then the Blasted Plains, circling down through Therengia and Forfedhdar over the course of several years. Clinging to his disciplined ways, he never used horses or carts or even magic, relying only on his own sandaled feet. Each night he would gaze to the skies in search of an omen or an answer, and while he did find insight into many things, there was nothing that relieved his lingering insecurities. In fact, during his travels his doubts only managed to grow. Before long, Bashila became so distraught that one night he decided to return to Throne City, renounce his guild status, and join the College of War Magics. It was on this night that a single shooting star pointed him to the west and the Frostweyr Spire.
An interesting side note to this episode is the journal entry describing this. Bashila was writing on his doubts and his "final and sad decision to join a more focused union of teachings" when the sentence stops abruptly. The next paragraph details "a sparkling pure white light that seemed to touch the tip of the Frostweyr." The scholars of Heritage Monographs find it striking that this falling star was apparently bright enough to cause Bashila to look up from his scribing, and remained in the sky long enough for him to follow its course to the Frostweyr after gazing up. All in all, an extremely rare occurrence as any Moon Mage knows.
Bashila's writings also touch on his torturous climb to the top of the spyre, which many years later would be duplicated by other Crystal Hand novices. His comments on it are brief, most likely due to the fact that there were few purchases in the rock to stop and make notes, and even less where the frigid winds would make such a choice wise. What he does dedicate a page is for the spectacular view that greeted him when he paused on a particularly large cliff near the summit. So touched by this splendid view of an unobstructed sky, Bashila wept with a mix of joy and lament until a voice beckoned to him.
The sound came from within a cave, one that was hidden by an outcropping of rock on the very ledge he now stood. Bashila rose, and entered. Inside, the air was more comfortable, warmed by a strong fire, and here was an attendant tending a sickened Dwarf. As the young Monk gazed upon the ailing man, he recognized him from artwork created years before. Despite the swollen and distended flesh that distorted the Dwarf's visage, Bashila knew this was Mizuhari, Crystal Hand signatory of the Lunar Accord.
He also knew that Mizuhari was dying.
Chapter Three: Conversations in Crystalline Form
An amazing change occurred in Bashila's journal after this point, at first gradual, then more pronounced. His previous entries showed his despairing state of mind, outlining his worry and fears. It appears that after Mizuhari bade that the young visitor sit and discuss philosophy, Bashila's resolve was strengthened. However, the Elothean's doubts still lingered, and every question scribed in the journal echoes this.
Together, the two discussed magic and examined esoteric thoughts with detached precision. Bashila also updated Mizuhari on current events, and explained in all the gory detail the events of the Timbleton Incident. The future of the Guild was in question. Mizuhari quietly listened, then took up a crystal from the ground. Asking the youngster what it was he held, he tossed it to the ground near his bedding, then repeated the question. Again, Bashila answered that it was a crystal, and again the old Dwarf took up the crystal, threw it down, and repeated the question. Confused, Bashila finally said that no matter how many times the crystal was thrown to the ground, it would remain a crystal. The old man simply smiled.
Days of talks turned into weeks, but Mizuhari was losing the fight against his sickness rapidly. Though his longevity had been extended by a lifelong ritual of herbal remedies, his time was fast approaching. His body, bloated by an unusual contagion the attendant could not heal, was wasting away. All that could be done was to make sure he was warm, clean and comfortable as time slipped away.
The same sickness which was now destroying Mizuhari had ravaged the monks who had previously lived and learned within this cave. Over the time that Bashila spent here, the story was explained.
After the signing of the Lunar Accord, the Dwarf signatory had remained in Throne City for decades, diligently studying and serving on the first Moon Mage Council with loyalty. It was there in those grand libraries that one of Mizuhari's scribes had discovered an obscure reference to a cavern monastery, located purely accidentally by a wandering Celestian a century before the signing. These monks had nursed the traveler back to health, for he had suffered all the slings and arrows of Forfedhdar's frigid winters, and turned him out to return to his people. The account was brief, but in it Mizuhari noticed tell-tale signs of a Crystal Hand monastery, such as the description of the trifolded crystalline dagger in one monk's possession. Seeing no signs that this monastery was at all in contact with the rest of the Crystal Hand followers, Mizuhari set out personally to update them on the Lunar Accord.
The trip was difficult, but like all of his sect, Mizuhari calmly and without complaint weathered the hazards alone. Curiously, the nights spent as he approached the Frostweyr were lit by repeated glows from the summit. Thinking perhaps this was a signal of some form, the Dwarf continued. He was met with a surprise upon arriving. There were but a handful of monks left alive, and the lights upon the summit were those of funeral pyres.
Mizuhari presented a humble bow and steepled his fingers, the traditional greeting for the Crystal Hand. While these outlying monks recognized this, they clearly had no knowledge of the Lunar Accord, nor of what events transpired since Verek had taken the first Imperial Throne. Theirs was a life spent removed, seeking the answers to perfection. In this philosophy, which they shared with their new guest, they sought to be as isolated as possible, feeling that only after a life spent this way would they finally be revealed a key to perfect harmony with the universe. Mizuhari, seeing as how their lives were drawing to a close and not wishing to disrupt everything for which they had worked, said nothing about the Lunar Accord.
When the last monk had died, Mizuhari took his body to the top of the Frostweyr. Upon his return to the cave, he found he had begun to grow sick, and so he remained, isolated.
One evening, as Mizuhari and Bashila spoke on the idiosyncrasies of the permanent moonblade enchantment the Dwarven Monk had perfected in his healthy days, an uneasy silence came over the conversation. The journal records this time spent as one of great enlightenment for Bashila, but his doubts remained.
Finally, he asked the old master how he could be without questions and without doubts. This exchange was recorded in the journal:
"These past days had been a valuable education for me, but still I was plagued by my insecurities. I asked Mizuhari how I could be free of questions and doubts. His eyes glittered like gems in the fire's light as he smiled. The pain of this action was clear since his face was so painfully swollen, but it was the most appreciative gesture I'd felt. 'I will show you in the morning,' he had said. I apologized, for I thought I had kept him up, but he would have none of that and insisted he was not tired. We talked a while longer about moonblades, but before long he requested that the Empath and I take him to the top of the Frostweyr and arrange a funeral pyre when his time came. We promised we would."
"The next morning, I awoke, my doubts still intact but eager to learn. The attendant looked up sadly, a single tear rolling down his cheek, and I knew Mizuhari was gone. He lay still, his body no longer swollen nor bloated. In death, the sickness that for so long nested in the old man's bones was vanished as if it had never existed in the first place. In death, his was a visage of a perfect sleeping Dwarf with a slight smile curling his cold lips."
"I gazed upon him for what felt like an eternity, listening to the wind howl outside. Mizuhari lay there, still and peaceful. No more sickness. No more pain, nor suffering of the cold air. No fear, free of doubt and free of questions. The realization struck me then, and I smiled with understanding."
The attendant and Bashila honored Mizuhari's last request. It took nearly a week for the two of them to take his body to the summit, and when the pyre was lit, it surely was visible for miles in every direction. Bashila commented on how the smoke swirled around the mountain in an ashen dance, warming the air for the descent back to the ledge. Upon this mountain, he had learned some of the most valuable lessons of his life, and so it was here that Bashila stayed, rebuilding the monastery to train young disciples of the Crystal Hand.
From the most remote places Bashila gathered promising students, never once mentioning the Lunar Accord nor current events. Like the monks of old, he would ensure that there be this place where studies could continue unassaulted by the modern day. As the tale goes, it was his first act to carve the mantra which he had learned at this place, and which had kept him true to his beliefs.
To this day, that simple carving still preserves Bashila's words for future generations at the Frostweyr monastery: "Life is a question. Ask, but do not ask without desire for an answer.”