You see Dark Seeress Vanxa Shar'vala, Chaomancer of the Prophets, an Elven Moon Mage.
Vanxa has pointed ears and green eyes. Her black hair is long and thick, and is worn in a tousled mass of locks that tumbles over her shoulders. She has fair skin.
She appears to be young.
She has a tattoo of a roaring lion with its claws seeming to rip through the skin on her leg.
She is in good shape.
She is wearing a moonstone crown, a pure black swan feather, a blue-grey hawk feather, a white gold nose ring, a black leather collar studded with alternating platinum spikes and deep red rubies, a dark silver black widow spider amulet suspended from a heavy chain, a steel-boned black leather corset back-laced with black spidersilk cords, a malevolent Harawep's Spider with a bloodgem hourglass, a sleek black widow, a soft black leather haversack, some black velvet long gloves, a white gold barbed-wire armband, a serpentine armband, a labyrinthine white gold wristcuff set with platinum spikes, a platinum and ruby ring, a deep ebony cougar-hide belt, a supple viper-hide whip, a black firecat-skin sack clasped with a curved pristine platinum fang, a cocoon woven from shimmering pearlescent spider web strands, a short black leather skirt with daring slits up both sides, a white gold anklet and some soft black leather thigh-boots.
Raiders From Snow Clan
One hard winter long ago, a Snow Elf raiding party swept out of the northern Dragonspine Mountains to pillage and plunder the Wind Elf settlements of the Gilen Otso Steppes. The plains-dwellers resisted, but Snow Elves were ferocious fighters and greatly feared for their courage in battle. Their children had more weapons than toys and learned to use them while they could barely hold them. As adults, this life-long training gave them unsurpassed combat prowess. Although outnumbering the invaders, the Wind Elves were hard-pressed to fend off such a strong enemy.
On the first day of the raids, a small Wind Elf village on the steppes borderland lay in the path of the raiders. The advance was swift, and immediately upon reaching the village, the Snow Elves fanned out and attacked.
One of the first cabins broken into belonged to a young Wind Elf couple. The husband bravely leapt to defend his home and wife, but his one weapon against many was hopeless. Seriously wounded, he fell, his wife kneeling beside him. Fearing for his life, she pleaded for the raiders to spare him.
The Snow Elves agreed to show mercy, but as payment one warrior said she would become his mate. The husband protested, but his wife reluctantly accepted, knowing there was no other answer. She would protect her husband even if it meant they would never see each other again.
After great plunder, the Snow Elves eventually withdrew with their spoils from the Gilen Otso Steppes and returned to the frozen, windswept peaks of the Dragonspine Mountains.
A few years later, a baby girl was born to the Wind Elf slave bride and her Snow Elf captor, now her new husband. The child was named Vanxa, which means "She Who Sees Far" after an evil empress who eventually gains redemption in a Snow Elf fairy tale. She was given the last name Shar'vala, her tribe's stylized form of "Daughter of Barbarians."
Rise Of A Warrioress
The young Vanxa inherited her father's fair complexion and cold-hardiness and her mother's sultry green eyes and thick, black hair. In time, she came to show her mother's kindness and scholarly intelligence as well as her father's cunning and indomitable force of will. These traits were to serve her well during her rigorous upbringing in the dangerous, snowy uplands of the Dragonspine Mountains. Her father was a high officer in the Snow Elf Guard, which was charged with protecting both their villages and their chief. He made sure Vanxa went through the same rigorous weapon training he himself had done as a boy.
Vanxa's mother never truly adapted to the frigid climate of the mountains. One harsh winter she fell ill and died, her body lying in state until the frozen ground had thawed the following spring. She was buried in a quiet ceremony among a small cluster of mountain lilies. Vanxa and her father were greatly grieved, knowing life would never be the same. In remembrance, Vanxa adopted her mother's habit of accessorizing feathers in her hair, as is the style of the Wind Elves. Her father never fell in love or married again.
The years passed, and Vanxa became a celebrated weapon master and fighter. She rose quickly in the Guard, becoming a Commander of forces. Then disaster struck. Hostile tribes of humanoids as well as horrid monsters, many of which were unknown to the outside world, roamed the forbidding slopes of the Dragonspine Mountains. During one blizzard, a grey-banded elur'sushu, one of the dreaded snow serpents of the far north, attacked their village. The Guard was marshaled, and the ensuing battle was fierce. The monster was killed, which was cause for great celebration and feasting, but the victory came at great cost to Vanxa: along with a few other warriors, her father had been slain.
Snow Clan was the only home she had ever known, and she would always consider herself a Snow Elf. But she remembered her mother's stories of the Wind Elves on the far-distant steppes. She felt a call in her spirit to discover more about her mother's life before Snow Clan. After her father's death, that call became a restlessness. She had other family and friends in the mountain villages, along with an important position in the Guard, but with her parents gone, she found Snow Clan no longer provided her the old comfort. Not long after her father's death, she collected her things and left the snowy mountains.
However, during her long journey she had plenty of time to think, and she gradually grew cautious. To the Wind Elves she would be a stranger. What reception would she receive? Snow Elves had raided the steppes for centuries. How would the plains dwellers welcome a Snow Elf? They were only thought to be marauders and bandits. Vanxa knew that was only partially true, but there was still a risk in going to Horse Clan.
She wanted to learn more about her mother's long-lost family, but she became reluctant to go when she might conflict with them. Even if they weren't hostile, would she be ready to settle down anywhere? Especially a place where she knew no one? In particular, she was wary of any relationship that someone might want to take beyond friendship into romance. Her father had always treated her mother well, but she knew her mother had been forced to abandon her home and go as a prisoner into the Dragonspine Mountains. She swore no man would ever do anything remotely like that to her. Any mate she ever had would live strictly on her terms. Her heart grew heavy. There were just too many questions.
She decided to act first on another of her mother's stories. Her maternal grandmother was said to be descended from a long line of enchanters or witches, always through the female branch. The grandmother lived alone far into the wilderness west of the Gilen Otso Steppes in uncharted lands. The thought of magic had always piqued Vanxa's curiosity. After all, if the stories were true, it meant she as well as her mother were also in the family line of female spellcasters. Was it possible she had unsuspected magic powers? Surely her grandmother would know. Vanxa decided to bypass Horse Clan for the time being and travel deeper into the wilderness.
She journeyed many days along a fast-flowing river far into a land inhabited by some kind of robed lizard people fanatics. They called themselves priests and priestesses of the World Dragon. Vanxa wasn't sure what that meant, but she did know the lizard people didn't take kindly to her passing through their realms. There were many fights along the way, and before she finally reached her grandmother's cabin, lizard people heads hung in the tree limbs from one end of the World Dragon lands to the other.
The Secret In The Cabin
She found the cabin in ruins. It had obviously been attacked, but it wasn't clear who the attackers had been. However, it wasn't too hard for Vanxa to suspect the robed lizard people fanatics. Warily, she entered and explored. The roof and walls were still intact, but what few items remained had been vandalized and scattered. Of her grandmother, there was no sign.
Disheartened, Vanxa intended staying the night and heading to Horse Clan the following morning. She put down her bedroll and was preparing to lie down when she detected a false sound under her foot. Kneeling, she pried up a floorboard and found a great assortment of strange items and tools and arcane books. It was all puzzling, but it had to be her grandmother's magical items.
There was a magnificent weapon wrapped in a grey felt cover: a greatsword with a maple hilt and the image of an elaborate dragon engraved down the blade. It brought to mind what the lizard people had shouted about worshipping a World Dragon.
She lit a candle and began reading her grandmother's journal. It said the weapon had belonged to a Dragon Priest general who had led an attack against her cabin. She had slain the attackers with her magic and retrieved the sword. But it was not the only attack over the years. The lizard people were hard to discourage, and each defeat only made them more determined. Vanxa hoped not, but it seemed likely there had come one final attack her grandmother had not been able to turn back.
The journal said her grandmother had been a member of something called a Moon Mage guild and had been a follower of an even more mysterious group: the Prophets of G'Nar Peth. Vanxa was fascinated. She had never heard anything like what she was reading, but it was obviously the source of her grandmother's magic.
Opening a soft black velvet case embroidered with glistening silver spiderwebs, she found an old and worn spellbook carefully bound in wax-stained tanned leather. The tome’s cover was painted with a sleek black widow weaving a web of crackling lightning, and the title—An Arcanum of the Web of Fate—was inlaid across the front in simple copper leaf. Beading of onyx black widow spiders inset with ruby hourglasses were the only embellishment. Inside, some of the vellum pages bore traces of blood amid the gracefully flowing script. Whose blood it was Vanxa had no idea, but the bloodstains were old and dried. They might have been there for centuries. There was a cryptic prayer to a goddess named Harawep inside the front cover, but the name was unknown to Vanxa.
Inside a small, tattered felt bag she found four odd objects: some fire-blackened lava drake bones deeply notched with occult symbols. These she examined with great interest, turning each bone over in turn to study it from every side. Her grandmother's writings had spoken of divination bones and other tools that harness mysterious prediction powers of the stars and planets and moons.
The lava drake bones showed the telltale scorch marks typical of exposure to blistering heat. The Krr-tich and Sek-rith were long and slender with rune-like carvings arranged in asymmetrical patterns. One side of the Sun Disk was darkened with soot while the other was scratched clean to reveal the grey bone beneath. Small pieces of skull had been connected into the orb-like Moon Sphere with each facet depicting a mysterious lunar symbol. The lava drake bones had obviously been carefully and elaborately prepared but didn't seem to have ever seen use.
She unwrapped a bundle of faded black velvet and found the most exquisite object she had ever seen: a heliotrope telescope inlaid with palladium and anlora-avtoma lunar symbols. Each section of the telescope's barrel had been cut from a transparent heliotrope gemstone tinged with purplish-pink undertones. The intricate faceting of the gems gave the telescope a high reflectivity, almost making it seem to glow from within. Cryptic lunar symbols of inlaid silvery-white palladium and bluish-white anlora-avtoma spiraled around the length of the instrument in arcane mathematical patterns.
The telescope was in excellent repair, without chip or scratch or scuff. Gazing through it at the distant trees, she found the instrument capable of adjustment to unbelievably high power. It must have been among her grandmother's most treasured possessions. Vanxa carefully rewrapped it in its black velvet and placed it in a special compartment in her soft black leather haversack.
She lingered in her grandmother's cabin many days, studying about lunar magic and the Moon Mage guild. She learned about an amazing world beyond the natural, something called the Astral Plane, where time and space meant very little and allowed one to travel great distances across the physical world nearly instantly. She learned about how the stars and moons and planets could reveal hidden messages and secrets as well as alter probabilities of things yet to come. She looked out the cabin window at the passing night sky, pondering the wonders of astrology. It became her favorite topic in the books about the Moon Mage guild.
She was astonished to learn her mother had also been a Moon Mage, although she had only joined the guild shortly before being captured by the Snow Elves. Vanxa stayed up all night, finding in her grandmother's writings the procedures used in testing a person's magic potential. They were the same tests Vanxa's mother had taken.
Vanxa took the tests herself and found she had an enormous capacity for lunar magic and prediction and the manipulation of light and shadow, far more than her mother and even her grandmother. She was breathless, having not expected anything but a long journey to her mother's homeland among the Wind Elves.
Instead, she had found her true path. She would follow in their footsteps as a Moon Mage and later travel farther north to Therengia to find the sect of G'nar Peth, as her grandmother had once done. She knew there would be much to learn but also much to offer. Her weapon and armor mastery as well as extensive strategic and tactical prowess should prove of great value to the scholarly but melee-challenged mages.
The journal told of a man named Mortom who led the guild of the Moon Mages in a distant land called Ilithi. In pursuit of her family's maternal line of lunar magic study, she left the cabin at dawn and traveled to the great city of Shard. Although she learned much insight from guildleader Mortom, he directed her farther north to the land of Zoluren and the central Moon Mage guild in the Crossing.
The guildleader there was a peculiar man named Kssarh who didn't seem to think she would advance far in the guild. That amused her. Knowing nothing about her determination, he had no idea what he was talking about. But he would learn.
She joined the guild that day and under Kssarh's tutelage began her journey as a Moon Mage and toward fulfilling her desire of becoming the greatest astrologer of all time.
- 418 years and 296 days AV - Vanxa achieved her goal of mastering all 1750 lessons of Astrology.
- 421 years and 38 days AV - Vanxa achieved her goal of mastering all 1750 lessons of Attunement.
Vanxa had always found lunar enchanting an interesting concept, but it was limited in scope and easily mastered. However, when she heard rumors that shifts in the cosmos were revealing vast amounts of previously unknown enchanting arcana, her interest was rekindled. Advanced enchanting proved a much deeper and more complex subject than had the earlier lunar form, so she set aside all of her other projects to pursue this fascinating new field of study.
- 431 years and 129 days AV - Vanxa achieved her goal of mastering all 1750 lessons of Enchanting.
It was no secret that the most extreme enchanting processes could be neither understood nor carried out successfully unless the mage had a full grasp of the relevant support skills. So once her Enchanting studies were completed, Vanxa resolved to finish learning the magics required to create and utilize fully any enchanted magical device, regardless of difficulty level.
- 432 years and 225 days AV - Vanxa achieved her goal of mastering all 1750 lessons of Lunar Magic.
- 432 years and 258 days AV - Vanxa achieved her goal of mastering all 1750 lessons of Arcana.
She journeyed south to Shard to visit the first Moon Mage guild leader she had met following the long trek from her Snow Elf homeland in the Dragonspine Mountains: Mortom Saist. He congratulated her accomplishment and declared a celebratory banquet in honor of the first Enchantress Maximus of the Moon Mage guild. She thanked him for all of the advice and wisdom he had given her when she had first arrived in Shard so long ago. Without his help, she told him that she would never have gotten as far as she had.
With great humor, Mortom confided in Vanxa that Kssarh had grumbled many times how he had been wrong about her when he had predicted so many years ago that she wouldn't go far in the Moon Mage guild. The Crossing guild leader still had no clue how he had been so mistaken. However, Mortom assured her with a wink that she had earned Kssarh's great respect and admiration, albeit grudging and whether or not he ever showed it, for her accomplishments and contributions in the fields of both Astrology and Enchanting.
She only smiled, knowing there were still many surprises awaiting all the guild leaders of the Moon Mage guild.