Profiles in Magic, Volume 8 (book)
Profiles in Magic, Volume Eight
Borrugar Steadfoot : Never Again Helpless
Heritage Monographs, the official press of the Moonmage Guild, is proud to present the eighth volume in the ongoing Profiles in Magic series. The information within these volumes, painstakingly culled from transcripts and field research, has been compiled by a dedicated staff of scholars and Guild representatives.
This installment of our ongoing series details the life and times of Borrugar Steadfoot, the Merchant Magician. It is hoped that the story of his triumphs and untimely death serve as a guide and warning to young mages, as they face their own challenges in apprenticeship.
Bourrugar Steadfoot, while not as well known as some of his contemporaries in the turbulant decades just after the fall of the Empire, was nonetheless a luminary of the magical world. Known as "the merchant magician", Steadfoot was an unusually shrewd and calculating olvi, concealing his brilliant strategic mind behind a cheerful and sometimes frivolous demeanor: more than one trader-baron found himself utterly cleaned out in a deal with him, after being tricked into underestimating the bubbly halfling.
The fifth child out of twelve, Borrugar's large extended family traveled with a gypsy tribe through the wilderness of the western provinces. Their nomadic life served them well in the rampant chaos and danger of the post-Imperial period, and they rarely stayed in a single place long enough to do more than fill their wagons, water their steeds and move on. However, the gypsy life did not sit well with the young man, and he often felt ignored and lonely on the caravan route.
Befriended by the gypsies' soothsayer, a mystic who had herself been raised by the tricksters of the Fortune's Path sect, Borrugar discovered a way to both keep his complex mind occupied and to finally gain the attention he craved: magic. He was a quick and eager study, soon able not only to work the simple cantrips he was shown, but to combine these elements into new, more dazzling spells. Unfortunately, before he could truly begin to exercise his newfound abilities, disaster struck.
While travelling through a forested glade some distance from Zoluren's North Trail Road, the caravan was waylaid by fenrae reavers. The merciless fae asked for no bribe or ransom, seeking only bloodthirsty destruction. Small even for an olvi, Borrugar escaped in the confusion and hid in the thick underbrush, able only to watch. Years later, he would write in his journal: "The helplessness, the utter helplessness as the fiends slaughtered my family, was worse than any pain of sword or arrow. I had illusions, and trinkets aplenty, but what good would they do me now? Worthless. Then, when it was all over, to slink off through the brush with my head bowed low and footsteps soft, as if I were the guilty party, the interloper, fearing punishment? I knew then, as I huddled beneath the cold, uncaring stars, that I would never allow myself to feel this way again."
Escaping alone, he staggered up the road until he finally collapsed with exhaustion. He was found by an elderly trader on his regular route, who took the young man in and brought him to an inn at the next stop. Hearing Borrugar's tale, and recognizing that he was an exceptionally bright person, the trader offered him a job to get him on his feet: he would accompany the trader on his assignments, keeping track of inventory, doing general clerical work and employing the tricks his gypsy mentor had taught him on the way, using the positions of the stars to divine the most favorable routes.
Borrugar accepted, and stayed with the man for nearly a decade, as their fortunes grew. When the old trader finally passed on, he left Borrugar the fruits of their labor: a thriving company based in the city of Riverhaven, grown strong from risky shipping and exploration projects. Suddenly gifted with not only a small fortune but an ongoing legacy, he put his money to use in constructing that which he'd dreamt of since childhood: a stable, permanant home. Concerned about security to the point of paranoia, his glorious mansion had one odd twist: nobody knew where it was. Though he certainly lived in Riverhaven, and the building -- gigantic, said those who had seen the interior -- was there as well, those who attempted to find it or even follow Borrugar home found themselves oddly unable to pinpoint exactly what they had seen, or where they had seen it. His artifice in illusion had never been put to such a bold-- or, perhaps, subtle-- use. It is worth noting that his home presumably still exists to this very day, but it will not be found on any maps of the great city.
It was not long before ennui began to set in; while his material needs were satisfied, and there was something of a challenge in outwitting his business rivals day after day, the true calling of his heart had gone unanswered. Realizing what he needed to do, one spring morning he underwent the lengthy trip to the nearest Moonmage guildhouse, there to enroll himself as an apprentice at the age of seventy-three. He was accepted, and barely slept for the next five years, alternating his business pursuits with intense magical studies.
Using his knack for seeing and manipulating the core elements of spells, he was quickly out-performing mages with twice his experience. Among his early achievements was a refinement of the magics of Aura Sight, for which he was noted in the official rolls of the High Council... And netted him a considerable advantage when trying to negotiate with mundane competitors. Once he graduated as a magician in his own right, his interests turned to works of enchantment.
Most of Borrugar's works were unique, permanant enchantments on a large scale, done for friends and patrons; one classic example is the Everflowing Fountain in the courtyard of the Zoluren baronial mansion, where crossed ivory dolphin sculptures pour an endless river of pure water into a seperately-enchanted basin, which in turn magically evaporates the water before it overflows. The fountain is still a popular sight for noble visitors to the province. It is interesting to note that his most popular contribution to Moonmage lore, the Ivory Chalice of Borrugar (the original Satiation version; later versions employing the sigils of Revelry and Desire were created by his successful apprentices, the latter as a practical joke), was essentially a smaller version of this device.
In a vein less dramatic but far more useful to his magical colleagues, one of Borrugar's greatest creations were the Chimes of Disruption; despite the foreboding name, the purpose of these huge, enchanted windchimes was to imbue an item with powerful sonic energy, disrupting its physical structure enough to easily introduce enchantments and spells into its core. While they proved incompatable with many experiments (the sound pitch sufficient to shatter items of weak material and even injure their bearers), all of Borrugar's devices involved the Chimes as part of their creation, and his apprentices followed the same tack.
The location of Borrugar's original set of chimes is unknown at this time. It is believed that, prior to his death, they were passed on to his close friend Suniyetsu as a housewarming gift. Suniyetsu, a mistress ranger, used them to keep an infestation of dangerous cougars from her remote forest sanctuary. As she vanished from the records of history not long after the gifting, not much more can be said.
Borrugar, sadly, and like so many before him, fell victim to the magic he loved so dearly. The key to his undoing was an ongoing obsession with a grimoire of pre-Imperial sorcery, the infernal tome known to scholars as the "Arte of the Black Cockatrice". He had first come across a fragmented, partial translation of this elvish text in the library of Throne City, and this was the main source from which he had been able to reconstruct the power of auric sight. Tidbits of dark secrets enticed him into yearning for more, and he hired a team of scholars and researchers to find a complete edition of the book.
After dead end upon dead end, a copy was indeed found; legend holds that it was located in the dank catacombs beneath a Tezirite monestary, clutched in the withered grasp of a high priest's mummy. While still fragmented and ruined by water and oils in spots, it was the most complete version of the book known to be extant upon Elanthia. His own translation abilities honed by years of practice, Borrugar locked himself away and set to deciphering the tome's mysteries.
Friends close to him-- a small tribe of Fortune's Path gypsies who he had invited to share his home, in return for serving as bodyguards-- later wrote that he had attempted to create something he had read in the cursed grimoire, an enchantment he referred to as "the Mithricine Key". Great apparatus were constructed, and elaborate, dark rituals prepared to this end. On the final night, the climax of the enchantment, Borrugar bade his servants to stay outside his laboratory, and to not venture in, no matter what they heard. The evening was later recounted in the journal of an anonymous housemaid [Moonmage Archives, Throne City Guild, 315:42:12] as:
"Twas not a sound that came from that door or past it, nor nothing of sight, but Roberto who is frazzuri among us said that he read something lively awful in the night sky. He drew the tokka, looked at what he'd set out, and quickly pulled the cards back together without showing any what was there. He burnt the deck later, after we opened the door, like he told us to do right away.
"Maestro Borrugar was there, just like he said he would be. We had to pull back right quick, because the smell was like three- week carrion, and the sight inside wasn't nothing for the children to see: he was sitting there in his chair, plain as day, except his limbs weren't fitting together like they were supposed to, not at all. The downs were in up places, the ups were in down places, and some things we didn't find till later. He was all mixed up. Among us there wasn't no question about what had done it to him, the question was how it had been done WITHOUT MAKING A SINGLE SOUND..."
Details of Borrugar's burial and afterwards are sketchy: it is believed that he was put to rest on his private estate, which in turn was given over to the gypsies who had been so close to him in life. As for the Arte, a formal Moonmage tribunal requisitioned the tome as soon as the story came to light, seeking to keep it in a safe place at the guild stronghold: a thorough search of the mage's laboratory and libraries failed to find it, and scholars believe one of Borrugar's apprentices or colleagues must have stolen it shortly after his death.
Despite his tragic death, Borrugar Stoutfoot's legacy lives on, through a lifetime body of work to rival many an archmage. His early years in the guild are an inspiration to striving apprentices-- and his untimely end is a sober warning.