The Dragon Slayers
The term “Mage Cities”, taken at face value, is a little misleading – each being little more than a large town serving one of the Kingdom’s great institutions of magical learning. Nevertheless these are places of great wealth and their political power rivals that of much larger true cities. They are often treated as a collective because of the strong ties between them – mages will often move between the schools to study different areas of magic or to study under a particular tutor, and so while there is a healthy rivalry there is also a collective bond. More than once they have had to band together, particularly in the most recent rebellion where Hulil was assaulted by rebel forces seeking to capture many of the magical artefacts stored there.
The schools also supply the King with his battlemages – wizards and sorcerers who are schooled in military strategy and spells useful in combat, and often act as commanders in the King’s forces. For this, the schools are feared and distrusted more than they are admired – magic is poorly understood by the common folk, and the scars on the land left by wild magic from ancient battles may never heal fully.
There used to be five of these schools – perhaps more – but only three have survived intact to the present day. The heads of each are technically direct vassals of the King, but in practice the cities themselves are actually run by lesser nobles appointed to do the administrative work.
Hulil, once an isolated keep in the northlands, has developed in the last few hundred years after the relics of the Keep’s builder – the ancient wizard Malefic – were discovered by an intrepid band of adventurers. It has grown substantially under the rule of King Sargon with large amounts of funding flowing from the royal coffers, and today sprawls down the sides of the mountain, steep paths winding up between isolated groups of buildings. By tradition the students there focus on crafting and enchantment.
Eris is a sprawling coastal villa where many of the most powerful Battlemages are trained in the finer arts of conjuration and evocation. Shipping passing the school often takes a wide detour, as rogue spells cast from the school’s seaward-facing practice range have known to accidentally sink those who venture too close.
Stornwold, an imposing fortress-city at the centre of the Whitewood Forest, has a much darker reputation – it is said that here the arts of necromancy are studied, along with transmutation and other transformative magic. By law raising undead is illegal, but those wizards inclined to such areas study the theory of the process, claiming that knowledge of the art is not itself bad – merely its application. Often tarred with the same brush as their less reputable brethren, the transmuters of Stornwald seek to distinguish themselves by perfection of the self and frequently practice asceticism. This would seem to be an odd contrast, but some magical scholars hold that the two areas are not as disparate as first thought – essentially both are concerned with manipulating the very essence of life itself.
This odd mix nevertheless makes Stornwold a strange place indeed, even for other mages – those not given strongly to one of the two schools often leave sooner rather than later, and in combination with its reputation and isolation in the forest Stornwold is the smallest of the Mage cities.