The Tainted Spiral
Gravemont the Scrivener
An erudite wizard with an insatiable curiosity for the otherworldly
In the winter of CY 604 the night sky inexplicably began to shed its moonless dark, one feather at a time. They danced, sweeping long arcs, through the clouds, and when they landed they turned to ash and vanished. One such feather landed on the forehead of an infant, the boy-child Gravemont.
No one believed the sots who claimed they saw two goblins with ruddy horns and barbed tails carry the infant in a woven basket to the doorstep of the mages’ guild. And, so, no coincidence was remembered to be forgotten. And the boy began his studies immediately.
At three he had mastered Elven and the common tongue. At five he taught himself Draconic. And at seven he translated the library’s collected works in Ancient Baklunish and Old Oeridian. Some of the guildmages envied the boy’s talents, but they couldn’t help but feel an affinity for him—he kept to himself for the most part, deferred to those above him, and was diligent in doing his chores.
(One of the guildmages in particular grew very fond of Gravemont, a wizened and white-haired man named Marrion Altstaff. Marrion took Gravemont under his wing and came to be the closest thing Gravemont ever had to a father.)
Gravemont liked his studies in history, religion, and the arts well enough, but one day he found a small black book, dusty and ancient looking, that had fallen behind a bookcase in a nearly forgotten reading room in the tower. The text was written in Suloise and told of an age before the Vale was settled by the new races. The Suel mages could weave shadow into form and bring the dead back to life. They were not corrupted by shadow like the necromancers of Gravemont’s time. They fought to defend their lands from the marauding Wolf Nomads in the north and fouler things that descended on foggy nights from the Crystalmist Mountains.
The book sparked Gravemont’s curiosity, and it grew and grew, into a full-blooded obsession. Secreted away in his cramped chambers is a small collection of texts on dark lore—it is forbidden, by both the guild and the archclericy, to possess such things, but Gravemont wouldn’t give them up for anything. They weren’t easy to acquire, after all, and he had to make certain sacrifices on more than one occasion to get his hands on them.
. . .
Gravemont had suspected for some time that his research on the dark arts had only just scratched the surface. Now, he knows for sure. Thanks to the recently recovered writings of Mordenkainen, and the unveiling of the Cult of the Seeing Hand, Gravemont has seen his path to becoming like the Suel mages of old. To be sure, he could never make it on his own. The outside world is no place for an old man, especially not one who’s lived a cloistered life of contemplation. He’s going to need friends, and hardy ones.