Legend: Champions of Geram
An old man in robes with frizzled white hair and intense eyes.
You find the gnarled old mound of stones on the other side of the split oak a hundred paces north of the old well, right where the sassy bartender told you it would be.
She wasn’t just trying to get a rise out of you. The place actually does look like a crumbling human skull.
The ruin, for it would be unfortunate to call it a house, has light shining from the bare windows high in the front wall on either side of the wooden door, which incidentally could be said to look like the eye holes in said skull. To add to the sense of creepy foreboding, you make out the shambling form of an animated servant dumbly gathering firewood on the side of the house.
A chill runs up your spine, and it surely isn’t from the crisp evening air. Why didn’t you just listen to the nosy wench and wait to come in the daylight?
You trudge up to the door and force yourself to knock. If your need weren’t urgent, you wouldn’t be here.
The old man that answers the door is carrying a walking staff taller than he is and dressed in warm-looking robes of plush linen, and you have some trouble deciding whether or not you roused him from his bed until the smell of his stew wafts by you and tickles your stomach. Its ginger and caraway smell is rich and savory and exotic, and even though you had a second bowl of the shepherd’s pie back at the inn, your stomach politely informs you that it’d be just as happy to receive some more food—as long as it’s whatever is in that pot on the hearth.
The old man’s mouth twists up in a wry grin, and he cackles at you. “A guest for dinner, eh? It’s been ages since I’ve had someone to try a new recipe for me.” He shuffles back a few steps and waves you in with his free hand. “Come in, come in. You must have some of my basilisk stew. I think I have the spices just right; it smells completely safe this time! You can even have the honor of the inaugural taste.”
You can’t tell if he’s teasing you or not, but your business leaves you with little choice but to follow him into his cluttered vestibule.
As he leads you inside, you can see that in here his house seems less collapsing and more cavernous. The foyer to his house looks typical enough, even if typical in this case would ordinarily find you inside a noble’s manse rather than a mossy old skull, but the living room beyond has impossibly high ceilings and dazzling chandeliers that scatter the light of magic globes through an array of hanging crystals into a myriad constellation of stars on the stone floor and walls and tall bookcases. The walls themselves are hung with thick tapestries, and the floors have plenty of soft rugs for your feet.
The grand room would be quite majestic, if it weren’t for all the tables and shelves filled with dusty bric-a-brac and the piles and piles of books in every corner and open space. A web of cleared walkways winds from room to room in a lazy, labyrinthine sprawl.
Of course, considering the crazy-looking old man that lives within it, all this feels just right.
People that live in Telobi know of the sage that lives on the west side outside of town: he’s the man they all go to see when they’ve lost something important, or when they have a wart the clerics can’t seem to fix, or when they have a rash too embarassing to tell anyone else. He’s also the man that adventurers and mystics go to see, because everyone knows that he has a greater store of magical glyphs and codices even than the library of Guruga Tenv or the arch priestess of Gulu Ka. Maybe than both of them combined. And not only that, but he’s one of the few skilled enchanters you can still find outside a temple foundry. If this were the Empire, a member of the Shadowed Hand would have come for him long ago.
But this isn’t the Empire, and old Faldus doesn’t practice his arts in the open, and he doesn’t hurt anybody that isn’t already dead, so the nobles don’t pay him any mind. Except when one of them has a rash too embarassing to tell the court healers about—you know how those healers like to talk. Then they pay him plenty of mind, and they’ll pay him anything else he cares to name, because when it comes to arcane and discreet, old Faldus isn’t just the best—he’s the only one around.