Scales of War
Marcus Brandale is the eldest son of the noted arcane scholar and historian Ivan Brandale. Following the death of his wife while Marcus was still a child, Ivan left his position at the University of Sayre and traveled extensively with Marcus, and his younger son, Stephan, conducting research into the early history of the Kingdom of Rhestilor. When funds began to run short, Ivan supplemented his income by tutoring the children of the nobility and taking the opportunity to further his research in the private records of the landed classes that such patronage provided.
Marcus, more like his father in temperament than was his brother, Stephan, adapted well to the change of circumstance and contributed to his father’s work whenever possible. An intelligent child raised in the company of dry academics, Marcus had always been precocious and soon became, by turns, erudite and somewhat aloof. While his brother played rough games with other young boys, Marcus devoted his time to the pursuit of knowledge, absorbing every lesson that his father had to teach, and more besides, to heart, and studying every discipline that opportunity provided.
Although content to spend time in the library, the lifestyle of the Brandale family gave Marcus plenty of time to study nature first hand, and contact with many varied priests with whom to discuss religion and philosophy. Travel with merchant caravans alongside hardened adventurers brought tales of strange beasts and far away lands, and the many practical tricks of outdoor life that many men only learn through hard experience.
It was on one such trip that Marcus first witnessed the raw potential of magic as a band of mercenaries fought off a clumsy attack by bandits. Previous experiences had been limited to the cantrips of court magicians and the long study of ritual theory interspersed with the occasional demonstration of floating disks and locked doors, but here was surely the prime demonstration of his father’s adage that knowledge was the real power. Starting that very night, Marcus began to devote his studies towards the arcane. By the time he was considered old enough to return home to the University of Sayre, Marcus had already mastered the principle and practice of ritual casting and had achieved some success with minor cantrips, and carried with him high hopes of a bright future.
Life in Sayre as a student was nothing like Marcus remembered from his time there as a boy. Several years passed by in a blur of study and socialising, time spent in libraries or in the Tankard of Ink (or occasionally more dubious taverns in the Dregs), afternoons scouring the market in search of cheap books and evenings spent reading them. Marcus found his younger years to have provided him with a solid grounding in all of his subjects, giving him more time to devote to the study and practical application of magic.
By the time Stephan was sent to Sayre, Marcus was a well respected graduate, earning a modest income tutoring younger students, assisting older academics with their work and approaching the conclusion of his own advanced studies. Finding his brother troublesome and boorish, Marcus at first tried to have little to do with Stephan, but in response to a plea from his father agreed to watch out for his younger brother. Unknown to Stephan, Marcus called in several favours to mitigate the worst consequences of “Baron’s” lifestyle and poor grades, until the last time.
Marcus does not know exactly what it was that Baron discovered in a dark chamber below the university library, chambers which may well date back to the city of Auger. His own limited research unearthed the secrets of bargains made by failing prophets with alien entities who agreed to share the secret knowledge of the stars in exchange for service, but there were hints of other, even darker deals to be made by the desperate. When the scandal was uncovered, several family friends used their influence to shield Marcus from his brother and ensure that Baron left quickly and quietly without tarrying to tarnish the name of his family.
Several weeks later, Marcus received a letter from his father asking for information on Stephan’s whereabouts – he was supposed to have gone to join Ivan on leaving the university but had taken his own path. Marcus weighed the damage already done to his own reputation by his brother and the debt he owed his father to take care of his younger sibling. Then he considered the restrictions placed on his own growth by life spent in the city and the long remembered elation he felt when he first witnessed the power inherent in magic released without restraint. After arranging a hasty sabbatical, Marcus packed his bags and set out on his search of his brother and the opportunity to see how powerful his knowledge had made him.
Crumb is Marcus’ familiar