Jorn ibn-Omar ibn-Rashid al-Maghrib

An aristocratic sholar and alchemist from the Golden Lands


This young wizard died having been caught between a grox and an earth elemental.

He is remembered as an immaculately groomed young man with swept-back wavy black hair framing sharp and handsome olive-skinned features. He had a habit of stroking his well-trimmed goatee when deep in thought.

Jorn’s clothing was an eclectic mix of styles from various parts of the world: a knee-length blue velvety coat with astrological symbols on its upturned collar covers a fine white silk shirt, black cotton breeches you see in the cities on the north coast of the Silver Sea tucked into shiny black Parthosian riding boots, all topped off with a traveling cloak (black on one side, red on the other) and a black felt capotain hat with an ornate silver buckle on the front. He rarely went anywhere without his finely-wrought traveling cane, a well-worn leather bag full of books, and a dizzying assortment of alchemical and astrological equipment.

Jorn’s father, Grand Emir Omar ibn-Rashid al-Sahra (“of the Desert”) Who-Turns-The-Sands-Red, is a bandit turned war hero and the Caliph’s favoured general. The Caliph owes his throne to Omar’s genius, making the Emir wealthy and influential far beyond his station. Well past his middle years, Omar remains powerful in mind and body, and both feared and respected for the cunning, ferocity and loyalty he has exhibited since the War of the Crimson Pretender. As the people of the Golden Land consider skill and luck (ie. the favour of the gods) much more important than noble birth, the Emir’s fortunes seem quite secure.

It has been some thirty years now since the Emir’s acquisition of the fair-skinned, golden-haired and blue-eyed slave Talga (“Snow” in the Golden Tongue) for a concubine. Exotic in appearance and noble in bearing, Talga was a great prize envied by many. She appealed to his warrior spirit and when Jorn was six years old the Grand Emir fell in love with his concubine and made her a wife, adopting the children they had produced. All were brought up amidst the luxury and intrigue such high standing entails.

When Jorn was 11, he was taken as a student by hakim (wise man) Dorar al-Dmek, a venerable Dwarf from beyond the Silver Sea who had retired to the Golden City to study and teach the Mysteries of Matter and Spirit. The observatory/laboratory of the stony-faced, unfazeable and inscrutable Dwarf was Jorn’s haven from courtly intrigue. Dorar cares nothing for politics, considering the advancement of knowledge about Creation the only activity of worth. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that wisdom often begins with folly and frivolity. Jorn and Dorar maintain academic correspondence as regularly as the youth’s travels allow.

Many strange creatures are paraded through The Golden City, but one has stood out in particular. At age 13, Jorn was visiting the Palace of Celestial Flowers, the Caliph’s home, as part of the Emir’s entourage. One night he got lost exploring its countless gardens. He found himself in the harem grounds, where discovery could mean death. Hastily ducking into an alcove to avoid a eunuch guard, Jorn stumbled upon – and through – a secret door to the quarters of the Caliph’s favourite plaything. The willowy concubine was sound asleep, and a delicate, somewhat forlorn melody emanated from a gilded cage nearby. Within, Jorn saw a humanoid so tiny it could have comfortably lain down on his palm. It looked like a minuscule Elf with the lower body and antennae of a cricket, its legs playing like a violin. The creature called himself Grig, and told Jorn that he was a fairy imprisoned and brought from a far-off land as a gift to the Caliph, who had given him to the young woman slumbering on the bed. Moved by the tiny creature’s plight, Jorn promised to free him in return for aid in his own escape. This they did through trickery, quick wits and no small amount of luck, and they bade fond farewell in a quiet garden near the guest quarters, and Grig bounded off into the night.

Some years later, Jorn was once again part of his father’s retinue, no more a boy but a budding scholar and mage. It was a diplomatic meeting with representatives of the Plainsrunner Prides from beyond the Dune Sea. One of their chieftains, Impikadu, had brought his dozen daughters with him as a show of wealth. The eldest of them, Imsabali, was the most beautiful thing Jorn had ever seen: skin the hue of long-brewed coffee, limbs long and elegant, frame as supple as a sapling, every move as natural as a breeze, and when she smiled her pearl-white smile hearts took wing. During the nights they would share each others poetry and search the stars in each others eyes.

Jorn went to great pains to divine time and place for future meetings. After years of sporadic courtship they were finally wed. But their harmonious marriage lasted not a year before the Death Jackal of Atne-Zur was defeated by Impikadu, making the chieftain King of the Prides, and Imsabali an invaluable commodity as the Prime Princess. The Prides are mighty when united, and could now threaten even the Golden Lands, and so it was decided that Princess Imsabali should be wed to Sheikh Hassan, the eldest son of Grand Emir Omar al-Sahra.

Hassan had reached his middle years with distinction, and Jorn had always found him a shrewd but just man who now showed great concern for the feelings of all involved. But the love Jorn bore for Imsabali could not be reconciled with his love for family and homeland, and so he set forth on a journey of learning and academic discovery across the Silver Sea.

But the journey had another purpose as well. As the Death Jackal of Atne-Zur was struck down in the Catacombs of the Dark Ossuary, she whispered a curse upon Impikadu: “May all thy spawn be as barren as these halls where Hope is slain!” And so the wombs of the King’s dozen daughters have remained without fruit, a fact held in greatest secrecy, for proof of barrenness nullifies marriage, which might mean disastrous war with the Golden Lands. But, desperate to save her old home and new, Imsabali revealed this secret to Jorn before his departure in hopes that, free of the court, he might discover a way of removing the curse.

So far Jorn has found one spark of hope. Although the cold, dry halls of the Dark Ossuary make life visibly wither and die, there is one plant that has been blessed by the gods with the wondrous ability to thrive anywhere: the Starblossom. This magical flower looks like a seven-petaled indigo lily with pollen that shines with starlight, and is also exceedingly rare: not only have all attempts at cultivation failed, the precious few that have been found in the wild have been in the most remote and unlikely locations imaginable.

If the stakes were merely political, Jorn wouldn’t bother with Starblossoms except out of academic curiosity; but he knows how important motherhood is to his beloved, remembers how her eyes would light up at the topic. To know that that light had been rekindled, he’s willing to risk lives should a Starblossom surface. Should he discover a cure, he could gift her with the child he couldn’t in good conscience father.

Jorn ibn-Omar ibn-Rashid al-Maghrib

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