Orthos of Greatgaunt

The rolls of deceased war wizards include one Orthos of Greatgaunt, officially recorded as lost over a century ago when the unfolding calamity of the Spellplague decimated the ranks of Cormyr’s Wizards of War.

Orthos lived in a disused wing of the Royal Court, where he devised new spells with the aim of thwarting eminent threats to the Forest Kingdom. His last effort focused on devising a means to magically detect and repel the last Ghazneth known to exist, via spells and wards that could overcome the creature’s innate magic-absorption abilities.[1]

When the Spellplague erupted onto the face of Faerûn, Orthos assumed his greatest fear had been realized: the Time of Troubles had returned. This was not the first time he’d seen war wizards dying en masse while magic went wild and all of Cormyr shook to its foundations, and he dare not call on Tymora to save him twice in the same lifetime.

Orthos rushed back to his chambers, and once there took up a Ring of Three Wishes. He bellowed at the top of his lungs that he and his work space remain untouched by the unfolding calamity, “…as though it be immune to the ravages of time itself!”

Immediately the shaking and rumbling stopped, liquids in decanters ceased boiling, and Orthos’ collection of spellbooks stopped flapping about and spitting embers like birds with their wings on fire. Trusting in the power of the ring, Orthos kept to the safety of his abode and went on with his research for the day, not having realized the ring’s magic had shorn both Orthos and his dwelling out of the Royal Court and into a recursive-time demiplane.

The next day Orthos’ work chamber showed no signs of use from the prior day; his tomes bereft of new writings and his alchemical experiments reset, with Orthos none the wiser. He awoke as though from a nap, the fresh memories of dying war wizards overtaken by the comforting thought that he’d just cast his wish, while in the background of his mind the theories and ideas he’d come up the day before dwindled away; to Orthos they were the product of half-remembered dreams.

Orthos started the next thirty six thousand five hundred twenty five days in much the same way.

Once or twice a year Orthos will come to decide he needs an alchemical reagent or spell component not found in his well-stocked work chamber. In such instances he retrieves a proper war wizard robe from his study, then exits into the Royal Court to go in search of what he needs.[2]

Over time Orthos has been seen in increasingly out of date robes while wandering about the halls and passages, wondering out loud why the storage chambers have been moved, and expressing his relief that no more of his fellow Wizards of War are exploding in their boots.

“Ah, one of the lucky ones I see. Still have all your arms and legs, do you? Good! Good! I don’t suppose you can spare a moment to show me the way to the components chamber, could you? I’m all turned around and seem to have lost my way.”

During Cormyr’s brief war with Sembia, Orthos encountered a rampaging band of Umbriri swordmages who’d been hired to find their way into the Royal Court and wreak havoc. Orthos let loose with an adroit non-ritual casting of Planar Portal that ensnared the hiremages and whisked them all off to the Abyss.

Said Orthos, to no one in particular, “It worked! If only Vangerdahast had my spell when he came upon his first Ghazneth! This is proof I’m on to something, I tell you! Back to work. We mustn’t keep Caladnei waiting!”

Another occasion saw Orthos accosted by an angry noblewoman barging through the halls of the Royal Court. Orthos tried to ignore her and be on his way, but she demanded he delay his business to help locate her husband immediately.

“Oh, I suppose I have a free moment or two, if it’s for the good of the Realm as you say. May I take your hand, my Lady?”

Thoroughly enspelled by an overpowered Sunite love charm, the noblewoman’s desire switched from her inattentive husband to Orthos the moment she took his proffered hand and the magic of the charm came into contact with one of Orthos’s personal (and very much experimental) anti-Ghazneth wards.

The magical conflagration that followed several breathless moments later shattered walls, floor and ceiling. No sign of Orthos remained, while the noblewoman could not recall traveling to the Royal Court, much less how she came to be found safe and sound in the center of a whole building wing’s worth of rubble. Fortune (if not exactly Sune) favored the noblewoman that day: she bore healthy twins three seasons later.

Caladnei’s successor, Ganrahast, suspects that Orthos is alive and well in some fashion, and has also noticed subtle (and entirely unauthorized) improvements to the Full Wards that protect the Royal Court, but the demands on the Mage Royal and the infrequent sightings of Orthos have kept Ganrahast from pursuing the matter any further.[4]

(Back to War Wizards)

[1] “A catastrophe waiting to erupt,” according to Vangerdahast, who judged Orthos not to be fearless, but curious to a fault. Rooms above and below those set aside for Orthos were emptied of everything of value, and he was given leave to pursue his magical research and test the spells he devised.

[2] You thought they’d all been destroyed, did you? Sleep with one eye open tonight.

[3] The magic of the wish selects at random any closed door of the Royal Court and links it to Orthos’ study.

[4] Sometimes Orthos will do no more than open his study door to toss out the leavings of a meal, leave a written message, or set out a chamber pot. The later event has vexed four generations of palace stewards, the first of which set aside a below-ground Court chamber to house what has become an impressive collection of perfectly identical chamber pots.  The duty of adding to this collection is known as “stacking the shite.”

********

A word of roleplaying advice, should you choose to use Orthos in your campaign: If you’re familiar with professor Horace Slughorn from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (esp. as portrayed by Jim Broadbent in the movie adaption), Orthos is quite like him, save that where Horace is keen to keep a dark secret, Orthos is  keen to perfect his Ghazneth warding magic.

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