Mythic/ Historical
4 Votes


Hits: 1288
Comments: 6
Ideas: 0
Rating: 3.75
Condition: Normal
ID: 7430


June 27, 2013, 10:09 pm

Vote Hall of Honour

You must be a member to use HoH votes.
Author Status


Calypso of Caspia


"Magic is like telling a lie," Calypso told his latest bunch of would-be apprentices. "It doesn't matter if it's real or not as long as everyone believes it."

Cal the Nothing

The legend says that Calypso of Caspia had no parents, that he was born purely of magic in the capital city of Caspar. The legends also say that he was just a child when he cast his first spell, saving the city from a marauding dragon. They say these things because they are nearly true.

Cal was a small child, naked and cold, standing in the middle of the street. He seemed destined, like so many starving urchins, to die in that street with an empty belly and no one ever knowing his name. As a rich lady's carriage bore down on him, Cal just stood there; it seemed to the two men who noticed him that the boy wanted to die then and there. One of the men was the carriage driver; he didn't slow or swerve, there were so many of them each day that he didn't see the point in trying to miss another. That's why when his carriage stopped suddenly, his team of two seemingly frozen in place just inches from the boy's face, he was ready to believe magic was involved. The second man to see was Hench the Barmaster. What he saw was the kid - the child of one of his regulars who had drank himself to death only a week before - with a bit of black rope in one hand (the kid was shaking this like a snake) and a hand full of ashes (the kid threw this into the air between him and the horses.) Hench watched it all more out of morbid curiosity than anything else.

The child, the moment the horses stopped, chanted some nonsense words, then collapsed. Hench didn't get this part to begin with. The carriage driver got down, locked the brake, and went to the boy. The lady in the carriage leaned out, asked what was going on, and the driver called back to her, "This young wizard just stopped our carriage, Lady Knighting." The carriage driver described the flash of light and the way the horses turned to gray stone for an instant. The story fascinated Hench, but he decided to lend the boy a hand. "Don't forget turning that string into a great snake," he reminded the driver. "It's like he was desperate to stop you, to tell you something."

Hench ran into his bar, grabbed a bowl of thin soup the barmaid hadn't cleared from a drunk at the closest table, and carried it out. "He'll need food and drink after magic like that," Hench said knowingly. "Stupid young wizard drained himself dry just to tell you something."

In the end, Lady Knighting left Hench with a small sack of gold (enough to supply him for a year), and the boy woke, telling the lady that he could not fully remember what the dragons (plural) had told him to say, but that he must be ready to stand beside the Lady's house to stop the "coming river of blood."

Three days later Lady Knighting received word that her husband had been killed. She mourned and took up her husband's leadership of East City, but she connected the appearance of the boy and the prophecy. From that day on, Lady Knighting saw to it that Cal, now Calypso, was not only clothed and fed, but had whatever he needed for his magic.

Note: In the case of the horses, Cal did no magic at all. It was a simple fist full of ash and making the rope wiggle in his hands like a snake. The burning smell is more than nearly any horse can stand, and the snake/rope served as a distraction to anyone looking on from the side.


For his own part, Calypso had been desperate but cautious. He had watched horses for several days following his father's death, trying to think through his plan. It grew harder and harder to think as he starved, but the results were perfect. As the years passed, Calypso learned to play his part well. He taught himself to read and write, then used these skills to learn everything he could. Desperate to not get caught but also to make up for his deception, Calypso worked harder than anyone else. He rose before then sun, worked on his secrets and tricks, studied, and explored the city, and returned every night as the sun set to the small tower Lady Knighting had given him.

Calypso seemed to be everywhere in those days, except with the wizards. He went to every tradesman, every tinkerer, everyone with a knack for anything, story tellers, and more. He even went into the prisons to learn.

But inevitably he was challenged.

In the city there was, as with most cities, a guild hall of mages. When Calypso was a child, they simply wrote him off as an eccentricity of the Lady Knighting. Her portion of the city was small, a gate and a small district of poor merchants and businesses. But in the six years since his "discovery," Calypso had changed things. The people did more. They pushed for improvements and then did something about it. But the part that upset the guild finally was when the people started calling him, "Young Wizard."

So they sent an apprentice to challenge him. Such challenges were very formal and public. The guild wanted everyone to see him as a fraud. The guild was outraged when Calypso appeared before them completely naked. Calypso seemed completely unshaken by it, however, and shook hands with the apprentice who disdainfully wiped his hands off on his robes. The two took positions, Calypso looking calm and ready, the apprentice visibly shaken and sweating. The young apprentice began his spell, but a few seconds into its casting, Calypso waved his hand gently, and the apprentice collapsed.

Note: By dipping his hands in tallow wax, Calypso created a layer of protection for himself. He then covered his hands in a boiled fox glove (digitalis) with stinging nettles. The young apprentice was already agitated and Calypso counted on the fact that he would try a powerful magic on his first go: stressful to say the least. With the herbal mixture shooting up the apprentice's heart rate, it was almost a lucky thing that the apprentice didn't have a heart attack.

Becoming Real

Calypso's fame was set. The guild could not legally denounce him again unless he acted against the laws or the King. It was also forced to recognize Lady Knighting's declaration, granting Calypso the title as Premiere. It was the practice of the city that a mage would charge a fee for anyone who practiced magic to pay tribute to the premiere magic user of the area. In his portion of the city, the East City of Lady Knighting, no other wizard could enter without paying tribute to Calypso. In most areas of the city these titles were fought over and gave the holder little actual power. For his part, however, even the other wizards started to like him: his tax for entering was amazingly low and wise: a few minutes where they would teach him something they knew. He never asked for possessions or gold, just knowledge. It not only allowed every mage an area in the city where they could practice and even sell their goods, but Calypso gave each of them clear respect.

This, along with a rather unsettling habit of walking before his tower windows naked, set him apart. The East City became the central hub of innovation and thriving development, and more and more a place of all important actions and decisions. The Guild of Wizards eventually shifted their meeting place to East City, each enjoying the low price Calypso set upon them, despite his rather unnerving penchant for arriving at the meetings sans clothing. Eventually younger wizards became competitive with each other striving to teach Calypso something new or more exciting. Visiting wizards tried to earn higher respect and honor by teaching something Calypso had never heard of before.

And Calypso, he learned it all.

Note: Calypso took learning magic in a different direction. Rather than the traditions which were steeped in myth as much as practical spells, Calypso made a system of study and mastery. He set about learning magic in exactly the procedures used to learn a new language or master a dance. He also insisted on writing everything down in the simplest and most exact terms possible. His books of spells were unique in that they were not written in a magical script but always in the Common Tongue. While this made his books much more cumbersome, they were much more precise and functional.


Over the years, Calypso became the great defender of the city, a powerful wizard, and a well loved and respected gentleman. He combined powers from every disciplin and had no problem with mixing magical and non-magical skills into something new. He particularly loved creating small spells and charms that ranged from a charm that made vegetables taste like candy for a few minutes to a one word spell that created a thin membrane around a blob of water that you could throw and it would burst. He also created a non-magical lantern that used mirrors and glass and scrolls of carefully cut paper: when handled correctly, each scroll showed a shadow story that a number of local story tellers became quite proficient in crafting.

Clothiers discovered Calypso's penchant for nudity and extremely light clothing. No small portion of Calypso's wealth ended up in the pockets of various seamstresses who would create light weight clothing, or better, very easily removed clothes. To his credit, these clothes only became fashionable for a short time in his life. When an armorer created a complete suit of transparent armor, even Calypso saw that he might have taken things a bit far.

His ties to Lady Knighting and her house led to her marriage to the King when Calypso invited the King to a small party despite all accepted protocols. The scandal was completed when it was discovered that everyone at the party was completely naked at Calypso's request. Calypso was tireless in protecting Lady Knighting, saving her life and her family countless times, but eventually she died of a respectable old age. At her funeral he spoke of her as the closest person he would ever come to having a mother or a father (fixing the rumor in place that he had neither) and ended the service by removing his robes and laying them reverently over her pyre.

Upon her death, the King granted Calypso a village of his own, just outside of the city so that he could give his youngest son East City. Within a decade the East City was in financial ruins, and Caspia was a thriving village with its own walls, guards, and thriving economy. The King plead with Calypso to secretly tutor his son in management, and Calypso did, helping the boy to repair East City and earn the respect of the people.

Eventually Calypso married. Almost nothing is known of his courtship, and even less of his married life. Calypso shielded her from public life, kept all dangers from her, and was rarely heard to speak of her. What is known is that she was young and frail, and when their only daughter was born, she died.

Calypso tried to shield his daughter in the same way, but she was too strong willed even as a child.

In the end, their fates were tied to the Lich Scroll.

Additional Ideas (0)

Please register to add an idea. It only takes a moment.

Suggested Submissions

Join Now!!

Gain the ability to:
Vote and add your ideas to submissions.
Upvote and give XP to useful comments.
Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities.
Join a Guild in the forums or complete a Quest and level-up your experience.
Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Moonlake
June 26, 2013, 20:18
This is a piece that I instinctively like as a Legend/Biography of Calypso the Great Mage and it's of a solid quality. However, I personally feel that it suffers a little from missing content/logic as it currently stands. For example, how did Cal make the apprentice collapse with a mere wave of his hands? The reason could be tied up with what's written up in the summary (i..e in your setting, belief grants power) but then it's really a bit vague. Also, in the Becoming Real section, I feel that the write-up on why the East City became popular with wizards after it became a hub of innovation departed a little from practicals in my opinion. In particular, you only outlined that the entry price is relatively 'cheap' in the wizards' eyes and the fact that teaching Cal things has become some sort of 'conspicuous consumption' thing with the wizards but surely, a more practical reason (and I feel more key reason) for them is that it has become a hub of knowledge so that visiting the East City would increase their own magical expertise.
June 26, 2013, 23:49
Oops, this is a case where the story happened in my head but I forgot to write it down. I'll... fix that.
Voted Dossta
June 27, 2013, 14:29
A good NPC write-up, if suffering from some awkward phrasing in places. This, for example, was particularly hard to follow:

"What he saw was the kid, the child one of his regulars who had drank himself to death only a week before, with a bit of black rope in one hand - the kid was shaking this like a snake - and a hand full of ashes - the kid threw this into the air between him and the horses."

If you have time, I suggest reading this piece aloud to catch the bits like that. It's surprisingly helpful!

Overall, I like the concept of a fraud who becomes the real deal. That was far, far cooler than someone who was an uber wizard from birth. Calypso still sounds a little like a Mary Sue, however. He's smart, and wise, and managed to gain entrance to a highly-exclusive social circle with very little effort. Where are his flaws? His vices? Besides becoming an orphan, has he ever failed at anything?
June 27, 2013, 22:09
Update: Added several details and cleared up some of the language.
Voted Strolen
June 30, 2013, 12:22
I think I got here after the edits and I absolutely loved it. The brilliant deception and rise to power was the type of tale you love to read in a book. Reminds me minimally of Kvothe and such where he simply outsmarts everybody.

The things the others pointed out seemed to be cleaned up very well because I especially enjoyed the idea of their part of the city growing important through his actions.

It wasn't clear till the end that he could actually do magic. I was actually a little surprised that he could actually cast and that took away from it a little bit.

Overall, loved it. Great NPC!
July 1, 2013, 22:14
Nifty story - I agree with S's comment about discovering that Cal can actually perform magic being a bit of a let down, but not a terrible one.
Voted valadaar
July 2, 2013, 14:17
If he received dedicate tutelage frequently as the story said, it would not surprise me that he learned magic the 'right' way eventually.

You need to link your subs though - apart from the text, there are no links to the Lich Scroll or the other submissions that interlink.  The easiest linkage is simply  { Lich_Scroll} where { and { are replaced with appropriate square brackets.

Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: Strolen

Mining in a certain area turns all exposed skin (maybe just parts that are actively disturbing the chemicals that cause the reaction) of the those doing the mining to a dark blue color. Will wear off taking as many years/days spent in the mine.

Ideas  ( Dungeons ) | July 9, 2002 | View | UpVote 1xp

Creative Commons License
Individual submissions, unless otherwise noted by the author, are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
and requires a link back to the original.

We would love it if you left a comment when you use an idea!
Powered by Lockmor 4.1 with Codeigniter | Copyright © 2013 Strolen's Citadel
A Role Player's Creative Workshop.
Read. Post. Play.
Optimized for anything except IE.