Mastere was a severe woman who wore her hair cropped very short. Once she was a one of the old nobility with a horse’s mane of flowing blonde hair, but when faced by the hypocrisy of the current faith, she had her chopped off military short. There are a number of portraits of the dark mother of necromancy and all of them show the same mysterious yet sanguine woman. There is a turn to her mouth that some find to be surprisingly mischevieous for the woman credited with laying the foundation for modern necromancy.
On a side note, many find the images of Mastere to look almost boyish due to her almost painfully flat chest. There have been a number of speculations on the matter, the most common thought being that like some women she was not endowed with large breasts. Others have commented that perhaps the appearance was caused by the near constant wearing of armor. Contrary to some illustrations and fantasy, female breastplates lacked steel breasts on the front as the shaping would create weak spots for weapons to stick in and pierce. The truth, according to necromancers is more gruesome. They claim that she cut her own breasts off when she removed her hair, a discarding of the vanity of flesh.
Mastere was an ardent supporter of the Ozian Via Mortus but protested the arrogance and vanity of the then ruling Ebon Circle. The circle had strong negative views towards women and supported a pro-patriarchial society that not only detracted from women in life, but in death also. The Ebon Order had started proclamations limiting the size of shrines and mausoleums for women and demanding that all unmarried females be buried in unmarked graves. She protested this action, and was censured by the Circle.
In retaliation against the Circle as well as the current ranks of nobility, she shaved her head in the fashion of a penitent commoner. She berated those who supported the Ebon Circle as power mongers who disgraced the Via Mortus with their passage and should be consigned to flames, a punishment for those who offended the faith. When this path produced little to no reaction, she forsook her noble blood and abandoned the city of her fathers.
Her trials and challenges are the allegories of necromancers, and for the sake of brevity and those of squeamish disposition they will not be repeated here. Sufficed to say that she was took up the lessons of the arcane aspects of the then clerically dominated Via Mortus. Studying the arts of the even then reviled Vivisectionists she learned a great deal about non-divine healing and ventured into the arts of healing herself. It was then that she crafted the ivory wand that would later become a horror of horrors.
After learning the so-called lessons of discarding attachment to the flesh as well as studying the material aspects of the soul, she penned her pivotal work, the Black Book. It was a compilation of her collected writings and was a functional treatise on teaching the basics of necromantic magic. Every book or school of the art has drawn on foundation material presented in the Black Book.
Not long after this, Mastere did two things that were considered unforgivable. one, she took students and began to teach them the art as well as her own version of the Via Mortus, something the Ebon Circle found offensive. The second was the distribution of the Black Book to rival factions of the Ebon Circle. The Ebon Circle decided to act and they sent their war ghosts and nemissaries to hound Mastere into surrendering.
The Circle had the nerve to be surprised when their minions returned to attack them, leached by Mastere’s black power. Many of the Circle were felled by their own minions, and one went so far as to animate one of the circle members to serve as the Master’s Voice, Mastere’s own voice on the Circle.
Eventually the Circle covertly sent living minions, assassins and mercenaries to find and simply slay this meddlesom woman. It was then that Mastere took on her most vengeful form, crafting the Osseuous Aegis Armor, a suit of pre-Imperial banded mail that was made of leather and bone inserts. She carried both her wand with its supposed demon finger within as well as her legendary saber Flicker. Much of Old Falhath was wracked with violent confrontation between the adherents of the Circle and the dissidents who supported Mastere.
The era became known as the Shadow War as death cultists and necromancers traded blows in a battle for supremacy. The cultists had greater numbers on their side, but the necromancers had the advantage in sorcerous firepower and could recruit legions of undead faster than the cultists could convince dead to serve them.
It is rather ironic that the Mother of Necromancy did in fact die. Various attempts have been made to contact her restless spirit, but some thanatologists believe that with the distribution of the Black Book, and the eventual destruction of the Ebon Circle, Mastere had no reason to linger as a ghost and was granted her reward for her services, dependant on the faith of the person thinking of the matter.
One of her last disciples, Lashrac, her blood great granddaughter took up her teacher’s mantle (literally) and would eventually take that step and became a lich before reaching a natural death. There is a very old shrine to Mastere located in the twisting back allies and cramped buildings of Ozea’s old Ward.
Osseous Aegis Armor - this is a suit of banded mail armor made of leather and bone. It has the same armor attributes as normal steel banded mail, but its real power is that it protects the wearer from necromantic magics, so as long as the armor is worn the wearer is immune to slaying spells and other heavy hitting death magics.
Mastere’s Wand - originally a healers wand, it was invested with a ‘demon’s fingerbone’ and was made into a potent tool of necromancy. Use of the wand obliviated the need for material components in the cating of necromantic magics
The Black Book - This book, now more than 2000 years old is the first comprehensive text on functional necromancy, and simply reading the book can grant the reader the ability to learn necromancy.
Like several other of my recent NPCs, Mastere is dead and gone, unreachable by even the blackest of sorceries. Why? Because in Falhathian spiritual mechanics, Mastere went through the cosmogenic cycle and was reborn (reincarnation is a basic part of Aterrizaran mechanics, faiths aside).
Reborn - A young woman has strange dreams, and has knowledge of things that she should not. In truth she is the reborn soul of Mastere, and has her gift for the blackest of arts. Can she reconcile her inner demons while facing the mounting heirarchy of the Trinity? Will the PCs be her saviours, or her persecutors? Will the Mother of Necromancy, the Queen of Bones rise again?
The Gate - Inside the Black Book is an allegory that can only be solved by labyrinthine investigation ala National Treasure. The prize? The body of Mastere…or information on her living familiy.
The Painting - The PCs encounter a painting of Mastere in their benefactors abode, questions could be asked since it is obvious she is no relation, does the benefactor explain its historical value and gloss over its status as necromantic paraphenalia?