The Seven Busts of Jilsea
Overall, each bust is a stone sculpture of a person's head, with the plinth shaped from the neck and part of the shoulders. Each is a specific person, known by name, and made of a different material. They are life-sized, and mass between thirty and fifty pounds in weight. They are not easy to move.
A magic bust is a magical device. A user needs only channel magic into the object, and once a sufficient amount of power has been gathered the bust will cast the spell. This is no different from any other such magical item other than the fact that the busts require massive amounts of power to activate. The best course of action is a circle of magi linking and using amplification devices to increase the power they can feed a bust. Thus, a circle could charge a magic head in the course of a few hours. A sole magic-user might have to spend weeks to fully charge a bust. Each head had a different magical power, and they are all epic scale.
The Busts were created as powerful magical tools to protect the city of Jilsea from being assimilated into the great and terrible empire, or the overwhelming might of the church, or whatever great imperial power suits. The people of Jilsea were magically powerful, decadent, and did all sorts of things that were considered wrong, and as such there were a large number of tieflings, cambions, half-breeds, and even entire races created from fusing flesh with magic. A lot of interests outside of Jilsea wanted to see it burnt and cast into the sea.
The great Sanctum housing the busts was struck by the high fantasy equivalent of Ocean's 11 or Fast and Furious 4 where they steal safes with cars. The busts were taken, along with a few other treasures. Stripped of these devices, the city was besieged. After holding out seven years and seven days, Jilsea fell, but not without exacting a heavy cost. Entire royal lines were wiped out, noble houses corrupted and turned to shadow, armies devoured by maddening beasts and horrific spells, and down to fighting house to house in the streets, rivers of blood flowing the down the cliffs.
1. Bitter Counselor Semana
Semana was a tiefling sorceress of no small skill. She created the first Bust after commissioning it to be carved in her likeness from a massive piece of serpentine. Her spirit can be contacted through the bust, allowing a necromancer or nethermancer to speak with Semana's shade. She is an ... unpleasant ... woman.
Power - the bust of Bitter Counselor Semana, once charged with 100 spell slots (or the equivalent per system being used) can be used to summon Semana's Fog. This spell creates a noxious green-black cloud large enough to completely encircle a city, cover a city, or turn the isthmus connecting Jilsea to the mainland into a blinding corridor of poisonous fog. The spell trades overwhelming power for scale, so most fighting men can cover their faces and get through with minimal to moderate injury. Few if any animals can survive, and it is almost 100% lethal to horses, oxen, all birds, and men who are prone, injured already, old, weak, or children are highly vulnerable to the cloud. The cloud is less toxic to women because Semana felt that Imperial women were a major force behind the persecution of Jilsea and when the battle or siege was over, she wanted the women among the enemy to survive so they could be broken by the task of burying their dead, and carry back the horror of the battle.
2. Starlit Counselor Ramarav
Counselor Ramarav was a dragonkin astromancer, obsessed with the heavens and stars. He was wise in such things and could divine the shaping of the future by reading said stars. When Jilsea was threatened, he could entire the stars to his aid. When he felt his time coming to an end, he had a bust of himself made, white marble inlaid with topaz, gold, and moonstone. This is the largest bust and is easily seventy pounds in weight. Ramarav's can be contacted through the bust, but he will only answer to another dragonkin, a dragon, or a similar reptilian magic user. Non-saurians can still use the bust, but cannot speak with the ancient astromancer.
Power - with 100 spell levels, the bust of Starlit Counselor Ramarav can create a rain of fire from the heavens (damage as per a massed flaming arrow attack, but on a scale on par with Semana's poison cloud). This is considered non-magical fire, but is very good for setting forests and cities ablaze, and for routing an army by setting its backside/supply side on fire. With 200 spell levels, the damage is increased from flaming arrows to flaming scorpion bolts, and the strike can penetrate light and medium armor with ease, as well as setting everything shy of stone on fire. These were the most commonly used powers of Ramarav's bust, and tended to be used defensively.
There are two greater power levels. At 500 spell levels, the bust can call a rain of stone from the sky (meteor swarm) that can level cities, shatter castles, and ruin farmland for dozens or even hundreds of miles around it. This is similar to the effect of the Tunguska event in Russia in the last century. At 1000 spell levels, the bust can summon a single star to fall to earth and release a terrible radiance. This is basically a fantasy nuke. There are several drawbacks. If the roll is botched, it could destroy the bust. Likewise, failed checks by those powering the bust can leave a magic-user with the power burned out of them, or a runaway siphon where once their magic power is gone, the bust devours their life force as spell levels equal to their character level.
3. Aloof Counselor Munedih
Munedih was accounted to be among the most beautiful of women, her mother a succubus, her father a high elf. Her magical power was great, and she was known for being cuttingly cold and distant. She crafted her own bust of perpetual ice and placed a crown of cold fire atop it. This is the most dangerous of the busts, as touching it without protection from cold causes constant damage to the person touching it. It also causes whatever place it is stored in to become cold. If it is kept in a small place, that space can become freezer-like. The Jilseans kept the busts in an open-top sanctum, so it was always pleasantly crisp inside.
The power of the bust of Munedih is as simple as it is complex, it controls the weather. 100 spell levels can be charged into it, and the bust's user can change the weather into whatever they want. On a basic level, this bust was used to keep Jilsea's climate mild and beneficial to agriculture, considering the small amount of arable land they held. Jilsea never knew drought or flood, harsh winter, or brutal summer. When armies came against them, it would snow deeply. In summer, the sun would burn and the waters would ebb, leaving hosts to scrabble for water. The bust can also be used to manipulate existing weather, turning regular storms into horrific storms, hot days into heat waves, and rains in monsoons.
4. Melancholy Counselor Majind
Majind was a strange man, even by the measure of Jilsea. He claimed that his father was a ghost and his mother a widow of ghost when he had lived. He was gifted in the arts of life and death, reanimation, and vivisection. His bust is the smallest, and it is actually his head. When he felt his last day dawn, he summoned the Gorgon Nanthaemo to his chambers and allowed her to take him as a lover one last time, and then turn her petrifying gaze on him. His head was removed, an expression of contentment and peace on his wizened and drawn features.
Powers - Anyone can use the Bust of Majind to attempt to communicate with the dead. Majind was a deeply kind and empathetic man, and this continued even unto his death. He is morose and slow to speak, but enjoys pleasant conversation, poetry, and stories of lovers who overcame great things to be together. A necromancer or nethermancer can use the bust as a spell focus and dramatically increase the scope of their magic ability.
If charged with 100 spell levels, the bust can raise a freshly slain corpse back to life. The body should be prepared so that when reanimated, they don't immediately perish because its head has been struck off.
Alternately, 100 spell levels can be used to summon a swarm of undead. If there are fresh corpses, the spell raises them as zombies. If there are long dead corpses, it is a field of skeletons. If there are no bodies at all, the spell calls forth a cloud of ghosts, though this must be done at night else it fails. For greater amounts of power, the range and number of undead that can be brought up increases. Once this rises above 500 spell levels (Enough to Resident Evil a large city), the ghost of Majind must be convinced that such a use of power is deserving, and if they cannot command or convince Majind to carry out what they want, the bust will either discharge the gathered power in a light show of barrow flame and screaming ghosts (terror effect on anyone nearby) or even turn its power against those that are trying to command it.
5. Divine Counselor Ezos
Ezos is remembered as possibly Jilsea's most beloved and important leader. He was superficially a normal human, but had gold hair, and gold eyes, and lived for nearly three centuries as the Head of the Council of Jilsea. He was famous for his even temper, his ability to bring even the most divisive elements to the table, and smooth the worst tempers. This was considered incredible as at the time of his rule, Jilsea was caught in a schism between the tieflings and the dragonkin threatened to burn the city down. Ezos has the only metal bust, as his is made of orichalcum and in this material alone is worth the ransom of a nation.
Powers: for 250 spell levels the bust will project a circle/sphere of protection around a large amount of space, such as a city, a castle, or even a wall large enough to block off a peninsula. This was the most common use of this bust, as it was used to protect Jilsea from advancing forces or from ships attacking them from the sea. When the busts were stolen, they realized the folly of having never actually built any walls or keeps to guard the peninsula.
Also for 250 spell levels, the bust can create an area of effect dispel magic attack. This banishes summoned creatures, negates magic protections, removes magic weapon abilities, and negates spellcasting in the targeted area.
For an astounding 1000 spell levels, the bust will create the Sphere of Ezos, and the city of Jilsea would vanish inside a prismatic sphere. While inside this sphere, the city and everyone in it were completely protected from any sort of magic, weapon, curse, or attack. Outside of the sphere, the land and sea were bombarded with epic-powered prismatic spray for a full day and night.
6. Feral Counselor Domneva
Domneva was a rarity, even in Jilsea. She was a powerful summoner mage and beastmaster. She was also half-orc and was considered to be one of the most legendarily ugly women to ever live. Part of this was given to her blood, the pronounced jaw, the heavy brow, the coarse hair that resisted the social styles of the city. The other part of this was the number of scars she bore, from missing an eye to her body looking like a dragon had chewed her up and spit her out. It is important to remember that Domneva took pride in her appearance, and gained a reputation as one of the most desirable women in Jilsea, and was considered to be one of the greatest lovers to have ever lived. Her bust is carved from dragonbone, and is set with turquoise, serpentine, and tiger's eye inlay, and her one good eye is set with a flawless black diamond.
Powers - 500 spell levels - Auspicious Harvest - can be used twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, to maximize the yield from the spring birthing season, and the autumn harvest. This powerful effect will see great fecundity in the fields, in the beasts, and unless wearing a ring of protection, in the people of the city itself. Part of the reason that so many hybrids and half-breeds thrived in Jilsea was that Auspicious Harvest was powerful enough to overcome non-compatible species pairings. Twins in Jilsea were normal, triplets and quadruplets were uncommon. Demihumans who bore litters, such as gnolls, orcs, goblins, and so forth would see ten, twelve, and fourteen offspring instead of the normal five to six.
Also for 500 spell levels, the bust of Domneva can perform one of two summon spell versions. The first and more commonly used is a massive swarm summon, which functions like a regular summon swarm spell, but summons creatures that do not swarm. The armies of Baedhild were prepared to fight magi and horrors, they were not prepared to fight a summoned swarm of several hundred great bears. Likewise, the host of the Gaedornian raiders were well versed in looting cities and burning witches at the stake, they could have never been prepared to fight two thousand stalking great cats. They were pulled from their horses and dragged into the forest by their throats. The alternate version of the summon focuses all the power on summoning a god-like single avatar. Rather than hundreds of bears, it would have been Ur-Arctos, the Celestial Bear, bigger than a dragon with a roar that shatters stone.
7. Clairvoyant Counselor Gweimre
Gweimre was a dark elf enchantress who undertook the peril fraught path of foreseeing the future. This was not just the usual attempt at prophecy and destiny, but rather the actual manipulation of things yet to come. The dark elf eventually created her bust, in great sadness, from funeral gold and grave silver.
Powers - 100 spell levels allow for Gweimre's Dirge to be cast, and the person holding the bust will see their life laid out in front of them in inescapable detail, down to their death. Use of this spell can cause madness because it shows death is inescapable, and multiple castings attempting to change events can be fatal. The universe is capricious and sometimes the fixed point in time isn't a momentous decision or event, but something so minor it is insane, such as picking which lord to support in a rebellion being less important than which path through the garden the viewer took to go to the privy.
For 500 spell levels, Gweimre's Lament can be cast, allowing for the fate of things more than mortal to be determined, such as organizations, royal lines, nations and kingdoms, and the fates of things that are immortal such as liches and great dragons. The drawback is that the blowback from the spell is so great that it often leaves the viewer reduced to a catatonic state or a fugue state that can last weeks.
For 1000 spell levels, Gweimre's Intervention can be cast, allowing the caster to step back in time to change something. This is a powerful spell, something to draw the ire of the gods, considering how much damage it can do. There is apocryphal evidence that Gweimre's Intervention has been used, and it was the event that caused the Busts of Jilsea to vanish and be lost, leading to the direct demise of the city. Likewise, in the apocryphal D'Arvag Dungeon Scrolls, the city of Jilsea rose in power, and conquered half of the known world under the banner of a cyclopean demon god (Balor perhaps?) and turned the world to ruin in the great struggle. The scrolls detail apocalyptic spells that do not exist, and leviathan entities that are not known anywhere else devouring cities and armies as a great whale devours tiny fish. Perhaps the Intervention was used by those inside Jilsea who would rather see their own city fall, rather than let the entire world burn.
The Busts of Jilsea are mythic items, legendary to the point that most people don't know about them, and even the existence of Jilsea itself is reduced to the romantic odes of bards looking to woo their way into someone's underpants. Should a Bust be found, it is something that should be a McGuffin, with tons of interested parties chasing after it, lusting for its power, but no one actually ever using it. A lone mage would take weeks to study it, to figure out how to charge it, and then even longer actually charging the thing, only speculating at what it actually does.
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