Profiles in Magic, Volume 17 (book)
Profiles in Magic, Volume Seventeen
Tiv : Through Discipline, Comes Power
Heritage Monographs, the official press of the Moonmage Guild, is proud to present the seventeenth volume in the ongoing Profiles in Magic series. The information within these volumes, often obtained at great personal risk to our field journalists, has been compiled by a dedicated staff of scholars and Guild representatives.
This is the second volume in an ongoing series, spanning monographs sixteen to twenty-two, featuring current and historical guildmasters of note. We are pleased to present in this manuscript a biography of Guildmaster Tiv, the enigmatic teacher of Therengia Province.
Every mage knows that sacrifice is one of the keys of successful magic: no, not the bloody husk of a sacrifical dove, or the entrails of a thunder ram, but the sacrifice that every scholar must make in order to perfect their art. The surrender of time, of energy, of youth, to the endless work of a magical career. Few can speak about this level of committment with as much understanding as Guildmaster Tiv.
Tiv -- and that is his only given name -- spent his childhood as a native son in a nomadic tribe of the northern steppes. Learning to survive on the frozen wastes, through hunger and bitter cold, taught him hard and early lessons about life; but unlike his extended family, who simply accepted this life as their lot and never thought far beyond the coming day, Tiv knew that there had to be a reason behind suffering, a foundation of order beneath chaos. A sensitive youth, many of his tribe thought that he had the makings of a shaman. But, because the tribe's own shaman had died some years ago without an apprentice, there was nobody left to teach him the magical ways.
As the tribe migrated westward, they made camp near the protective face of a sheer rock mountain. This was the Frostweyr Spire, long before it had been placed on any known maps. In the lean months that followed, Tiv worked and hunted with his tribe, but hungered for more than a full belly: he longed for the art of the shaman, not for power, but for the ability to reach his true potential.
It is said that Tiv was out early one morning, listening to the howling wind and looking up at the spire's cliff, when he witnessed a most unusual sight: a man with shaved head and a humble cloth robe -- no furs to protect him from the biting cold -- walked to the edge of the cliff far above. He held in his hands a pure white dove, which he released into the blizzard. It circled around, spinning effortlessly through the snow, then returned to the man's hands. The man turned and walked away, vanishing out of sight.
The next morning, the scene repeated itself, identical to the day before. Tiv's mind was beset with questions, his curiousity insatiable. Who was the man, and how did he live atop the spire? What was up there? Why did he enact this ritual with his bird? Morning after morning, the bird flew, and Tiv at last resolved himself to learn the answer to the mystery: he would climb the mountain, and ask.
Early in the morning, before false dawn cast the first rays of sunlight across the steppe, Tiv set out alone to conquer the mountain. He took the thick fur gloves from his hands and dropped them on the ground, knowing that he would need precise control to find handholds on the near-vertical rock. Enveloped by bitter, howling winds, he began to climb.
He was fifteen feet up when vertigo began to take hold of him: the nomads were natives to the flat, endless plains, not given to climbing more than a slight incline. He steeled himself against fear, forcing himself not to look down. The wind provided ample distraction, howling like banshees in his ears and making his skin burn with pain. The exposed flesh of his hands turned a sickly rose-white, and he was beginning to lose feeling in the fingers, but he kept his grip fast.
Halfway up, one of his boots snagged on a rock and pulled from his foot, falling into the snowy mists far below. Barely catching his footing in time, he grunted as he shrugged off the other boot, his bare feet finding smaller and better holds on the treacherous rock. Sharp rocks sliced his flesh, trails of blood mingling with the snow as he forced himself upward, inch by agonizing inch. Far above his head, what seemed an eternity away, he saw the man come to the edge and release his bird.
Tiv's muscles screamed as he continued his ascent, every instinct urging him to just let go, to fall away from the mountain and find rest in death. He swallowed these feelings as well, staring upward at the man's silhouette with his teeth clenched, raw and bloody hands scrabbling for the next handhold, the next inch upward.
At last, he took hold of the cliff's edge, using his last reserve of strength-- more than he ever dreamed he possessed-- to haul himself up to safety. He laid in the snow at the robed man's feet, gasping for breath, struggling to keep consciousness as the dove landed gracefully in the man's hand. Behind them, a monestary of yellow basalt rose up to touch the ashen sky.
"I need," Tiv gasped, "To know--"
The man just nodded, and looked at the bird. "It is a magical hunting bird," he said, smiling, "It finds apprentices."
The monestary, and his new mentor, were wards of the Order of the Crystal Hand. Well-known to students of Moonmage history, the Hand was a hermetic sect of warrior-mages who, fearing their knowledge would be lost in the chaos of the Late Imperial Period, signed the Lunar Accord and joined the guild's ranks. While this effectively ended the order's existance as an independant entity, some far-flung outposts of the sect had been cut off from civilization for so long that they did not receive the news. This was one of them.
Saying a tearful goodbye to his tribe and becoming reborn into the order's ranks, Tiv poured his heart and soul into the work of an apprentice monk. Every day was filled with ceaseless training, in the arts of magic, of war and, more than either, philosophy. The Hand's credo is one of attaining personal perfection, in all ways and in all things-- and of maintaining personal integrity and humility, always remembering how far from that goal any mortal must be.
Decades passed, and Tiv became the housemaster of the monastery after his own mentor passed on. Surpassing all the other monks in prowess, he presided as their leader for years, never forgetting to take his master's bird to fly at the cliff's edge every morn. Eventually, he did meet someone upon that icy peak, but not a young climber like he had been so long ago. It was a small group of mages who had teleported to the monestary's door via a strange, shifting gate in space, requesting to speak to him.
They were emissaries of the Moonmage High Council, who had detected the powerful energies given off in the barren wastes, and came to investigate. Tiv spent a long evening with the foreign mages, exchanging stories and lore, until one made a hesitant request: the guildmistress of a chapterhouse to the far south had recently died, with no apprentices ready to replace her, and the house in question was in a crucial area for the guild, a very dangerous and unsettled province. It required a powerful and learned master to supervise it, and Tiv was qualified-- if he said no, they would be forced to look elsewhere, taking up valuable time and risking losing the territory altogether. Would he help them?
This was the hardest decision Tiv had ever faced, and he slept fitfully on his decision. The monestary had been his home for the greatest portion of his life, and the northern wastes for all of it. These men had asked him to leave his home, his family-- for a second time-- and his life, to learn and teach strange ways in a strange land. Yet, if he refused, what would become of the apprentices there, who needed guidance? He woke with the dawn, and wrote this missive:
I have spent my life with you, growing from a child to an old man under the auspices of the Crystal Hand. I must suppose I have learned your ways tolerably well, for you have seen fit to call me 'leader'. Your trust in me is profound, and I fear betraying it more than anything.
We faithfully follow the teachings of the First Master, striving for that quintessential moment of true perfection, our lives laid on the altar of that ideal. Truly laudable, but I must now ask the same question of you that I ask of myself: for what end? When we lock ourselves away from the world, because it is an imperfect soul, do we not deprive that world of what we have learned to be true? And if we do, can we blame any force but our own selves for its condition?
I have been asked to sacrifice... Not only my home, my way of living, but my own ideals, by these foreign mages. Were I to join these "moon mages", I would teach not the Hand's ways, but a syncretic blend of ancient paths; while troubling to me, I must confess that their philosophies are honest and just ones, and their methods valid. What they do know of our art is incomplete-- I would have opportunity to add to their stores of knowledge and, in doing so, insinuate more of the Hand's ways into these young minds.
And there is the key. Were I to stay on this rock for another hundred years, I might come another fraction of an inch closer to Perfection. Were I to leave, I might bring a hundred students that far. Without our brotherhood, without our ways, I know that I will never attain the goal I have strived for since childhood-- but I do know that I may guide others on their own paths.
So it is done, an honest trade: my life for the world's, my dream for theirs. I leave you now, not as a housemaster, but as, I hope, still a friend. I do not think that you will hear from me again. Please think of me kindly, and do not give up your work for a heartbeat: honor my departure by staying true to the ideal, where I would not.
Over time, Tiv touched far more than a mere hundred students: travelling from province to province, wherever he was needed, Tiv has resided as a Moonmage Guildmaster for well over seventy years as of this writing. His supernormal longevity has been attributed to secret diets and rituals performed by the Crystal Hand, practices he has shared with only a select few students and colleagues.
While he has been offered a position on the Moonmage High Council time and again, Tiv steadfastly refuses, insisting that his calling is to teach apprentices rather than "indulge in the luxury of politics". Despite this, it is known that he has the ear of at least two councilpeople, who rarely make a major decision without consulting him first.
He has raised a generation of students who proved to be leaders in their own right. Among his noted progeny are the flamboyant Guildmistress Cherulisa ("I knew she would have her own guildhouse someday. I decided this the day after she stole one."), the infamous Ivory Mage of Aluandi ("As a magician, a triumph. As a person, a failure. I will speak no more of him."), and the redoubtable Guildmaster Kssarh ("My greatest student, despite his...quirks. Does he still light fires and bite people?").
Most recently, the guild found another way to reward him for his long and honored service: in the province of Therengia, the abandoned ruins of a Crystal Hand chapterhouse were found in the heart of a dormant volcano. Devoting a regiment of engineers and mages to reconstructing it, Tiv has been instated as the guildmaster of, in his own words, "a place just like home. Only much, much hotter. We will fix this, after study."