Pathfinder scholars are already familiar with Ezren, the iconic wizard, but even old dogs occasionally show off new tricks! Enjoy the following piece of short fiction from James L. Sutter in the next entry into our series of Iconic Encounters—brief vignettes of the iconic characters showcasing the myriad stories you can tell with Pathfinder Second Edition.
Tomes older than half the nations of the Inner Sea haphazardly crammed the shelves, or else leaned in stacks that had teetered on the brink of collapse since the days of Aroden. Ezren closed his eyes and inhaled, taking in the bone-dry bouquet of ancient pages slowly losing their battle with entropy, the scholarly tang of acetic acid. Truly, there was nothing so marvelous as a library.
"Getting a little hot out here, Ez!"
Valeros's shout cut through the perfect moment. Ezren opened his eyes in irritation, but it was true—already the temperature in the vault was rising. Outside, the crackle of flames rose alongside the hellhounds' baying, answered by the signature whoosh of Seoni's magic. Always the same spells, sorcerers. After this long traveling together, he could find her on a battlefield by sound alone.
He sighed. A shame that such an ancient repository of knowledge would be ashes by morning. But such was the fate of all things eventually.
Seating himself cross-legged among the treatises of scholars long since turned to dust, he pulled the puzzle box from his satchel. Runes glowed back at him mockingly. They'd burned to life beneath his magically altered vision, but steadfastly refused to reveal their meaning no matter which linguistic magics he'd attempted.
Very well, then—time to get creative. He applied Kazmiri's Cryptographic Theorem, twisting the wheels in quick, precise turns. Lomal's Revealing Incantations traced the box's edges in cerulean fire, yet failed to penetrate. Perhaps the Inquiring Sigil, combined with the Lockbreaker's Progressions...
"Ezren!" Valeros's voice rose, hitting the octave of a man at least partially on fire.
No. None of the old standbys. That was the problem with classics—if you knew them, so did everyone else.
That was what the arrogant elitists of the Arcanamirium and the pampered dandies at the College of Mysteries never understood. It didn't matter how many old spells you knew—wizardry wasn't butterfly collecting. They could memorize as many spells as they wanted, performing tricks for each other in their ivory towers, and still be no better than a sorcerer, trading instinct for rote.
Learning spells was supposed to be a springboard for one's own experimentation. Magic was an art and a science—both creative pursuit and process of discovery. That was what Ezren's studies on the road had taught him. In the real world, your magic had to be flexible. You needed to be able to calibrate, to channel more magic into a spell, to stretch or quicken it, to—
Of course! Ezren abandoned all the incantations except Lomal's and tried again, inverting the third and fifth gestures. This time, however, he infused it with a thrill of ice magic, a tendril of frost that curled inside the words and crystallized. Suddenly the magic sank inward, the box's inner workings revealed like a three-dimensional schematic as the spell traced them in Ezren's penetrating sight. With the secrets revealed, it was a simple matter to break the enchantment and align the runes in the proper order, cracking the box open to reveal...
Treasure. A glittering mass of gems, no doubt the ransom of some forgotten noble.
How disappointing. Ezren sagged backward, the box suddenly heavy in his hands. After all his research, all the team's work to fight their way into these final chambers, he'd really thought—
A voice boomed out from behind him. "WHO SUMMONS ME?"
Ezren froze. Slowly, he turned, doing his best to hide a triumphant grin.
"Greetings, Excellency." He bowed, gesturing with the glowing box. "This won't take long. Just a few questions..."
If you liked this week's Iconic Encounter, you won't want to miss next week's exciting entry. Until then, Pathfinders, study hard!