All the world is his chessboard, all its inhabitants his pawns. Not even the gods shall stand before the perfection of his magical constructs.
== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ==
Mezzer Werth, level 5
Background: Thunderpeaks, Lost Kin (+2 to Dungeoneering)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 16, Dex 14, Int 21, Wis 20, Cha 13.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 16, Dex 14, Int 18, Wis 17, Cha 13.
AC: 20 Fort: 16 Reflex: 17 Will: 18
HP: 48 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 12
Arcana +12, Heal +12, History +12, Perception +12, Dungeoneering +14
Acrobatics +6, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +3, Endurance +5, Insight +7, Intimidate +3, Nature +7, Religion +7, Stealth +4, Streetwise +3, Thievery +4, Athletics +5
Artificer: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Improved Augment Energy
Level 2: Crossbow Caster
Level 4: Implement Expertise (Crossbow)
Artificer at-will 1: Ethereal Chill
Artificer at-will 1: Thundering Armor
Healing Infusion: Curative Admixture
Healing Infusion: Shielding Elixir
Artificer encounter 1: Scouring Weapon
Artificer daily 1: Obedient Servant
Artificer utility 2: Reinforced Minion
Artificer encounter 3: Shocking Feedback
Artificer daily 5: Flameheart Defender
Ritual Book, Rebounding Crossbow +1, Genasi Soul Leather Armor +1, Adventurer’s Kit, Climber’s Kit, Glass Cutter, Onyx Dog (heroic tier)
Brew Potion, Disenchant Magic Item, Enchant Magic Item, Make Whole
== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ==
Headmaster Gerrone sputtered into his teacup, drops of dark, fragrant brew spilling over onto the lap of his academy robes.
The lanky young student sitting on the otherside of the chessboard looked on with an expression of concern at the professor’s choking fit. “Are you okay, thir?” Mezzer asked softly. “I apologithe, I had not conthidered that the thhock of my victory would be tho dithruptive-”
He fell silent as the professor held up a hand, coughing out the last bits of tea from his lungs. “I’m fine!” Gerrone gasped. “I’m… fine.” He took one wheezing gasp of air, and promptly started coughing again.
Mezzer didn’t look convinced.
“Anyways!” Gerrone cleared his throat. “Now, exactly from where did you pull this little victory, Mr. Werth? Hmm, I don’t see any change in the positions of the pieces…”
A smirk crepts it way up the corners of Mezzer’s mouth. “Ath well you thouldn’t, thir. None of the piethes on the board have moved.”
The headmaster looked up sharply and examined the student’s smug expression, then off to the side, where a small pile of chess pieces had been gathered. “You didn’t.”
The smirk became even more smug. “I did.”
The headmaster covered his face with his hands. “Aleadda’s Gambit?”
“The very thame.”
The headmaster groaned. “How did I fall for that!?” Another, louder groan. “For the third time in a row!?”
Mezzer shrugged. “I honethtly do not know, thir,” he offered. “I thought for thure you would thpot my maneuverth.”
Gerrone sank back into his armchair with a sigh of despair, then glared at the teapot sitting on the side table. “First it tries to choke the life from my old body,” he muttered, “then it saps my concentration and makes me complacent and sloppy. That’s it, I’m switching to Elven Breakfast.”
Mezzer blinked at the headmaster and thought for a moment. “I would actually recommend Thylvan Glory,” he said. “It ith locally grown, and hath roughly the thame aromath ath the herbth of Admyrel, makthimithing the ratio of pleathure gained to gold thpent-”
“Mezzer, Mezzer!” Gerrone rubbed his eyes, smoothing out the beginnings of a headache. “It was a joke. I was jesting.” He attempted a reassuring smile.
Mezzer stared blankly at his mentor. “A… joke?”
Gerrone nodded, a drop of hope lighting up his face. “Yes, yes! A joke! I was pretending to blame the tea for my loss, and hinting that it was actually old age that is responsible!” The headmaster paused, and examined Mezzer’s expression. “It’s… funny, you see?”
Mezzer’s face merely twitched, a flicker of his hairless, pale blue brow. “I… am thorry,” he said carefully, blinking in confusion. “I do not underthtand.”
The headmaster sighed in disappointment, and stood up. The dark red pools of Mezzer’s eyes followed Gerrone as he shuffled towards the window. “It’s… alright, Mezzer. You’d best leave, I’m about to part the shades.”
The student nodded. “My thankth. I thall take my leave, then.”
Mezzer got up and strolled towards the wardrobe in the corner. Years of hiding in the passages between classrooms had lent the young githzerai a strange, gliding sort of stride that hardly ruffled the dust on the floor. Mezzer preferred his given lifestyle though, as the strange deformity of his spine made it hard to walk with his back straight, and the darkness of the corridors was easier on his eyes than the well-lit classrooms he spied upon.
As Mezzer approached, the mirror on the wardrobe doors began to ripple, and a pink arcane aura erupted around it in wavy patterns. He reached forward to step into the portal, but Gerrone’s voice rang out: “Wait!”
Mezzer paused, and looked backwards. Gerrone’s wizened old form seemed to have shrunk on itself, like some kind of weight was pressing down on the headmaster’s shoulders.
Softly, barely audible but to the githzerai student’s sensitive ears: “…That was an excellent game, Mezzer.”
The student stared back. Between the shadows of the room and the ice blue of his charge’s skin, Gerrone could not discern Mezzer’s expression. The headmaster watched as without another word, the student merely turned and walked through the portal.
The belltower tolled evening meal, but Mezzer was too engrossed in the piles of paperwork he had stacked around him to register the sounds as nothing more than deep-toned background noise.
Lively chatter filled the air below, accompanied by random spatterings of flapping as students milling across the quad disturbed various flocks of birds. In a small grove by a man-made pond, a four-man band of bards practiced a merry folk song. The deeper grumble of a group of professors arguing some obscure arcane theorum meandered across the bustling atmosphere like a storm cloud.
Mezzer usually enjoyed the sight from his little nest at the top of the belltower. It was one of many such nests all across the campus, but this was his favorite for inspiration. The dwindling orange glow of twilight was well suited to Mezzer’s sensitive eyes, and equally pleasant was the smell of fresh air in his lungs after hours of being cooped up in secret passages. Furthermore, the view from the top made all the students moving from evening class to evening class look like little figurines on the world’s largest chessboard.
Today however, there were bigger pieces to capture.
“Ineffithent,” he muttered to himself, shuffling sheets together. “Immoral. Outright incompetent. It ith unfathomable how thuch a dithtinguithed univerthity could hire tho many atrothious archmageth. How do they ekthpect to inthpire countleth generationth of arcane cathterth with the dribble that ootheth from their lipth?”
The papers that lay about before him in scattered stacks bore many names and faces. Archmages and High Mages from every department and field, both active and inactive, summarized into a brief recognizable doodle and scribbled characteristics and criticisms.
Mezzer stroked a single entry with a finger absently, and the page lit up with a cold cyan glow. Arcane symbols flew off the parchment and spun in mid-air, encircling a three-dimensional illusion of the professor’s form, and surrounded by various notes encrypted in runes.
“Colin Marcus Grayforge,” he intoned carefully, careful not to let his lisp ruin the spellkey. “Decryption code: ‘the body electric’.”
The runes spun themselves inside out and became regular, readable Common script again. The notes now described the archmage’s character, specialties, achievements, and any other notable trivia that Mezzer had been able to find.
“Profethor Grayforge,” Mezzer mused aloud. “One of the few notable mageth that thtill teach courtheth regularly. Department Chair of the Thchool of Enchantment and Artifithe.”
The dark red of the githzerai student’s eyes studied the cyan outlined details of the professor’s relatively young and robust dwarven features.
“I thuppothe I thall thtart with you.”
Colin M. Grayforge, Archmage of Enchantments and Master Artisan of Golems, the youngest and most celebrated dwarven Artificer in decades, stepped out of his shower stall whistling an old drinking song and holding a towel around his nethers.
“Ah, showers,” he announced cheerfully to nobody in particular. “Truly, one of the most luxurious inventions to result from the advent of steam-based machinery. Combine with an Archmage-level heating enchantment and by Hammerfest, it’s like a falling, liquid sauna from the old country! Best thing humans have ever made by far.”
Just then, the mage-torch lighting up the professor’s bath-room flickered off. Colin glanced up, his dwarven eyes already adjusting to the darkness. “Moradin’s anvil,” he muttered, fumbling with his towel, “did another student try to play a prank on the Dean?”
Finally managing to hold his towel up with only hand, Colin snapped his fingers and the mage-torch lit back up. Once he had satisfied himself that the torch wouln’t flicker again, he snapped his fingers once more, lighting up the torches in his bedroom.
Immediately, there was a cry of surprise and some kind of crashing noise from his room.
Startled, Colin called out angrily, “Who’s there!?” He opened the door to the bath-room, and was suddenly faced with a Darkness spell.
“Please,” the archmage scoffed, “I don’t know how you got past all my security enchantments, but you’ll have to do better than an area conjuration to stop me.”
With another snap of his fingers, the magical darkness began to degrade from the edges. Colin followed the receding shadows into his bedroom, stepping carefully to avoid any possible pranks or traps, but nothing happened. And when the spell had finally dissipated completely, nothing had been changed.
The professor scratched his beard. “Hmph. Worst pranksters I’ve ever heard of.”
He never noticed that his folder of studies on constructs and prosthesis was missing until it was too late.
Mezzer’s eyes shone crimson with excitement.
“Brilliant,” he sighed over the stolen notes. “Thimply… brilliant. Thith… Thith ith the kind of pure, theoretical progreth that I have been theeking.”
The studies contained in the folder had been bafflingly disconnected at first: a few clipped articles detailing necromantic armies here, a copy of an arcane study on warforged internal systems there, and then jumping to a fifteen-year old thesis paper on medical enchantments.
Slowly though, and then in ever-accelerating incremental epiphanies, Mezzer began to see a pattern emerge.
Flip. “Natural” necromantic phenomenon that creates powerful undead abominations.
Flip. Warforged, with their autonomous sapience and mysterious arcane inner workings…
Flip. Advances in medical enchantments allow for sustainable regenerative circles…
Flip. New studies released on the exact process of petrification…
Flip. The recently discovered “Hollow Dragon” phenomenon, which turns the ancient magical beasts into massive, living containers of elemental chaos…
Flip. Advances in machine-craft allowing for increasingly complex and intricate prosthetic limbs…
Flip. New Theories on the effectiveness and energy conservation capabilities of so-called “micro enchantments”…
Mezzer could feel the ideas buzzing and bouncing in his head. There was something in all these articles. Some underlying concept that was gathering together behind his brows, gathering force and momentum and mass until the sheer enormity of it would burst forth like a goddess of scientific progress.
Almost there… The epiphany was just on the tip of his tongue…
Colin M. Grayforge, Archmage of Enchantments and Master Artisan of Golems, one of the most popular professors with undergraduates on campus since Bonzo the Fireball, drained the last of his mug of ale and finished slurring his complaints to the bartender.
“Izz was gonna be huge!” he wailed, waving his burly arms around for emphasis. “I had alla notes ‘n everythin – I was gonna make the best damn prosthetic organs ever! Help the mute, the blind, the deaf, all those kids who ain’t ever born right… It would’ve changed the world!”
Mezzer slammed a pale fist down on the desk, and actually succeeded in scattering some of looser notes in a dramatic fashion. Echoes of the impact were lost on the cold walls of the basement, and only the soft yellow light of a single mage-torch was witness to the feat.
“I am going to change the world,” he hissed, eyes ablaze with purpose, “and no flethbag thall be left behind.”
Mezzer abruptly spun around and stalked away. As he exited the room through a portal that spun waves of pink energy up towards the ceiling, the loose notes floated to the floor.
A flash of light, and the githzerai student was gone, leaving behind the scribbles on the floor, all of which had a simple title running across the top:
“Who is it?” Gerrone called out absently. The headmaster sighed and ran a hand through his ghostly white hair, quite willing to take a break from the mountains of paperwork he had to look at that afternoon.
The wardrobe in the corner shimmered pink for a moment, and Mezzer’s head poked out from the mirror. “Thir, I have a requetht.”
Gerrone was simultaneously astounded and pleased – it had been a long time since Mezzer had allowed himself the luxury of asking for help. “Oh, come in, come in!” he chortled, at last fully turning away from the blasted paperwork. “You should know that I am always willing to help you out, Mr. Werth.” With a wave of his arms and shower of pink sparks, the curtains shut themselves.
The headmaster actually saw the ghost of a smile grace Mezzer’s pale lips. “Quite tho.”
As the rest of the student’s lanky body passed through the portal, Gerrone nearly shook with excitement. He had never seen Mezzer so responsive to his parenting before! Perhaps the boy was finally growing up? The days since his last chess game must have been educational indeed!
“So!” Gerrone said cheerily as his young charge sat down in the chairs across from his desk, “What is this request of yours?”
Mezzer fidgeted. The headmaster was equally delighted to see such a strangely normal habit from the usually composed young man. “You thee thir,” he said carefully, “I have rethently taken interetht in the rethearch of the ethteemed Archmage Grayforge.”
“Ah, the artificer!” Gerrone mused. He noticed that Mezzer’s ears twitched at the term, as if he had liked the sound of it. “Yes, I know of his work. You have an interest in studying constructs, then?”
Mezzer nodded. “Thomething to that ekthtent. I would like your permithion to perform my own ekthperimenth on the thubject.”
The headmaster seemed eager to interject his support of the endeavor, but Mezzer held up a hand and continued, “Of courthe, it ith harder for me to obtain the proper materialth for thuch rethearch, tho my real requetht ith that you, Headmathter Gerrone, might thupply the materialth I require.”
Gerrone thought he saw a shimmer of light behind Mezzer’s back for a second, but when he blinked it was gone.
Dismissing the glimmer as his old eyes playing tricks on him, the headmaster immediately agreed, “Very well, request granted.”
The lights reappeared for a second, and Gerrone felt the twinges of an enchantment activating on the far end of his arcane senses, but both sensations cleared away quickly. Mezzer smiled, and Gerrone smiled back, oblivious.
“By the way,” Gerrone piped up. “What ARE the materials that you seek for your research? Stone? Clay? Brass?”
Mezzer grinned toothily and leaned forward. Gerrone leaned forward too, eager to hear the secret, and heard his lanky young charge whisper: “Living bodies.”
Suddenly, the githzerai had twirled in his seat and sent a spray of shining bronze dust over Gerrone’s face. The headmaster coughed and sneezed as both men sank back into their respective seats.
Gerrone was caught in the confusion of several different trains of thought running at the same time: Had Mezzer really said he wanted living bodies to experiment on? If so, had it been a joke? What was that bronze dust that Mezzer had thrown onto him? Why did the dust feel enchanted? Why did the enchantment feel so similar to the glimmer he had thought a mere fancy of his aging mind?
More importantly, what was happening to his body?
Gerrone tried to scream, but his throat had already metamorphosed into miniscule gears and levers and cranks, and his skin was rapidly turning into thin platelets of brass and steel. The rest of him quickly followed suit.
Mezzer got up from his seat and walked around the headmaster’s desk. The headmaster’s chair was now the home to an elaborate, clockwork statue of a seated old man whose entire body was twisted in agony. One hand, an intricate structure of glass and gear, reached out across the desk towards where Mezzer had been sitting just moments before.
“I… am thorry,” he told the statue. “You were an obthtacle to my planth. Not only ath headmathter of the thchool, but ath the only man in the world who ith aware of my exithtenthe and life on the camputh.”
Mezzer paused and briefly examined the corners of where the eyes had once been: a small diamond had crystallized there in the shape of a teardrop, hanging delicately on the bottom of a brass eyelid. He reached down and gently plucked the jewel with his long fingers.
“…You were a good man, Headmathter Gerrone,” he continued quietly. "Too good. It would have been painful for you to watch my gloriouth ekthperiment convert thouthandth of thtrangerth into beautiful conthtructh, free of imperfection or immorality.
“You would not have withtood the thpread of my perfect viruth, thpreading the beauty of mathines acroth the map and into the thoulth of mortal men.”
Mezzer looked sadly down at both teardrop and statue. “No, you would have fought to the bitter end for the thake of mere thtrangerth, Headmathter Gerrone. And in doing tho, you would have fought me.” The pale githzerai turned away. “That ith… unactheptable. For many reathonth.”
A crack appeared where Mezzer had stolen the diamond teardrop from its perch. Platelets of precious metals began to peel apart, and the microscopic gears within began to reverberate menacingly.
Observing the undoing of his former mentor, Mezzer sighed, “At leatht you cannot blame the tea for your loth thith time, thir.”
With those words, the statue of what was once Headmaster Gerron crumbled into a pile of metal pieces. The clatter of millions of tiny little clogs clinking past each other to a hardwood floor was nearly deafening if not awe-inspiring. Mezzer reached down and scooped up a handful of brass, ignoring the pinprick bites of gear teeth on his flesh.
No sense wasting material so willingly given.