“I offer you access to my library, of course,” continued Alandriel. “You are welcome to spend as much time as you need in there, searching for answers. I suggest that you start off researching Callindrill.“   “What is Callindrill?” asked Thia, sitting forward. At least here was a start, something she could work towards. The prospect of having free access to all of Alandriel’s library, with no restrictions thrilled her. Even if she could find nothing about Orators and her potential in Alandriel’s books, that place was a fountain of knowledge and there was nothing Thia liked more in the world than reading and learning lore.   “Not what, but rather who?” retorted Alandriel. “I cannot believe you have lived twenty seven years and have an almost insatiable appetite for lore, and yet have never heard of Callindrill. He was by far the most powerful practitioner of the arcane arts ever to have walked this continent – though some might contest he had rivals across the ages I concede. Callindrill was a human who lived many hundreds of years ago. He was companion and advisor to Eldred, the chieftain who conquered the tribes of Albion and first formed them into a unified kingdom, around fourteen hundred years ago. He had an ancient base somewhere in the Great Desert where he researched and created many strange magical creatures and arcane items and trinkets. It is said his great power is what helped Eldred forge the kingdom.   “Callindrill was unique in that it appears he was able to understand and control many forms of arcane magic. By all accounts he studied with the keri-heb, the archmagi of far-off Khemit, back in the days when their power was unrivalled. He trained with the wu-jen of Honshu, before the Empire there was called that. He took it upon himself to research more about magic and the arts of accessing the Void than any other mortal. So, if anyone knew about Orators, he would. He may well have been one too; in fact I would be surprised if that was not the case.”   “What happened to him?” asked Thia, intrigued.   “The great dragon, Ashardalon,” Alandriel answered. “Legend tells that when Eldred strove to unite the tribes, before he was crowned as the first king of Albion, the dragon awoke. He left his lair in the volcano now known as Dragon’s Perch and menaced the new kingdom, demanding tribute and treasure. Callindrill went to the king and promised he would deal with the threat. He headed into the Jagged Peaks and to the depths of the volcano itself.   “The story goes that never has a more powerful and dramatic battle been waged. The sky was lit up with dragon breath and arcane sorcery, visible as far away as the settlement of Thistledelve. Finally, Callindrill was able to subdue the dragon and bring Ashardalon to submission. The mage demanded that the dragon serve him, but even though Callindrill had defeated him, the mighty Ashardalon was too proud to bend the knee to a mortal, no matter how powerful. The dragon launched one final, desperate attack on Callindrill and the wizard smote the wyrm with his most potent magic. Part of the mountain was broken, so great was their struggle. The dragon was slain, deep in the bowels of Dragon’s Perch, but the toll on Callindrill was too great for his mortal body and he died that day, still on the mountainside.   “The tale tells that followers of Callindrill, led by the wife of the king herself, made their way to the mountains and recovered Callindrill’s body. They brought it to the Great Desert, to Callindrill’s base and entombed it there.   “Here the legend grows dark. Some reports tell that the Cult of Callindrill, led by the queen, then sealed the tomb with themselves still inside. They then enacted forbidden rites that Callindrill had taught them, and as part of those rites they killed themselves. This caused Callindrill to rise as a powerful and deadly lich. A creature of the night who kept all the powers he had in life, but now had an infinite span of time to work his evil as he was the living dead. If this legend is to be believed Callindrill still exists, deep in the Great Desert. I understand he is a bit of a figure told to frighten the children in Albion into behaviour,” remarked Alandriel.    “Certainly the queen of Albion never returned from the Great Desert and King Eldred lived alone until he passed away. Some believe he died from a broken heart. Others that Callindrill came and took him to live with him in the Great Desert to be reunited with his wife.”