Arcane Underground of Frial

On the surface, Frial is a sprawling city and growing power centrally located in the middle of Tairos. Foreign visitor are witness to many of the old splendors of the long deadBalmoran Empire mixed with a more modern influence. The revival of Balmoran Steel Weapons and Armor, the architecture and grandeur of the Empire, even the culinary traditions are all seeing a resurgence. Yet, these symbols of prosperity belie a dangerous secret lurking beneath the surface.
The stories told about Frial by night are as intriguing as they are dangerous. They speak of street beggars who's humble performances disguise actual magic used to rob onlookers. There are tales of secret wars amongst rival gangs who use spells and arcane abilities rather than daggers in the dark. Clandestine gatherings of magicians, necromancers, cultists, and ancient orders are said to gather in hidden places to practice their long-dead arts. Some even speak of vampires lurking in the city and forming their own perverse society while below a verminous presence stirs from a long slumber with a ravenous appetite that only dead magicians can satisfy.
The disastrous truth is that is that most of these stories are real and that Frial plays host to countless struggles between different powers vying for control, for power, for resources, or any of dozens of other prizes and with little concern for whom is hurt in the process. While there are seemingly countless individuals and small groups operating in secret only ten stand as true pillars of the arcane underground


The Ten

Order of the Basilisk- They are a very small organization compared to the others and largely not considered to be anything more than another of the dozens of tiny groups of little consequence. Their leader, Tyrom, is the only thing that lends them credence among the others. He's well respected, talented, and tries to maintain good relations with all the others. He also tries to mediate disputes and keep peace. As such, the other groups consider him, his fellow members, and the block his book store is on as untouchable. Not because of the direct threat they pose, but because of the multiple angles of potential retaliation from the rest of the Ten and the Chaff. 
The Black Hammer - Formed by Locklanders and made up of them and local Frialites that believe in the twisted ideology of Lockland. It is led by a fanatic named Andre Lurtz, who is a priest in the temple of Sandor in Frial. They are extremely guarded when it comes to the identity of their members, who are all believed to have roles of some significance within Frial's social circles. They're even rumored to have members within the government itself, something that is taboo among the Arcane Underground. They do not have a formal meeting place either, preferring instead to hold their gatherings within the privacy of each others homes far from prying eyes. They are named after a weapon that Lurtz carries and that is sacred to them, a warhammer that deals fatal damage to non-humans with slightest touch. Their primary area of expertise is evocation and especially fire spells. Rumors regarding the Black Hammer hint they may be a fringe group even in Lockland due to their predilection to treat with infernal powers.
Ebon Orchestra - A cult that believes in the Philosophy of the Embracers and that the way forward can only come through undeath. They're obsessed with finding a means of undead immortality. They also believe they can hear a song in the Leylines and that it speaks prophecy and omens of the future to them. Their leader, a human named Renneth Crown , is an accomplished organist and conductor who records what he hears into playable music. He operates out of theater and music hall on the border between Trentpoole and City Center called the Echo House Theater and Opera. The Echo is well known in Frial for putting on wonderful shows for packed crowds during the early evening hours. Far less well known are the strange, haunting, sensual, and dread-filled performances that take place for very select crowds in the dead of night. Famed Frialite musician Claudius LeRoche and his troupe are often said to attend. Necromancy is their specialty and many members are trained bards who use their talents to call forth slavish spirits into a deadly dance macabre.
The Harvest Children - A group of eccentric, passionate, individuals who believe that the Fae were the way to salvation and that it was a great mistake for the world to turn on them and the The Autumn Queen . They try to maintain their traditions and even worship them in a way. Their leader is a halfling named Frennan Valshae (a fae name. His true name is Klem Fallowgert) who dresses as a satyr with a mask, false horns and a furry coat. Enchantment is the primary area of study for many of these members while others are trained bards who cherish poetry, song, and dance. In addition to their magic they also possess a few arcane items of fae origin that aid them in their efforts. Despite their magic and their items the Harvest Children are generally seen as harmless free-spirits and beatniks. Some, however, believe them to be naive and all to eager to flirt with the dangerous of the past.
Lords of Trentpoole (AKA The L.O.T.) -Trentpoole is a district of Frial just west of City Center and known as a lower middleclass, largely residential section of Frial. The Lords are violent, often resorting to physical attacks instead of magic. They operate as a gang involved in illicit activities mostly around robbery, kidnapping, and extreme acts of protest against the Kreastos of Frial and the Grand Order of the Lion . They often clash with the Black Thorn Society , which considers them the one of several key sources of opposition. Their leader is a human male named "Lord" Brick or Mr. Brick. He's often dressed in what might have been a nice outfit if not for the street wear and grime. He's tall, fond of extravagant hats and canes, and known for murdering people with a piece of masonry. They have no specific specialty in magic but all of them are adept killers with a taste for blood.
The Prismatic Order - A group of scholarly, secretive, individuals that believe magic is vital for Tairos' survival. All magic. They seek to study the lore of the old world and find ways to restore the health of the leylines by any means necessary. Many seem to carry symbols of faith for the old gods, especially Sandor, The Guardian of Tairos and carry themselves with stern, strict demeanors. Other orders consider them to be cold, callous, and utterly dedicated to their own secretive pursuits. That said, they are also known to abide by their word. Promises made by a member of the Prismatic Order are never broken and oaths of loyalty never ignored. Each member wears a mask with a symbol of the sun upon it while their leader is concealed behind a blazing golden mask. This is a symbol of leadership within their order and with it comes the title of Lord Solar. While none know his name with any certainty the massively built, tower of a man, bears the gleaming armor and warhammer of champion from Ghal Pelor called Tyrwin. Members of the order are primarily wizards and eldritch knights though rumors persist that the Lord Solar and a trio of his closest allies can hear the word of the gods still and that they are clerics or paladins.
Lily Street Youth Club - Also known as the Lily Street Gang or Lily Street Slashers. They're a group of mostly younger homeless youth and street urchins who specialize in burglary, fencing, robbery, and killings. They are led by a younger woman whom they call Auntie Shae. Shae is not yet even twenty years old but has managed to bring her kids together into Frial's newest order and one that commands a good deal of respect among the others. . While the LOT are often thought of as the most blood-thirsty of the orders by most; that dubious honor actually falls on the Lily Street Youth Club when it comes to the lengths they'll go to when one of their own is in danger. They have no specialty in magic but are known for fashioning small knives which they hide in their clothes and use to slash and slice people. Many of their members are considered sorcerers who are struggling to master their talents. Shae herself is one. One common bit of gossip has to do with Shae and her connection to the Black Thorn Society. She is constantly under pressure by their agents to join them officially and serve as their magical wing within Frial. Some of the popular gossip says she may have once been a member of the Black Thorns, or an enemy of theirs. Whatever the truth she has adamantly fought off their advances thus far though it remains to be seen how long that will remain the case.
The Oracle of 8th Street - This is a single magic user with a few associates, attendants, and allies capable of spellcasting as well. She is an extremely skilled diviner and reader of prophecy who operates as a simple, humble, fortune teller in a small shop on 8th street in City Center. Her name is Rowna. She's older than most human wizards (in her late 70s/early 80s) and is very well respected by the Ten and the Chaff alike. Rowna, her shop and the several blocks around it are considered neutral territory by all casters in the city because of the role she plays within the arcane society here. She herself rarely ever takes a side in the conflicts that rage around Frial. Instead, the Oracle acts as a diplomat, a peace keeper, and a broker of portent into the future. Rowna's only goal seems to be maintaining the balance of power in the city and preventing the general public from learning of the existence of spellcasters. While the Oracle uses her kindly charm to handle most situations there are times when a stronger hand is called for. That often comes in the form of her small but talented cadre of allies who serve her with blind loyalty. These allies all live on or near 8th street and operate under the guise of regular citizens until called upon by the Oracle to act. Some came to her on their own while others defected from the Ten. Regardless of their origin, a servant of the Oracle is afforded the same respect as the Oracle herself so long as they are acting officially on her behalf.
The Savage- This is a chaotic and motley crew of individuals that prefer to lurk in the abandoned areas of the city outskirts and the nearby wilderness. They are devotees of the god Atel and pay homage to the Totem Spirits of Tairos spirits as well. They're known for brutal acts of robbery and destruction against other magic groups and even non-magical caravans to get the Manacite or supplies they need. The Savage are reluctant to get rely on manacite brokers in Frial both because they often lack the gold to pay for it and because the brokers themselves are intertwined in the society this group tries to seperate itself from. They seem to consist of nature-magic practitioners such as Rangers and Druids. There is a cleric of Atel who leads them known only as Red Claw, a hulking beast of man who looks like just as much of a physical threat as the Lord Solar and Mr. Brick appear to be. While nature magic is their specialty they are all well trained combatants and also employ the help of forest creatures in their efforts, both natural and... unnatural. One such example is the sounders Catoblepas that inhabit the swamps north of the city. Other common allies employed by them are Displacer Beasts, Phase Spiders , and Owl Bears. Of course, no other animal in the employ of this group better represents them than the wolves. Packs of wolves serve as the eyes, ears, and teeth of the Savage and they are utterly remorseless when it comes to their loyalty to the Savage.
The Adamantite Order- The influences of old Balmoral echo through time and still have meaning to many... even centuries after their fall. The Adamantite Order is one such group. They believe the old Adamantite Kings were enlightened beings far superior to mortal men and possessing a willpower and knowledge that has long been lost. They study the treaties, teachings, and history of these ancient heroes, fragmented as they are, with the hopes of reaching the same level of enlightenment. Their primary goal is unearthing lore, artifacts, and texts belong to the kings and champions of the empire so they can study it and bring it back into the light. The Black Hammer see them as misguided and eager to pervert what they believe is the true message of the kings. The Grand Order of the Lion, an organization they have frequent contact with, sees them more as eccentric archeologists and sages. The Lord Solar of the Prismatic Order, who rarely speaks, has called them grave robbers. Many of the order fall into the category of Monk, Eldritch Knight, or Wizard. They're led by a monk named Joriah Basilocke and they operate out of his martial arts and meditation dojo in the Black Forest district of the city near Kelpiper Park.

The Chaff- Not a group but the bottom-barrel leftover that doesn't fit in with one of the Ten. This can be one-off magic users barely able to cast a spell all the way up to rather infamous individuals like the Rat King, Hadley, and Pudding Speaker. It can also be small families, groups, and teams who share a common goal but even together have little influence. The Order of the Basilisk would perfectly fit what it means for a group to be part of the chaff if not for the respect others have for their leader. Another would be the school the operated by Adjenna Affreux, Charity Sparrow and Ospher Spurshoe in Bellhaven. Chaff of any true skill are generally absorbed into one of the larger groups or become an enemy of them. Chaff also fall victim to the many threats that face spell casters today such as being abducted by Locklanders looking for magi to experiment on, becoming feed for the Crimson Circle and their master Cladius LeRoche, or simple fall victim to the Queen's Rebuke as their small manacite reserves dwindle. The Ten work to disrupt any effort made by charismatic members of this community to organize, fearing that an organized Chaff could easily topple the existing order of things.

Cover image: by Wizards of the Coast


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