Magic Books of Faerûn

By Sean K Reynolds

Nybor's Small Codex - (Spells from a Former Zulkir)

This red book is no larger than a standard spellbook. Bound in red leather, it has burned into its cover a picture of a bald, tattooed woman of exotic but attractive looks. Burned under the picture is a row of evil-looking letters. The edges of the pages are normal parchment, and a red silk bookmark hangs from the spine.

Last Record: Unknown Halruaan wizard, 14 Marpenoth, 1372 DR.

Description: This book is about the same size as a typical wizard's spellbook, including the number of pages. The burn image on the cover depicts a Thayan woman, normally obvious because of the bald head and the tattoos, but also revealed in her facial features. The letters on the cover are in the Infernal alphabet, spelling out "Nybor's Small Codex" in the Thayan variant of the Mulhorandi language. The lettering on the inside uses a different handwriting than the cover (possibly because of the means used to burn the letters in the cover, whether magic or heated wire), with large calligraphic letters that make even the Infernal script look pleasant.

The book seems old (at least eighty years) but is in very good condition. It has the major resistant, pungent , and waterproof spell protections, which means that to normal tests the book seems fireproof. (It can easily withstand burning in a stove or campfire.)

History: While many scholars in Faerûn know the name Nybor because of the wicked spells bearing that name, few know much about the woman who created those spells or where she is now. Those few who study Thayan history say that she was once the zulkir of enchantment, seizing that position at an early age by clever manipulation of lovers, servants, spies, and assassins. The young Nybor used her new power to indulge her magical whims, wiping out an entire army of human and monstrous soldiers in testing will-sapping spells and other mind-reaving magic. Unlike other Red Wizards who hoarded their magic, she gave copies of her now-famous spells to many key teachers and as a result her name is famous in Thay and elsewhere. She dabbled in item creation, particularly animate and intelligent weapons, and the few who know anything about her believe she was working on a way to animate a battlefield full of weapons with the stolen minds of enemy soldiers.

What little else is known about her is that she disappeared in 1296 DR (the Year of the Black Hound), leaving her mansion unexpectedly in the middle of the night without instructions. Her senior waited a week before entering her inner sanctum, and there he found two large pools of blood. Her work table had been used recently but whatever she was working on was gone. After six months of mundane detective work and repeated divinations showed she was either dead or not on Toril, a new zulkir was appointed to her position.

A few years after her disappearance, a Thayan wizard in Thesk claimed to have a magic dagger with all of Nybor's memories. He was found dead in his room, burned to a crisp and dismembered, and his bodyguards turned to stone. Every few years someone else claims to find this dagger and usually comes to a foul end shortly after, and the dagger is nowhere to be found. Included in the ranks of the unfortunate victims of the dagger's "curse" are Lerem the Lucky (an adventuring rogue of Luskan), who was found stabbed to death in an alley of Calimport; Saint Schend of Waterdeep (an aasimar paladin of Ilmater), who was nearly killed in Menzoberranzan when an unknown attacker's spell left him paralyzed just before a drow assassin's attack; and Maurgus the Black Bolt, a skilled but secretive Zhent assassin, who was seen screaming in fear and running directly into the conflict between Cyric and Xvim that moments later destroyed much of Zhentil Keep.

Nybor's Simple Codex is the only known book written in her hand that has ever left Thay. Second- and third-hand copies of her spells have trickled from the east for many years (usually in black market deals between Thayans willing to break the old ban on exporting magic and desperate mages in need of fast magical power) but the Codex is the only verifiable book she wrote that is known to be outside Thay. Presumably her remaining spellbooks and notes are in the hands of her former apprentices or their heirs. In addition to its value as a spellbook, the Codex has great historical value, since its composition and arrangement show it is a personal spellbook of a zulkir, probably intended as a traveling spellbook but never completed. How it made its way out of Thay and its present whereabouts are unknown. Those searching for it should know that the cursed dagger that bears her memories always knows the exact direction to the book as long as both are on Faerûn. Those seeking the Codex should find the dagger, use it to locate the book, and get rid of the dagger as quickly as possible. The last person believed to possess the book is a Halruaan wizard seen in the border kingdoms asking after an exiled Thayan wizard trying to establish a barony there. The last person known to have the dagger is Graytooth, a Theskan orc (a Zhent soldier of the Horde Crusade, settled in his new homeland) who disappeared later in 1372 (and was found dead in the forest a week later), almost at the same time the Halruuan wizard was seen in the Border Kingdoms.

Contents: The book has no title page or descriptive text. The first 33 of its 100 pages contain six spells, the rest are blank. These spells are considered unusual spells, and any spellcaster who wishes to use them must first decipher them as described in the Arcane Magical Writings.

Price: 7,650 gp (spellbook value including 3,000 for major resistant, 2,000 for pungent, and 1,000 for waterproof spellbook-protection properties). As a unique spellbook by a (presumed dead) Thayan zulkir, it is worth 1,000 gp to a historian collector (such as those in Candlekeep) or Thayan enclave, or 2,000 gp to a Thayan enclave with strong ties to the zulkir of enchantment. An enclave is more likely to offer magic items or services rather than gold for the book.

Last Known Bearer: Graytooth, Theskan (formerly Zhent) orc soldier

Graytooth was a disciplined orc soldier formerly stationed at Zhentil Keep and assigned with many of his fellows to travel east to stop the Tuigan Horde. He remained in Thesk (like the surviving members of the Zhent orc army), found a human bride, and raised a family on a small farm. None of his neighbors know how he found the strange dagger, only that one day he was wearing it on his belt and wasn't afraid to show it off to anyone who asked -- or who crossed him. In early autumn of 1372 he awoke early as normal, but instead of tending his fields he wandered into the forest without saying goodbye. His garroted body (sans dagger) was found a week later. Because of the means of his death, most believe some thief or assassin killed him to bring the dagger to a guild, possibly the Shadowmasters of Telflamm. The lack of a trail leading away from Graytooth's body supports this idea, since the Shadowmasters are rumored to have the power to transport themselves through shadows.

Nybor, Wandering Zulkir of Enchantment:+3 defending spell storing dagger; AL NE; Int 19, Wis 12, Cha 17; Speech, telepathy, 120 ft. darkvision, blindsense, and hearing; Ego score 23.

Languages Known: Abyssal, Common, Infernal, Mulhorandi, Thayan; the dagger can read all languages and use read magic.

Lesser Powers: Knowledge (arcana) +14, Knowledge (local -- Thay) +14, Spellcraft +14, detect magic at will. Nybor does not shed light.

Greater Powers:Cause fear at will, dismissal 1/day, hold person 3/day.

Description: This dagger looks like a well-crafted terkoum (a Thayan ceremonial dagger used in rituals and spellcasting). Its black hilt is wrapped tightly in a bright red leather strap and its blade is carved with magical symbols. The crossguard has a small icon of a woman's face on one side, with diamonds for eyes and a sapphire at the center of power on the forehead.

Personality: Nybor, like the Thayan archmage who bears the same name, is a cruel and domineering thing, and she enjoys using her power over others. (The dagger's physical and mental voice is definitely female.) In the hands of someone she considers inferior, she quickly uses her powers to drive them to suicide (such as using cause fear when climbing a cliff wall) or cripples them in dangerous situations (such as using hold person in a dangerous part of town or in the middle of a fight). She considers it beneath herself to be wielded as a weapon and becomes disgusted with anyone who suggests it. When carried by someone sympathetic to her personality and outlook, she easily slips into a mentoring role, though she is still stern and intolerant of negligence, just like a Thayan wizard dealing with an apprentice. She gets excited when facing enemy wizards, particularly Thayans who specialized in something other than enchantment.

The origin of the dagger is unknown, and her own memories are fuzzy on the subject. She may be an experiment by zulkir Nybor to transfer her consciousness into an object to make a like-minded ally. She may be the zulkir's attempt at immortality without resorting to lichdom (and seeing as she worked with and against Szass Tam when she was a zulkir, she knew what lichdom entailed). Perhaps a spell went awry in the attack that caused her disappearance and an echo of the dead zulkir's mind was trapped in her terkoum. What is certain is that the dagger calls herself Nybor, knows personal details of Nybor's life that only someone close to her would know, and is well-versed in magic and Thayan lore.

Strong enchantment; CL 20th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, cause fear, comprehend languages, detect magic, dismissal, hold person, read magic, shield, creator must be a caster of at least 12th level; Price 122,102 gp. Cost 61,202 gp + 4,872 XP.

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